You can make £100s of profit by cleverly manipulating credit cards!
During the credit crunch, this got trickier as banks reined in lending. Now the purse-strings are loosening, with some of the best 0% deals we've ever seen - revitalising the art of stoozing!
In this guide:
The premise - borrow free, earn £100s!
Loads 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.
But if you're looking for more than just 0% spending, or you've debts and don't think stoozing is for you, 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 fool-proof (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.
STEP 1: Get a card offering 0% on new purchases
Many cards offer new customers short-term 0% offers on all purchases (don't confuse these with 0% balance transfers, which are for shifting debts).
Once accepted, use the card for everything you buy; replacing all credit card, debit card, cheque and cash spending – though never withdraw cash as you're charged interest.
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.
Tesco: 0% for 18 months on purchasesPlus earn Tesco Clubcard points
- 0% on spending for: 18 months
- Representative variable APR: 18.9% APR (Official APR Example)
- Min income: £5,000
- Card issuer: Mastercard
- Min repay: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
The Tesco* Clubcard Credit Card gives 0% for 18 months on new purchases. After this, it's 18.9% representative APR.
- Spending rewards. Every time you spend, you accrue Tesco Clubcard points – 1 for every £4 spent. If redeemed for Tesco Clubcard Rewards, they're worth about 3p each, making this equivalent to a 0.75% cashback card.
Tesco often has special deals where you can collect extra Clubcard points, and sometimes even make a profit. For more information read the Boost Tesco Clubcard Points guide.
Santander* - 18 months 0%Joint longest term purchase card
- Spending length: 18 months 0%
- Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
- Card issuer: Mastercard
- Min income: N/A
- Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5
The longest 0% spending card available is Santander's* 18-month purchase card. Unlike the card below, the 0% term won't vary according to your credit score - everyone accepted gets the full 18 months.
Once the 18 months is up it switches to 18.9% representative APR, so make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new balance transfer card.
This card doesn't offer rewards on spending, so if you spend a small fortune in supermarkets and you don't mind a slightly shorter 0%, then the Tesco or Marks & Spencer cards below may work out better - see full details.
17mths 0%, but only for top credit scorers Halifax, only for 51% of applicants
- 0% on spending for: 17 months
- Representative variable APR: 16.9% (Official APR Example)
- Card issuer: Mastercard
- Min income: N/A
- Min repay: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5
The Halifax All in One card has 0% on purchases for 17 months. However only 51% of applicants will get this, the rest will either get 12 or nine months at 0%.
Card providers only have to give the advertised representative APRs to 51% of applicants. Halifax has taken this a step further and is only offering this 17-month deal to 51% of those accepted. The rest will either get 12 or nine months at 0%. So only apply for it if you have a top credit rating, otherwise take a look at the other options.
If you don't get the 17 month deal it'll be either 23.9% or 25.9%. So make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new Balance Transfer Card.
M&S: 0% for 15 months on purchases Plus 0.5% back in vouchers
- 0% on spending for: 15 months
- Representative variable APR: 16.9% APR (Official APR Example)
- Min income: N/A
- Min repay: Greater of 2.5% or £5
- Card issuer: Mastercard
The M&S* Credit Card offers 15 months 0% on spending. After this the rate jumps to 16.9% representative APR.
- Spending rewards. You also collect points as you spend which will be converted into Marks & Spencer vouchers quarterly. You get 0.5% back on most purchases (50p per £100 spend) and 1% when you spend in M&S.
M&S, like many other banks, tries hard to sell you other products and memberships once you are a customer. Be wary and make sure you really need something and can't get it cheaper before parting with cash.
Barclaycard: 14 months 0% on purchasesPlus 14 months on 0% BTs (2.9% fee)
- 0% on spending for: 14 months
- Representative variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
- Min income £20,000
- Card issuer: Visa
- Min repay: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5
The Barclaycard Platinum* also offers 14 months 0% on purchases. You must earn £20,000 a year, and not already hold another Barclaycard in order to get this deal (and pass a credit check).
It also offers 14 months 0% for balance transfers with a fee of 2.9%, making it a good 0% Balance Transfers and Purchases card.
The card has an 18.9% representative APR on both BTs and spending, so make sure you repay within 14 months or shift to a new 0% BT card.
- Don't get card protection insurance
Payment protection insurance is commonly sold with credit cards – the idea is it'll make some payments for you, usually for a year, if you are unable to (eg, if you lose your job).
When properly using a card for stoozing, there's no need to tick the box for this policy. It's unnecessary. If there's a problem, you can pay off this debt with the savings.
