How to Make Money Every Time You Shop Online

In this day and age, online shopping has become a way of life for many of us. I greatly appreciate the convenience of online shopping. What busy mom doesn’t? I also love saving – and making money – as I shop online! Using a cash back program allows you to make money every time you shop online. 

Do you use a cash back program? Maybe you signed up in the past but have never really used it. Maybe you don’t understand exactly how cash back programs work. Maybe you didn’t know these programs existed! This post will explain exactly how cash back programs work so you can begin making money online today – every single time you shop! 

You can (and should) start using cash back programs at any time, but with the holidays right around the corner, this is an especially great time to start using a cash back program and earning money with all your online holiday shopping.

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For example, when my husband and I booked our Alaska cruise this summer, I happened to see that Priceline had the exact same price as booking directly through the cruise line. I knew that if I started at Rakuten (my favorite cash back site), I would earn 2% back on my purchase. Making that one extra click earned me $177 back on our cruise tickets. That was my biggest cash back purchase to date!

When I was doing back to school shopping for uniforms, I started at Rakuten and made between $0.30 and $1.90 for each shopping trip at Walmart, Children’s Place and Land’s End – even for only one or two polos. It was a convenient way to shop the sales and make a little extra money every time I shopped from home.

Shopping through a cash back program is a very easy way to make money online as you shop.

What is a cash back program? 

A cash back program is a rebate program that earns you money back on your online shopping purchases. Basically, you start at the cash back program site and click through to the retailer of your choice. The cash back program records your visit and awards you a certain percentage back based on your purchase value. Then, you can cash out your rewards to receive free money (cash back) for your online purchases!

How does a cash back program work?

Cash back programs are actually very simple to use.

You sign up for the cash program of your choice. Most will encourage you to install their browser extension which pops up every time you are shopping online to remind you to use the cash program program. I highly recommend installing the browser extension so you won’t forget to use it! Then, simply click on that link to activate your cash back bonus and shop as normal. When you have completed your online shopping, a percentage of each trip will be credited to your account. You let the amount accumulate until you are ready to cash out your account.

If you decide to use a cash back program, embrace it and use it every time you shop online. This is what has the potential to make you the most money as you shop online!

Where can I get cash back?

You can get cash back at thousands of stores online – including many of the most popular retailers. Stores with cash back include:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Kohls
  • Amazon
  • Old Navy
  • Macy’s
  • Lands End
  • Ebay
  • The Children’s Place
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Sam’s Club
  • Priceline
  • And thousands more…

What cash back rewards can I get?

The best cash back rewards programs pay you back in cash. You can redeem your earnings in an actual check, a deposit into your Paypal account or savings account (depending on the program). Certain programs also allow you to cash out your earnings in gift cards to popular retailers, such as Amazon.

What is the best cash back program? 

I have compared many of the cash back programs available and come to the conclusion that the best cash back programs is Rakuten (with TopCashBack being a closer runner up). These cash back programs have both been around for a long time, reward their members well, and are easy to use. More details on both the programs are available below.

I have made $789 (in cash!) since I began using Rakuten in the last 5 years. Majority of those earnings have come in the past two years once I installed the browser extension and began using Rakuten every time I shopped online.

How does the Rakuten cash back program work?

One of the longest running online rebate programs is Rakuten. Rakuten was the first cash back program I signed up with and I enjoyed that introduction to using a cash back program. One of the unique things about Rakuten is that it offers a $30 bonus for signing up and completing your first $30shopping trip. That’s basically a free shopping trip! That is in addition to the cash  back you make on that shopping trip. Some of the other Rakuten highlights include:

  • 2,500 online stores and growing
  • Stack the savings with cashback + coupons
  • Double cash back stores
  • Payouts through Paypal, Mailed check or American Express points
  • $5 minimum pay-out threshold
  • Automatic quarterly payments (once above $5)
  • Cashback varies (Walmart: 1-5%, Target: 1-5%, Kohls: 3%)

You can sign up for Rakuten here – and get your $30 bonus as soon as you complete your first $30 shopping trip.

How does the TopCashBack program work?

TopCashBack is another online rebate program.  TopCashBack was one of the first companies to let you request payout in any amount at any time. It does take a bit longer for the credit to be made so that is important to note. Some other TopCashBack highlights include:

  • 4,000 Online Stores and counting
  • Stack the savings with cashback + coupons
  • Payouts through ACH, PayPal, American Express card or Amazon Gift Certificate
  • Get a 2.5% bonus on your cashback rebate when requesting payout by Amazon gift card
  • Be paid whenever you choose
  • No minimum pay-out threshold
  • Cashback varies (Walmart: 1-5%, Target: 2.25%, Kohls: 3%)

You can sign up for TopCashBack here.


Which cash back program should I choose?

The top two cash back programs are Rakuten and TopCashBack. Both are good programs that will reward you well. I personally recommend Rakuten as my top choice, with TopCashBack as a strong second.

Why? TopCashBack has more store options but Rakuten credits my shopping trips much faster. That is important to me. The percentages earned are very similar so it is a tie on that account. I also like that Rakuten automatically sends me money every quarter, when I have more than $5 in my account. I don’t have to check in and see if things have processed yet.

I used to use TopCashBack more but got tired of waiting the weeks it took for my earnings to be credited. They do eventually get credited, but the speed of Rakuten pushes it ahead of TopCashBack in my opinion. Rakuten is now my go to cash back program, especially with the browser extension to remind me to use it anytime I am on a site that is linked with Rakuten.

Rakuten also has the $10 bonus just for completing your first $25 shopping trip, and regularly doubles cash back percentages (especially during the holidays).

You can certainly sign up for both and use them both (alternating if you find higher cash back bonuses for certain stores) but I recommend choosing one and using it every time for simplicity sake.

You can sign up for Rakuten here.

You can sign up for TopCashBack here.

Regardless of how often you shop online, choose a cash back program and begin using it every time you shop online! It’s always nice to earn a little bit of extra money for something you were already doing.

What cash back program do you – or will you – use? Do you have any other hints or tricks for making money when you shop online? 

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