With so many sites offering online shoppers cashback with their purchases, which one is best?
We all love to get something for nothing, so why not earn some extra money from your shopping by using a cashback website?
Every time you buy something from one of these websites you can earn back a percentage of the money you spend in cashback.
On the face of it, 2% or 3% here and there doesn’t sound like a lot, but the money can add up quickly and there are regular special offers to boost the amount you earn.
How do cashback websites work?
There are several cashback websites around. If you buy anything on the internet, through a cashback site, you’ll earn a certain amount of cashback based on how much you’ve spent.
It works because the retailer in question has paid the cashback website to advertise the retailer, and effectively you’re getting at least a slice of that advertising fee from the cashback website.
Some sites allow you to build up loyalty points instead which can be traded in for vouchers that can be spent like cash in certain retailers.
Some cashback sites offer different levels of membership.
There may be a basic tier, where it’s free to use, but you may also have the option of devoting the first few pounds of cashback you earn each year towards a membership fee, in exchange for benefits like faster rates of payment, higher cashback rates or additional levels of customer service.
The major downfall to cashback websites is you don't get the money instantly, which can put people off.
It’s not uncommon for cashback websites to take around a month to pay you the cash as this means they're covered should a customer return something they've bought online or if something goes wrong.
However, after this time the money goes straight to your cashback account and even though it's not instant it is still a worthwhile saving.
It's also worth checking the items you're buying on other websites first, to see if you can find it cheaper.
It may be that even with the cashback taken into account, you’d be better off finding the item you’re looking for from a cheaper retailer.
Are they any good?
Earning what is effectively free money for very little effort seems like a no-brainer to us but it’s also important not to spend money just because you earn cashback or points.
As there are a few cashback sites it’s also worth checking several before you buy something to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
It's also worth spending time reading the small print as although a retailer may be promoted as having 10% cashback, this might only be for certain products or services.
The top UK cashback websites
All of the schemes work in a slightly different way. Let's take a look at a few of those on offer:
My Money Pocket
My Money Pocket is one of the newer entries to the cashback arena, and combines offering cashback on partner retailers with highlighting discount vouchers that you can also use to save money on the transaction.
My Money Pocket currently has partnerships with around 4,500 retailers, so there’s plenty to choose from, while it’s absolutely free to use. The site keeps a portion of the commission paid by retailers, and pays the rest to you as cashback.
You can check out our in-depth look into My Money Pocket for more.
Quidco was the first big name when it comes to cashback, and it’s remained an important player, with more than 10 million members and £500 million paid out in cashback to date.
Again, it boasts more than 4,500 partner retailers, and claims that the average user is enjoying cashback worth more than £300 a year.
As well as offering big rates on certain retailers, you can pocket a £30 referral fee if you get a friend to sign up.
It has a ClickSnap feature, where if you purchase certain grocery items, by taking a photo of your receipt and uploading it you can enjoy a little extra cashback.
There’s also a Quidco mobile app for when you’re shopping on the move, and a browser extension that will highlight the cashback you can earn when you visit certain retailer websites, ensuring you don’t forget to go via Quidco itself.
It has a basic membership which is absolutely free, but there’s also Premium membership where up to £1 of your earnings are retained each month by Quidco.
In return, you get higher cashback rates, bonuses of up to 20% based on how to choose to get your cashback paid, and no ads.
The other big name in the cashback world is TopCashback, which reckons it has around 5,000 retailers on board.
As with Quidco, you can earn a fee by getting friends and family to sign up, while again there’s a browser extension you can add to help remind you when you’re on a retailer website that pays cashback.
You can split your payout, so that while some of it is paid into your bank account, the rest goes towards purchasing gift cards, or even is paid to charity.
TopCashback has a Snap&Save facility, where you upload your grocery receipts and can earn cashback on certain items you’ve bought, though it’s suspended at the time of writing.
There’s a TopCashback app too for when you’re shopping through your mobile.
There are two levels of membership at TopCashback, Classic and Plus. Classic is free, while Plus will set you back £5. In return, you’ll get a bunch of additional perks, like higher cashback rates, a higher referral fee for friends, exclusive promotions and competitions, and no adverts.
Kidstart is a cashback website aimed at families, and has partnered with around 2,300 retailers. By shopping at its retailer partners you can earn cashback which is deposited into your Kidstart account. That money is then transferred into a savings account for your child, like a Junior ISA.
Anyone can save for your kids using Kidstart (friends, family etc) so the amount earned can build up quite quickly.
Kidstart takes a portion of the referral fees so there's no annual fee.
Accelerate My Mortgage
Accelerate My Mortgage works much like the other cashback websites here, in that you earn money as you shop.
There’s a key difference though. The cashback isn’t paid to you, but is instead paid to your mortgage lender. These payments are on top of your regular monthly mortgage repayments, so are overpayments which mean you can pay the mortgage off early, which will save you money on interest payments in the long run.
We’ve covered Accelerate My Mortgage in more depth here on loveMONEY, so be sure to give our guide a read.
How to earn even more cashback
Cashback websites are just one way to help yourself to some cold, hard cash. There are plenty of other options, from cashback credit cards to bank accounts that pay cashback on certain household bills.
Check out our full run through of the best ways to earn cashback.
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