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Stoozing – make free cash

Earn interest from 0% credit cards

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Martin and Sam

Updated April 2017

Stoozing's the art of making money by earning interest on cash credit cards lend you at 0%. Having had a dull period, now with longer 0% deals, fee-free balance transfers and tax free high-interest bank savings accounts, stoozing's back with a BANG!

Beware though, you need to know what you're doing. Here's our step-by-step guide showing exactly how you do it, the best 0% spending cards and interest-paying bank or savings accounts to use, and what to watch out for.

The premise – borrow free, earn £100s!

Stoozing's the art of making money out of 0% deals. It became the vogue of money nerds when credit card companies first launched 0% deals.

Martin broadcasted the first set strategy for it around 2000, and it works like this: Lots of cards lend new customers money at 0% (see options here). By grabbing this cash then saving it at as high a rate of interest as possible, you're earning interest on money they've lent you for free.

In stoozing's heyday, the amounts people could get were huge, with the biggest stooze-pot we heard about being £80,000 of 0% credit card debt (multiple cards, continually rolling onto 0% deals) which saved that stoozer nearly £5,000 a year as the money was offset in his flexible mortgage.

We're not quite back to the heyday of stoozing but with the credit card market the hottest we've ever seen, with plenty of long 0% spending deals and bank accounts paying interest of up to 5%, stoozing's definitely back.

Warning: Stoozing is ONLY for those who are debt-free & financially savvy. If you're not, avoid it as mistakes can be costly. If you're looking for more than just 0% spending, or you've debts, see our Credit Cards page for full options.

Who can do this?

Though lucrative, this technique is tricky, and not suitable for everyone. If you decide to give it a go, read this article in full, and make sure you understand the process, as mistakes can have a high cost.

  • Be credit card debt-free
    Only use this technique if you don't have any credit card debts and have a decent credit score. Those who already have debts on plastic should use all available new credit to reduce the interest. Read the Best Balance Transfers guide.

  • Ensure you're on the ball
    Do it right and this is risk-free. Yet stoozing isn't for the forgetful, ill-disciplined or inattentive. If that's you, stop reading now, as getting this wrong costs.

  • Consider cashback instead
    If you're a little forgetful, or would just prefer a simpler way to make free cash, a more foolproof (but less lucrative) way to profit is simply using a cashback credit card and paying it off in full every month. For the current top picks, read the Best Cashback Cards guide, and see our Credit Cards page for more options.

How to stooze...

In a nutshell, the idea is to do your normal spending on an interest-free credit card, and let the dosh you'd normally be using build up in a savings account, earning interest. This is currently helped by the longest-ever interest-free spending card we've seen.

This requires discipline, and is absolutely NOT a way to spend more than you would have – it's a money-making recipe. So don't overspend and never breach the card's credit limit.

STEP 1: Get a card offering 0% on new purchases

The aim is to get the longest 0% spending deal you can and with possible added cashback rewards to boost your stoozing gains (don't confuse these cards with 0% balance transfers, which are for shifting debts).

Which cards'll accept you? The only way to find out is to apply, but that marks your credit file. So our Free 0% Purchases Eligibility Calculator shows your odds of getting each card, to minimise applications without hitting your file. Most of the cards featured in this guide are in it.

The top 0% cards

The most profitable plastic here are the cards where the longest 0% spending period is combined with the most lucrative rewards programme.

Depending on your credit score and the amount you spend, this can be done with multiple cards. But it's best to start at the top and work your way down this list.

Sainsbury's card

Longest-ever 0% period PLUS 5,000 Nectar pts if you spend £250 in Sainsbury's

Sainsbury's Nectar* – 31 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Sainsbury's* card offers the longest-ever 0% period we've seen, and if accepted you'll definitely get the full 31 months. You'll also earn Nectar points on all spending, plus apply by Mon 28 Aug and spend £250 in Sainsbury's within a month of receiving your card and you'll get 5,000 bonus Nectar points worth £25.

More likely to shop at Tesco? See below for a similar card with just one fewer 0% month that gives you Clubcard points.

Need-to-knows
  • New customers applying by Mon 28 Aug will get 5,000 bonus Nectar points if they spend £250 in Sainsbury's in the first month from receiving their card – but don't use this as an excuse to spend more than you normally would.
  • You need to give your Nectar card number when you apply for the credit card.
  • The bonus points will be added to your Nectar account within 60 days of your credit card statement date.
  • You get two points per £1 spent on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel, and one point per £5 spent elsewhere.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 31 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance. Poorer credit scorers may get 21.9% or 28.9%.
  • You'll either get the full 31-month deal or you'll get rejected, unlike some cards in this guide where you may be accepted for the card, but given a shorter period at 0%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
ELIGIBILITY CHECK NOT AVAILABLE
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 31 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: N/A
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5
Santander - 30 MONTHS

Second longest 0% spending card

Santander* – 30 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Santander* card offers the second longest 0% spending period, and if you're accepted for the card you'll definitely get the full 30 months.

