Fancy a freebie that’s available year-round, gives you a discount on your supermarket shop and could earn you entirely free meals? Welcome to wombling.
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 discounted food, free meals and unlimited loyalty points. In this guide, we’ll show you how to womble like a pro…
What is wombling?
Womblers are receipt hunters who collect loyalty points and other rewards 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:
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 bonuses that other shoppers have forgotten (or don’t care) about.
Wombling can earn you decent 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.
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 through Tesco’s Brand Guarantee scheme too but unfortunately, this doesn’t work any more.
Similarly, Morrisons Match and More cardholders can get any unused points added to their card – but you can only claim two receipts every two weeks.
You also need to make sure the receipts are less than 30 days old.
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.
ASDA used to be the most popular shop to womble from. However, the ASDA Price Guarantee programme was shut down in October 2018 and you can now no longer pay for your shopping with other people’s receipts.
It’s a real shame, as it was possible to earn hundreds of pounds in free ASDA vouchers through wombling. We’ll update this article if they bring it back, or if any other supermarket starts a similar comparison scheme you could take advantage of in the same way.
You can still use any wombled ASDA receipts to earn free Amazon vouchers though!
Supermarkets are prime wombling hotspots but 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!
Health and Beauty
Both Boots and Superdrug have loyalty schemes, but only one is really ‘womble-able’.
If you see a Superdrug receipt with unclaimed Health & Beautycard points you can claim them for yourself.
Their official policy states:
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
Food and drink loyalty schemes can be a lot more lucrative than those from supermarkets. Here are some wombler favourites and how to claim from them.
Even if you’re not a frequent fried chicken eater, it’s well worth downloading the KFC app. Just for signing up you get three free stamps on the Colonel’s Club scheme, 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.
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 signup bonus, you only need to find £20 worth of receipts to get a free coffee.
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 Nando’s
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.
Other ways to womble receipts
There are a few apps out there which give you free Amazon vouchers for scanning receipts from pretty much any shop.
With Receipt Hog, for instance, you get between 5-20 coins per receipt, and once you reach 1,000 coins you can cash out for a £3 Amazon voucher (or keep saving coins for a higher value voucher).
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.
How much money can wombling save you?
When you truly know how to womble you 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:
Is wombling legal?
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 take 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.
If you love freebies then our ultimate list of free stuff will be right up your street – you could also try becoming a mystery shopper!