A ‘grand don’t come for free’ was one of the catchily titled albums from Noughties garage group The Streets.
But I think vocalist Mike Skinner was wrong.
OK, so you’ve got to put in a little effort, but here at Moneywise we frequently tell you our top tips for making thousands for free; and one easy way to make money is through cashback.
Here, every time you make a purchase online – from buying an outfit to booking flights or signing up to a new broadband provider – once you’ve found the cheapest deal, check if you can earn cashback on top before buying. If cashback is available, buy the item through the cashback site rather than direct from the retailer.
The main players are Quidco.com and TopCashback.co.uk; they’re both free to sign up to, although you can forfeit £5 worth of cashback each year for premium membership.
I’d suggest signing up to both sites – that way, you can check both and use whichever is paying more for the item you’re after.
At the time of writing, you could bag 6.3% cashback at Next via TopCashback (4% at Quidco), 12% on hotel bookings at Expedia via Quidco (8.4% at TopCashback), £147 for new BT customers taking broadband, TV and calls via TopCashback (£120 at Quidco), and £60 for new customers taking out an Aviva car insurance policy via Quidco (£52.20 via TopCashback).
My boyfriend and I have made about £200 in joint purchases using cashback sites over the past year. So it’s well worth it.
You can also play cashback sites to make money without ever having to spend a penny – as we highlight in the image below (these deals were available at the time of writing). Just ensure you cancel any trials during the free period so you’re not locked into a pricey subscription – unless you want the service.
However, all good things tend to come with a catch and there are a few things to watch out for – namely tracking problems. You might find your cashback isn’t paid because the transaction hasn’t been tracked. The main reason behind this is that the tracking has been blocked by the cookies or security settings on your computer.
TopCashback says one way to avoid this is to add the site to your computer’s ‘allowed list’, while Quidco says you should disable advert and cookie blocking – you can see more I’ve made £200 in cashback this year on this on their respective sites. Another point to bear in mind is that if the cashback website goes bust, you’re not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so it’s best to withdraw your money as soon as you get it.
I’ve also heard reports that items can cost more on a cashback site compared to buying direct from the retailer. TopCashback says it will remove any retailer from its site that does this, while Quidco says it has agreements in place to ensure this doesn’t happen. But to be on the safe side, find the cheapest price for your item first and then check for cashback. Never buy something purely based on the cashback deal.
And don’t expect cashback to be paid instantly. When I booked a holiday, I had to wait until I’d returned to get my cashback. But if you plan to buy the item online anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose by doing it via a cashback site.
Seven cashback deals to earn £50 of free cash
1. Successfully apply for the American Express Nectar Credit Card, which doesn’t require any balance transfers or purchases and earn £30 cashback (£31.50 for Plus members*).
2. Register at MySurvey.com and complete at least one survey to earn £1.80 cashback (£1.89 for Plus members).
3. Compare your car or home insurance with Confused.com and earn £2.30 (£2.41 for Plus members).
4. Sign up to Graze, get a free snack box and earn £3 (£3.15 for Plus members).
5. Sign up for the Experian CreditExpert report and earn £3 (£3.15 for Plus members).
6. Sign up to crowdfunding platform Property Moose and gain £2 (£2.10 for Plus members).
7. Get a 30-day free trial with Equifax and gain access to your credit score while earning £7 (£7.35 for Plus members).
By completing all of the above via TopCashback.co.uk, you can earn a handy £49.10 (£51.55 for Plus members). Some deals will ask for your bank details.
Just remember to cancel any free trials, as otherwise you may be charged once they’ve expired.
*It costs £5 a year for Plus membership.