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How to Make Money While Shop Online

SHOPPING ONLINE LETS you dodge crowds, avoid aching feet, and skip the drama of parking at the mall. By staying at home, you also get access to a secret weapon: rebate sites. Such sites work on the principle that retailers will do just about anything including "shelling out cash" to gain paying customers. The rebate sites refer you to a retailer's website, and if you then make a purchase, the retailer gives them a bonus. To inspire you to go through them, the rebate sites offer you a small portion of that bonus. In other words: free money. If you make large purchases online, and if you can find a rebate site that partners with your chosen retailer, you can earn anything from 1 percent to 45 percent of your money back. On top of that, during busy shopping seasons many rebate websites offer additional deals, incentives, and bonuses.
 

Ebates
The straightforward Ebates focuses on cash and only cash. The company partners with more than 1600 retailers, including luxury department stores Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as big-box stores Best Buy and Target. Ebates pays its cash-back bonuses on a quarterly basis, and offers either a direct PayPal payment or a check. Once you've signed up for a free account, you can start shopping. To qualify for a cash-back bonus, simply click through the Ebates website before you make a purchase.
"Ebates gives cash-back bonuses when members shop online."

Going through the Ebates website every time you want to buy something might seem like a chore, but you can simplify the process by downloading the Ebates browser add-on (go.pcworld.com/ebatesadd), which is available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. The add-on alerts you whenever you're shopping on an Ebates-approved site, eliminating some of the hassle.
"On rebate websites, you can earn from 1 to 45 percent of your money back."
FatWallet
FatWallet focuses on frugality. Although the site (which Ebates acquired in 2011) provides a cash-back component, it's renowned for its robust member forums.
"The FatWallet community keeps up-to-date on deals via the site's forums."
"FatWallet is for people who are more interested in saving money, and who are willing to do a little work," says Brent Shelton, FatWallet PR director. "We have a huge online community of people who share tips on sales, deals, and how to stack coupons." You'll find more tech-oriented deals on this site. FatWallet's partner sites include Acer, Adorama, Apple, Best Buy, and Newegg. 
Using FatWallet is similar to using Ebates: Sign up for a free account and then click through the website before you make a purchase at a qualifying retail site. You can also participate in the online forums, browse coupons, and find nearby deals and bargains from sites such as Amazon Local, Groupon, and LivingSocial.

Swagbucks
Although Swagbucks has a substantial shop-and-earn section that features online stores such as Amazon, Bloomingdale's, Hotels.com, Kohl's, and Target, it offers additional methods of earning Swag Bucks, which you can trade in for gift cards and cash (one Swag Buck is worth approximately one cent). Other ways to earn include searching the Web through the Swagbucks search engine, answering surveys and polls, playing games, watching videos, and signing up for sponsored offers.
"Shop and earn by using the Swagbucks website"

Just set up a free account. You'll earn at least one Swag Buck for logging in every day, and more if you use the Swagbucks toolbar or answer the site's daily poll. You can also earn Swag Bucks online when you shop with the company's credit card, which gives you 1.25 Swag Bucks on every purchase.

Plink
Want to earn even more cash back? Use Plink. Sign up for a free account, and link one debit or credit card. Then, all you have to do is buy things using that card-online or offline. You earn Plink Points only when you make qualifying purchases at partnered retailers, but you don't have to think about it - the amount is tallied on your Plink account automatically when you use your card to check out. Plink works with more than 50,000 retailers, including American Airlines, Gap, Sears, and Staples. It stacks on top of other rewards programs, too, even your credit card rewards program.You can redeem Plink Points for gift cards from well-known stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Walmart, and you can use the points to get miles on select airlines.
"Plink rewards you with gift cards from major retailers"
The service's main drawback is that you have to surrender your bank credentials to link your card. During the sign-up process, Plink requests that you log in using your online banking password, which might alarm some people. The company assures us, however, that all login credentials are securely encrypted with the same technology PayPal and Mint.com use, and that Plink employees cannot access credentials.

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