Earn a bonus of up to £300 then save regularly at big brands including John Lewis, Tesco and Odeon.
Some of you will get access to all sorts of deals and discounts via your employer (if you’re not sure – ask your HR department!) or membership of something like health insurance. These benefits can be pretty good, often giving money off gift cards and cheap cinema tickets.
I’ve had access to different ones in the past from working at the BBC, having BUPA health insurance, and a Scottish Friendly ISA. But what if you won’t work for a company with a scheme, or can’t afford things like BUPA?
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How anyone can get access to a “perks” scheme
I’ve found a way that’ll get you access to one of these schemes – and there’s no need to change your job, or sign up to insurance with a high monthly fee in order to get these discounts.
Instead the trick shouldn’t cost you anything. In fact you’ll be up to £45 better off before you access the deals. It’s a company called via Scottish Friendly, and it requires you to open an ISA and invest money. There’s obviously a risk with Investment ISAs that you could lose a little bit of money – investments go up and go down. More on this further down the page.
First though, a little about the types of discount you’ll get so you can decide if it’s worth it.
What you get with from Scottish Friendly’s perk scheme
Discounted gift cards
The gift cards you get can be physical or digital. Some are reloadable, so once you’ve got the first one it’s easy to add more money one. Though gift cards have risks, use them right and you can stack them with other offers as they’re treated as if they were cash. At the moment the offers include:
- 6% off John Lewis or Waitrose
- 4% off Asda
- 5% off Lastminute.com
- 4% off Sainsbury’s
- 5% off Tesco
- 4% off Uber
- 7% off iTunes
- 7% off Argos
- 9% off Asos
- 6% off Primark
- 4% off Wickes
- 10% off H&M
- 10% off Arcadia brands (inc TopShop)
- 8% off Curry’s
- 6.75% off Marks & Spencer
- 7% off Ticketmaster
- 6% off B&Q
- 6% off Pizza Express
- 10% off One 4 All cards (which you can spend at places such as John Lewis)
- 10% off Pizza Hut
- 10% off All Bar One and other Mitchel and Butler pubs
- 6.5% off One4All
All correct at the time of writing.
Cheap cinema tickets
Membership also gives you discounted cinema tickets. You can get 2D tickets from all the big chains. Whether it’s cheaper than other similar schemes, such as Tastecard or Kids Pass does depend on the chain and location you pick. And you might be able to save money via these other deals. Even so, it’s a good option to have on hand.
Some chains also allow you to upgrade to 3D or premium seats, or save on your snacks in advance. You can also save on annual memberships. These are actually pretty good savings. A year of Cineworld Unlimited (outside Central London) is 23% less than full price, and a year of Odeon Limitless (also outside London) is 27% less.
- The Light
Money off in restaurants
You’ll get a card you can flash at various restaurants for money off, including the following:
- 10% off at Eat
- 10% off at Tortilla
- 20% off at Bills
- 20% off at Carluccio’s
- 20% off at Frankie & Bennies
- 20% off at La Tasca
- 25% off at Prezzo
All correct at the time of writing.
How to get these discounts
Open up an ISA
You’ll need to open up an Investment ISA with Scottish Friendly to get the rewards.
Deposits start from £10 a month. You can stop these at any time, and keep the ISA open even with no money left it in – which should mean you keep access to your perks and discounts.
There are fees attached, so your money could be worth less when you take it out than when you put it in. But they could also have grown. Of course if you’re only keeping the money in there a short amount of time to get the welcome voucher (more below) and get access to
It’s really important to point out that you can’t pay into more than one investment ISA in a financial year. So if you’ve already done this in 2019/2020, you’ll need to wait until April 6th 2010. And either way, by following this trick it does prevent you from paying into another investment ISA in the 19/20 financial year (though this isn’t a big deal for most). You’ll be able to pay into a different type of ISA, such as a Cash ISA, or Lifetime ISA.
Get your welcome bonus
With the My Easy Choice ISA you can also get a gift card reward when you go direct, starting at £15 up to £45, depending on how much you deposit. It’s an easy win.