You can also earn cashback at certain retailers of up to 25%, though don't use the offers to tempt you to buy anything you don't need.

Need-to-knows
  • You'll either get the full 30-month deal or you'll get rejected, unlike some cards in this guide where you may be accepted for the card, but given a shorter period at 0%.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 30 months or you'll be charged 18.9% APR on any remaining balance.
  • This card also offers balance transfers for 30 months at 0%, though you'll pay a 2.75% fee to transfer your debt to the card.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 30 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: £7,500
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
Tesco* - 35 MONTHS, 2.7% FEE

Second longest 0% period and you get Clubcard points

Tesco Bank – up to 30 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

For Tesco shoppers looking for a long 0% period, this Tesco card gives you Clubcard points on all spending and comes with the second-longest 0% deal. However, not all those accepted will be offered the full 30 months – some will be offered 24 or 18 months at 0%, which won't make it as good a deal.

More likely to shop at Sainsbury's? See above for a similar card with one more 0% month that gives you Nectar points.

Need-to-knows
  • We say 'up to' 30 months as some poorer credit scorers may get 24 or 18 months at 0%.
  • You get Clubcard points on your spending – one point for every full £4 spent at Tesco stores or petrol stations, one point for every £8 elsewhere.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 30 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • Some poorer credit scorers could be given interest rates up to 25.9%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Stats box
  • Spending length: Up to 30 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: £5,000
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
AA

Second longest 0% spending card

AA* – up to 30 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

The AA* Dual Credit Card offers up to 30 interest-free months, the second-longest 0% period. However, some may be accepted and offered fewer 0% months, which won't make it as good a deal.

If you shop at Sainsbury's, you may be better off with the card above which offers one more 0% month, and also rewards you for your spending.

Need-to-knows
  • We say 'up to' 30 months as some poorer credit scorers may get 24 months at 0%.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 0% period or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • Poorer credit scorers could get a higher interest rate, up to 22.9%, but if you've cleared it by the end of the 0% period then this won't matter.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • The card also offers up to 16 months at 0% on balance transfers, but charges a high 2.89% one-off fee if you use it for this.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: up to 30 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: £8,000
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% of balance or £5
Halifax - 30 MONTHS

Second longest 0% spending card

Halifax* – up to 30 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Halifax* card offers the same 0% period as the Santander, Tesco and AA cards above, giving up to a massive two and a half interest-free years. Like the AA card, some may be accepted and offered fewer 0% months, though this period for Halifax is 18 months as opposed to the AA's 24 months, so that could be a better deal.

If you shop at Sainsbury's, you may be better off with the card above which offers one more 0% month, and also rewards you for your spending.

Need-to-knows
  • We say 'up to' 30 months as some poorer credit scorers may get 18 months at 0%.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 30 months or you'll be charged 18.9% APR on any remaining balance. Some poorer credit scorers will pay 21.9% or 25.9% APR.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: Up to 30 months 0% | Card issuer: Visa | Min income: N/A
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
M&S Bank

Free £30 cashback + decent 0% period

M&S Bank* – 25 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

Accepted new M&S credit card* holders get a competitive 25 months 0% on spending, just a few months shy of the longest cards. Plus those who apply via our link by Wed 31 May and spend £100 on it by Fri 30 Jun will get £30 cashback.

If that wasn't a good deal on its own, you'll also be sent a voucher. Swipe this at the till the first time you use the card at M&S (you can spend on most things, incl food) and you get 500 bonus M&S points worth £5.

Need-to-knows
  • To get the £30 cashback, apply for the card by 11.59pm on Wed 31 May and spend at least £100 by Fri 30 Jun.
  • The cashback will be credited to your account no later than Mon 31 July.
  • You won't be eligible for the voucher if you already hold an M&S credit card or have done within the last year.
  • You'll also get a voucher to swipe (or use the code online) which will get you 500 bonus points once you use your card to pay for something in M&S. The 500 points are equivalent to a £5 M&S gift voucher. This voucher will be sent by post with your card.
  • You'll earn one point for every £1 spent in M&S stores and one point for every £5 elsewhere. One point is equivalent to 1p, and points will convert into M&S vouchers every three months.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 0% period or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • You'll either get the full 25-month deal or you'll be rejected; M&S Bank won't accept you and then give you fewer months at 0%, unlike some providers.
  • Poorer credit scorers could get a higher interest rate, up to 22.9%, but if you've cleared it by the end of the 0% period then this won't matter.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 25 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% or £5

STEP 2: Save the cash that builds in your bank

Once accepted, use the card for everything you buy; replacing all credit card, debit card, cheque and cash spending up to the credit limit – though never withdraw cash as you're charged interest.

