October 4, 2013
In order to get the most points or cash back when shopping online, it’s a good idea not just to go through a shopping portal, but to go through the one that currently offers the best rebate for the store where you want to shop. In order to find the best portal, you need a “portal finder”. A portal finder is a web site that shows the current portal payouts for whichever merchant you’re interested in.
I’ve examined portal finders before, and in each case I found that the site cashbackholic.com was the best. For details, please see:
- The best portal finder (March 26, 2012)
- Portal finder fight! Round 2 (Sept 6, 2012)
- The best portal finders get better (Jan 30, 2013)
Since writing those posts, I’ve discovered that Cashbackholics is not always accurate with respect to airline mile portals, especially when there have been recent changes to the earning rates. As a result, I’ve been using ev’reward to look up the best point-earning portals and I’ve continued to use cashbackholics for finding the best cash back portals. Is that a good strategy? I decided that my theory was worth testing…
A new test
In the past, I’ve looked for portal finders that did the best job of pointing out the best earning option for any given merchant. This time, I decided to look at accuracy. More than anything else, I want the portal finder that is most often correct. In order to create a tough challenge, I found a number of merchants that had changed their payouts on some portals overnight. This way, if a portal finder isn’t updated often, it would perform poorly in this test. And, I think that is fair. Often merchants run very short term promotions within a portal and so it would be a shame to miss out just because the portal finder you used wasn’t updated.
I selected three portal finders to compare:
And, I selected 10 merchants with at least one overnight portal payout rate change:
- 1&1 Internet Web Hosting
Birthday in a Box Cabelas.com Elizabeth Arden Kyoku Lucky Brand Jeans No more rack Puritan’s pride Spanx
And, I looked at the payout rates for each of the above merchants within each of these portals:
- AAdvantage eShopping
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
- United MileagePlus Shopping
- Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall
I then painstakingly compared the rates shown within each of the 3 portal finders to the actual rates displayed within each portal.
Here is how well each portal finder performed in my test:
- Cash back: 58% correct
- Points: 70% correct
- Overall: 63% correct
- Cash back: 76% correct
- Points: 63% correct
- Overall: 70% correct
- CashBack Monitor:
- Cash back: 88% correct
- Points: 78% correct
- Overall: 83% correct
Wow! CashBack Monitor blew away the competition with 83% correct overall. This was 13 percentage points better than CashBackHolics and 20 percentage points better than Ev’Reward! CashBackMonitor did best with cash back portals (88% correct), but still performed extremely well (and better than the competition) with points-earning portals.
CashBackHolics, as expected, did better with cash back portals than with points-earning portals. As expected, it was not as good as Ev’Reward for points-earning portals (63% vs. 70%).
Ev’Reward performed poorly partly because they don’t list FatWallet or TopCashBack in their results. If we look at just the cash back portal results without those two portals, Ev’Reward actually did really well: 87% accuracy. So, they seem to be pretty good at reporting cash back rates for the portals they list. Still, since CashBack Monitor performed 8 percentage points better with point earning portals, I don’t see any reason to continue to look to Ev’Reward.
This conclusion is simple. From now on, I’ll use CashBackMonitor for finding the best portals! And, in case you’re wondering, the answer is no: I do not have a relationship of any kind with CashBackMonitor other than as a newly minted fan of their site.