Over the years, I’ve seen countless adverts for cashback websites.
Cashback credit cards, cashback bank accounts, cashback rewards are everywhere!
I paid very little attention to it in the beginning, assuming it must be a bit of a scam. Surely anything offering to give you free money just for spending money must be a scam, right?
Not necessarily…Now, as I have mentioned before, I am no financial expert. I do not claim to have any qualifications making me the person to trust with your money. I do, however, have a keen eye for saving, and a slight obsession with money in general, and over the years, I’ve built up a fairly useful set of personal financial planning tools.
In the months leading up to buying my apartment, a good work friend had mentioned one day that she had logged into her long forgotten TopCashBack account only to find that she had £300 of cash rewards sitting there waiting to be claimed. My first thoughts? Bullshit.
But, intrigued nonetheless, I had a look and signed up. Couldn’t hurt, I thought. I started looking at the other types of cashback rewards available and realised that some of them really require no effort at all! Below, I’ve noted some of the ways in which I use cashback rewards to save a little bit of spare cash. Let me know if you know of any more that I may be missing!
TopCashBack & Quidco
I was wary of this one to begin with, but I went ahead and registered anyway as I didn’t need to link any bank details and it only got as personal as providing my email address for Paypal. What I did immediately notice, was the huge number of financial and insurance companies offering cashback through this website. I tried it out a few times on small purchases, simply by logging in to the website, and clicking through to the retailers’ website from there.
I began to use it to compare insurances for my new apartment, there are often cashback offers of up to £2-3 just for getting a valid quote from a company. Eventually, I had used it to take out all of my insurance policies, home, contents, car, as well as for my AA breakdown cover, opening new credit cards and even a current account.
Around this time, it snowballed fairly quickly and I racked up a few hundred quid within around 6 months. Since then, it has slowed considerably as i don’t need to make these purchases so regularly, but to date, I have earned a total of £581.34 in cashback rewards. To begin with, I was withdrawing it as soon as it became available (which can take up to a few months from the date of purchase), but now I trust it a bit more so am happy to accumulate some cash in that account before transferring around £50-£100 at a time via Paypal to my current account.
Do cashback websites work? I’ve earned over £500 using TopCashback alone!
You can register for TopCashBack using my link here
Full disclosure, I will receive a reward (usually £5) when you make your first purchase if you register using my link. There are often promotions running which will also give you a bonus when using a referral link.
I have recently set up a Quidco account too, as there was a particular retailer which didn’t offer a reward on TopCashBack. I’ve got around £30 in that account but don’t use it very often. In the beginning I would compare the rates offered on both sites, but I normally can’t be arsed with that any more. It’s worth doing for larger purchases as the rates can vary considerably between websites. But I’m a creature of habit!
There are SO MANY cashback offers out there for switching bank accounts, offering up to £150 or sometimes even £200 for simply switching your current account to another bank. I’ve personally never used any of these offers, but the only reason for that is because I have held both of my current accounts for 10+ years, which helps to keep up my credit score. You get positive points based on how long your average account has been open. Since a lot of my others are fairly new, credit cards etc. which have been held for less than a few years, I don’t want to switch from one of those and drastically lower the average age of my accounts.
For my Barclays account, I pay £3 per month, and am rewarded with £7 cashback for paying 2 direct debits from the account, and paying in £800 per month. I get my wages paid into this account so that is no problem, and have two small direct debits linked to it, as this isn’t my main bills paying account. My mobile phone bill is one, as OH is obviously not contributing to that.
With TSB, I need to pay in £500 per month, which is covered by mine and OH’s transfers to pay our bills from that account. I also need to pay 2 direct debits from this one, which is no problem as it’s the main bills account. There is no monthly fee, but a lower reward of £5 for the direct debits. There is also another £5 per month reward available for making 20 debit card purchases across the month, but I don’t use this as I don’t spend ANY money from this account at all. I don’t think I have even activated the debit card!
I prefer the Barclays set up, as it pays my rewards into a seperate account. This means I actually save it up, then I move it over to my savings every 6 months or so. TSB pay it directly into my current account, so it just gets swallowed up with the rest of the cash!
