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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before