Eight ways to earn easy cash in the run-up to Christmas
For some, the thought of planning Christmas when it's only October may seem like a crazy idea. However, come January, the form of human known as 'Spendus Regretus', with its distinct call of "I'm broke", will be at its peak. So here are a few MoneySaving tips ahead of the build-up to the holidays.
It is all about quick ways to get legit free cash to try to help in this busy, high-spend period in the run-up to the festive season.
1. £130 paid into your account just for switching bank.
The bank switching competition's currently hotter than chestnuts roasting on an open fire, with EIGHT banks vying for your custom with hefty cash or voucher switching offers - many putting cash in your bank quicker than the big fella can drop down your chimney.
We've full info on eligibility and switching criteria in our Best bank accounts guide, but here's our at-a-glance table:
Min pay-in (1)
|PERKS & OUR THOUGHTS||PAYOUT TIME (2)|
|Santander 123 Lite*
Min pay-in: £500/mth
|Top Pick: For those who pay bills (incl joint bill accounts), as you get the overall biggest financial gain.
FREE £130. Plus 1-3% cashback on bills for a £2/mth fee (£40-£80 annual gain after the fee for medium-large bills). See full Santander review.
|New. First Direct 1st Account**
Min pay-in: None
|Top Pick: For a mix of reward and customer service.
FREE £100. 85% rate it great for service. £250 0% overdraft for many. See full First Direct review.
|Virgin Money M Plus*
Min pay-in: None
|Top Pick: For those needing an easy, high-value gift to give (to yourself or others).
FREE £150 experience day gift card. 2.02% interest on up to £1,000. No exchange fees abroad. See full Virgin review.
Min pay-in: £1,000/mth
|Top Pick: For those with bigger overdrafts.
FREE £100 (3). A year's 2% in-credit interest and 0% overdraft. See full Nationwide review.
Min pay-in: £1,750/mth
|FREE £110 + £30 Uber Eats / Dine In voucher. 1% regular saver. See full HSBC review.||Mid Nov|
Min pay-in: £1,500/mth
|FREE £100. Choice of freebies, incl cinema tix. Up to 1.5% interest. See full Lloyds review.||End Oct|
|New. NatWest Reward / RBS Reward*
Min pay-in: £1,250/mth
|FREE £100 + extra £50 in a year.
£3/mth cashback (pay £2/mth fee, get £5/mth back). See full NatWest review.
|RBS (End Jan) /
NatWest (Early Feb)
2. Get a cheque for up to £970 when you claim the marriage tax allowance.
This is a whopping tax allowance, and it's thought there are 2.4 million eligible couples who aren't claiming. To get it, you need to first be married or in a civil partnership (just living together doesn't count, we're afraid). Then:
- One needs be a NON-taxpayer (earning under £12,570/yr)
- The other needs to pay 20% basic-rate tax (earning £12,570 - £50,270/yr)
If eligible, the non-taxpayer can transfer 10% of the amount they can earn tax-free each year to the taxpayer, who then pays less tax. And better still, this can be backdated for four years if you were eligible then. Full help, pros and cons in Claim over £1,000 of marriage tax allowance.
When will you get the cash? To get this year's allowance, worth £252, the taxpayer's tax code is changed, so they pay less tax during the year. However, if you're eligible for the up to four years of backdating worth up to £970, that is paid as a cheque or bank transfer taking around six weeks, so you could have it by end-November.
3. Get a £125 Amazon voucher for HALVING your broadband costs.
Firms must now tell existing customers whose contracts are ending about their cheapest deals. Yet this doesn't have to include sign-up incentives, which tend to be reserved for newbies.
Normally, to compare broadband deals we factor intro cash or vouchers into the overall cost. Yet you can flip the logic and focus on the incentive, as long as the tariff is still substantially cheaper than what most pay already. And these three are not only that but they're the cheapest deals on the market at those speeds.
