Online shopping has made a big difference to how much we pay for things. With a quick Google it’s easy to find the lowest prices for things. When we were buying baby things for the impending arrival of our little girl we saved over £1500 off the RRP of the essential items. Also, every time we buy anything like insurance, breakdown cover or hotel rooms, I can usually get at least 10% of the cost back as cashback. In this post I share my top tips and tricks to avoid paying full price for anything when shopping online.
Cashing in with cashback sites
I have been a member of Quidco and TopCashback for a few years now and have earned nearly £700. I have also recently started using another cashback site called Kidstart. Kidstart allows you and your friends/family to collect cashback on behalf of a child.
So how do cashback sites work?
Whenever I am buying something online I find the best deal to decide where to buy it from. Before I actually buy the product, I log into the 3 sites above and check to see if they offer cashback for that retailer, product or service. I look to see which site will offer me the most cashback and click the button which takes me to the website where I will make the purchase. The cashback site downloads a cookie to my browser that tracks the transaction. A few weeks later, if the purchase was made successfully, I receive the cashback in my Quidco / TopCashback / Kidstart account.
Once you have accumulated a good amount of cashback you can get it paid into your bank account. Alternatively you can use it to get gift vouchers. Normally you are offered a little bonus for getting a voucher instead of a bank payment.
You don’t need to always make your purchases using a computer to get cashback deals. The offers will work if you use your smartphone too as long as you make the purchase through your browser rather than a retailer’s app.
What is the difference between the different cashback sites?
I find TopCashback usually offer slightly better rates than Quidco and Kidstart. They often offer cashback for eBay purchases as well. TopCashback frequently have fun competitions where you can win prizes. They also have other interesting features to help you earn extra cashback from your every day shopping or from buying gift cards.
Snap and Save shows you products which you can buy and claim cashback for after uploading your receipt. There is another similar feature called OnCard cashback. With this you register your bank cards with TopCashback then activate offers for retailers you plan to shop at. This is not quite as good as Quidco’s equivalent card scheme – with theirs you automatically get the offers rather than having to activate them.
TopCashback have a browser add on to help remind you about cashback deals when shopping online. I ended up turning this off after I got into the habit of always looking on cashback sites before buying anything.
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Quidco work in a very similar way to TopCashback. I find their website a little easier to use. The rates are nearly as good as TopCashback and you often see special deals for sites like Expedia. I have often got 10-12% cashback from hotel stays with this! Quidco also have fun competitions, particularly at Christmas and Easter.
If you register your debit and credit cards with Quidco you get automatic cashback from participating high street retailers when you use those cards in their shops. Like TopCashback, Quidco have a scheme where you can get cashback for buying certain products in shops after uploading your receipt. Quidco’s scheme is called ClickSnap and they have a dedicated app for it so it’s easy to see what offers are available.
Quidco Compare allows you to get price comparisons for insurance, energy and broadband. They will offer you deals where you can get added cashback for buying the product through Quidco compare.
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KidStart is less well known than Quidco and TopCashback but is still worth signing up to. The aim of the site is to help you gain cashback to put towards your kid’s savings. You can get the money paid into current accounts too. The cashback is automatically paid out as soon as you reach the £10 threshold.
The offers on KidStart are not usually as high as the other sites. They do, however, offer 2% cashback on all Amazon purchases, and 1.5% for shopping at John Lewis (sometimes more). You won’t normally see these deals on Quidco or TopCashback. You can get cashback for eBay purchases too but the terms are different to TopCashback’s offer.
KidStart also have another nice feature where your friends and family can be linked to your account. If they then shop via KidStart’s cashback links you can get extra money added to your child’s fund.
Like TopCashback, you can install a browser add on to remind you about getting cashback deals.
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What can I get cashback for?
I find I am able to get cashback deals for the majority of online purchases. Most major retailers feature on one or all of the cashback sites. Some retailers, like supermarkets, only offer deals for new customers.
Booking travel (flights, accommodation, hire cars, etc.) has great opportunities for cashback. I am frequently able to get 10% back from hotel bookings and usually 1-2% on flights costs as well. You have to make comparisons to see whether you get more cashback buying directly with a supplier or through an agent like Expedia or eBookers. The savings mean it is worth spending some time doing this, especially if, like us, you prefer to be your own travel agent and book flights, accommodation and transport separately.
You can also get some excellent deals when buying insurance, breakdown cover, phone contracts, TV and broadband services. The offers are normally for new customers, but if you are happy to switch you can make great savings.
Using Cashback sites for negotiation
If you don’t want to switch to a new supplier for the sake of cashback, you can still use the offers on cashback sites to negotiate better deals with your current suppliers. We find this to be a great tactic to make instant savings! You just tell your existing supplier that you want to switch because you can get a better deal elsewhere through cashback sites. Keep nagging and threatening to leave until they match it! Or you can point out to them that if you leave and come back as a new customer you will get a better offer. They will often match the discount you would get from cashback on a new contract. This means you get the saving straight away instead of having to wait a few weeks for your cashback to come in.
Get extra savings ON TOP of cashback or voucher codes by using Zeek
Zeek is a site I discovered just in time for starting all our baby shopping! It is a marketplace for unwanted gift cards that you can buy at a discount from the face value. Most discounts are 2-4%, but can be as much as 20-22%. It depends what people have listed them for. The values of the gift cards vary, usually from £25 to £100.
The great thing about using gift cards from Zeek is that when you use them to make a payment you still qualify for cashback offers or voucher codes with the merchant. Normally if you use a discount code when buying online you will invalidate cashback offers so you can’t ‘stack’ the savings. As gift card payments are seen as an equivalent to paying by card or cash, the merchant will still pay out cashback on your transaction.
Buying gift cards and then using them to make payments helped me to make big savings on items like my daughter’s cot and mattress. I couldn’t always get cashback deals on the purchases, so I would stack savings from voucher codes and gift cards from Zeek instead.
If you want to join Zeek, use this link to get a £5 credit when setting up your account. You may need to confirm your ID when making your first gift card purchase if it is high value.
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No cashback deal available? Try Pouch for voucher codes
Hunting for discount codes can be laborious. Lots come up in search results, but very few codes are useful or valid.
I then discovered a browser add on called Pouch. You may have seen the company on Dragon’s Den! They hunt down decent voucher codes and if you are on a site with savings available you automatically get a notification with the codes. It’s a really easy and free to use service. Not every code is on there, but the ones they do have always work.
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Bonus cash for photographing receipts
The final tip I have for generating free cash from your shopping is to download an app called Shoppix. It’s really easy to use. Every time you have an itemised receipt from shops, restaurants, fuel stations etc. take a photo of it using the app. You get rewarded with tokens that you save up to claim vouchers (Paypal, Amazon or Love2Shop).
The app also offers surveys every so often which get you extra tokens. You also frequently get scratchcards in the app. These are a fun way to boost your token balance as the win rate is high.
I really like this app and it takes seconds to add your receipts on. After a few weeks of regular use I am nearly up to the 3200 tokens needed for a £5 voucher.
To get a bonus 200 tokens when you sign up, use this code: 99VUV39U
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Thank you for reading!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for getting cashback and savings on your shopping. Let me know in the comments if you give any of the sites or apps a try and how you get on!
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