Cheap Direct Debits for bank switching and rewards

Run out of regular payments required for free cash? Here are few easy direct debits that’ll help.

Watch this video where I take you through the top 6 easy direct debits to help you get bank rewards, or keep reading.

How many direct debits could you need?

I’m a fan of having multiple current accounts. Some of this is practical. What happens if the app goes down and you can’t access your cash? But the main reason I have so many (17 at the last count) is to nab free cash and rewards.

These accounts bring in hundreds of pounds extra every year, and are relatively easy to maintain. In fact once I’ve set them up I hardly have to touch them.

However, the downside is that the more of these accounts you have, the more direct debits you need. And even if you’ve got all the obvious payments, you might need some more.

In fact, if you had all the accounts that required direct debits you’d need around 24! However, as I’ve written about here, you probably only need between eight and 12, depending on which accounts you have, though you’d need to increase them if you have additional joint accounts!

Andy’s Top 3 Current Account perks

  • £5 a month from the Halifax Rewards account
  • 2.02% interest from Virgin Money’s M Plus Account
  • Cashback on bills from the Santander 123 Lite account

(You can learn more about the account perks and requirements on my huge list of current accounts.)

What is an “active” direct debit?

Quite a few switching offers and perks require an active direct debit to leave the account. Technically this could include any payment that has been taken in the last year.

However for the most part these direct debits have to come out every month to qualify – ruling out annual or quarterly payments.

You might also find when switching that the new bank wants the active direct debit to have already been paid from the old account. If you don’t have these on the account you want to switch you’ll need to set them up and have payments made before the switch date.

Finding new direct debits

The most obvious direct debits we have, such as our bills, will be eaten up quickly so I imagine you’ll need a few extras. Here’s a list that should sort you out.

Bill direct debits

These are the direct debits you’ll already have so you might just need to move them around to different accounts.

The first list here will most likely be best placed on the Santander 123 Lite account as you’ll earn cashback on them – though check your supplier is included.

  • Energy bill
  • Council Tax
  • Broadband/Phone bill
  • Pay TV bill (Sky, Virgin etc if different to broadband)
  • Mobile phone bill (there could be multiple ones here)
  • Water bill

These bills aren’t covered by the cashback via Santander, so you could move them to one of the other reward accounts.

  • TV Licence
  • Some insurances (check it’s not cheaper to pay annually)

With other memberships and subscriptions check the payment actually is via direct debits – some might use standing orders or “Continuous Payment Authorities” – where they have your long card number. This is how Spotify and Netflix charge you so they won’t count (though I’ve a workaround below).

Credit card direct debits

It’s always a good idea to set a direct debit to clear your credit card every month, or at least make the minimum repayment. If you’ve got more than one credit card that also means more than one direct debit.

But remember they need to be active every month… so you need to use the credit card every month.

If you don’t use a card very often you could put a set regular payment on there, such as paying for Netflix, to ensure this happens. And if you have more than one of these services and more than one credit card, you could get two or three regular direct debits this way.

Service this could work for include:

  • Streaming services (eg Apple Music, Disney+, Netflix & Spotify)
  • Memberships (eg English Heritage, gym)
  • Subscriptions (eg food boxes, beer clubs magazines)

PayPal direct debits

When you pay for something using PayPal, it will usually use a direct debit to take the money from your connected current account. But for this to count for your benefit it probably needs to happen every month.

But there’s a simple workaround here. When you add money to your PayPal account you have options of how to do this, and the most simple way is via a direct debit from your current account. In the app, select “add money”, type in how much you want to move and select the connected current account with the direct debit set up. It takes up to five days for the money to move.

Or if you want to automate it, you can use PayPal to pay for a regular service that doesn’t allow direct debits. This is how I pay for my Spotify, meaning every month I have a PayPal direct debit come out of my account.

Sadly this counts as a single direct debit from PayPal, no matter how many services you pay for this way.

Read my PayPal review with features you might not know about.

Charity donation direct debits

It might be worth changing how you donate (if you do). Though it’s easy to do this via payroll giving, you might want to switch to a DD to meet the criteria for an account.

If you’ve used all the above and still need more, then you can set up extra small direct debits to most charities. Check the requirements for the current account perk as some require at least £2 on each direct debit.

Savings accounts & investments direct debits

Savings accounts are great extra direct debits as you can send a small set amount over without having to pay for a new service.

You’ll also be able to transfer the money back to your current account – just check there aren’t penalties or restrictions to do this.

There aren’t many that allow DDs but I’ve found the following:

5 thoughts on “Cheap Direct Debits for bank switching and rewards

  1. Hi Andy!

    I would like to ask can we extend the date of switching date. Like if I set a switching date on 2/09/2021 can I call the bank and after them to change my switching date?

    1. Hi Raj. Hmm, not sure. It’s worth asking them and getting confirmation that it won’t impact the bonus if you do this. If it goes wrong you can then call back and get them to check the recording of your previous chat

  2. You could also sign up to trial subscriptions of magazines, there are plenty online which are 3 magazines for £1 and you can cancel within the trial

  3. I felt uneasy about what Nationwide classed as “active” when considering Direct Debits that qualified for their £125/ £100 switching incentive. I sent them a secure message which I have added below along with their reply. I hope that people will find them helpful.

    My message
    I have looked at your online information but it does not provide an answer to my question. I am an existing Nationwide member and I am considering switching an account with another bank to a new second FlexAccount taking advantage of your £125 offer.
    Before taking action I should be grateful if you would clarify the following point for me, please.
    The Switch terms include moving 2 active Direct Debits. I know what a Direct Debit is but I am not sure what “active” means in this context. Can you let me know, please?
    I look forward to your reply. Thank you.
    Peter Lewis

    Nationwide’s reply
    Hello Mr Lewis,
    Thank you for your message
    Certainly, this is something I can clarify for you.
    Active Direct Debits are those which are being paid monthly or on a regular basis.
    For as long as the direct debit is being requested on a regular basis, this would be considered as active.
    If there is anything else I can help you with Mr Lewis, please reply to my message.
    Kind regards,
    Customer Consultant

  4. Thanks. Also, I’m self-employed, so I set up Direct Debit payments to pay into my tax account each month. I spoke to a HMRC rep who said I can have as many Ds as I want, from different accounts that need a dd. To make sure I know which account has paid into my tax account, I set the dds for different amounts, which must be > £1; so £1.05, £1.25 , £1.45 etc…


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