For some reason, I always thought the website eBillMe was a service that lets me pay over time (and also pay interest charges). I was confusing it with BillMeLater. Upon further review, it seems like eBillMe tries to do the opposite. The way their site works is that it lets you pay for things using your own bank’s online BillPay service. The advantage of this is that you are “pushing” your payment to vendors, and are thus not sharing any sensitive information like credit card numbers or even your checking account number from a personal check.
The disadvantage, in my view, is that you lose any potential credit card rewards you could otherwise get. You can still “live debt free” if you pay off your balances every month.
In any case, I took a second look because they were promising some enticing things: 10% Off Home Depot Gift Cards and a $15 rebate on a $100 Amazon.com Gift Cards. However, you always have to read the fine print. One offer turns out a lot better than the other…
$15 Mail-in Rebate on $100 Amazon.com Gift Certificate
I’ll start with the better one. If you buy a $100 gift card from Amazon.com through eBillMe by 1/15/2011, they have a mail-in rebate for $15 cash. Here is the rebate form PDF. First-time eBillMe customers only.
Other than the fact that you have to do a mail-in rebate, this offers seems otherwise pretty straightforward. Very worst case, you still have the Amazon.com gift certificate. Selected fine print:
Buy any Amazon.com Gift Card using eBillme before January 15th, 2011 and receive $15 by mail. Customer must fill out the rebate form and mail in. Offer applies only to Amazon.com Gift Card purchases using eBillme between September 15th, 2010 and January 15th, 2011. Your Amazon.com Gift Card must be a minimum of $100 and your bill must be paid in full to participate in the promotion. Rebate must be postmarked within 15 days of purchase date. There is a limit of one (1) rebate per person, household or address. Order must be paid in full.
10% Off Gift Cards at Home Depot, etc.
Gift cards for 10% off at retailers like Home Depot, JC Penney, and Zappos.com? Sounds nice. What’s the catch?
Well, to start off instead of getting the savings upfront, you accumulate “cash back” in an account. After you reach a minimum of $10, you can use the money as a coupon when shopping through stores that accept payments through eBillMe. These are rather limited, and include Sears.com, Kmart.com, and Tigerdirect.com along with a bunch of smaller stores. Once you accumulate $50, then you can request actual cash via a mailed check, but only in $50 increments.
There’s more. You can only earn up to a limit of $20 “cash back” per order, and $200 total per 12 month period. Your earnings expire after 24 months. Finally, the 10% cash back is only valid for first time use of eBillme. You’re probably back down to 1% back after that first purchase. So I couldn’t just buy $500 of Home Depot gift cards and get a $50 check mailed to me.
Honestly, that’s just too many hoops for too little reward. I’m staying away unless they greatly simplify the process in the future.