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Loss aversion is one of the pillars of personal finance. The easiest way to avoid loss, of course, is to reduce your spending. If you need or want to buy something, you might as well save as much as you can. An easy way to save a bit of money when you make a purchase is to use a cashback website like TopCashback.
A Very Short Guide
TopCashback is one of the most popular cashback websites in the UK. Here’s how it works. TopCashback has a catalogue of merchants (eg. Argos). If you want to make a purchase through one of those merchants, you can search for the retailer on TopCashback. If they offer cashback with your chosen retailer, you will see a link to the retailer’s website and a cashback rate (eg. 3%).
If you click on this link, you will be taken to the retailer’s website where you can make your purchase. Any tracked cashback should show up in your account within a few hours and this will be paid to you within a few months. You can then transfer this amount directly to your bank account or you can redeem it for a voucher at a boosted rate.
Searching For Your Retailer of Choice
When I use a cashback website, I have normally already found the product I want to buy and the retailer I want to buy it from. This is the point where I am just trying to boost my savings. Here’s how I go about finding the retailer.
Search for the retailer of choice in the search bar. If TopCashback offers cashback through this retailer, it will show up as an option. Alternatively, if you want to search by product category (eg. electricals) to find the best offer, you can search or choose the appropriate category from the homepage.
Multiple Cashback Rates
Sometimes the cashback rate will be flat, independent of your purchase. At other times, the cashback rate will be dependent on the type of product you buy. In the example below, Debenhams is offering 5% cashback on some product categories and 3% on others. The website link is the same and you can buy multiple items from multiple categories. However, the total amount of cashback you receive will be dependent on the product(s) you are buying.
Check Tracked Cashback
After you have made your purchase, it should only take a few hours until you can see your tracked cashback.
In your account overview, you will see your outstanding and paid cashback amounts. The earnings tab gives more detail on your tracked activity. ’Pending’ cashback is the calculated amount that the retailer has indicated you are owed. This activity is then confirmed by the retailer.
Once confirmed, you are eligible for the amount owed and it is now just a case of waiting for the merchant to pay TopCashback so they can pay you. Any ‘Payable’ amount is already in your account and you can proceed to the next step, withdrawal.
Sometimes payments aren’t tracked properly and you might not see any pending cashback in your account. TopCashback advises you to wait 7 days before making a claim. If you still don’t see any pending amounts, you cash lodge a missing cashback claim. In your account, go to the ‘Customer Care’ tab to ‘Lodge a Claim’. Investigations usually take time. Most likely anywhere between 1 and 3 months, according to the website.
When you fill in the form you will be asked to select the type of missing cashback (eg. untracked, declined or incorrectly tracked). You will also be asked to provide more detail about your purchase. This is where you will need your receipt. When you make a purchase online, you will most likely be sent a receipt by e-mail. State the retailer, the date/time of purchase, the offer and purchase amount.
There are some things you can do to make sure your activity is properly tracked.
- Make sure you are properly logged into your TopCashback account before making any purchase.
- Once you’ve clicked through from TopCashback, finish your purchase before clicking off of any tab.
- If you’re using a voucher code, find this first before you go through TopCashback. This is so you don’t click off of the retailer’s website to find any codes.
- Make sure cookies are allowed on your browser.
- Clearing your cookies might help avoid tracking problems.
- Make sure no adblockers are active.
How To Get Paid
In your account, go to the ‘Payout’ tab. Here you have a choice to make.
This is the simplest option but you are not offered any boost on your cashback amount. What you have is what you get. You can select to have any cashback transferred to your bank account via a BACS transfer. Alternatively, you can select to have your balance transferred to your PayPal account.
You can choose to have your cashback converted into vouchers at a boosted rate (the boost is dependent on the retailer). This is my favourite option since you will be making the most of your savings and there are a wide variety of vouchers to choose from. The better the boost, the more efficient you are being with your money. Some of the boosts on offer are quite generous as well. You can see some of the offers currently available at the time of writing below.
All of the gift vouchers have a minimum value attached before you can redeem them. Whilst some require as little as £0.01 redeemed, others require a larger redemption value (eg. £25). You will be able to find at least one retailer which you normally use but here are just a few to show you the range. Amazon, Debenhams, M&S, Starbucks, Tesco and Uber.
I would suggest you pick the voucher with the highest boost that you will use at some point in the near future. You could use them straight away, if it is a supermarket voucher for example. You could future proof yourself buy buying some birthday presents early on. Or you could hold your cashback balance in your account until you need to use it.
I would personally recommend redeeming vouchers as soon as possible. Your account could become dormant if you don’t login within a 6 month period. This means your tracked cashback could be at risk if you don’t use it in the short term.
Get Notified of Cashback as You Browse
In the dropdown features menu at the top of the website, you will see a section called 'Cashback Notifier'. This browser extension helps to keep you informed of the cashback on offer before you make a purchase online. When you do a google search, you will see which websites offer cashback. Also, when you are on a participating retailer's website, a popup will appear letting you know cashback is available. The extension works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
The Cashback Multiplier
In another article, I discuss how you can combine cashback with other methods to increase your savings. In some cases I have managed to earn up to 3 distinct discounts plus points to really maximise your return.
How Can TopCashback Give You CashBack?
This seems to be a commonly asked question. The website effectively pays you the affiliate income it earns every time you click through to a retailer and make a purchase. When you buy, the retailer pays an affiliate commission to TopCashback for sending you to their store. Whilst most websites pocket this commission as income, TopCashback pays it back to you.
How Does TopCashback Make Money?
If the affiliate income is paid back to you, how does the website make any money? The answer? In multiple ways. If you click on an advert or sponsored link labelled as ‘zero cashback’, TopCashback generates some income. Also, retailers sometimes pay bonuses if the website drives a high volume of traffic to their online store. In this scenario, everybody wins. The retailer gets the sale, TopCashback generates income and you save money. It is a simple but pretty ingenious business model.
If you liked this post, please don’t forget to like, share and comment down below. If you want to support this website and it’s content for free, you can sign up to TopCashback using this link. This lets them know you were sent by Capital Matters.