Some time ago I wrote a series of posts entitled “How to Never Pay Full Price for Anything (Almost)”, which outlined a few simple methods that help us save on just about any purchase at major retailers. One of the services I shared about was called BigCrumbs. Well, a while back, they went through a bit of a metamorphosis and became a slightly different company. They changed their name from BigCrumbs (which I was understandably fond of, for obvious reasons) to MainStreetSHARES. But beyond the name change, they had a slight change to the way that they did business as well.
Perhaps the biggest change was that BigCrumbs no longer offered a simple percentage cashback like most online rebate sites do, but instead offered shares of the companies revenues. There are other complexities like msSHARES where you end up accruing a percentage stake in the company of sorts where you’ll get a proportionate share of the business were it to be acquired. It’s all heady sounding stuff, and I wanted to give them a chance to prove themselves, but in the end it was just too complicated for me. I find the lack of transparency a bit disconcerting because I could never truly figure out how much I’m actually getting back with each purchase, but have to trust and hope that the percentage of revenues that they talk about is worthwhile. It’s even difficult to compare with other services because it’s somewhat of a moving target from month to month. Plus, the whole msSHARES idea just leaves me with the impression that this business is just positioning itself to be purchased (standard Silicon Valley startup style) and not really in creating a great business for its customers. After giving it some time, it seems also like their selection of retailers that qualify are dwindling too. That was the last straw, so all-in-all, I’m no longer a user of MainStreetSHARES or as I more affectionately remember them as, BigCrumbs.
So what is a Crumbsaver to do to get cashback from our online purchases? There are numerous other online rebate services like this, and I’m not an expert on all of them, but I’ve been using another service for a while that I’ve been rather pleased with, and it’s called TopCashback.
If you’ve read in my BigCrumb review (I’ll leave it up for reference sake, even though I don’t recommend it anymore), you’ll understand how TopCashback works. You click through their link to the online retailer and shop as usual, your visit is tracked and a percentage of your sale then gets returned to you via TopCashback as a rebate. Here are a couple of quick facts that stood out to me about them:
- Selection. TopCashback has a great selection of online retailers amongst online rebate sites. It’s one of the rare sites that actually feature eBay and Amazon! (Granted, there are plenty of restrictions to what qualifies in those two stores, so read carefully.)
- Cardpool! They even have Cardpool as one of their options! So there’s the potential of further stacking of savings by getting a rebate on the discounted gift cards that you buy.
- Transparency. While there are still limitations where certain purchases may not qualify for cashback, I have found that the restrictions are well delineated. (For example, our diapers purchased using Target gift cards did not qualify for cashback because we were using gift cards. We didn’t like that, but at least it was stated upfront.)
- Redemption Methods. There are multiple ways to redeem your cashback too, and some of the ways allow for an increased percentage added to your rewards. As of this writing, you can redeem your cash at a rate of 100% through ACH transfer to your bank or transfer to your PayPal account. You can also redeem into an American Express Reward Card, Gap eGiftCard, or Amazon Gift Card at a slightly higher percentage. I usually go for the Amazon Gift Card which then comes in the form of a digital redemption code in my account.
- Speed. It’s usually taken about a month for my cashback to post, and then about 3 business days to get my redemption once I choose the method. It’s not blazing fast, but reasonable. There’s a great dashboard interface to track the status of your purchases with all the relevant details. Again, a high degree of transparency.
- Reliability. I’ve had a very reliable experience with TopCashback. I’ve successfully received cashback from Walmart.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, eBay.com, Budget.com, and Expedia.com. No complaints, great selection of retailers, a robust online interface, and no hassle in getting the cashback rewards.
A Black Friday Experience
So this past Black Friday I was on the hunt for something. It wasn’t the latest shiny gadget or some expensive power tool. I was looking for some rusty metal wires. Concrete reinforcement wire to be exact. You see, I’ve been fending off the pesky deer in my yard for the past few years and they came through and defoliated my fledgling fruit trees AGAIN this past summer despite some homespun deterrent methods that I was deploying. I decided that enough was enough, and it was time to pull out the big guns. I was going to have to fence in my poor trees.
Doing some online research it turns out that one of the cheapest but also most effective method to protect young trees from deer are round fences constructed out of concrete reinforcement wire (or remesh). Here’s a short video demoing this heavy-duty solution. These steel wires are designed to be embedded within concrete and so that’s why they aren’t made to be rustproof. They’ll probably blend into my yard better with their “earth-tone coloring” than shiny galvanized steel anyway.
Anyway, I found some for 30% off at Lowes.com and they were offering a Black Friday deal of FREE SHIPPING for everything storewide–even several hundred pounds of rusty metal wires! So with the TopCashback click-through to Lowes.com, I’ll be getting an additional 7.8% cashback on my purchase. For my $180 purchase, my cash back is $14.10.
Adding Up the Small Wins
Online rebates aren’t going to save you huge bundles from your purchases, but it does give you those small wins that can add up over time. Add them together with timing your purchases with sales, using discounted gift cards from Cardpool, getting your credit card rewards, and other methods, and before long those crumbs can accumulate into something worthwhile.
Disclosure: If you’d like to sign up for TopCashback, the links contained in this post are referral links where we get a bonus should you choose to sign up. Thanks in advance!
The Rest of the Series
Here are the other articles in this series on how to save on nearly every purchase:
1. How to Never Pay Full Price for Anything (Almost): Cardpool – We share a technique to save with most retailers by purchasing discounted gift cards from a service called Cardpool.
3. How to Never Pay Full Price for Anything (Almost): Swagbucks – We share how to earn virtual currency online by completing free activities that can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards. We’ve earned over $1460 with it.