The way you pay could make you money.
With all our bills getting more expensive, it makes even more sense to take advantage of specialist cards and accounts that’ll offer cashback on your spending.
Depending on the size of your bills you could easily earn £80 to £90 a year and more if your bills are larger. Here’s my take on the best ways to pay.
Your energy bills
Direct debit meters
The best way to pay your energy bills is via a Santander 123 Lite current account. Direct debits will earn 2% back every month, up to a maximum of £5 a month.
You’ll probably be getting close to that £5 too, since the price cap increases will mean an average direct debit of £296 each month from October onwards.
So, a £200 monthly bill for gas and electicity will earn you £4, while a bill of £250 or above will be capped at £5.
It’s actually increased to 4% and a £10 cap in September and October 2022, so you’ll get double your money these months.
As with all bills via this account you’ll need to check they are included. There’s a search function for this, though it’s not perfect as it’s based on who processes the payment. For example M&S Energy doesn’t appear, but you’ll get the cashback as the money goes to Octopus energy.
There is a £2 monthly fee for this account, but as you’ll see from the rest of this article, you’ll also earn 1% or 3% back on other bills. Here’s my full review.
If you prefer to pay by a debit or credit card, then you should get the 1% back from Chase (I tried this with a £1 and got the 1p back via Octopus). However you’ll likely pay extra on your bill as most energy companies give a discount for paying by direct debit.
You won’t be able to get the Santander cashback, so you’ll need to use your debit or credit card when you top up.
Your Council Tax
Another one for the Santander 123 Lite account as you’ll get 1% back. This is also subject to a £5 cap, though it’s bundled in with money back on phone, TV and broadband bills (so combined you’ll want those bills to be less than £500 to get the full 1%).
You can also pay Council Tax by a credit or debit card, and potentially get a similar amount back. However, most Councils won’t accept American Express, or even any credit card.
Chase Bank excludes “Tax payments” which this might be classed as, and government payments are charged for via Curve. So with either it’s best to try with a small amount first.
Your water bill
The highest rate of cashback you’ll get on any of your bills is on your water bills as there’s 3% back via a direct debit on the Santander 123 Lite account. There’s a £5 monthly cap again, but that would require a huge bill of £166 each month.
As an alternative, I can’t see why Chase won’t work on your energy bill, and if a credit card is accepted then you could use that.
Your broadband bill
There’s 1% back from the Santander 123 Lite account here too, so that’s the easiest option. However, some providers, such as NOW Broadband, don’t take direct debits. In this case, I’d go with your Chase Bank card to get the same 1%.
Your mobile phone bill
Again you can earn 1% from Santander, or you can use the likes of Chase or some Amex to get 1% back. However, I’d suggest here you actually use cashback to pay your bill rather than pay your bill to earn cashback.
You’ll can do this via an app called Airtime Rewards. It’s only for people on O2, EE, Three, Vodafone and Giffgaff, or pay as you go on Asda Mobile, Lebara, Lycamobile and NOW.
Connect a Visa or Mastercard to the app and you’ll earn cashback at retailers such as Boots and Primark. That money can then be applied to your bill. You might struggle to get the full amount each month to cover your bill, though regular promos can add a few quid. Here’s my full review, and how to get a £1.50 welcome bonus.
Your TV bills
Personally I think most people paying for Sky TV and Virgin Media are overpaying, so it’s better to ditch these services for cheaper alternatives. But if you are on contract and can’t cancel, or just don’t want to move, then the easiest option once again is via your direct debit on the Santander 123 Lite account. You’ll get 1% again.
For your TV Licence you’ll need to use your cashback card, though once more Amex isn’t accepted.
Your streaming bills
The best cashback on services like Netflix, Spotify and NOW will be via Chase Bank or the Amex Nectar at 1%.
You might be able to combine this with extra cashback from the likes of Quidco or Topcashback the first time you sign up. For example there’s often £10 to £15 available for a year of Disney+.
Chase doesn’t pay cashback on insurance, so you could instead try a cashback credit card. Alternatively, you could use Paypal (if accepted) and then connect that to an American Express card.
Your supermarket shopping
There are a few different options here. For example, you can get 1% at Asda with the Asda credit card, 2 Nectar points (worth 1%) at Sainsbury’s with the Nectar Amex and Nectar credit cards. Or there’s the Natwest Rewards card which offers 1% back at all supermarkets.
However, to keep things simple, and assuming you’ve gone for either the Chase Bank debit card or Amex Nectar card, then use one of those. You’ll get the same 1% back, plus you’ll get that rate on your shopping elsewhere too.
Don’t forget to also collect loyalty points if they’re on offer at your supermarket. Technically Clubcard and Nectar aren’t cashback, but they operate in the same way.
How much could you earn?
How much I earn each year
This table shows the monthly cost of key bills, and how much I make each month on average.
|Bill||Monthly cost||Cashback rate||Monthly cashback|
|Mobile Phones (x2)||£16||1%||£0.16|
|Gas & Electricity||£250||2%||£5|
|Home Insurance||£28.50 (£342 a year)||1%||£0.29|
|Total after fees||£7.22|
So that £7.22 over 12 months adds up to almost £87. Factor in a few quid every month from Airtime Rewards and it’ll be close to £100 off my bills.
For you it could be even higher. I don’t have pay TV, so I don’t earn money there, and I use a range of deals to pay less on streaming and broadband. I’ve also not included car insurance here, which would add a bit too.
Summary: How to pay
For the bulk of your bills, paying via a direct debit through the Santander 123 Lite account is the winner. However, it’s worth seeing if you can pay some of your mobile bill via cashback earned on Airtime Rewards.
For the bills or providers not covered by Santander 123 Lite, I’d look at the best paying cashback card, which right now is either the Chase Bank debit card or the Amex Nectar card as both offer 1%.
|Bill||Best way to pay||Alternative|
|Energy (direct debit)||Santander 123 Lite (2%) up to £250 a month||Chase debit card (1%)|
|Energy (prepayment)||Chase debit card (1%)||Other cashback card|
|Council Tax||Santander 123 Lite (1%)||Cashback credit card (if accepted)|
|Water||Santander 123 Lite (3%)||Chase debit card (1%)|
|Broadband||Santander 123 Lite (1%)||Chase debit card (1%)|
|Mobile Phone||Airtime Rewards (if you earn enough)||Santander 123 Lite (1%)|
|Pay TV (Sky, Virgin etc)||Santander 123 Lite (1%)||Chase debit card (1%)|
|Streaming||Chase debit card (1%)||Other cashback card|
|Insurance||American Express (if accepted)||Other cashback card|
|Supermarket shopping||Chase debit card (1%)||Other cashback card|