Santander 123 Lite customers can now earn 5% cashback when using their mobiles to make payments using the Apple, Android or Samsung Pay apps – but only till the end of September.

New and existing customers can earn 5% back between Monday 17 July and Saturday 30 September when spending on their Santander debit card via the apps.

The 123 Lite account, which has a £1 monthly fee, is already one of our top-pick accounts for the 1-3% cashback it offers on monthly bills paid by direct debit.

But if you're considering getting the account for the 5% cashback bonus, you'll need to weigh up carefully whether it's worth it – if you don't have household bills and want cashback long-term, a cashback credit card may be better.

See our Best Bank Accounts and Cashback Credit Cards guides for our top picks.

How does the mobile cashback work?

To earn any cashback with Santander 123 Lite, you need to:

  • Pay in at least £500/month
  • Have two active direct debits
  • Log in to online or mobile banking at least once every three months

You can earn cashback on any purchases using Apple, Android or Samsung Pay made in-store, in-app or online when you pay using your Santander debit card. You won't get the cashback if you use a credit card, a debit card with another bank or any other form of payment.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay are essentially digital wallets. You store card details in the apps and tap your phone on a contactless reader to pay. Some apps also allow you to make in-app purchases using Apple, Samsung or Android Pay. Plus, Apple Pay lets you pay online in the Safari browser using your phone, iPad or Mac, and Android Pay works with some merchants online.

There's no cap on the amount of cashback you can earn during the offer period. Many retailers don't apply the usual £30 contactless limit to mobile payments, so it could be possible to earn a hefty sum if you often use your phone to make purchases – or if you spend big online.

How to get the cashback

To get the cashback, you'll need to add your Santander 123 Lite debit card details to your Apple, Android or Samsung Pay account. Make sure you select your Santander card when you go to pay – or set it as your default card, which you can do in each app's settings.

The cashback will then be accrued automatically while you're eligible – you don't need to do anything else. All mobile cashback earned will be automatically credited to your account in one lump sum by the end of November.

How good is the cashback?

If you're already a Santander 123 Lite customer, this is an easy way to boost the cashback you earn – but don't use it as an excuse to overspend.

If you're considering getting the Santander 123 Lite account for the cashback, it's a trickier decision. Bear in mind there's a time limit, it'll take a few days to get your debit card and start using mobile payments, there's a £1 monthly fee and opening a new account also means a mark on your credit file.

Let's say you apply today and get your card next Monday, and you spend £500 via Apple, Android or Samsung Pay by the end of September (an average £7.20/day). With the Santander 123 Lite account you'll earn a net £22 (after paying the monthly fee).

That's decent – and remember, you'll earn cashback on top for household bills – but you may be able to beat it with a cashback credit card. (We're comparing the cashback here, but there are other ways to earn through bank accounts too. To find out more, see our Best Bank Accounts guide.)

Santander 123 Lite offers 5% cashback on mobile payments
Santander 123 Lite customers will be able to get 5% cashback using Apple, Android or Samsung Pay

In comparison, the Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday card offers an introductory 5% cashback on all spending for three months (max £100) – so on that same £500 you'd earn £25. You also get ongoing cashback – however, you need to spend £3,000 in a year to earn any cashback at all, and you should pay off in full every month to avoid the nasty 22.9% APR. You'll also need to pass a credit check, and note that Amex isn't as widely accepted as Mastercard and Visa.

There are lots of variables, so the only way to work out what the best option is for you is to do the maths. But as a general rule:

  • If you've household bills or are planning big spending, Santander 123 Lite may win. It's a top-pick account anyway, and the extra mobile payments cashback is a welcome bonus. If you're getting it because you've big spending planned (eg, a holiday), make sure you'll be able to pay via Apple, Android or Samsung Pay.
  • If you've no household bills and want cashback long-term, a cashback credit card may win. The Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday's our top pick – but as you'll need to spend £3,000 in a year to get any cashback, this is a long-term option.

See more options and info in our Best Bank Accounts and Cashback Credit Cards guides.

How does Santander 123 Lite work?

As well as mobile cashback, you also get cashback on qualifying bills paid by direct debit:

  • 1% on water and council tax bills and Santander monthly mortgage payments (though mortgage cashback is capped at £10/month)
  • 2% on gas and electricity bills and Santander home insurance
  • 3% on mobile and home phone bills, broadband and paid-for TV packages

The amount of bills cashback you earn is worked out automatically by Santander and paid into your account once a month.