If you aren’t earning points or extra cash back on your online purchases, you’re likely leaving serious rewards on the table.
Thankfully, it’s as simple as a couple of extra clicks before you buy your next lawnmower at homedepot.com, jeans from gap.com or decorative dish towels and must-have home goods from target.com. And with inflation remaining a serious concern for many Americans, every little bit helps.
These sites award points, miles or cash back on almost everything you buy online. At the most basic level, you start at one of these portals and then click through to the retailer’s website to earn extra rewards (rather than starting directly at the merchant).
Here at TPG, we often talk about Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates. This is for good reason, as it’s essentially a hybrid program, allowing you to earn either cash back or American Express Membership Rewards points on your online purchases. But no one program always has the best return. After all, different portals often have varying earning rates for the same retailers.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into a different cash-back portal — TopCashback. While it doesn’t award points and instead lets you redeem rewards for cash or gift cards, it has one valuable feature that no other cash-back portal has: a “Highest Cash Back Guarantee.”
What is TopCashback?
TopCashback is an online shopping portal that partners with nearly 3,000 online retailers, including big names like Adidas, Apple, eBay, Macy’s and Sephora, as well as some travel brands like Marriott, Vrbo and Hilton. You can use the portal to earn cash back on certain gift card purchases and also place curbside pickup orders.
TopCashback calls itself “the USA’s most generous cash back website.” That’s because it passes 100% of the day-to-day commission it gets from merchants back to members. The site explains that it makes money through advertisements and sponsored links which are labeled as “zero cashback.” Merchants also pay the site bonuses from time to time.
How to sign up for TopCashback
Signing up for TopCashback is easy. Just head to its website, enter your email and choose a password.
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Once you’ve joined, you can start earning for your online purchases immediately — and you can also earn cash back for every friend you refer.
How to use TopCashback
TopCashback works just like any other online shopping portal. Once you have an account, head to the site before making any online purchases.
There’s a search box at the top of the website which you can use to search for the merchant you want to shop with.
Then, click through to the retailer’s site to complete the purchase.
When you click the “Get Cash Back” button next to a store, a new window or tab will open, indicating that you’re being redirected to the merchant’s website. You must complete your purchase in that window so that TopCashback can track how much you spent and reward you.
Alternatively, if you want to make your life a bit easier, you could download TopCashback’s browser extension.
It’s available for Chrome and Firefox and will automatically notify you when shopping with a participating retailer. So, all you’ll need to do is click “Activate Now” to earn cash back, as opposed to going through the main portal. It will also show you any coupons available for that site.
Transactions should show up on your earnings page within seven days. First, they’ll appear as “pending,” meaning that your transaction has been recorded, but the retailer hasn’t yet confirmed that all criteria have been met for cash back. Then, within a month, your transaction will switch to “confirmed” status. The final step is to wait for your transaction to become “payable.” This usually occurs within a few weeks, once the affiliate network invoiced the retailer, though it can take up to 90 days.
You can claim your cash back at any time once it reaches payable status. TopCashback allows you to cash out through PayPal, automated clearing house transfer and a variety of gift card options with retailers such as Amazon, Disney and Sephora — though some merchants have minimum amounts for gift card rewards.
Unlike some cash-back portals, there are no minimums to request a payout. You can usually get up to a 5% bonus when you request your payout as credit with certain merchants or as a Visa or American Express prepaid card.
What makes TopCashback stand out from the other online shopping portals is that it offers a “Highest Cash Back Guarantee.” Plain and simple, if you find a better cash-back deal on another site, you can file a claim and TopCashback will match the offer once it’s been reviewed and approved. This is the only online shopping portal we are aware of to offer a guarantee like this.
The higher rate must have been offered on the same day that your transaction took place. Also, TopCashback will only match cash-back rates from the following competitors:
- Mr. Rebates
- Tada (formerly ShopAtHome)
In other words, you can’t match non-monetary rewards, such as airline miles.
To file a claim, you must fill out a form via the customer service page. It must be submitted within seven days of the actual transaction date, with the transaction visible in your account. Although there’s no option to attach files to the initial claim form, TopCashback suggests retaining a timestamped screenshot of the higher offer.
Your best bet for maximizing this feature is to use a shopping portal aggregator like CashBack Monitor. It allows you to search for retailers and see the earning rates you’d get across all applicable shopping portals. So, even if TopCashback isn’t offering the highest rate, you’ll be able to see who’s offering a better rate so you can match it.
In fact, it’s best practice to use an aggregator like CashBack Monitor before you make a purchase so you can start with the portal that will be most rewarding for your purchase.
As you can see, using TopCashback is relatively straightforward, but there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- For TopCashback to track your shopping trips, you must have cookies enabled on your browser.
- Only use promotions or promo codes found on the portal; if you use others, they may void your rewards.
- Be sure to read the restrictions for each merchant. Many won’t count gift cards as eligible purchases for earning bonuses, and others will exclude certain products.
- Remember to pay with a credit card that will offer the best earning rate on your purchase. Most online merchants don’t fall into the traditional bonus categories, so you’ll probably want to stick with a card that’s good for everyday purchases.
Also, remember that the Highest Cash Back Guarantee is only useful if you’re only trying to earn cash back. If you’re flexible, you can sometimes get a greater return by going through a portal that earns points or miles — even if the earning rate is lower.
For instance, with Rakuten, you can opt to earn American Express Membership Rewards points. TPG values Amex points at 2 cents apiece, effectively doubling your return over the same amount of cash back. If you had to choose between earning 3% cash back via TopCashback or 2 Amex points per dollar spent via Rakuten, you’ll get a higher return with Rakuten if you value Amex points similarly to TPG.
You should always go through a shopping portal when making online purchases.
If it’s cash-back rewards you’re after, then TopCashback is a great tool to bookmark, thanks to its Highest Cash Back Guarantee.
However, you can sometimes get greater value by going through a portal that earns points or miles, so it’s important to do the math and see what makes the most sense.