When every penny counts, cashback shows its charms

Julian Knight reports on the websites that give hard-pressed consumers the chance to earn rebates on their internet purchases

It seems almost every day more bad news emerges about the rising cost of living. Family finances are under pressure to a greater extent than at any time since the last recession, in the early 1990s. So people are getting accustomed once again to the idea of making ends meet and are looking for every way they can to do this. And an increasingly popular way to turn a quick buck is by using one of the plethora of cashback websites.

Andrea Gregson, the partnership manager at internetcashback.co.uk, explains the concept: "Retailers may pay to advertise on the sites. If someone clicks through to them and makes a purchase, or in some cases simply fills in an online survey, they will pay a commission. The sites then rebate this money – the proportion varies and can go as high as a full rebate – to the consumer making the purchase."

This rebate can be obtained by requesting a cheque be sent through the post. Some of the kickbacks available to the consumer are in the tens of pounds rather than pence.

A quick scan of the sites reveals the cashbacks available. Someone buying car insurance from Prudential can earn £37.50, while Dial- a-Phone gives £30 to anyone purchasing a mobile with a contract. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer Finance offers £50 to those taking out a life insurance policy. And there is plenty of choice: Ms Gregson says she has 800 retailers signed up, and other websites offer a similar number, from auction houses to wedding shops.

Some sites charge a joining fee, usually around £5. Others, such as Topcashback and Quidco, let people join for free. And at internetcashback.co.uk, new joiners will be credited with £10. However, users can't ask for a cheque to be sent to them until they have at least £40 cashback built up.

There can also be delays, warns Ms Gregson. "Some products, like car insurance, have a long cooling-off period [the time allowed for consumers to change their mind about a deal]. So the cashback cheque can't be sent out until after this has expired. As a rule of thumb, people can expect to wait anything up to 120 days for their cashback cheque."

There is also another potential pitfall for the unwary consumer. "The idea of free money for going about your daily spending seems great, but consumers need to be careful that the goods and services on offer are actually a 'best buy' rather than a poor deal," says Jasmine Birtles from consumer advice website moneymagpie.co.uk.

She cites the example of car insurance: "There are lots of different providers out there and quotes vary wildly, and just because one features on a cashback site doesn't mean you should go for it. The danger is that you will pay far more for the product or service than you save with the cashback."

Ms Birtles adds: "Make sure you put the horse before the cart. Check one of the established price-comparison websites for that product or service, find out what is the best deal and then switch to a cashback site. If it features, go ahead and make the purchase. If not, click away and buy the best deal elsewhere."

But there is a way to make money from these schemes without ever spending a penny. Many of the sites operate a "refer a friend" initiative that gives consumers the chance to earn something called trail commission. In short, users who make an introduction re- ceive commission for each purchase their friend subsequently makes through that site.

"It is possible to earn up to 20 per cent of the cashback that the friend you have referred has earned," says Ms Gregson. "What's more, there is no limit to the number of friends you can refer. In some cases, users earn cashback worth several hundred pounds even if they have never made a purchase."

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
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

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

    £43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all