Strictly speaking, I no longer use cashback credit cards, as I have switched to collecting Avios points. I’m so close to getting me & OH to New York! But that’s for another post!
The first cashback credit card I used was an American Express. A lot of people seem to have trouble spending on these as they aren’t so widely accepted in the UK, but I’ve always been able to make the most of mine by putting big work expenses on them, which tend to be fairly pricey purchases with large companies. You can usually rely on a large company to accept AMEX.
I switched around to keep up with the best rate, so I was getting 5% on my AMEX but only for the first 3 months, when the promo rate dropped to the standard 1%. I would ditch it after the promotional period and move on to another card.
All in all, the savings I made on this paid for a holiday to Morocco for me & OH last year, so it was worth the hassle of card-switching! Switching cards regularly can damage your credit score too, so be wary if you are doing this. At the stage I was at when I was doing it, I could afford to see my score dip a bit. I definitely wouldn’t recommend playing this game if you are planning on applying for a mortgage or bigger loan in the near future.
Store Loyalty Schemes
I’m an advocate of anything that gives me something for nothing. By keeping loyalty accounts for stores I regularly shop at, I can end up earning quite a pretty penny. The loyalty schemes I am currently a part of are below.
- Boots: Probably my biggest spender/earner. I only shop here maybe once every couple of months, but when I do, I tend to spend quite a bit. I stock up on toiletries and makeup, and buy a lot of Christmas gifts here too. I also take advantage of promotions on rewards points, where you can get double or triple points for spending over a certain amount (usually £50 or so). That’s not too difficult for me really, as I also spend around £15 each shop on hair dye and £20 on an eyebrow wax. I had it built up to £140 of rewards on my card last summer, and treated myself to a new camera. In about 6 months since then, I’ve now built up another £45.
- Costa: I know I know, I’m trying to cut down on buying lunch and drinks, but I do need to expense lunch a lot when working away, and Costa Coffee is pretty much a staple fixture in most motorway service stations (Where I spend about half of my waking hours). I also take clients out for a coffee etc quite a bit so might be spending £20 at a time rather than the usual couple of quid if I was just buying the odd coffee myself. I’ve had a few free lunches on this card, and currently have enough for two lunches on there.
- My hairdresser: I don’t go to the salon very often, like maximum twice a year. I have really long hair that doesn’t take much maintenance, and I colour it at home myself. I can’t understand how anyone can find the salon a relaxing experience. For me, it is SUCH a chore! Something I do when I absolutely 100% have to. I pay around £40 each visit for a cut and blow dry. My loyalty card gives me access to exclusive last minute sales, sometimes up to half price, and a free haircut after 10 visits. It’ll take me forever to fill it, but for every second visit I get a little mini treat, a free conditioning treatment, a free hair product and that kind of thing. It’s nice to get the wee treats without spending extra!
- Tesco: while it isn’t my first choice for shopping, it is the most convenient, as there’s a small Tesco store a 2 minute walk from my house. We don’t do the bulk of our shopping here, but will pick up store cupboard essentials when we run out, or grab a few bits to add to a meal. I decided that the cash value of my clubcard points wasn’t really worth it, so I now convert all of my Tesco points to Avios.
- Sainsburys/Nectar: We don’t use this very often either, since moving to our new house a couple of years ago, we don’t really have a local Sainsburys, which is why we now have a Tesco Clubcard. There’s around £50 in rewards on the card though, so it will come in useful in a pinch some day!
- Shell Garage: As I travel so much for work, despite the economical nature of my car, I do spend quite a bit on diesel. I now also convert these to Avios, as my diesel costs are all covered by work expenses anyway. The Shell card also offers discounts on boring stuff like windscreen washer and de-icer. Dull, but handy.
- Hotels.com: again, this mostly revolves around work expenses. Book 10 nights and get one night free. I have got 2 nights waiting to use and am almost on a 3rd.
Do you have any other cashback tips I’m not making use of? Share your tips in the comments!