As all spending is on the credit card, cash isn't withdrawn from your current account, allowing unspent wages to build up. This means the debt on the credit card will be matched by extra cash in your current account – and this forms the stooze pot you can use to save.

Now it's time to follow the golden rules on stoozing:

  • Don't exceed your credit limit. That can result in you losing the 0% deal and hurting your credit score.

  • This isn't an excuse to overspend. We're just using it as a method to build up savings to match the stooze pot.

  • Only make the MINIMUM repayments. Don't try to repay this card in full. Just set up a direct debit to make the minimum monthly repayments, usually around 2% of the outstanding balance. Don't miss any payments, or you could lose the 0% promo offer, messing up your entire stooze.

  • Never withdraw cash on these cards. That isn't at the cheap rate, you will pay interest even if you clear in full, and it can impact your credit score.

STEP 3: Earn max interest on the 'debts'

You now have debts on the credit card, and approximately the same amount in credit in your current account.

It's time to maximise the interest you earn by moving the money into the highest interest savings vehicle possible. Don't wait for the cash to build up, just siphon it off into the savings account as soon as possible.

Where to save the cash

The most important thing is that you put it somewhere with 'easy access' meaning you can withdraw the cash whenever you need it and clear the debt.

After that, the key is simply earning the maximum amount of interest – the personal savings allowance helps in this quest as it means savings interest is now paid to you tax-free (though if you're stoozing a large amount you may exceed your allowance, and will have to pay some tax).

The top savings rates right now come from current accounts – though this is under threat following the Bank of England's interest rate cut, as many banks have cut or are considering cutting their interest rates.

  • Top paying current account

    If you're stoozing a larger amount, the Santander 123 account gives 1.5% interest up to £20,000, plus you can earn up to 3% cashback on your bills. You'll need to pay in at least £500/month and set up a minimum of two direct debits (plus pay the £5/mth account fee).

    To get the full benefit you may want to move all your cashback-eligible bills over.

    Another alternative is the Nationwide FlexDirect account which pays the highest interest on smaller amounts, paying 5% on the first £2,500 that's in your account – though it's only fixed for one year, after which it drops to 1%. To get the interest, you need to pay in £1,000 per month.

  • Pay cash into a flexible or offset mortgage

    Whether you should do this will depend on what your mortgage rate is, and whether the mortgage allows you to offset the interest against savings (most don't, and don't confuse this with overpaying – it's not the same thing). As a rule of thumb, if your savings rate is higher than your mortgage rate, then save. If your mortgage rate's higher than what you can get on savings, then offsetting will be a better use of your stoozed cash.

    It works like this... Say your mortgage balance is £150,000 and you have £50,000 in savings in a linked account, you only pay interest on the £100,000 difference. With an offset you are effectively saving at your mortgage rate, usually with easy access. So cash, even a couple of thousand pounds, put into an offset account can give you serious savings.

  • Top cash ISA

    These allow every UK adult to save up to £20,000, and pay no tax on the interest earned. Plus, any interest from ISAs it doesn't count towards your personal savings allowance meaning they're a good place to save if bank account savings interest has taken you over your personal allowance.
  • The current open-to-all highest-paying cash ISA that allows access is the Easy Access cash ISA from Coventry BS. It pays 1.05% AER variable, and you can save from £1. For full details, plus all the alternatives, see the Top Cash ISAs guide.

  • Easy access savings account

    The highest-paying standard savings account is the Single Access Saver from Yorkshire BS, paying 1.15% AER variable. It can be opened by post or in branch and you can open it with £100.

The credit card debt is now at 0% and the savings hopefully earning a few percent. Now, diarise the date the 0% ends, and sit back while netting interest.

Simple reminders for card tarts!

Enter the date your 0% (or other intro rate) expires in the Tart Alert Tool and you'll be sent a text or e-mail reminder to ditch and switch. Of course, like everything else on this site, it's completely free.Try it now →

STEP 4: Boost it with a fee-free balance transfer

To really ramp up your gain, you can shift the debt again to another cheap balance transfer to keep earning interest on the savings.

Always try to grab the balance transfer card with the lowest fee possible. Balance transfer fees used to be around 2-3%, but have dropped in many cases to zero. Check the current best buys below without a fee, and balance transfers for the full selection.

