Earning money by shopping on Swagbucks and on Ebates is superficially similar (if you’re not familiar, see our guides on the right side or click here and here), but there is a subtle and important difference. Let’s look at shopping at Target through each site to illustrate the difference.
Firstly, I’d like to mention that whether you use Swagbucks or Ebates, you can still take advantage of any coupon or rewards or store card for those stores. For example, I have a Target Red Card, so I earn 5% off each purchase at Target AS WELL as the money I earn back from either program.
At Swagbucks, you can earn 2SB for each dollar you spend at Target. Since most rewards on Swagbucks trade at 100 SB per dollar of value, you can assume for the sake of comparison that each SB is worth $0.01. Therefore, Swagbucks represents a 2% rebate on any shopping done at Target.
Ebates also offers a rebate for shopping at Target, one worth 2% per dollar spent.
Though superficially these seem the same, they are not for one simple reason: Swagbucks takes the word “dollar” literally. They only rebate 2 SB for each whole dollar spent, nothing is rebated for sub dollar amounts. Ebates, on the other hand, rebates 2% cash back on any and all money spent.
This might seem a small deviation not worth taking in to account. However, if, like for many, stores like Target are a fundamental place to buy the sundries of life (clothes, food, presents, household wares, etc.) that small difference can add up quickly.
My wife and I shop at Target often, making small purchases. We live in a City with a “City Target” location near her work and near our house, so Target is as convenient as any other store. For that reason our average sale is between $10 and $35 dollars, and is almost never a whole dollar amount. Let’s say I were to buy $5.65 worth with Swagbucks and with Ebates. That same transaction would result in a rebate worth either 10SB ($0.10) on Swagbucks or $0.113 on Ebates. You might scoff at a loss of 1.3 cents, but done once a week, choosing Swagbucks over Ebates would mean a loss of $0.676 a year or $33.80 over a purchasing lifetime of 50 years.
$33.80 might seem like nothing over such a long time (although, hey it’s free money), but that $33.80 put into a high interest, low cost savings account (for example, Aspiration) could become $56. If it were placed in the stock market in a low-cost ETF (for example at Acorns or Betterment), you could expect it to grow to between $1,832.00 and $13,703.00 or even more, depending on the market.
That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Naturally, not each cent earned over 50 years would realize 50 years of compounding, but knowing the difference, you could choose to invest it in a number of ways now, and still realize the benefit (as well as the benefit from the rebate going forward).