On Saturday, I participated in the CompareRewards holiday chat. We got to talk to the heads of 8 different cash back and rewards sites.
One of the sites was BeFrugal.com. It has great rates, and initially I was really excited about it. After some research, though, I’m not sure I can endorse it wholeheartedly. Maybe 3/4-heartedly?
Cash back rates
The rates are mostly equal to or higher than other sites. (But you should always, always check. It only takes a minute, people.)
I’ve found several instances where the percent is lower — and I don’t always want the hassle of contacting them for a couple percent more.
If you’re going to spend large amounts online and/or are a (very) patient person, BeFrugal.com will probably get you a better deal.
Referral bonuses count toward the threshold.
Choose payment by Amazon GC and get an extra 3% added to your balance.
You need $25 of rebates before you can cash out. If you don’t manage to refer anyone, that’s a tall order. In that case, you’d have to spend $250 at 10% (and you’re rarely going to get a percentage that high) just to be able to cash out.
Yes, referral bonuses count toward the $25 minimum — but not until your referral reaches $25. That’s probably going to be a long wait.
Also, this site will charge you for lost checks. If your check gets lost in the mail, you have to cover BeFrugal’s fee for canceling the check. You’ll get the remainder. I’m not a fan of this policy.
That said, you can get around this by getting paid by PayPal or Amazon GC.
Oh, and you’ll be charged for inactive accounts. For each month you don’t at least start a shopping session (click through a store), you can be charged $2 a month. It’s easily avoidable, but it rankles me nonetheless.
Ebates: $5.01 balance, not including bonuses.
Extrabux: $10, which has to include at least one purchase.
Mr. Rebates: $10, which can be all bonuses.
None charge for inactivity.
BeFrugal’s high threshold is a deterrent. The potential charge for USPS mistakes and the inactivity fee just piss me off.
BeFrugal.com has a 125% rate guarantee. If you make a purchase and then find a higher rate on another site, BeFrugal.com will apply the higher rate — plus 25% — to your rebate.
You have to notify them within 24 hours. Understandable — rates change often — but still a little inconvenient.
The guarantee used to say you can only get a match once a year. I don’t see that restriction anymore, so that may have changed. It does say one per store per member, and there’s no time limit specified. So it may be that you can only get a match on the merchant once.
This might make you reluctant to use the option at any given time, in case the difference in rates is better in the future. It seems like a bit of a deterrent, but maybe I’m just overly sensitive about this kind of stuff.
No other site has this.
It’s a great offer with an execution that’s kind of cumbersome. But it’s still very generous. Also, looking at the site’s rates, it’s just not going to come up much.
If you find a coupon that doesn’t work, you get a $5 bonus.
It doesn’t count toward the $25 payout threshold.
Once again, this is an unique offer.
Very generous, very impressive.
You get $5 per referral — $10 if you refer 3 or more people.
You won’t get the credit until your referral has reached the $25 threshold. That’s probably going to be a long wait — assuming the person doesn’t get discouraged and give up completely.
Ebates: A $5 credit when the referral signs up, available once the referral makes a $25+ purchase. Very generous bonuses for multiple referrals.
Extrabux: A $5 credit when the referral signs up, available once the referral’s first rebate becomes available. Plus 5% of the rebates for the first year.
Mr. Rebates: 20% of the referral’s rebate with no time limit.
BeFrugal is the worst deal of the bunch.
For the record, I do think BeFrugal.com has a lot of positive points. But the payment and referral bonus thresholds give me pause. A long, long pause.
If you want to rely on referrals to make money, this isn’t the site for you unless you refer serious shoppers.
If you just want more cash back, then this site is perfect for you — as long as you’re very patient or shop a lot. And since the rates are the same or higher than all other sites, you can arguably reach that goal faster.
But if you get frustrated and quit the site, you’re just out of luck — and dinged $2 a month for your lack of determination. That would make the higher rates moot. Plus, since you could have used another site that would have let you cash out, you’ve kind of lost money.
I guess it becomes a question of when the extra cash back is outweighed by the wait.
I’m going to give it a try — mainly because I won a $10 credit in the chat. That means I have a $15 incentive. For the rest of you… Well, you’ll just have to decide on your own.
Is the extra money enough incentive for you?