Most of us are trying to keep costs down and bring in extra cash wherever we can. If you’re a frequent online shopper, cashback websites could help you make back hundreds of pounds a year.

But how do they work, and what are the best cashback websites? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know.

How do cashback websites work?

The idea is that rather than going directly to the website of the retailer you’re buying from, you go to a cashback site or app first, search for the retailer you want and then click through to their site to buy the item you want. The cashback website will recognise that you bought the item through their service, and will give you a percentage of the money you’ve spent back. This amount varies depending on both the retailer and the cashback site you’re using.

Cashback websites receive commission from the retailers featured on their site, which is how they can afford to offer you this money back. If this sounds confusing, just think of it as the cashback site offering lots of small discounts, which can add up if you use them regularly enough.

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Do you have to pay a fee to use cashback websites?

It depends – some cashback websites are free to use and join, while for others you may have to pay a membership fee. Oftentimes this fee is simply deducted from your cashback, so you don’t actually make a payment upfront.

Some sites will also offer you the choice between a regular, free membership and a paid membership which offers access to exclusive deals and higher cashback rates. It goes without saying that if you sign up for a paid website, you’ll want to use it as much as possible to get your money’s worth!

Which cashback websites are the best?

It’s worth looking around at the different cashback websites out there to see what they offer. The rates on offer and featured brands differ greatly between websites, so it’s worth having a good search. Remember that you don’t have to restrict yourself to using just one, but if you’re planning on signing up to several, don’t forget to factor in whether you need to pay a fee and whether you shop online enough to justify joining.

The other thing that differs between sites is how long it takes for them to pay you, and what methods they use to distribute cashback (eg. cheque, bank transfer, PayPal). It may take up to three months for some sites to pay you, and some sites may set a minimum amount that you need to earn as cashback before they start sending you money (such as £25). All of this information should be laid out in the terms and conditions before you sign up.

If you’re still not sure about a website, have a look to see if anyone else has had a bad experience. Googling “[site name] review” or “[site name] payment” will tend to throw up any major red flags.

Here are a few cashback websites and apps that we like:

Topcashback – members can receive over £300 per year in cashback with Topcashback, according to the site, and you can even get cashback for purchases at some high street shops if you register your card with the app.

How much does it cost? Topcashback is free to join or download as an app, but a Plus membership, which entitles you to access exclusive promotions and competitions and extra payout bonus, costs £5 per month. This will be deducted from any cashback you earn, however, so if you don’t earn any cashback, you won’t have to pay anything.

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Quidco – Available online and as an app, Quidco boasts over 10m members in the UK. It offers a range of cashback deals and a ‘ClickSnap’ function, designed to help you earn cashback on your online grocery shop.

How much does it cost? Quidco is free to join or download, but a premium membership is available for £1 a month (paid via cashback) which offers up to 10% top-up on cashback rates and higher payout bonuses.

Simply Cashback – Simply Cashback offers deals for over 2,000 brands, with cashback offers of up to 27.5%. It also offers a “Refer a Friend” scheme, where you can send a unique referral link to friends.If they use this link to sign up and build up £25 of cashback on their account, you’ll receive a £5 bonus.

How much does it cost? Simply Cashback is free to join, with a £5 bonus for signing up.

Froggybank – Froggybank differs from other cashback sites in that it includes easy options for donating some or all of your cashback to charitable causes if you wish, and even lets you set up a fundraising page, to which they will pay £2.50 every time someone joins Froggybank via your page and earns at least £5 cashback on their account.

How much does it cost? Froggybank is free to join upfront, though there is a £5 yearly fee, which is deducted from your earnings.

Is my cashback protected?

The main downside that you need to keep in mind when it comes to these websites is that your cashback is not protected.

Most of the time this probably won’t be a problem. However, in the event that you have built up a decent amount in cashback on a particular website but haven’t withdrawn or received it yet, and then the site goes bust, you’re unlikely to recover that money. To avoid this, it’s good practice to withdraw your cashback regularly if you can.

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