Back in the old days, people used to collect green shield stamps to save money along with cutting coupons out of newspapers. But now, in the 21st century, a few taps of an app can net you £100s. My phone is full to the brim with money-saving and cost-cutting apps. Some are better than others, but my favourites are the cashback apps.
Cashback apps are the coupons of today, providing you with quick and easy access to the best deals, with no need to mess around with flimsy paper. Cashback apps are simple and easy to use and in this article I will walk you through my top 5 cashback apps, explaining how they work, how much you can earn, and how quickly you get paid.
What is cashback?
If you’re new to the world of cashback then get ready for your mind to be blown. Cashback is a way for you to earn free money, typically through your spending. You can earn a percentage of what you spend, paid back to you as cashback and if you do it every time it can add up to a nice amount.
Let's take an example. If you were going to spend £100 on a Christmas gift from Curry’s PC World, but instead, you purchase the item via a cashback app which gives you 5% cashback, you’ll earn £5 cashback. It's that simple.
It may not sound like much, but if you do this for everything you buy it will quickly start adding up. Cashback can be found on everything from clothes to insurance, broadband packages to beauty products. Nearly everything you spend money on, you can earn cashback on.
It’s important to note that cashback involves spending something in the first place in order to earn the money back. There is no point in spending more money in order to claim it, it is a false economy. Instead, think of it as a bonus on your usual spending. With the 5 apps that I have highlighted below, you can start building up your cashback with just a few taps. So here are the ones you should definitely have installed:
No matter what you’re shopping online for, including car insurance, broadband, clothing and more, you can earn cashback by clicking through the app before buying. Just like when you search for a discount code before buying, you should search for cashback here too.
How does TopCashback work?
If you’re about to purchase something online (and I mean anything, there’s cashback on most things), do a search on the TopCashback app for that retailer. If there is cashback listed, click on the link which will take you to the retailer through a tracked link. Go ahead and purchase what you need, and your spending will be tracked. You’ll then receive cashback into your TopCashback account, which after some clearing time, you can redeem as cash or trade-up for vouchers.
- What can you get cashback on? - The list of retailers and categories on TopCashback is endless. It’s worth having a look through the list for yourself to see. Even things that you might not think about for cashback, such as applying for a credit card or signing up for a credit check - you can earn money out of.
- How much could you expect to earn? - The cashback rate varies depending on the retailer. For some, it’s a percentage of your spend, and others it’s a flat rate (e.g £20 cashback when you spend £100). If you remember to click through for everything you buy, you could be looking at around £10-50 cashback a month depending on your spending. Some retailers such as Virgin Media offer £180 for taking out a new broadband plan, so you could easily go beyond that.
- How do you claim the cashback?- The cashback through TopCashback may take a long time to clear, but once it does, you can head to payout and select either a BACs transfer, PayPal payment or vouchers. If you opt for vouchers, you can choose a number of retailers, and usually get a boost to your amount by 1-2%.
With this cashback app, you can earn cashback without even lifting a finger. Once it’s all set up, you don’t need to think about it.
How does Airtime Rewards work?
Sign up to the app and link your Visa and Mastercards. If you then shop on those cards at any of its 150 retailers, you’ll receive cashback automatically on what you spend. The app is linked to your phone number, and for the money you earn, the cashback will be taken off your mobile phone bill.
- What can you get cashback on? - There are over 150 brands on the app that you can get cashback on, both purchasing online and in-store. Some of the big retailers include Argos, Boots, Primark, Wilko, Papa John’s, Groupon, Topshop, The Body Shop and more.
- How much could you expect to earn? - The range of cashback is usually between 1-5% for the popular brands, though some of the smaller brands can offer up to 20% cashback on purchases. Once you have this app set up, you’ll earn cashback as and when you spend at a retailer (even if you forget there’s cashback involved). If you’re an average spender, you’re likely to earn as much as £5 per month, plus, if you have a big purchase coming up (for example four tyres at Halfords), you could earn £10+ in one go. My phone bill is a SIM-only contract at £8 a month. I pay my phone bill off every other month with the cashback I earn.
- How do you claim the cashback? - Depending on your mobile phone provider, the minimum required for payout is either £5 or £10 in credit. Once you’ve reached the minimum, head onto the ‘rewards’ section of the app, where you can claim your earnings. The money will then be sent to your provider and taken off your phone bill. Once you’ve pressed redeem, it’s all done for you. The following month, you’ll pay a little bit less (or nothing at all) on your direct debit.
No matter where you shop, receipts are worth money in the cashback world. That’s why it’s important to set aside a place in your wallet for them. ZIPZERO gives you cashback for those flimsy pieces of paper, usually destined for the bin.
How does Zipzero work?
For every receipt that you take a picture of, you’ll get 0.5% cashback into your account. This can be receipts from anything that you spend, including restaurants, supermarkets, high street stores and more. Once you’ve earned the minimum of £5, you can redeem the cashback off a number of bills including electricity bill, gas, TV, phone, internet or Council Tax.
