Just over half (51%) of Brits say we are too polite to take full advantage of savings and discounts

  • New research from Santander UK1 finds over half (57%) of Brits are missing out on opportunities to save money - and inconvenience, forgetfulness and embarrassment are key factors
  • The most popular money-saving hack is loyalty and reward schemes
  • Cashback is an under-used money-saving hack, and as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Santander UK reveals customers could have earned an additional £2.7 million worth of cashback both in store and online during Black Friday week last year if they had used the bank’s Retailer Offers programme 2

New research from Santander UK has found that just over half (51%) of Brits say that, as a nation, we are too polite to take full advantage of savings and discounts. And half (52%) admit they are not a bargain-hunter or savvy shopper.

The research, which polled a nationally representative sample of 2,001 British consumers, found more than half (57%) miss out on easy opportunities to save money. This is because they fail to cash in on sales, offers and loyalty points, and don’t haggle with salespeople or ask for a discount. The findings come at a time when many families’ finances are stretched as never before and highlight the opportunity many are missing to use money-saving hacks as they begin budgeting and planning for Christmas.

A money-saving hack Brits most commonly miss out on, despite it being easily accessible to all, is cashback3, claimed through their bank or a third-party website. Cashback is the most lucrative money-saving hack and Brits who use it report saving £375 per year or £31.30 per month – money that would go a long way in helping out with their Christmas shopping this year.

Money saving hackAverage saved per month
Claiming cashback£31.30
Haggling with salespeople (online or in person)£27.80
Price comparison/tracking websites£24.70
Printed discount vouchers or offer codes£21.20
Online or mobile discount vouchers or offer codes£20.70
Membership card discounts£20.60
Loyalty or reward points£15.50

Average amount people who use specific money-saving hacks report saving

At the other end of the scale, people most commonly use loyalty or reward schemes to save money on their shopping, with more than half (53%) always or regularly using them.

Money saving hackI always do or regularly do thisI never do this
Loyalty or reward points53%6%
Price comparison/tracking websites32%17%
Claiming cashback32%29%
Membership card discounts30%18%
Online or mobile discount vouchers or offer codes27%21%
Printed discount vouchers or offer codes26%15%
Haggling with sales people (online or in person)15%34%

Proportion of Brits who use or don’t use certain money-saving hacks

Factors affecting how we make savings

The research revealed that people are missing opportunities to save because they simply forget to use their loyalty points, membership card discounts and gift vouchers, and inconvenience is a big barrier to people using printed vouchers.

Embarrassment is another obstacle. According to the research, the most embarrassing money-saving hack is haggling with salespeople, followed by asking for a discount on a damaged product or ex-display item, and not paying full price for service that doesn’t meet a good standard.

Meanwhile, 27% of UK adults said they didn’t use printed vouchers because they carried a ‘stigma’, with men more likely to think this (28%) than women (25%). In romantic settings, people are far less likely to be embarrassed about using a money-saving hack when going out with their long-time partner or spouse (6%) than when on a first date (24%). Women, however, are slightly more likely to think saving money on a first date is something to be proud of (15%) compared to just 12% of men. There are also regional differences in attitude to first dates – 38% of North Easterners are too embarrassed to pull out a money-saving hack, compared to just 20% of people in Scotland and the East Midlands.

Hetal Parmar, Head of Banking, Santander UK commented: “People’s finances are stretched but there are some great opportunities to save money through discounts and cashback offers. Last year, Santander customers could have saved a collective £2.7 million over the Black Friday week if they had used our free Retailer Offers cashback programme, a quick and easy way to earn cashback on purchases. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will soon be here again, as will Christmas, and while our shopping might be done slightly differently this year, we’re encouraging customers to activate their Retailer Offers so they can earn cashback on their shopping.”

Santander’s Retailer Offers service gives customers the ability to select offers from a wide range of retailers at the click of a button on online and mobile banking, and then earn up to 15% cashback automatically when they make their purchase with their Santander debit or credit card. The offers customers receive are tailored, based on their historical spending. Customers who open an account with Santander will benefit from welcome offers from several popular retailers.

Top money-saving tips from Kara Gammell

Money-saving influencer and author of the yourbestfriendsguidetocash blog, Kara Gammell4, offers her top tips to make money go further as we head into the Christmas shopping season.

If you shop online and don’t claim cashback, you are missing out on some great savings. Before you buy, check your banking app to see offers tailored to you based on your historical spend. The amount of cashback depends on what’s spent, but it can soon add up.

Black Friday bargains don’t only apply to new products you bought on the biggest shopping weekend of the year - some retailers will price-match after you make your purchase.

Google Alerts lets you set up alerts for the products or brands that you are interested in – simply enter keywords and you’ll be emailed any new content that contains these search terms whenever it is published online. You can choose your search words to focus on terms such as retailer-specific coupons, discount/promo codes, sales, freebies and giveaways. Beware scams though – fraudsters sometimes use Google ads and fake websites to defraud online shoppers.

An effortless way to find the lowest price is to use a browser add-on for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome that supports Amazon. The Camelizer, for instance, lets you view price history charts without leaving retailer product pages, and lets you create price ‘watches’ when viewing retailer sites.

As new versions are released, older gadgets rapidly drop in value, which makes buying refurbished items a no-brainer. Refurbished electronics can function perfectly – but because they may have been used, damaged and repaired by the manufacturer, they are often significantly cheaper. Worth a look is Amazon Renewed, where all items purchased are backed by the retailer’s return policy and a one-year limited warranty.


Notes to editors:
1. Research is drawn from a nationally representative survey conducted by Opinium between 16 and 19 October 2020. The base size was 2,001 UK adults. 
2. During Black Friday week last year (28 November to 4 December 2019) Santander UK’s customers collectively overlooked £2.7 million worth of offers from retailers that they bought from because they didn’t activate their cashback offer within the bank’s Retailer Offers service prior to making their purchase. The free service provides customers with offers from a range of retailers that can be used instore and online and automatically gives them up to 15% cashback after they’ve selected an offer through online or mobile banking and made a purchase with their Santander debit or credit. More detail on Retailer Offers can be found here.
3. Within the context of this press release, cashback refers to money claimed via cashback on purchases, either through a consumer’s bank or via a third-party cashback provider.
4. More detail about Kara Gammell and her blog can be found here.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2020, the bank had around 23,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 146 million customers, of which 21.5 million are loyal and 40 million are digital, 11,800 branches and 194,000 employees.