Cashback credit card hacks

How to boost the money you’ll make from cashback credit cards including American Express.

I love cashback credit cards. They’re one of my favourite ways If you have a cashback credit card these are some basic tips that will increase your earnings.

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Get extra cashback or a referral when you apply

Many of the best cashback or reward cards will give you a little extra when you join. It can come as a referral code from a friend, cashback from a cashback site or a gift card from the credit card provider.

American Express

The highest paying ones are when you sucessefully apply for an Amex via Topcashback or Quidco and you can earn some additional cashback, currently up to £30. Rates can change but here are the latest:

CardQuidco rateTopCashback rate
American Express Platinum Cashback£20£10
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday£5£15
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold£10
American Express Rewards£10£10
American Express Nectar£30
Updated 22nd March 2021

If you’ve not already signed up to either of these cashback sites then you can get yourself an extra £10 or £17 cashback as a new customer. You probably can’t get this new member bonus cashback by applying for the Amex as there’s a minimum spend – but that’s easily rectified with your next online shop! Check out the latest new member deals here.

Or you can see if any friends already have the card you’re after and see if they have a referral code where you both get a payment if you successfully open an account. This can sometimes beat the cashback rate so it’s worth checking.

For example, this link will get you £25 back on the American Express Platinum Cashback card. But the referral for the Amex Nectar card is worth just £5.

Other cards

Here are the offers you’ll see on the credit card company websites.

CardWelcome gift
Amazon Platinum£20 Amazon gift card
John Lewis Partnership CardOccasional £20 John Lewis gift card (not at present)
Marks & Spencer Reward Plus£15 gift voucher
Sainsbury’s Nectar Reward10,000 Nectar points, worth £50 (spend £400 at Sains, Argos to qualify)
Correct 22nd March 2021

Time your application

All of the American Express cards listed below offer a huge bonus when you join – worth £100 or more. And this is on top of the cashback site / referral code bonus.

But the time to get these welcome bonuses is limited. Most of the time you have three months to get the increased cashback rate from when you open the card.

These spending levels tend to be between £2,000 and £3,000. With the cashback cards, if you spend less you won’t get the full bonus. But it’s worse with the reward cards. If you don’t hit the target you’ll get nothing.

So it’s important that you open the card when you know you can hit those spending thresholds. That could be a big purchase or just an expensive month (eg you’ve just moved house or Christmas). Or you might be able to hit it with your everyday spending.

CardBonus dealMax value
American Express Platinum Cashback5% back on first £2,500£125
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday5% back on the first £2,000£100
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold20,000 Reward points when you spend £3,000 (in addition to 1 per £1 spent)£186*
American Express Rewards5,000 Reward points when you spend £2,000 (in addition to 1 per £1 spent)£56*
American Express Nectar20,000 Nectar points when you spend £2,000 (in addition to 1 per £1 spent)£110
Correct 22nd March 2021 *If swapped for Nectar points

Get a supplementary card

Earning cashback on your card is great. But you can earn more if you have a partner. You can get a supplementary card in their name so they can earn cashback too.

Though they’ll have their name on it, it won’t be their card. This means you’ll be liable for all their spending! So make sure you trust them – though you’ll see all their transactions in your account so it’s easy to make sure it’s not being abused.

Supplementary cards are also handy when it comes to joining bonuses – more on these in a bit.

Spend as much as you can on the card

I hardly use my debit card. Every bit of everyday spending I do is on a cashback credit card.

This means I am earning on every pretty much every purchase. There might be a handful where I don’t, those under £1, but I wouldn’t have earned anything on them anyway.

This can take a little more admin to ensure you don’t spend more than you can afford, but apps like Yolt and Money Dashboard allow you to see the balance on your credit cards alongside the ones for your current accounts.

The only times I’ll use my debit card now is if there’s an additional cashback offer on that card linked to a specific retailer (eg this year I’ve had money back from Now TV and Beer52 from Natwest).

Pay the full amount every month

A very basic one, but probably the most essential. If you don’t clear the card and end up paying interest it’ll wipe out any cashback you’ll have earned. Set up a direct debit so this happens automatically – just make sure you have enough in your account when it’s time for that to be paid.

Watch for annual fees

Some cashback credit cards are free in year one, but charge you each subsequent year. With the Amex Gold (£140) and Amex Nectar (£25) cards I’d cancel before you are charged and apply for the free Platinum Cashback Everyday card or the Membership Rewards card.

The Amex Platinum Cashback card might be worth keeping, despite the £25 fee, if you spend enough. Check out my review for more on this.

Boost American Express cashback

The highest paying cashback credit cards, and the ones with the best promotions are from American Express. These tricks are specific helping you make even more money from an Amex credit card.

Use PayPal

Not all retailers take American Express, which is frustrating when you’re trying to earn cashback. But there is one workaround for online purchases, and it’s to use PayPal.

Since you can connect your Amex to PayPal you’re able to still earn money on your purchase.

However, it’s worth noting that using PayPal can affect your consumer rights if something was to go wrong. This is important for anything that costs more than £100.

Check for extra offers

Something I love about American Express are the bonus offers you can activate to your card – especially the annual Shop Small promotion which is worth up to £50 per card.

You’ll need to add the to your card and some of the best ones go fast. So make sure you check on a regular basis to see what deals are on there.

If you have a supplementary card and want to take advantage on there too it will also need to be added by whoever has the card in their app/account.

Have more than one type of Amex

The more cards you have, the more offers you can use. So for something like Shop Small, you could have two Amex cards in your account, plus two supplementary cards, giving you access to the promotion four times, potentially worth £200.

And sometimes the extra offers mentioned above are specific to a type of card. So a free Membership Rewards card might have a deal that’s not on a Platinum card. And the Platinum Cashback Everyday card the other way.

However it’s worth noting that at times offers are user specific so you might not see them in your account no matter how many cards you have.

The multiple welcome bonus trick

You can only get the welcome bonus once – unless you’ve not had a card in your name for two years.

You could cancel the card and wait two years to reapply and get that bonus – but that has downsides. For a start you won’t be earning the cashback at Amex levels during this time. Plus you don’t know if the welcome bonus offers will still be around in two years or if the rules will have changed.

However, if you have a partner there is a work around so you can get a new bonus every two years.

First you open an Amex and keep it for a year. Then at the end of the first year you cancel your card and your partner applies for their own card. You’ll both get the welcome bonus, and remember you can get supplementary cards to you’ll both be earning cashback in this time.

Then once it’s been two years since you’ve had a card, you can open a new account yourself and get a new welcome bonus. Your partner cancels their card, and the two year cycle starts again.

There’s a little more detail about this trick and the welcome bonus rules in this article.


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