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Rather than £100 in cash you’ll now get to choose from travel vouchers, tech or e-courses if you move to First Direct.

One of my top ways to make some easy money is to switch bank for a cash bonus. Over the years I’ve made around £650 just from these switching bonuses – but you’ll struggle right now to get anywhere near that. Over the last six months or so banks have been cutting back on this type of deal, with First Direct the latest to make a big change.

The new First Direct switching offer

Rather than give £100, or £125 some months, the whole bonus system has been revamped. You’ll now be able to choose from a selection of high tech gadgets or vouchers, potentially worth even more money. The full list and rough values at the time of writing is:

Prices correct on 25th April 2018

To avoid a £10 monthly fee (which starts after month six) you need to either pay in £1,000 a month or have a balance above £1,000.

You’ll also get access to a 5% regular saver (max £300 saved a month for 12 months) and a £250 fee-free overdraft. And if you don’t like it, you can switch away after six months and get £100 cash.

How to get your freebie

With First Direct there are a few requirements to get the freebies.

First you need to open up an account (you’ll be credit checked), and then select that you want to switch from your old account to this one. Doing this closes your old bank account. Any money will also be moved over, as well as direct debits, standing orders and payments in and out.

Then within three months, you need to deposit £1,000 into the new account. This money doesn’t need to stay there or be paid in one go.

Within 14 days of this happening, you’ll be sent a code to pick your freebie. Physical items will come in the post, vouchers via email.

Are the First Direct freebies any good?

Ok, so a cash bonus was a lot easier, but there are some good picks from this deal.

I’ll often book a hotel through Expedia via cashback sites where the rate can be as high as 10%. You can also book flights and train journeys. So if you’re likely to do any of these it’s a decent offering. Of course, you are limited to buying via Expedia which won’t always be the cheapest option.

The tech deals are decent if they are things you want to buy anyway. You might be able to find cheaper alternatives which do the job just as well.

I’d stay well clear of the online course unless there’s something you need to do and you’ve compared prices elsewhere. The bulk of the listed courses are priced at £250, though I imagine you’d be able to get them for less. In fact, many courses are available elsewhere for much, much less – usually via discount sites like Groupon, Wowcher and Go Groopie.

Alternative switching bonuses

Right now you’ve only a couple of different options. Halifax will give you £75, and then £3 a month, working out as £111 over 12 months.

Or there’s M&S Bank where you get a £125 M&S voucher and another £5 a month, worth £185 in total. This also has a 5% regular saver (max £250 a month for 12 months).

Other banking benefits

Switching isn’t the only way to get more from your bank account.

On top of those cash bonuses, I’ve made thousands of pounds more just from maximising extras such as 5% linked savings accounts, cashback deals, fee-free overseas spending and reward payments.

You might make more money by moving your bank to an account offering these – though importantly most of these benefits can be gained just by opening a second bank account.

So you could both switch for one of the bonuses, and make even more free cash with a second, third or, like me, twelfth bank account.

>> All the latest bank bonus, cashback and high-interest deals

Should you switch to First Direct?

First Direct regularly tops lists for customer service, and the regular saver is potentially worth £97.50 a year on top of the joining bonus. So, if you’re going to spend at Expedia, or want one of those pieces of tech, then it’s a very good deal.

However, the M&S Bank offer pays out more, as long as you’d normally shop for clothes, food or home things at Marks and Spencer, and if you’d rather have the cash then maybe go for Halifax instead.

Or if you’re up for it, do all three – you just need to space them out.

 

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