Mobile phone cashback: everything you need to know

Cashback on mobile phone icon

Want to get a phone contract with cashback? Tread carefully – despite their alluring veneer, not all cashback mobile phone deals will save you money.

To help you understand the ins and outs, we’ve listed all the details about cashback offers below, including how to avoid the pitfalls, and where to get the best deals.

What is cashback?

A typical sales tactic used by retailers to lure prospective customers, cashback deals promise cash rebates after a consumer signs up to a mobile phone contract.

Yes, on the face of it, they are great incentives – especially when you’re forking out for the latest smartphone. But for all their sparkle, cashback deals aren’t always as beneficial for customers as they might appear.

Before you agree to a deal, it’s important to understand how they work and how to spot potential pitfalls.

So here’s everything you need to know about cashback on phone contracts:

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How does cashback work?

Once you’ve agreed to a mobile contract with a cashback deal, the retailer will pay you a set amount of money back. Usually a few months into your contract and in the form of instalments at specific points.

Say you agree to a contract that costs £30 per month for 12 months, with the promise of £130 cashback. This means the price of your overall contract will be reduced from £360 to £260 (30 x 12 – 130).

Generally, cashback deals only apply to high-end tariffs that include a lot of minutes, texts, data, or the latest handset. And to claim the money, you’ll usually have to post a copy of your monthly bill to the retailer.

Typically, companies offer two kinds of cashback deal:

Automatic cashback

With automatic cashback, very little is required from you, the customer, to claim money from the retailer.

Usually, after around six months, you’ll receive a cheque in the post or the money will appear in your bank account. So the process is pretty straightforward.

Sometimes, retailers won’t even request your mobile phone bill. And other retailers might even pay you a sum upfront, along with additional savings further on into your contract.

Bear in mind, though, there are some caveats.

Notably, if you miss a bill or make a late payment, the retailer could reserve the right to suddenly stop any remaining rebates. So make sure you always pay on time.

Redemption cashback

Here’s where things can get a bit fiddly.

Similar to some automatic cashback deals, to get your money, you’ll have to post a physical copy of your mobile phone statements to the retailer.

When you send a bill, the retailer will usually ask for things like:

  • Name
  • Home address
  • Mobile number
  • Price of current tariff
  • Bill date

Unlike automatic cashback though, the terms for claiming redemption cashback tend to be much stricter.

With this kind of offer, you’ll need to have your wits about you: timescales are infamously strict, and one missed payment could result in the retailer withdrawing any future rebates altogether. Leaving you stuck in a contract you no longer want, nor need. 

What should I look out for when claiming cash back?

Unfortunately, when it comes to claiming cashback, consumers don’t have many rights. And most retailers have a string of terms and conditions longer than your arm to get through before you get to see a penny.

With that in mind, here’s some things you should do before agreeing to a cashback deal:

  • Read the small print - to avoid having the wool pulled over your eyes, read through all the small print thoroughly.
  • Keep your bills to hand - it’s a good idea to log all the statements you send to the retailer; in case you need to refer to them later.
  • Use recorded delivery - we also recommend that you send your paper bills to the retailer via recorded delivery. That way, if the company claims they didn’t receive a payment, you’ll have proof you sent it off.
  • Set reminders - obvious perhaps, but still important. A memo in your phone will remind you when your next payment is due. Similarly, it’s also worth noting what dates your money will arrive from the retailer, too.

Cashback mobile phone deals

So, if you’re okay with all of the above, and think a cashback deal is right for you, next step is to compare the best deals.

On this front we have you covered.

We’ve done our research, and all the companies listed here on have been picked for their trustworthiness. To find the best deal, including those with cashback and free gifts, simply filter the page to select an offer that meets your needs.

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