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Here’s how to find extra direct debits and cycle money to get current account perks.

From cashback to monthly rewards, there are all sorts of incentives and freebies you can get with multiple current accounts. And don’t forget bank switching bonuses.

Plus there are benefits in terms of security and budgeting (read more about these in my why you should have more than one account article).

But the more accounts you have, the more admin is required. Plus many account switches and perks require extras like direct debits or minimum deposits each month.

All this can put some people off. But it’s actually a lot easier to manage than you’d imagine, and I think the reward is well worth the effort.

Regular readers will know I have 15 different current accounts at the moment so I’ve got to have processes in place to make sure I don’t accidentally go overdrawn on one or miss out on a perk on another.

Though it’s unlikely you’ll have this many accounts, the things I do will still work for you.

And the good news is that the admin can be done on one go early on, and then looks after itself!

Watch this video or keep reading (or both) for how I do it

Finding extra direct debits

Quite a few switching offers and perks require a couple of direct debits each month. Often it’ll say “active” direct debits, which technically could include any payment that has been taken in the last year.

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

Account perks that require direct debits

Here are the main account perks and switching bonuses that require direct debits. Some are ongoing, so you need to keep those direct debits in order to get the rewards.

Direct debits required to get a switching bonus can be cancelled once you’ve got your bonus.

As you can see from this list, if you were to have all eight accounts you’d need around 24 direct debits! More if you also had joint accounts (though not all allow this).

  • Bank of Scotland Vantage – 2 direct debits (for interest)
  • Barclays Blue Rewards – 2 direct debits (for monthly reward)
  • Co-op Bank Everyday Rewards – 4 direct debits (for monthly reward)
  • HSBC Advance – 2 direct debits or standing orders (for switching bonus)
  • Club Lloyds – 2 direct debits (for interest)
  • Natwest Reward – 2 direct debits of at least £2 (for monthly reward)
  • RBS Reward – 2 direct debits of at least £2 (for monthly reward)
  • Santander 123 Lite – multiple direct debits – most likely five or six
  • Virgin Money M Plus – 2 direct debits (for switch)

Personally I wouldn’t bother with the Co-op account, and there are probably better options for interest than Club Lloyds and Bank of Scotland right now. So that’s eight less in total. The HSBC switch accepts standing orders, so that’s another two you don’t need to worry about.

But if you then go for all the other accounts you’d need 16 – still a lot! But it is possible.

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

Direct debits for bank switching and perks

The most obvious direct debits we have, such as our bills, will be eaten up quickly – especially if you have the Santander 123 Lite account.

So where do you go after that? Here’s a list that should sort you out.

BILLS

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

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

OTHER REGULAR PAYMENTS

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!

Place to look:

  • Memberships (eg English Heritage, gym)
  • Subscriptions (eg magazines)

CREDIT CARDS

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 once direct debit.

But remember they need to be active 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.

PAYPAL

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. 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, no matter how many services you pay for, which can include:

  • Apple Music
  • Disney+
  • Netflix
  • Spotify

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

CHARITY DONATIONS

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 & INVESTMENTS

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:

Managing the minimum transfers

Most of the accounts require me to pay money in every month. If I didn’t I could miss out on all those little bonuses or get charged a monthly fee.

Here are the minimums for the main current account perks:

  • Barclays Blue Rewards – £800 a month (to get rewards)
  • Bank of Scotland Vantage – £1,000 a month (to get interest)
  • Co-op Bank Everyday Rewards -£800 a month
  • Halifax Rewards – £1,500 a month (to avoid fee)
  • HSBC Advance – £1,750 a month (to keep account)
  • Club Lloyds – £1,500 a month (to avoid fee)
  • Nationwide FlexDirect – £1,000 a month (for interest)
  • Santander 123 Lite – £500 a month (to get cashback)

So how do you make meeting this easier? Automation is the key here, with standing orders moving the money on the same day each month. You can set these up easily in your online or app banking (though not all apps let you amend them if you want to make changes).

If you do have multiple accounts with the same provider, transferring between them often doesn’t qualify (eg Halifax to Halifax), so you’ll need to factor this in.

There are three methods here:

The endless cycle

One trick is to move the same cash from account to account so it cycles through each one and back to the start, then repeats itself the next month and so on.

For example, you’ve got £1,000 in account a, which you transfer to account b, then to account c, then account d and finally back to account a. Then it repeats the next month, and so on.

The back and forth

Another option is to set up a standing order out of one account into another, and then back the next day. And then move the money into another account and back.

So you’re move £1,000 from account a to account b, then back to account a. Then move £1,000 from account a to account c, then back to account a. And so on.

It makes sense to spread these out through the month so you’re still only moving the same amount of cash. to make sure there is cash in the account to leave it in the first place.

The bitesize transfer

If you don’t have £1,000 in your account to keep moving around, you can split the requirement into smaller chunks. So it could be two lots of £500, or four lots of £250. You get the idea.

You can use either the endless cycle or back and forth methods to automate this – you’ll just have more standing orders in action.

Covering account fees & direct debits

Don’t forget to add into your transfers enough to cover any direct debits going out of the accounts and any fees you might be charged.

Here are the main accounts that have a fee:

  • Barclays Blue Rewards – £4
  • Co-op Bank Everyday Rewards – £2
  • Halifax Rewards – £3 (avoid if you pay in £1,500 a month)
  • Club Lloyds – £3 (avoid if you pay in £1,500 a month)
  • Natwest Reward – £2
  • RBS Reward – £2
  • Santander 123 Lite – £2

Collect your rewards

You should also factor in the rewards you’ll earn, but not all will pay directly into your account. You sometimes need to cash out your payments, so it’s worth making a note to do this once a month for the following:

  • Barclays Blue Rewards (can be done via Barclays app)
  • Natwest Reward (You need to log into the MyRewards site)
  • RBS Reward (You need to log into the MyRewards site)

Logging into the app

There’s one final ongoing requirement with some accounts – you might need to log in to your online banking or app on a regular basis.

This might not be something you do naturally with extra accounts, so just put a note in the diary to do this once a month. It’ll take you two minutes.

  • Co-Op Bank Rewards – every month
  • Natwest Reward – every month
  • RBS Reward- every month
  • Santander 123 Lite – every three months,

Making sure everything is OK

The standing orders and direct debits should all take care of themselves, but it’s worth making note of what money is going where and when. I’ve set up two spreadsheets to keep an eye on things.

The first tells me all the standing orders and direct debits in and out of each account. If I need to amend the size of a standing order (for example when switching banks), I know exactly which is which. It only updates if I change bank.

The other spreadsheet is more active. Every month I open up the apps for my accounts and write down the balances. I try to do this in the first week of the month. This way I know exactly how much I have in each account, and overall. I also add in how much I owe on each credit cards (even though I pay them off in full every month) so I get the true figure of my current savings.

I tend to use the banks’ own apps though services like Yolt and Money Dashboard can do this too. You can add all your accounts to it and see them all on one screen.