Stoozing – make free cash
Earn interest from 0% credit cards
Stoozing's the art of making money by earning interest on cash that credit cards lend you at 0%. While not as lucrative as it used to be, you can still make a pretty penny as long as you know what you're doing. Here's how to do it and what to watch out for.
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 it's still possible to make a bit of free cash.
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 Credit card rewards 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.
The aim is to get the longest 0% credit deal you can (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.
See our 0% spending cards guide for the current top picks.
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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 2.5% of the outstanding balance. Don't miss any payments, or you could lose the 0% promo offer, messing up your entire stooze.
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).
Top paying current accounts. The top savings rates right now come from current accounts – though this isn't as lucrative as it used to be, and only usually on smaller amounts. See our Best Bank Accounts guide for the current crop.
- 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.
- Easy-access savings account. These tend to pay higher rates than cash ISAs. For full info and best buys see the Top Savings Accounts guide.
Top cash ISA. These allow every UK adult to save up to £20,000 per tax year, and never pay tax on the interest earned. They're a good place to save if savings interest has taken you over your personal allowance. For full details, plus all the alternatives, see the Top Cash ISAs guide.
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.
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 are typically around 2-3% for the longest 0% periods, but opt for a shorter period and there are options with none at all. Check the current best buys in the Balance Transfers guide for the full selection.
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%. Now lending criteria is tighter, so it's best to start small and not overstretch yourself (read the Credit Scoring guide).
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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