The cashback di Natale or 'Christmas cashback' scheme is the latest incentive in the government's 'Cashless Italy' strategy, aimed to encourage people to swap cash for card in order to make payments easier to trace and help authorities root out tax evasion.
It comes alongside prizes for people who rack up the highest number of card payments, as well as a lotteria degli scontrini, or 'receipt lottery', which gives consumers and business owners the chance to win up to €5 million for making or taking electronic payments.
While the government is planning to introduce a long-term cashback scheme from 2021, it's giving consumers a chance to start earning refunds on their Christmas shopping from this month.
Here's how it works.
When does the scheme start?
You can start earning Christmas cashback from December 8th and continue until December 31st, and you can register for the reward scheme right away.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible you must be a resident in Italy, over 18, and registered using the government’s IO app for accessing public services.
To register, you'll need either an electronic ID, known as a SPID, or a valid Italian ID card with a microchip and PIN (a carta d’Identità elettronica, or CIE).
READ ALSO: What is a SPID and how do you get one?
You'll also need a bank account and a credit, debit or PagoBancomat card, or the Satispay shopping app.
How do you claim your refund?
Before spending anything, register for the cashback scheme on the IO app, designate which card you want to use, and give the details of the bank account where you want to receive your refund.
Once you've made enough payments to qualify, the government will transfer your cashback to your account early next year.
What do you have to spend and how much do you get back?
Make ten payments on your designated card between December 8th-31st and you'll get 10 percent of the total amount back, up to a maximum of €150.
There's no minimum spend, so even paying for a coffee by card counts. Nor is there a maximum, though the refund is capped at €15 per transaction (in other words, payments over €150 won't earn you any extra).
The Italian government is keen to encourage cash payments even for small expenses. Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP
Where do you have to spend?
The government says it will count payments not only in all shops and supermarkets but also in bars and restaurants, as well as to tradespeople and professionals – so paying your hairdresser, plumber, lawyer or architect by card also qualifies.
Shopping online won't count, however. Nor will paying business expenses, topping up your phone credit at an ATM, or making direct debits or other recurring payments.
Will the scheme continue after Christmas?
Yes – though the rewards won't be quite as good value.
From January 1st, you'll have to make at least 50 card payments over six months to earn cashback, which will which remain capped at €150 total and €15 per single transaction.
Therefore the most you'll be able to earn over the whole of 2021 is €300, for at least 100 transactions.
Find all the details on the government's Cashless Italy website.