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STEP 2: Make the minimum repayments only
Don't try to repay this card. Just set up a direct debit to make the minimum monthly repayments, usually around 2% of the outstanding balance. 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, which can then be moved to a high interest savings account.
However, always make sure you make at least the minimum payments – 0% interest doesn't mean nothing to repay. If you miss a payment, you could lose the 0% promo offer, messing up your entire stooze.
STEP 3: Earn max interest on the debts
You now have debts on the credit card, and approximately 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, siphon it off into the savings account as soon as possible.
Always ensure it's one giving you access to the cash whenever you need it, in case you have to pay off the credit card bill quickly.
Where to save the cash
To combine risk-free easy access and a high rate, use the top-paying tax-free cash ISA. These allow every UK adult to save up to £5,940 till 1 July, then £15,000 after, and pay no tax on the interest earned. If you use up your ISA allowance, put the money in the best-paying Instant Access Savings account.
Anyone with a flexible or offset mortgage, where money can be deposited and taken out at will, should simply pay all the cash into that. The mortgage interest reduction outweighs even the best cash ISA returns.
- Top cash ISA
The current open-to-all highest-paying cash ISA that allows access whenever you need it is the Direct Cash ISA from Santander. It pays a clean rate of 1.6% AER on balances from £500, so prepare to ditch and transfer when the rate drops. It does allow transfers in of previous years' ISAs, and you can make unlimited withdrawals.
For full details, plus all the alternatives, see the Top Cash ISAs guide.
- Easy savings account
If you've already filled your cash ISA allowance, the highest-paying standard savings account is the Britannia Select Access Saver, paying 1.5% AER. It's a variable rate, so be prepared to ditch and switch if it drops. It allows four withdrawals a year.
Britannia shares the £85,000 savings safety guarantee with the Co-op Bank and Smile. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.
The credit card debt is now at 0% and the savings at hopefully 1.75%. Now, diarise the date the 0% ends, and sit back while earning 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: Increase your profit
When the end of the 0% period approaches, you can choose to simply pay off the debt with the savings and bag the gains. Or you could shift the debt again to another cheap balance transfer to keep earning interest on the savings.
If you take the second option, always try to grab the balance transfer card with the lowest fee possible. Fees are around 2-3%, so they usually can't be beaten by the savings rates by much. Check the current top low-fee balance transfer offers.
Plus, you can restart the whole scheme with another new card at the same time. It's possible to do this whole system with two, three or four cards consecutively.
Will it hit your credit score?
Most lenders' scoring systems aren't sophisticated enough to detect that you're playing this free cash gain.
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% (the biggest reported was £80,000 of credit pre-credit crunch – netting that stoozer nearly £5,000 a year as the money was offset in his mortgage).
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.
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.
Don't other stoozing methods exist?
Stoozing's been around for a long time, and we've spoken in the past about two other ways of doing it. We've left these below purely as an archive, but at the moment both are defunct as the necessary products aren't available.
Super Balance Transfer
The Super Balance Transfer method is the quickest way to make cash. The big problem is it can only be used with a couple of cards. However, the products currently available on the market aren't sufficient to make a profit.
The dream stoozing aim is to instantly move all the 0% debt into a savings account, so you’re earning interest on it immediately. A few cards, which offer what we call a 'super balance transfer' facility, allow you to do this.
What is a super balance transfer?
When you do a normal balance transfer on a new card, it pays off your debts on another credit card for you, so you now owe the new card the money. Yet some allow 'money transfers' at the cheap balance transfer rate too, where money goes straight into your bank account (read full Super Balance Transfers guide).
A huge warning's needed. Many cards allow you to pay cash into your bank account, the difference is most charge a fortune for it. The key to a super balance transfer is that you’re charged the special promotional interest rate. So, to get this, never ever withdraw cash and never try to spend on the credit card. Instead, just ask the card provider to...
"Do a balance transfer to my current account."
This way you'll get the cheap balance transfer deal, and the cash will end up in your bank. For double surety, you can even explain exactly what you think will happen, and get them to confirm it. Don't use the term "super balance transfer" as that's a term I've coined and unless they use this site, the customer service rep won't have heard of it.
Also, it's crucial you set up a direct debit to make AT LEAST the Minimum Repayment each month. If not you’ll lose the special deal and pay the 15%+ APR on all debts. In fact, it's massively preferable to pay more than this, so the debt is cleared by the end of the intro deal.
What cards will let you do this?
Only MBNA and Virgin currently offer super balance transfers at a low interest rate.
- MBNA 0% for 30 months. Plus a 4% fee.
