Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Penny pinching - shopping online

I like saving money. I love the thrill of the chase of getting a bargain. TK Maxx - a real marmite shop isn't it? Well I love it. Rooting through the rails in search of the ultimate bargain, preferably at a 70% discount, or more!

Online shopping is all about sniffing out the best offer, so quite naturally, I love this too. So imagine my delight when I discovered one of the easiest ways of saving money online - cashback. Like anything that appears to be simple AND pays cash direct into your bank account, I was very sceptical at first. However, I can hand-on-heart say that there is nothing dubious about cashback websites, or at least not the one I use anyway.

How do cashback websites work?

In the world of online, retailers have recognised the fact that when a customer makes a purchase, there are many factors that can come between adding an item to their basket, and actually paying for the item and making the purchase. These distractions are far stronger than those found in an actual shop. Imagine having an item in your hand - from here (queues aside) it's a fairly short journey to handing over your money and leaving with your new swag. Online you've got everything from your favourite programme starting on TV to phone calls and last minute checks of other websites to make sure you've got the best deal. So how about a little bit of temptation for the customer, in the form of saving you some extra pennies? Retailers are more than happy to take this little hit if it results in a purchase. In short, they pay a commission to cashback websites in return for the cashback website referring a sale to them. Everyone's a winner.

What do I need to do?

Very little. You can still make all of your purchases on the website that you intended to buy from. All you need to do is visit the cashback website first, so that it can track your purchase. Oh, and obviously you need to sign up to a cashback website first and create an account. Once the purchase has been confirmed, the payment is made to the cashback website, who in turn pass the money on to you.

Is there a catch?

There really isn't. Some of the cashback sites charge an annual fee, others don't. You have to be 16 to open an account and resident in the UK.

How much money can I make?

It's best to regard cashback websites as a bonus. It's certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme, nor should you resign from your job to become a professional online shopper! To give you a quick snapshot, in the last year I have tracked almost £1000 of online purchases through Quidco (that's the amount of money that I have spent online) and from this I have been paid almost £70 cashback. That's £70 I have received simply for shopping online, as I would have done regardless of belonging to a cashback website or not.

Find out more

The wonderful moneysavingexpert.com website has a complete guide to cashback websites.

Read the moneysavingexpert guide to cashback websites

I hope this posts helps you to pinch some pennies!

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