Bag easy money off your phone bill when you spend at Argos, Boots, Pizza Express & more
Via ‘minimal effort’ cashback app on your smartphone
For a few months, I’ve been using a new cashback app that tracks my spending at various retailers - including Argos, Boots and Waitrose – then rewards me with a discount on my mobile phone bill.
The app’s called Airtime Rewards, and it’s quickly becoming a favourite of mine. It has a list of specific shops you can earn cashback from (see table below), and all you need to do is link the app to your Mastercard or Visa credit or debit card to earn money off your phone bill as you spend - or free credit if you’re on pay-as-you-go.
What makes this more appealing than a lot of cashback deals in my eyes, is you don’t need to remember to do anything to earn it, like clicking special links or going via a separate website. It happens with minimal effort.
Important: You should only ever view this as a way to earn some money back on your normal spending, not an excuse to overspend. Do also remember things can go wrong with technology like this – so as with any cashback, see it as a bonus if you get it rather than guaranteed. For more help, see our Cashback Sites guide.
Which mobile networks will it work on?
Airtime Rewards could only confirm it works on most major networks - including EE, O2, Three, Giffgaff and BT, but not Vodafone or smaller providers. Though someone here at MSE Towers found it worked for them on Tesco Mobile, so you may feel you've nothing to lose giving it a try whichever mobile network you're on.
How to do it
1. Download the Airtime Rewards app for iOS/Android and register at least one Visa or Mastercard you’re likely to use for spending. For online spends there’s a trick to earn bigger rewards – see ‘how to max it’ below.
2. By registering your card, the app knows your spending (it’s talking to Visa/Mastercard behind the scenes), and if you buy something from an eligible retailer the cashback is added to your Airtime Rewards balance.
3. Once you hit a threshold (usually £5 or £10), to claim the reward you'll need to go back into the app and choose an amount - ie, how much of your total balance you want to convert from cashback into mobile credit. This will then be taken off your next monthly phone bill, or added to your pay-as-you-go credit.
How much can I earn?
All retailers on the app pay between 1-10% cashback (full list below). Though most pay 5% the amounts can fluctuate, so this is only a rough guide based on what’s available now. There’s no limit on how much you can earn, so if you’re planning a big purchase or you’re a regular shopper at any of these – particularly if you do your main grocery shop at Waitrose, for example - you could see your cashback adding up fairly quickly.
Below is a summary how much you can earn, and where (last checked Tue 30 Jul). I’ve put some of the bigger household names in red to help you pick out where you might spend money most often:
|Cashback rate||Retailers - in alphabetical order|
|10%||Chef & Brewer, Farmhouse Inns, Hungry Horse|
Ask Italian, Belgo, Bella Italia, The Body Shop, Boots, Burton, Caffè Nero, Café Rouge, Carluccio’s, Clarks, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Forever 21, Halfords, Holland & Barrett, Kwik Fit, Links of London, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Pizza Express, Ryman, TGI Fridays, Thorntons, Topman, Topshop, Tower London, Waitrose, Wallis, The White Company, Whittard, Yo! Sushi, Zizzi
|4%||American Golf, Argos, Byron, Debenhams, Papa John’s, River Island, Spaghetti House, Wilko|
|3%||Carphone Warehouse, Foot Locker, Jojo Maman Bébé, Matalan|
|2%||Butlin's, Heals, National Express, Q-Park, Tom’s Kitchen|
Again, the process relies on technology, and as we all know this can go wrong from time to time, so don’t go out of your way to shop at these retailers – cashback should only be viewed as a nice bonus if you get it.
When does it come off my phone bill?
First off, there’s usually about 35 days before your cashback is accepted and loaded into your account after you’ve made the purchase. This is to allow time in case you return an item for a refund, in which case the amount of cashback you receive will be recalculated for you.
Once your total hits the minimum required threshold, which varies depending on your mobile network (I’m on Three and for me it’s £10 – but for my mum on O2 it’s £5), you can convert some or all of the balance into credit for your pay-as-you-go account. If you’re on a pay-monthly contract, you can redeem it as money off that month’s bill and any remainder will stay in your account for the next time you hit the threshold.
Airtime Rewards says most major mobile networks are covered, and during the sign-up process, it will verify your mobile number to make sure you’re officially the bill payer.
How you can take it a step further
If like me you want to take this to the extreme, you can sometimes stack the rewards you get from purchases online with other cashback sites/apps to earn two separate amounts for a single transaction.
For example, if you use TopCashback* or Quidco*, you can earn the normal cashback you’d get from clicking through them, and, if you pay with a card linked to Airtime Rewards, also receive that cashback separately.
In addition, if you’ve a Visa/Mastercard that pays some form of cashback on purchases (see our guide for Top Reward Cards), you could potentially earn three times on a single transaction.
Do you know of any other cool MoneySaving apps? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter.
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