Sainsbury's Balance Transfer Credit Card 42 months

Joint longest-ever no-fee 0% card

Sainsbury's Bank* 28mths 0%, no fee (18.9% interest after)

This Sainsbury's Bank* card offers the joint longest-ever interest-free period with no balance transfer fee. Oddly, it charges a 1.5% fee when you do the transfer, but then refunds it in its entirety within 60 days.

Need-to-knows
  • If you're accepted, you'll definitely get the full 28mths at 0%. Sainsbury's isn't one of the lenders that will accept you, and then offer fewer 0% months.
  • After the 0% period ends, it’s 18.9% interest. But poorer credit scorers will get either 21.9%, or 28.9%.
  • If you transfer your balance after the first three months you'll pay 3% fee (min £3).
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 28 months 0%, no fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £100
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: Three months
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
TSB 28 months 0%, no fee

Joint longest-ever no-fee card, though you may get fewer 0% months

TSB* up to 28 mths 0%, no fee (18.9% interest after)

This TSB* card offers the same number of 0% months as the Sainsbury's card above, and has no balance transfer fee. However, you could be accepted and offered fewer interest-free months. You'll initially be charged a 0.5% fee, which'll be refunded in 60 days.

Need-to-knows
  • You must balance transfer within the first 90 days from account opening, otherwise a 3% fee will be charged and you won't get the 0% deal.
  • After the 0%, it's 18.9% interest on any remaining transferred debt, but poorer credit scorers will get 22.9% or 25.9%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: up to 28 months 0%, NO fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £100
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: 90 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Halifax’s* 23 months 0%, no fee

Next-longest no-fee card, though you may get fewer 0% months

Halifax* up to 26 mths 0%, no fee (18.9% interest after)

This Halifax* credit card offers the second-longest interest-free period with no balance transfer fee. However, there's a possibility you could be accepted but not get the headline deal – some accepted could get just 13 months, making it a worse offering.

Need-to-knows
  • You can't transfer from a Halifax card but you can from its sister firm, Bank of Scotland.
  • You must balance transfer within the first 90 days from account opening, otherwise a 3% fee will be charged.
  • After the 0%, it's 18.9% interest on any remaining transferred debt, but poorer credit scorers will get 21.9% or 25.9%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: up to 26 months 0%, NO fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: 90 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)

Will it hit your credit score?

Most lenders' scoring systems aren't sophisticated enough to detect that you're playing this free cash gain. dart board

Yet multiple, clustered applications, and high outstanding debts, even at 0%, will diminish your ability to get competitive credit, so always spread card applications out.

In stoozing's early days, some people got huge amounts at 0%. Now lending criteria is tighter, so it's best to start small and not overstretch yourself (read the Credit Scoring guide).

The Stoozing Calculator

To give an idea of how much you'd make, we've built a simple calculator. Tell it how much 0% debt you're going to get, the interest your savings account pays (plus whether you'll be taxed on it), and how long you plan to stooze for; then it'll tell you what the likely profit is.

To give an idea of how much you'd make, we've built a simple calculator. Unfortunately, this doesn't work on mobile, just on PCs and Macs, so email yourself this guide and check it out when you're able to view on a desktop computer.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The longer you take to build up the full amount of debt, the less accurate the figure below will be. Also, if you switch to a 0% balance transfer after the initial interest-free period, you'll need to take any one-off fee into account.

Stoozing calculator

How much can you stooze?

(Stoozing by spending on credit instead of debit? Enter half your max credit limit.)

Tax band

Please enter a valid amount.

Please enter a valid credit card interest rate.

Please enter a valid period in months.

Please select a tax band.

Please enter a valid pre-tax interest rate.

Discuss this tool

Interest charged on credit card: {[sc.interestCharged | currency:'£':2]}

Interest earned in savings account: {[sc.interestEarned | currency:'£':2]}

The profit from stoozing is: {[sc.stoozeProfit | currency:'£':2]}


A note for the curious: Where does 'stoozing' come from?

This isn't a fly-by-night system. Martin first broadcasted a strategy for this in early 2000, as 0% credit card interest rates began. Many who started back then now report £1,000s in total gains.

As the number of 0% cards increased, so did the number of people taking advantage. The commonly used name is 'stoozing', used to describe any technique to profit out of playing credit card companies' deals.

We gather a couple of years after the technique started, the term gained common usage in The Motley Fool website's forums, due to a contributor there called Stooz. Yet regardless of whether it's 'free cash' or 'stoozing', either way, hopefully it'll be cash in your pocket.

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