Best Cashback Sites To Earn Money When Shopping Online

James Beattie By James Beattie 14 Min Read

Cashback sites are a great way to earn money for something you would purchase anyway. They can get you a really good discount when you’re buying something expensive. But with loads of cashback sites out there, it’s good to know which ones are scams, which ones are legitimate and which ones are likely to make you a decent amount of cash.

Quick Overview
The best cashback sites partner with lots of large retailers that you probably already shop at and that accurately track your spending. They are usually free, but some offer different membership tiers. In the UK, the top cashback sites are Quidco, Top Cashback and Airtime Rewards. Kidstart is also a good option for saving money for your children.

What are Cashback Sites?

Cashback sites are essentially websites and apps that allow you to make money back on your online purchases. Usually, you earn a percentage of the amount you spent back and are told how much this will be upfront. You make the purchase and then you are gifted the cashback later on, once the cashback site is sure that you aren’t going to return the item. 

Lots of people use cashback sites to save money on things they were already going to buy. You can get a huge discount on expensive items, like a washing machine or laptop. Another benefit is that they take very little time and effort to use because they track automatically, usually by using an extension in your browser.

How Do Cashback Sites Work?

There are five simple steps to using a cashback site:

  1.  Sign up with them. This is usually free, but some offer premium membership options too. 
  2. Identify which retailer you want to shop at and check that the cashback site partners with them.
  3. Go to the retailer’s website via a portal on the cashback site. You make your purchase directly with the retailer. 
  4. The cashback site gets their commission after you have completed your purchase. The timeline for this varies.
  5. The cashback site pays you. Usually you have to request it from their site when it becomes available. Sometimes there is a threshold you have to meet before you can withdraw it.

How Cashback Sites Make Money 

Cashback sites need to make money, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to operate. But just how do they make money when they are paying you for making purchases?


Cashback sites partner with specific retailers for a mutually beneficial relationship. The retailers get traffic to their website. If this results in a sale, the retailer may pay the cashback site a certain percentage of this. Other retailers pay for the lead, measured by when somebody clicks on the link to their websites. It really depends on what kind of deal both parties have agreed to.


When cashback sites get a high amount of traffic, they become desirable places for companies to advertise on. These companies will pay them for running adverts (aimed at you, the consumer) on their web pages. The more traffic that cashback sites have coming to their website, the more money advertisers will be willing to pay them per advert.

Why this Works

In order to make money, cashback sites need to gain customers – the more, the better. If they don’t have people to send to the retailers, then retailers won’t want to partner with them. Likewise, not having lots of people on their websites means that companies won’t want to pay to advertise on them. This means that cashback sites also have to incentivise you, the customer, to buy through their websites if they want to make money. They offer you a good deal, i.e, free cash for buying things you were already going to buy anyway, to draw you in.

How Much Money Will I Make?

How much money you make from using cashback sites really depends on how much time and effort you put into them. Some people may half-heartedly sign up to a cashback site, but not remember to use it when they are making a major purchase. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to make a profit doing this. But the good news is that you can make a decent amount of money if you get into the rhythm of using them.

At the top end of the scale are people who use cashback sites for everything they buy. They subscribe to all the best cashback sites, having tried and tested them. It is a routine for them to search for something they want to buy on a cashback site before going directly to the retailer. They are also happy to change brands in order to get a cashback offer.

The Best Cashback Sites

There are so many cashback sites out there that it can be tricky to know which ones to use. You want ones which are trustworthy and who work with the retailers you normally shop at. Since it is difficult to figure out what is legitimate online, we’ve put together a list of the top reputable cashback sites in the UK.


Quidco Cashback

The first UK based, 100% cashback site, Quidco has been around since 2005 and gained millions of members in that time. You can sign up and use their services for free, although there is also a paid subscription option that unlocks further benefits. You can also get paid in cash or gift cards – the giftcards are generally worth more but cash is more versatile, so go for whichever you prefer. 

