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How wombling saves money on shopping

We post a lot of freebies, but not many are available year-round, pay for your supermarket shop or earn you entirely free meals. Wombling could…

guide to wombling

Credit: Frankie Roberto – Flickr.com

One man's trash is another man's treasure, as the saying goes. And with wombling, this treasure comes in the form of dumped receipts – yes really!

If you fancy bagging yourself some extra cash while doing your weekly shop, just keep your eyes peeled for discarded receipts. It might seem like a strange way to make money, but these unassuming pieces of paper are actually your key to discount food, free meals and unlimited loyalty points. This guide to wombling shows you how it's done…

What is wombling?

Womblers are receipt hunters who collect loyalty points from other people's shopping.

You might have heard of The Wombles TV show from your parents' era, featuring a bunch of fluffy aardvark things burrowing around Wimbledon Common. It had a pretty banging theme tune which went something like this:

Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind

As the lyrics suggest, ‘wombling' is basically making use of what others have discarded. In the real-world money-saving sense, this means claiming unused loyalty points and price-matching schemes that other shoppers have forgotten (or don't care) about.

Wombling can earn you seriously good returns, but be prepared to do things that could attract funny looks (such as rummaging in bushes for receipts)!

Where can you womble?

Almost anywhere that has a loyalty card scheme can be used as a potential wombling target – most places will let you add missed points onto your card if you present them with a valid receipt. But with wombling, that receipt won’t be yours, of course.

ASDA

The most popular spot for wombling is definitely ASDA. Their Price Guarantee means that if your basket isn’t more than 10% cheaper than it would be at Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s you can claim the difference back as a voucher.

wombling at Asda
There are a couple of things that might catch you out though: every receipt eligible for a Price Guarantee has to be less than 90 days old, must contain eight different items, and at least one should be comparable to something that’s also sold at the other supermarkets.

Once you have a suitable receipt you then need to go online to the ASDA Price Guarantee site and enter the unique code displayed at the bottom of each one.

If it does come up that ASDA wasn’t cheaper this time, you’ll need to log in and print off the voucher – they’ll give you for the difference plus 10%. Then take the voucher into the store with the receipt it came from and you can spend it on a shop within a month.

Other supermarkets

wombling at Tesco

Tesco

At Tesco, if you find a receipt with a barcode at the bottom for a purchase of £1 or more you can claim the Clubcard points. You’re permitted to take up to two receipts per day to the customer service desk to get the points added to your own card manually. The receipts must be less than 14 days old. You used to be able to womble price matches at Tesco too, but unfortunately this doesn’t work any more.

Morrisons

Similarly, Morrisons More card holders can get the points added to their card for up to 15 receipts a month. Make sure the receipts are less than 30 days old if you want to do this though.

Sainsbury's

If you find a Sainsbury’s receipt with “You could have earned xx Nectar points today” written at the bottom you can get those added to your own card within 14 days at the customer service desk.

However, even at Tesco – the most generous supermarket for loyalty points – you’ll only get rewarded with about 1% of the receipt’s value. It could be worth it if you’re saving up points to use on Clubcard Boost, and it doesn’t cost you anything, after all!

Chemists

Both Boots and Superdrug have loyalty schemes, but only one is really “womble-able”.

Superdrug

If you see a Superdrug receipt with missed points you can claim them for yourself.

Their official policy states:

Just contact the Superdrug Customer Team on 03456 710 709 or by email at [email protected] All you need to do is give them the details below from your receipt and they will add the points for you once they’ve verified your purchase including; Receipt no, Store no, Till no, Total paid, Date

Boots

At Boots you can only womble receipts that have been “validated” – i.e the customer has said that they do have an Advantage card, but they’ve left it at home. And unfortunately it's pretty unlikely you'll pick up one of those.

Cafes and restaurants

wombling at fast food restaurants

Credit: Ardfern – Wikimedia

Food & drink loyalty schemes can be a lot more lucrative than those from supermarkets – here are some wombler favourites and how to claim from them.

KFC

Even if you’re not a frequent fried chicken eater, it’s well worth downloading the KFC Colonel’s Club app. Just for signing up you get three free stamps, equivalent to a free side like hot wings or a small popcorn chicken, and it includes beverages if you fancy a cup of tea.

Wombling a receipt for £3 or more will get you one stamp, and a £15+ spend nets you two stamps. To apply them to your own card go onto the My Account section on the website or app and follow the instructions.

Costa

Caffeine junkie? You can womble receipts at Costa too! Pick up a free loyalty card when you’re next in store or download the app – if you register your account you get a bonus 100 points, regardless. Then you can get discarded receipts added onto your account at the till. With the sign up bonus you only need to find £20 worth of receipts to get a free coffee.

McDonald's

At McDonald’s it isn’t receipts you’re looking for – but empty packaging instead! Every McCafe hot drink cup comes with a bean sticker on it, and once you collect six you’re entitled to a free drink. Most people probably don’t collect these so if you see any cups lying about, it’s worth a look.

The best time of year to womble at McDonald’s is during their Monopoly promotion. It usually runs for six weeks, starting in mid March, and there are prize stickers on every product (except Happy Meals). Apparently there’s a one in five chance of winning a food prize, but if you collect a lot of stickers you could also win some of the bigger rewards on offer by completing a “set” – i.e all three brown properties. Look in store for leaflets that tell you what all the possible prizes on offer are this year.

Subway and Nandos

In Subway and Nandos you can also exchange receipts for points on your loyalty card, which can then be exchanged for food once you stack up enough.

Cinema

wombling at the cinema

The only cinema that has a loyalty scheme is ODEON – and you can womble receipts from ticket, food and drink purchases to earn freebies. You do need to pay for an ODEON Premiere Club card, though. It starts from £1.99, but this is actually a good thing, as not many people have them, so most people don’t claim their points!

Take your receipts to the till to start claiming – and you’ll be seeing films for free in no time.

How much money can wombling save you?

save money wombling

The best womblers can get whole hauls of shopping for pennies, but this will depend on the amount of time and effort you’re willing to dedicate to finding receipts.

You'll likely only get a few pence, or a handful of loyalty points from each receipt, so if you're looking for fast cash, this is not the way to go. However, it does all stack up, and some have claimed to make hundreds of pounds a month by wombling.

Some extreme womblers spend hours trawling supermarket car parks for treasures, but a lot of people just nab receipts if they come across them while shopping, or ask their friends and family for them. This wombling Facebook group has thousands of members who share tips and best practice on their wombling endeavours.

Dedicated wombler Stephen Auker, a 58-year-old retiree, claims he makes £200 a month from the practice. His biggest haul from one receipt was £14.48 from Asda. Speaking to The Telegraph, he said:

 You get out of wombling exactly what you put in. For example, yesterday was a very windy day so I sat in a car park for seven hours waiting for the receipts to blow towards me.

Is wombling legal?

where to womble

Wombling is very much a grey area. Some shops have specific policies on wombling, others won’t even know what it is.

The general rule amongst womblers is to be discrete about what you’re doing, and it is suggested you only taking your receipts from outside the store, from places where they’re clearly discarded like the floor or in empty trolleys – but NOT bins. Apparently this is classed as stealing.

Are other non-womble receipts worth anything?

YES. If you download the receipt scanning apps mentioned in our guide on free Amazon vouchers, you can scan receipts from almost any shop for an extra profit.

We’ve easily made £50 in Amazon vouchers over the last six months, just by using these apps on our own receipts. If you’re wombling you can probably make a lot more.

Have you tried wombling to get free food, drinks, cinema tickets and even Amazon vouchers? Let us know in the comments!

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