- What can you get cashback on? - You can get it on anything you buy - as long as you have a receipt for it. Scan in the receipt to the app within seven days of the purchase for it to be counted. No matter how large the receipt is, or where you shop at, you’ll always get 0.5% cashback, which doesn’t sound like much, but like everything, it all adds up.
- How much could you expect to earn? - Based on a 0.5% cashback rate, you need to spend £1,000 to get £5 back off your bills. If you scan in your other half’s receipts too and make it a joint effort, you’re likely to earn around £5 every few months.
- How do you claim the cashback? - You’ll need to link one of your bills (that you pay by direct debit) into the apps payment list. Once this is done and as soon as you hit the minimum amount of £5, you can transfer it over to your bill. This will lower your direct debit amount when it comes out next.
Shopping in the supermarket gets a lot more fun with this app as there are freebies and discounts galore that you can claim. By checking the app before you go shopping, you could end up getting a product for free, or get an unexpected discount on something you were going to buy anyway.
How does Shopmium work?
Once you've downloaded the app, you'll see a list of offers on different grocery items. Some are freebies, some are discounted and some have a ‘try me’ price where you can try it for less than the retail price. If you see an offer you like, note it down and pick up the item when you're on your shop. Once you have it, scan the barcode and receipt of you purchasing it and you'll receive the cashback in your account.
- What can you get cashback on? - You can usually find cashback on new products and brands that want people to try for a reduced price. In the past this has been drinks, frozen food, toiletries and more. The best freebie I saw was a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for free. The offers change roughly every week, so there will usually be something new every time you go to do your shopping.
- How much could you expect to earn? - If you’re using one or two offers every time you go shopping you can expect to save between £2 to £4 every trip. If you're a weekly shopper, this can add up to £20 plus in savings. If you're just in it for the freebies (which pop-up every other week), you are likely to save between £5 to £10 a month.
- How do you claim the cashback? - With every cashback claim, once accepted you'll receive the money directly into your PayPal account. There is no minimum spend to cash out, so you can claim cashback on one item and still get the money straight away. Once you’ve submitted a claim, you'll receive the money in your account within two working days.
There was a time when you couldn’t save money on healthy food such as fruit and veg, but you can with this cashback app. Working similarly to Shopmium, it’s a supermarket app that you should always have in the back of your mind.
How does GreenJinn work?
Each week, there is a list of offers for cashback on healthy items of food in the supermarket. You can choose which supermarket you’re going to, which will then load up the relevant offers for that supermarket. If you see an offer you like, head into the store and buy it. Snap a picture of the receipt to prove you bought it and you’ll get the cashback for it.
- What can you get cashback on? - Fresh food such as carrots, parsnips, mushrooms and more - along with pre-packaged healthier food. If you don’t like the selection one week, there’ll be a whole different selection the next.
- How much could you expect to earn? - If you live a healthy lifestyle you can use the cashback offers on vegetables to plan which meals you have for the week and save money in the process. You can easily save around £5 a month on the fruit and vegetable offers alone and possibly more if you bought the other food items. There is the odd freebie you can claim occasionally too, which means even more money off.
- How do you claim the cashback? - Once you’ve hit the minimum requirement of £1.50 cashback in your account, you can request the cashback either as a PayPal or bank transfer. Once requested, it can take up to five working days to appear in your account but it can often arrive much quicker than this.
Cashback app comparison table
Below, we compare each of the 5 best cashback apps:
|How does it work?||Earn cashback on purchases.||Earn cashback on purchases.||Scan receipts to get cashback.||Get discounts and freebies on food shopping.||Get discounts and freebies on food shopping.|
|How much can you expect to earn?||£10-£50 per month.||£5 per month.||£5 every few months.||£5-£10 per month.||£5 per month.|
|When is cashback paid?||90-180 days.||Within 30 days once you have hit a minimum of £5 cashback.||Within 30 days once you have hit a minimum of £5 cashback.||Usually within 3 days.||Usually within 5 days once you have hit a minimum of £1.50 cashback.|
How to stack cashback to maximise your cashback
The true holy grail of cashback is the fact that you can stack multiple cashback apps on top of each other. It can be a great way to save even more money on your purchases and it can certainly add up.
Let’s say you were buying a new outfit from Topshop. First of all, make sure you click through the TopCashback app and you’ll get 8% cashback on orders over £50. Topshop is also on Airtime Rewards, so you’ll get another 5% in cashback from them. This boosts your total up to 13%. If you order ‘click & collect’ and get a paper receipt for your purchase too, you can scan it into ZIPZERO to get an extra 0.5% back.
So that £50 spent across three cashback apps will get you £6.75 back. And that’s just with one retailer. You can quickly see how the cashback adds up. It may not seem like much when used on their own, but used together, it can add up to a lot of money.
Having these 5 apps downloaded on your phone could add up to £10s or even £100s in savings each month. Over a year, this could amount to £1,000s. Think about what that extra £1,000 could get you while you click, scan and swipe away and - with Christmas coming up - now is the perfect time to start!