What is Cashback & How Can You Benefit from It?

What is cashback
All this cashback money could be yours!

I’ve been taking advantage of cashback on my purchases for over 4 years now and I have absolutely zero regrets about doing so. It’s definitely something that has helped improve my life financially, and I recommend that everyone starts benefitting from it if they’re not currently doing so.

This post is going to be aimed at people who have no idea what cashback is. Maybe you’ve heard the term before, but that’s as far as it goes. Regardless of that, if you want to start making extra money on the side from the things you’re (most likely) already buying then do yourself a favour and continue reading below.

I promise you won’t regret it.

What is cashback?

So, what is cashback?

Cashback is simply ‘cash’ that you get ‘back’ from the purchases you make. You can earn cashback both online (via cashback websites) and in-store. Earning cashback online is most common because it’s so easy to do.

What is a cashback website?

A cashback site is essentially a website that pays you money back on the purchases you make as long as you do your shopping via them.

These days, cashback is available on all sorts of things: from video games, electronics, and Blu-Rays to clothing, jewellery and even your favourite takeaways. 

Yes – you really can get money back from ordering your favourite Domino’s pizza online. This also works for the likes of Just Eat and other online food retailers.

Domino's Cashback
I’m always making sure to get cashback when ordering takeaways online, it’s a nice easy win!

Sounds great, everyone must be profiting from this!?

You would think that with all these benefits everybody would be profiting from the world of cashback. Well guess what, they ain’t!

I’m constantly preaching to my friends, family and work colleagues about making use of them. I’m mostly met with the same response…

“What is cashback?”

“I don’t know what a cashback site is, it sounds dodgy!”

“Oh that sounds like too much hassle, I can’t be bothered with that!”

I think there are two main reasons for this.

  1. People think it’s all a scam.
  2. People lack the patience to use them.

I’m sure there are malicious cashback websites out there looking to scam you, but that’s definitely not a reason to avoid them altogether. Simply stick with the trusted names such as Quidco (my personal favourite) or TopCashback and you will be fine.

As for the patience side of things, it really doesn’t surprise me. The world these days is so instantaneous with the likes of same-day delivery and contactless payments. People, especially the younger generation, don’t want to take additional steps to get what they want, so of course, they don’t waste their time by using cashback websites. 

How do cashback websites work?

So you’re probably wondering how all of this works. I don’t blame you. I was exactly the same a few years ago.

Here are the basics of it…

You do a search for a retailer you want to shop at on the cashback website first (Debenhams, M&S, Just Eat, Argos etc). You then get to see how much cashback you could earn if you make a purchase from them. It’s then simply a case of clicking through to the retailers’ website and doing your shopping as normal.

So, let’s say you wanted to buy something for £80 and the cashback offer is 10%. You click through to the retailer website and buy your item for £80. £80 leaves your bank account, but 10% of your purchase (which is £8) will be credited to your cashback website account. Once this has all been fully confirmed by the retailer you can then request for the £8 to be transferred to your bank account. So technically that item which just cost you £80 really only cost you £72. It can sometimes take weeks to months for you to actually receive your cashback, but so what? After all, it’s free money. Money which you wouldn’t have received otherwise, and it’s much better than getting nothing at all!

In short – by visiting a cashback site and then making a purchase at an applicable retailer site you can earn yourself some extra money. Think of it as a little reward to yourself, and believe me, those little rewards really do add up!

Here’s a nice short video from the folks at Quidco showing you how the entire process works.

How about an example?

Still a bit confused?

OK, this might be easier with a true to life example.

John’s Story

John is looking online for a new shirt. He checks out a few websites and finds a couple of shirts he likes, and even better they’re available in his selected size. Brilliant, John thinks. He adds them to his shopping cart, clicks to the checkout and goes about completing his purchase. The shirts have been purchased, the money is out of John’s bank account and now all John has to do is wait for delivery. John is happy, he’s ordered the shirts he wants and all without the hassle of going out to the shops.

Here’s the thing though… John has potentially missed out on a much better deal, so let me give you another example, this time of the way Iain does his online shopping. (Yes, I just referred to myself in the 3rd person, something which I will now continue below.)

Iain’s Story

Iain is looking online for a new shirt. He happens to check out a few websites (just like John) and finds a couple of shirts he likes, and even better they’re available in his size. Brilliant, Iain thinks. Iain adds them to his shopping cart (again, just like John) and continues through to the checkout stage in order to complete his…

Not so fast! – Iain knows better than this.

