If I’ve got a favourite way to save money, I think it hands down has to be cashback sites. In this TopCashback Review, I’ll be looking at the site I’ve been using the longest to get cashback on online purchases. I’ll run through how TopCashback* works, how to make the most of the site and things to watch out for with cashback in general.
But first off, let’s get into some of the nuts and bolts of how cashback sites work and how you can use them to save and even make money.
This post may contain affiliate links (marked with a *) where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information please read my full disclosure policy. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my blog.
How Does Cashback Work?
To put it simply, cashback is when you get a percentage of your purchase back when you buy something. You can get cashback offers from retailers and cashback credit cards that reward you for spending. But in this article, we’re talking about TopCashback and cashback sites. These work by giving you a percentage of your spend when you visit a retailer through their site.
How and why do they do this? Well, basically it comes down to affiliate commissions offered by retailers. This is where they pay a commission to third-party websites that refer customers to them. Cashback sites like TopCashback work by returning this commission to you, the consumer. This effectively gives you a discount. Pretty sweet huh?
What is TopCashback?
TopCashback is one of the big 2 cashback sites in the UK – the other being Quidco*. It was founded back in 2005 and is owned (along with the US TopCashback site) by Top Online Partners Limited. I’ve been using it on and off since then.
Last year the two planned to merge but this was, fortunately (in my humble opinion) abandoned in March after concerns were raised by the Competitions and Markets Authority.
According to TopCashback’s site they now help people save over £1 billion a year on shopping which is hugely impressive. They market themselves as the “UK’s most generous cashback website”. This stems from its early days when it was the only cashback site to pass on 100% of cashback with no fees. To maintain their position as the UK’s most generous site they now also offer the Top-Ups from TopCashback scheme. This gives loyal members up to 110% cashback!
The video below featuring Rachel Riley gives a brief introduction to the cashback site.
What is 100% Cashback?
100% cashback is when the full value of the cashback is returned to you (i.e. the full affiliate commission). According to TopCashback’s website, not all cashback sites do this and take a cut of the affiliate commission instead (saving you less).
Is TopCashback Legit?
TopCashback is 100% legit and helps save consumers over £1billion every year on their online shopping. It has over 90,000 reviews on Trustpilot with an average rating of 9.3 (Excellent) at the time of writing, but you can check here to get the latest stats.
TopCashback also won “Cashback Site of the Year for 2019” in the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards. They narrowly missed out to Quidco in 2018 but also won the award in 2016 and 2017 too.
How Does TopCashback Make Money?
With TopCashback passing on all of the affiliate commission to you, the consumer, the logical question is “How does TopCashback make any money?”. It’s a business, after all, surely, they’re not doing all this for Free!
Well, the first way the site makes money is through adverts on the site and sponsored links that are marked as zero cashback.
Secondly, affiliate schemes often offer bonus payments to affiliates such as TopCashback. So, if they send a particularly high volume of traffic through to a particular retailer, then they’ll get a bonus payment. Again, this helps to keep the site’s finances in order.
Cashback Tracking and Things to Watch out For
Now there are a few things to watch out for when you’re claiming your cashback. One of the main things is making sure your transactions are tracked properly. This needs to happen so you get your cashback!
How Cookie Tracking works
In order for the cashback to track correctly, TopCashback needs to be the “last referrer” to the site you buy from. So, make sure you click through from the TopCashback* site when you make your purchases.
The other thing to note though is that websites such as comparison sites and voucher code sites also use tracking cookies. So, if you found the deal through a price comparison site like Compare the Market*, for example, their cookie might override the TopCashback cookie.
To prevent this, you can clear your cookies to make sure TopCashback receives the commission and you get your cashback…. The same goes for retailers you’ve visited previously…
You can view how your cashback is tracking in your TopCashback dashboard. Your cashback earnings will move through:
The is the first place where you’ll see your transaction in your account. This means that the retailer has confirmed that you’ve made a purchase with them and has tracked the purchase. You’ll get an email like the one shown below to confirm when a purchase tracks.
