Whether you are getting ready to complete some last-minute holiday shopping or are looking for a good way to save money in the New Year, there are some websites that can help you reduce your expenses. Cashback sites promise to make online purchases less expensive, and some of them are definitely the real deal.

How Do Cashback Sites Work?

Each cashback site has its own specific rules, but the basic formula remains the same. These websites make money by having an affiliate link to popular e-retailers, and they share part of their earnings with their users. Before you buy something, you need to click through the cashback site to your online store of choice. Any qualifying purchases will then earn you a credit with the cashback site. After you have accumulated enough credit, you will be able to receive a cashback reward.

There are several cashback sites available, but it is typically best to stick with just one or two of them so that you can earn rewards more quickly. Here is a starter list of ten of the best cashback sites to help you get started.

1. Ebates

Ebates users have accumulated more than $325 million in cashback rewards since this site was launched in 1999. This makes Ebates one of the top choices for consumers who want to earn money on their purchases. The perks that make this one of the best cashback sites for members includes a combination of coupons and a reward that is equal to anywhere from 1 to 40 percent of the purchase price. When you put these two methods together, it is easy for people to end up saving a lot of money on holiday gifts.

2. BeFrugal

BeFrugal has been helping consumers save money since 2009. This cashback site utilizes a program that is similar to Ebates, and users can save up to 30 percent on items from more than 4,000 stores. Additionally, Be Frugal offers online coupon codes and printable coupons that can be used at approximately 250 national restaurant chains. Users can also take advantage of the Fly or Drive Calculator to determine which option makes the most sense from a financial perspective.

3. FatWallet

FatWallet is owned by the same parent company as Ebates, but they both manage to offer unique functionality that sets them apart from each other. FatWallet follows the same basic formula by offering cashback and online coupons. However, this site places a bigger emphasis on deals and coupons, and consumers can sign up to receive alerts when a specific item goes on sale. Because of these variances, it may make sense for frugal online shoppers to use FatWallet to track sales prices even if they choose a different cashback site for other purposes.

4. Extrabux

Extrabux is also part of the Ebates family, and users have reportedly earned a combined $34 million in cashback rewards to date. Entrepreneur.com has called the company a “Social-Shopping Goldmine, and coupons and up to 30 percent in cashback are available for 2,500 e-retailers, and users instantly earn $5 just for signing up. Extrabux features a comparison shopping tool that makes it possible to quickly determine what online store has the best price on anything that you are looking for.

5. ShopAtHome

ShopAtHome was launched in 1986, which makes it the oldest surviving cashback site. Between the app and the website, consumers can search through more than 100,000 active coupon codes and earn up to 30 percent cashback from a list of 3,000 stores. ShopAtHome has an impressive 98 million users, and they have paid out more than $50 million in cashback rewards. The app contains exclusive discounts and rewards. Users can request a payment after they rack up $20 in their account.

6. Mr. Rebates

Mr. Rebates has been offering deals to consumers since 2002, and there is even a $5 cashback sign bonus making its rounds on youtube. Members can also earn a cashback percentage of up to 30 percent for each purchase they make, and some companies offer a flat dollar amount. There are also coupons offered for more than 2,000 online stores. Mr. Rebates pays members after they earn $10 in cashback rewards, and payments are offered via check or PayPal.

7. TopCashBack

TopCashBack began as a U.K. cashback site in 2005, and the company launched their U.S. version six years later. The website has discount codes and cashback rewards just like every other option on this list, but with one major difference: TopCashBack promises to rate match if you find a better deal on another site. In other words, if TopCashBack is offering 3 percent back for an online retailer but ShopAtHome will give you 4 percent, you can get TopCashBack to honor the 4 percent rate. ShopAtHome also makes all of its revenue from ads, which means that they give 100 percent of the cashback that e-retailers offer directly to consumers.

8. Swagbucks

Swagbucks embraces the typical formula of giving users discount codes and cashback on purchases. This site also provides an expanded list of options for earning account credits. For example, there are several surveys that users can take, and you can also watch short video advertisements to add more Swagbucks into your account. As an added bonus, Swagbucks has its own search engine, and this means that you can earn rewards by simply surfing the web. This combination has led to payouts that total more than $116.7 million.

9. MyPoints

MyPoints predates Swagbucks, but the two have a very similar platform. You can print coupons and earn 10 points each time you redeem one in a local store. Facebook credits can be earned and points are also awarded for taking surveys and playing games. Making an online purchase through an affiliate will typically provide you with a pre-specified number of points. After you accumulate enough points to order a reward, you can choose between gift cards, cash or travel miles.

10. Main Street Shares

Main Street Shares was formerly known as BigCrumbs, but this cashback site has decided to up the ante by making users eligible to earn additional money if the startup is acquired in the future by a bigger company. Therefore, while you are taking advantage of coupons and cashback rewards, you will also see your msSHARES amount continuously increase. Main Street Shares has pledged to share at least 50 percent of any future acquisition revenue with members who have earned msSHARES.

As you can see, all of these cashback sites have at least a couple of things in common, so it would be wise to determine which ones offer deals for your favorite online stores. From there, you can add at least one of these sites to your existing list of ways to save money. With a little time and patience, you can earn enough cashback to dramatically cut back on your holiday expenses.

Featured photo credit: Cash Back/GotCredit via flic.kr

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