Unsure whether cashback sites are legitimate or just want to know how to get the best out of them? Take a look at my quick guide to the good and bad points of cashback sites.
Around 10 years ago, a friend told me that I could earn money back every time I made a purchase through a site called Quidco. As a suspicious person, I automatically thought it would be some kind of rip-off.
After all, nobody gives you something for nothing in this world. But, he was very insistent, so I decided to give it a try and I have never looked back since. I have made £1000’s in that time from doing nothing more than clicking on a few links.
Obviously, I have been championing cashback sites to friends and family, but I’m still amazed by how many people who have never used them. Lots of people seem to have the same suspicions I did 10 years ago. That’s why I’ve decided to answer the question ‘How do cashback sites work?’
The internet is one big marketplace and almost everybody is trying to make money in some way or another. It’s also very competitive. That’s why companies are willing to pay referral fees to anybody that send them customers.
How do you start earning cashback?
First of all, you will need to sign-up to a cashback site. All you need is some basic details and an email address.
Next, you need something to buy and a retailer you want to use. Simply visit your chosen cashback site and search for the retailer. Then, click on the link provided and make your purchase. Within the next day or so you should receive an email to say that your purchase has “tracked”.
Then, it’s just a case of waiting. The retailer will need to confirm with the cashback site that you have made a purchase and not returned the item. Once this is confirmed, the next step is waiting for the money to be paid into your account.
Unfortunately, there is no set time for period for this all to be completed. In some cases, I have received money in a matter of a couple of weeks and in others, over a year!
Once you have received the cash into your account, you can withdraw. The likes of TopCashback and Quidco have plenty of options. You can link your account to your bank or PayPal and withdraw your earnings in cash. Alternatively, cashback sites often offer you a bonus if you withdraw using vouchers. For example, TopCashback will give you
Hints to using cashback sites
There are plenty out there, but I would recommend joining the 2 largest sites:
Join their mailing lists too. Quite often, there are special offers available that can earn you several £’s extra.
Also, check cashback rates before making your purchase. There can be several % difference between sites.
Clear your cookies
Cookies sit on your computer or mobile device and keep track of the sites you have visited. Usually, this is fine but can cause issues when it comes to cashback.
If, for example, you purchase something from Boots and you’ve visited there recently following a link from Google, this could confuse the cashback site.
The referral fee may go to Google, instead of your cashback account. If you haven’t visited the retailer for over a month, there shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, I would recommend you clear your cookies first. This can easily be done from your browser or the settings in your phone.
How do cashback sites make money?
Most cashback sites claim to pass all the money they receive from your purchase straight back to you. Which makes you wonder how they make their money. In most cases though, a cashback site will receive a bonus for driving traffic to their site.
So, if they encourage 30k people to make a purchase at Argos, they will receive a nice bonus themselves. Plus, companies will pay to be featured on the front page of the cashback site.
Always a good deal?
Generally, receiving cashback will not affect the cost of the service or goods you are buying. However, this is not always the case. A few years ago I visited a company to get a car insurance quote.
Before I accepted, as always, I made a quick search through the cashback sites. TopCashback had a special offer on, meaning that I would receive £50 back if I purchased through them.
So I followed the link and entered all my details again… only to find that my quote had risen by almost £50! So never assume that insurance companies will give you their best price through a cashback company.
Cashback is not guaranteed. Remember, you are dealing with more than one company here, which always makes things much harder. Companies have a tendency to blame each other if something goes wrong, so sorting out issues can be difficult.
A few times cashback has not tracked for me. Sometimes, it can be sorted by submitting a short claim form online. Other times, no matter what I’ve said, they wouldn’t pay out.
Because of this, always treat cashback as a bonus. If you can get a better deal elsewhere, without using a cashback site, then do.
And it’s best not to keep a large cash balance in you cashback account. Your money isn’t protected, so if the site should go out of business, you will probably lose all your money. But, the likes of TopCashback and Quidco have been operating for over 10 years, so I wouldn’t be too concerned.
You can join 2 of my favourite cashback sites by clicking on the links below.
Or, if you’ve enjoyed reading about how do cashback sites work, why not take a look my favourite cashback sites?
Please note that this post contains affiliate links.