Shopping Portal Roulette: Are Portals Safe & When to Go For the Higher Payouts

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Are Shopping Portals Safe – Which One to Choose? 

One of the greatest tools of a miles & points enthusiast is a shopping portal. While a lot of people impulsively click and buy stuff, the enthusiast uses a comparison site like Cash Back Monitor and finds which portal will give them the best return on their hard earned spending. 

For the most part the major portals tend to have similar payouts, however there are a couple of times when a portal might beat the competition. Once in awhile a portal will run promos either directly with a merchant or to promote themselves. Rakuten double and triple cashback offers are a good example of this. One other reason a portal might payout a lot more than the competition is to grab customers. We have seen several portals launch in the past few years with this strategy. 

are shopping portals safe

Avoid Shopping Portal Fatigue

When it comes to shopping portals, the enthusiast has to make a decision. Do you ALWAYS go for the absolute best rate or do you stick to the known trusted portal brands? In addition to the “trust” consideration, there is another one.

Truth of Life: More portals = more tracking = more work.

You also have to deal with more logins and different user interfaces. It is a subtle stress, but a stress nonetheless.

Should You Avoid New Shopping Portals? 

I mentioned before that we have seen new portals burst on to the scene in a big way over the past few years. One example was Inbox Dollars which offered 5% cash back at eBay a couple of years ago. The problem was that purchases never seemed to track and a lot of people ended up with nothing. In other words, people’s worst fears became true. It was too good to be true. 

On the flip side a couple of years ago the now defunct Splender portal came on to the scene before the holidays. They offered some tremendous cashback deals in December. I was a little more comfortable with them since they had bigger financial backing and it turned out they paid out everything. You win some you lose some. 

How to Maximize Online Cashback and Rewards Shopping Portals in 2020

The Shopping Portals We Use

If you are starting to get serious about shopping portals, check out my shopping portal strategy post for more detailed information. Once you setup a system of which portals to use it ends up being quite simple.

These days I do chase the occasional deal from another portal, however I have pretty much narrowed it down to a small list of shopping portals I use. Here are the cashback portals I use often.

list of best shopping portals

Additionally, I have no issue using any of the mileage portals from the major airlines or the Shop Through Chase portal where I earn Ultimate Rewards points!

are shopping portals safe

Are Shopping Portals Safe – How to Tell Which One to Use

To me portals are like friends. It takes awhile to build a relationship and trust. All of the portals I mentioned above are ones I have now used multiple times with a high success rate. Basically that means I will use whichever of those portals has the best rates.

When a portal not on my trusted list has higher rates, then I consider whether the increased payout is worth the uncertainty. More times than not I choose my tried and true portals unless the rewards is incredibly high. 

Pro Tip: Always follow up and audit portals whether they are trusted or not. Even the good ones miss an occasional shopping trip. 

Are Shopping Portals Safe – Bottom Line

Shopping portals are an amazing way to get money or miles/points in exchange for your spending. I have received tons of cash back plus hundreds of thousands of miles and points over the years simply by using shopping portals. While shopping portals are indeed safe, it is important to know which ones to use and to always be diligent in ensuring you are getting the best payout in a timely manner. 

How do you feel about using new shopping portals? Do you stick with the old trusted portals or do you chase higher payouts when they come around? Let us know in the comments!

13 COMMENTS

  1. If shopping on the web, I try to look at http://www.cashbackmonitor.com/ to see what portals might be worth going through. I do notice that some third parties on Jet.com are offering decent JetCash rates. There’s an Amex cash back for et expiring at the end of the month.

  2. iConsumer removed “optional” from downloading the iConsumer button, adding, “using the Button is your cashback payout assurance” . Pretty sure few of us actually downloaded the Button prior to clicking thru to merchant.

  3. I would add Fatwallet to the list; they are owned by ebates – I have found the customer service to be one of the best with them.

  4. shawn, does the sign-up bonus likely show at the same time for purchase CB? Used your referral link which noted a $5 sign-up bonus; spent $50+ at Staples, but Splender shows only the 5% CB pending for Staples purchase w/o the sign-up bonus. Emailed Splender awaiting a response…

    • @Dan: the sign-up bonus on Splender won’t show in your account statement at the same time as the cashback does. You’ll get the $5 bonus around the time that the cashback (from your initial, eligible $50+ purchase) changes status from “pending” to “available.” This takes ~45 days from purchase since we wait for transactions to clear and ensure that items aren’t returned before making cashback “available” for payout. Sorry for any confusion on this, and thanks for using Splender.

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