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Is Shop Smarter a Scam? – What You Should Know

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Is Shop Smarter a scam

Shop Smarter is a cashback program that pays a flat rate of 10% cashback on purchases made through them. But that is a heck of a high percentage to be giving back to members, so what is the catch? How are they able to give this much cashback and are there any downsides to this program? Is Shop Smarter a scam in one way or another?

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There are a lot of different cashback programs out there so it is best to take the time and look into them beforehand so that you can choose the one that is best for you. In this review I’ll be going over how Shop Smarter works, how much money you can save, getting paid, membership cost, complaints and more.

Shop Smarter Review

Shop Smarter has three things that they offer: cashback, coupons, and a price comparison tool that you can use to compare prices on over 100 million items online.

There cashback program is the main part of the entire site in this is where they give you 10% back on your purchases that you make through their site. I have looked into and reviewed many cashback programs over the years, including TopCashBack, Ebates, Ibotta, BeFrugal, Mr Rebates, etc and I can tell you that 10% cashback is very high compared to others.

Now you might be wondering how they are even able to give you cashback. How can they possibly give you 10% cashback on your purchases? Well, they are actually affiliates for these different websites that they give cashback for shopping at. They get paid to drive business to these different sites, so when you use their portal to shop at an online store they get paid a commission for your purchase and Shop Smarter then turns around and gives you a share of this commission, which is 10%.

Shop Smarter looks like an amazing cashback program at first glance but there are some definite downsides to this place and some complaints that I will go over that you should know about.

How It Works

Once you are a member you will be able to browse through their 1000+ stores and shop where you wish.

You can use the price comparison tool to find specific items at the lowest prices and you can also find coupons at these stores plus earn cashback of course.

The coupons are somewhat of a hit or miss. You never really know what to expect. You might get coupons for free shipping, buy one get one free, a discount on certain products, etc.

After that you will complete your purchase as you normally would and you will receive your cashback usually within a week, after your purchases verified and everything

How Much Money Can You Save/Make?

They have a $1000 limit set for each calendar year, meaning that you only can earn up to $1000 each year in cashback and after that the site will be pretty much useless, except for getting coupons in using the price comparison tool.

This it is something that is pretty disappointing to me. Why would they have a $1000 limit like this? I mean as long as you are shopping through them they are still earning money, so why put a limit like this? It doesn’t really make much sense to me and this is definitely a downside to using this particular cashback program.

Getting Paid

You will be able to receive your cashback via a check once a month.

Checks are good and all, I mean at least you aren’t forced to receive your reward be a gift card, but I would still like to see some other payment options, such as PayPal for example.

Membership Cost

If you thought that membership was going to be free then you were kidding yourself. This is the big catch and this is why they are able to pay out such high percentages in cashback.

There are lots of free cashback programs out there but they generally don’t pay anywhere near 10%.

To become a member they offer a seven-day trial that only costs $1.97. After that you will have to pay $9.97 per month to remain a member. I have seen some people saying that it costs more than this to be a member each month, but I’m not sure what they’re talking about. As of right now, for me, it is $9.97 per month.

Support

One of the nice things about being part of a cashback program that you have to pay for is that they have a fairly good support team.

Maybe you are having trouble using their site, maybe a link isn’t working properly, maybe you didn’t get credited for a purchase like you should have, or maybe you just want to cancel your membership… Well luckily they have a support team on standby to help you out.

When contacting support you have two options: You can email them and they will get back to you within 24 hours or you can call their life phone number at 800-254-6536. I’m not sure what times exactly they will answer the phone but it is nice to see a cashback program like this offering live phone support.

Complaints

Everything sounds pretty good up to this point, right? You can earn up to $1000 per year in cashback and the membership only cost $9.97 per month… Not too bad. But are there any other downsides the site? What are other members complaining about?

Whenever I look into complaints for programs like this I look on independent review sites, such as SiteJabber where anyone can go in easily leave their own review. What I found when looking into the complaints here is that there are a heck of a lot of them. On SiteJabber they actually have a pretty bad rating of only 1.5/5 stars with over 100 user reviews.

Some of the top complaints that I have found include the following…

Account Locked For No Reason

Some people claim that their accounts have been locked for alleged Terms of Service violations, which they say never happened. For example, one person says they were accused of using this site for business purchases, which is a violation of the TOS, but in reality they were never using it for business purposes… It was a false accusation that led to their account being locked.

That said, I don’t really see the point in Shop Smarter locking people’s accounts for no reason because they want people to use their site and chop through them, which is how they get paid.

Being Charged Without Signing Up

I have actually read multiple complaints about people saying they have been charged without actually signing up as a member. I’m not sure how this would happen and how this place would even get a hold of their credit card information without them signing up, but I think this is worth bringing to your attention.

Misleading Ads

Apparently Shop Smarter has some fairly misleading advertising practices that some members claim they have signed up through without realizing that there is going to be a recurring monthly fee.

Some members have one on for a year without even realizing they have been charged each and every month and then have been unable to be refunded for their payments.

I have not personally seen any of these ads, but just be careful and make sure you know what you’re getting into before hand.

Make It Difficult to Get Cashback

There or a fair number of people claiming that this place is just a pain in the butt and makes it very difficult for you to get your cashback, which you rightfully deserve. Some people are saying that they will make you jump through bunch of hoops and submit evidence to them showing that your purchase is legit.

