Very simply – cashback sites will pay you money when you click through them and make a purchase at a retailer or service provider.
This could be for everyday items, like your food shop, or buying clothes. Or, it could even be for one-off purchases like a holiday, car insurance or an ISA.
If you can get something for cheaper so easily, then there is no reason not to use a cashback site.
Some purchases will make you a few pennies back, but others can earn you hundreds in one shop. Overall, you can easily make £100s a year by shopping via a cashback site, instead of going to a retailer directly.
How do cashback sites work?
This is how you would shop (and make money back) with a cashback site.
- Search on the cashback site for the company you want to shop with
- Click through the link and shop as normal
- Cashback will be tracked in your account with the cashback provider.
The money will first be tracked, and it can take from a few hours to a few weeks for the cashback to be confirmed. At this point, you’re able to transfer the money to your bank account, cash out via PayPal, or get a top-up bonus when you choose a voucher with a retailer.
While that’s a brief summary of how it all works, take a look at our guide what is cashback for more detail.
Best cashback sites
There are loads of cashback sites about.
I find it best to register with a few different ones as some retailers appear on one but not on another. This way you can make sure you don’t lose out.
Quidco is one of the best sites to make money through cashback, and they say most members make £280 a year.
For new members, we’ve blagged an exclusive offer to get £16 cashback for new Quidco members. Sign up to the Skint List newsletter to receive our weekly money saving newsletter, and we’ll also give you access to the £16 free cashback deal.
Alternatively, you can go for a £10 new member cashback offer instead if you don’t want to join the Skint List (but it’s a super-awesome newsletter 🙂 so you’ll be missing out).
It’s free to join, and you’ve got access to over 4,500 retailers.
As well as getting cashback online, you’re also able to get cashback with shops on the high street, and you can even get money back on your food shop with their Click Snap app.
If you want to make more money, you could choose the Premium membership for £5 a year, which gets you cashback promotions worth around £50 a year. You don’t pay up front. Quidco just retain the first £5 of your annual cashback earnings each year. Really, it’s all about getting access to higher cashback bonuses and, in 2017, members earned 40% more cashback than Basic members.
When it comes to getting your money out, you can have it sent straight into your bank account via BACS, pick PayPal or pick gift cards from shops like Amazon, Argos, M&S and more.
There’s loads more Quidco new member offers here.
TopCashback is the highest paying cashback site (although remember that Qudico price match with the cashback guarantee).
There is plenty of Topcashback new member offers like free products as well as getting £15 cash back on spends.
TopCashback is also the largest cashback site with over 5,300 merchants, allowing you to get cashback from things like car insurance to grocery shopping and even mobile phone contracts.
When you sign up, you will be automatically put on their Plus membership which costs £5 a year. All new members get Plus free for a one month trial (so remember to downgrade your membership to Classic if you don’t want to keep it).
Having Plus membership means you’ll earn more. You don’t pay for the membership up front as Topcashback retain the first £5 cashback you make. With Plus membership you will get bonuses of up to 10% on top of your payouts.
It’s not just for online shopping. You’re able to register your bank card and also earn money when you shop on the high street. You can even get free or cheaper food when you take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the site or the Snap & Save app.
The minimum payout level is just 1p, and you can choose BACS payment, PayPal or pick from gift cards from major retailers (which can see you earn even more).
As well as earning cashback when you shop online, you’re able to make extra points by watching videos, listening to the radio, playing games and taking surveys.
If you download the free SwagButton, you will get notified when you’re on a shop that can earn you cashback with Swagbucks
Swagbucks allows you to make points which you can transfer over to cash out via PayPal or get gift cards from major retailers.
Watch out for new member SwagUp bonus where you can earn £10 cashback.
If you’ve got kids, grandkids or even one on the way, KidStart may be a cashback option you want to consider.
KidStart is smaller than some of the other cashback sites, but it works differently.
Instead of giving you the money back, any cashback you earn has to be put towards a child’s savings.
KidStart say you could earn around £250 a year into a child’s savings account.
That is the one catch – it does need to be a child’s savings account. It could be with any bank or building society, a child trust fund or a JISA.
If you don’t have kids or have kids in the family you want to transfer the money to, you can choose to donate your cashback to a school or a choice of children’s charities.
Instead of getting cashback on every purchase, Boom25 works differently.
It’s a bit more about the luck of the draw. Every 25th shopper wins 100% of their money back.
While you’ve got no guarantee that you’ll get anything, if you are the lucky 25th shopper, then the amount you get back will be better than the 5% other retailers can give you via Quidco or Topcashback.
They still offer retailers across lots of different categories. It’s free to join, and they pay out via PayPal.
The largest win so far is a whopping £4,225!
Check out our full Boom25 review for more information.
20Cogs is not just about cashback but pays you for other tasks too.
It’s free to join, and you’re able to earn money taking tasks, surveys, completing competitions, offers and games.
An average member earns just over £200! But some members have been able to make £700!!
So while you can get cashback buying products, a lot of the earning will come from tasks.
You get a £5 welcome bonus when you join and they payout via PayPal or bank transfer.
QuickRewards is another site that is not just about cashback.
It’s a ‘get paid to’ website where you can earn money through shopping, surveys, by playing games and watching videos.
It’s only open to people living in the UK, USA or Canada.
You’re able to earn up to 25% cashback at over 1,000 brand names stores. You can also make extra by reading emails and visiting other websites.
How can they give away money?
Cashback sites make their money using affiliate marketing and then share their profits with shoppers.
In simple terms, the cashback website earns a commission every time you make a purchase through their links. It’s this that you earn in your account.
There are just a couple of things to consider when using cashback websites.
Firstly, it’s always best to make sure you shop around first.
Just because you’re getting some money back, it doesn’t mean it’s the best overall bargain.
For instance, most cashback offers don’t work if you use a voucher code (check the terms for each retailer). You could be losing out on savings if you’ve got a 10% off voucher code, but only getting 4.5% cashback.
Also, it’s worth checking to see if you can get the item or service cheaper somewhere else. The same product could be on offer without cashback so you could save more.
One last thing to be aware of is that your cashback is not protected like your cash in the bank. If one of the cashback sites were to go bust for whatever reason, you could lose the money.
It’s therefore always worth cashing out as soon as you’re able.
Naomi knows the burden of living on very little and became debt free by learning from past mistakes and following her own money saving tips and tricks. She is studying a Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems and is a Youth Mental Health First Aid Champion.