Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cash Back Sites - Lorraine Allman

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make some extra cash you could do worse than sign up with a ‘cash back’ web site. In this guest blog, Lorraine tells us how she discovered cash back sites for the first time and how they have now become a part of her normal online shopping routine. She also gives some top tips for getting the best out of cash back sites and making every penny count so grab a cuppa, get reading, and start earning!


I have to confess until 2 years ago I hadn’t heard of cash back sites until sat in the local pub with a friend one evening who started telling me how she was planning to spend the £200 that had accumulated in her cash back account. I looked at her quizzically and she explained that by simply completing most of her online shopping via a cash back site she was able to earn money that over time mounted up to a tidy sum.
Intrigued, the next day I had a look around and sure enough quickly came across the two sites she had recommended – Top Cashback  and Quidco.  Signing up was quick and easy, within minutes I was shopping online through the sites and potentially earning cash.  In my eagerness to start earning cash however I didn’t follow some of the basic rules of shopping via cash back sites and on several occasions didn’t actually get the best deal I could have.

Fast forward 2 years and I’ve received over £600 back in cash payments. It’s surprising how the cash has mounted up but I always try to renew my annual insurances such as car, household, pet etc. through a cash back site. This gets me into the habit of ‘shopping around’ for the best deal (I was never good at this to be honest, it was easier to just accept the renewal notice but times have changed and switching insurers is second nature now!) and if I have a larger one-off purchase to make then I will always see what deals are being offered through cash back as there are often discount codes available too.  There are also frequently good deals to be had by switching utility suppliers but be warned that if you’re switching request is anything other than straightforward you may end up losing out on the cash back. For example I was moving house and took the opportunity to switch electricity supplier while I was at it. I got a good deal and a potentially tidy sum (around £80) for switching via the cash back site but because of the house move and the meter installed by the previous owner, it wasn’t a straightforward switch so I had to speak with someone on the phone and ended up missing out on the cash back.


I’ve become wiser to the best way of using cash back sites so if you aren’t already using them you can benefit from my experience!  If you are already using them then it wouldn’t hurt to take a quick look through these top tips just to make sure you are using them to best effect.
So, here are my top tips for using cash back sites.  I hope you find them helpful and more importantly hope you start to reap the rewards soon.
·    Don’t buy through cash back sites just for the cash being offered no matter how tempting it is. You need to view the cash back as a bonus on top of any discount you might be able to get.
·    There are no guarantees that cash back will be paid out. Occasionally things can go wrong and for a variety of reasons you don’t get the cash.  Good cash back sites will often try to resolve any issues but this can be a lengthy process so again the key is not to rely on the money.
·     Always make sure you clear your computer history of web sites browsed as cash back sites rely on ‘cookies’ (small pieces of code which track where you’ve come from and what you’ve browsed) so if your history or ‘cache’ isn’t cleared the system may not recognise your purchase as a new transaction valid for cash back.
·     Not all cash back sites pay out 100% so think carefully about which ones you sign up to. The best bet is to use just one or two on a regular basis otherwise you’ll end up having small amounts of money across lots of different sites which defeats the object as many will have a minimum pay-out threshold so you may not see much of your money
·    Be careful with ‘click and collect’ options with high street stores such as Argos as they are often not included as valid cash back transactions. Check the small print before you click through to make your purchase.
·    I live in a rural part of Wales so for me online shopping is an essential. However bear in mind that if you are buying goods online rather than going to the store, you will almost always incur some kind of charge for postage which may then cancel out the cash back amount due (this is particularly true of very small cash back percentages such as 5% of the total sale usually excluding p&p, which for an item of say £50 will actually mean only £2.50 cash back. In this case if the p&p charges are equivalent or higher than £2.50 you’ll probably be better off popping along to your local store and buying the item.
·    Unlike my friend, don’t let the money accumulate in your cash back accounts. As soon as you exceed the threshold for transferring go ahead and request the payment. It should normally take just a few days to reach your account.

Happy saving!

Lorraine Allman is a busy mum and also MD at Speed Mentor Central® - a company providing access to online expertise and services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.  She has been running businesses for over 14 years including establishing one of the first online business information portals in the UK to running a highly successful business and educational research company.
You can follow Lorraine on Twitter @beindemand


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