Never pay full price again: The best money saving apps and sites
In the second of my consumer champion columns for YourMoney.com readers, I list all the top tried-and-tested apps and sites that reward you for shopping, that pay you cashback or points, give you a straight discount off the price list, or even give you stuff for free…
These sites literally offer you cashback when you shop at certain places. TopCashback and Quidco are probably the best known, but another rated site is KidStart which lets you save the cashback for your little ones.
With these sites, you need to register and create an account. If you’re planning to buy something from a retailer or a service such as an energy tariff or broadband deal, see if the company offers any cashback through those sites. You’ll then be re-directed to the site so you can shop as normal but your purchase is tracked and the pennies can soon turn into a lot of money.
Cashback percentages vary, with the usual being about 2%-5%. However, I’ve been known to get about 20% off a holiday before now. Some traders will have time-limited deals and sometimes discount codes. It is worth trying a few of the sites, as each website has different outlets and percentages. You can even give the link to friends and family to use when buying items, and you can also get cashback for referring friends. The time in which you get the cashback amount varies from trader to trader.
Sajan Devshi is a big user of TopCashback and has saved hundreds of pounds over the last year. For example, £101 for booking his holiday with OnTheBeach which cost £2,666, bringing the cost down to £2565. Other savings included:
- Over £12 on a hotel room when attending a friend’s wedding out of town
- Over £75 saved for buying a TV from Currys online. It price matched a competitor and then he got an additional £75 cashback
- Over £94 cashback on a spend of £236 for home insurance, essentially bringing down his insurance cost to £142
- Over £13 cashback on The AA cover which only cost £39
- £80 for taking out a new Virgin Media broadband package after cancelling his last one when the price increased. This took the cost from £45 per month to £35 per month plus the £80 cashback on top too.
Money blogger, Al Baker AKA The Penny Pincher, also suggests using Karma Cashback alongside Topcashback. “Karma is great as you can buy a gift card through it, get cashback on the gift card, then buy something through TopCashback, paying with your gift card, and then earn cashback on the purchase as well, so it’s a double cashback whammy,” he says.
Supermarket shopping apps
Shopmium, Green Jinn and CheckoutSmart are designed to give you money off various household and food items. Download the app, register, and choose the item with the discount, upload the receipt and photo of the barcode and the money will go into your account. Time it right and you can get a gift when you start.
You can get anything from 10p off an item to 100%. Savvy money bloggers practice what they preach when it comes to getting discounts. Emma Bradley, who runs the blog Mum’sSavvySavings, has only been using Shopmium for six weeks but has already saved 47% of her spend as she received £22.99 in cashback from spending £49.10.
In addition to this, she has earnt £17.30 referring friends to the app. You can get credits by topping up your own cashback requests, so claiming at least one cashback request in order to use your referral credits. Emma says that this means in total she has only spent £8.71 of her own money from a £49.10 shop. Her top tip is “to look for the things that are already on offer or the free items. The free items can be added to a food bank if you don’t need / want them.”
Emma Jackson, Bee Money Savvy blogger, has saved roughly £200 from Shopmium, £99 from CheckoutSmart and £142 from Green Jinn.
In a bid to tackle the problem of food waste, OLIO connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so that surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. The Too Good To Go app allows you to purchase and collect food from businesses at a reduced price.
Faith Archer, Much More With Less blogger, has used Too Good to Go several times in the last year. She has spent £30.86 for short-dated food that should have cost £94.75 at full price, saving £63.89. She tends to get “magic bags” from Morrisons and Co-op near her in Suffolk. She also uses places like Starbucks and Costa Coffee when she’s up in London. She says that the surprise element with Too Good To Go is fun, but warns that it is “like a lucky dip, but you can also end up with stuff you’d never normally buy, or don’t like. I view it more as a treat than a secret weapon to cut costs.”
FreeStuffUK is an amazing website. Who doesn’t love something for nothing? And this site genuinely gives you that. Lots of fresh deals are added every day. I just received a mascara completely free from there, just by filling in my details. You’ll usually get follow up emails, sometimes with discount offers, but just unsubscribe if you don’t want them. In essence, companies provide freebies in return for your contact details.
Run by the same people as FreeStuffUK, LatestFreeStuff provides discounts on a wide variety of products as well as free stuff for completing surveys, taking part in testing and entering competitions.
Magic Freebies is another site that runs likes LatestFreeStuff.
A relatively new player in the cashback world, Jam Doughnut offers pre-payment gift cards which you can use online, instore or on the phone where you earn reward points. These points build up and once you have received £10 worth of points you can take out the cash. Rewards range from 2.5% to 20% cashback.
Since October 2021, Graeme Duff has got £314 in cashback. He did this with Airbnb (£124) and the rest split roughly 50/50 between Sainsburys (4%) and then eating out at places like Miller & Carter, Pizza Express, Greene King Pubs and Costa. He says: “Anytime I’m about to purchase something, I check to see if they are on JamDoughnut and then just purchase a voucher for the amount I need.”
Another relatively new and growing player is My VIP Rewards. The app actually costs £3.99 a month to subscribe but on average, users can save about £40 a month. You can also currently try it out for £1 using the discount code “SUMMERSAVER”. Deals abound for a range of retailers of all sizes. It is a money saving app that also supports the local community. It helps people to save on supermarket shopping, days out, fitness, eating out, and most importantly, supporting small independent businesses. The site states it has 5,500 discounts and claims that you can save up to 58% on UK attractions and up to 40% on cinema tickets.
Nicole Ratcliffe has saved £167.15 in the last five months she has been using it. She bought £9.99 cinema seats for £3.50 and a £100 restaurant gift card for her parents but paid £88 for it. So, it makes sense to look at this app before going for a meal because you could buy yourself a gift card first.
Register with the Airtime Rewards app and when you make purchases with their retail partners you will receive rewards for money off your mobile bill.
The Fun Money Club blogger Neesha Rees has saved £94.60 in the last 12 months. On top of this, she’s also received a further £38.50 in bonuses which you can receive for completing challenges and by even getting random cash bonuses when you enter certain promo codes.
Track prices and search for discounts
Download the Honey app to track your purchases. Every time you go on a website and put things in your basket, it will search for available discount codes. My son is good at using this one and often gets discounts for me when I’m buying his clothes!
Download the Petrol Prices app to compare prices for petrol and diesel. Just put in a postcode and the petrol stations in the area, with price per litre, will be displayed. This is ideal if you do more than just local driving. I found 20p a litre difference between two supermarkets a couple of miles apart. If you regularly fill your car this app could provide huge savings.
Camel Camel Camel monitors the prices of items for sale on Amazon and lets you know when prices are dropping, together with the price history. Check whether those bargains are really what they claim to be.
Tips for using cashback and discount sites
It is important to remember that many retailers will be signed up to more than one scheme. There will also be different discounts at different times, so always compare prices before purchasing.
If you remember to use apps and websites every time you shop the savings will soon mount up. You could keep a record of what you are saving and where. This will encourage you to keep doing it and make more savings.
Helen Dewdney – The Complaining Cow – is a consumer champion and consumer rights expert who has written two best-selling books on How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! and 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer. YourMoney.com readers can get 15% off these publications with the discount code YMCow.
She has joined forces with YourMoney.com to provide our readers with tips, information and action points when it comes to your consumer rights. If you’ve a burning question or a problem and would like Helen’s help on a consumer issue, email us on email@example.com where we’ll aim to right those wrongs.
As part of our consumer rights series, see Rail Strikes: Your travel and refund rights and Flight cancelled or delayed? Your rights explained for more information.