This is when the retailer confirms that you’re eligible to receive cashback but TopCashback is currently waiting for the money from the retailer.
This is the final stage, TopCashback has received the commission for the purchase and credited it back to your cashback account. Now you can withdraw it either directly into your bank account, PayPal account or purchase a Gift Card.
Cashback isn’t Guaranteed
Because of the potential for tracking issues or commissions be given to other site’s you’ve visited, Cashback isn’t 100% guaranteed. So, you need to factor this risk in if your comparing deals with and without cashback. If you have two options that work out the same, go for the option that doesn’t involve cashback.
Cashback Can Take Ages to Track and Become Payable
It can take quite a while for cashback to reach your account after you make a purchase. This is simply due to the amount of time it takes for the cashback to reach TopCashback. TopCashback typically invoices merchants at the end of the calendar month.
So, if you make your purchase right at the start of the month, you’ll be waiting nearly a month longer than if you buy something at the end of the month.
Once it’s been invoiced, it can take another one or two months for the cashback to be received by TopCashback. So, taking this into account you’re often looking at a wait of at least 2-3 months to get your cashback.
Money isn’t Yours Until it’s in your Bank Account
The money isn’t yours until it’s in your bank account so make sure you withdraw it as soon as you can. After all, TopCashback is a company like any other which means if anything happens to them financially you could be unable to get your money out.
A recent example of this is when Zeek paused all its payments when it ran into financial trouble. This left customers unable to withdraw funds from their accounts.
I’ll hold my hand up here as I’m pretty bad at this… In fact, I think I’ll go and withdraw my funds from my various cashback accounts right after I finish this post! 😊.
Cashback Site Fees – Membership Options
Both TopCashback and Quidco offer a paid premium membership option that give you enhanced cashback rates. But before opting for one of these you need to weigh up if the enhanced rates will be enough to cover the cost of the membership.
TopCashback’s scheme is called Plus Membership*, it costs £5 a year and is deducted from your earnings annually. Here’s what you get with it:
- Additional cashback bonus added to all transactions (5% instead on1% with the Classic membership)
- Enhanced Tell-a-Friend Bonus on £7.50 instead of £5
- Earn an additional pay-out bonus on Marks and Spencer e-gift cards, Love2Shop High Street Shopping Cards, Cineworld Gift Cards plus many more….
- Priority Customer Care from the TopCashback Plus Membership team
- Monthly cashback statements
- No external sponsored ads on the site
- Priority access to new features
Now in terms of actual value for money, I’m going to focus on the tangible benefits.
So, the Tell-a-Friend Bonus gives you £2.50 extra. So, if you know 2 people you can refer this pays for the cost of the Plus membership. If you can refer more, even better.
Additional cashback bonus – this gives you an extra 4% cashback. So, for the bonus to pay for the membership you’ll need to be claiming £125 of cashback in a year to gain the £5 back… (4% of £125 = £5).
Point to note that’s £125 cashback not £125 spend through the site. Hmmm, less tempting…
Extra Payout Bonuses – This applies when you use the TopCashback Reward Wallet by transferring your earnings into your reward wallet then spending on gift cards for enhanced cashback bonuses. If you’re a Plus Member your cashback bonus will be at least double the Classic member rate.
Plus Day Payout Bonuses
Last year TopCashback introduced “Plus Day”*. Some inspiration from Amazon’s Prime Day here maybe?!
So, what is Plus Day anyway and When is it?
In 2018 Plus Day ran from 16-17th November and for this two-day period TopCashback offered Plus Members extra special bonuses, competitions and cashback rates. Based on this it’s likely to be in November again this year.
Special Rewards Wallet Payout Bonuses
Please note with these bonuses, you could still access them even with the Classic membership, you just received half the cashback.
- Virgin Experience Days at a 26% bonus (13% for Classic)
- Halfords at a 15% bonus (7.5% for Classic)
- Currys at a 15% bonus (7.5% for Classic)
- Intu at a 7.5% bonus (3.75% for Classic)
- Jack Wills at a 12.5% bonus (6.25% for Classic)
- Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Café Nero at a 12% bonus (6% for Classic)
There was also the chance to win a Virgin Experience voucher worth £60 by taking part in the Virgin Experience Days Competition
Finally, there were some exclusive cashback rates just for Plus Members.
