Rewarding experience

Cashback offers make online shopping even more attractive

STORY EMI BERRY

I LOVE AN ON LINE BARGAIN. Who doesn’t? So imagine a website that offers you cashback on your already discounted item, just for making the purchase there. Good news! Such sites do exist and they are known as “referrer” websites, “affiliates” or “cashback shopping” sites. Extremely popular in America, Europe and Asia, they’re also catching on quickly in Australia.

These include www.bucksback.com.au, www.qwibble.com.au, www.starthere.com.au, www.lyoness.net and www.wdyt.com.au.

So how do these websites work? Generally, they collect referral commissions from online retailers who feature on their website. For instance, if a customer makes a purchase via BucksBack, the retailer – let’s say, The Iconic – will pay the cashback site a commission, and part of that commission is passed back to the buyer. In this case, the cashback rate on The Iconic purchases via the BucksBack site is 13% a sale. So if you spend $100, you’ll receive $13 cashback into your nominated account. Cashback rates can start from 0.6% and can be as high as 24%.

You’ll find a large variety of retailers on sites, including Dan Murphy’s, Hotels.com, Dick Smith, Vodafone, The Iconic, StrawberryNet, Bonds, Expedia, Rosesonly, Appliancesonline, Marks & Spencer, Dell, Sass & Bide, ASOS and Macy’s, just to name a handful.

Most cashback sites are free to join, though some may charge a “membership fee” such as BucksBack. It charges an annual $10 membership fee that is deducted from your cashback, so you don’t pay upfront.

Then there are sites such as starthere.com.au that have free membership with a tier system, so the more you buy via the site, the more you save. As a “white” member you receive the standard cashback amount. Once you move onto the next level – “gold” – you receive the standard cashback amount plus a 10% bonus. “Diamond” is the next level up, which receives the standard cashback plus a 25% bonus. The highest level, “black”, receives a 50% bonus on top of the standard cashback.

Lyoness has free membership. At present, to sign up you require a recommendation from a member. Go to lyoness.net, click on “loyalty merchant search”, tick the “cashback card” box, hit “search” and contact your closest merchant to ask for a recommendation to sign up.

Don’t assume the cashback rate for a retailer is the same across all the sites. For example, on BucksBack consumers receive up to 4% cashback on JB Hi-Fi sales (which is actually JB Hi-Fi via Westfield Online). But on StartHere the JB Hi-Fi cashback rate depends on your membership level (white receives 2%, gold 2.2%, diamond 2.5% and black 3%).

So it’s worth shopping around to find the best cashback rate before making your purchase, particularly if it’s a significant amount. Some cashback sites also offer an additional discount in the form of coupons (such as 20% off purchases over $59).

The time it takes to receive your cashback depends on the site you use and where you bought items.

Some sites – such as BucksBack and Lyoness – have a minimum payout that is set by you (as little as $5), so it could be several weeks or months before you accrue enough cashback to be transferred to your nominated account. It also depends on how much you shop via the cashback site.

StartHere automatically pays out your balance at the end of the month. What Do You Think (WDYT) uses a reward program whereby you will be awarded points that you can then redeem for real cash. For instance, 2000 points will entitle you to $20 cashback.

Each site has its own cashback policy, so make sure you compare sites first and go with the one that appeals to you and benefits you the most.

Make sure you read the full terms and conditions, as well the privacy policy, before signing up.

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