Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert: Get some extra cash in the Christmas kitty by switching bank accounts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:06 04 November 2018
You can get paid to switch your bank account to a new provider for no hassle – so what’s stopping you?
Free cash in time for Christmas.
There are laws against bribery. Luckily they don’t apply to banks wanting to bung you free money in return for your custom. There’s a banking price war on which means you can earn up to £200 for switching account. So take a bribe, and get some extra cash in the kitty before Christmas.
And don’t just do this for the money. I get more complaints about banks than any other sector apart from energy, yet people loyally stick with the perpetrators for years. If that’s you, start switching. Many of the accounts that pay have decent service too.
Switching is easy, they do it all for you.
Before I get to the best-buys, let me deal with the “isn’t switching bank a nightmare?” question.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories. But ask people when this happened. For five years now we’ve had the switching guarantee in place, and that changed everything - for the better.
To get the free cash you’ll be credit scored (it’s not too harsh) and will need to go through banks’ official switching services. The switching guarantee means you’re switched within seven working days.
Your new bank moves direct debits and standing orders for you (some require at least two to be moved), and closes your old account. All payments to your old account are automatically forwarded.
In a recent Twitter poll I did on this, 76% said switching was hassle-free and easy, most of the rest only had minor issues.
The top current account give-aways:
These change regularly, for full daily updated details and all the tips and eligibility criteria see my full guide at www.moneysavingexpert.com/bestbankaccounts.
Here’s a quick summary of the top deals at the time of writing:
• Free £200 (£150 upfront, £50 if you stay) + 5% fixed savings. Switch to the hsbc.co.uk advance account and you can get £150 free cash. Stay with it for a year and you’ll get another £50. It also lets you save up to £250 per month in it’s linked 5% fixed regular savings account.
With HSBC, like most banks, there’s a minimum monthly pay in. Here it’s a relatively large £1,750 a month - equivalent to £25,900 a year. This is effectively just a way to get you to pay in your salary. If you don’t earn enough to meet this, there’s a way around the rule. If you earn £1,000 a month, then just withdraw £750 and pay it straight back in and you will qualify.
You’ll get the money within 30 calendar days, so do it now and it should be in time for Christmas.
• Free £125 plus 2% cashback on bills. Switch to most NatWest.co.uk current accounts and you’ll get £125. Among those is the NatWest Reward account, where for a monthly £2 fee you get 2% cashback on household bills that you pay via direct debit from it, including council tax, water, energy and broadband – many can earn £100 a year from this. It’s minimum monthly pay-in is £1,500 (equal to an annual salary of £21,500).
Money will be paid in February, and you’ll need to keep your account until then.
• Free gadgets plus top service. Though not free cash, switch to FirstDirect.com and you can choose a free gift from choice of gadgets (e.g. £120 Amazon Echo or £120 Fitbit), or a £150 Expedia voucher. Plus it’s won every customer service poll I’ve done for the past eight years - 89% rate it ‘great’.
You’ll also get a £250 0% overdraft, and can open a linked 5% regular saver. The minimum monthly pay-in is £1,000 (equal to a £12,675 salary).
Within two weeks of paying in your first £1,000 you’re emailed instructions on how to get the freebie which can then take up to a month or so to arrive.
• Free £125 M&S vouchers with no monthly pay-in. Switch to bank.marksandspencer.com and you get a £125 M&S gift card with no-minimum monthly pay-in – though if you do pay in £1,250 a month (equal to a £17,080 salary) you can earn an additional £5 a month voucher for a year. It also has a linked 5% fixed regular savings account.
Money is paid within a month of switching.
Overdrawn? You can switch too…
Being overdrawn doesn’t stop you switching, though you may not get the same overdraft limit as your current account.
For those with smaller overdrafts, the First Direct account above is useful, as well as the free gadgets it offers an interest-free £250 overdraft – an easy way to avoid costs. Alternatively, Nationwide.co.uk’s FlexDirect gives a year’s 0% overdraft. Yet there’s no set limit - it depends on your credit score. Though as after the year you pay 50p a day if you’re overdrawn, do use the time to try and ditch the debt.