IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THROUGH A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT, OR
IF YOU DON'T DO A LOT OF SHOPPING ONLINE, AND THEREFORE NEED TO CONSOLIDATE YOUR PURCHASES AT A SINGLE SITE IN ORDER TO
REACH THE MINIMUM REQUIRED FOR PAYOUT
If you just want to pick one site and go with it, based on the analysis shown below I'd suggest signing up
with Mr. Rebates, then going through the Mr. Rebates site to do all your web shopping. But the advantage that Mr. Rebates has over Ebates is slight for most purchases,
and keep in mind that you will wait significantly longer and go through slightly more hassle to get paid. (I'm enough of a
cheapskate that I'm willing to put up with it.)
FOR THE DETERMINED, EXPERIENCED, AND REGULAR ONLINE SHOPPER
Sign up for both Ebates and Mr. Rebates and look on each site for the best rebate percentage for each of the merchants you plan to "visit" online.
Then enter each merchant through the site that offers the highest rebate. If both sites offer the same rebate, go with
Ebates, because they offer a lower minimum for cashouts, and will send you your refund quickly and automatically.
I reviewed both Ebates.com and MrRebates.com on January 1, 2012. This is the analysis that led me to these recommendations:
NUMBER OF MERCHANTS: STRONG ADVANTAGE TO MR. REBATES
Mr. Rebates has the largest number of merchants to select from. In January 2012, according to my manual count,
Mr. Rebates had roughly 2,300 merchants to select from, while Ebates had roughly 1,600.
LARGEST REBATES: SIGNIFICANT (ALTHOUGH NOT CONSISTENT) ADVANTAGE TO MR. REBATES
Mr. Rebates offers the largest percentage rebates. I checked through all the merchants beginning with the letter
A on both sites (as a representative sample), and:
For 35 merchants, Mr. Rebates offered a higher rebate than Ebates, and the average difference was 3.35 percentage
However, for 19 merchants, Ebates offered a higher rebate than Mr. Rebates did, and the average difference was 3.70
percentage points (although there were 2 very large differences among these 19 that skewed this gap signficantly
in favor of Ebates).
LENGTH OF TIME BEFORE REBATE IS SENT: STRONG ADVANTAGE TO EBATES
On December 12, 2011, I made a purchase through Ebates that generated a rebate of about $60.
That rebate was automatically credited to my Paypal account on February 7, 2012.
On December 17, 2011, I made a purchase through Mr. Rebates that generated a rebate of about $30.
They held it as a "pending rebate" through March 17, 2012. Then, on March 17, I had to go to the Mr. Rebates site
and manually request that my rebate be put into my Paypal account. I was informed that my rebate would be processed
in as part of a batch that would be posted to my Paypal account on April 1.
2 months for Ebates, 3.5 months for Mr. Rebates. Automatic payout from Ebates, while you have to actively monitor
and manage the process to get your money from Mr. Rebates. No contest.
PAYMENT THRESHOLD: ADVANTAGE TO EBATES
Ebates will send you a check after you have accumulated $5.01 in rebates. Mr. Rebates will send you a check
after you have accumulated $10 in rebates.
SIGNING BONUS: NO ADVANTAGE
Ebates currently offers new members a $10 gift card after they have made $25 in purchases. Mr. Rebates offers new
members an instant $5 signing credit, which due to the minimum ten dollar payout cannot be collected until an additional
five dollars in rebates is earned. Due to the fact that the cash that Mr. Rebates offers is unrestricted in its use,
while the gift card that Ebates offers is limited to the merchant you select, I'm calling this one a draw. Also, these
signing bonuses change frequently, so this one is likely to "seesaw" back and forth over time.
RELIABILITY AND REPUTATION: NO ADVANTAGE
Ebates indicates that it "was founded in 1998 by two Deputy District Attorneys in Silicon Valley who used to prosecute
online fraud and identity theft before starting Ebates." Mr. Rebates has been around since 2002, and I have
had very friendly and pleasant contacts with their management in the past (for a couple of years, they were
a paid sponsor of my Confessions of a Mail-In Rebate Junkieweb site, but ended that sponsorship amicably in December 2010). I have been an active member of both sites
and have no complaints, and have heard no substantial complaints about nonpayment of rebates or any other issues
by either site. However, I have no particular insights and can make no guarantees about the future of either site.