Review of EvoShare: Get Cash Back Toward Your Retirement

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Updated on Friday, October 18, 2019

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EvoShare is a web browser extension that you can use to get cash back for your 401(k) plan when you make purchases online at participating vendors. You can also earn cash back from some local stores.

Unlike other cashback extensions, your earnings can only go toward your retirement fund, student loan or college fund.

One drawback is that you can’t enroll directly as an individual unless your employer is signed up for EvoShare. But the browser extension is a good option with little hassle.

What is EvoShare?

EvoShare, founded in 2015, provides you with cash back for purchases from certain online and brick-and-mortar retailers when you link your credit and/or debit cards.

The money comes from the retailers, who pay an additional cash back percentage as a referral fee to EvoShare to draw business to them. It simply shares a portion of this commission with its users, resulting in cash back.

It partners with more than 1,300 online businesses, including Target, eBay and Walmart, and over 8,700 restaurants, bars and stores across the country. Note that just because you can earn cash back from an online business doesn’t mean that you can earn cash back from the same brick-and-mortar store.

If you’re shopping online, the web browser extension will tell you how much you can earn from making purchases on a given website. Say, for example, you’re looking to buy a dress online from Macy’s. When you click on the Macy’s website, the browser extension will show you that you can earn 3% of your purchase as cash back. Once you check out and pay for your purchase, you’ll see a notification that you’ve earned your 3% back.

Notably, it is only available as a web browser extension with Chrome or Safari, and not with other browsers such as Firefox.

For shopping in a participating brick-and-mortar location, any purchase you make with a linked credit or debit card will work similarly. You won’t get a web notification since you’re in a store, but you can check the website to see how much you can earn from various retailers.

Using the browser extension doesn’t cost you anything as a user, and it can be a good way to accumulate extra savings for doing the normal shopping you would do anyway. Unlike direct contributions to a savings account, you don’t have to worry about allocating any of your own funds to save using it, as everything is automated.

Your earnings can be used for student loan payoff, as well as retirement or college fund savings. However, to get any cash back, you must use it in conjunction with a participating employer.

Earnings will flow directly to your bank account, via either an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transaction or physical check, and your employer will withhold the same amount from your next paycheck. Then, your earnings will be contributed to your account of choice.

Thus, if your selected account was your 401(k) plan, for example, your earnings would be treated just as if you made your own pretax contributions to your retirement plan. You can also use the earnings to save for your child’s student loan.

But you don’t need to have an active retirement plan or student loan account to begin saving. When you sign up, EvoShare will save your money until you direct it to make deposits into your new account.

How to use EvoShare

EvoShare is simple to use, but unless you’re hooked up with a participating employer, you won’t be able to sign up. Here’s the process for those who are eligible.

Step No. 1: Sign up online

You can sign up online, but first you’ll need a designated sign-up link from your employer. If your employer is not linked to EvoShare, you’ll have to contact them and encourage them to join.

Step No. 2: Link debit or credit cards

EvoShare only processes cashback payments when you use a linked credit or debit card. If you don’t register one of your cards, you won’t get any credit from EvoShare for your purchase. It accepts Mastercard, Visa and American Express. You can also register your debit card, but be aware that when you make a purchase, you must select credit as your payment type. If you provide a PIN and use your card as a debit card, you won’t receive credit for your purchase.

Step No. 3: Shop online and locally

EvoShare is partnered with more than 1,300 online businesses and more than 8,700 bars, restaurants and stores. The network is always expanding, so this number may continue to grow.

Retailers linked up with the browser extension include Macy’s, Kohl’s, Barnes & Noble and Nordstrom. You can search for any store on the website to see if, and how much, it pays for that retailer. Similarly, you can search for local stores near your location, a process made easier if you let Google Maps know your location.

Step No. 4: Put money toward a retirement account, student loan or college fund

After you make a purchase, earnings from local retailers take anywhere from a few minutes to seven business days to appear in your account. Online purchases take from one to 10 business days to appear. These are just general guidelines, however.

Certain merchants, such as airlines, may not process your cash back until you take your flight. Other retailers may not process your payment until the return policy has expired, ensuring that you don’t get credit for a purchase that you later return. Earnings from online purchases are only automatically redeemed once you’ve earned at least $20. The maximum you can earn from any cashback transaction is $250.

