The Margin: How to get up to 20% cash back from retailers like Home Depot, Macy’s and Amazon on Thursday

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You can get paid to shop on Thursday — if you play your credit cards right.

Online shoppers who browse deals through RetailMeNot’s discount and coupon code site during this 24-hour window can get generous cash back offers that are double or triple those of many rewards credit cards. RetailMeNot has dubbed this Cash Back Day, and hundreds of stores, including Amazon AMZN, -0.33%, Target TGT, +0.41%, Home Depot HD, +0.78%, Macy’s MACY, -2.35%, Disney DIS, -0.14%  and CVS CVS, +5.36%, are offering rewards for purchases made on their websites Nov. 7. The cash will then be deposited into the shopper’s Venmo or PayPal account next month, or given as a gift card.

Here’s how it works:

  • You have to log into your RetailMeNot account, or sign up for a free one and log in.
  • Browse the offers on the Cash Back Day page, and click on the one you like. You will be taken to the store’s website, where you can shop and make your purchases.
  • Once approved, cash back rewards will be delivered to your RetailMeNot Wallet (typically 45 days from the date of purchase) and can be redeemed via PayPal, Venmo or for a gift card.

The deals include 20% cash back on Home Depot decor and furniture, as well as 20% cash back on Snapfish prints and products. Shoppers can get 10% cash back from Macy’s, Best Buy BBY, +0.28%   and Adidas ADDYY, -4.40%. And JCPenney JCP, -2.86%  is offering $15 cash back on purchases of $150 or more. So considering the average for a cash back rewards card is a little more than 1%, with some like the new Apple Card offering 2% on everyday purchases, consumers have the chance to rake in the rewards on Thursday.

Related: Here’s everything Apple isn’t telling you about its new credit card

Retail experts told MarketWatch that the savviest shoppers can game the system by combining these Cash Back Day rewards with the bonuses from their rewards credit cards. And this is a strategy that people can take advantage of year-round.

“It’s a simple extra step of clicking through any of these cash back portals [which also include Rakuten, which was formerly eBates, and BeFrugal] to a website that you would have visited anyway, so you get the bonus points,” said Ted Rossman, the industry analyst at,. “And then when it comes time to pay, you want to pay with the right rewards-earning credit card. It’s a nice double-dip opportunity.”

Kimberly Palmer, the personal finance expert at NerdWallet, cites the Amazon Prime Rewards Card as a perfect example. Those cardholders get 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases. So if they use it to shop Amazon on Cash Back Day, they’ll earn 5% cash back on their card, plus another 5% to 6% via RetailMeNot, doubling their rewards. Or Target’s Red Card gives shoppers 5% off on Target, which they can combine with another 1% back on Cash Back Day.

“You have the chance to possibly layer these rewards on top of each other, so you can stretch your budget even further, and that’s really powerful for the consumer,” she said.

But while Cash Back Day’s rewards are more generous than usual, the event comes with some caveats that shoppers should keep in mind.

First, the cash back bonuses only apply to purchases made online via RetailMeNot — so you won’t get it by going straight to Amazon or Sephora’s sites. Also, these cash back offers are only available on Nov. 7, so you have a limited window to score these bonuses. That means a hot-ticket item that you’re eyeing now may be available for a better price later on, even after factoring in the RetailMeNot cash back reward.

And you’re not getting the cash back immediately. In fact, you’ll have to wait around 45 days — which means those rewards dollars probably won’t hit your account until the weekend before Christmas, which is also when Hanukkah begins this year. In other words, you can’t expect to use the money from Cash Back Day for your Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping later this month. You may not get it in time to do your holiday shopping at all. Sara Skirboll, RetailMeNot’s shopping and trends expert, says this late payday is an opportunity for shoppers to “save money early and then get their payout right before Christmas for any last-minute and post-holiday needs.”

Also, beware the urge to impulse shop. “Even if you’re getting 10% cash back, you’re still on the hook for the other 90%,” said Rossman. A recent Bankrate report found that 40% of American adults had made an impulse buy in the past month, and 20% within the past week — and that survey was taken in August. “That impluse-buying concept is supercharged around the holidays,” he said. “You can get in trouble with events like these. But if you only buy what you need, you can get a good discount.”

“The best way to really take advantage of this, and other cash back opportunities, is to make a list ahead of time, and only buy based on that list,” agreed Palmer. “Then when you opt into the cash back, it’s a bonus, and you can stretch your budget instead of going over budget.”

And if using a credit card for any cash back bonuses, you must pay off that balance in full every month. “If you’re not, then the interest that you pay easily outweighs any cash back that you’re earning,” added Palmer.

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