Most Head for Points readers will be familiar with www.quidco.com, the UK cashback website. It is a great little business, paying you cashback for your online shopping when you link via their portal first.
There are competitors, the main one being TopCashback. TopCashback is better in some ways, as it does not have the £5 annual fee, although there is a feeling that Quidco‘s fee is justified by its customer service in chasing missing payments. In general, on Head for Points, any reference to Quidco can also apply to Topcashback.
(Non-UK residents often think that they cannot have a Quidco account. Whilst you are meant to be UK resident, they pay small payments – under £50 – via Paypal if you want. A non-UK resident can therefore set up an account using a made-up UK address and be paid by Paypal.
You may need to use a proxy server to fool Quidco into thinking that you are in the UK – a Google search will show you how to do this. However, if you ever have a £50+ payment then you are in trouble as Quidco will freeze your payments until you provide a UK bank account to receive them.)
Quidco’s reach gets bigger every year. I was surprised, for example, to see British Airways join it recently. 2% on a four-figure business or first class ticket is a lot of cash-back!
Here is a summary of the current Quidco rates for hotels, airlines, car hire and travel portals. These rates may have moved between the writing of this post and the day you read this. I have not covered travel agents such as Thomas Cook. Below that is a list of handy tips to remember.
Holiday Inn / InterContinental / Indigo / Crowne Plaza 7%, Premier Inn up to 5%, Accor (Ibis, Novotel, Mercure, Sofitel, Pullman) up to 10%, Best Western 3.5%, Marriott 4%, Jurys Inn 9%, Radisson / Park Plaza up to 10%, Britannia Hotels 5%, Thistle Hotels 5%, QHotels 6%, Ramada 3%, Days Inn 3%, Macdonald Hotels up to 6%, Warner Leisure Hotels 5%, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels 5%, Riu Hotels 5%, Sol Melia 11%, Guoman Hotels 5%, Corus Hotels £7.50, Celtic Manor 10%, Derby Hotels 6%, Doyle Collection 9%, Apex Hotels 7%, Grand City Hotels 6%, Design Hotels 4.5%, Iberostar 7.7%, Travelodge Ireland 7%, La Manga Club 6%, Strand Palace Hotel 5%, Corinthia Hotels 7%, Salgar Hotels 6%, St Michel Hotels 5%, RH Hotels 6%, The Lalit 7%, Occidental Hotels 6%, Lester Hotels 5%
Major booking portals
hotels.com 8%, Expedia to 12%, laterooms.com 5%, lastminute.com up to 13%, ebookers up to 10%, Opodo up to 7%, Netflights up to 5%, octopus.com up to 6%, Hotwire 6%
thetrainline.com up to 3.5%, Gatwick Express 6%, Virgin Trains 2%, Southern Railway 6% (EDIT: ended Jan 2013), mytrainticket 2%, East Midlands Trains up to 2.5%, Eurostar up to 2%, South West Trains 2.6%, First TransPennine Express up to 4.5%, Rail Europe 3%, Northern Rail 2%
BA up to 5%, Monarch up to 4%, easyJet (packaged) up to 3%, flybe 1%, Aer Lingus up to 3.5%, Lufthansa 2%, KLM up to £10.50, jet2.com up to £3, Emirates 1.25%, FlyThomasCook up to £8, Virgin Atlantic 1%, SAS 2%, Air France up to 2%, Swiss up to £7.50, Qatar 2%, Etihad 2%, Brussels Airlines up to £5, Air New Zealand 1.5%, Canadian Affair 2%, Qantas 2%, Malaysia Airlines £5, Cathay Pacific 1.3%, Finnair up to £9, Singapore Airlines 1%
Car rental (chains and main portals only)
Hertz 10%, holiday autos 12%, Europcar up to 11%, Alamo 11%, Avis up to 10%, Budget up to 10%, Sixt 8%, Auto Europe 2%, National 10%, Enterprise Rent-A-Car 1%
Travelex 0.5%, Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money £3.50, Post Office Travel Money £3, mytravelcash £5
A few important things to remember
If you are a member of a hotel loyalty scheme, do NOT compare, like for like, booking hotels via the hotels own website with a portal like Expedia. Most chains do not recognise your elite status or give reward points if you book through Expedia or similar.
That said, hotels.com has its own reward scheme which gives you a free night for every 10 nights booked. For non-chain hotel bookings, this can be a good place to book.
You WILL still receive your normal status benefits and points if you go via Quidco to book a hotel directly from the hotel chains website
It makes NO DIFFERENCE when earning airline miles whether you book a flight via a portal or directly from the airline
With train tickets, remember that you can buy tickets for ANY train journey from ANY train company website. Southern’s 6% cashback can be claimed for any trip. However, double-check for card fees and postage charges.
Remember that some train companies, eg East Coast, discount some tickets exclusively on their own websites. These tickets will always be cheaper on the East Coast website, even with cashback available from other sites.
In all cases, watch out for extra fees such as credit card fees which may wipe out any cashback saving you were expecting
You may want to see if a merchant is also on the Avios e-store. However, unless your valuation of an Avios is high, Quidco rates are likely to be better