Cash ER: What are cashback sites and how to use them

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New to cashback sites? Here's how you can get paid to shop online for handbags (and other stuff).

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Keep hearing about cashback sites but not actually sure what they are? Surely you can't just get free money for shopping online?

Well in a word, yes, but let us explain the fiddly bits to you.

What are cashback websites?

Cashback sites are basically third party websites through which you can do your normal e-tail therapy, be it your weekly shop at Sainsbury's or a handbag at Ted Baker.

You sign up to a free site like TopCashback (if it's not free, avoid) and then search for the online shop you want to buy from and click through. TopCashback for example have over 4,000 retailers, including Secret Sales, Asos, H&M, Ted Baker, Zara and more.

It's not just handbag shops by the way, other categories include utilities, finance and insurance, mobile phones etc.

How do cashback sites work?

Your visit is then tracked, and if you buy something, a determined amount is credited to your cashback account once the transaction is processed, which usually takes between a week and three months. You can then transfer the money direct onto your bank account.

The money you get back varies, most fashion stores will let you earn between 3 and 15% of your purchase, but you might get £100 back for certain financial or insurance products. But if you wanted to, say, buy a cheap designer handbag on Secret Sales, you'd get 10.1% cash back via TopCashback.

Basically, if you were going to buy that handbag anyway, it's worth doing it via a cashback site as it essentially makes it cheaper.

What's in it for them

Good question. It will vary per cashback site, but for TopCashback for example, it is through "the (optional) £5 'Plus' membership fee and by featuring unobtrusive (clearly non-cashback marked) Google ads dotted around the pages of the site."

"It also makes money by offering retailers 'tenancy' space on the homepage, newsletters and social media platforms, however does ensure that those retailers advertising offer a higher rate of cashback for the duration of ad space so members benefit as well," said TopCashback.

Anything else?

There are other ways you can use your cashback cash. For example, instead of putting the money into your bank account, with TopCashback you can cash it in Tesco Clubcard Points, Avios and Arcadia Group Store Gift Card etc.


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