Should you bother with cashback apps such as CheckoutSmart, ClickSnap, Shopmium, Green Jinn and Topcashback to bring down the cost of your supermarket shop? I’ve reviewed and rated each one.
- How supermarket cashback apps work
- The best supermarket cashback apps
- Can they save you money?
- Six ways to make supermarket cashback apps work for you
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I’m not a huge fan of couponing for groceries – they’re rarely for things I want, and I just don’t have the time to hunt around to see what’s on offer.
In theory, apps which give you cashback on your supermarket shop make it easier – for a start you don’t need to search through newspapers and online for the discounts. But they’re not always as simple as they suggest. I’ve taken a look at how they work, what to watch for, and how to get the best out of them.
Plus there’s a code to get a free treat with Shopmium!
How supermarket cashback apps work
Unlike when you use cashback sites to shop by clicking through, here the cashback is earned after you’ve bought the goods.
So you look at the apps before you head to the supermarket – or even when you’re walking the aisles – to see the different promotions, shop as normal and claim when you get home.
Each app works slightly differently, but they all require you to select the offer you are claiming and upload a photo of your receipt.
If that’s all done correctly you’ll start to build up a little bit of extra money which you then transfer to your Paypal or bank account.
However, don’t get caught up in the discounts to buy stuff you don’t really need. I’ve heard of someone who bought some (admittedly free) dog food, even though they don’t even have a dog!
The best supermarket cashback apps – rated
There are five different apps, though two are powered by the same company and usually have the same offers which can only be redeemed once. Shopitize, one of the original apps of this type, shut down in 2017 leaving some people unable to withdraw their earned cashback – so don’t leave any money in your accounts for too long.
Available on both your phone and your desktop, CheckoutSmart is the best for freebies. It also has a far wider list of supermarkets, including online – though watch out as some cashback promotions are limited in stock and could have expired before your delivery comes.
It has a very high £20 payout level, though freebies can help you reach that amount if you use the app frequently
Where you can get cashback: All the main supermarkets, their online shops, Ocado, smaller stores such as OneStop, Budgens, Iceland, Netto, and others (though promotions are limited at these).
Minimum payout level: £20 (no fee), £19.99 or under have a 5% fee
Good for: Number of products, online grocery shops and the inclusion of smaller retailers.
Probably the one I use the most, Shopmium has fewer offers, but often they’re for products you don’t see on the other apps. I’ve picked up a few bottles of half-price wine, cheap beer and 60% off tasty Choco Leibniz biscuits.
You can also get a free gift when you sign up, worth around £2. Bonus! Usually it’s a Lindt chocolate bar, but it’s been a pot of Nutella for quite a while now. Use the code z8pe2 to activate the offer.
You can also earn £3 credit when you refer friends with your own code. You can then use this to get even more money back on your purchases. Say there’s £1 off a £5 product. If you’ve got £3 credit, you’ll also get that £3 back, meaning it’ll only cost you £1. And the more people you refer, the more credit you’ll have.
Where you can get cashback: All the main supermarkets, and the odd offer at Whole Foods, M&S Simply Food and others.
Minimum payout level: £0.01
Good for: Quality products, referral credit and free joining gift
The newest of the apps, there are some different products to what you’ll normally see as it claims to only offer good quality or healthy food and drink. I like that it has everyday items like eggs and fruit rather than just new products brands are pushing.
Where you can get cashback: Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose
Minimum payout level: £0.01
Good for: Buying normal items from Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.
Snap and Save from Topcashback
The Topcashback app works in much the same way as the others, but there aren’t as many offers there now as there used to be – and they aren’t usually for much money.
But, there will be some crackers a few times a year. I’ve picked up free Easter Eggs and chocolate advent calendars in the last year.
You also get the cashback paid into your TopCashback account, so it’s easy to withdraw with no minimum. If you don’t have TopCashback or Quidco, you can get an extra new member bonus worth up to £16 here.
Where you can get cashback: Anywhere
Minimum payout level: £0.01
Good for: The odd deal.
This app from Quidco runs pretty much the same offers as CheckoutSmart, but it won’t have all of them. It’s also only for the major supermarkets, and not for online shopping.
So why bother? The big problem with CheckoutSmart is the £20 payout total. With Clicksnap you will be given the money in your Quidco account. Plus you can often boost the value by swapping for vouchers at places like Amazon or Marks & Spencer.
Where you can get cashback: All the main supermarkets
Minimum payout level: £0.01
Good for: Instant payout.
Do they save you money?
Well, yes I think they can save you money – though we’re only talking a few pounds and pence per item.
You can sometimes get all your money back – making the items free – as brands want you to try something different, especially new products.
Since uploading a receipt doesn’t take that long – say two minutes on average – I’d say it’s worth the time taken, despite the small returns.
There are a few things worth knowing.
First, just because you’re saving 50p, it doesn’t mean you should buy it. It could be cheaper to get a different brand on offer in the supermarket. Or it might be better to just go without if it’s not something you really need – even if it does only cost 20p after cashback.
You also need to make sure you’re getting a) the right item, and b) from the right supermarket. It’s often only specific varieties or sizes that are valid for the cashback, or you can only claim from one or two chains. I’ve certainly missed out by accidentally picking up raspberry rather than strawberry jam, or bought in Tesco to find the offer was only valid for Sainsbury’s.
Frustratingly, receipts will sometimes be rejected for quality purposes. You then need to retake the photos and upload them until they are accepted. This takes time which for me can outweigh the benefits of saving 30p; I’ve often better things to be getting on with. But this happens far less to me now than it did a few years ago.
There’s also a risk that you accidentally pick up the wrong product or going to the wrong supermarket. Cashback will be offered on very specific items, so check the size or flavour is right before you put something in your trolley. And double check the deal too, it could be a simple money off, or it could be along the lines of buy one get one free.
Payout limits are also something to watch out for. It can sometimes take a while to build up enough cashback in your account to let you cash out.
Six ways to make supermarket cashback apps work for you
It’s well worth adding these apps to your phone. I generally only check them when I get to the supermarket, but if you’ve got a little more time it could help you choose where to shop.
Still it’s worth following these principles to ensure you’re putting in the minimum effort for the maximum reward:
- Only buy products you want or were planning to buy
- Look for double discounts where items are also on special offer in the supermarket
- Make sure you buy the right product
- And make sure you buy at a participating supermarket chain
- Don’t go out of your way to track down one of the items – if they don’t have stock (which often happens to me) it’s a wasted journey
- Offers can change weekly, so don’t forget to snap your receipt as soon as you get home