+ Tips and Tricks

Perks for Savvy Shoppers

I do the vast majority of my shopping online.  The reasons are simple: I can almost always find my size, I don’t have to wait in line and if I find a promo code, I can usually save a few bucks or at least, earn free shipping.  But the best thing about shopping online is the rewards.

Ebates is the rewards program for people who like cash back.  Imagine if you could earn between one and 10 percent cash back on each of your online purchases.  Sure, it’s not a lot of money per purchase, but over the course of a quarter, avid shoppers can earn a nice chunk of change.  

I’ve earned as much as $174 back per quarter and as little as $32. (I earn the most during the spring thanks to weddings, baptisms, graduation, etc.)  It all depends on how much you shop online, and how diligent you are about using the Ebates website to connect to the store’s sites.  But since it’s money that you would be spending anyway, even getting a little cash back is better than nothing.  

Want to try Ebates? Here’s the invite. (Full disclosure: if you use my invite, I earn $5 when you make your first purchase.)

Skymiles Shopping.  Do you fly Delta?  Would you like to earn frequent flier miles every time you shop online?  Then, you need Skymiles Shopping.

This weekend, I bought books at Barnes & Noble and earned six miles per dollar.  Last week, I sent my Nana flowers for her 80th birthday.  Thanks to Teleflora’s double miles special, I earned 16 miles for every dollar that I spent.  I’ve been using the site diligently since June, and I’ve earned almost 25,000 frequent flier miles just by making my purchases online.

I now buy everything from dish soap to toilet paper, contact lenses to pillowcases online (drugstore.com 5 miles/$1).  And when I do have to go to the brick and mortar store for something, I get upset when I think about all the miles that I just missed.  So whether you’re buying small items or large ones, if you like earning frequent flier miles for everything from magazine subscriptions to hiking boots, this is the program for you.

Upromise.  Like many twentysomethings, I have student loans.  Lots of student loans.  To help pay them off, I signed up for Upromise.  Like Ebates and Skymiles Shopping, you earn rewards for the things you buy online and these rewards can be used either to a) save for college or b) pay down student loans.

Unlike the other programs mentioned above, Upromise is just as valuable offline as it is online.  Do you drive a car?  You could be earning money for your federal student loans each time you fill your tank.  

If you eat out at participating restaurants, you can also earn money.  And if you register your store loyalty cards, you can earn money on groceries, pharmaceuticals and other products.  

And the best part? Your family can sign up and designate the money to go toward your loans or future educational savings.  So get your parents and grandparents in the game, every little bit helps.

I am dedicated to the proposition that if you’re going to shop, you should take advantage of every deal out there.  So whether you want to earn cash, miles or money towards your education, savvy shoppers shouldn’t miss out on these perks.  I never do.



  1. amy b.s. says:

    these are great! i've go to remember to use these sights!

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  2. Courtney says:

    A chunk of my loans are held with Sallie Mae, and to be honest, I'm very skeptical of the Upromise program. I think they're only doing this to make up for the money they're losing by the federal government taking over federal student loans. I'm also skeptical of a company to which I owe so much money and who only wants more of it.

    Sorry, Upromise, thanks but no thanks!

    (I know this is critical–I think opening up a line of credit is totally up to each consumer. No one should feel bad for enrolling in Upromise, but it's not for me.)

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    I didn't open up a line of credit to participate in Upromise. Yes, they have a credit card, but you don't need to use that card to participate.

    I linked my account to my BofA debit and Amex credit cards and to my store loyalty cards. So, while I understand your skepticism about getting another credit card, you DO NOT need to even sign up for the card to participate.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  4. MM says:

    For those who do their banking with USAA, remember to access online shopping via their “Member Shop” – you can earn between 1-20% back from a ton of online merchants – 8% back from endless, 6% back from Sephora, 10% from ebags, 1% from expedia, etc. The amount you earn is automatically deposited in your banking account at the end of the year. I don't think it can be used in conjuction with Ebates or Upromise though, since you have to access the merchant websites via the USAA website.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  5. Emilie says:

