Paribus: Automatically Request Price Drop Savings

paribus_logoMany online retailers offer a “Low Price Guarantee”, which doesn’t mean they actually have the lowest prices but only that they will match a lower price if you find it and ask for your money within a certain time window. Sometimes they’ll match certain competitors, and sometimes they’ll only match themselves.

For example, let’s say you buy some shoes and you find that a week later they are $25 less. If you don’t both notice and ask using the proper channels, you won’t get that $25 adjustment.

Paribus is a start-up which promises to help you automatically request price adjustments on all your online purchases. They’ll even see if you could have saved more using another coupon code. Thanks to reader Colin for the tip.

What does it cost? The service makes money on a contingency basis, taking 25% of any savings found. If it doesn’t save you money, it doesn’t get paid.

What merchants does it support? Here’s the current list:

  • Amazon.com
  • Target
  • Wal-Mart
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Best Buy
  • Macy’s
  • Sephora.com
  • NewEgg.com
  • Staples
  • Bonobos
  • J. Crew
  • Zappos.com
  • Nordstrom
  • Gap
  • Banana Republic
  • Old Navy
  • Athleta
  • Piperlime

Any concerns or catches? Well, in order for their bots to do their thing (and basically impersonate you), you’ll need to hand them a decent amount of information. I signed for an account and this is what they wanted:

  • Control over your e-mail address. You will need an e-mail from a major provider (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or iCloud) and either need to authenticate them or give them your e-mail password. They need the ability to both scan your e-mail for receipts and send e-mails requesting refunds on your behalf.
  • Your Amazon.com password. If you want to utilize Amazon’s price match policy, you’ll have to give them your account password (which they promise to keep encrypted on their servers).
  • Your credit card information. Most retailers will credit your money onto the same payment method as the original purchase, so you’ll have to leave a credit card on file with Paribus for them to charge their finder’s fee.

A workaround for e-mail privacy concern would be to create a special e-mail address for shopping (i.e. yourname_receipts@gmail.com) and then set up auto-forwarding of everything going to that “dummy account” to your normal e-mail address (i.e. yourname@gmail.com). That way, you can just check your normal e-mail and still get all your online receipts.

I just signed up for an account today, but here’s a screenshot which shows some theoretical savings:

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This does seem like a good idea for a service, although the merchants probably won’t like it as they profit when we are lazy and uninformed. I don’t like the idea of giving out my Amazon password, but really that is the only online merchant that I use regularly. The final question will be if their execution lives up to the promise of “set-it-and-forget-it” savings.

More: TechCrunch

Google Translate: Free, Real-Time Language Translation While Traveling

gtranslateicoBack in 2014, Google bought Word Lens, a neat app that translated a few languages in real time using your smartphone’s camera. The live translation feature has been integrated into the Google Translate app (Android and iOS) and now works with 27 languages. If you snap a picture, it works with 37 languages.

This means when traveling to a foreign country, just point your phone at a restaurant menu, grocery store item, or street sign and you’ll see it in your home language. This counts as a deal for me because I would pay money for such a convenient and useful app. But it’s free, and you don’t even need an internet connection to use it (assuming you download the appropriate language packs ahead of time).

Here’s a cool video demonstration (embedded below, direct link):

Here’s the announcement on the official Google blog:

We started out with seven languages—English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish—and today we’re adding 20 more. You can now translate to and from English and Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. You can also do one-way translations from English to Hindi and Thai. (Or, try snapping a pic of the text you’d like translated—we have a total of 37 languages in camera mode.)

There is also a conversation mode where you can speak and it will provide instant translation of conversations across 32 languages (good for interactions at hotels, train stations, or taxis). I believe you’ll need an internet connection for this, but it supposedly now works better with slower connections.

I tried it out and while it really only works with clearly printed text, it is still an amazing application of augmented reality. I look forward to having it expand to even more languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Willing.com Review: Free, Legal Online Will Software

I must admit that I procrastinated on setting up a will, much like many others. Ideally, an experienced, skilled estate lawyer would create something customized to your situation. But it is not always clear how to find such a person, or know what a fair cost would be. Maybe we just don’t like the idea of thinking about death.

If you don’t create a will, your state already has a default plan in place (look up the intestacy laws in your state) and it may not be what you would have chosen. Do you want a stranger appointing the guardian of your children? I tried to think of it as a gift to my family. A reader recently told me about Willing.com, a new website that promises a free, legal will in about 10 minutes. Is such a service a good idea?

