How to get an easy £175 for Christmas – but you need to act now

It's late November, but there's still time to save for the festive season, with banks giving out free cash in the run up to the most expensive time of the year.

HSBC, Natwest and First Direct are leading the way when it comes to switching rewards this month, offering new account holders the chance to bag a quick bonus in time for Christmas.

'Switching perks', as they're known, are usually reserved for new customers only – they're paid as incentives for those who open a new account using the Current Account Switch Service.

And anyone can benefit, providing you move your main incomings, are new to the bank or building society and meet the minimum terms, ie have at least £1,000 coming in each month.

But why switch? As tempting as it may seem, it's not just about the free cash.

While a bonus can seem attractive, it's important to look at the switching criteria, how happy you are with your current lender and any overdrafts or loans you have before committing elsewhere.

Check what the bank is offering on top of the cash perk – ie travel insurance, ask about overdraft fees, any monthly fees, and how long the initial reward is up for grabs for.

"Cashback perks are not guaranteed to last forever"

"Switching a bank account is so easy to do, but consumers must be sure to choose an account that offers all the benefits they need and not be swayed by just an upfront perk," Rachel Springall at Moneyfacts.co.uk explains.

"There is usually some eligibility criteria to meet, such as making certain deposits into the account each month or setting up direct debits.

"If consumers use the Current Account Switch Service, they can move their account within seven days with no fuss. If customers choose to move to the HSBC Advance Account, they would get £175 credited into their account within 30 days of the switch completion date if they meet the criteria.

“There are other ways to earn cashback, such as with the Barclays Blue Rewards scheme and the NatWest Rewards scheme but maximising the benefits of these schemes really does depend on what consumers spend their money on each month. There is also the Santander 123 current account or indeed the Santander 123 Lite to consider, as they pay up to 3% cashback such as on certain bills.

"Cashback perks are not guaranteed to last forever, indeed switching cash can come and go. From February 2020 NatWest is scrapping its cashback on bills and Lloyds Bank removed its £125 switching incentive just last week."

We've got a full guide on switching bank accounts here – and the questions to ask before moving your money.

Best switching incentives right now

1. £175 when you join HSBC

Top of the list is HSBC this month, with a £175 cash bonus for new current account holders.

Customers who join its Advance Bank Account will get £175 within 30 days of moving across.

To get the bonus, you must switch within 30 days, along with two direct debits or standing orders.

You'll also get access to a 2.75% regular savings account through it.

To get the reward, customers must apply using the Current Account Switch Service (CASS). You'll need to pay in a minimum of £1,750 to keep the account open (or £10,500 every six months).

Your £175 bonus will then be credited to your bank account within 30-days of completion of the switch.

The account is open to anyone who's not had a HSBC current account since 1 January 2016.

2. £150 when you switch to NatWest

NatWest's Reward account pays £150 if you open an account and request a switch between now and December 6.

The account costs £2 a month, but until February, you'll get 2% cashback on most bills paid by direct debit, including council tax. This will change to £5 a month for logging in on mobile and paying out two direct debits from February.

The offer is also available through its sister bank RBS, though you need to apply by November 29, for that.

New customers can also get £150 with no fee or cashback by signing up to the NatWest or RBS Select accounts.

To qualify, you'll have to pay in a minimum of £1,500 a month, complete your switch and log in to online banking by January 24 2020 (or January 10 for RBS).

To be eligible you must be a new customer – who has not had an account with the bank since October 2017.

The bonus will be paid by February 21, 2020.

3. £50 with First Direct

Award winning lender First Direct is offering £50 to anyone that opens a 1st Account, plus access to a 2.75% regular saver, and – if eligible – a £250 0% overdraft on top.

To get the bonus, you must pay in at least £1,000 within three months of switching over and to qualify, you must never have held a First Direct account.

The bonus will be paid within 28 days of switching and paying in a  minimum of £1,000.

4. Free £100 gift card with M&S bank

Open an M&S Bank current account and switch within three months, including four or more active direct debits, and you'll get a £100 M&S gift card.

The account also comes hand in hand with a £100 0% overdraft, and you get reward points when you shop in M&S and access to a linked 2.75% regular savings account (though until this week, this was 5%).

You can also get another £80 gift card (£120 if you have an M&S Bank credit card) after a year if you pay in £1,250 a month.

To qualify, you must move over at least four direct debits, and register for online banking and statements.

The account is open to new customers only.

5. Nationwide friends and family £100 bonus

If you know someone with a Nationwide current account, savings account or mortgage, it could be a win:win if they refer you.

If you switch to a Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus account – including at least two direct debits – you'll both get £100.

The referrer needs to fill in a specific form with their details, then email their referral link to their friend. The referee needs to follow that link and enter details including their 'switch reference number'.

The £100 will be paid into both accounts within 30 days of the switch completing.

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