I’m a serial bank switcher. In total I’ve moved my banking business seven times – and it’s given me the easiest money I’ve ever made.
My first bank switch was five years ago in September 2013. This was when the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) launched, prompting banks to offer a number of incentives to get you to pick them. The most lucrative being the cash bonus – free money just for moving your account over.
Over the last half decade around one million switches have taken place each year. That’s a lot. But it means many more millions haven’t done it – or they’ve only done it once.
And all those people are losing out on free cash. If that’s you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t switch now, and then do it again. And then a third time. And a fourth…
Just like I have. I’ve switched a number of accounts at different times, most of them using just one account which I use just switch – and get bonus after bonus.
The total gain of £1,884 over the five years and seven switches averages out as £376.80 a year, or £269 per switch. Seeing as each one took me no more than 30 minutes that’s without a doubt been one of my most profitable money hacks.
The only limit is how many banks offer a bonus and whether you’ve already got an account with that bank. The later ruled me out of moving to both First Direct and TSB – which would have been worth another £250 odd. I thought I’d used up all the options, but I managed another two this year.
What is bank switching?
It’s as the name implies. You move your account from your current bank to another. All your cash will be transferred across, as well as Direct Debits and standing orders. Plus any money paid in will forwarded over too.
Some of the offers that come with bank switching require you to have a couple of active Direct Debits or make a minimum deposit every month.
These promotions also require a “full switch” where you must close your old account as part of the move.
There’s also a Current Account Switching Guarantee which means if something goes wrong (it never has for me) you won’t be out of pocket.
How to switch bank
You obviously need a bank account already to switch. But if you don’t want to lose that one, or it comes with some other benefits, there’s a way to get around it – albeit it won’t be instant.
To do this you need to open up an account elsewhere (my pick would be Lloyds Club so you can nab some free cinema tickets), keep it for a few months, then switch.
When you switch you need to make sure the new bank is part of the guarantee (the logo should be prominently displayed in branch or on the website). During the application for this account you’ll be asked if you want to switch, and then you enter the details of the account you want to close.
Simple as that. You can usually set a date you want to switch to go through, and you might need to visit a branch to provide ID – I’d say this happens to me half the time.
You’ll get a new bank card, sort code and account number. Then you can carry on using it as you did your old one.
Keep on switching
All done and got the money? Great. After a few months you’ll be all set to switch again. And you can keep doing this until there are no more banks offering deals.
Do check the terms and conditions of the switching offer as some require you to stay a certain amount of time to get all the money. HSBC for example often runs a promotion where you get £150 within a few months and another £50 if you stay for a year.
Since you’ll be credit checked for each new account it’s worth spacing new switches out a bit, and perhaps avoid it if you’re planning a big credit application like a mortgage in the next six months or so.
My bank switching story
Below you’ll see all the switches I’ve made and how much I’m better off as a result. Then I’ve shared the best deals available right now. Though they’re not as good as they used to be, you can still make some decent cash.
My figures can be broken down by the cash bonus or reward I got for switching and then any ongoing benefits the accounts have which I accumulated while having the account. For a handful, I’ve also included a small amount of money I’ve not got yet but will get in the next year as a result of the switch.
But don’t forget, switching isn’t the only way to benefit from changing your bank. You can also open up new accounts without closing old ones and get access to high interest on savings, cashback on bills and free cinema tickets. I’ve easily made thousands more through these!
Switch one: Barclays to Halifax (£310)
- £100 switching bonus
- £5 a month reward for 30 months = £150
- £3 a month reward from Feb 2017 for 20 months until September 2018 = £60
Switch two: Santander to Nationwide (£665)
- £78 cashback from TopCashback for switching
- 5% interest on £2,500 for first year = £125
- 1% interest on £2,500 for next 20 months = £42
- 5% regular saver for first year (£500 saved a month) = £160
- 5% regular saver for the second and third year (£250 saved a month) = £160 *
- £100 referral bonus
* The third year doesn’t mature until early 2019
Switch three: HSBC to Yorkshire (£150)
- £150 switching bonus
Switch four: Yorkshire to Co-op (£202)
- £150 switching bonus
- £52 cashback from TopCashback for switching
Switch five: Co-op to M&S (£300)
- £100 voucher on switching
- £10 voucher every month for 12 months = £120
- 5% regular saver for one year (£250 a month) = £80
Switch six: M&S to NatWest (£125)
- £125 switching bonus (into an existing NatWest account)
* I’ve not included the cashback on bills as I had this account already
Switch seven: Lloyds to Barclays (£132)*
- £11 a month (after fee) for 12 months for switching = £132
* I won’t get this full amount until next June
What you could do now
Most of the offers I used are either different or gone. But it’s still possible to make a tidy sum. As I write you can get
- £200 from HSBC,
- £185 in vouchers from Marks & Spencers Bank,
- £75 from Halifax
- Rewards such as a £150 Expedia voucher from First Direct.
- £100 from Nationwide if another customer refers you.
Look out too for offers from Natwest and TSB which could well return. The deals change regularly, so I’ve got a page with all the different bank incentives which I update all the time.