Here’s what The Consumerist (owned by Consumer Reports) had to say about other DIY will-making software:

Our wallet-watching cousins at the Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter took a look at three DIY options for will-making — LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and Quicken WillMaker Plus — and found that while all three are better than not having a will, none of them is likely to meet the needs of anything more than the most basic of estates.

I’d never heard of Willing before, but the other software costs $35 and up, so I took it for a little spin and took a bunch of screenshots (click to enlarge).

Overall, the interface was very pleasant and modern and mobile-friendly.

First, they will ask some basic information about you and your family. Names, genders, zip codes, and birthdates, but not Social Security Numbers. I suppose they aren’t required legally? At least it’s one less source of identity theft to worry about.

Next, they will ask you how you want to handle your property…

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.. and final arrangements.

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Who do you want to carry out your wishes?

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When you’re done with the questionnaire, your will is created and customized to your state.

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You can then print or download your complete will as a PDF, and also create an optional living will.

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At no point do you see any advertisements nor do they ask for any payment information. The last screenshot does provide a hint as to the future revenue model for Willing – perhaps they will set up a way for you to prepay your funeral expenses (relieving your family of some stress and money) and get a little cut of that. That sounds reasonable to me if they are providing the will for free. Of course, if you live another 50 years, will you even remember shelling out that money?

I am not a lawyer and thus can’t vouch for the accuracy or quality of the will contents. As the Consumerist article states, one thing to worry about is outdated information if their software isn’t updated regularly. The final instructions tell you to sign the will along with two valid witnesses and that a notary is not required for the will to be legally binding.

The final document produced was only three pages long, although my theoretical situation was pretty simple. As I read through it, I started to see how such software would eventually become free. Indeed, while researching this post, I found several other “free will makers”, although Willing.com had the best user interface and had the least amount of annoying ads.

It may not be optimal, but at least going through the Q&A process will make you aware of the various issues you need to think about. Who will take care of your kids if your spouse dies? Who is your backup heir? Your backup estate executor? Maybe just starting the process of putting your wishes down in writing is a good thing. Otherwise, I can see someone with a simple situation using this software, but don’t know if I could recommend such a service to my friends. If I really cared about how my estate was handled (i.e. I had a significant net worth and/or dependents), I would recommend hiring a lawyer instead. The question then becomes – Is there a better way to find a good estate lawyer than relying on word-of-mouth?

Jet.com: Loss Leader Pricing on Everything + 1 Year Free Promo Code

jetJet.com has officially launched its attempt to bring the Costco model to online shopping. That is, they plan on selling you things at near-zero profit margins and make their money on the annual $49.99 membership fee. The more stuff you add your cart, the lower the total cost. The more you buy from the same warehouse, the lower your total cost. Free shipping on orders of $35 or more.

This supposedly means prices that are 10% to 15% lower than Amazon on average, even listing the Amazon price right on their page for instant comparisons. How they show savings is a little confusing… things make more sense after adding it to your cart.

For example, this pack of toilet paper shows $21.05, the same price as Amazon. But I can save $9.06 by actually adding it to my cart, which brings the actual price to $11.99, much cheaper than Amazon. If I buy *two* packs, then my sub total is $42.10 which breaks the $35 barrier and gets me free shipping. But my actual total due is only $22.74, less than $35. Confusing, but hey it works out in my favor so I’m cool with it.

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However, this model only works at a certain scale, and this WSJ article points out that they are often buying stuff from other competitors when they don’t have the item in their own inventory:

The Hoboken, N.J., company is absorbing steep losses on many orders filled as part of a trial run that began in March, largely because Jet hasn’t signed up enough partner merchants or opened enough warehouses to directly sell much of the merchandise shown on its website.

When a Jet customer buys items that aren’t in its inventory or available from partner merchants, a Jet employee buys the items from another website and has them shipped directly to the customer. That is expensive for Jet because the company often pays high shipping costs plus any difference between its advertised price and the amount charged by the outside website.

For example, The Wall Street Journal recently bought 22 items from Jet. Twelve were shipped to the Journal by retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Nordstrom Inc., according to sales receipts.

Jet’s prices for the same 12 items added up to $275.55, an average discount of about 11% from the prices Jet paid for those items on other retailers’ websites. Jet’s total cost, which also includes estimated shipping and taxes, was $518.46.

