I earned over £1,000 while shopping online – how you can do it too

DONNA Tully is the textbook definition of savvy saver – she managed to make over £1,000 just by doing her regular online shopping.

Donna, 37, has been using the site Topcashback since 2011 to claim free cash on online purchases.


In the 10 years that she's been an active member, the mum-of-two has managed to accumulate a hefty £1,052.40 in free cash.

"I could have even potentially earned a lot more by now if I had been using it consistently," she said.

"If you're not signed up then get your skates on, because you are missing out on this. I can’t recommend it enough."

Unlike some other ways of saving, cashback sites involve minimal faff. So here's how to get started.

How do cashback sites work?

Cashback sites strike deals with retailers and as a result pay you for purchases you make online.

Signing up is free, you'll just need to set up an account by entering a few details such as your name and email address.

Then, when you're ready to shop, all you have to do is go to the usual website where you want to make a purchase – but instead of going there direct, you go through the cashback site.

You then earn a percentage of your purchase back.

The amount you get depends on what deal is available and which retailer you use.

So, for example, if there's 10% cashback deal on a site and you spend a tenner, you get £1 back in your cashback account.

TopCashback says its users earn an average of £300 cashback a year.

You can also boost that through its Tell a Friend scheme.

If you refer a friend and they earn cashback through the site, you get £30 and they get £10 cashback to spend with Boots. 

Once your friend has earned £10 in cashback, you’ll get another £30 too.

Donna's said: "Before you buy ANYTHING online, you should check if you can get cashback by visiting a site like this – all you have to do is type in the merchant name to see if they offer any type of cashback payment."

The best thing about these sites, is that you're getting money back on purchases that you would be making anyway.

Offers are usually available on insurance, home phone deals, internet tariffs, mobile contracts as well as for clothing or sports gear.

According to Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert, you could make hundreds of pounds a year if you use them properly too. 

With Donna's earnings, she has managed to rack up roughly £105 a year over the past decade, just in extra cash that she had to do very little to get her hands on.

How do I get cashback?

Once your purchase has been logged by the cashback site, you'll receive money in your account.

This can sometimes take a few weeks – or even months – but you should be able to track what's coming.

Cashback sites do point out that no payments are guaranteed though so you should never make a purchase purely for the cashback – only use it for items you were going to buy anyway.

She said: "You do need to be careful that the cashback on the site is the best deal.

"For example, you can get some really good pay-outs when purchasing car and home insurance, which can be tempting, but you still have to make sure that long term it’s the best deal for you."

Some sites require you to get a minimum balance before they'll pay out.

Payments can usually be made via BACS directly to your bank account or through PayPal, or you might be able to get redeemable vouchers to use at other stores instead.

Martin Lewis has previously explained how you can even use cashback sites to get free food and drink.

Donna, who lives in Coventry, runs her own budgeting blog as well, so she knows a trick or two when it comes to picking up bargains online.

Pioneering the Facebook forum, Official Families on a Budget, over 35,000 members are tuned in to Donna's daily money-saving tips.

Donna said Topcashback can be particularity fruitful at Christmas, especially at a time when many people are shopping online anyway and hunting for bargains.

Donna said: "I tend to save up my earned cashback and then cash out at Christmas, but as soon as your money has changed from pending to claimed you are able to cash out. 

"If you get into the habit of using the cashback service then it becomes second nature, and you’re earning free money on goods and services you were planning on buying anyway."

What to watch out for

The experts at MoneySavingExpert warn that tracking problems can often occur with cashback sites, so there is the possibility you won't be paid.

This is a major reason why you shouldn't buy anything just because of a cashback offer.

And while you might be tempted to save up your cashback until you have enough for a bumper pay out, experts actually say it's better to withdraw any money you earn straight away.

Once the money is in your bank account, it's safe and ready for you to spend or save as you wish.

Always be sure to shop around still, too.

Sometimes voucher codes or other offers may be available that are better than the cashback that's up for grabs.

You often can't combine something like a Topcashback offer with another offer from the likes of comparison sites like confused.com either.

You could consider signing up to a few different cashback sites too as they'll usually have different deals.

And, finally, be sure to check the terms and conditions of the cashback before you make a purchase – sometimes the money is only available to new customers, for example, so you might not be eligible.

 

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