Cashback sites Cashback sites: How they work

Two women shopping online using a laptop

It's always worth checking whether an online retailer is listed on a cashback website

Cashback sites pay you a cash reward when you click through from them to buy goods or financial products. 

If you use them regularly, the extra money you earn can add up to hundreds of pounds a year. 

In fact, our recent survey indicated that Which? members who use cashback sites rake in £120 a year on average.

Websites such as Quidco and TopCashback are growing in popularity as more and more of us who shop online look to cash in on the cashback phenomenon. 

The sites offer cashback on a whole variety of goods and services from mobile phones to car insurance, and bank accounts to broadband.

Here, we explain how to get set up on a cashback website and start earning money.

Find out more: Cashback sites: what to watch out for - learn more about fees, rules and delayed payments

Step-by-step guide to using cashback sites

The majority of cashback sites work in the same way although there are differences in terms of fees, joining bonuses and how the money is paid.

Here's a step-by-step guide to getting yourself set up;

Step 1: Choose a cashback website

Register with one or more cashback sites. Most sites are free to join but some charge an annual fee either as a matter of course or if you choose a premium account. 

Step 2: Search for deals

If you know you want to purchase a particular product or service, search the deals on offer either by category or by checking your favourite retailers or preferred financial services firms.

Step 3: Click the link provided

If you find a deal that you want to cash in on, visit the retailer by clicking on the link provided by cashback site as opposed to going direct. Be sure to keep a close eye on how the site may be tracking you by using cookies, though.

Step 4: Complete the purchase

When you complete your purchase, the online retailer then sends commission to your cashback site. In turn, it pays a slice of this money into your bank or Paypal account. You may need to reach a certain cashback threshold before you can withdraw funds.

In addition to the money you make from purchases, you may also receive bonus cash for registering. Some sites also have referral schemes that pay you extra to direct friends and family to using the site. Others also have an option where you get cashback for shopping in certain stores rather than solely online.

Find out more: Cashback sites: how to earn extra cash - make the most out of cashback websites

What do the cashback sites get?

At this point, it might seem like you’re getting something for nothing, yet this flow of money makes commercial sense for the cashback sites. 

On the one hand, the retailer is happy to pay a sum to the cashback site for ‘introducing’ business it might not have otherwise received. 

On the other, the cashback site hands you a cut as a reward for using its services, and as an incentive to encourage you back.

Which? Comparison Table: Best cash back credit cards - compare the best deals on the market

 

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Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.