How to Use Buying Groups to Unlock More Credit Card Rewards in Canada

a box on the porch of a house

Although buying groups are still relatively uncommon in Canada, they can be a great way to earn extra credit card rewards. The concept is simple: buying groups ask members to purchase specific (frequently discounted) items. These items are either shipped to the group’s address or a dropoff is arranged. Once the group receives an item, they reimburse the member for its purchase. The group is then able to resell the item at a lesser discount (and make a profit). Members generally do not earn a commission, but are free to keep any credit card rewards that they have earned. If members make enough purchases on the group’s behalf, the rewards can add up.

Use Buying Groups to Earn Traditional Credit Card Cash back/Rewards

Traditional credit card rewards are the most straightforward way to profit off of buying groups. Almost all credit cards offer some type of rewards points or cash back on nearly every single purchase. When you buy a buying group’s requested item with a credit card, you get to keep these rewards.

Some credit cards offer better rewards rates when you shop at certain types of stores. As a general rule, it is a good idea to pay with a card that is optimized for the store that you are shopping at — regardless of whether you are shopping for a buying group or yourself. However, credit cards that offer bonus rewards for grocery spending can be especially valuable when shopping for buying groups. In fact, products are sometimes available at stores classified as grocery stores (just be aware that Walmart is usually classified as a supermarket, making it ineligible for bonus grocery rewards). 

Grocery stores may also sell gift cards for stores that buying groups want you to shop at (for example, many grocery stores sell Best Buy or Amazon gift cards). When this happens, consider buying enough gift cards to cover the purchase, then use them to buy the item. This strategy will earn you significantly higher credit card rewards than if you had bought the item outright. Just be sure to check if your card has a bonus spending threshold, as some cards only award bonus rewards up to a certain spending limit. In some cases, it may be a good idea to look into credit cards that have extremely high spending thresholds for their bonus rewards.

Buying Group Purchases Count Towards Generous Credit Card Welcome Offer Requirements

Standard credit card rewards can be one of the simplest ways that buying group members benefit from their purchases. However, it can be even more beneficial to also use buying group purchases towards credit card welcome offers. 

Generally, credit cards with extremely generous welcome offers require cardholders to spend a certain amount of money within a specific time frame before they receive all of their signup rewards. These requirements may not always be realistic for everyone — especially if they strategically choose which credit card to use for each purchase. Fortunately, buying group purchases can count towards minimum spend requirements. Plus, since you will not be keeping the purchases, you do not have to worry about prioritizing cards that extend an item’s manufacturer’s warranty. You can simply choose to use a credit card with a minimum spend requirement that you have not yet reached.

Since buying groups can drastically increase the amount of money that members are spending each month (at least on paper), they are a good idea for Canadians who churn credit cards. Likewise, active members of buying groups may want to look into credit card churning if they have not done so already. Just beware that each new credit card application comes with a hard credit inquiry, which can negatively impact your credit score for 1-2 years. Still, if you can afford a slight dip in your score, the rewards that you can earn from competitive credit card welcome offers may severely outweigh any downsides.

Bonus: Earn Extra Cash Back With Referral Companies

Credit cards are not the only way to make money while participating in buying groups. There is no shortage of companies that provide cash back when you shop at certain retailers. These platforms generally require you to navigate to a store’s site through their own website or app — this way, the company is officially credited with referring your sale and receives a commission that they split with you. Cash back rates generally range between 1-3% (though these vary by store, referral company, and day). Some stores do not provide referral bonuses, so you will notice certain brands missing from cash back sites’ rosters. Still, it is always worthwhile to check if a buying group’s suggested vendors are listed on cash back sites. 

Notably, some cash back sites offer more rewards than others when you shop in particular stores. If you have extra time available, it may be a good idea to compare cash back rates across different platforms. Keep in mind that rates always change, so the cash back site that offered you a great deal yesterday may be far less competitive today. It is always best to compare cash back rates on the same day that you plan to make your purchase.

Some buying group deals are sold at multiple stores. When this happens, be sure to compare the amount of cash back that you would receive at each store before making your purchase. 

Also, keep in mind that some cash back companies occasionally offer promotions with higher-than-normal rewards rates. For example, Rakuten occasionally boosts many stores’ earning rates to 10-12%. These promotions generally are not advertised in advance, but if you sign up to purchase a buying group item that will be on sale for a long time, you may wish to wait and see how different companies’ cash back rates change over time. Keep in mind that if you wait too long, the item may sell out and you will lose out on both the referral cash back and any credit card rewards.

Always Check that a Group is Reputable Before Signing Up

By this point in the article, it should come as no surprise that we truly think of buying groups as a great way to earn some extra money — especially if you use some of our techniques to maximize earnings. However, despite the fact that many buying groups are reputable, scammers may set up fraudulent buying groups. As a result, you should always do your due diligence before registering for a group. 

Reviews and testimonials can be a good way to see if a buying group is legitimate or not, especially if they come from people that you personally know. It can also be less risky to work with buying groups that allow you to ship the product to your home, then personally deliver it to their warehouse. That way, you can monitor whether the package was lost in the mail (and you have a physical business address in case something goes wrong). 

At the end of the day, registering for a new buying group carries a certain amount of risk. A site may be fraudulent, even if they have spent a few months building their reputation. Even if the company is completely legitimate, there is still a (small) chance of your package being lost or stolen. These points are not mentioned to scare you out of registering for a buying group, but rather to help you understand how things can go wrong — even if the likelihood is low.