- If you deposit £10 to £14.99 a month you’ll get a £15 voucher
- If you deposit £15 to £19.99 a month you’ll get a £20 voucher
- If you deposit £20 to £24.99 a month you’ll get a £25 voucher
- If you deposit £25 to £29.99 a month you’ll get a £30 voucher
- If you deposit £30 to £34.99 a month you’ll get a £35 voucher
- If you deposit £35 to £39.99 a month you’ll get a £40 voucher
- If you deposit more than £40 a month you’ll get a £45 voucher
And until 2nd December 2019 there’s an extra £5 added to all gift cards.
You get the reward voucher within 28 days of your first payment, and you can use the voucher at shops including John Lewis.
Buy vouchers via your Friendly Rewards account
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be sent details to access your Friendly Rewards account, and you can start taking advantage of the discounted gift cards.
How to get up to £300 extra cashback on your ISA
If you want to walk away with a potentially larger profit thanks to cashback, then you need to follow these steps. It’s all pretty easy, but I do have a few major warnings, which I’ll get to in a bit.
Go to a cashback site
Go to a cashback site and search for Scottish Friendly. You’ll probably want the Investment ISA option rather than the Junior ISA alternative.
If you’ve never used Quidco or Topcashback then check out my page with the latest new member bonuses (note – you won’t get the bonus for using Scottish Friendly so you’ll need to also shop elsewhere).
Choose an ISA
Choose one of the Scottish Friendly cashback offers. At the time of writing, you can get £40 cashback for investing £10 a month from TopCashback. If you want to invest more, you’ll get a larger amount of cashback. For example, put away £1,000 a month and you’ll get £300 in cashback.
*THE REALLY IMPORTANT BIT 1 – Investment ISAs*
As I said earlier when you open an investment ISA, your money is at risk. Hopefully the money you put in will go up in value, but it could fall.
And there will be fees which will reduce this initial investment. Even if you’re planning on opening an investment ISA, Scottish Friendly won’t necessarily have the lowest fees, so it’s worth comparing your options. I’m only suggesting Scottish Friendly for an ISA because of the work perks trick, not as an ISA.
And do read all the terms and conditions of your ISA so you know what you’re committing to.
*THE REALLY IMPORTANT BIT 2 – Getting your cashback*
To qualify for the cashback there are four key requirements. One is to invest the money for at least 60 days. The second is to have paid in a certain amount to qualify for the cashback.
The third is the one which could put you off. The only ISA available via the cashback sites is a My Moneybuilder Select ISA, and with this there’s a £50 fee if you cancel and cash out the ISA earlier than five years. So you either need to be prepared to leave your investment in the ISA for that time, or lose some of your cashback.
Finally, the cashback will only be paid once you’ve made payments into your ISA at least equal to the value of the cashback.
It can still be worth it though, especially if you’re able to claim one of the bigger cashback rewards. If not, you can still go direct and get the bonus gift card.
As ever with cashback sites, make sure you follow the instructions to ensure your click tracks.
Decide how much you want to invest
The lower end of options don’t compare well with the direct offer. But if you can invest more money, you’ll get a larger reward. Remember, there’s that 60-day minimum the money has to be invested for and the total invested has to be equal to the cashback.
So if you can invest £100 a month for two months, you’ll get £200 in cashback from TopCashback. Even if you then withdraw the £200 and pay the £50 early withdrawal fee, you should be up £150, give or take any loses or gains made on the initial investment.
For the top £300 level of cashback, you’ll need to pay in £1,000 a month, so at least £,000 in total. But once the 60-days are up you should be able to stop payments, reduce how much is in there, or withdraw the money. Just bear in mind that £50 fee. This would leave you around £250 up.
Claim your cashback
Once you’ve met the criteria you can stop transferring money in. Don’t withdraw it or close the account until you’ve had confirmation in your cashback account that the money has tracked.
Once it has, it’s up to you if you want to withdraw the cash but remember there is a £50 penalty.
Do you know any other hacks that will get you access to work perk schemes without expensive membership fees? Let me know in the comments below.