He decides it’s a good idea to check his preferred cashback site to see if they’re offering any potential cashback. Iain heads to Quidco.com and logs into his account. He then searches for those same retailers that were selling the shirts he liked. Brilliant – the 1st retailer is offering 10% cashback on all purchases, and the 2nd retailer is offering 25% cashback for new customers who happen to make a purchase. That’s ideal for Iain because he’s never used the 2nd retailer before so he will qualify for the new customer cashback rate, and the 1st retailer is a common shopping place for him, so it’s great to see the 10% rate which he can profit from. Iain clicks through to the retailer websites one at a time, adds the shirts to his shopping cart and completes his purchases as normal.


Now, both John and Iain have essentially done the same thing here – purchased some shirts online. But let me ask you, who’s really the one better off? Obviously, the answer is John, because he didn’t have to go through a cashback site first to make his purchase – what a waste of time, right?

In case I’ve not made that painfully obvious, I’m being facetious. Obviously, Iain is the one better off here. Not only has he managed to purchase the shirts he wanted but he’s also managed to get money back for doing so.

It’s a win-win for Iain, whereas, for John, it’s merely a win.

Surely there’s a catch with all of this?

But Iain, wait, what’s the catch here!? This all sounds far too good to be true, so it probably is, right!?


Rest assured, after 4 years of benefitting from cashback myself, I know. Remember, I too used to be one of those people asking what is cashback?

paid cashback
Believe me when I say that you never get fed up with receiving emails like this!

What’s in it for the cashback sites?

OK, so why do these cashback sites bother to give random consumers money for simply clicking through their site and completing a purchase? What’s in it for the cashback companies?

It’s a simple answer really, and that answer is advertising.

These cashback sites are able to secure advertising deals with some of the biggest brands out there thanks to their ability to direct customers. People just like you and me. The brands and retailers are happy to pay the cashback companies money for this, after all, they’re setting the path for potential business.

Looking at the previous example of myself when buying the shirts, I might not have bought them if there was no additional benefit to me. The fact I was able to earn a % of cashback meant I was happy to complete my purchase. This guarantees a sale for the retailer and keeps them happy.

You do have to be careful here though. Don’t simply purchase something because you’re getting cashback for doing so. Firstly, make sure it’s a worthwhile deal and then see if it can be bettered with the use of cashback on top.

So, should I be using cashback websites?

Absolutely 100% yes.

The bottom line is this: Why wouldn’t you want to get money back on some of the things which you’re (most likely) going to be buying anyway?

It’s not even like it affects the total price you pay – that stays the same. The only difference is whether you choose to benefit yourself by getting some money back in the process.

And who would intentionally say no to that?

Total Cashback Earnings
My cashback earnings so far – all earned from things that I was going to be buying anyway!

Which cashback websites are best?

There are numerous cashback websites on the go these days. The two most popular are definitely Quidco and TopCashback.

You may have seen the adverts on TV for TopCashback. They’re pretty prominent here in the UK (yes it’s the one with the man on the hippo!). Quidco seems to be less well known (I don’t think I’ve seen any TV adverts for them) but in my opinion, they’re the better option because they seem to offer a higher rate of cashback on most things. Quidco also offers something called their ‘Highest Cashback Guarantee’ where they state if you find a better rate of cashback elsewhere they will match it.

There’s no harm in signing up to multiple cashback sites if you fancy doing so. Just keep in mind that it will take longer to earn cashback as you won’t be building it all from one place. It’s worth doing if you want to be 100% certain that you’re earning the best rate.

How can I get started?

So if you’re new to all of this and would like to start profiting from the world of cashback, I recommend you head to Quidco.com and create yourself a free account. It’s easy to do and will only take a couple of minutes.

There is the option of signing up for a premium account which costs £5 a year. There is no real need to do this, but it’s something worth considering if the benefits are appealing.

The link above is my referral link which I will be commissioned for if you use it when registering. If you do decide to use it, you will benefit by earning £5 when reaching a certain threshold.

Is there anything else I should know?

I plan to do a follow-up post detailing my specific experiences with cashback. I’ll be covering things such as:

  • What is cashback – Instore vs online
  • The purchases that have earned me the most cashback
  • What is cashback – Helpful tips to ensure you make the absolute most of it
  • Why you have to be cautious of using promotional codes when earning cashback

If any of that sounds interesting please make sure to subscribe to this blog.

*Update: Here is the follow-up post for making the most out of cashback websites

If you’re still left wondering what is cashback then I have clearly failed and I am sorry. Please leave me a comment to let me know and I’ll edit this post to make things clearer.

I would also like to hear from those of you who happen to be benefitting from cashback – let me know what you’ve earned the most cashback on.

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