You may not know it, but you have a whole new card to play when shopping.
Forget the mall - use the Internet and get a partial refund for everything you buy from many retailers!
AOL Consumer Adviser Regina Lewis explained the ins and outs on "The Early Show" Wednesday.
Go to Ebates.com or Shortcuts.com, which are two of their leading sites in their area. They work much the same way -- you shop at various retailers and they keep tabs of the cash back you're earning and, every three months, they send you an actual check in the mail. I've personally tested this with Shortcuts.com, which is an AOL product.
Among major retailers who take part - and the percentages they refund:
Old Navy - 8 percent
Macy's -- 5 percent
Kohl's - 4 percent
Sears - 4 percent
Target - 3 percent
What's really neat is that Ebates.com and Shortcuts.com keep a running tab for you, so you can hop from site to site and it's seamless. If you make this your new way to shop, you capture for-the-taking cash on the table. In fact, one of their ad slogans is - it's like getting paid to shop!
Even though this sounds too good to be true, this may be one case then - it IS true! There's really no catch. It's a leads-generation model, meaning the stores want new customers or want to build loyalty with existing customers. There's inherent value there that they're willing to pay for at no cost to consumers.
And credit card companies are getting in on this action, as well.
Some of the ones that offer cash back:
Bank of America
Credit card companies are facing a nervous, cash-centric climate and they are willing to provide incentives over and above - and yes, if you take advantage of a cash-back credit card (it's just a matter of enrolling), you could earn cash back on a site like Shortcuts.com PLUS 1-to-5 percent back on your credit card. It's a real win/win, and all a matter of a little advance planning.