Top Cashback

Top Cashback

Top Cashback claims to be the UK’s highest paying cashback site. While that’s difficult to prove, we usually find that they offer competitive rates. They also have a good amount of retailers – any big shops that you can’t find on Quidco will probably be listed on Top Cashback. They offer both free and premium membership tiers and pay you in either cash or gift cards, depending on your preference. 

Airtime Rewards

Airtime Rewards

Airtimes Rewards is slightly different to the other two. You can earn money off your phone bill by shopping through their online portal. Since they partner with most of the big phone companies in the UK, it is well worth using them. Their services are completely free. But remember, you can’t get paid in cash, only in discounts on your phone bill and only if you are a customer of one of their partners.



Kidstart is a unique cashback site that is specifically aimed at families. It helps you save money for your children by putting the cash you earn through shopping with their partners into a savings pot. Once you have earned a good amount, you can request for the money to be transferred to your children. This is a great way of supporting your children through university or in saving up for a house deposit. Again, it is free to use. But it isn’t the most versatile way of using your cashback earnings. 

Top Tips for Using Cashback Sites

Here are our top tips for using cashback sites. After all, you want to make the most out of your purchases: 

  • Sign up to more than one. Since you can usually join for free, you should maximise your chances of getting cashback by signing up to multiple sites. Retailers you use might be spread across them, so this allows you to maximise your savings.
  • Only make purchases you would anyway. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself spending extra money instead of saving it, defeating the point.
  • Check out offers on your bills. Some cashback sites give you money back if you pay your utility or phone bills through them. It’s worth looking at these to see if any of your providers are listed.
  • You might not find the best bargains. Some items can be found cheaper on reseller platforms than on the retailer’s website. You might save more money by buying your TV through Amazon, for example, instead of via a cashback site.
  • Clear your cookies. If you clear your cookies before making a purchase, it is more likely that the link will track properly. This will save you time and from having to lodge a complaint with the cashback site.

Things to Avoid

The internet is full of scams, so we all need to be careful. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid cashback sites because plenty of them are safe and legitimate. It just means that you need to be aware of what to avoid in order to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Don’t be tempted by things you weren’t planning to buy. This will make you spend more money, rather than save it.
  • Be aware that getting paid isn’t guaranteed. Cashback sites rely on cookies to track your purchase with their partners. If the cookie trail fails, you may not receive your cashback. You can lodge a request with most of the cashback sites, but they will need to prove that you made the purchase. 
  • Don’t pay money up front for a cashback site subscription. If you do this and the cashback isn’t tracked properly, you lose out on both the cashback and the subscription fee.
  • Never leave your cash on the cashback site. Withdraw it as soon as you can because it isn’t yours until it lands in your bank account.
  • If it looks like a scam, it probably is. Cashback sites don’t usually ask for your card details unless you are paying for a premium subscription, which we would advise you avoid doing anyway. If a website is asking you for your card details it could be a scam.

How to Boost Your Cashback

Not all purchases earn cashback online. If you have (or even just want) to buy something in store, you might still be able to make money from it. Some cashback sites have launched ‘in-store’ versions of their online purchases tracker. Top Cashback and KidStart both offer this, so you might want to check them out. However, they can have varying results. KidStart seems to offer limited shops where you can use their cashback schemes in store. 

If you have a credit or debit card that offers cashback, these are a great way to increase your earnings. For instance, if you get 7% cashback from a cashback site on a £100 purchase, that’s already £7 back. But if you use a 5% cashback card, you will also get £5 back on top, leading to a £12 discount in total. That is absolutely worth having.

Final Thoughts 

Once you get into the habit of making purchases through cashback sites, they are simple and easy-to-use. The biggest benefit is that they enable you to earn money back on your shopping without doing extra work. Even if you only earn a little bit per purchase, the amount will add up. But it’s important to only buy things you were going to anyway because you are aiming to save money, not spend more of it!

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I'm passionate about personal finance and making money. Currently trying to FIRE solely by building online assets. Grew my stock portfolio to £86,000 by 26.
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