Smart Consumer: Fancy some free money? Log on to a cashback site
When Mark Knopfler sang "get your money for nothin' get your chicks for free" many a teenager dreamt of the perks of being a rock star. Well you can at least get one of the two without learning how to play the guitar.
Getting cash back for purchases made online is a reality through three cashback websites operating in Ireland.
Cashback sites list retailers and when you click through to a website to purchase something, the site gets paid for 'providing leads', and they pay that money on to you.
Your trail will be tracked by 'cookies' which means the trader will know to pay the commission to the cashback site who in turn pays it in to your bank or PayPal account.
Ireland's first site, www. bethrifty.ie, was established in April 2009. It's also the biggest, with over 21,000 customers. Founder Glenn Gillespie reveals they have paid back €190,000 to customers so far.
"We charge no membership fee," says Gillespie, "and give 100% of our commission back. You can even make €4 without buying anything at all by filling in a survey."
Also charging no membership fee and giving 100% back is fatcheese.ie, established here in December 2009 and boasting 11,000 users.
Co-founder Maya Kamourieh claims they are "the most generous model out there" because they also give a €1 cashback for referring friends and are offering a €1 welcome bonus during October. They also provide an option to give some or all of the money you make to a charity of your choice.
Kamourieh, along with business partner Ahmed Zaman, runs a fatcheese site in the UK, currently the fourth largest of dozens of cashback sites operating there, where such sites have been running for about six years.
"Cashback sites are relatively new to Ireland," says Kamourieh, "and many Irish retailers are not yet engaging in affiliate marketing, so there is plenty of growth ahead."
Gillespie agrees that he would like to see "more Irish companies on board", while Patrick Lee, founder of cashbackireland.com, Ireland's newest site, believes "it's about education and letting people know this opportunity is there". He also considers it crucial to "be clear to consumers about where the money is coming from and that there is no catch".
Cashbackireland.com was set up in April and already has 3,500 members, many of them existing users of comparison site uchoose.ie, also run by Lee.
Like the others, Lee's site takes no commission on the cashback, but there is an annual membership fee of €9, which is retained from your first payments.
In the UK two of the largest cashback sites, Quidco and Greasy Palm, have developed to the next stage; getting cash back when you shop on the high street.
Irish shoppers can access hundreds of retailers listed on these sites, from high-street stores to travel and insurance companies.
Clear the cookies from your computer regularly so there won't be confusion in your traceability and you're good to get your money for nothin' as you buy.