Digging deeper under the hood of Bing.com — the newest player in the world of search engines — reveals a way to earn real money rebates on purchases, and travel booking tools that help you decide when and where to take your next trip.
Bing’s Cashback program works much like other online merchant sites offering rebates. There are hundreds of merchants offering a percentage of the product price as a rebate into your Bing Cashback account. You’ll need to share some personal information, like a home address, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, skip ahead to the next part of this column.
Customers need to follow the simple steps at Bing.com and follow the “shopping” link. Cashback payments are deposited into your account once they total $5, with an annual maximum of $2,500.
The Cashback program is a carryover from the old Microsoft Live Search site, and is combined with the shopping channel. This makes it easy to compare products and prices and see which merchants are offering the online rebate. Know that many merchants don’t offer rebates on sale items or when online coupons are used. I’m eager to hear from readers using this program. Please send your comments with the subject “Bing,” and I’ll share the best ones in a future column or blog post.
Bing Travel is another place to visit while you’re deciding where to go on your next trip. The site features a prominently placed booking engine that delivers price and feature comparisons from more than 100 travel and airline sites. The “price predictor” lets customers know of the chance of a price drop in the coming days, so flexible travelers can save some money by waiting a bit before clicking “buy.”
One good airfare I found was a round-trip from Las Vegas to Orlando, Fla., for Wednesday flights in mid-August. Bing showed a $219 price. When following through on the purchase, I was sent to the US Airways site, where the final total was only 20 cents higher. Bing said I should buy now, as there was a good chance of the price rising soon.
The hotel rate indicator is another visual tool that helps customers decide where to book rooms. It gives a green, yellow or red code for each hotel on the city map, signaling whether or not the rate is a deal. Green equals “deal”; yellow means “average” pricing; and red is “not a deal.” The only things missing are the leggy models and their aluminum briefcases.
The Bing Travel site combines the features of Farecast and MSN Travel. It also includes a travel blog with at least five contributors from the world of travel.
Recent topics include traveling with pets, price swings and summer getaways.
•A reminder: Send me your Bing experience for use in a future column.
Share your Internet story with me at email@example.com.TIP OF THE WEEK
Bing Summer Photo Contest
Photo fans have another place to see some great work, and cast their votes in the Bing summer photo contest. The winning photo will be featured on the Bing home page on August 3. You’ll be able to rate eight images at a time, then see how your ratings compare with others who rated the same photos. Sorry, the deadline to enter has passed, but I have a hunch they’ll be hosting more photo contests in the future.