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Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature Card: A Profitable Option?

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Ebates may have started as another “cash back” program that many online shoppers disregarded as another scam, but today they offer cash back at over  17,000 online stores and have awarded over 250 million dollars in rebates. In fact, Ebates has become so popular they have their own credit cards. The superior offer of the two credits cards Ebates offers is the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card handled by GE Capital Bank, though they also offer the Ebates Cash Back Visa Platinum card.

What does the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card from GE Capital Bank have to offer?

In rewards terms, you’ll find the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card works much like a typical store card, except that it works at way more than one store.  Typically, Ebates offers a varying percentage cash back at their stores, for example, Kohls is three percent and  Walmart 1 percent. How does that work? Well, each store within their network pays Ebates a referral fee for each customer that buys from them. Ebates then offers you a percentage of that fee as incentive to buy.

With an Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card, you gain another three percent on top of the base percentage all Ebates members make on purchases. Purchases outside the Ebates store network gain one percent cash back as well much like a typical store card cash-back-based system. This stacking-effect can add up to a not-so-shabby return at over 17,000 stores, though you do have to navigate to those stores via the Ebates site, which can take some time to get used to.

Your cash back can be withdrawn quarterly by check, PayPal deposit, or donation to a charity of your choice. Your first purchase on Ebates after activation, will also earn you $10 cash back to get your started.

As a Visa Signature card, you also get all the benefits associated with Visa Signature cards. These include free upgrades for things like hotels and exclusive offers and discounts at various locations. This is also the main difference between the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card and the Ebates Cash Back Visa Platinum card, you don’t get Visa Signature benefits with the Platinum card. It also only offers a 24.99 percent interest rate, while the Visa Signature version—this seems a good point to transition into cost considerations. Though I’ll throw in the Ebates website does not specify how you apply for the Signature card rather than the Platinum, which suggests to me you don’t get to choose. You are simply approved for one or the other after applying.

What does the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card from GE Capital Bank cost you?

The Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card does not have an annual fee, though the APR is on the higher side no matter where you land on their scale. Based on your credit worthiness, you’ll either be offered 19.99 percent interest or 24.99 percent.

You can transfer balances to your Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card or receive cash advances with an above-industry standard four percent fee. These transfers or advances are charged interest at the same rate as your purchases. This is one area where the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card differs. Most cards apply a higher interest rate to cash advances. The foreign transaction fee on this card is three percent. While foreign transaction fees are generally considered a poor trait, as this card is aimed mainly at online shoppers, it’s not really relevant.

The Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card also has a unique late fee system. Users who have not been late in the past six billing cycles are rewarded with a lower late fee: $25. Users who have a history of late payments pay $35.

Who would benefit most from an Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card from GE Capital Bank?

The Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card is ideal for those who shop online frequently at Ebates network locations. Those who don’t often shop online can find better rewards programs elsewhere, as the every-purchase return on this card is only one percent. Also, keep in mind that applying for credit cards “just in case” or for the rare things you do use them can hurt your credit score. You should also apply for and obtain cards that you will use on a regular basis on a long-term level.

It is important to note that any cash back earned with this card would be entirely negated by the high interest rate. For instance, say you shop at Kohls. Ebates gains you a three percent return and your card bumps that to six percent, but the interest on your card at minimum is 19.99 percent, more than three times as much as you gained in cash back. It doesn’t take a math genius to see how that’s not really gaining you anything. Many credit card users fall into this trap. They see those rewards piling up and keep spending forgetting that the cost of that card affects the net gain of those rewards. In the case of the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card, you’d actually earn a higher net return just being a regular Ebates user without the credit card after you figure in the cost to own the card—but there is an “if” to that statement.

Frequent online shoppers could eliminate this downside by paying off their balance in full each month during the “grace period.” IF you do this, the entire paragraph above this one is moot point. A grace period is the time that you can carry a balance on your card without paying interest. On the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card, this grace period extends to your payment due date (23 days after the end of each billing cycle.) Ideally, you should aim to pay off your balance within the grace period on all of your credit cards, but this is especially true in regards to high interest cards that you likely applied for due to their rewards offering like the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card.

In short, the Ebates Cash Back Visa Signature card is best for those who shop online a lot, but have the ability to pay off their balance each billing cycle.

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