Cashback for beginners

Earlier this month we were talking about ways to earn some extra money in 2013, and I’ve also been writing about my efforts in ‘Extra, Extra’. One of my favourite earners is cashback and I’ve had consistent success with it. During 2012 I earned £163.34 cashback – it was extremely easy – read on to find out how I managed it.

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What is cashback?

If you are new to earning cashback, here’s a quick introduction for beginners. To understand cashback, you first need to know about the basics of affiliate marketing.

In affiliate marketing, when a website refers a customer to buy something from a particular online retailer (one with an affiliate scheme), the online retailer gives a percentage of the sale value back to the website who made the successful referral. Sort of like a ‘finders fee’.

The cashback process essentially allows you, the customer, to claw back some (or all) of this referral money. Many people new to cashback say it sounds too good to be true, but once you know how it works, you’ll know it is true.

You can earn your cashback through specific cashback sites, and also through some energy price comparison and switching sites.

You can use a designated cashback site to earn back some of your spend pretty much every time you shop online, and the basic process is always the same. Here’s how it works:

  • First of all you register with the cashback site as a user, and then you can go off and search for things to buy online.
  • Once you’ve found something you want to buy, go back to the cashback site and log in, then search the cashback site for the retailer you want.
  • Click through to the retailer’s page via the cashback site, using any discount codes the cashback site offers along the way, and then shop as normal on the retailer’s site.
  • Later, your cashback should arrive from the retailer, via the cashback site, and you can then choose how you’d like to be paid (for example BACS, PayPal or shopping vouchers).

There are a few useful things that you need to know:

  • For starters, cashback works by tracking cookies in your browser, so you always need to clear your cookies just before you shop to make it track properly, or the retailer might refuse to pay the cashback.
  • If a purchase does fail to track, most websites allow you to raise a claim.
  • Not every retailer offers cashback.
  • Many retailers pay cashback by using different affiliate networks which act as middlemen. These networks in turn pay the cashback sites. Some networks are more efficient than others, so their rates of payment may vary.
  • It can take a few weeks for cashback to be received and paid out to you.
  • Cashback sites regularly have promotions where cashback rates are temporarily increased, or other offers are combined with the cashback.


Making money with TopCashback

My favourite cashback provider is TopCashback. They are the biggest free cashback site, with nearly two million members, and I also feel they are the most generous. In addition to this, I’ve found them to be the best at tracking purchases efficiently, and speedy with their payouts. Their site has a little advertising on it, which allows them to top up cashback payments, usually by 1%.

Unlike some other sites, there is no joining fee, and they don’t take back any of your earnings in annual fees either. They have a huge range of retailers listed on their site (over 3,700 at the last count) and regular special offers, covering just about every shopping eventuality.

In the last year I’ve been recording my extra earnings as part of my ‘Extra, Extra’ project. I had cashback payments from TopCashback every single month during 2012, most notably earning myself a £60 payment when I switched to a new O2 mobile phone tariff. The new tariff was exactly what I was looking for, and the monthly payments were cheaper than what I’d been paying previously too, so all-round it was a real bargain.

One of my favourite TopCashback features is the flexibility of their payout system. Once your cashback has cleared, you can have the money sent to you on any day of the month, and with a range of extra delivery options. For example, you can simply have the money paid straight into your bank account using the BACS system, or you can choose the funds to be given to you with additional top-ups. For example, you can ask to be sent an Amazon voucher with a 5% top-up, or a high street voucher with a 4% top-up, giving you a little more spending power.

TopCashback also has a free app for Android, iPhone and Windows 7 phones that allows you to earn cashback while you’re out and about, including in-store discounts.

If you are thinking about joining TopCashback and you sign up with this link it will help this site. If you prefer not to do this, but you’d still like to join TopCashback, please use the plain link shown above.

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Full disclosure: I am a genuine, longstanding TopCashback customer and they are my preferred cashback provider. All opinions and comments in this post are my own.


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One Comment

  1. I LOOOOOVVEE Topcashback too – I’ve made over £300 from them, mainly after buying a sofa from Heals. I saw it in the shop then ordered online via Topcasback and got nearly £80 back off the already discounted price! Anyone who buys stuff online should be shopping this way.

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