To minimize the chances of fraud, double check that a buying group is reputable before making a purchase. Additionally, be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. Some legitimate buying groups occasionally offer a bonus commission for members to order high priority items, but the dollar amount should never be too high. For reference, at the time that this article was written, most commissions at the US-based buying group Maxout Deals ranged between $0.01-$4.50 USD. The highest commission listed on the site was $17.80 USD for 2nd Generation Airpods that Maxout Deals claimed cost $79.20 USD on sale at Target, Walmart USA, and Amazon USA. However, most members likely did not receive such a dramatic bonus: Amazon and Walmart’s websites did not display pricing, but Target had the headphones listed for $97 USD (which conveniently works out to the same total amount that Maxout Deals was willing to pay for the product and its commission). 

It can be tough to determine which buying groups are legitimate. To help, we have created a list of some of the more reputable companies. Still, we highly recommend that you do your own due diligence before registering for a buying group. 

Canada Buying Group

Unfortunately, there are not many buying groups that are based in Canada. The only group with a strong reputation at the moment is Canada Buying Group. 

Members register for Canada Buying Group through the company’s site, and are then added to a WhatsApp group where they are notified of new opportunities. Since the company only wants a certain number of units for each listing, members usually have to sign up for each opportunity via a Google Form link. Items can either be shipped to Canada Buying Group’s website or dropped off at their Toronto warehouse. Some retailers may block addresses with abnormal purchase history, so Torontonians may find it easier to ship their Canada Buying Group purchases to their home address, then visit the warehouse.

Currently, Canada Buying Group members have to fill out another Google Form once their order has been delivered. Members are then paid via bank transfer within 7 business days. Note that new members need to provide their bank details during the signup process — this makes for quick payments, but may be a drawback for some who are privacy-conscious.

Maxout Deals (US Based)

Maxout Deals is an American buying group that is open to Canadians. Keep in mind that purchases and refunds will be processed in USD. This adds an element of risk: if the exchange rate moves in your favour before your refund is processed, you will earn more than usual; if the exchange rate becomes less favourable, you may lose money on the purchase.

Prospective Maxout Deals members sign up on the company’s site, then immediately gain access to their web portal. Once signed in, the site’s ‘Deals’ tab showcases current listings, where to find them, how deliveries may be processed, and whether or not the item comes with a bonus commission. When members decide that they want to purchase a deal on the group’s behalf, they can opt in by clicking ‘Commit’.

Maxout Deals usually allows members to choose whether they would like to ship an item directly to a specific Maxout warehouse or to their home (at which point they would deliver the package to Maxout). Since the company’s warehouses are based in America, most Canadians do not have much of a choice. However, all group users — Canadian or otherwise — should be aware that Maxout does not reimburse sales taxes. The company frequently asks members to ship items to a warehouse in New Castle, Delaware, since the state does not have sales tax. Unfortunately though, most Maxout Deals members who ship items to their own homes will end up having to pay the tax out of pocket. As a result, Canadians who spend a lot of time in America may wish to think twice before shipping an item to a non-Delaware address.

When it comes to payment, Maxout Deals provides its members with a couple of choices. The most straightforward option is to set up a Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer. However, the company also offers cheque payments. Before requesting a particular form of payment, be sure to check if your bank will charge any currency conversion or service fees. In the end, it may be cheaper to opt for one payment method over the other.

USA Buying Group (US Based)

USA Buying Group is another reputable American buying group. Prospective members submit an application on the company’s site, then receive an email that contains their web portal login credentials within a few days. At this point, they will also be invited to a Whatsapp group (though members can opt to solely use USA Buying Group’s website).

Before purchasing a particular item on USA Buying Group’s behalf, members are required to ‘commit’ to the deal, ultimately telling the group that they will be ordering it. USA Buying Group’s site also makes it easy to plan larger buying group orders that contain multiple items. Rather than committing to each deal one by one, members can add items to their ‘deal cart’ on USA Buying Group’s site, then commit to the entire cart at once (and conveniently see what they need to order from the store). .

Unfortunately, when I scrolled through USA Buying Group’s current listings, I noticed that a lot of the Amazon ‘deals’ did not reflect current pricing. This is not necessarily the group’s fault as Amazon’s prices can quickly change, but it is worth highlighting the fact that members should always review individual item listings (and what buying groups are willing to pay for them) to ensure the fact that they are being fairly compensated. 

On that note, USA Buying Group allows members to ship items to their Delaware warehouse, thereby avoiding sales tax. Members can also drop off items themselves at one of the group’s several American warehouses, or arrange pickup if they live in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut — but they will be then be responsible for covering any taxes. This likely will not be an issue for most Canadians, but may be worth remembering if you live near the border or spend a lot of time in America.

Payments can be requested via USA Buying Group’s web portal, and may be made via bank deposit or cheque. Keep in mind that funds will be sent in US dollars since the company is American. As a result, we recommend checking what fees your bank account charges to determine if one payment method might be cheaper than another.

Do you still have questions about buying groups? If so, please check out our list of frequently asked questions below.

Athanasia is a personal finance writer. Whenever she has to make a purchase, she takes pride in hunting down stackable discounts and finding great deals. She recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Cinema Studies.