If you're a Barclays current account holder and haven't yet signed up to its Blue Rewards scheme, join by 31 Jan and you'll get double rewards for the first month. This means you can earn at least £55 in your first year on the scheme. Meanwhile, Co-op Bank's also launched a new reward scheme which can pay at least £48/year.
These aren't best buys – neither scheme is a reason to switch or even to stick with your account. In fact, you'd be better off switching to one of the top pick Best
Both schemes actually allow you to earn even more if you jump through certain hoops. With Barclays you can get up to £156/year (£172 in the first year with the boost) if you hold additional financial products, while with Co-op, using your debit card could boost your total earnings to £66/year.
Barclays doubles rewards for a month
The Barclays* 'Blue Rewards' programme launched last April and is available to new and existing current account customers who bank online or via its app.
Once you're signed up to the scheme, you'll normally get a reward of £7 each month you:
- Pay the £3/mth fee.
- Pay in at least £800 to your account (that's equivalent to an annual pre-tax salary of around £9,800).
- Have at least two direct debits going out of your account.
This means you can effectively earn a free £48/year – and you can earn more if you have certain Barclays products alongside your current account:
- You'll get an extra £5/mth if you have a Barclays mortgage.
- You'll get an extra £3/mth if you have Barclays home insurance.
- You'll get an extra £1/mth if you have a Barclays personal loan.
Those who sign up to Blue Rewards through Barclays' app or online by 31 January will get paid double rewards for a month. That means you can earn up to £16 more in the first month – a total of £29 after the fee. Barclays says it doesn't tax its rewards, but customers should check if they need to declare anything as income tax.
Barclays won't tell us exactly how many of its existing customers can get the double rewards but the bank says "a considerable number... who already qualify for Barclays Blue Rewards have yet to take it up". See the New Blue Rewards scheme MSE news story for more details on how the programme works.
Co-op Bank launches reward scheme
Meanwhile Co-op Bank has just launched its own new reward scheme called Everyday Rewards, which will allow customers with any of its standard current accounts to earn up to £5.50/month.
Unlike Barclays Blue Rewards, there is no monthly fee to participate in the scheme. It'll automatically pay you £4 each month you:
- Pay in £800 (again, that's equivalent to an annual pre-tax salary of around £9,800).
- Stay in credit or within any agreed overdraft.
- Receive paperless statements.
- Log in to online banking or the mobile app at least once.
- Pay at least four direct debits.
You can also earn 5p every time you use your debit card, up to a max of £1.50/month.
You'll be eligible to earn rewards if you have a Current Account, Current Account Plus, Privilege Account and Privilege Premier Account, though you’ll have to nominate an account over the phone (call 03457 212 212) or in branch before you start earning rewards.
Customers who qualify for rewards will get a monthly email with a summary of the amount earned, and you can choose to receive the money into your Co-op account, or donate it to one of five charities: Amnesty International, Hospice UK, Oxfam, Refuge or The Woodland Trust.
The £4 payment is made net of basic rate tax, so if you're a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you may have to pay extra tax on it. However, the extra money you earn from debit card payments isn't taxed, as it's classed as cashback.
How do these compare with other current account reward schemes?
Both schemes detailed above are worth joining if you already have an account with Barclays or Co-op Bank, but there are better incentives out there if you want to switch accounts.
The two key incentives tend to be either a switching bonus or in-credit interest. You need to work out which deal is best for you. Our table below shows how the Barclays and Co-op schemes compare with our best buys:
Best bank accounts compared
|Current account||Switching bonus||In-credit interest (AER) or reward||Min monthly income/pay-in amount||Min standing orders/direct debits||Max rewards/yr (i)|
|Barclays Bank*||None||Up to £13/mth or £156/yr reward||£800||Two direct debits||Up to £156 (after fee) (ii)|
|Co-op Bank||None||Up to £5.50/mth or £66/yr reward||£800||Four direct debits||Up to £66|
|Clydesdale Bank*||£150||2% up to £3,000||£1,000||Two direct debits||£48|
|Halifax*||£100||£5/mth (after tax)||£750||Two direct debits||£60|
|Club Lloyds*||None||4% up to £5k (iii)||£1,500||Two direct debits||£157|
|M&S*||£100 gift card||£10/mth for a year||£1,000||Two direct debits||£120 gift card|
|Nationwide*||None||5% up to £2,500 for 12 months (iv)||£1,000||None||£98 (1st yr only)|
|Santander* (v)||None||3% on £3k-£20k (vi). Plus up to 3% cashback on certain bills||£500||Two direct debits||£413 (after fee)|
|TSB*||£100||5% up to £2,000, plus 5% cashback on £100 contactless spend each month||£500||Two direct debits||£138 (vii)|
(i) Approx gross reward you'd earn in a year after basic rate tax if you were to hold the max balance. (ii) After £3/mth fee. Barclays doesn't tax the rewards, but customers should check if they need to declare anything as income tax. (iii) 1% under £2,000, 2% on £2k-£3,999.99, 4% on £4k-£5k. (iv) 1% after year one. (v) Santander's 123 account has a £5/mth fee. (vi) 1% on £1k-£1,999.99, 2% on £2k-£2,999.99. (vii) £78 from interest plus £60 (tax free) from cashback.