Don’t Get Blinded by High Cashback Rates
As I mentioned earlier, cashback isn’t guaranteed. So, don’t let the cashback amount lure you into an offer for something you either don’t need or that can get cheaper somewhere else even without the cashback.
Use it as a Negotiation Tool – All things being equal if the cashback only brings the price down to the same price as another deal – take the other deal as it’s guaranteed! I did this recently with my car insurance.
Firstly, I used Compare the Market* to find the best deal. Then I checked TopCashback and used their New(ish) compare tool (new to me anyway!). Then I used this along with the cashback discount to haggle down my current supplier who, surprise surprise…… matched it…
No waiting around for cashback or switching to a new provider!
How to Use TopCashback To Make the Most Out of It
Sign up for a Plus Account
But only if you think you’ll use it enough!
You can get cashback instore using “OnCard Cashback”. All you need to do is:
- Register your debit or credit card to your account
- Select an Offer and Activate It
- Shop in-store as normal using your registered card
Admittedly the selection of stores you can get cashback at is fairly limited but it’s better than nothing. Current On-Card Offers include:
- 5% Cashback on all purchases at TOWER London Stores
- 3% cashback on all purchases at ScS Sofas
- 6% cashback on purchases at Cotswold Outdoor
- 6% cashback on all purchases at Runners Need
- 6% cashback on purchases at Cycle Surgery
- 6% cashback on all purchases at Snow and Rock
Earn Free Cashback
You can earn free cashback too where you don’t even need to buy anything to get cashback. These offers tend to be free trials, surveys or competitions. Some of the current Free Cashback deals are:
- 20Cogs – £1.20 Cashback
- GiffGaff – £10 cashback
- Gourmet Society
- WeBuyAnyCar.com – £42 cashback when you sell your car
- Switchd – £5.77 cashback with the Free Membership option
Use TopCashback Reward Wallet to Exchange for Gift Cards to get more cashback
You can transfer your cashback balance into your Reward Wallet to get bonuses on e-gift cards and the TopCashback Virtual Mastercard® Prepaid Card (3% top-up bonus).
When you spend your balance on e-gift cards you get an extra top-up bonus. So, for example, if you buy a gift card with £50 worth of credit in your reward wallet, if this has a 10% bonus on it, you’ll get a £55 voucher for £50 (£5 top-up bonus).
It has over 50 different offers to choose from offering up to a 25% bonus. Here’s a selection of the best offers:
- Currys PC World – 10% bonus
- Virgin Experience Days – 25% bonus
- Halfords – 10% bonus
- Debenhams – 16% bonus
- Tesco – 8% bonus
- Dining Out Card – 15% bonus
- Great British Pub e-gift card – 12% bonus
- Toby Carvery – 15% bonus
- The Restaurant Card – 12% bonus
- X-Box Gift Card – 10% Bonus
- NOW TV Entertainment, Cinema, Kids and Sports Passes – 10% Bonus (You might be better Boosting Your Clubcard Points though if you’re a Tesco shopper).
- Hungry Horse – 12% Bonus
- Harvester – 15% bonus
- Costa Coffee – 10% bonus
- Flaming Grill Pubs – 12% bonus
- Crown Carveries – 15% bonus
- All Bar One – 15% bonus
- O’Neills – 15% bonus
- Primark – 10% bonus
- Not on the Highstreet – 8% bonus
- GAP – 10% bonus
- Clarks – 15% bonus
- River Island – 10% bonus
There are also gifts cards for restaurants such as Zizzi, ASK Italian with an 8% bonus. But personally, I’d avoid these as you’re better off opting to use Meerkat Meals or Tastecard if you can. So, make sure it’s the best way to spend your cashback first.
