Most involve a credit check which puts a minor mark on your file. That's not usually a problem, but you might want to avoid if you're a month or two from a mortgage or other big credit application. So without further ado, here's what's on offer if you're accepted for these hotties...
1) Ends Wed. Free £35 in M&S vchs for spending a penny. Trigger to get: Spend 1p in M&S. Amount: £35 in vchs. How quick? 1-3mths.
We've flushed out a great deal. Accepted new M&S Bank card holders (eligibility calc / apply*) who apply by 11.59pm on Wed, via this link, and spend anything, anywhere on it (even 1p) by 31 Dec, get emailed a £30 M&S vch by 31 Jan. If needed, the card's also 25mths 0% on spending - used right, there's no cheaper way to borrow.
- Bag extra £5. You're sent another voucher to scan in store (or enter a code online) with a purchase within 6wks, on most things at M&S (incl food). You'll get 500 M&S points worth £5 with your first quarterly reward statement. So buy an M&S banana and you're £35 up. Buy a Tesco one and it's only £30. You can pay the card off to avoid interest and forget it, or use for 1pt per £1 spent in M&S, per £5 elsewhere.
- How good is the 25mths 0%? If you use it for this, never miss min monthly repayments and clear before the 0% ends to avoid 18.9% rep APR interest. It's close to the longest but it's possible to get up to 30mths 0%, see the Virgin card below. Full options in Top 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples). The M&S deal's come and gone before (you can't get it if you've had the card within the last 12mths) & there's no certainty it'll return. For full details see M&S £35 offer.
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2) Free £100+ to switch bank account. Trigger: Switch account. Amount: Four £100 bribe options. How quick? Some in 10 days.
We've been yelling for years that numerous banks bribe you to switch to 'em. These zingers are top accounts too, and you may even get the cash in time for Xmas. All require you use their switching services and most require you switch 2+ direct debits.
- Free £100 in 1-2 mths, no.1 service, 5% linked savings & 0% overdraft. First Direct's* won every customer service poll we've done; 91% rate it 'great'. The free £100 should come within 28 working days of paying in £1k while switchers also get a £250 0% overdraft and can put up to £300/mth in its linked 5% regular saver. Min £1k/mth pay-in to avoid its £10/mth fee. Full info: First Direct.
- Free £100 M&S gift card in 40 days, plus £10/mth. M&S Bank* gives a £100 M&S gift card, plus pay in £1,000+ a month and you get £10/mth added for a year. And it has a £100 0% overdraft and a linked 5% regular saver. Full info in M&S.
- Free £100 in 1-2mths, 3% interest & up to £5/mth cashback. Via this link (not direct), TSB* pays £100 within 28 working days of your switch completing provided you've paid in £500+. Plus from Jan you can get 3% on up to £1.5k (5% on up to £2k till then), if you keep paying in £500/mth. It also gives 5% contactless cashback on an up-to-£100/mth spend till Sep. Cust service is a strong 72% 'great'. Full info: TSB.
- Free £100 in 10 days, plus £5/mth (£3/mth from Feb). Halifax pays £100 by the time the switch's complete, and also pays £5 for each month you're in credit (£3/mth from Feb) & pay in a min £750/mth. Its service is 63% 'great', but beware its costly £1+/day overdraft. Full info: Halifax Rewards.
Switching's little hassle. It takes seven working days and they move all payments. It's so easy, some of us at MSE have made £800+ as bank tarts. Though some of you have made much more with serial bank account switching, such as David: "My wife and I collected £2,145 from opening new accounts in the last 2 years. Many thanks."
3) Free £100 Amazon/M&S voucher for 3mths' normal spending. Trigger: Spend £2k. Amount: £100 vch. How quick? 1-4 mths.
Spend £2k+ in the first 3mths and the Amex Rewards Gold charge card (eligibility calc / apply*) gives 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards pts, usually credited when you hit the £2k spend, but can take 1mth.
- What are points worth? You can swap them for a £100 Amazon/M&S/Boots etc gift card (shops can change) or BA/Virgin etc points. You earn 1pt per £1 spent on the card too.
- Warning. There's a £140 annual fee after 1yr. Diarise to cancel if you don't want to pay it. Also as it's a charge card it must be repaid IN FULL each month. There's no interest but missed repayments cost £12 & a credit file black mark. Just do normal spending (it's not an excuse to spend more). Full help in Cashback Cards (APR Examples).
Won't spend that much? The Amex Rewards credit card (eligibility calc / apply*), via this link, gives 10k bonus pts for a lower £1k+ spend in three months, so you can get a £50 vch. If you don't repay IN FULL every month, it's 22.9% rep APR.
4) Bank with Nationwide? Share £200 with a friend if they switch to it. Trigger: Your friend's switch. Amount: £100. How quick? 1-2 mths.
While not quite the same concept as the rest, we like this as Nationwide accounts tend to be decent. If you've a Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus account, and you rate it, if you refer a friend who switches to one, you both get £100. Full info: Nationwide refer-a-friend.
5) £20 Amazon to shift debt to 41mths 0%. STOP paying credit card interest. Trigger: Transfer £1k+. Amount: £20 vch. How quick? 2-3mths.
A balance transfer is where a new card pays off existing credit & store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest (for a small fee). Repayments just clear the debt rather than interest too, so you're debt-free quicker. And a card with the joint-longest 0% has a hot freebie.
- With MBNA-owned Nuba (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*), if you get its up-to-41mth 0% card and transfer £1k+ within 60 days, you're emailed a £20 Amazon gift card within another 60 days. The fee is 3.29% of the amount moved.
- Who's it best for? It's right up there among the top picks but isn't necessarily best for all. Our eligibility calc shows which of the top ones you've best odds of getting. For Nuba and some others it can also tell if you've been pre-approved, subject to an ID check. If you can pay it off quicker, a 25mth 0% NO-FEE card may win. Full options and info in Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
- Balance transfer golden rules. Repay by the end of the 0% period or you'll pay the rep APR (20.9% on Nuba). Plus never miss the min payment and avoid spending or cash withdrawals, which aren't at 0%.
6) Free £25 cashback or £20 Amazon to (re)build your credit history. Trigger: Use card responsibly. Amount: £25 cashback/£20 vch. How quick? 2-3mths.
If you've a patchy or limited credit history, you'll struggle to get the deals above. Yet some cards accept those with past CCJs & defaults. Do normal spending, never bust your limit and pay off IN FULL each month to avoid horrid interest (the below are 24.7% & 34.9% rep APR respectively) and (re)build your credit score by proving you can handle credit. Two have hot freebies:
- New. Vanquis Chrome (eligibility calc / apply*). We've blagged you £25 cashback after two months if you make at least £50 of purchases, pay on time and stay within your credit limit. Do this and the £25's credited to your account.
- Aqua Advance (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*). You're emailed a £20 Amazon voucher after two months, as long as you use the card at least once, pay on time and don't bust your limit. Keep up this 'good behaviour' and your APR can drop from 34.9% to 19.9% over 3yrs.
Loads more help in Credit Rebuild Cards (APR Examples).
7) Members of cashback sites could get cashback on lots of things. Just make sure it's the same product. For full info, pros and cons, see Top Cashback Sites.
This article first appeared in the MoneySavingExpert.com weekly email on 30 November.