- Ends 11.59pm Thu. Get a £75 prepaid Mastercard on £18.50/mth 10Mb broadband & line. This BT-owned Plusnet deal is over a one-year contract. Sign up and you AUTOMATICALLY get the prepaid card sent to you within 45 days of activation, so plenty of time before Christmas. It can be used to pay anywhere that takes Mastercard (almost everywhere).
- Ends 11.59pm Fri. Get a £125 Amazon, Tesco or M&S voucher on £19.50/mth 35Mb fibre broadband & line (or on £21.50/mth for 67Mb). These Vodafone 35Mb fibre and 67Mb superfast fibre deals are over a two-year contract - and both massively undercut what most people pay.
Here you have to CLAIM the voucher (don't forget) by following instructions in an email you're sent after four months. So it won't be in time for Christmas, but we didn't want to exclude these deals just to fit the format, as they're seriously cheap.
4. Required to work from home during the pandemic? Get a cheque for up to £140.
If your employer required you to work from home, even for a day, since the current tax year started on 6 April 2021, you are eligible for a WHOLE YEAR'S worth of tax relief on working-from-home expenses - which means you'll get a tax code change and pay less tax till April.
And, if you also had to work at least one day from home between 6 Apr 2020 and 5 Apr 2021, you'll get a cheque or bank transfer too worth up to £140. Full help, who's eligible and how to claim in Martin's Working-from-home tax back blog.
When will you get the cash? For this tax year, your tax code will be changed within a few days, so you'll start paying less tax immediately. For the last tax year, you get a cheque or bank transfer. This takes around three weeks, so should come by mid-October.
5. Spending around £1,000 a month? Easy way to bag a £150 Amazon voucher or £250+ at Sainsbury's.
There's a way some bigger spenders can take advantage of this high-spend time of year. Get accepted for an Amex Gold* credit card (check acceptance odds) and spend £3,000 on it within the first three months, and it gives enough bonus reward points to get you a £150 Amazon voucher, or to convert to Nectar points worth £265 in Sainsbury's.
That's a huge return on the spending, at no cost. Of course, as always, only do this if you'll clear the card IN FULL each month to avoid the 24.5% rep APR interest. Do note a £140/yr fee starts after you've had the card a year, so cancel before then if you want to avoid it. Full help and more options in Top rewards cards (APR examples).
When will you get the points? They usually come within a couple of days of spending £3,000 (though it can take up to a month), so it depends how quickly you hit that.
6. Earn a £30 Amazon voucher for doing quick surveys.
Every little helps, and if you're new to paid survey site Swagbucks, you can get a bonus £20 Amazon voucher once you've earned £10 from answering surveys - which you must do within 30 days of signing up.
When will you get the voucher? Within 10 days of you earning the £10, so by mid-November at the latest.
7. Walk around your home and ask 'what haven't I used in the last year?' You could be sitting on stock worth £100s.
It's time we learnt a bit from the retail trade. Stock management is a key to staying profitable. Yet in the home, many of us have a huge inventory of items we never use that others would pay for.
So walk around your home and find things you've not used in a year, and then consider flogging them. For help on how to do that, see our How to sell on eBay and How to sell on Facebook tips.
You can even Flog your rubbish for cash - for example, loo roll tubes often fetch 6p each, jam jars 92p.
When will you get the cash? For eBay, within a few days of the sale (remember, some things may take a while to sell). For Facebook, you usually swap the item for cash in person.
8. Buy through cashback sites to bolster your coffers.
Affiliate links are internet links where if you click one and buy something, or do a transaction, the site you came from gets a cut. It's how MSE is funded - we provide info and with some of the links (the ones with a star), if you then act, we get paid, though it never impacts what we write. We're open about how it works, so if you want full info, see How MSE makes money.
Cashback sites also have links that make them money. Their way to get you to use them is simply to give you a cut of what they get. So if you've found something you want to buy and have checked where it's cheapest, then if you can buy it through a cashback website, you'll get some money back for doing so. Do this regularly and it can really add up.
When will you get the cash? With cashback, always keep in your mind that payouts aren't certain until they're in your account. If they pay out, it can be anything from a few days to six months (so some purchases won't help your Christmas coffers).
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