Cashback websites let you save money when you make purchases online. When used effectively cashback sites can save you hundreds per year with little effort.
Cashback websites will pay you when you go through their site to another, and then make a purchase. The cashback you receive will either be a percentage of that purchase or sometimes just a set amount.
Whilst many people haven’t heard about cashback sites, others are saving hundreds of pounds a year using them regularly.
This article explains how the cashback system works, how to use the sites effectively, some key do’s and don’ts, and our favourite cashback sites.
How do you use a cashback site?
Let’s say you want to buy something online (some train tickets, for example). Instead of going direct to the shop website (say, TheTrainline.com), you go to a cashback website and then search for the shop website you want. If that website (Thetrainline.com) is listed on the cashback site, you simply click through to it through their link and then go on to make your purchase as normal.
Your visit to the website is then tracked, and when you make a purchase you’ll be paid an amount into your cashback website’s account once the transaction is processed and finalised.
Note that you’ll need to sign up to the cashback site and create an account – this should be free. Then, once your purchase has been processed and finalised, the cashback will be available in your account to withdraw from the site – minus their small admin fee.
Most sites offer the money as a straight forward cash payout, but some also have the option of receiving vouchers instead of cash.
But why do they give you cashback?
It’s actually very simply: cashback sites are essentially providing these other sites that you visit with referrals.
When users which they have directed to a site then make a purchase on that site, they receive a referral payment (or commission). The cashback website then passes some or all of that commission payment onto you, their users.
The cashback websites will have different referral payment deals with different websites and companies, so therefore the amount of cashback you can get will vary accordingly.
Cashback sites make their money by taking a small admin fee from you when you withdraw your cashback, and you get the rest.
And that’s it!
Our favourite cashback sites
Quidco is one of the biggest cashback sites with 5 million members according to their site, and it’s another favourite of ours. Some of the site’s highlights:
If you want to know a little more about how to increase your cashback profit, read on.
How best to maximise cashback profit
1. Travel (even if it’s for work)
Great savings can be made going through cashback sites on things like hotel accommodation, flights and train tickets. At the time of writing, Hotels.com and LateRooms.com are both offering over 8% cashback on bookings made through TopCashback!
If you travel regularly and you book your own travel or accomodation online (even if it’s paid for with your work), you can be earning significant money just by clicking through a cashback site every time you make a booking.
2. Little and always
The best way to maximise profit from cashback sites is to simply use them whenever possible when you make a purchase online.
The hardest part is just remembering to check cashback every time you want to buy online, but get into the habit of it and it just becomes part of your buying process (and takes barely any time at all).
If you are planning on buying something, you won’t lose anything by clicking through a cashback site when you make the purchase, so always remember to check what cashback is on offer before you hit the buy button.
It may only be a small amount you get back each time, but it all adds up.
3. Bigger buys and contract purchases
Cashback fees are often offered as a percentage of the purchase price, so you’re generally going to get more cashback when you make a larger purchase.
That’s not to say buy the most expensive product for the sake of it! But it’s especially worthwhile remembering to check cashback deals when you’re looking to buy something more expensive.
Cashback sites can also be really rewarding when buying a contract service or product. This is due to the higher overall value of these types of purchases, allowing sites to offer higher cashback rewards.
Usually for contract purchases, cashback will be offered as a fixed sum when you sign up to the product. The kinds of deals which offer these large cashback amounts include things like:
- a new internet/tv package,
- a new mobile phone contract,
- or insurance products.
The amount of cashback available on contracts such as these is regularly in the hundreds of pounds, and can make a huge difference to the overall value of a given deal. A few examples of such purchases and the available cashback are shown below:
|Contract purchase||Cashback available*|
|Sky Digital TV & Broadband – New Customers Cashback||Up to £136.50|
|EE Mobile Contracts Cashback||Up to £97.65|
|Virgin Media Cashback||Up to £131.25|
|*from topcashback.co.uk – correct at time of writing|
The cashback will vary from deal to deal, but it’s plain to see the potential savings available just by making a few clicks through a cashback website!
What NOT to do with cashback sites
Whilst we at SaveMoneySimply are big advocates of cashback sites, it’s important to remember a few important points when you’re using them:
1. Don’t rely on the cashback when making a purchase.
Sometimes there can be issues with the tracking of visits through a cashback website and in some cases it can be that the cashback won’t come through. From our experience, this seems to be becoming less of an issue as the sites have become more established, but some users do still report problems. If this does happen, get in touch with the site straight away and they are usually helpful in trying to resolve problems.
2. Always choose the best deal FIRST and the amount of cashback SECOND.
As we said before, don’t base your buy purely on getting the best cashback.
This is particularly relevant when choosing a new contract or subscription like those we mentioned above. When you’re paying for a contract over 1-2 years, the amount of cashback might be outweighed by the monthly cost over that period.
For example, let’s say you are looking at new phone contract…
- The first one you look at is a 2 year deal at £40 a month – and you can get a whopping £200 cashback. If you work that out over 2 years, it’s £960 for the contract, minus your £200 cashback, so £760 overall.
- The second contract is a bit cheaper at £32 a month, also 2 years, but it’s only offering £80 cashback. But, working it out over 24 months, you’ll pay £768 for the contract. That minus your £80 cashback is £688 overall, saving you £72 with this option.
This is a relatively simple example but it demonstrates how you need to think about cashback.
Also cashback sites won’t necessarily find you the cheapest option for an item or service on their own – so do your homework and pick the product or service that is right for you, then take the cashback as the icing on the cake.
3. Don’t rely on having your cashback instantly
Cashback often takes several weeks to process so don’t expect the money to be available immediately after you complete your purchase.
Once it is available, we always withdraw it straight away – you won’t gain anything by keeping money in your cashback account.
Let us know
We’d love to know your experiences of using cashback sites!
How much have you saved using them? Do you have any success stories or pain points with these sites that you’d like to share? Do you have any questions or comments on anything we’ve said above? Please leave a comment below and let us know.