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ECONOMY

How to earn cashback from the government for shopping in Italy

The Italian government is offering to pay back part of your spending if you shop by card, as part of its ongoing efforts to move Italy away from cash. Here's how to claim.

How to earn cashback from the government for shopping in Italy
The Italian government is offering money back for purchases made in store by card. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The 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.

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Having trialled a version of the scheme in December, the government says that more than 3.2 million people in Italy successfully claimed cashback on their Christmas shopping and will receive a total of €222.6 million between them.

The incentive will now remain on offer until at least 2022. 

Here's how it works.

When can you claim cashback?

The current version of the scheme started on January 1st and is scheduled to run until June 30th, 2022.

You'll have the chance to claim it up to three times before then:

  • Once between January 1st to June 30th, 2021;
  • Once between July 1st to December 31st, 2021;
  • Once between January 1st to June 30th, 2022.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible you must be a resident in Italy and aged over 18.

You'll also need a bank account and a credit, debit or PagoBancomat card, or a mobile payment app such as Satispay, Nexi Pay, Hype or Yap.

READ ALSO: What's the IO app and what can you use it for?

Unless you're using one of those payment apps, you'll also need to install the government's IO app. For that 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).

How do you claim your refund?

Before spending anything, register for the cashback scheme either on the IO app (if you plan to pay with a card) or, if you're planning to pay via an app on your phone (Satispay, Nexi Pay, Hype or Yap), directly on your payment app.

READ ALSO: What is a SPID and how do you get one?

To register via IO: go to ‘Portafoglio' (wallet), select ‘Cashback', enter the details of the bank account where you want to receive your refund and designate the card you'll be using to make payments. Find step-by-step instructions here (in Italian).

To register via a payment app: open your app and activate the cashback option within it.

Once you've made enough transactions to qualify, the government will transfer your cashback to your bank account or payment app after the end of each six-month period.

What do you have to spend and how much do you get back?

Make at least 50 payments on your designated card or app in each six-month period 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 in Italy but also in bars and restaurants, as well as to tradespeople and professionals – so paying your barista, hairdresser, plumber or lawyer by card also qualifies.

Just make sure that they're using one of the government's accredited services to process your payment. Look on the card reader for a logo from one of these services

Note that payments must be made in person: online shopping does not count. Nor does paying business expenses, topping up your phone credit at an ATM, making direct debits or other recurring payments, or shopping outside Italy (including in Vatican City or San Marino).

How well does the scheme work?

When Italy tried out the cashback scheme in December, interest was high but there were teething problems. So many people attempted to register on the IO app that users reported the service was unavailable for hours or even days at a time.

The government's figures also show that millions of people registered for the scheme but didn't end up benefitting: of more than 5.8 million consumers who registered in December, only 3.2 million ended up making the payments necessary to earn any cashback at all.

Of those who qualified, only around 100,000 (3.1 percent) spent enough to get the maximum reimbursement of €150, while some 469,000 (14.5 percent) got between €100-149 back. The large majority of people will get less, with 49.6 percent earning €50-99 cashback and 32.8 percent earning less than €50.

But going forward, it should be easier for low spenders to qualify for the maximum payout. While in December shoppers had just three weeks to make ten card payments of at least €150 each in order to earn the top bonus, now you have six months to make 50 payments adding up to the same amount (i.e. spend €30 fifty times).

More than 6.2 million people had registered for the scheme by January 8th, the government said.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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