So in other words, the 11% pricing discount above is not due to an awesome business model yet. They are being artificially suppressed with investor money. Now, spending venture capital funds in the search for rapid growth is common for internet start-ups, but I don’t remember any of my early Amazon orders coming in a Barnes & Noble box.

As a consumer, I suppose the best thing to do is simply enjoy the loss-leader savings during your free trial and then decide if it’s worth $50 a year. Costco is highly profitable but even they offer their $4.99 rotisserie chickens as a loss-leader, missing out on $40 million a year in order to keep people coming in the door.

Update: People report success getting a free 1-year membership with promo code CURISMA. There is also the code FREE6 which gives you a free 6-month membership. If you signed up with Jet earlier, don’t forget that you may have gotten a 6-month free trial already. (The trial doesn’t start until your first purchase.) It appears on the normal website, they give out 3-month free trials.

Amazon Prime Day 7/15 : One-Day Sale for Prime Members

Expired: Sale is over! Amazon is holding something called “Amazon Prime Day” for their Prime members on July 15, 2015. Non-Prime members can sign up for a free 30-day trial to be eligible to participate. Here are the deals that caught my eye:

Also check out Walmart.com, as they announced that they will also compete with Amazon today with a bunch of deals. They also have Wal-Mart Dare to Compare Deals, where supposedly everything on the page is cheaper than Amazon (shipping may vary).

RingPlus: Basic, Free Cellular Phone Service – No Credit Card Needed

RingPlus is a Sprint MVNO that offers cheap cellular phone plans, starting at… $0. You can bring over an off-contract Sprint phone (check eligibility) or you can buy one from them (old iPhone 4 costs $105). They make money partially from ads – ads play whenever you call someone instead of the normal ringing. When your friend picks up, the ad stops immediately. You also pay for any overages past your free allotment. There are no contracts and no activation fees.

RingPlus free plans are usually only open a for a limited window, and then it closes for a while. On July 15th, they are opening up a new “Truly Free Plan” which doesn’t even require your credit card number, in case you are afraid that they will charge you improperly. It includes 125 minutes, 40 texts, and 10MB of 4G LTE data per month. It’s not much, but hey it’s free. Not even taxes are due. All you need is an e-mail address and an eligible Bring your Own Sprint Device phone.

Here’s a screenshot of their current plans (click to enlarge).

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Are there any catches?

  • In the past, RingPlus has discontinued their free plans without much notice if they can’t line up enough advertisers in your calling area. That would be annoying, especially if you invested good money into a Sprint phone.
  • If you do sign up and decide to link your credit card, know that overages cost 2 cents per text, minute, or MB. Roaming is available, but those overages are much more expensive.
  • MMS picture messages are at an additional cost (4 cents each).
  • I’m not sure how easy it is to track your current usage.

In case you were suspicious, this is not a VoIP-only service like FreedomPop as normal calls use the Sprint network. However, free WiFi calling is an option so you can save your minutes. I know there are some RingPlus users out there as readers, so please share and discuss in the comments!

AirHelp, Refund.Me, AirTaxBack: Get Money Back For Cancelled, Delayed, or Missed Flights

airhelpHave you been on a delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight to/from Europe within the last within the last three years? Ever just missed a flight? You could be entitled up to $800 from the airline, or a refund of your taxes and fees.

AirHelp and Refund.me are services that help travelers claim compensation for certain flight problems. Too often, airlines convince folks to settle for food vouchers or drink coupons when they can claim cold, hard cash. Right now, they only appear to work with flights to and from the European Union. Specifically:

The flight passenger rights stated in the EC 261/2004. apply if you are leaving the EU with any airline or arriving in the EU with an airline registered in the EU (or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland). AirHelp helps passengers from all countries who have experienced delayed, canceled, or overbooked flights that are subject to this EU regulation.

You provide them with your information, and if they can use EU regulations to get your compensation (supposedly they’ll even take them to court), they’ll send it over (after taking a 25% cut). If they can’t help, there is no cost for you. It seems like if you’ve already experienced a delay or cancellation, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a shot. I haven’t had the opportunity to use either of these companies, so I can’t say which is better.

