What are the best cashback sites to use when shopping online?
You’ve probably noticed a lot of ads for cashback websites recently, especially during the run-up to Christmas.
But how do cashback sites work? How do they make money? How much cashback can you earn with them and which cashback site is the best one to use?
In this guide we’ll go through everything you need to know about cashback websites, making sure you are well-informed and know how to get the most out of them.
What you will learn…
How do cashback websites work?
Cashback websites allow you to click through to other websites to buy products, and give you money back for every purchase you make. The amount of money you can get back for your purchases is typically around 5%-15% – so can add up to a considerable amount of cash back for expensive items.
Cashback websites are able to pay you to shop because they have ‘affiliate’ deals with the shops they feature on their site. This means that they receive a percentage of any sale they refer to that shop.
When you go to an online store via a cashback website, your visit will be tracked and the cashback site will receive a percentage of whatever you spend on that site as commission. The cashback you then receive is made up of this commission.
Cashback websites, then, simply share their affiliate commission with you.
What are the top UK cashback websites?
When deciding what cashback website to sign-up to and use, you should be thinking about choosing one that pays the highest percentage of their commissions.
Some cashback brands pay as little as 50%, whereas the top two below are both 100% payers. Paying 100% of the commission may seem like an unsustainable way to do business, but they are able to pay 100% cashback as the high level of customers they send to online brands enables them to be paid bonuses by the brands – so they get paid as well as paying you 100% of the commission you generate.
If you’re looking for the cashback site that pays out the most, then TopCashback is the one for you. They pay 105% of the commission you generate, so actually pass on some of the bonuses to their customers as well.
TopCashback also comes out top in terms of customer service, with lots of positive feedback from customers who use it to earn money back from their online shopping.
Quidco was the first ‘big’ cashback site to enter the UK market, and pays similar levels of cashback commission as TopCashback.
The two sites have now becomes the two biggest cashback websites in the UK, and compete for exclusive deals and commission rates – so it can be worth signing up with both to maximise your cashback.
Tips to get the most out of cashback websites
With both TopCashback and Quidco it’s relatively easy to sign up to a free account, browse the offers, shop online and start building up your cashback. But if you want to get the full benefits of using them and maximise the amount of cashback you receive, then follow the below tips…
Cashback is not always guaranteed
Think of the cashback you receive after shopping via these websites as a bonus, rather than an absolute guarantee. Sometimes there are tracking problems which mean your visit, and subsequent spending, isn’t recorded (although this is very rare), other time there may be attribution issues and the online store disputes the commission payment to the cashback site.
Unlike getting cashback from a retailer, you have very little consumer rights when it comes to getting money from cashback websites. Therefore the best way to approach it is to look at the potential cashback you may earn as a nice bonus, rather than letting it drive your purchasing decisions.
Cashback is not your money until it’s in your bank account
It’s always nice to see your cashback account start to fill up with cash after you’ve been spending, but the golden rule is that the money is not yours until it is in your bank account.
The amount you see in your cashback accounts may still be subject to disputes and declined payments, plus there is always the risk that the company may go bust and leave you with no recourse to access your cashback.
Always withdraw your cashback at the earliest opportunity
Most cashback websites have a minimum threshold before you can withdraw your money – usually between £50 and £100. You should always take your money out as soon as possible, rather than let big amounts build up in your account.
As well as missing out on any interest on the cash you have earned, if the cashback site goes bust or makes changes to its payment policy while you have a lot of money in there you could be in for a nasty shock.
Don’t make purchases based on the cashback amount
It’s easy to start browsing the offers on cashback sites and get seduced by the levels of cashback available on certain products or from certain brands – but you should only be looking to earn cashback on products you were already planning to buy.
That way you are effectively earning money for nothing, as you were going to spend that money anyway. If you start making purchasing decisions based on how the cashback will offset the cost, then you are effectively losing money.
Sign up for in-store cashback
As well as earning cashback from shopping online, cashback websites also now allow you to build cashback when shopping in stores.
To do this you need to register your debit/credit card with them so they can track your purchases in store. There’s not a great amount of retailers currently on the in-store cashback scheme, but they are growing all the time and there’s currently some big names like The Body Shop, Disney Store, Uniqlo and Starbucks offering up to 5% in-store cashback.