One of the best ways to get extra points, miles, or cash back is by using a shopping portal.
If you don’t already know, a shopping portal is a website that lists specific companies and when you purchase through that website, you get some sort of points or cash back on your purchase.
Sounds like a great deal right? By buying things you were already going to buy online, you end up getting more back in your wallet at the end of the day.
This could come with a big problem though. Each shopping portal is different and there are so many.
How could you know which one gives you the best return for your purchase?
In this article, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite tools, Cashback Monitor.
What is Cashback Monitor?
When trying to explain Cashback Monitor, I usually say, “It’s like Expedia or Kayak but for shopping portals.”
Basically Cashback Monitor collects data from most of the main shopping portals available. You then put in what store you are looking for and your preferred method of return on your purchase. Their website will then show you the different portals you can use, the rates at which you will earn, and which would be best for you.
This takes all the hard work out of guessing yourself. Nobody wants to know the rates of 25+ portals at all times but we also don’t want to lose out on points or money back in our wallets.
I usually end up recommending this website to anyone I know that is interested in saving money or wants to gain more points on their purchases (so basically everyone!).
How to Use Cashback Monitor?
Earning cash back with Cashback Monitor is pretty simple. First, you’ll head to their website.
Right away, you’ll see the most popular stores on the home screen so you can always browse there but I usually just use the search bar to search for the store I’m looking for.
Let’s search for Apple just for an example.
Once I search, I come to a page that shows me the best cash back rate, travel points rate, and credit card points rate.
Now depending on what’s more important to you can influence your decision. Sometimes if a rate is equal I'll choose the travel side because that allows me to get more value in the long run with travel hacking.
Other times when I want simple cash back, I can go that option as well. With this tool, we have the option to look at everything and make the best decision.
Now this is the first and main way to maximize your cashback with Cashback Monitor. Let’s look at some more.
Set An Alert
Now, we’ll get into another section about this later but this portals don’t always stay the same. You won’t get 2% at Apple from Ebates forever. This is another reason why this tool is so powerful.
So what they allow you to do is set an alert when a certain stores rates change based on what you program it to do. You have to create an account to do this but its simple and free to do.
Once your account is made click the option in the top right corner of the screen and then press "Manage My Alerts" in the middle. This will bring you to the screen I'm on now.
Let’s use Apple again. We can set an alert that will email us if any credit card/bank portal gives us 3 points per dollar or more.
Right now, the highest is two and if it does rise, that might influence our decision on when and where we buy from the Apple store.
View the Best Rate History
We use Cashbackmonitor to make sure we’re getting the best rate possible, right? How can we know we’re getting the best rate possible ever?
We can easily tell what’s best today but maybe we want to know if there’s been a better deal before because it might come back eventually.
That’s where the Best Rate History option comes in.
Still using our Apple example, we can see in all the portals that the best rates have fluctuated since the website started taking in the data.
Sometimes you can tell that a certain store or portal will offer a special maybe for Christmas time or a certain quarter like the Chase Freedom, and predict when you can purchase your goods that way.
Assign A Different Value to Points/Miles
I talk about this in my travel hacking post but each credit card I have usually comes with a different value that I put on it.
Like some other experts, I usually value Chase UR points at around 2 cents per point. Basically this means that I believe every 10,000 points I have I can get around $200 in value out of it.
It can of course be more if I stay at a fancy hotel or take a first class flight but it’s never lower than 1.25 cents per point because of my Chase Sapphire Preferred.
In Cashbackmonitor though, they value Chase at 1 cents per point because that’s the value if you exchange your points for cash.
This can obviously skew the way I look at things when using their website. To me, something that gives three dollars back on the cash back side but two Chase UR points means that I come out better picking the Chase option.
Because I’m getting around four dollars in travel value there.
This is only important depending on which cards you have and if you value these points and miles that much. Some people just like the money going back in to their wallet no matter what, even if it could be a little less than the way I do it.
Either way, you’re getting money back so you can’t lose.
Personalize Your Monitor
Once I started using this feature, it became the most popular to me and I like it over any other method.
If you create an account (super simple and free), you can choose which cashback portals and points/miles programs you use and search stores just using those options.
Maybe you don’t have a Wells Fargo account or you don’t want to sign up to the 23 different cashback programs.
Just sign up to the biggest ones and only check off those options in this personalize menu.
You can see from the ones I have selected that I care more about the points & miles portals than cashback.
Now I don’t have to worry about searching through the programs I don’t have to find the best value for my purchase. I can go to “My Monitor” and search stores there and find the best value out of the options I have available for me.
Another important thing is that some of these programs require you to hit a certain point or cashback threshold before you can cash out. So if you make a purchase and only get $15 back but they require you to have $25 to withdraw, your money is stuck.
I’d rather have money available to withdraw in a program I use all the time than signing up for a program getting the best return possible but not being able to take out the money.
To Wrap It Up
Cashback Monitor is one of the best options to make sure you’re getting the most value out of using Cashback and Points/Miles shopping portals. There are so many portals out there and this tool allows you to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
If you want to learn more about getting started with travel hacking, make sure to check out the guide we have here and you’ll always be able to ask me questions in comments on ADP.
Have you ever used this tool? Or are you going to start using it because of this guide? Let me know in the comments down below.
Also, if you know someone else that would benefit from this post, please share it with them because it would probably help them out!