AirTaxback.com is a related service that helps travelers get back Taxes, Fees and Charges (TFC’s) if you for any reason never went on a scheduled flight. Perhaps the flight was cancelled, you or a family member was sick, or even if you simply were late for the flight. Again, this appears to be based on European Union flight laws. They charges a finders fee in advance (from free to €10) after they determine that your application is valid and you are due a refund.

We estimate that in 2012 alone, airlines flying in and out of Europe held on to over €3.5 Billion in Taxes, Fees and Charges belonging to passengers that booked a flight but didn’t travel” We are looking forward to working with the great people from AirTaxBack as this is one more area where most passengers are currently unaware of their rights and are met with indifference, when trying to claim themselves.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card – 75,000 Bonus Points Promo

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citihilton180emvLimited-time offer. The sign-up bonus for this card has also been bumped-up for a limited time. The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, from our partner Citi, is their no-annual fee co-branded card and comes with the following perks:

  • Limited Time: Earn 75,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No annual fee.*

This card is ideal for people who at least occasionally stay at Hilton hotels (as this card is also giving you a bunch of points and complimentary Silver status to try and get you to become more loyal). Hilton HHonors points are worth the most when redeemed for a hotel stay, as there aren’t really that many great cash-equivalent redemption options.

Silver Status perks include:

  • 15% bonus on all the HHonors Base Points you earn.
  • 5th night free on Standard Room Reward stays of 5 nights or more.
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access during stays at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Canopy™ by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay (at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Embassy Suites Hotels™, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™ hotels)

Hilton points redemption varies from month to month. You can use this search tool to see how much a hotel will cost in any specific area (i.e. Honolulu or Paris). Here are some example redemptions for the month of June:

  • Honolulu, Hawaii. Hilton Waikiki Beach is 40,000 points. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is 50,000 points.
  • San Francisco, California. Hilton San Francisco Union Square is 50,000 points.
  • Orlando, Florida. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando is 20,000 points.
  • London, UK. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London is 60,000 points.

This Citi Hilton card is the version with no annual fee, the first year or any future year. If you have this card and are looking to sign-up again, please note this fine print:

Hilton HHonors Bonus Points offer not available if you have had a Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card account that was opened or closed in the past 18 months.

There is also another card called the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card which has a $95 annual fee, but has better ongoing perks. I personally have the Reserve, but I can understand that some people prefer no annual fee.

Obihai Obi200: Free Monthly Home Phone Service + $29.99 Upfront Cost

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Updated with new deal at bottom. Depending on the survey, somewhere between 40% and 65% of people now live in households with no landline (cell phone only). If you still have landline phone service and are looking for a cheaper alternative, Obihai is officially supported by Google:

Obihai is excited to announce official support for Google Voice. With a Google Voice account and a companion OBi device you can make and receive VoIP calls on a regular telephone. To get started, just login to the OBiTALK website, add your OBi device and select Google Voice as your service. You’ll then confirm your account with Google, and within minutes, you will be making and receiving calls from the comfort and convenience of your home phone.

An Obihai VoIP phone adapter is a little box that will allow you to plug in any standard landline telephone and use Google Voice to make free phone calls within the US and Canada. You can also make cheap international calls starting at 1 cent a minute.

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It’s tough to beat under 50 bucks upfront and no ongoing monthly fees for unlimited home phone service. I bought one earlier this year – check out my OBi200 Adapter + Google Voice Installation Review.

We primarily use cell phones now as well, but it is nice to have a backup service that doesn’t cost anything monthly and we can have the occasional long conversation without worrying about battery life, plan overages, or too much cell phone radiation.

$29.99 deal details. The Obihai OBi200 VoIP Telephone Adapter from NewEgg is usually around $49.99. Using the promo code EMCAVAP42 knocks it down to $39.99 with free shipping (my e-mail just says “for a limited time”). However, you can also stack another $10 discount – this one from American Express Checkout. NewEgg is a participating merchant, just pick the AmEx Checkout option instead of entering your credit card info… the new service uses your existing American Express online account login so there is nothing new to sign up for. Final price: $29.99 with free shipping (+ any tax).

