Have yourself a cashback Christmas
Credit cards and discount websites can keep costs down if you look carefully
Sunday 11 December 2011
If you're making your way through your Christmas list, make sure those purchases are working hard for you too.
Whether you're using a reward credit card to earn as you shop, making money through a cashback site or hunting down the best bargains using voucher codes, there are lots of ways to boost your spending.
If you're spending your money on presents for other people you can secure a reward for yourself too by using a cashback card and earning a percentage back as cash.
But not all things in the cashback world are rosy; some offers disappear in the blink of an eye. Barclaycard has been accused of being Scrooge this Christmas after pulling its new cashback offer. The Platinum credit card, which was launched on 15 November, offered a generous 11 per cent cashback on Christmas spending until the end of December (with a maximum payout of £100), but it was withdrawn after just three days. But there are still good cards to choose from.
Capital One World MasterCard pays the top rate of 5 per cent cashback on all spending for the first 99 days, with a cap of £100. (You would need to spend £2,000 to reach this.) After the three months are up you earn a tiered amount of cashback: 0.5 per cent for £0-£5,999 over the year, 1 per cent for £6,000-£9,999 and 1.5 per cent for an annual spend over £10,000. To give you an idea of how much you might reasonably earn, if you spent £5,000 on the card (£1,500 in the first three months) you would earn £92.50.
The American Express Platinum card is similar, but there is an annual fee of £25 and it pays only 2.5 per cent for the first three months, although it is a more generous ongoing card with 1.25 per cent cashback thereafter, again up to a maximum £100. Also if you spend over £10,000 on the Amex card in a year you earn an uncapped 2.5 per cent bonus. Another card worth looking into is Santander's 123 Cashback MasterCard which offers 1 per cent cashback for supermarket shopping, 2 per cent in department stores and 3 per cent in petrol stations (capped at £300 per month). Again, however, you are charged an annual fee of £24.
But, be warned that reward cards aren't for everyone. With APRs of about 20 per cent, the interest will easily wipe out any cashback earned if you don't pay off the card in full. Set up a direct debit to pay in full each month. If you are at all concerned that you won't be able to do this, then steer clear and either don't use a credit card at all, or apply for one with a 0 per cent promotional deal on spending so that you can put off being charged any interest. "If you can pay on your credit card, clear the balance in full every month and get cashback, it's a good deal – and money for nothing. But you're unlikely to earn a fortune from it," said Sarah Pennells from financial advice site Savvywoman.com.
Cashback websites are great for any online spending and work in a similar way to the cards offering a percentage of the price you pay back as cash. Quidco is one of the biggest cashback and voucher sites with about 1,200 retailers on the site, although it does charge a £5 annual fee.
"With cashback offers and voucher codes available on nearly every retailer, there is really no excuse for paying full price for your online Christmas shopping. The case is the same on the high street where consumers can use printable vouchers," says Hannah Green from Quidco.
Cashback on financial products such as breakdown cover can be impressive, but make a quick calculation first. You could get a better deal elsewhere that could save you more money in the long run. There are also voucher sites (such as Myvouchercodes.co.uk and Vouchercodes.co.uk) which list discount codes for various retailers, for example, for 10 per cent off your order or free delivery. You may prefer to use Hotukdeals.com which works slightly differently as all the deals are voted for by members. Most of these sites also have mobile phone apps so that you can save money on the go.
"We know that about a third of smartphone owners will be using their phones to shop online this Christmas. There's a great selection of apps that can help with everything from organising your Christmas gift list to comparing prices. To make full use of apps on your smartphones 3's all-you-can-eat data plan offers all the internet you'll ever need from £18 a month," says Richard Leonard from mobile phone company 3.
There are some basic rules for using these sites and number one is never to pay to sign up. All the best sites are free to register with (although some sites take a fee from your earnings). Secondly, once you've reached the minimum payout level, cash it in immediately in case your site goes bust. And check the terms and conditions.
You can snap up some heavily discounted items on group buying sites such as Groupon, Crowdity and Wahanda, although Groupon has recently been in trouble for allegedly exaggerating potential savings. "Groupon has had some adverts pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority so savings may not be as good as they look. Also, go direct to the company to see if they'll match the deal," Ms Pennells said.
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
Interest-only mortgages return to give more flexibility to borrowers
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield is arranged over three floors, with a detached garage to the rear and a driveway at the front of the property.
In an elevated position above the bay, this four-bedroom home offers sea and headland views. There is a decked balcony and sun terrace - plus coastal walks on the doorstep.
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.