Shoppers using cashback sites to max their gains when buying online should beware that some retailers offer different cashback rates to different customers on the very same deal.
Cashback websites pay you when you click through them to retailers' or product providers' websites and spend. See our Top Cashback Sites guide for more on how they work.
But the idea that all cashback customers receive the same is long gone. This issue was first brought to our attention by one MoneySaver who tweeted us asking if it was fair that BT was seemingly paying different cashback rates on popular cashback site Quidco, as the image he took below shows.
MoneySavingExpert.com forum users also report differing rates when checking BT offers on Quidco.
When do cashback sites offer different rates?
To get to the bottom of the problem, we asked popular cashback sites Quidco and TopCashback in what scenarios different payouts are offered. Here's what they said:
- Premium customers, who pay £5/year in return for certain benefits, may be offered different rates of cashback on the same deal compared to standard, non-fee paying customers.
- On the website, some retailers target specific types of customers with different cashback rates. So two standard members and two premium customers could see four different cashback rates on the same deal.
- Personalised cashback offers may be sent via email.
- Again, retailers may offer different cashback rates to 'Plus' members, who pay £5/year, compared to standard members who use the service for free.
- Where a customer has looked at a specific deal but not bought it, they may be emailed their own personalised cashback rate for that offer.
- Hidden cashback rates, which aren't listed on the website, are also sometimes emailed to customers.
Why do some people get higher rates?
As outlined above, some customers who pay for the service may get higher rates of cashback.
In terms of differing rates offered on Quidco, the cashback site says decisions on rates are made by retailers using anonymised data around elements such as customers' shopping habits, locations, what devices they shop on, and where else a particular type of member shops. However, Quidco says this practice isn't common.
TopCashback adds that it's rare for customers to be emailed hidden cashback rates.
Beware Quidco automatic payout changes
Separately, Quidco last month "paused" its weekly automatic payment option. Instead, shoppers now have to manually request cashback payments, which you can do up to twice a week.
However, many users report payments being delayed over the last few weeks. When we put this to Quidco, it confirmed there has been a delay affecting around 250 members due to the changes it's made to its payments process.
The cashback site says this issue has now been resolved and adds that the majority of affected users had their cashback processed on 5 and 9 of November, although it may not show in accounts until a few days later. Let us know via the comments section below if you're still waiting for your money.
Quidco says it's made these payment changes as part of wider site improvements, although it wouldn't expand on what this involves.
TopCashback requires users to request a payout of cashback accrued.