The MBNA* Platinum card offers 0% for 30 months on money transfers (super balance transfers) for a one-off fee of 4% (higher than the standard fees charged on balance transfers). You can do the super balance transfer at any time within 60 days of opening the account. After the 30 month period the rate is a huge 20.9% representative APR, so ensure you've repaid the money by then.
Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayments or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Quick Stats. 0% length: 30 months. Fee: 4% Representative variable APR: 20.9%. Minimum Income: N/A Min Repay: Greater of £25 or 1% of balance plus interest Official APR Example
- Virgin Money 0% for 29 months. Plus a 4% fee.
The Virgin* Money transfer card offers 0% for 29 months on money transfers (super balance transfers) for a one-off fee of 4% (higher than the standard fees charged on balance transfers). You can do the super balance transfer at any time within 60 days of opening the account. After the 29 month period the rate is a huge 20.9% representative APR, so ensure you've repaid the money by then.
However, this card offers 0% balance transfers for 29 months too, with a handling fee of 2.99%. After the 29 months, the representative APR on the BT is 18.9%.
Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayments or you'll lose the 0% deals.
Quick Stats. 0% length: 29 months. Fee: 4% Representative variable APR: 20.9%. Minimum Income: N/A Min Repay: Greater of £25 or 1% of balance plus interest Official APR Example
Once you have the cash in the bank, move it to a top paying ISA or savings account to earn around 1.5% - see Step 2: Time to earn cash. When the year-long 0% rate ends, you could have netted over £100; then either pay back the balance in full, or switch it to a normal balance transfer card, thus keeping the stoozed cash in your savings account.
To find out how much you'll make, use the Stoozing Calculator.
Using a 'mule card': A complex back-up
Please note the Egg Money card is no longer available. We've left this here purely for archive purposes.
This should be thought of as a back up route if you can't access the super balance transfer deals. It's tricky, complex and requires a really good credit score but does allow money to be quickly moved into a savings account from lots of different cards.
Not for amateurs, it's worth considering if you already have all the cards used in the method above, meaning you can't access the cheap super balance transfer deals.
You must be ultra-careful - read the full explanation at least twice to ensure you understand it, as it's much easier to make a costly mistake. Also make sure you understand how balance transfers work first (never simply ‘withdraw cash' and put it in your bank account; you'd incur big fees and interest charges).
It's all about the Egg Money card
For this you need an Egg Money card (not to be confused with the standard Egg card) - these are not accepting new customers, so you'll need to have one already. It charges a £1 monthly fee (£12/year), which must be factored in. It has a 19.0% representative APR.
In addition, a cheap balance transfer card is required.
Egg Money can both have a money balance transferred to it, AND lets you pay cash directly into your bank account at no cost. This second feature enables it to be used as a ‘mule' card for shifting cash from a 0% deal into your savings account. Most cards either don’t permit this, or charge a fee and possibly interest for doing so.
What to do
Before using this technique, you also need a 0% card for balance transfers too. To make the best use of stoozing, you’ll need a good credit rating to ensure you can continue to get the right cards again and again. Plus you’ll need to be good with money, as if you fail to switch in time the cost shoots up. See full details of the top 0% credit cards.
Once you've got one, then use the Egg Money card to pay cash into your bank account. At this point, you will be in debt with Egg, so then use the 0% balance transfer card to pay off the Egg Money card. If you go for a card which charges a balance transfer fee, work how much you’ll pay and take it off the profit in the Stoozing Calculator to see how much you’ll really make.
This means the Egg Money card now has a zero balance, and you have money in your bank account equal to the amount of 0% debt on the balance transfer card, which can be moved to a high interest account.
Got that? Probably not, so follow the guide below…
0% card >> Egg Money
Cash wanted: £3,000
Ask your Egg Money card to pay £3,000 into your bank account. Be aware that for a short period you will be in debt on the Egg card and accruing interest, so there is a risk of a cost if the payments don't get sorted quickly.
Once the £3,000 is in your current account, you can move it to a high interest, easy access bank account.
Egg Money >> Savings Account
Savings account: £3,000
Now we need to pay off the debt in your Egg Money account, so that you owe it to the credit card at 0%. This is simple, just do a balance transfer with the 0% card.
After this, you will have a zero balance on the Egg Money card, and owe the 0% card the full amount.
| Savings account: £3,000,
Egg Money: £0
0% balance transfer card: £3,000 in debt
A note for the curious: Where does ‘stoozing’ come from?
This isn't a fly-by-night system. Martin first broadcast a strategy for this in early 2000, as 0% credit card interest rates began. Many who started back then now report thousands in total gains.
As the number of 0% cards increased, so did the number of people taking advantage. The now-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.