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Make between £15 and £300 via cashback sites and then save regularly at big brands including John Lewis, Tesco and Odeon.

Contents

  • About perk schemes, and how the hack works
  • What you get from Scottish Friendly’s scheme
    • Discounted gift cards
    • Cheap cinema tickets
    • Restaurant discounts
  • Step by step how to get the perks & bonus cashback

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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?

How anyone can get access to a “perks” scheme

I’ve found a way that’ll get you access to one of these – and it shouldn’t cost you a penny. It’s 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.

However there’s also a trick that not only drastically reduces the chances of this happening, but you could even earn you a little extra cash too.

The easiest way is thanks to a welcome reward gift card, ranging from £15 to £45. Or, if you’re willing to invest a bit more in your ISA and potentially leave it for longer, there’s up to £300 back via cashback. 

So even if you lose a few quid on the initial investment, you should still get the bonus cashback, putting you in profit. And you’ll also access to all the deals and perks!

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:

  • 3% off John Lewis or Waitrose
  • 3% off Asda
  • 3.5% off Lastminute.com
  • 4% off Sainsbury’s
  • 4% off Tesco
  • 4% off Starbucks
  • 4% off iTunes
  • 4% off Argos
  • 4% off Primark
  • 4% off Wickes
  • 4.5% off Arcadia brands (inc TopShop)
  • 5% off Curry’s
  • 6% off Marks & Spencer
  • 6% off Ticketmaster
  • 6% off B&Q
  • 6% off Pizza Express
  • 6.5% off One 4 All cards (which you can spend at places such as John Lewis)
  • 7% off Pizza Hut
  • 8% off All Bar One and other Mitchel and Butler pubs
  • 10% off NOW TV

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.

Chains include

  • Cineworld
  • Empire
  • The Light
  • Merlin
  • Odeon
  • Picturehouse
  • Showcase
  • Vue

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

There’s no need to change your job, or pay a high monthly fee in order to get these discounts. You simply need to open up an 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.

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.

How to get further cashback on your ISA

But 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 warnings, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Step 1

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).

Step 2

Choose one of the Scottish Friendly cashback offers. At the time of writing, you can get £40 cashback for investing £10 a month. 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*

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.

It’s also 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 2018/19, you’ll need to wait until April 6th. 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, Help to Buy ISA or Lifetime ISA.

And do read all the terms and conditions of your ISA so you know what you’re committing to.

Update 28/3/19 – It appears via the cashback sites you can only open 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. 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.

*THE REALLY IMPORTANT BIT 2 – Getting your cashback*

To qualify for the cashback there are two key requirements. One is to invest the money for at least 30 days. The second is to have paid in a certain amount to qualify for the cashback.

Right now, the lowest option on TopCashback is £10 a month, and the offer requires at least £35 invested – so realistically you’re looking at doing this for four months, or overpaying in the first month. But in return you’ll get £40 in cashback. So even if your initial £40 tanks it and drops by £10, you’ll still be up £30. 

For the top £300 level of cashback, you’ll need to pay in £1,000. But once the 30-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.

As ever with cashback sites, make sure you follow the instructions to ensure your click tracks.

Step 3

Wait. You’ll be sent your membership details for the Friendly Benefits website and get a Vectis membership card in the post. This is what you need to get your deals. Once you’ve got them you can start taking advantage of all the offers listed above.

Step 4

Once the cashback has been confirmed in your Topcashback or Quidco account, which will be at least 60 days, you can stop transferring money in. In fact, the cashback offer terms state the money only needs to be in your ISA for 30 days, so there’s no need to add any more after this date. You can even withdraw your investment back to your current account if you wish. If you want to withdraw the cash then there is a £50 penalty, so it might be better to go for the high

I was worried that closing my ISA would mean I lost access to the deals, but they still work fine for me six months later. That might change of course, but this is a low-risk hack thanks to the cashback reward.

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.

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