Switching multiple times can make you hundreds, as long as you do it right.
I’ve switched my current account 17 times in the last decade, earning an average of £120 each time. It’s been a consistent money maker, even getting money from some banks more than once.
Some of the most frequent questions I get from readers are about how I’ve done this, from the basics through to the tricks that’ll let me switch again and again.
So this article will take you through the tricks and tools I’ve used to ensure I don’t lose track or get caught out by extra costs.
1. Create a dummy account
You can, and maybe should, switch banks to get a better bank experience. But if you’re switching just for a cash bonus I wouldn’t use my main current account.
In part it’s because the existing account is always closed as part of the switch (more on how the bank switching process works here), but also if you’re going to repeat switches, it could be a pain to have new details and cards each time for everyday banking.
Instead, you can set up a dummy account that’s only purpose in life is to be switched. I’ve written in detail about some suitable accounts and the factors you need to be aware of when choosing one.
2. Get that account ready to switch
Not all switching offers require a direct debit, though some do. And sometimes it can take a while for those direct debits to be set up and activated on the account you want to switch away from.
There are some quick and cheap ones which can be live within a week or two, but if you don’t want to risk it you can set up a couple now so you’re good to go if a switching deal comes along. Just make sure you’ve enough cash going into the dummy account each month to cover those payments.
You’ll also usually need to have a debit card to complete a switch, so if you’re using an old card, make sure you have an active card. If not, order a replacement ASAP.
3. Choose your switch
When you’re ready to go and switch to an account with a welcome offer, you might be faced with a few options. These come and go, though the key banks will usually offer something a couple of times a year.
I write in detail about each offer, and the box below lists the ones currently running:
Assuming you’re not an existing or ex-customer of those banks (though even if you are with some banks) you can go ahead and switch for the cash.
But rather than just go for the first one you see, a pro switcher will weigh up if it’s better to go for one over another.
The first factor here is how fast you’ll get the money. The second is whether there is an offer deadline. It might be you can get a fast-paying switch through and then have time to switch to another one straight after. Or you might want to prioritise one which is ending soon to guarantee you get that cash.
Sadly not all offers have published end dates, which could mean they last for months and months, or it could mean they disappear after a few weeks, as was the case with Santander’s offer in early 2023.
Remember, there’s no guarantee a deal will come back, or if it does return it’ll offer the same sized bonus, so you’ve got to make a call as to whether you prioritise one with no end date over others that do.
4. Is there a reason not to switch?
Though the free cash might sound great, there might be a good reason not to switch, or at least not switch right now.
Will you keep the account?
If you decide to keep it, then you’ll need another dummy account for further switching offers.
Could it hit your credit report?
Each time you switch bank you will see an impact on your credit score. First, the majority of banks will perform a hard search on your file when you apply.
Second, when you switch and close the old account as part of that, you’ll lose what is potentially a long-held account, and that longevity can be seen as a boost for your score.
So if you have an important application around the corner, such as a mortgage or balance transfer credit card, then hold off. Ideally you’ll want to avoid any hard credit searches six months before a mortgage application.
Even if you don’t it might be wise to space out switches every few months, though it is possible to complete a number in a short space of time. Just be aware that your credit report will get hit in the short term.
5. Meet any switch and account requirements
Once you’ve chosen your new, bank applied successfully and started the switch progress, you need to ensure you are doing everything necessary to get the switching money and meet any extra requirements for the current account itself.
So if you need to transfer cash or check the app, make sure you set reminders. And if there were any active direct debits needed, be sure they go through before the switch does.
I’d also put a note in the diary for when the bonus is due to be paid so you can check if it comes, and raise a complaint if it does.
6. Make a note of your switch date
This is vital if you plan to keep switching again and again, as there’s often a chance you will be able to get money from the same bank again in a few years’ time.
This is the long game of switching as it can easily be three years or more before you’re eligible again, so you need to keep track.
I have a tab in my budgeting spreadsheet that simply lists when I switched, which bank I left, which one I went to and how much I made.
If you’ve been switching already and don’t have this data, you can look at bank statements to track down when you got the cash, or look at your credit report to see when you opened a bank account.
Andy’s 17 switches
Bank switching started in late 2013, and I moved from my first every account to Halifax for a sweet £100 bonus. As the years have gone on, more banks offered switch deals, and some even allowed repeated switching.
Sometimes I’ve switched old accounts I no longer needed, other times I’ve opened up dummy accounts to use.
The only bank that I’ve been unable to take advantage of a switch deal is First Direct as I was already a customer, but I think I’ll be able to keep going, albeit at a slow pace.
I’m looking at the TSB offer this month to add to my list, which will take me to 18 switches and potentially £2,240. And perhaps in a year’s time, HSBC will have moved eligibility forward by a year, meaning I can switch to them for a second time.
|Dec 2020||Virgin Money||£180|
|Sep 2021||Nationwide (joint)||£125|
Once you’ve got your cash you can then start the process again. If you’re switching the same account it’s all relatively easy. But if you’re keeping it, you’ll need to open up another dummy account.
Of course, check that there isn’t a condition that you keep the account open for set period. And if you’ve got the money earlier than expected, I’d personally avoid ditching the account until any date has passed. Otherwise, you’re good to go.