Use Cashback Sites? Don’t Bank On Getting Paid

£4000 reports on the results of a Consumer Intelligence survey that suggests that 41% of cashback site users haven’t been paid for their transactions.

Even after complaining to the cashback site, 37% still didn’t receive any money back.

The problem can probably be put down to transaction tracking issues.


Many cashback sites rely on cookies. These are small files that sit on your PC and can help websites to by storing small bits of data about you. In this case they let the retailer know where you visited from, allowing them to attribute the eventual sale to the cashback site the visitor came from and to track visitors through to completion (for example, buying an item).

However, cookies can be deleted by security-conscious visitors, they can get overwritten in some cases, they also expire or may never get onto the visitors computer in the first place (your web browser might be set to reject all cookies), and all of these could affect the attribution of the sale to your account.

To ensure your cashback deals go as smooth as possible, you should check how your web browser handles cookies, and it’s always best to try to complete your cashback-giving transaction in a single visit, rather than starting it one day and completing a few days later, when your cookie may have expired, for example. If you do have to stop a transaction halfway through and come back at a later date, starting the whole transaction from scratch might be the best option.

Most cashback sites will have their own instructions on ensuring you get attributed the right cash, so it’s best to have a read and make sure you follow them.

If you do think you’re missing out on some cashback, get in touch with the site – they should have a form allowing you to query a missing cashback.

It’s worth bearing in mind that tracking can sometimes take some time to catchup with your cashback site account, so give the transaction some time to appear before complaining to the cashback site.

There may also be a minimum payout amount that you have to reach before you actually get the money paid back to you, and again there could be a delay between the cashback appearing in your cashback site account and actually being able to get the money into your bank account. The cashback sites can potentially make a nice extra profit by holding on the cash they’ve been paid by retailers before paying out to their visitors (well, they can if they can find a decent interest rate from somewhere), so they like to have these delays to earn extra interest.

Terms and conditions vary between most cashback sites, so make sure you’re aware of all the small print before signing up.

As Archna Luthra of points out, cashback should be seen as an added bonus, rather as a decision for buying the product, and do not count the cash as yours until it’s in your bank account. Things can and do go wrong.

Creative Commons License photo credit: lusobrandane

9 thoughts on “Use Cashback Sites? Don’t Bank On Getting Paid

  1. The basic procedure is same for almost all cash back websites. They differ only in the percentage of cash back they offer for different online stores. Along with Shop At Home and Ebates, I also like to shop through FatWallet, AAfter Search and Bing,
    However, thanks for this useful article.

  2. I have had SERIOUS problems with Shop At Home and it’s not due to tracking/cookie issues. I used them to do most of my Christmas shopping with their “special” extra cashback bonus offers. I’m talking several stores/purchases. 9 times out of 10 I have had to submit an inquiry and request the correct rebate%. They refuse to honor most of them… I never get an email response from them. I just keep checking my cashback account and “may” see a slight adjustment. (i.e. Walmart purchase should have been 10% on Black Friday – I initially received 4% cashback on my purchases – after I submitted an inquiry they gave me a whopping 2% extra cashback…soooo instead of 10% I got 6%.) I’ve had the same problem with purchases I made thru them at Sears, Victoria’s Secret, Avon, Lane Bryant, JcPenney, LeapFrog, Avon, etc.) I followed the cashback rules for each transaction, theefore, I should not have had these problems. This site is very guilty of false advertising. Beware! Use Ebates or Mrrebates. I’ve used both of these cashback programs and have never had such issues. They stand behind their advertised cashback percentages! Something needs to be done about Shop At Home’s failure to provide the correct cashback amounts. If it were just once or twice…fine…mistakes happen. However, it is starting to appear on purpose.

  3. I’ve used QuidCo in the past with no issues. The cashback usually takes a long time to track, which then needs to be confirmed. ” years later and I’m still seeing cashback confirmed (though this tends to be the small “free” amounts attributed to a price comparison).

    It took a while to get my £80 for switching to Scottish Power. But get it I did. Some of the users of the moneysavingexpert board are systematically using every cash back site available to earn the “free” cash I mentioned, or get the easy cash back on trial offers which require no purchase. You have to ask yourself if you’re prepared to go to these lengths to make a few hundred pounds that’s never guaranteed. I guess it works for the few who aren’t too attached to the outcome but still willing to “work” these cash back sites.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *