Martyn James: How to claim back some cash for Christmas

Instead of cash, people have been advised to use cards during the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images/iSto

Instead of cash, people have been advised to use cards during the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This week Martyn James of Resolver talks us through claiming some cash back for your Christmas coffers. 

If you’ve overspent in the sales – or you're worried about your finances in the run up to Christmas – don’t panic! 

If you have buyer’s remorse, you can return (most) goods bought online up to 14 days after purchase, so don’t delay.  

But if you need to free up some cash before Christmas, here’s my guide to how you can make some savings and claim some refunds.  

  • Money mistakes

Set aside half an hour to go back through your bank and credit card statements.

Lurking there are often a surprising number of mistakes.

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Sometimes transactions go through in error – particularly when you’re paying by contactless. Other payments can be incorrectly applied to your account instead of someone else’s.

All of these can be cancelled then claimed back.

  • Subscriptions and traps

If money is tight – cancelling subscriptions for services you don’t or can’t use is a good place to start. You can always sign back up to the gym in the new year!

However, you may be surprised / horrified to find other subscriptions on your bank account or credit card bill where you may have signed up to free trials and forgotten to cancel.

Go back a year and one month, which will allow for every annual payment to be tracked down.

If you didn’t authorise these payments, weren’t told you were going to be debited or you think you’ve been scammed, your bank can cancel them right away – and you might even get a refund.

  • Duplicated services

When you’re shopping on the high-street, it’s easy sometimes to impulse buy things you don’t really need at the till.

The same impulse purchases are waiting for you when you’re buying online. But do you really need them?

One area where people have duplicate services doing the same thing is online security and anti-virus software. The same goes for cloud storage services. Stick with just one provider for each service.

With TV and music streaming sites charging around £5 to £15+ a month, you could be paying upwards of £100 before you even factor in your broadband and TV package. Reduce all of those down and you could save up to £500 a year.

  • Obsolete insurance

Millions of us are paying for insurance policies that we don’t use or need.

Often, these are smaller sums each month, for things like mobile phone or gadget insurance. It’s not always obvious what the payment is on your bank statements, but chances are you could be paying for insurance on things you don’t even have any more.

You could be able to claim back hundreds if you’ve been overcharged - especially if you asked for an insurance policy to be cancelled in the past or used the same firm to upgrade.

Many people may be paying a few for a monthly ‘premium account’.

These packaged bank accounts often have add-on insurance that might not be useful for you. For example, if you’re over 70, then your packaged travel insurance is unlikely to cover you - and you might get some cash back.

  • Utilities and overcharging

Most of us have abandoned paper statements from utility companies.

But without the monthly reminder of your spending, it’s easy to miss errors or unauthorized charges on these bills.

Reacquaint yourself with your online accounts and apply for passwords if you’ve forgotten them. You may be shocked to see some of the charges lurking in your statements.  

Phone bills also hide a range of charges you might not have been aware of.

These can include data roaming charges that you might not have realised you were paying when on holiday, premium rate text services (up to £5 each) after you agreed to let a firm send you notifications and other disputed charges.

Have a scoot through the bill and flag up anything you haven’t authorised.

The Phone Paid Services Authority can help if you aren’t happy with the response from the firm.

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