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Quick cash: Banks offer incentives to switch

If you’ve got the current account ‘switch itch’, now’s the time to scratch it. Since the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was introduced in 2013, banks are battling it out fiercely to lure new clients with lucrative incentives including cash, discounts on household bills and rewards programmes.

This presents a potentially easy and pain-free way to make some handy student cash in as little as seven days. And, it seems, people are loving it. reports that almost 4 million people have moved current accounts since 2013, with a whopping  909,186 accounts having been moved in the 12 months preceding August 2017 alone.

Although CASS uptake was initially slightly sluggish, this seems to have changed as banks have tapped into the psychology of what would comprise a worthwhile incentive. The low interest rates have not dampened competition among the banks at all – instead, the turf war indicates the opposite is true. The result has been that all banks, the big retail ones and smaller institutions alike, have come to the party.

Even institutions outside of the financial services belt have harnessed the lure of the cash bonus on the back of this success, meaning the options for quick extra pounds don’t stop with switching current accounts. There are several easy and lucrative cash for sign-up and similar deals if you know where to look.

CASS is quick and expedient

If your bank has signed up for CASS – and 99% of UK banks have – the switch takes seven working days. All payments coming into your account, such as your salary, and all payments you make from your account, such as direct debits, are moved to your new account. A refund for any incorrectly applied charges to any of your current account also applies.

The process is pain-free. The onus is on your new bank, not you, to ensure that everyone who should be debiting your account or paying into it, is informed of your new bank details. If you have recurring payments, though, you’ll need to advise the payment recipients yourself. These kinds of continuous payments are done using your debit or credit card details, not your account number and sort code. Examples are online subscriptions, memberships and payday loan repayments.

The one thing to note though is that you may in fact not be in possession of your new card within seven days. The matter of issuing you with a new debit card and PIN is, strangely, not covered by the seven working day period. Consequently, you may have to wait a few extra days to access your money after the mechanics of the switch have been completed.

Are there any drawbacks to quick bonus incentives?

Make sure you evaluate who’s offering what in exchange for which terms and conditions. There aren’t any guidelines, for example, for what happens if you’re overdrawn so it’s best to speak to your new intended bank about this. In general, make sure you’re familiar with all the FAQs on CASS. As with everything, also do your due diligence regarding which banks are implementing CASS more smoothly than others. In general, these offers work well but the onus is on you to understand exactly what the new deal is about before proceeding.

Consumer reviews on banking cash and other offers are readily available and yield a lot of insight into who’s getting the customer service right, and who’s leaving much to be desired.

There are some complaints from clients who went the CASS route with certain banks, so the good news is that you could avoid the few non-performing institutions and go elsewhere. When it comes to the banks, in particular, check not only for whether they kept their promises but also whether the debit orders and other payment profile issues were in fact correctly changed. This way you are able to avoid potential penalty charges.

These penalties may come in the form of missed debits due to the new bank’s negligence or poor protocol. This does seem to be the exception, not the rule. Still, you may end up having to pay interest on missed debits, and the consequences could be worse if insurance payments are missed. Once you’ve switched or taken up any offer, the prudent thing as with any other deal in life is to follow up afterwards to make sure everything is in order.

Who’s offering the best bonus incentives?

The ‘best’ – meaning ‘biggest’ cashback may not necessarily be the correct one for your needs. It is up to you to evaluate the specifics of each offer with regard to fees, lock-in clauses, minimum pay-in amounts, interest and other variables.

The iGaming industry has different incentive structures, so as to not be outdone by their banking counterparts.  These are often considered decent non-banking bonus cash offers found on Oddschecker, which are comparative to financial offers found on Moneysupermaket.

Furthermore, don’t only search to see what the major retail banks are offering. Some great gems are to be found with smaller institutions. The nature of the offers also changes from time to time as banks, virtual retailers and other institutions mimic each other so when reading about an offer, check to see that it is still the same. The round-up of the few ‘best’ deals below offer not only great value on paper but have been unchanged for a while and not likely to change soon, except for NatWest.

HSBC Advance Bank Account

You’ll get £150 when using CASS to switch to HSBC Advance Bank Account upfront and qualify for a further £50 after 12 months if you stay with the bank. You’ll also receive a 6 month interest- and fee-free overdraft. A minimum of £1,750 per month needs to be paid into your account.

First Direct 1st Account

First Direct’s cash incentive has been around since 1991. The bank was a leader in the cash incentive game. Currently, you’ll get £125 if you use the MoneySavingExpert link. You can go to the banks link directly, but then you’ll only get £100.

This internet and telephone banking HSBC offshoot has a solid customer service record. A Telegraph poll in 2013 found that more than 1000 readers rated it higher than any other bank for customer service. At least £1,000 must be paid in within three months for you to qualify.

NatWest current account

This is one of the most popular offers. NatWest will pay you £125 when you switch via CASS. The offer is available to new and existing NatWest customers but you must apply online before February 16 2018 and complete the switch before March 16 2018 to get the bonus. NatWest has consistently been offering great incentives though, so keep an eye out even if you miss the changeover period.

There are a number of current accounts to choose from, each with different terms and conditions, so carefully assess which one will match your needs best.

The Reward current account, for example, nett you 2% cashback on household bills. NatWest says that its average customers earn £83 a year – not bad going cumulatively. Plus, you’ll also get 1% cashback when shopping at certain retailers.

The account costs £2 a month. To qualify for your cash back, login to online banking or mobile banking at least once every 90 days. At least £1,500 must be paid into your account each month.

NatWest also has Reward Silver, Platinum and Black Accounts that are reward eligible. As would be expected though, with more frills comes more fees.

Virgin Games

Sign up to Virgin Games for a 200% bonus on your first deposit up to £200. This means that if you sign up with £100 you’ll get £300 which you can then play with. While Slots Heaven’s new customer sign up offer is deposit £300 and get £600, plus 200 free spins, making it over 50%  deposit match.

Account migration can be pretty painless experience when you know which switching incentives appeal to your personal circumstances, and you find the right deal for you.

Photograph by Jarmoluk

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