Thursday, June 2, 2016

Save Money When Shopping Online (Updated) - Cashback Sites & Discount Codes!

If like me, you're a bit too handy online with your debit/credit card and just can't help yourself when it comes to making purchases (that 'confirm order' button is just so much more gratifying to press than the red X, don't you think?) then this little guide to try to help you save money online could be just what you need.

Shopping Around!

This is the first thing you need to do when considering a purchase, as if you don't find the best price for your item then you're already losing out on precious pennies to spend elsewhere (or save in your bank, but primarily for me, it's to spend elsewhere). I tend to visit sites that I think will have the item I'm looking for to find prices out first, and then find the cheapest among them.

I also visit discount sites such as and Fragrancedirect to see if they stock the product I'm looking for - for beauty related items, obviously. I also use Google searches and the Google Shopping page to find and compare the price on various sites. You'd be surprised how much you can save, just by taking the time to do this.

Cashback Sites!

For many years, I have been using cashback sites whenever I shop online and it has saved/made me more money than you'd think. For example, I have used TopCashback* since November 2008 and in total, I have earned £1,861.39p on purchases I have made and things I have signed up to (such as switching gas/electric, Sky TV and such like), which is pretty good considering it has cost me nothing and taken very little time (I went through a year or so of forgetting to use it after my break up too).

Before I used TopCashBack, I used Quidco* and in the 3 years I used it, I earned £986.52p - plus £15 that I paid to Quidco as they charge £5 per year from any earnings you make - if you earn nothing, you pay nothing! I still do use Quidco occasionally as they sometimes have better rates or offers, but TopCashBack is my main one these days as it is completely free (unless you upgrade to a plus member).

Using a cashback site doesn't affect the price of the goods your buying, or any quote you're being given, nor does it affect your statutory rights - it literally is just an added bonus.
So, if you bought from Debenhams, you'd get 3.03% cashback from your final checkout price (minus VAT and any delivery charges) just for clicking to go to the Debenhams site through TopCashBack (you click the orange button shown in the image above), it's so simple. It does add a small extra step into what you're doing, but literally does only take a moment to do it and you've already seen how it can build up to quite a large sum of money.

Sometimes cashback is offered for free things, like surveys, sign ups to sites, free trials and suchlike - these things will take time to do, but are useful to know about if you have a lot of spare time and fancy earning small amounts of money that could mount up into a larger sum.

Other cashback possibilities that you should look out for are magazine sites that pay you a set amount (say £4) for a subscription as quite often the site has 3 for £1/3 for £3 (and similar) trial offers that can also qualify for cashback too; so you'd basically be being paid £3/£1 (for example) to try 3 issues of a magazine. Some deals match however much you spend, so you could pay £1 to trial a magazine and be paid that much back, so you'd effectively be getting a free trial.

If you want to do more than one magazine on this offer, do them one by one as you should be paid cashback for each purchase. These are gradually being picked up on and some terms changed, so please do read the information before committing to your purchase - and don't forget to cancel the Direct Debit once you've paid the trial subscription, otherwise they will continue the subscription and take the full amount out of your bank.
The only 'con' I can see for using a cashback site is that sometimes your money/purchase doesn't track and you can 'lose out' on a small amount of cashback. You can appeal this, but it's not guaranteed that you'll get it - although mostly you do, especially if you can prove you went through the cashback site (by matching up a date and time to one of your outgoing clicks for the merchant in the appeal section) and it helps to keep order confirmations etc.

It's such a small downside though, and as long as you think of cashback as a bonus, rather than a given (especially if you're relying on it to take the cost of purchasing something down to an amount you can afford, which is not advisable), you'll be over the moon with it, like I have been.

Discount Codes!
Discount codes are another way of saving money when shopping online that can be used in conjunction with cashback sites for most merchants (some say in their terms that orders made using discount codes will automatically get cashback declined, you then just need to work out which one will save you the most money, the code or the cashback - it's usually the code), and are used when checking out your shopping online!

You can find discount codes on the merchant page of cashback sites, on sites like HotUKDeals (just don't click their links if you want the cashback as they will pocket it if you complete your purchase via their link - if you do happen to click their link, just clear your cookies for the site you're buying from and start again - this will empty any cart contents and log you out, if you do this, and you will need to go through your chosen cashback site again), from the cashback websites above, and MoneySavingExpert (also very good for general money saving information and advice) and even on the Facebook and Twitter pages for the retailer that you're intending to buy from.
I do all this, each time I'm about to spend money to maximise the amount of money I can save in any given transaction - in fact, it feels weird on the rare occasions that I can't find any cashback or codes.

Have you ever used cashback sites and discount codes? If not, will you be starting?

Sorry for such a long post, I got carried away there!

* This is my referral link, although it doesn't alter anything on your sign up as it is free to join and I would only receive a bonus if you earn yourself some money (and my bonus comes from TopCashBack/Quidco, not you) - plus sometimes they give you a bonus too.

All offer information correct as of time of writing.

This post originated at


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