In order to be eligible, you must make a purchase at barkbox.com, us.burberry.com, laithwaiteswine.com, ledbury.com, newegg.com, sabon.com, ticketmaster.com, virginwines.com, warbyparker.com, wsj.com, or wsjwine.com, and, at time of checkout, select the Amex Express Checkout option instead of the merchant’s standard online checkout option. You must have an online account with American Express since you will be required to provide this username and password in order to use Amex Express Checkout. Offer ends 9/7/15. Limit one (1) $10 statement credit per American Express online account per merchant. Offer only valid on orders shipped within the United States and its territories.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: 80,000 Bonus Points Limited Time Promo

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit CardLimited-time offer. Most travel cards offer an ongoing sign-up bonus, but it’s even better when you snag them during a limited-time bump-up – this time it is the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase. The last time I wrote about their limited-time offer was a year ago. The highlights for new Marriott cardholder include:

  • Limited Time! Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Enjoy 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date!
  • For every $1 spent, earn 5 points at 3,800 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else
  • No limit to how many points you can earn
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees and enjoy wider acceptance when you travel with your embedded chip card and you make purchases at chip-enabled card readers
  • $85 Annual Fee

We’ve started traveling again as a family, so I looked through Marriott’s redemption offerings. Marriott properties include Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn & Suites. You can view their redemption chart here. Redeem 4 nights and get the 5th night free. Hotels on their PointSavers list have temporarily reduced redemption costs.

80,000 points is enough to get you a night at any Ritz-Carlton in the world. Or, 80,000 points can get you two nights at any Category 8 or Ritz-Carlton Tier 1 hotel. Or, it could get you eight nights at a Category 2 hotel. The free night award can be used for up to a Category 5 hotel. In the top right corner of the redemption chart link, you can view a comprehensive list of what hotels are in any specific category. Here are some options that caught my eye.

Ritz Carlton Tier 5 (Highest tier, 70,000 points a night)

Category 8 Hotels (40,000 points per night, 35,000 if Pointsaver)

Category 7 Hotels (35,000 points per night, 30,000 if Pointsaver)

Category 6 Hotels (30,000 points per night, 25,000 if Pointsaver)

Ritz Carlton Tier 1 (30,000 points per night, 20,000 if Pointsaver)

Category 4 Hotels (Eligible with Cat 1-5 Certificate or 20,000 points per night standard, 15,000 if Pointsaver)

  • Orlando: Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre
  • Orlando: Courtyard Orlando Airport
  • Orlando: Fairfield Inn Orlando Airport
  • Orlando: Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld®
  • Orlando: Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
  • Orlando: Courtyard Orlando International Drive/Convention Center
  • Orlando: SpringHill Suites Orlando Airport
  • Orlando: Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando International Drive/Convention Center

Adding up the value of two Cat 7 nights (2x 35k) and a Category 2 night (10k) is going to be easily over $500 of value, possibly closer to $700-$800. But as always, hotel points are only good if you can use and enjoy them. Poke around their award listings – Marriott has a lot of different hotel brands to choose from. The Courtyards I’ve stayed in have been modernized and updated, while SpringHill Suites are nice for families. I’ve also gotten to stay at some terrific properties thanks to such point promotions, although I tend to value location and convenience over the bling factor. There is an $85 annual fee that is not waived the first year.

If you’ve gotten a bonus from this Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card within the last 2 years, please note the following:

This 80,000 bonus point offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the past 24 months.

I was wrong initially as Marriott points are convertible to gift cards, but it takes 60,000 points to redeem for a $200 gift card for Marriott or retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Nordstrom. That ratio isn’t all that great, you’ll definitely get the most value out of your points if you stay at Marriott hotels.

On your account anniversary, you’ll get a certificate for a free Category 1-5 night which you can weigh against another $85 annual fee. As long as you can use that certificate for a decent hotel, getting $85 value is certainly achievable. For example, a random night at the (Category 4) Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre was $115 when including taxes.

Marriott Rewards Leaderboard Banner

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.  “The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

TopCashBack: Shopping Portal That Promises Highest Payout

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Update: There is a limited-time offer for new customers that gets you $9.90 cash back from Wal-Mart when you buy a 138 fl oz bottle of Tide liquid laundry detergent for $8.97 with free in-store pickup. Ends 7/8/15.

Visit Walmart through TopCashback, purchase a jumbo 138 fl oz bottle of Tide ‘Clean & Fresh’ (either in ‘Daybreak Fresh’ or ‘Freshing Breeze’ scent) or ‘Clean & Sensitive’ (in ‘Cool Cotton’ scent) liquid laundry detergent priced at $8.97 and within seven days $9.90 cashback will have posted in your TopCashback account.

