FatWallet sets a high bar for cash back portals

Online shopping portals are a great way to earn extra points or cash back for purchases that you plan to make anyway.  Unfortunately, the customer experience with portals is often quite bad.  Here are some common frustrations:

  • Points / cash never posts:  A lot has to go right for you to get your points or cash back.  Your browser needs to pass along the correct click-through information.  The vendor needs to report the sale, usually to an affiliate network that then needs to report the sale to the portal company.  Along the way, a lot can go wrong.  It almost seems like a miracle when it all works.  Regardless of why things go wrong, though, the customer sees the portal as the villain who failed to pay them.  This understandably leads to negative feelings about portals.
  • Points / cash takes a long time to post as pending: Usually, portals show points / cash back as “pending” before the points or cash are actually available to you.  Some portals show the pending information very quickly, others are much slower.  Behind the scenes, the speed of this reporting is impacted by the speed of the vendor in reporting sales and the speed of the affiliate network passing along the sales information to the portal.  Regardless of the reason, delays are frustrating to customers because they are left all the time wondering if they’ll ever see points or cash back at all. 
  • Points / cash takes a long time to become payable: Every portal seems to have different rules about how soon points and/or cash are actually available to their customers.  Nobody likes to wait months for their rebates, but usually payouts are measured in months.
  • Customer service stinks: Customer service varies greatly from one portal company to another.  With some, you get great service.  With others, complaints seem to disappear into a black hole never to be seen again.

FatWallet does it right

While many of us have been waiting impatiently for our 10X points from Sears via the Ultimate Rewards Mall, I had a great experience with FatWallet a couple of days ago.  I wanted to by a LivingSocial coupon so I went through FatWallet to get 4% cash back.  I ordered the coupon at 9:09 AM.  Amazingly, at 10:12 AM, I received confirmation from FatWallet of cash pending!

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Now, don’t expect this kind of quick turnaround with all of your shopping from FatWallet.  This could only have happened if LivingSocial reported the sale almost instantly.  Still, I find this amazing.  Some portals don’t send email acknowledgments at all.  Of the ones that do, I’ve never before seen one come earlier than the next day after a purchase.

FatWallet has your back

I don’t do a great job of keeping track of points & cash back from portals.  Usually I treat it as a nice surprise when I get something (unless I’ve made a very big purchase).  What I love about FatWallet is that they do the work for you.  Whenever I click through from FatWallet to a vendor, FatWallet later checks to see if cash back was awarded.  If not, they send an email like this one:

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That’s awesome!  If you get an email like this, but you know that you hadn’t made a purchase, you can simply delete the email — no harm done.  But if you had made a purchase, it doesn’t get any better than this.  Simply click the “CONTACT US!” link to file an investigation request.

Early in the year I was doing a number of double-dip experiments with Magazines.com, and I thought they had all failed since I didn’t see any points or cash back post from any portals I went through.  However, when I received the FatWallet email shown above, I clicked through to file an investigation request.  The very same day, I received the following email:

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Months later, the cash back became payable and I received this email:

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Summary

To me, FatWallet has solved three of the four common issues with portals:

  • Points / cash never posts: Solved!  FatWallet sends you an email when this happens and they make it incredibly easy to file an investigation report.
  • Points / cash takes a long time to post as pending: Solved! Admittedly I don’t have a lot of experience with how long FatWallet takes with various vendors, but the fact that they reported my LivingSocial cash back in about an hour is incredible.
  • Points / cash takes a long time to become payable: This is the only common frustration that is still an issue with FatWallet.  Understandably, FatWallet waits for payment from the merchants before paying you.  FatWallet has this to say about how quickly your cash becomes payable:
      • “It depends on the merchant. Each merchant has a set amount of time to allow for reversals and updates to an order, and to pay us so we can pay you. Your account will show the Cash Back for the order as”Pending” during this time. Some merchants take longer than others to pay us, and we can’t pay you until they pay us! When the waiting is over, you will see the amount in your “Available Balance.” You can then request payment.”
  • Customer service stinks: Solved!  I love that FatWallet gave me the benefit of the doubt when I filed a report about Magazines.com.  They immediately posted my cash back as pending.  Awesome!

More often than not, portals like the Ultimate Rewards Mall and TopCashBack will offer a better deal than FatWallet.  When things go wrong, though, neither of those options currently come close to FatWallet’s level of service. 

In future purchases, if the FatWallet rebate is anywhere close to the best available, there’s no doubt I’ll go with FatWallet because there I’ll be confident in getting the rebate I expect.  I believe the old adage “bird in the hand..” is appropriate here…

What are your experiences?  Have you had good luck with FatWallet?  Have you seen any other portal offer service as good as I’ve described above?


