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Cashback Monitor is a website that shows you the current cash-back reward rates at 45+ online shopping portals.
It also features select travel rewards portals like Delta SkyMiles, and credit card points programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards.
That’s a valuable perk, because while few people think of travel and credit card portals when it comes to cash-back online shopping, they sometimes offer the best cash-back deals around.
Cashback Monitor also shows you the current cash-back rewards offers from dozens of retail stores, including Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy.
In this Cashback Monitor review we’ll use Best Buy as our example of how the site works.
How to Use Cashback Monitor
Step #1: Visit Cashback Monitor and use the search bar at the top of the home page to search for the specific store you want to shop at (or the brand you want to buy).
You’ll see a list of what each portal is offering for that store or brand.
For Best Buy, current offers include up to 7% through TopCashback, three points per $1 through JetBlue, and one point per $1 through Chase Ultimate Rewards (which you can earn with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card).
Step #2: Decide if you should act now or wait. Patience is often a virtue when you’re planning to make big online purchases like a laptop, because cash-back offers change frequently. That means you can save a lot of extra money if you’re willing to wait for a good deal.
In fact, one of the best features offered by the site is the ability to quickly view the history of offers at each store.
This can tell you whether or not you’re getting a relatively good deal or a relatively bad deal. In the case of our example, you can see in the chart below that 7% is the most cash-back ever offered via Best Buy.
Below this chart, you can also see the points/miles history (as pictured below). I’ll explain why this is important in Step 3.
Step #3: Set up an alert. Knowing the ebb and flow of cash-back rates at a given store tells you whether you should wait to make a purchase.
If the current rate is 2%, but the rate increases to 5% every few weeks, holding off makes sense. Fortunately, Cashback Monitor has a valuable alert feature that will help you score those better rates.
Once you’ve logged into your Cashback Monitor account, go to the “My Monitor” page. There, you can check off up to eight portals and up to 20 stores, and you can set a threshold for the alert to trigger. Whenever there’s a deal that crosses that threshold, you’ll get an email notification.
That’s an explanation of how the feature works at its most basic level. However, it has an even more powerful aspect: it can show you the best deal after accounting for points conversion.
Let’s go back to our Best Buy example.
TopCashback currently has the best cash-back offer at a straight 7%, while JetBlue and Chase Ultimate Rewards have historically had the best miles/points deals.
But how do you know which of those three is the better offer? In order to find out, you’d need to convert the points and miles into dollar value — which can be tricky (especially if you’re not a math guru).
Using the “Modify Cash Value of Points/Miles” option, you can enter the value of the points and Cashback Monitor will show you the cash-back equivalent. (A good starting point for figuring out how much points are worth is checking out ThePointsGuy’s monthly valuations.)
For example, JetBlue points are worth 1.2 cents each, and Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth 2 cents each. TopCashback is giving a straight-up 7% cash-back reward. So, let’s see who has the best deal.
Our example is an Apple MacBook Air 13.3” from Best Buy. The price is $999.99. For the sake of simplicity, we’re rounding up to $1,0000.
- TopCashback: the final cost is $930 after rewards with 7% cash-back.
- JetBlue: Offers one mile per dollar spent at Best Buy. As points are worth 1.2 cents, you’re getting the equivalent of $12 back.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: As with JetBlue, it offers one mile per dollar spent at Best Buy. As points are worth two cents each, you’re getting the equivalent of $20 back.
So, the clear winner of the day is TopCashback.
Of course, you probably could have intuited that, because 7% is a great deal in the cash-back world. However, the real value of this tool comes into play when setting up your alerts.
When you enter the point conversions for your points/miles programs, you’ll still get a notification whenever an offer crosses your percentage threshold.
Update: Turns out I was actually in the market for a Macbook Air. And just before this article went live, I learned that British Airways’ Avios shopping portal was offering 12 points per dollar spent at Apple. Avios points are valued at 1.5 cents each, so that was the equivalent of getting 18% cash-back on a laptop. I had been waiting for weeks for a deal like this to come through, and glad I’m glad I did.
Cashback Monitor Tips
- Take the portal’s cash-out minimum into consideration. When I declared TopCashback the clear winner of our experiment, it wasn’t just a matter of that site having the highest cash-back offer. TopCashback, unlike many similar sites, does not have a minimum threshold to redeem your cash-back. You can read more about how the program works in my TCB review.
As noted in my Rakuten review and my Ibotta review, those sites have a cash-out minimum of $5 and $20 respectively. What good is free money if it’s locked up in your account for months? So keep that in mind when choosing the best cash-back offer. 7% back might sound good, but it won’t actually save you money if you’re unable to access it.
- Always double dip when you can. When you use a cash-back portal, pay with whichever one of your cash-back credit cards has the best offer. And if you have a cash-back card that offers bonuses in rotating categories, it can pay to be patient there too. If you’re patient, persistent and willing to plan ahead, you can sometimes double your total savings.
- Set up alerts! In order to get the most out of your Cashback Monitor account, be sure to set alerts for the stores you shop at, the rewards sites you’re a member of, and the rewards credit cards you carry. You don’t have to sign up for alerts for every cash-back portal on Cashback Monitor, but look through the historical data from the various sites and choose the best options based on that data.
- Check for sign-up bonuses. Not only are they an easy way to save money, but they can also net you free gift cards, free PayPal money, and help you reach the minimum cash-out threshold for sites that have them. The sites that typically have generous sign up bonuses include Swagbucks, Rakuten (formerly Ebates), TopCashback, BeFrugal, Mr. Rebates, MyPoints and Lemoney.
Cashback Monitor Review: Find the Best Deals on Cash-Back Shopping Portals
Whenever you’re shopping online, you should make use of cash-back shopping portals (here are a few that are similar to Ibotta).
That’s especially true when it comes to high-priced items, where saving even a few percentage points can be significant. With average rates of around 2-3%, and top rates of 10% or more, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t take advantage of this resource.
The bottom line is that CashbackMonitor.com is a great tool to have in your repertoire of frugal practices. You can use it to find today’s top payout, as well as the best rate history for any shop and/or store in its expansive inventory of monitored sites.
Plus, it makes it easy to set up alerts so that you never miss a great deal — and those alerts even work with bonus points and travel miles obtained via credit card offers.
If you have the ability to pair the best-possible rate with a good cash-back rewards card, you can sometimes double your total savings.
One option worth considering is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has a $95 annual fee and comes with a sign-up bonus of 80,000 rewards points. Another is the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which comes with a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days, has no annual fee, and lets you earn between 1.5% and 5% cash-back on your purchases (rates vary depending on category). You can learn more about the Freedom Unlimited here.