When I started MSE 13 years ago it was just me. Today we've a large team, many of whom are pretty obsessive about MoneySaving too. I delighted in overhearing MSE Sarah and MSE Megan comparing who made more from being bank tarts. Don't worry, I'm not being rude, that's what we call anyone who repeatedly switches to get free cash (Sarah's £825 topped Megan's £800).
Their tales inspired me to collate a host of different ways to speedily stuff cash in your coffers. So here goes...
1. Free £150+ for switching to a better bank account. The fierce competition in the banking market means some bribe you to switch. As often these are best-buys anyway, take it and smile. Some pay quicker than others - the times I give are the days after your switch completes.
- Free £150 PLUS £4+/mth. Co-op* pays £150 within 45 days. Plus its Everyday Rewards scheme pays £4+/mth if you qualify. Its customer service rating's a strong 70% 'great'. Full eligibility info: Co-op Bank.
- Free £100, No.1 service, 6% linked savings & 0% overdraft. First Direct's* won every service poll we've ever done; 91% rate it 'great'. On top of a free £100 within 44 days, switchers get a £250 0% overdraft and you can put up to £300/mth in its linked 6% regular saver. Full eligibility info in our First Direct review.
- Free £100 M&S gift card plus £10/mth. M&S Bank doesn't pay cash, but does give a £100 gift card within 30 days, plus pay in £1,000+ a month and you get £10/mth added for a year. Its service is a strong 68% 'great'. It also has a £100 0% overdraft and a linked 6% regular saver. Full eligibility info in M&S review.
- Free £100 plus £5/mth. Halifax pays £100 after just 3 days and also pays £5 each month you're in credit - its service is also 68% 'great'. Yet beware its overdraft which is very costly. Full eligibility info: Halifax Rewards review.
And don't worry, I did a Twitter poll and 83% who've switched since 7-day switching launched in 2013 said it's no hassle. They simply close your old account, move direct debits & standing orders and auto-forward payments.
2. Make £1,500+ as a serial bank-account switcher. It's not just my team who are bank tarts. In fact after we did a story on an £800+ profit, you've been competing to be Britain's biggest bank tart.
Simon Bartram and his wife have now earnt £1,565 over four years: "Inspired by Martin Lewis, we started switching... keeping track of the cash takes some doing but it's well worth it". For help, pros & cons, see Bank tarting champs.
3. Get PAID to walk... via a fitness tracker or app, more if you use the gym. See the new Get Paid To Walk app.
4. Free £100 Amazon/M&S voucher within 3 months. Accepted new applicants for the Amex Gold Charge Card (eligibility calc / apply*) get 20,000 reward points if they spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. This isn't a call to spend more, just do normal spending on it as long as it's £700+/mth. The voucher usually lands within 3mths.
- What are the points worth? The 20,000 bonus is enough for a £100 voucher for Amazon, M&S and more (or you can transfer to airline & hotel loyalty-schemes). You earn 1pt per £1 spend on the card too.
- Warning: After a year there's a £140 fee. The £140 annual fee is waived in year 1, so diarise to cancel if you want to avoid it.
- It's a charge card, not a credit card. So you MUST repay IN FULL every month, or face a £12 penalty and a mark on your credit file. Best do it via direct debit. Full help in credit card freebies.
5. Switched energy in last 6 years? Get £100s back in minutes. Disgustingly, when you left an energy firm, if you were in credit it ran a 'don't ask, don't get' policy. That's mostly changed now, but if you didn't get your money - even if years ago - you can still ask.
It only takes a few minutes, see my Get Old Energy Credit Back guide. Many get £100s, some more, like forumite Col.Escargot: "The balance owing from 17mths ago was £1,364. Brilliant, but I do feel an idiot for not knowing how much I'd overpaid. I'd urge everyone to check."
6. Find £100s of lost Tesco vouchers. Speedily check if you can reclaim lost/unused Tesco vouchers, like forumite McTaggus, who said: "You netted me £276 in unused vouchers. Thank you MSE." And the guide also shows how you can increase their value up to fourfold.
7. Bank with Nationwide? Get £100 for you and a friend. If you've a Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus account, and you rate it, if you refer a friend who opens one, you get £100 and so do they, and you can refer up to 10 friends each year, so that's a grand.
8. Flog old wedding gowns - for hundreds. Call me a cold-hearted beast, but that frock's not going to make another appearance. So ask yourself what'd make you happier: it sitting in a drawer, or having some cash in your pocket to have fun with (or paying off debts).
We lift the veil in wedding dress flogging and it works, as forumite fran-o says: "I put my dress on Preloved, and someone who'd tried it on in a shop came and bought it for £550. Very happy."
9. 'Asked for bank fees back on Sat, it offered £2,000 on Monday'. If you've ever had a packaged bank account (where you pay £10-£20/mth for add-ons such as travel insurance) you didn't ask for, or couldn't use the benefits, try our free Reclaim Packaged Bank Fees tool, like Claire: "Submitted a claim on Saturday, on Monday the bank rang to offer to refund 5yrs of fees - a whopping £1,996. Thank you."
10. £25ish/mth to watch vids & play games. Mega-popular with forumites, Swagbucks gets paid for ads/market research, and you get a cut - often being paid in a month. Plus we've a link for you to accrue £5 & get a bonus £10. Leah tweeted: "Thanks to your email I'm a Swagbucks addict. I've got nearly £18 of Amazon cards in 10 days."
11. Get PAID £10 to check your credit file(s). It's crucial to ensure your credit files are correct and you should check them regularly. Do it right and we've a trick that gets you PAID to check your credit file.
12. Check shops' prices & get paid to scan shopping receipts. If you've an iPhone, take on a mission (should you choose to accept it) from free app Field Agent; it pays up to £10/job to check prices/snap photos. Yet you're competing against others for jobs, so don't get too excited. Also join the waiting list to earn up to £10/mth in vouchers at Shop and Scan. The cash is usually paid in one week.
13. Got a credit card and always repay in full? Make it PAY YOU. When you use a card, the retailer has to pay the card firm a transaction fee. With a cashback card you effectively get this put in your pocket. Those fees have been cut recently, except for Amex, so it still pays a good whack, though here you wait a year for cash.
The fee-free Amex Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) pays 5% cashback (max £100) for 3mths, then tiered up to 1.25% after. The money's paid on the anniversary of getting the card (you need to spend £3,000+ to get any cashback). Anna tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Glad I read about Amex cashback: I'll get over £200 paid".
Amex isn't accepted everywhere, so a top alternative is Asda Mastercard (apply*), at 0.5% cashback (1% in Asda) - and it pays cashback monthly.
But only do this if you'll set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month. If not, they're 22.9%/18.9% rep APR interest, which more than wipes the cashback gain. Full options in Top Cashback Credit Cards.
14. Flog stuff you never use for £100s. Look around your possessions and ask yourself "have I used it in the last year?" If not, consider flogging it. As Gavin said: "@MoneySavingExp - made £200 in one weekend selling two items on Facebook". For help, see 40+ eBay Sellers' Tricks and 27 Facebook Selling Tips.
This article first appeared in the weekly email on 20 July 2016. Its contents were fact-checked and updated on 26 July 2016.