Refer Friends and Get a Bonus
By referring friends to TopCashback* you can get a bonus, plus your friend gets a cashback bonus too. Just send them your referral links then when they reach £10 in payable cashback you get your bonus.
Daily Clues and Seasonal Treats Competitions
TopCashback runs Seasonal Treats Cashback Giveaways. The current giveaway is the Back2School Cashback Giveaway.
How it Works
The Back2School Giveaway is giving away £12,500 worth of prizes. To take part all you need to do is sign up or login into your TopCashback account and watch out for their Hummingbird logo as your browsing deals on the site.
Once you spot the Hummingbird all you need to do is click it to reveal your mystery treat. To make finding the Hummingbird a tad easier TopCashback posts daily clues on their Facebook and Twitter pages. For example, a clue I found on 24th August was 3 (The Mobile Network) and I found 1 backpack but needed 3 to win £1.
The Hummingbird appeared at the bottom left of the screen, but I had to try a few of the various 3 Mobile Offers before I found it.
The offer I found it on was trending up by 264% though.
So, this is probably a good way to narrow down which offer it’s on (if there’s several to choose from) or if your struggling with the Clue.
Instant Win Prizes
Spot the TopCashback Hummingbird around the site to win Back2School Treats.
- Find 1 Apple to Win £0.10
- Find 2 Books to Win £0.20
- Find 3 Crayons to Win £0.50
- Find 3 backpacks to Win £1
- Find 3 Paint Pallets to Win £5
- Find 4 Calculators to Win £10
- Find 4 Science Flasks to Win £20
- Find 4 Buses to Win £100
For every treat you collect you win 1 entry into the Mega Prize Draw for £1000.
Install the Cashback Notifier on Your Browser and Never Miss a Cashback Deal
The TopCashback Notifier* is a handy little browser extension that notifies you whenever you’re on a site that offers cashback.
It’s similar to other browser extensions such as Pouch, Honey and the Swagbucks Swagbutton that I talked about in this post.
So how do you Use It?
It’s pretty simple, you just:
- Install the extension* to your browser – it works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
- It then gives you cashback rates in your Google search results. As you’ll see in the screenshot below, I searched for “curtains”. On the search page, the notifier has told me in the bar across the top, that I can get 6% cashback with Dunelm, 2% with John Lewis and 5% with Wayfair. Pretty neat or what?!
- It also lets you know that your visit has been recorded when you click through to a merchant’s website
- And it reminds you to get cashback if you’re on a retailer’s page…
By using this simple little tool, you should never miss a cashback opportunity again!
Grab Cashback Bonuses
Periodically TopCashback runs promotions where you can get bonus cashback when you spend a certain amount. The example shown below gives you £2.50 bonus cashback when you spend over £10 on a single transaction over the august Bank Holiday weekend.
You usually get notified of promos like this as they’re launched. So, if you can hang on to buy something you can always wait around until a promo pops up to take advantage.
Quidco also runs these types of offers regularly so if you’re signed up with both you can maximise your chances of boosting your cashback.
Use TopCashback Compare to Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Deal
You can use the TopCashback comparison tool to find the best deals.
I only discovered this recently when my car insurance renewal was due after initially using Compare the Market. The beauty of the Top Cashback Comparison tool is that the commission comes back to you…
One thing to note though is that the cashback may vary slightly than through the main merchant page on the site. This is because merchants pay different rates of cashback to comparison sites.
So, if you’ve already run a comparison on another site, it might be worth looking at the cashback rate on the main site before opting straight for the TopCashback comparison option. Then you can see which gives you the best deal.
TopCashback Rate Matching
TopCashback has a “highest cashback guarantee” policy (as does Quidco). So, if you see a better cashback offer on another site TopCashback will match it if you submit a Cashback Guarantee Claim. Personally, though this seems like quite a bit of extra effort to me to stay loyal to one cashback site.
I simply check TopCashback and Quidco and go with whoever has the best rate. This just seems easier than messing around submitting claims. But it’s useful if you discover the better rate after you’ve already made the purchase.
