We have more than 2000 online stores with cashback, 100 000 coupons and more than 1 000 000 products where you can get cashback up to 50%. We have the awesome referral program which allows you to get cashback from your friends and from friends of friends. It's very awesome opportunity which allows you to get money more than from your own purchases
If you want to buy something online or sign up to a finance product, rather than going direct, click to the company via a cashback site and you get paid for it. The amounts range from pennies for retail items to – at the top end – more than £100 for some mobile or broadband contracts.
You'll have to sign up to the cashback site, which should be free. If it's not, avoid it. Then simply log in and search for the online retailer you want to buy from, such as Argos or Tesco Direct. If it's listed, click the cashback site's link to visit that company.
Your visit is then tracked. If you buy something, an amount is put into your cashback site account once the transaction's processed. You can withdraw this once it arrives, which can take a few weeks, or even months. For some cashback sites, you need to reach a set threshold before you can withdraw.
Cashback sites take advantage of the way commercial payments from one website to another work. They use affiliate links, which allow the retailer to track where the traffic is coming from and then pay the cashback sites for the lead.
This is a common system, used by sites that send people through from comparison results, unique content (MSE does this - see the foot of the page for more details) or using links on advertising promotions. Cashback sites simply drive traffic by giving their users some of the money they're paid.
The amount of money depends on what's spent on what as well as the commercial deal, so can vary widely. The cashback site may earn its money per click, transaction, application, or accepted applicant.
The technology's simple. Ready-made paying links are available from 'links warehouses'. Big cashback sites also have direct relationships with companies, which means they can offer a wider range of providers, earn more and negotiate their own exclusive deals.
While cashback sites can generate some users £100s a year, it's very important you understand there are substantial pitfalls in using these sites – and you need to understand them BEFORE you begin.
Think of cashback as a bonus only – it's not guaranteed
Tracking problems occur for many people using cashback sites. There are times when you'll expect to be paid but won't be.
If you do have problems getting paid, remember you need to contact the cashback site directly, not MSE - we just tell you what the top paying sites are.
However, problems don't only arise with cashback sites. They get the money from the retailers and product providers. Disputes in this area are common, so sometimes the cashback site doesn't receive the cash either.
Plus, unlike when you get cashback from a retailer, which is part of the product T&Cs, here you've fewer rights. The best way to approach this is to consider cashback as a bonus if you get it, but not to let it drive your purchasing decisions.
The cashback isn't yours until it's in your bank account
Never count on the cashback as being yours until it's in your bank account. This isn't just because of tracking and processing issues. Cashback sites are easy to set up and many are small companies which can go bust (and some have done just that).
If it happens, you've little protection. You may count as a creditor to the company but in all likelihood, your money will be gone
Never store cash in a cashback site – withdraw it ASAP
Most cashback sites set a threshold which you must reach before you can withdraw cash. The best practice is to withdraw as soon as you hit that level.
Never leave cash building up in a cashback site account when you can take it out. Not only are you missing out on interest, but if the company goes kaput or changes its payout policy, your money could be lost.
Focus on the cheapest deal, not the biggest cashback
It's easy to be seduced by £50 cashback for buying a certain insurance policy or an extra 7% discount when shopping for clothes. Yet never let the cashback tail wag the dog. Not because of the warnings above, but simply because it may not actually be cheapest for you.
Regardless of the cashback, you want to get the best deal possible. If you've chosen something purely because of the cashback on offer, and the cashback doesn't happen, you could find you've dug yourself a hole.
Example 1: You want a new telly. A cashback site brings up Korma Electricals, offering 5% cashback, which means a £20 discount on a £399 TV. Yet two minutes using a shopbot would've found you the same TV on sale at £299.
Example 2: Your car insurance is up for renewal. You spot the Commander Insurance £100 cashback offer on a cashback website, so grab its £540 policy via the site. Yet if you'd used a car insurance comparison website, you'd have found an equivalent policy from Chamberlain Insurance for £370. As Chamberlain is also on a cashback site, you could've got a further £25 off, saving £95 in total.
This is especially important for bigger transactions, where the cost of making a mistake can dwarf the cashback received. So read our relevant guides first, like Balance Transfer Credit Cards, Cheap Car Insurance, Cheap Home Insurance, Best Bank Accounts and How to get Cheap Broadband.
Consider clearing your cookies
So when making your purchase, make sure you click through from the cashback site and not from anywhere else, as the genral rule's 'the last cookie wins'.
To be doubly safe, especially if you're expecting a lot of cashback, clear your computer's cookies first to ensure the cashback is tracked. Learn more about controlling and deleting cookies at AboutCookies.org.