This post has been updated to include a trick to help get approved for the Ebates Visa. Also, the post has been updated to show that it is now possible to sign up for Ebates with Membership Rewards even if you only have business Amex cards.
The Ebates portal suddenly became exciting when they introduced the ability to earn Amex Membership Rewards points instead of cash back. The combination of the Ebates portal with the Ebates Visa credit card is arguably the most exciting event in the points & miles world since… um… Redbird maybe? Regardless, it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything this interesting. You can read all about it here: In one fell swoop, Ebates shakes up portal and credit card rewards.
OK, are you already back from reading the “Ebates shakes up portal and credit card rewards” post? Great. So now you know why you want the Ebates Visa so that you can earn an 3X points on all of your Ebates shopping in addition to the points offered by the portal itself. But before you sign up, there are some things you need to know:
You must follow the steps in order
- First, you need an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards. There are lots of good ones (found here), but if you want one with no annual fee then go for either the Blue Business Plus or the Everyday Card. Previously it was necessary to have a consumer Amex card, but that requirement is no longer in place.
- Next, you need an Ebates account that earns Membership Rewards. You can sign up here (this is not an affiliate link): www.ebates.com/american-express
- Next, make sure you apply for the Ebates Visa with the same email address as you used in step 2, above. Best bet is to log into the Ebates portal first and click on the Ebates Visa ad. Yes, it is advertised as a cash back card, but as long as it is linked to an Ebates account that earns Membership Rewards, it should earn Membership Rewards.
You can’t change your cash back Ebates account to a Membership Rewards account
They don’t allow it. At least, not yet.
You can’t change which Ebates account your Ebates Visa is tied to.
This is the worst part. If you already have an Ebates Visa tied to a cash back Ebates account you’re out of luck. The only work around I can think of is to cancel your current Ebates Visa, establish a new Membership Rewards Ebates account, and then sign up again for the Ebates Visa. I don’t even know for sure that this would work, but I expect so.
The Ebates card is surprisingly hard to get approved for
My son (a college student) was denied. A retiree that I know was also denied. It’s not surprising that they were denied credit in general, but I expected that a portal branded credit card would be easy to get. I was wrong.
A number of readers (see the comments in this post) have also been denied despite having high income and solid credit scores.
There is a trick for getting approved
Readers report success getting approved for the Ebates Visa card after freezing Sagestream and ARS credit reporting. You can find instructions for freezing your reports here:
A great resource for how to freeze both Sagestream and ARS can be found here: Two Credit Bureaus You Should Freeze Before You Apply For A U.S Bank Credit Card (even though the Ebates Visa isn’t issued by US Bank, the instructions are relevant).
It is possible to go from nothing to earning points in a matter of minutes
Once you are approved for an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards, you should be able to sign up for Ebates with Membership Rewards immediately.
Then, if you are instantly approved for the Ebates Visa, you will be presented with a temporary card number instantly. You can start shopping right away as long as your purchase is under $1,000.
The Ebates Visa’s 3X rewards are based on the entire purchase price
This may seem like a stupid statement. After all, all credit cards reward you based on the entire purchase price, right? Right, but I wasn’t sure in this case. After all, the Ebates portal itself doesn’t usually reward the shipping and handling and sales tax portion of a purchase. And remember that the Ebates Visa offers 3X rewards for purchases made through the Ebates portal and only 1X rewards for other purchases. So, it seemed logical to me that the Ebates Visa may work in any one of these three ways:
- 1X rewards applies to the entire purchase amount, and the additional 2X rewards apply only to the purchase amount tracked by the portal. Wrong answer #1.
- 3X rewards applies only to the amount tracked by the portal. Wrong answer #2.
- 3X rewards applies to the entire purchase amount inclusive of shipping and handling and taxes. This is the right answer.
Thanks go to members of the Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook Group for helping to answer this question definitively.