    In addition to these options, there is also “Add It Up” for Bank of America users. You simply sign up for the program, and, like eBates, go to the Add It Up website and use it as a portal to your shopping sites (such as Banana Republic, Barnes and Nobel, and several others). Since you have to start at the rewards program website, I imagine you'd have to choose between eBates or Add It Up. I like Add It Up because I don't have to share my information with another company, I already have a BofA account and the money gets directly deposited into my account when it adds up to a certain amount ($10 I think). Furthermore, if you make a bunch of purchases and they don't equal the required amount, it takes forever for the rewards to “expire.” Right after joining and using it on some small purchases, I forgot about the program for nearly a year. When I went back to the site, the $5 I had accrued was still there.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  6. Laura C. says:

    Hey Belle, I was signing up for the Delta miles rewards and notice that to access them you have to click to the website through them. Since you also have to do this for ebates, how do you get both rewards? Thanks!

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    Laura-Sometimes the deal is better on eBates, sometimes it's better on Delta, and sometimes one has a retailer the other one doesn't. I choose accordingly, but can't get the discount from each simultaneously.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  8. KC says:

    Make sure you have a credit card with points, miles, or cash back too! These work in conjunction with the websites mentioned above. For example, right now, if you have a Banana Republic Luxe Card, you can get 2% cash back on your purchase through Ebates, and triple the usual 5 percent back on your purchase due to their current promotion. 17% cash back is pretty good. Even combining an ordinary 1% cash back with Ebates adds up over the long run.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  9. w says:

    Hi Belle! On an unrelated topic: Would you consider doing a post about apartment decor? I just got a new studio apartment, and I'd love tips on how to decorate it. Thanks!

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  10. MM says:

    w – there are tons of “shelter blogs” out there devoted to just this question – the granddaddy of them all is Apartment Therapy, but there are lots of other great ones – Manhattan Nest, Decor8, and YoungHouseLove are just a few that I love. Of course, happy to hear Belle's take on this too, just thought I'd put those out there for your perusal.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  11. Belle says:

    w: I live in a studio myself, so let me offer you a couple of tips.

    One: Everything needs to match or coordinate. I have a palette of earth tones (choco brown, ivory, rust, sage) working through the room so everything coordinates. All of my art in the living room is black and white. I wanted a space that felt cohesive, which leads me to point 2…

    Two: Treat your home like a hotel room. Not only should everything in the room match, you should try to make things a bit more luxurious. Better sheets, good lighting, a nice television (if you watch TV), to give a small apt. a better feel.

    Three: Storage is your biggest challenge. Do not allow things to clutter flat surfaces (desktops, dresser tops, counters) The fewer things out where you can see them the better the aesthetics and the bigger the space feels.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  12. w says:

    This is very helpful — thanks Belle!

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  13. w says:

    And thanks for the blog suggestions MM!

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  14. Belle says:

    w: Also, my friend Cassandra Lavelle has a home blog callec Coco + Kelley, good stuff.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  15. J says:

    Southwest just started a shopping program similar to Delta's. If you have the Southwest credit card you get the points you normally would per dollar, but whether you have the card or not you can set up an Southwest shopping account similar to Deltas where you log in and get connected to websites where you can earn higher points per dollar spent. It's hard at first to remember to log into the Southwest site first – but when you do it's worth it.

    January 23, 2012/Reply
  16. Capitol Hill Barbie says:

    I put it off for forever, but I finally signed up for Ebates and realized they have a cash back program for Diapers.com (i.e. the greatest website ever). Thanks for the tip!

    January 24, 2012/Reply
  17. Heather says:

    I signed up for ebates recently after hearing about it for the longest time. I wish I'd done it sooner!!

    January 25, 2012/Reply
  18. C. says:

    Upromise has had issues with the FTC in the past about transmitting your personal identification information (ie: name/birthday/credit card number) across the internet without encryption. While almost no one reads privacy notices, I just thought that before encouraging your readers to sign up for a service, they may want to know the down side. Essentially Upromise collects your information and sells it to corporations, thats how it makes money. Here is the link to the FTC complaint and consent agreements:



    February 8, 2012/Reply