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

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

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam