Vouchers codes, discount and cashback sites have become very popular in the UK. Although there is a perception that getting real value from them is time consuming and requires serious dedication, that’s not the case. In fact, it doesn’t take that much effort to generate serious savings from these sites. And the impact on your finances could be significant.
How Do You Get the Savings?
There are a number of different ways to make online savings work for you:
Voucher codes – sign up for access to money-off vouchers across a broad range of products and services (e.g. Voucher Codes). Some websites don’t even require a sign up and the codes can be used in return for basic information or none at all. Deals could be as simple as £5 off your shopping, to a percentage off an expensive meal or experience.
Discount sites – websites that sell otherwise expensive products at seriously knocked down prices. Pay less for designer clothes and accessories, kids’ and baby clothes, furniture and homewares. Some sites operate on a sales basis – sign up to be notified of the sale when it starts and make sure you buy before everything runs out (e.g. Achica). Others (such as The Outnet) offer constantly reduced stock.
Cashback websites – these sites are built around the idea of making money while you’re spending money. Once signed up you can earn cashback each time you shop with one of the retailers who are part of the scheme. The bigger schemes have the broader range of retailers – Quidco, for example, includes 4,500+.
How much could you save?
The savings you can make from using these sites are really dependent on how you use them and what you were spending before. Discounts sites could offer a regular discount of around 30-40% but if you shop during their sale period when they are getting rid of stock this could rise to as high as 70%. Voucher codes websites generally offer savings or around 20% – 50%. If you use the products and services that they cover then this could make a big difference to your available cash. Cashback website savings are directly related to how much you spend but vary from retailer to retailer. For example, Debenhams offers 2% cash back on purchases while sportsdirect.com is 5% cashback. Cashback generally doesn’t top 10% with any brand. Quidco says that the average member earns around £280 a year with them.
How can you find the best deals?
Using these websites to save (and make) money isn’t rocket science. Start with an assessment of what you buy and which retailers you buy from – or could buy from. When you have your list find out which are listed on voucher, discount and cashback websites and then sign up for those that you’re most likely to use. There are a few best practices to remember when you’re using sites like this too:
Don’t spend more just to get the cashback. It’s tempting to feel like you’re getting rewards but you’ll end up with less cash in the bank and a product or service you may not really have wanted in the first place.
You don’t have to use every voucher or discount. This sounds obvious but sometimes the madness of seeing “90% off!” or “buy one get three free!” can blind you to the fact that you don’t really want whatever the voucher or discount relates to. Be selective and use the discounts and vouchers that apply to what you’re already buying or using if you really want to save.
Keep up to date with what’s on offer. If you know the options then you can factor the potential savings into your daily life. For example, if you’re going for a family meal choose a restaurant where you will be able to use a voucher code to enjoy a genuinely cheaper bill. You don’t have to constantly check the offers but sign up for emails and perhaps consider downloading any available apps.
Weigh up your loyalty. When it comes to cashback sites it does pay to stay with the same one over an extended period of time to accumulate numerous discounts. So, make sure that you pick a site with plenty of signed up retailers. However, when it comes to voucher codes and discount sites loyalty doesn’t pay so shop around as much as you want to.
Stick to it. Particularly with cashback sites, if you want to see the real discounts then you need to consistently follow through on the process involved. So that might be registering the your card, shopping with the affiliated retailers and activating the offers you want. If you’re half-hearted about it the results will be quite limited.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley