We all know that our data is being sold. While recent news stories such as Facebook allowing parties access to our information is a revelation for some, many of us have long known that if something is free then we are the product. Sometimes companies take it even further and convince us to pay to be the product. That’s right, I’m talking about your credit cards…
The fun –
Alright, this part isn’t very fun.
Hopefully you’re not carrying a balance and pay your card off every month. But despite your payment diligence, the credit card company is selling your data to research companies and advertisers. Companies who will then promote spending trend data, send you more credit card offers, promote new bank bonuses, etc. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can take advantage of the data sharing mechanisms of credit and debit cards to claw back a percentage of your spend. The apps below from Drop, Ebates, and Spent will help you make sure that if you’re going to be the product, you’re making some money.
The profit –
Previously we talked about iDine on Rewards Network. Dosh operating on the Empyr network. And even Groupon+ restaurants. Now we’re going to get into other programs that can get you instant cash back. Just from going out to the stores you normally visit (and sometimes even gas and ride share programs).
First up is Drop –
Drop is a points-based program that rewards you for shopping with core brands as well as periodic special offers. You just link your cards and share your data.
At the time of sign up, Drop requires that you specify 5 brands you shop with the most. In my case that was McDonald’s, Uber, Lyft, Walgreens, and Safeway. And now I can never change them.
This is a bit of a failing in Drop because Safeway has just closed their Florida stores and so now I’m tied to a retailer with no local presence. They promise an update is coming, but no timing has been provided.
After earning enough points from your regular spend, you’re treated to a list of redemption offers from Amazon, Starbucks, Hotels.com, and even American Airlines gift cards.
And then there’s the bonus game. Drop has brought back the classic game of Snake, but this game earns you points. It pops up periodically as available to play on the Bonuses tab, so brush up your skills!
Next is Ebates –
Ebates is well known for enabling you to reap cash back rewards online, but now with the app they have enabled in-store cash back. While I generally prefer TopCashBack for cash back from shopping online, they don’t offer in-store rewards.
You register your cards with Ebates to share data and then hit the In-Store tab. Here you can link offers from merchants such as Office Depot, Macy’s, Gap, JC Penney, and Bed Bath & Beyond. This is in addition to any cash back you may earn from your credit card and any rewards you may earn from the retailer. Don’t miss setting up this easy way to earn some cash on big purchases such as business expenses, clothing, and beauty products.
The big downside to the Ebates cash back is that it is only at a very limited sub-selection of retailers. Thankfully some of these retailers are big ticket purchase places, so it is easy to capitalize on cash back with them.
Not a bad way to get paid for the access to your shopping data.
Lastly we’ve got SPENT Money –
By signing up for both Dosh and iDine, you can sometimes “double-dip” or even “triple-dip” (once you factor in credit card cash back). With SPENT Money, I’ve even managed to “quad-dip” by getting credit card cash back on gas, a discount from the gas station’s rewards program, cash back per gallon from Get Upside, and finally cash back from SPENT Money.
SPENT Money has an incredible list of partners including Home Depot, Chevron, Kroger, Shell, Whole Foods, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, ExxonMobil, McDonald’s, and more. You can easily combine SPENT Money with Drop‘s points on McDonald’s, credit card cash back, and a sweet discount deal from the McDonald’s app for another quad.
With SPENT Money and my Uber credit card, I actually make money on my Netflix membership. SPENT sees the transaction on my credit card and pays me 1%. Then the Uber Visa reimburses me for my membership. It may only be $0.15 a month, but I rarely turn down free money.
There is a down side to SPENT. You have to select to go in and review transactions, where it will pull in all credit card transaction data that it has followed. Then you have to cross-reference that against the active partners and against your cash back earning. Combined with an awkward navigation experience, and this can be particularly difficult to identify when you are not earning correctly. My local Shell station doesn’t register that it’s part of the active rewards. So I have to submit regular support requests, but Walgreen’s and McDonald’s have no problem.
It all comes together in investment –
When you cash out your Drop points, take the value and put it into a low-fee investment account. When your Ebates check comes in the mail, make a deposit to your Betterment account for collecting all that cash back. And when your SPENT cash back tips the redemption scale, don’t spend it – send it out to make more money for your future.
By taking the rewards and putting them away, you can earn serious bank roll. And who doesn’t want an extra hundred thousand dollars.
I may earn a commission off of links from this site, but that does not influence which sites I link to. These are applications that I am signed up for and use. The affiliate links are there to help this blog start paying for itself.