Paid to shop: is that your idea of retail therapy?
You can already save by buying online, but a new breed of cashback sites offers even more
Sunday 29 April 2007
Like the idea of being rewarded for going shopping? Thanks to a host of online cashback sites, that's just what could happen.
For some time, savvy shoppers have made big savings by buying on the internet, but now they can hang on to even more of their money by logging on to websites that offer extra rebates - and more still, by playing their "cashback cards" right.
These websites have relationships with most of the big retailers and display their adverts. The sites get paid commission for referring people to the retailer, and some of this money can then be passed on in discounts to the shopper.
Cashback sites are booming and there has been a string of new launches, though some are more reliable and successful than others. Among the stalwarts are Rpoints.com, Quidco. com and Greasypalm.co.uk; smaller and newer sites include Topcashback.co.uk, Trolleycash.co.uk and Cashback-rewards.co.uk.
Those that give you points instead of money include Nectar.com - though it also has a cashback site - as well as Pigsback.com and Ipoints.co.uk.
GreasyPalm, Britain's first cashback site, which was founded in 2003, gives discounts of between 1 and 20 per cent at over 1,000 online stores, plus a £2.50 reward just for signing up, and £7 for recommending a friend. You receive the cash once the amount of money in your account reaches more than £25.
"We have seen the massive popularity of rebates first-hand," says Neil Durrant, founder of GreasyPalm. "We have reached the 750,000-member milestone, and have awarded over £4.5m in cashback."
So how do you get the most out of the websites?
The best way to buy is to find the cheapest store for a particular item by using a "shopbot" like Kelkoo.co.uk, Pricerunner.co.uk or uk.shopping.com. These shopping robots trawl thousands of sites seeking the best deals for your product.
When you have found the cheapest supplier, you can go to a cashback site and find it in the directory of participating retailers.
To complete the virtuous circle, most of the cashback sites also feature the shopbot sites. This means, for example, that you could get a small payment from Rpoints simply for using its link to Kelkoo, on top of the cashback on your purchase.
There are also "cashback" credit cards - such as Morgan Stanley's Platinum card, or American Express Blue - which will give you still more money.
When choosing which site to use, you should consider a number of points. See, for example, how many retailers are featured, and whether the rebate is paid out in cash or points. Also check on the reliability of the site, the size of the cashback available, and any other perks such as rewards for introducing a friend.
Quidco claims to pass on all its proceeds to customers, minus a yearly administration fee of £5. As with Rpoints, it credits accounts via electronic bank transfer or PayPal, the online cash system.
Elsewhere, Trolleycash pays you £3 to join and Cashback Rewards gives you £5 for signing up.
Some of the best cashback offers are available on financial products. On the GreasyPalm site, for example, you can get £60 off Lloyds TSB car insurance, £10 if you take out an American Express cashback card, £62.50 cashback on Barclays home insurance, and a £57.50 rebate on PruHealth's private health cover.
But don't buy on the discounts alone. If you do, you could end up wasting rather than saving money - on insurance, say, that doesn't provide enough cover for your needs.
The case of the cashback that's up in the air
Mark Dowling of Leicester is currently "in discussion" with GreasyPalm about cashback on two sets of flights he booked earlier this year.
"GreasyPalm offered £1.33 cashback per transaction, with no limit on the number of deals per individual," explains Mark.
"I decided to split my flights into six different transactions, including separate flights for both myself and my wife Ruth on both legs of one of the trips."
Instead of receiving just two lots of cashback for the two sets of flights, Mark planned to get an extra four for a total of £7.98 - although this sum was reduced due to the policy of the airline, bmibaby, which levied a £1 debit card charge per transaction.
"Everything went through the GreasyPalm site without problem, and the six lots of cashback were credited to my account," says Mark. "Yet the site later reversed the payment of five cashback transactions - without explanation.
"I've earnt more than £150 in cashback from GreasyPalm over the years, and am chasing the remaining amounts. But I will have to wait and see what happens."
Mr Durrant from GreasyPalm says: "There is nothing specifically in the terms and conditions that prevents multiple transactions, but a series of these on one day would be flagged up both by our systems and the retailer's."
He adds that while he cannot comment on specifics, the case is being looked into.
"We ask for proof of purchase to establish transactions are genuine," he explains. "That is something we cannot tell ourselves, as the transactions are actually undertaken on the retailer's site, not on ours."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future
Money Insider: Help to Buy must be boosted by building
Weekly Money: Round-up of the personal finance stories you may have missed 13-17 October
The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service
How to start your own internet business
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 2 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 3 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
iJobs Money & Business
£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...
£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village