In-store cashback using the TopCashback App: Snap and Save
The TopCashback app gives you cashback when you shop in-store. Unfortunately, as I mentioned a few month ago when I compared several cash back apps, Snap and Save has very few offers.
For example, at the time of writing there are just 5 in-store offers on their “groceries” app. These are:
- A Maths set in a tin – 20p cashback
- Crayola Crayons (24 packs) – 15p cashback
- Bostic Blu Tack – 10p cashback
- A Pencil Sharpener – 10p cashback
- Cadbury Freddo – 5p cashback
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly impressed with these offers, I think I’m OK for a Maths set in a tin at the moment and pencil sharpeners. I probably wouldn’t class most of these as groceries either if I’m honest! All in all, the Snap and Save App is a bit of a let-down for in-store spending. You’re far better off with apps such as Shopmium and CheckoutSmart.
Selection of Best Offers and Number of Merchants
TopCashback has a mammoth number of merchants on the site (currently over 5,000). So, the chances are you’ll be able to get cashback most of the time when you’re buying online.
Some of the Top Merchants on the site at the moment (you’ll find some of the best cashback rates on the Home page) are:
- EDF Energy
There’s also a daily offers section at the bottom of the Home page which includes special enhanced cashback rates for short promotional periods.
Withdrawing Funds from TopCashback?
Cashing out and withdrawing fund from TopCashback is really easy. You can either:
- Transfer it to your Reward wallet to exchange for a gift card (complete with top-up bonus),
- Transfer straight to your bank account,
- or to your PayPal account.
One of the great things about TopCashback is that there’s no minimum pay-out amount either.
TopCashback Good Points
- Cashback sites basically offer you money for nothing, as long as you only use it for buying stuff you already planned on buying anyway.
- 101% cashback. TopCashback gives all members 101% of the cashback value back – you really can’t argue with that with the option to boost to 105% on the Plus Membership.
- Two membership options depending on your likely usage. If you buy a lot online then the Plus membership could be well worth the £5 a year fee but make sure you work this out first
- The cashback notifier browser extension is a nifty little tool to make sure you never miss a cashback deal when shopping online. I highly recommend installing it!
- Cashback guarantee is a useful feature if you discover you could have got a better deal somewhere else. So, you can rest assured you’re always going to get the best rate!
- Massive selection of retailers. TopCashback has been around for nearly 15 years now. So, they have a huge number of merchants that they partner with, making it my standard first stop when checking for cashback. This gives it a massive advantage over newer entrants like OhMyDosh who only have a small number of merchants currently.
- The Cashback Compare tool is another great little feature. It makes comparing car insurance far easier than running it through another comparison site, then flipping over to top cashback to work out the best deal. It simply calculates everything within the tool for you.
- In all honesty, there really aren’t many downsides, but the main one is probably Tracking and pay-out time. There is potential for purchases to not track correctly and the cashback can take a while to come through. I’d say this is more of an annoyance than anything else though and really it just comes down to the mechanics of the cashback system so can’t really be helped. Also, if something doesn’t track as long as you were going to buy it anyway then you haven’t really “lost” anything. Remember – cashback is never guaranteed!
All in all, I can’t really recommend TopCashback (and cashback sites in general) enough. Getting cashback on purchases you’re going to make anyway really is one of the easiest ways to save money (or earn money depending on how you look at it…).
You’ve only got to look at their reviews on Trustpilot and accolades winning Cashback Site of the Year for 2019 in the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards. They narrowly missed out to Quidco in 2018 but also won the award in 2016 and 2017 as well.
I usually find that TopCashback has the best rates though making it the best of the bunch. According to their site, in the Quidco vs TopCashback section, they state that 91% of their rates beat the competition. Now that’s pretty good going by anyone’s book. An even if you happen to use one of the few deals that aren’t the best, they’ll match it anyway…
So if you want to save money every time you shop online, go ahead and sign up with TopCashback*.
As always, thanks for reading, I hope you found this review useful. Do you use TopCashback to save money online? Are you a fan of cashback sites? I’d love to hear in the comments below.