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Simplify your cashback searches with the Ebates Toolbar

It was just last week that I explained how to keep unwanted toolbars out of your browser. Today let's talk about one you might want to put there on purpose.

Sounds crazy, I know. I loathe, despise, and detest toolbars. On the flipside, I'm a serious cheapskate, so I'm always looking for ways to save money.

About a year ago I wrote about one of my favorite ways: cashback site Ebates. Just start your online shopping at the Ebates portal, then collect a rebate that could range anywhere from 1-15% of your purchase price -- occasionally even more.

Of course, the "hassle" in all this is the need to visit Ebates before you shop -- or backpedal to it if you've gotten as far as a store's checkout page and realized you've forgotten to grab your rebate.

The Ebates Cash Back Toolbar simplifies all that. For starters, it saves you from having to visit the Ebates site in advance and search for the store you want. Instead, just head to any given store, and if there's a cash-back option, you'll see it below the toolbar along with a "click to activate" option.

Click that link and you're off to the races. That's way less hassle than going to Ebates proper, searching for the store, clicking through, and all that.

The toolbar also offers one-click links to sales and deals. And, like most, it provides a Web-search option, which you can use or not. If you like to know the running tally of how much cash you've earned to date, it can display that number -- though you can also hide that info if you wish (something to consider if you share your PC).

I've installed and used the Cash Back Toolbar myself, and to my knowledge, it's caused no harm to my system. Alas, for the moment it's available only for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome users like myself are out of luck.

Whether you're already an Ebates user or new to the service (you can sign up right here), this toolbar is decidedly handy to have around. The money you save could be your own. (Come to think of it, who else's would it be?)

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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