Once your earnings are processed, you can only deposit them in a student loan account, a college savings account or your employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Employer participation is also mandatory, as payments are ultimately made through the employer. After your cashback is processed, you’ll receive either a check or an ACH deposit from EvoShare. Then, your employer will hold back those earnings from your next paycheck and deposit them toward your designated account.

Pros of EvoShare

The benefits are clear and straightforward.

  • No fees
  • Earn up to 20% cashback online or up to 10% in stores
  • “Forced” savings into student loan, retirement plan or college funding plans
  • Easy to use
  • Data not stored on site but through Empyr, using industry-standard safety protocols

Cons of EvoShare

There’s not much wrong with getting free cash back, but here are some of the drawbacks to using the browser extension.

  • No mobile app
  • No cash back in your own pocket; must go to savings vehicle
  • Can only sign up with a participating employer
  • Third-party delivery services are ineligible
  • Limited number of retailers

Some of these pros and cons are common with competitors in the industry, but some are unique to EvoShare, such as the requirement to work with an employer and the ability to deposit into retirement accounts.

How EvoShare stacks up to the competition

It’s not the only cashback web browser extension available, but it is the only one with this unique configuration. Traditional cashback extensions send cash directly to users, which can be a plus, but they don’t offer the forced savings feature of EvoShare, in which the cashback goes into a designated savings account. Here’s a look at some of the browser extension’s most popular competitors.

Rakuten (formerly Ebates)

Rakuten operates in a similar fashion to EvoShare, with a built-in web extension that alerts you when you can receive cash back from shopping at particular stores. Just like with EvoShare, you can use your linked American Express, Visa or Mastercard credit cards to earn cash back, or debit cards as long as you select credit when making a purchase. Rakuten also charges no fees, just like EvoShare.

Rakuten has a bit of an edge when it comes to size, as it partners with over 2,500 stores online, including Amazon, Expedia and Macy’s. However, its in-store cashback options are limited, as it only partners with 80 or so brick-and-mortar retailers.

Rakuten does have a mobile app, something EvoShare is lacking. It also pays out quarterly via PayPal or a physical check, as long as your cashback balance is at least $5.

TopCashback

TopCashback is nearly a carbon copy of Rakuten, with a few additional benefits. Like Rakuten — and EvoShare — TopCashback pays cash directly to customers that use linked credit and debit cards to make purchases at participating websites.

However, TopCashback has no minimum payout threshold, and you can request your cash as often as you would like. TopCashback also typically pays users the entire cashback amount it earns from merchants rather than holding some back for its profit, as is the case with EvoShare and Rakuten. It earns money from clicks on merchandising banners and other referral deals it makes with participating merchants.

TopCashback also has cashback deals with more online businesses than either EvoShare or Rakuten, numbering over 4,400, including Walmart, eBay and Best Buy. However, TopCashback works with online merchants only. You cannot receive cash back for in-store purchases.

The bottom line: Is EvoShare right for me?

For some users, the decision whether to use this browser extension is moot. Unless your employer participates in EvoShare, you’re out of luck. However, if you work for a participating employer, it may be a good option for you.

The question as to whether this browser extension is right for you has many layers. Beyond the participating employer hurdle, you’ll have to decide if you’re comfortable with providing your debit and credit card numbers to an online service.

Although it doesn’t store your credentials, it does use Empyr, which keeps your information on record. Empyr uses industry-standard safety protocols, including 128-bit SSL encryption and MD5 encryption, and it’s Verisign certified. If you’re comfortable storing your payment information with other online retailers, you should be comfortable with Empyr as well. However, for some customers, this may be a dealbreaker.

The second question is whether it’s a better option than some of the alternative cashback services that are out there. This choice will primarily come down to whether you want cash in your own bank account or you’d rather use this “found money” as an easy way to either pay down student loan debt or save for college funding or retirement. If it’s the former, the scales might tilt toward an option such as Rakuten or TopCashback. If you prefer the latter, EvoShare might be the better choice.

At the end of the day, it’s a great way to earn money for activities you’re already doing. As time passes, you can earn money toward your savings by using EvoShare on some (or all) of your purchases.

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