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Comments

  1. is that true Kmart officially disallow : paying gift cards ( southwest or BP etc) with egift cards..Obviously many of us go shop at Kmart with egift cards on 10X Sapphire Cards promotion.

    Strangely enough, T & C does not say GIFT CARDS NOT ELIGIBLE

  2. I have the same experience with Fatwallet, they are quick to post cash back and they give the impression that they are on top of my purchases.

    I go with other cashback mainly because they offer more in term of higher cashback but the experience doesnt compare to Fatwallet.

    It is an issue for me because I want higher cashback but I want the quality of service that Fatwallet offers. Do I gamble and go with a flaky cashback portal that offers higher cashback percentage or do I go for the “guarantee” and stay with Fatwallet albeit a lower cashback percentage?

  3. FW does a pretty solid job. Last year I went through their portal for a Sheraton reservation. It was for something like 2%.
    After 2 months, the cashback report went from pending to $0. Not sure why.
    I emailed Fatwallet. they couldn’t figure out why either. After 6 months of them contacting Starwood with no response, they just credited me the 2%.

  4. The biggest advantage with FW is you can request payment immediately when you see the available cash back and you do not have to wait till end of quarter like eBates. Customer support is very good.

  5. Yes, it is no doubt that fw is the best one in cb program service, but I worry its future since it was eaten by Ebate. I love FW, which is the only one never missed my cb.

  6. Love Fatwallet for their cashback, I’ve been using them for over 8 years now.
    The best part is, when your cashback isn’t reflected, their investigation services is GREAT~!!! They always credit whats owed to me.
    Can’t say that about Discover Card cashback, if it’s not reflected in my account, then it’s a total hastle to contact anyone to investigate =(
    But thumbs up for Fatwallet.

  7. I have used FatWallet since 2007, have over $500 in cashback just from regular purchases. Whenever I have problem (RARELY), I shoot email, they response promptly. Another email I get from that I like is the “cashback out of its pending stage, ready to cash out” email.

    FatWallet not only has a Click History to see when you clicked to where, it also tells you if the click has generated cashback. They added a new feature this past year where after you click through to somewhere, a pop-up will appear on the Fatwallet page to let you jot down notes. I find it incredibly helpful that I can put my order number or whatever reference number in right away so I don’t have to wonder later on which click is associated with the purchase if something doesn’t post. You can view and edit the notes in Click History as well.

    They also have an estimated cashback available date which is most of the time accurate. Lots of good stuff.

  8. Off topic, but where are your UR mall predictions for September?

    I always look forward to your predictions post at the end of each month.

  9. I’m also a big fan of fatwallet. With cashback things will go wrong from time to time–fatwallet works to make it right, and does so quickly.

    When I don’t care if I get the cash back (say I’m using a coupon) I’ll use someone else, but when I absolutely expect to get my CB, fatwallet all the way!

    A good contrast is the fiasco with topcashback.com and Radisson. Now even if TCB has higher rates I’ll stay away. The process for getting that extra 5% from them was nowhere near worth the aggravation.

  10. I am using TopCashBack, and have 4 or 5 cash back claims filed. It takes a long time. I may earn more, but think never will I see my cash… maybe it is a time for a change to FW.

  11. I stumbled on Fatwallet a few years ago and that’s what really got me into everything about being on one’s game with all the opportunities out there. In the last few months I branched out to try TopCashBack and one other online portal, neither was as fast or as organized, to say nothing about any of the Cartera-operated UR, Rapid Rewards shopping, etc. where I’m the criminal because their system is shite. Anyone else for a FW credit card? My personal FAVORITE thing about FW is the ability to look at one’s own click history so you can SEE which/how things are/aren’t tracking. Click through to a merchant, if it shows up in your click list, even if it doesn’t automatically post you can just file a missing cb report which is quick and painless.

    My dream setup would be the UR mall run by FW. Chase has pretty much lost all chance of me shopping through UR mall again because of their inability or disinclination to give their customers their rewards. Cartera sent me a list of my click history when I told them I had missing CB for the SW Sears @15x episode so cartera clearly has access to what you click on, whether the merchant automatically reports it is another matter, but why they don’t offer that information to the consumer through all of their portals to help them get the rewards they’re supposed to be is beyond me. It’s a REWARDS program, it’s why the customers are there! Don’t give them their rewards and they’ll go to greener pastures.

  12. I am extremely frustrated with TCB. After three Radisson stays booked through their site and months of back and forth, I’ve gotten nowhere getting credit posted. In fact, other purchases made through them have not posted either. They have all the correct information, but cannot/will not complete the credits to my account. I wonder if anyone has gotten a check from them. OTOH, MrRebates has been great. My purchases post within a couple hours and I get an email within 24 hours. And, most importantly, the cash is credited to my account and I get a check!

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