NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You're probably used to shelling out big bucks during the holiday season, but did you know that you can actually earn money while you shop? From taking on mystery shopping assignments to using websites and apps that offer cash back for purchases, there are several ways to keep your bank account afloat in the coming weeks without skimping on great gifts for your nearest and dearest. Here are a few ideas to consider as you set out on your holiday shopping sprees.
Shop on Cash-Back Websites
If you're planning to buy some of your holiday gifts online this year, we suggest shopping on sites that offer you cash back for your purchases. One of the best is Ebates.com, which partners with thousands of retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, Kohl's and Macy's. Ebates earns a commission from these retailers when you make a purchase, then shares part of that commission with you. There's no sign-up fee, and you'll receive a check in the mail each quarter for the money you've earned. Not bad, huh?
Other sites that offer cash back for purchases include Upromise, which allows you to earn money for college through your online purchases; FreeShipping.com, which allows you to earn 10% cash back at more than 1,000 retailers (membership costs $12.97 per month) and offers free shipping and return shipping; and BeFrugal.com, which offers up to 30% cash back at more than 4,000 online stores.
Become a Mystery Shopper
Another great way to earn cash while hitting the malls this holiday season is through mystery shopping. Businesses hire mystery shoppers to visit their stores anonymously and report back on product quality and the overall customer experience. If you're instructed to make a particular purchase in a store or restaurant, you'll typically get reimbursed and you'll often get to keep the product.