Just like Matched Betting, switching bank accounts takes advantage of the free money that most high-street banks are now offering to switch to them.
Once you’ve done some setting up, it can take as little as 10 minutes to complete an offer. With offers bagging you things like a pair of Free Bose Headphones or £125 cash the time value commitment is through the roof! It means bank account switching can clock in at over £600 per hour. If you’re not earning more than £600 per hour you should be taking full advantage!
Recently I shared a couple of these offers on Saving Ninja and I had two people ask me the questions “Do I need to close my main account?” And “Do I need to pay my salary into it?” These are the misconceptions that stop people from taking advantage of the banks generous payouts. So, below I’ve compiled a guide to bank account switching that I hope will stomp out some of these misconceptions and get you set-up to start earning ASAP!
2. Setting Up
3. Reading the Small Print
i. HSBC £200 Switch
ii. Natwest £125 Offer
4. Satisfying The Requirements
i. Minimum Monthly Pay-in
ii. Direct Debits (Before or During)
iii. Logging in to Internet Banking
5. Looking Out For Offers
Bank account switching gained popularity in 2013 when the ‘Current Account Switch Guarantee’ was started and virtually all banks signed up to adhere to these rules.
It makes the process of switching bank accounts extremely simple as the bank has to take care of everything for you, including moving all of your direct debits and closing your old account. Here’s an awesome video of a butterfly explaining what you have to do. Spoiler; basically nothing.
With the new-found simplicity of switching bank accounts, smaller brands started offering people incentives for switching to try and win custom over from ‘The Big 4’. The service requires an active bank account to use so they assumed that it would be safe from ‘misuse’.
Incentives to switch are so normal now that even the big 4 have started offering money for switching to them. There are so many offers available that you could even do this continuously and reap the rewards.
The most important step in completing these offers with minimum disruption is having a dummy or ‘switching’ bank account. If you plan on doing this a lot I would actually recommend having two.
Having a dummy bank account means that you won’t have to go through all of the hassles of changing your payment methods with online shopping websites. You also won’t have to inform your HR department that they need to pay your salary into a different bank account. This will mean that you can switch over with the switching service alone and not have to worry about anything other than meeting the offer requirements.
There are plenty of bank accounts to choose from, I would recommend looking for one that doesn’t generally offer incentivised switching in their brand, such as Lloyds. This is to avoid the disappointment of not being eligible for a switching offer for your dummy account due to already owning one. *new customers only.
NOTE: New account switching offers are not actually limited to one per household; it’s limited per individual. On most of the best offers both me and Mrs SavingNinja utilise them for a double whammy payday! We both now have a pair of Free Bose Headphones!
Reading the Small Print
All bank account switching offers are somewhat similar but vary slightly. You need to read the small print when signing up so you don’t miss out on your reward.
Let’s delve into some popular offers so we can see what we need to look out for.
HSBC £200 Switch
This is a very generous offer indeed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it as I didn’t pay close attention to the offer requirements.
Here are the terms and conditions. After reading through them, the points to consider are this:
- You can’t have had an account with HSBC since 1st of January 2015
- You need to switch over at least 2 direct debits or standing orders that start within 30 days of the account opening
- You need to keep this account open until the reward has been paid
- £150 will be paid after 30 days and the remaining £50 will be paid after 12 months
The points that I missed in these terms were that two direct debits needed to be running on the previous account before the switch takes place. I mistakenly read that two direct debits must be set up within 30 days of the account opening not transferred over. Only after opening my two direct debits and waiting for a month did I find out that I wasn’t eligible for the £150.
If I’d read more closely, I would have made sure that I set up two direct debits via Little Debits a month before I initiated the switch to HSBC. This way I would be sure that they would be included in the switch guarantee and I would be eligible.
Natwest £125 Offer
This is a great example of a very easy switching offer. All you have to do is transfer £1500 into the account via online or mobile banking then transfer it back out again. This can be transferred in smaller bits or as one whole deposit, then you’re done – Easy!
Satisfying the Requirements
Satisfying the requirements is the only thing you need to keep an eye on when completing these offers. If the requirements aren’t met, you won’t be eligible to claim your free reward. You will also lock yourself out of claiming an offer from the same bank again for potentially years! A good way to make sure that you’re meeting all of the requirements is to look out for a write up in the offers section and pay attention to the notes box.
Minimum Monthly Pay-in
A few offers stipulate that you must pay in a regular monthly amount in order for the account to stay active. They phrase it in such a way that fools most of the public into believing this has to be their salary. This isn’t actually the case with any of the offers.
The bank doesn’t know if your money is coming in from your salary or just from another bank account. All of the offers (that I’ve seen to date) can be satisfied by setting up a standing order from one of your other bank accounts.
For example, let’s say this was one of your requirements:
You must pay at least £500 per month into the account.
All you would have to do for this is the following:
- Set up a standing order of £500 going from your main bank account to the target bank account. Set this up to either come out the day after you get paid or the 1st of the month.
- Set up a standing order of £500 going from your target bank account to your main bank account 3 days after the transfer in date.
That’s it! You now satisfy this requirement. You no longer have to do anything to manage the target bank account, even if you have to keep it for 6 months.
NOTE: You need to make sure that you have the £500 in your main bank account and can live without it for a few days to do this. You don’t want to be going overdrawn! If you do have a month where you don’t have any savings, you’ll have to cancel the standing order and transfer it in manually when you can. You can even transfer it in smaller bits e.g. £100 going in and out again on different dates 5 times.
Direct Debits (Before or During)
Some banks try and catch out the switchers by requiring 2 direct debits to be set up on the target bank account either before or after the switch. This is extremely easy to accomplish due to an awesome site called Little Debits.
Little Debits allows you to easily set up as many direct debits as you want for £1 each (you can’t find DDs any cheaper than this). They colour code each debit so you know which ones you’ve already got and better yet; they contribute the debits to charity; so, you can tick that off your good samaritan list!
The debits will, of course, charge you at £1 each, but this is a small price to pay for the massive bank account switching rewards. And you usually only have to have them for 1 to 2 months.
Logging in to Internet Banking
You’ll usually fill this requirement on day one, but just in-case you had no other requirements to fill; you must log into the bank website at least once! It’s very easy to do but don’t let them catch you out.
There may always be other weird requirements that you have to meet so make sure that you read the terms closely. For example, some may say you must log into the mobile application or keep the account open for a year. You also need to make sure that you keep track of what they owe you, ring up if you have to. They’ll do anything to try and not pay out.
Looking Out for Offers
Offers can be found with a simple Google search. Or you can follow me on Twitter @SavingNinja and I’ll keep you in the loop for the best bank account switch offers to look out for.
I also have a post series that looks at these offers, analyses all of the small print and writes it out in plain English so that you can spend as little time as possible to get your free cash, so make sure you subscribe to get access to these articles as soon as they’re written send directly to your inbox.
If a new offer has been announced that I haven’t analysed yet, please do leave me a comment or Tweet me and let me know.