Can you really make money when you shop on cashback sites? We explore what’s in it for you.
How do cashback sites work?
Cashback sites are websites that act as intermediaries between a consumer and a retailer. Instead of shopping directly with a brand, you make your purchase via a link on the cashback site. In return, and once the sale is confirmed, the cashback site is paid a commission. A percentage of this commission is then passed on to you.
You can get money back on a wide range of purchases. From products such as clothes, groceries and electricals, or even services such as flights, phone contracts, and car insurance.
You could earn a little extra money for inviting a friend to join a cashback site that you’re signed up to. Once they sign up and start earning cashback, you’ll receive a bonus for referring them. This varies depending on the cashback site you use and what their terms and conditions are.
What do they cost to join?
You don’t need to pay anything to join a cashback site. The basic accounts are free. Some sites have a premium membership feature for a small cost, which is payable monthly or annually. This comes with incentives such as a higher rate of commission but you will need to weigh up if this is right for you and your shopping habits.
When you have created your account, check that you have not automatically been signed up for a premium membership. If you have, you can cancel this feature before it takes effect. it
Can you join more than one cashback site?
Yes, you can. If the retailer you want to purchase from is not on one cashback site, then it may be on a different one. One retailer may be listed on more than one site, in which case you should check which one is offering the best rate of cashback at the time of purchase.
There’s no reason you can’t have accounts on different sites and use the most appropriate one each time.
You can shop in-store too
Traditionally, cashback sites were designed for online purchases. These days, some sites give you the opportunity to earn money from shopping in-store. When you sign up, register your card details and then see what offers are available in stores near you. This works in the same way as online purchases, in that you will have to wait for the cash to appear in your cashback account.
Cashback isn’t always the best deal
Although some cashback offers are very tempting, they may not work out to be the cheapest way of buying something. For example, making £25 cashback on a purchase of £100 may seem great until you realise that you could have made the same purchase for £70 elsewhere. Do your research to be sure that you can’t find the item or service cheaper on another site or in a shop.
How long does it take to get paid?
It can take anything from a few weeks up to several months to receive the cashback in your account. The commissions aren’t usually paid until the returns period has passed. Some commissions are paid at the end of the month, so if you make a purchase at the start of the month, you’ll have to wait longer than if you bought the itemat the end of the month. Once the cashback is available to you, log into your account to claim it.
Cash-out your cashback
When you earn cashback, cash it out quickly. Don’t leave the money you have earned sitting on the site. If the company was to go under you could lose the money. When you claim your cashback, you can choose to have it paid into your bank account, your PayPalaccount, or receive it as gift vouchers.
Check your cookies
Commission payments to cashback sites rely on using cookies for tracking. The retailer will want to be sure that you made the purchase via the cashback site before you can get money back. Shopping around on the retailer’s website beforehand may result in the commission not being paid to the cashback site – or to you. So, if you visited the retailer’s website first, then clear your cookies before goingto the cashback site to make the purchase. There needs to be a direct trail from the cashback site to the retailer’s site.
If something goes wrong in the tracking process you may not receive the cashback. Keep your receipts - if you want to put in a claim for unpaid cashback you will need proof of purchase.
The bottom line...
Cashback sites can be a good way to earn some money. They’re listed as number 68 in our list of more than 100 ways to save money. If you were going to make the purchase anyway then why not get a little something back at the same time? You won’t necessarily be able to live on the proceeds but if you do it for a year you could use the cash for a special occasion.
Purchases made through a cashback site are subject to the same rights as a normal sale. Carefully read the terms and conditions of the site/s you are interested in before parting with your money.