In-store pick-up, subject to the item’s availability at the location, is free. The $9.90 should cover the cost of the product and any sales tax you may possibly be charged, effectively making the huge bottle of laundry detergent a fantastic freebie!

Within 21 days the $9.90 will turn payable and can be credited straight to your checking or PayPal account. Alternatively you could opt to be paid in an Amazon .com Gift Card, which with its 2.5% bonus on top would mean you’d get $10.14 instead of $9.90.

Original post:

When you shop online these days, it’s become habit to search out a coupon or go through a shopping portal that gives a percentage back on purchases made through their links. Well, talk about a race to the bottom. Instead of rebating you part of their merchant commission, TopCashBack.com promises to rebate you all of it (and make money via ads on their website). In addition, they even have no minimum payout threshold. You wouldn’t think that would be a viable business model, but the company is already the #1 cashback site in the UK so apparently it works for them.

For example, I get over 1% back on eBay purchases. You can also get your payouts in Amazon gift certificates with a 2.5% increase in value.

If you aren’t already a member, some other portals also offer sign-up bonuses:

  • eBates ($10 new user bonus after any $25+ purchase, $5 mininum cash-out)
  • Mr. Rebates ($5 new user bonus, $10 minimum cash-out)

Sometimes one of these sites may privately negotiate a higher payout temporarily, so TopCashBack may not always be the highest. Also, if you use miles or points, you may prefer getting 2 points/miles per dollar back as opposed to 2 cents per dollar back. For example, I’ve been warming up to the UltimateRewards Mall (must first have a Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, or Chase Ink card) as 1 Ultimate Reward point is worth 1.25 cents towards travel or converts to 1 United or British Airways mile.

Snagshout: Discounted Amazon Products In Exchange For Honest Reviews

thermoIf you’re like most Amazon shoppers, you don’t like buying anything unless it has a lot of positive 4 and 5 star reviews. But that makes it really hard for new brands and products to gain traction. Good ole’ capitalism has created a new breed of websites that offer limited amounts of heavily discounted products in exchange for honest reviews. Here’s how most of them work:

  • You are given a special discount code that lets you purchase a product at a steep discount, for example a $20 value product for $1 or $2. Most of these products will work with Amazon Prime, so that your $1 item can ship free on its own (otherwise you’ll have to add it onto a larger order to get free shipping).
  • By purchasing this product at discount, you agree to leave an honest review after using it. Don’t leave a review before receiving the product.
  • Your review must state that you’ve “received this product at a discount in exchange for a review” or a similar disclosure.
  • You will not be able to claim another discount until your review is verified live on Amazon.com.
  • You agree not to resell the items you bought, under penalty of removal from future promotions.

You may think this sounds shady, but the Amazon Vine program works in a very similar way with the manufacturers and vendor supplying free review samples to their “top” reviewers. Amazon’s own policies state that sellers cannot provide compensation for a review, but sellers can offer a free or discounted product in exchange for an unbiased, unedited review.

You don’t need to be a high-volume reviewer for these sites, but you will need to have an Amazon customer account that you’ve actually bought something with, and I think you should have at least one previous review under your belt as well.

Here are the “discount-for-review” sites that I am aware of. I’m sure I’m missing some.

While some these sites give the impression that they prefer staying in the shadows (“secret”), Snagshout actually hired a PR firm and sent me a press release:

Snagshout, a new social deals website, launches today to provide a unique shopping experience to consumers by offering deep discounts on a wide range of retail products for purchase, use and review. The site connects shoppers looking for deals with merchants looking to gain traction with new items on Amazon. With deals organized into nine categories such as beauty, toys and media, users can easily search for new products. Most of the deals are between 30-90% off of regular retail price for Snagshout users who are willing to try the product and leave an honest review within two weeks of purchase.

I was a former member of 1bucktoday and just signed up for Snagshout, but really the only thing that interested me there was this instant-read thermometer that I bought for $2 even though the historical price is around $18. (Summer is here and I’ve been grilling a lot recently.) I noticed that there are a lot of non-FDA-approved nutritional supplements on these sites.

thermo2

While these sites may not currently violate Amazon’s terms and conditions, that could always change. Amazon has already had to deal with bad press from websites that just straight-up sell fake reviews. While this is not the same thing, I doubt that Amazon likes it. Enjoy these sites while they last!

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the review websites mentioned in this post.