My friends are often amused by how excited I get about cashback sites.
But there aren’t many ways to get money for nothing in this world.
What ARE Cashback Sites? (And Why Should you Care?)
The sites give you back a proportion of the money you spend with various retailers and organisations. It takes no effort on your part, beyond clicking through from the sites before buying things.
The money you can earn from these sites really adds up.
They say a picture paints a thousand words – so take a look at this screenshot:
The image shows my current cashback total for just one site, TopCashback. For US readers, that equates to about $2700.
I joined in 2015, so it’s taken several years to build that up. But even when divided into a yearly total, it’s a substantial amount of “free” money. And TopCashback isn’t the only site I use.
The thing is, there IS a bit of an art to making the most of cashback sites and building up impressive totals. In this article, I’m going to share the secrets.
Which Cashback Sites are Best?
There are LOTS of cashback sites out there. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to stick to recommending the ones I use personally and can provide an honest recommendation for.
- If you’re in the US, I recommend signing up to TopCashback.
- If you are in the UK, I’d suggest TopCashback and Quidco. You may also like to take a look at a new arrival on the scene, My Money Pocket (reviewed here).
How do Cashback Sites Work?
I remember once sharing a link for TopCashback on my Facebook page, and one of my friends being incredulous about how these sites actually work.
But it’s really quite simple. The companies featured on these sites pay a commission for people who click through and make a purchase. Instead of pocketing all the commission, the cashback sites pass some or all of it back to you, the customer.
Unlike so many other things you find online, there’s no hidden agenda with these sites, and nothing underhand going on. So you can use them with no risk.
With that out the way, let’s look at how to maximise the money you can make from these sites.
9 Tips for Cashback Sites
1. Always Remember to Actually Use the Sites!
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made a big online purchase and then kicked myself for missing out on the cashback.
To earn cashback, you have to click to the retailer / company site from your chosen cashback site. Unfortunately it’s easy to forget.
You really do need to build the habit of checking if there’s cashback on offer whenever you make an online purchase. Believe me, it’s really annoying if you spend a four figure sum on a holiday and then realise you could have had 10% of it back.
Unfortunately there’s no big secret to ensuring you always remember – I still forget myself sometimes.
2. Make sure the Cashback Site is your Last Click
In the world of affiliate marketing, the site that gets commission is always the last site that somebody clicked through from. So you want to make sure it’s always the cashback site.
A way to fall foul of this is to also go looking for coupon codes. If you click through from a coupon code site after a cashback site, it’s the coupon code site that’ll be earning the commission – so no cashback for you 🙁
So remember: click from the cashback site and then buy your items – don’t go off to other sites in-between.
3. Learn where to find the “Big Money”
There are typically thousands of different places you can earn cashback. Sometimes it’s quite a small amount, such as 2% on a Dominos pizza – and it takes time for stuff like that to add up.
But there are also some potential sources of large cashback windfalls. I particularly recommend seeing what cashback is on offer for the following things:
- Holidays and hotel bookings – these are “big ticket” items, so the cashback can add up, even if the percentage is low. Sometimes you can grab 10% of a large amount and earn hundreds at a time.
- Financial products – Insurance policies, new savings accounts, bank accounts. All of these things often come with BIG cashback incentives.
- Gambling sites – Obviously this is a risky one, but you can often earn more cashback for joining a casino or bingo site that you need to stake to get the money back. This can mean instant cashback profit! I have actually put this to the test and earned from it – but do NOT do this unless you have a lot of self-control. There’s a good reason I’m only mentioning this briefly – I wouldn’t want to encourage it as a strategy!
- Furniture and home improvement retailers – Again, these are big ticket items in a competitive marketplace. I’ve earned serious cashback on these things every time I’ve moved house.
- ANYTHING on a renewal / subscription basis – Companies typically pay substantial commission for hooking customers to anything on a renewable subscription. As such the cashback payouts can be high.
For what it’s worth, I have noticed far more cashback opportunities for financial and casino products in the UK than in the US. Rest assured, however, that wherever you are, there are LOTS of places to earn cashback.
4. Use Cashback Sites for Business AND Leisure
Don’t just use cashback for your personal purchases – think about business too.
This applies whether you work for yourself or a company. If, for example, you book your own travel and claim expenses, you may be able to earn cashback on business travel bookings. (While there’s no reason why your company would know, you should of course ensure you’re not breaking any rules).
If you run your own business, it’s worth looking for cashback on anything you have to buy.
5. Look for the Best Percentages
You frequently see the same retailers on multiple cashback sites, but that doesn’t mean they pay the same percentages.
If you’re a member of more than one site and you’re about to buy something, it only takes seconds to search for the relevant company on more than one.
This is well worth doing, as there’s no point getting 5% when another cashback site is offering 10%!
6. Track and Chase your Cashback
Cashback can take a while to come through – think weeks instead of days.
The sites are usually pretty reliable, but there’s a lot of data flying around and sometimes the cashback doesn’t “track,” or tracks at the wrong amount.
As such, it’s wise to keep track of the cashback you’re owed and make sure it comes through. The sites usually have a process to follow if cashback you’re expecting doesn’t arrive, typically involving showing when you made the transaction – so keep your email purchase receipts!
It’s easy to keep track. If I make a purchase via a cashback site, I simply stick a reminder in my calendar for when the cashback is due.
If it’s not appeared by the time the reminder comes around, I follow the process to chase it up. I’ve done this successfully on several occasions. To be honest, I don’t bother following up small amounts, but if I’m expecting a “meaningful” amount, I always make sure I get what I’m owed.
7. Make the Most of your Cash-out Method
Most cashback sites give you a choice of ways to cash out.
PayPal is the most popular for many, because it’s “real money.” But it’s worth checking out the other options. Often, by accepting vouchers for a specific site, you can receive an extra bonus. So if, for example, there’s something you plan to buy on Amazon anyway, you may as well grab an extra few bucks on your payout if that’s an option.
8. Use the Referral Schemes
You’ll usually find a referral scheme for your chosen cashback site(s), and you can grab a healthy payout it your friends join on your recommendation. (It’s usually around $10-20 or equivalent).
The great thing about referring friends to these sites is that they’re genuine and can generate easy money, so nobody’s likely to complain!
9. Don’t Buy Something Just for the Cashback!
My final tip is a really important one:
Cashback on something you would have purchased anyway is essentially free money. But that’s not the case if you only buy something to get the cashback!
This sounds very obvious, I’m sure, but if you’re easily tempted by things, you may need to keep yourself in check. If you get $10 cashback on $50, you HAVE still spent $40!
But let’s consider the flipside to that: Say you’re about to sit down and do all of your holiday shopping, or to look for a new piece of furniture. It that case, it make perfect sense to see which retailers are offering a healthy level of cashback.
Where to Sign Up?
- If you’re in the US, I recommend signing up to TopCashback.
- If you are in the UK, I’d suggest TopCashback and Quidco.
Are you already making use of cashback sites? Do you have any tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.