Friday 6 November 2015

Finance Fridays – Cashback sites

Welcome to this week's Finance Fridays. Last week we were looking at Store loyalty cards and this week we're sticking with the shopping theme. Now we are in November the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest. It's time to make the most out of your money even when spending so let's find out about cashback sites.

How do they work?

The idea is very simple in that you log on to a cashback site and search for the retailer you wish to purchase from. If you click on their link to the retailer it will then track any purchases you make and in return you will receive usually a percentage of the sale back in cashback. For example if you buy an item costing £10 and the cashback on it is 2% you will receive back 20p. It may not seem much but different retailers have different cashback rates and if you do a lot of shopping it could soon add up. Also you are getting something for nothing if you were going to buy that item anyway.

What to look out for

Some sites are totally free to join, others have a standard free membership and also a paid premium membership with higher rates and different offers whilst some have an an annual fee or one-off fee to join. Decide which level of membership is best for. If you don't do a lot of shopping a paid membership may see any cashback you make wiped out by the annual fee. In other cases if you are going to make a big purchase such as a holiday you may get back your membership fee plus more in that one purchase.

Do keep a record of what purchases you have made so you can keep track of them. Sometimes purchases are not tracked properly so you will need to take it up with the cashback company. It also can take several months for the cashback to come through so be patient. This also means you shouldn't rely on the cashback money as a form of income as you can't guarantee when it will make an appearance in your account.

You may set up a number of accounts across various cashback sites but one of the problems with this is that they usually have a minimum withdrawal amount. If you spread yourself too thinly you may end up with lots of little amounts across several sites but you can't access any of the money. It's probably best sticking to a maximum of two sites you like the best. Once you do reach the minimum withdrawal amount it's usually best to move your money out of the cashback site and into your own bank account. I don't want to scaremonger but if a cashback site goes bust you'll probably never see your money again. If you're worried about the money being swallowed up in your current account if you want to save it then set up a basic savings account with your bank so you can easily transfer the money across.

Before you buy through a cashback site do check that the item you wish to purchase isn't cheaper overall somewhere else. For example if you want to buy a new camera for £300 and the cashback site is offering 2% cashback through a high street chain it would bring the price down to £294. A local independent camera shop not on cashback sites may have it priced at £290. Do your sums first!

Boosting your cashback

It's not just online purchases that can get you cashback. Some sites allow you to register credit and debit cards so purchases made in store are eligible for cashback. Of course you need to be happy with your card details being stored on their site.
Cashback is sometimes offered on long-term contracts such as insurance, gas and electric bills and mobile phone contracts. That way with every bill you need to pay you'll be earning cashback on it.

It's not all about spend, spend, spend. All cashback sites want new members so some offer rewards for existing members to refer their friends and family to join. If you go onto the sites sometimes there are surveys you can answer to gain cashback or enter prize draws. Earlier this year I went through a cashback site to do a car insurance comparison. I never took up any of the quotes but I got £2.15 just for doing the search.

Now we've had a look at some of the dos and don'ts of cashback sites it time to have a look at the actual sites.


Boasting to be 'The UK's number one cashback site' Quidco offers both free and paid memberships plus other rewards. There is now over 4,300 retailers who are linked up to the Quidco cashback site. Quidco Basic is free to join and is paid for by Quidco running retailers' ads on their site. You can also upgrade to Quidco Premium. Do be careful when you first join as Quido Premium is sometimes the default option unless you opt out. The £5 fee for Quidco Premium is taken out of your annual cashback earnings. In return it offers faster paying retailers from over 650 of its clients, no ads on the site, a 2% bonus if you choose to receive your cashback in Amazon vouchers plus exclusive bonuses and offers with certain retailers.

Quidco also offers in-store cashback if you register the debit or credit cards that you use to pay for the items in these store. The list of retailers isn't very long but do include Caffè Nero, Debenhams, Halfords and the two jewellers H. Samuel and Ernest Jones. With Christmas coming up it may be beneficial if you were thinking of making a big purchase from one of these stores such as a bike, watch or jewellery.


