I'm a fan of Cashback websites. They let you buy things online that you'd buy anyway, but you earn cash back for doing so.
I'd like to share a new cashback website I've found. It's called KidStart. It works in a unique way compared to other cashback sites you may have heard of. Because of this unique flavour, it is possible to earn cashback shopping on websites that don't offer cashback anywhere else.
Read on, and I'll briefly explain how cashback sites work, what makes KidStart unique, and how it can enable you to earn cashback on even more websites.
What are cashback websites, and how do they work?
Well, as I said above, they're about you getting paid to shop on websites you'd use anyway. How does this work?
Meet "affiliate marketing". Lots of websites that sell products and services are happy to reward publishers that recommend their services. Especially valuable are referrals that didn't just lead to a site visitor, but a buyer. If you click on a link or an advertisement, say, to a car insurance company, and take out a one-year policy as a result, the website that sent you to the insurer has done the insurer a good turn.
So they will pay for such traffic. Websites will give web publishers a special link they can use when they send visitors to their website. Visitors who arrive via this special link can be tracked, and if they make a purchase the publisher website can receive a tip to say "thank you".
Here's how cashback websites work. They use this affiliate system to pay you! Let's say you're looking to buy car insurance. You first sign up for an account with the cashback site. You then use their special link to visit the car insurer's website, and you buy your policy. As a big thank you, the car insurer pays the cashback site £25 (say) for sending them a real customer. But the car insurer wasn't the only one tracking this. The cashback site tracked which of their customers led to them getting that big, fat, £25. And then they pay you the £25.
(Of course, cashback sites have costs to cover and money to make. Some may, for example, pay you £20 and keep £5. Others charge annual membership fees. Others have optional membership fees in exchange of perks, whilst keeping basic membership free. And so on.)
All of this means you shop on a website you'd have used anyway, to buy something you'd have bought anyway, at the price you'd have paid anyway, but you get money back for doing so. This is money for nothing!
This sounds like a big swindle. The car insurer was looking for new business, and was wiling to pay a 3rd party publisher for a referral. It was never the idea that the payout ends up back in the pocket of their new customer. Is this too good to be true, or a bit of a cheat?
No: It's all above board. The insurer was willing to pay £25 for a new customer, so this isn't costing them money they weren't willing to pay. That £25 is already in their advertising budget. Besides, the cashback site is always completely honest that this is what they're doing. If the car insurer didn't want their affiliate system used for cashback sites, they wouldn't work with them. And some websites don't - they only work with 3rd party publishers, and not with cashback sites. Which is where KidStart comes in.
By the way, my favourite all-purpose cashback site is TopCashback. They pay 101% of all the affiliate fees they receive, and have no annual membership fee (unless you want to be a "premium member"). But some websites won't work with them, so keep reading to find out how KidStart is unique.
KidStart - a different kind of cashback site
KidStart is doing something quite different. They don't pay you cashback for shopping online. They pay your children cashback.
Maybe you don't have children? That's not a problem. You can have money go to your grandchildren, your godchildren, you're friends' children, even your own unborn children.
The money has to end up in a savings account in the name of a child (a child's savings account, a JISA, a Child Trust Fund, etc.). If the child doesn't have an account that can receive direct BACS transfers, you are allowed to give your own account details, to use your own account as a channel so the child can get the money.
KidStart - reaches the websites other sites don't reach
Because KidStart is all about saving for your children, there are websites that are not willing to work with conventional cashback sites that will work with KidStart. For example (all rates correct as at time of writing, but subject to change):
- Amazon.co.uk are not usually available at all on sites like TopCashback or Quidco. Sometimes, they are featured for a limited period, but only for products bought from very specific categories. On KidStart, you can get 2% cashback for your children.
- John Lewis and Partners do not offer cashback on Quidco. You can use them on TopCashback, but anything you earn can only be redeemed as Avios points. On KidStart, you can get 3% cashback for your children.
- Next do not offer cashback on Quidco or TopCashback. Sure, they still have a link you can click to visit the Next website, but this earns money for the cashback site but not for you. On KidStart, you can get 2% cashback for your children.
You get the idea. If you use KidStart, you are able to get cashback from websites that do not normally offer it, and you are able to pass the benefit straight onto your children or those of a friend. This is a website well worth joining and bookmarking.
On quick note: All the above mentioned websites offer a free browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. If you visit a site that qualifies for cashback, you get a reminder to go there via your chosen cashback website. That way, you don't forget to benefit.
Two Quick Warnings
Just as I finish, two quick things to be aware of.
- Cashback is never guaranteed. Provided you are careful to click through from the cashback website, and then add the items to your basket and complete purchase without closing your browser, they do work most of the time. You can help yourself by clearing cookies before starting this browsing session. But cashback can be declined or fail to track for any reason. The customer services of the cashback site will do their best to help, but nothing is guaranteed. So be careful to treat the cashback as a nice bonus on top. Never choose which website / insurer / etc. to use solely because of the cashback offered.
- Compare rates. Not every cashback website offers the same percentage or amount of cashback. In particular, whilst TopCashback claims to offer 101% of the affiliate payout they receive, I have found other websites to offer better rates at times. (When this has happened, they've always honoured their "highest cashback guarantee" when I put in a claim). Also, KidStart does not claim to offer 100% of what they receive, so where a website is on KidStart and another website you may get a better rate elsewhere.
Needless to say, none of the above constitutes financial advice. It's just me passing on something I've discovered, so you can make your own decisions about how to shop online.
Do add your own further tips and suggestions in the comments below. Happy shopping, and may your children enjoy the bonus pocket money!