The hidden shopping perks that can save you a fortune

Consumers can save hundreds of pounds in the wake of the pandemic with little effort – by embracing new shopping schemes

Consumers can save hundreds of pounds in the wake of the pandemic with little effort – by embracing new shopping schemes. 

The latest example comes from Swedish superstore Ikea. Anyone with an old Billy bookcase destined for the scrapheap should cancel their trip to the tip. 

Ikea will now reclaim old furniture and pay customers in store vouchers – with no expiry date. 

War on waste: Ikea will now reclaim old furniture and pay customers in store vouchers – with no expiry date

The company launched its buyback scheme in the UK this month in a bid to limit the number of its products going to landfill. Items are resold as a bargain, and shoppers can earn up to £250 from the environmentally-conscious effort. 

The percentage paid on the original price tag ranges from 30 to 50 per cent, depending on an item’s condition. It’s available at full-sized UK stores. 

Customers request an offer on the company’s website, then take the item to their nearest store. 

Amazon’s ‘second chance’ webpage allows customers to trade in old Amazon electronics such as Kindles or Echo devices in exchange for gift vouchers. 

Discounts also apply to previously used or refurbished items. But one of the best kept secrets for cheaper shopping is employee benefits schemes. Employees can buy vouchers for specific stores, but pay less than the face value. 

Adam Bullock, director of website TopCashback, recommends signing up as the UK reopens for business post-lockdown. He says: ‘You may find a round of drinks could be free, there’s a discount on a meal out, or maybe there’s a free product simply for signing up to a newsletter.’

It’s a hidden perk of work that can produce savings of around £500 a year on average. That’s according to Reward Gateway, which provides the platform to employers. 

Catrin Lewis, of Reward Gateway, says: ‘Many workers would be surprised to know their company offers this. It’s a great way for employees to save money – whether on the weekly shop, home improvements, broadband, holidays or home essentials.’ 

Anyone interested should ask their company’s HR department if they run such a scheme. 

Alternatively, websites such as TopCashback and Quidco are available to all – regardless of employment status. They ask customers to use their websites to shop for popular brands, returning discounts and cashback into customer accounts as a reward. 

Banks also offer cashback when customers use their debit cards to pay partner companies. Customers have to activate offers in their online accounts first. 

But people trying to spend less could get lucky with their savings instead. 

Halifax and The Family Building Society pay monthly cash prizes to savers who meet certain criteria. The latter is currently only for existing customers. 

Nationwide Building Society customers can get a free six-month membership to energy switching service Switchd, helping save money on gas and electricity bills. 

New and existing customers of online investment service Wealthify could win £20,000 tax-free cash if they sign up to a prize draw by June 9. 

And users of the Moneybox app can take advantage of its Moneybox Plus scheme. Cashback is paid on money spent with the company’s retail partners. This money diverts into a customer’s savings account, where it will grow further. 

Even the most vanilla of financial products come with bonuses. 

People who purchase insurance through comparison website comparethemarket can get food and film deals with Meerkat Meals and Meerkat Movies. 

Buy car insurance through GoCompare before June 30 and you can get an MOT for £10, and free excess cover worth £250. Excess cover is the sum you pay if you claim on a policy. 

Buying life insurance or an investment plan through Vitality can cut a gym membership with Virgin Active, Nuffield Health Gyms and David Lloyd Clubs by 40 per cent. 

And staying active earns you extra rewards, such as free coffees, films to stream at home, and free cinema tickets. 

For leisure at a more leisurely pace, Ricky Willis – founder and editor of the Skint Dad blog – recommends the joy of a National Trust membership. 

He says: ‘Joining online gets you access to more than 500 historic places, a free pair of binoculars and free parking.’ 

Non-members can also visit historic locations for free as part of Heritage Open Days in September. 

However, there’s a crucial warning for thrifty shoppers. Bullock says: ‘The bottom line is – it’s only a benefit if you were willing to spend the cash in the first place.’