The other player in the UK cashback scene is TopCashback who claim to be 'The UK's #1 Cashback and Vouchers Site'. I'll let Topcashback and Quidco battle it amongst themselves as to which one really is number one. Essentially TopCashback works in exactly the same way as its rival. They have a free 'Classic' and also a £5 fee for joining the 'Plus' membership. TopCashback offers faster paying to all its members. In return for the £5 Plus members receive higher cashback rates with certain retailers, a higher referral fee for introducing new members and higher bonus benefits.

The instore purchases scheme known as OnCard offers a slightly eclectic range of retailers from Starbucks, HomeSense, Hawkin's Bazaar and Maplins. Most of these are only for a limited amount of time, have amount caps and can only be received if you pay on a Mastercard so keep checking the site for the most current offers.


Through Maximiles you can build up points through shopping at over 500 retailers. Whilst this significantly less than Quidco and Topcashback with Maximiles you can boost your points total by answering surveys, entering competitions and even watching videos. The points you collect are then able to be spent through Maximiles' own catalogue. Therefore this isn't a straight money cashback site but more of a reward site. For retailers such as John Lewis and Curry's you receive 2 points for every £1 spent. Rewards start from 2,000 points for items such Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits, an iPhone 5 case or a Little Miss Chatterbox mug. If you earned points just through shopping you would need to spend £1,000 to receive one of these items.


The first cashback site in the UK was GreasyPalm back in 2003. They state they have over 2,500 retailers working with them. In order to get your cashback you need to complete the 10 steps on the Cashback ladder first. I've never personally used this site so I'm not sure what this entails. However it does state on the site that you need to have £25 worth of cashback in your account for it to be paid out to you.

There are other ways to earn cashback on GreasyPalm such as form filling, answering surveys, signing up for emails (always create a separate email address for such things) and opening bank and credit cards accounts.


The Getpoundsback states it takes no admin fee from the retailers so it is generally able offer higher rates of cashback than other sites. Many of them claim to offer the highest rates so this shows it is best to look to at all the sites. For cashback to be authorised and put into your account it usually takes 2-3 months. Minimum payout though is only £3 so one offer could make you eligible for a payout.

Other cashback sites

I've listed some of the most well-known cashback sites above and here are some of the others I have found. Please note I can't personally recommend any of the sites I've listed as many of them I have never used. So do look round each site and look at the rates they offer and how they pay the cashback back to you before signing up to any of them.

Do you use cashback sites? Which ones are your favourites?

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I'll share my favourites with you next week so we can all get our finances in order!


  1. I really should do more of this sort of thing. Our bank account has started doing cash back which is useful.

  2. I have to admit I had no idea there was so many - I use TopCashBack myself but only just getting my head around it. x

  3. I really should do this but at the moment I raise money for the school through easy fundraising

  4. I've never used a cashback site - it sounds very complicated. It's a great idea though, as long as you're organise I guess!

  5. This is a great article. I've never used a cash back site although I'm pretty sure I registered for one years ago? INot sure if you can answer this bit if you go through one of the cash back portals are you given exactly the same prices as if you didn't and can you still use the online stores voucher codes?

    1. Yes and yes. The cash back sites just track your purchase but the shop's site is exactly the same one. Once you get to checkout you can enter any other valid promotional codes such as for 10% off or free delivery.

  6. There are some great cashback sites there that I had no idea of. Cheers

  7. I always mean to use a cashback site when I do my shopping but forget. I must try and remember in future as they sound like such a great idea.

  8. I don't use them as they seem to be a bit of a faff but the wife uses Quidco.

  9. We don't really use any of these. I do find the signing up process for these things tedious and I am not sure the rewards are worth my time and constant tracking. I would consider signing for these if we were to purchase big ticket items like cars, appliances or holidays.xx


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