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Savings apps and hacks: How to slash costs with cash back

Tracy has amassed $1,250 in cash so far this year with one simple hack.

Compilation image of Nicole outside looking at a camera and a pile of fanned out cash to represent savings from cash back
Savings hacks are high on the agenda for all Aussies as the cost of living crisis puts pressure on financial health. (Source: Supplied/Getty) (Samantha Menzies)

Soaring interest rates and rising cost of living have pushed desperate Aussies to get more inventive in their fight back against inflation. Here, these clever savers have worked out how to cut their costs in powerful, but painless, new ways. These extreme economisers are getting discounts and cashback on everything they need to buy for their families.

Take Tracy for example. “I love it. I always check the apps before buying online. And if I plan on going to say, Target, to buy something, I’ll buy it online and get click and collect so I can claim cash back,” she said. Tracy has amassed $1,250 in cash so far this year simply by buying what she usually would through cashback app ShopBack.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

She is treating the money as savings and it will become the spending money for her and her family on a long-planned trip to Japan later this year - a trip which is responsible for a big chunk of the cash back.

How? Most cashback services allow you to ‘bank’ a percentage of accommodation expenses. For example, Shopback has the following current deals: agoda (a boosted offer at the time of writing of up to 12.5 per cent cash back), Hotels Combined and Luxury Escapes (up to 7 per cent), wotif and Expedia (up to 6 per cent), and and (up to 5.5 per cent). But cashback will be available on just about every product or service you need.

How cashback sites work

There are over half a dozen cashback platforms and most have deals with thousands of retailers, etailers and service providers. Cold, hard cash refunds are now freely available; here's a table of cashback platform providers and their rewards compiled exclusively by Canstar for Yahoo Finance.

Source: Supplied
(Source: Supplied)

So, what are the downsides?

Savvy shopper Tracy has the lowdown: “[Not honouring] the cashback if you refund one item in a big shop.” Her other main negative note is that if you use some apps or sites for a bonus cashback, by the time the cashback gets approved or rejected by the merchant, you’ve completely forgotten what the bonus rate was. “So, you very well might not be getting the rate you should… if that makes sense?” she said.

However, there are also exclusive discounts to consider.

Double or triple your savings

As cashback services swing into action to meet the growing appetite for slashing costs, discounting is the other hottest game in town, as companies try to keep their sales coming.

You’ll get great discounts through the cashback sites themselves. But a growing number of sites, services, associations and even health funds have done deals with products and service providers to give big discounts ( 40 per cent off Events cinemas, for example). The Entertainment Book (now App only) used to be the only provider giving out 2-4-1s, but now even Telstra is getting in on the act.

Taking all this to an extreme economising level, clever Aussies are purchasing everything using a discounted voucher from one of these sites and then ultimately transacting with the company via a cashback site…. if they will let you. That’s double the discount.

And potentially cash back on products bought with a less-than-face-value gift card could also be on sale making it triple the discount. It's time to work the system rather than letting it overwork you.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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