What’s the catch? None, really. Cash back apps act as affiliates for many online merchants, which means that whenever you make a purchase through one of the apps, they get a small commission — but then, they give you a portion of that commission as “cash back”. For example, if I buy a pair of Nike shoes through the Ebates app (or website) and spend $75, Ebates may get a $10 commission but then they’ll pass $7 back to me. It’s basically a way to get sale prices on stuff that isn’t on sale!
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy. By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking. In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.