I know that places like this have to make sure that you are following the roles, but this place seems to be policing their members a little too harshly and just making things overly difficult.

Final Thoughts – Worth Joining or Not?

Ok… Well first off Shop Smarter is not a scam. They are a legitimate cashback program and you really can earn money via cashback through them. That said, whether they are worth joining or not is a different question. They do pay high amounts of cashback but you have to pay a monthly membership cost to be able to retain your membership and there are a lot of complaints from people basically saying that they screw their members over.

There are many different cashback programs out there and personally I would go with BeFrugal over all of them. BeFrugal is a free cashback program that has a very good reputation and pays rather high cashback percentages for being free. They don’t pay 10%, or at least not as often as Shop Smarter does, but they do pay high compared to other free programs. Another upside to BeFrugal is that they are partnered with nearly 5000 stores and have a lot more offers to choose from.

 >> Visit BeFrugal Here <<

Anyway, I wish you luck on your cashback shopping and if you aren’t receiving cashback on this shopping you already do then you’re missing out.

Looking to earn more than just cash back? Check out my list of top ways to make money online HERE.

Please leave any questions, comments, or concerns below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can 🙂

About the Author

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I hope you found this article helpful! I'm Kyle, the creator of this site, which is probably pretty obvious after seeing the name. Like most, I've had my fair share of difficulties and a pretty bumpy road while trying to find success online, which is why I put togetherthis guide so that others can get started right the first time around.


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  1. I have one question about ShopSmarter, do you only get the cash back for online purchases, or say, if I go to the Best Buy store to buy a washer and dryer, will I still get cash back?

    Thanks
    Paula

  2. If you’re paying $10 a month that equals $120 a year, with a $1000 cap. $1000-$120=$880, which would be the most you can save, correct? Then is there a lot of products that do not quality?
    Thank you for all the interesting information.

  3. There are 2 things about Shop Smarter that still shout “scam” – at least a little – in my book.

    1.) They do not disclose how much their “small monthly fee” actually is anywhere on their site – until after you sign up.

    2.) The “10% cash back” figure is blatantly misleading. If you have to spend $119.64 in monthly membership fees to obtain your maximum $1,000.00 in annual savings your return after paying those monthly fees is only 8.8%

    Anyone who actually shops smarter would never sign up for a service that won’t disclose costs before doing so. And anyone smart enough will figure out that math about your actual savings in about 10 seconds.

  4. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: My Personal ShopSmarter Story and Analysis:

    ShopSmarter purports to be a discount service where “members receive 10% cash back at thousands of retailers.” Members pay a monthly subscription fee in order to receive the promised cash back.

    ShopSmarter earns a small commission by joining retail affiliate programs and referring its members to partnered retailers through special tracking links on its website. Puzzlingly, none of these retailers pay 10% in affiliate commissions to ShopSmarter (Best Buy, for example, pays ShopSmarter 1% on most affiliate transactions). Instead, ShopSmarter only makes money when it pays out less in cash back than it receives in the form of subscription fees paid by its members.

    So how do its members make money? Because many members pay more in subscription fees than they receive in benefits, ShopSmarter is, in effect, “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” In other words, they are a type of legal ponzi scheme. In order for their quasi-criminal operation to continue, they must 1) aggressively sign up new users, 2) make it intentionally difficult for users to cancel subscription payments, and 3) deny certain transactions and users who pose the greatest risk to their business model. Not only do the vast majority of its users pay more in fees than they receive in cash back, but also ShopSmarter seems to fabricate excuses in order to deny its highest earning customers what was promised, as they have done with me.

    My first month using their service was around Christmas, during which I purchased some cell phone accessories, an expensive camera and camera accessories, headphones, and a book (about 10 items spread across 6 separate orders). I received cash back notification emails from ShopSmarter for all my purchases, letting me know they recorded the purchase and that I would be receiving cash back for it. However, on the day they were supposed to cut my first check, I received an email falsely accusing me of using my account for business purposes, and informing me that my account was now locked and that I wouldn’t be receiving cash back for any of my past transactions.

    The accusatory tone of the email and the actions they took, all without a shred of evidence to support their claims, have caused me to lose all faith in ShopSmarter as a legitimate business that keeps its promises. As such, I am currently exploring all legal paths to ensure what has happened to me does not happen to other unwitting victims of their scam.

    While a few members may undoubtedly have positive experiences with ShopSmarter, their Better Business Bureau and other review site ratings are proof that the overwhelming majority of their customers have legitimate grievances which go largely unresolved. It is for these reasons that their criminal enterprise must not be allowed to continue, and that I write this critical review. Zero stars.

  5. I’ve been using freeshipping .com when I came across ShopSmarter. It looks like it’s backed by the same parent company, Clarus Commerce. I’m curious why they would create separate subsidiaries that are basically the same concept…

  6. I just called my credit card number this morning to complain about this company, IC SmartShopper, as they assessed me three unauthorized charges over the course of three months. The first charge was $2, the second month was $9, and this month another charge for $9.

    At no time, did I sign up for this service and don’t know how they got hold of my credit card number but they clearly had access to it somehow.

    After I called my credit card company, IC Smart shopper sent me an email today cancelling this service I never ordered to begin with. I feel there is a scam going on here. As a consequence, I had to cancel my card and now waiting for a new one. Big inconvenience when you are on auto pay for many monthly charges.

    Thanks for your review.

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