Martin Lewis: How you can make thousands and there is no catch in sight

healthy issue: Keep fit and earn rewards at the same time plus the more exercise you do the more you earn. Picture: Daniel Martino
healthy issue: Keep fit and earn rewards at the same time plus the more exercise you do the more you earn. Picture: Daniel Martino
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Fancy making some quick cash, possibly £1,000s? I know I sound like worst type of spam advert on the internet, promising riches. Yet they make you pay to find out what their big idea is, and usually it’s baloney, balderdash … or add your own B word.

However, if you’re prepared to play the system, there are ways to make money – and some can pay at speed.  Recently in MoneySaving Towers, I heard two of my team, Sarah and Megan, comparing who made more from being bank tarts. Don’t worry, I’m not being rude, that’s what you call anyone who repeatedly switches to get free cash (Sarah’s £825 topped Megan’s £800).

And it’s that tale that inspired me to collate a host of different ways to speedily stuff cash in your coffers. Better still, start now and many of these techniques could yield a stash in time for Christmas.

1 Free £150+ for switching to a better bank account

The fierce competition in the banking market means some bribe you to switch. As often these are best-buys anyway, take it and smile. In many cases, you get the cash within a month or two. There’s full details and eligibility info at www.moneysavingexpert.com/bankaccounts, but in brief…

Free £150 PLUS £4+/mth. www.co-operativebank.co.uk pays £150 within 45 days. Plus its Everyday Rewards scheme pays £4+/mth if you qualify. Its customer service rating in my recent poll of 260 customers was a strong 70% ‘great’.

Free £100, No.1 service, 6% linked savings and 0% overdraft. www.FirstDirect.co.uk has won every customer service poll I’ve ever done – 91% rate it ‘great’. On top of a free £100 within 44 days, switchers get a £250 0% overdraft and you can put up to £300/mth in its linked 6% regular saver.

Free £100 M&S gift card plus £10/mth. Bank.MarksandSpencer.com doesn’t pay cash, but does give a £100 gift card within 30 days, plus pay in £1,000+ a month and you get £10/mth added for a year. Its service is a strong 68% ‘great’. It also has a £100 0% overdraft and a linked 6% regular saver.

Free £100 plus £5/mth. www.Halifax.co.uk Reward pays £100 after just 3 days and also pays £5 each month you’re in credit - its service is also 68% ‘great’. Yet beware its overdraft which is very costly.

If you’re worried about how difficult switching is, I did a Twitter poll of 2,900 in July and 76% who’ve switched since 7-day switching launched in 2013 said it’s no or little hassle.  All that happens when you use the switching service is they close your old account, move direct debits and standing orders for you and auto-forward payments.

2 Make £1,500+ as a serial bank-account switcher

It’s not just my team who are bank tarts. Having published how much some were making, people have got competitive with hoards writing to tell me they were Britain’s biggest bank tart. Simon Bartram and his wife have now earnt £1,565 over four years: “Inspired by Martin, we started switching... keeping track of the cash takes some doing but it’s well worth it”.

You can start by signing up to the bank accounts in point one above, but for doing it multiple times you need to be a bit more careful, for example, it can impact your credit file. For full help, pros and cons, see www.moneysavingexpert.com/banktartchamps.

3 Get PAID to walk...

Sign up to free fitness rewards app Bounts.it, and connect it to your fitness tracker (including Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and iWatch) or smartphone app (like RunKeeper, MapMyfitness and Moves), and you’ll earn points when you walk, exercise or go to the gym.

The more exercise you do, the more points you earn, which can then be converted into vouchers, to be used at retailers and restaurants such as Amazon, John Lewis and M&S.

Even if all you do is walk and hit 7,000 steps in a day you can get a £5 voucher within a few months, but do more exercise, and it’s far quicker. And if you’ve already got a fitness tracker, it’s a no brainer to connect the two.

4 Free £100 Amazon/M&S voucher within 3 months

Accepted new applicants for the www.AmericanExpress.com/uk Gold Charge Card get 20,000 reward points if they spend £2,000 in the first three months. This isn’t a call to spend more, just do normal spending on it as long as it’s £700+/mth. The voucher usually lands within three months.

What are the points worth? The 20,000 bonus is enough for a £100 voucher for Amazon, M&S and more (or you can transfer to airline and hotel loyalty-schemes). You earn one point per £1 spend on the card too.

Warning: After a year there’s a £140 fee. The £140 annual fee is waived in year one, so diarise to cancel if you want to avoid it.

It’s a charge card, not a credit card. So you MUST repay IN FULL every month, or face a £12 penalty and a mark on your credit file. Best do it via direct debit.

5 Switched energy in last six years, get £100s back in minutes

Disgustingly, when you left an energy firm, if you were in credit it ran a ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ policy. That’s mostly changed now, but if you didn’t get your money - even if years ago - you can still ask.

Just call your old supplier to see if you’re owed money (quote your old account number if you can dig it out).

Many get £100s, some more, like one of my site users Col.Escargot: “The balance owing from 17mths ago was £1,364. Brilliant, but I do feel an idiot for not knowing how much I’d overpaid. I’d urge everyone to check.”

6 Find £100s of lost Tesco vouchers

Vouchers last two years, but many forget them or lose them.  Yet that isn’t the end of the game – you can reclaim old vouchers.  If you’re a regular Tesco shopper especially you may be surprised at how much you’re due, as McTaggus, said: “You netted me £276 in unused vouchers.”

Don’t just spend them in store though, check if you can quadruple rewards. Redeem vouchers via Tesco Boost partners and you can get 3x or 4x points’ value, eg, £10 voucher becomes £40 at Café Rouge, £30 at Goldsmiths jewellers and more.  Full help on how to do this in www.mse.me/tescoreclaim

And these are just the tip of the iceberg, for 60 more such as flogging old wedding gowns, competitions for cash, mystery shopping, and being paid for filling in forms see www.mse.me/boostincome.