From the TopCashback and Quidco to OhMyDosh! and KidStart, cashback sites are a simple way of earning anything from pennies to hundreds of pounds on a variety of purchases. Whether it’s an everyday buy like clothing or a long-term commitment like a phone contract, it’s worth checking cashback sites before you spend as there may be a saving in it for you.
How Cashback Sites Work
Simply put, cashback sites use affiliate links. Imagine that every business linked on their site pays them a tiny commission for each sale they provide. The cashback site then shares a percentage of that commission with you, the customer. The business makes a sale, the cashback site gets a fee, and you get a tiny bit of money back on a purchase you were going to make anyway!
How to Use Cashback Sites
Once you’ve signed up for a free account (it’s worth signing up to more than one site as they often offer different rates of cashback), it’s simply a case of remembering to check with them whenever you’re making an online purchase. Many cashback sites have websites, apps and browser extensions (the latter of which can be set to automatically notify you when you visit one of their partner sites). For example, if you’re buying a new microwave online, you would first check whether cashback sites offer savings with the online store you want to buy from. Assuming one does, you would click through the cashback site’s link to the store to make the purchase, rather than going directly to the store’s website yourself.
Once cashback has been tracked, which should be automatic, all you have to do is wait for it to become payable. Once it has, you can swap it for a gift voucher or have the cash paid directly to a bank account.
Best Cashback Deals
While you can make a tiny percentage for even small orders with little effort (it all mounts up!), it’s when switching accounts that require contracts – think utilities, TV or phone supplier and so on – that using cashback sites is a no brainer. There are often hundreds of pounds to be made as providers are willing to reward cashback sites for sending them new long-term customers. Just be sure to check the providers can’t beat these offers if you go to them directly.
Of course, there are some downsides that, while fairly minor, are worth acknowledging.
- Rules Rules Rules!
Read the small print. There are rules which will stop you from receiving cashback. One example is using a discount code that the cashback site does not recognise. Many of the bigger cashback offers advertised are for new customers only, or for specific product ranges. Some stores – I’m looking at you, Argos – tend not to offer cashback unless you choose delivery.
- It’s a Slow Process
It can take an age for cashback to become payable. Keep an eye on your accounts to ensure cashback tracks and, once it has, be patient. That said, if it takes longer than the time frame quoted, don’t be afraid to give it a chase.
- My Cashback Didn’t Track!
Occasionally, you complete your order correctly and somehow the cashback doesn’t track. Most sites request you give it a week before chasing untracked purchases. If you’ve visited the website you want to buy from already, it is worth clearing the browsing history related to that site to improve the likelihood that the cashback tracks when you order.
- Switch Off Ad Blockers
Ad blockers can affect whether cashback tracks. Always turn off your ad blocker when you use a cashback site; I also turn it off temporarily for the site I want to buy from, as an extra precaution.
- Account Memberships
Ensure you sign up for a free account when you first register. Many sites also offer premium membership for a fee in exchange for additional offers. While these may be worthwhile to heavy shoppers, if you’re focused on making savings, stick to a free account.
- Nothing is Guaranteed
If you follow the terms, there is no reason you shouldn’t eventually receive your cashback. That said, occasionally you might not: I have had the experience of chasing cashback for over a year, eventually giving up as the company I’d bought from rebranded. View the cashback as a likely perk, just don’t rely on it!
Give It a Go!
I’ve made hundreds of pounds in cashback using these sites over the years, all for purchases I was making anyway! My personal favourites are the well-established TopCashback and Quidco, although it’s sensible to sign up with more than one to make the most of differing offers. These days, I would never consider switching my phone, broadband or utility contracts before checking out the cashback offers online. As long as you follow the guidelines and don’t view cashback as guaranteed income, you’re on to a winner!