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Earn Avios / Virgin Flying Club Miles with TopCashback
This is part of a series of simple, practical posts designed to help beginners travel better for less by using Airline Miles and Hotel Points
What is Topcashback?
You have probably heard about TopCashback by now, but just in case you haven’t, essentially it’s a website that pays you a rebate when you click through to a business’s website from the TopCashback site first, before buying something online.
The retailer pays TopCashback a commission on the sale, and they pass that commission back to you.
It’s very simple, and has saved me £1,000+ over the last few years.
What has it got to do with travelling better for less?
Three main points:
- TopCashback has lots of travel-related partners, helping you save money on flights, train tickets, hotels, rental cars, travel insurance etc.
- Rather than transferring your cashback to your bank account, you can use it to buy Avios instead. 1 pence of cashback gets you 1 Avios Point, which isn’t an amazing deal, but could definitely make sense in some circumstances (and is a lot cheaper than buying Avios directly from British Airways)
- TopCashback allows you to convert up to £50.00 of your cashback each year to Tesco Clubcard, which gets you 5,000 Clubcard Points. As I explained in the previous post, Clubcard Points are fantastic because each Point transfers to 2.4 Avios or 2.5 Virgin Flying Club Miles (Clubcard Points can also be used for lots of other things too). What this means is that you can effectively ‘buy’ 12,000 Avios or 12,500 Virgin FC Miles each year for £50.00 – or in other words, you can buy Avios and Virgin FC Miles for about 0.4 pence each. This is a great deal.
I know all of this can sound a bit theoretical so here’s a practical example of how using Topcashback can help you travel better for less:
A one-way ticket in First Class on British Airways between London and Moscow requires 34,000 Avios (off peak, peak dates require 40,000) and £27.50
British Airways allows family members to pool their Avios in a Household Account, and each family member can have their own TopCashback and Tesco Clubcard accounts.
If three family members transfer the maximum £50.00 of cashback each to Tesco Clubcard, and then transfer those Clubcard Points to British Airways Avios, there will be 36,000 Avios in their Household Account (50 x 2.4= 12,000 x 3 = 36,000) – more than the 34,000 needed.
That means you can essentially buy a one-way First Class ticket between London and Moscow for £150.00 of TopCashback credit and £27.50 in taxes, so £177.50 in total (with 2,000 Avios to spare)!
If you were paying cash for a Return in First Class on the same flight it would typically cost over £2,000 – so about £1,000 each way (booking a return is, strangely enough, often cheaper than a buying a one-way ticket when paying cash!).
Flying First Class for considerably less than 20% of the standard price (and for only ~ £20.00 more than the price of an Economy ticket on the same flight) sounds pretty good to me!
Obviously a one-way ticket between London and Moscow might not be much use for most people, but this is purely an example of the sort of thing that is possible – and remember that Topcashback is just one method to get Avios!
Personally, I’d rather use a similar amount of Avios to fly Business Class on longer flights using British Airway’s partners for routes like Madrid to South America on Iberia, Berlin to Abu Dhabi on Air Berlin, or Dublin to Boston on Aer Lingus. (I will be explaining all about the best ways to use your Avios/Virgin FC Miles later in this series, so don’t worry if the above doesn’t make much sense to you yet – it will!)
If you were going to Russia for a special occasion like a honeymoon though, (or just really want to try First Class!) it could be an incredible way to start your trip in style, without breaking the bank.
TopCashback sounds good – how do I sign up?
Sign up to TopCashback here – it’s completely free and takes 30 seconds (If you use my link I get a small referral bonus – so thanks!)
What are the best ways to get cashback?
There are two main ways.
The first way is simply as a rebate on things you would buy anyway. With everything from supermarkets to insurance to broadband providers listed on the site, once you start you’ll find yourself using it all the time. In terms of travel related partners there are plenty, including:
- Accor Hotels (Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis etc)
- British Airways
- Gatwick Express
- Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin Trains
The cashback rates vary, but can be extremely generous. I’ve written before about how Hilton has offered ~ 20%, and how Accor (the hotel group that runs Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis etc) regularly offers 15%.
It can be remarkable how quickly getting something back on your usual spending can add up!
The second way is to buy or sign-up for things you wouldn’t normally bother with, because the cashback offered is greater than the cost. This can be a tad risky as cashback isn’t guaranteed (TopCashback’s system might not track your purchase properly), so I would only recommend it when there is a really good deal.
The most profitable offers tend to be from online casinos and bookmakers trying to lure you into online gambling.
The online casino offers can appear very tempting, but there is usually all sorts of small print about how many times you have to wager your stake and other restrictions in order to actually get your cashback. Unless you enjoy reading Terms and Conditions very closely I would stay away.
The bookmakers/sports betting offers on the other hand, are worth considering (assuming you can trust yourself not to get drawn in – this is about travelling better for less, not losing all your money on the horses!). You should still read the Ts&Cs closely, but they are usually simpler and more reasonable.
For the next couple of days, Ladbrokes, for example, are offering new customers £30.00 cashback when they click through to their Sportsbook site from Topcashback, sign up, and deposit then wager at least £10.00.
Even assuming you lose your £10.00, you’re still basically buying £30.00 of Tesco Clubcard Points (equivalent to 7,200 Avios or 7,500 Virgin FC Miles) for £10.00, if you follow the steps outlined earlier in this post – which is a great deal!
There are also some opportunities to earn free cashback, but most of them still want something from you, like your time (surveys) or information about your insurance renewal dates or whatever.
The other big cashback site in the UK is Quidco (if you use my sign up link we both get a small bonus). Unfortunately, Quidco doesn’t let you transfer to Tesco Clubcard or anything like that, so TopCashback is usually my preferred option.
The main reason you should also have a Quidco account is because TopCashback promise to match whatever rate Quidco is offering – and Quidco does quite often have more generous rates available!
In the next part of this series I’ll be looking at ways to pick up a few thousand Avios / Virgin FC Miles for free!