How I outwitted the banks and made £1,300 by being a serial switcher

Before the pandemic, Verena Hallam’s spending was out of control. The 32-year-old was regularly splurging on nights out with friends which she couldn’t really afford – and had racked up £13,000 of debt.

But after vowing to get a handle on her budget, she discovered a brilliant – and easy – way to make some extra cash.

Her then-partner had encouraged her to switch her current account to Nationwide, which was offering a generous referral bonus at the time.

Easy money: Verena Hallam has pocketed £1,300 from regularly switching her current account

That simple move earned them both £100. She went on to refer five friends over the course of 2019, pocketing another £500.

‘It was so easy. I just had to fill in a form that took ten minutes and Nationwide did the rest of the work. I was gutted when the firm stopped the offer,’ Verena says.

Wondering what other deals might be out there, she then began scouring the web for tips from fellow serial current account switchers. 

Many recommended opening multiple accounts to make money faster. So she set up two bank accounts to use just for switching.

‘I divided up my bills so each had two active direct debits, as that’s usually a requirement for these offers,’ she says.

‘As soon as I saw a new deal come up, I used whichever account was eligible for the switch.’

Over the following year she made £175 from NatWest, £75 from HSBC and £125 from First Direct.

More recently, she raked in £400 from a refer-a-friend scheme offered by Chase Bank. ‘You got £20 to refer someone to its current account, up to a maximum of £400, which I hit in a week-and-a-half,’ she says.

Some deals have stricter eligibility criteria than others. For example, you might need to deposit a certain amount of money each month before you qualify for the reward.

However, most providers do not require you to leave this cash in your account for very long.

‘The HSBC full bonus was £175 but I didn’t meet its income requirement, so I only got £75,’ Verena explains.

The digital and online marketing consultant from Lancaster has since started a personal finance blog, called Surviving To Saving, and written in-depth articles offering her top tips for making money by switching accounts.

She keeps a spreadsheet with the terms and conditions of each deal so she can easily track if she has met the requirements, when she is likely to be paid and if she can use an account to get another switching bonus.

The latter is vital as some banks reserve their cash offers for new customers or those who have not held an account within the past two years. Altogether, she has now made around £1,300 and plans to keep going.

Top offer: Nationwide, is currently offering new joiners £200 if they switch to a FlexPlus, FlexDirect or FlexAccount — a £75 increase on what it paid previously

Top offer: Nationwide, is currently offering new joiners £200 if they switch to a FlexPlus, FlexDirect or FlexAccount — a £75 increase on what it paid previously

For those keen to join in, the timing couldn’t be better as many banks have launched lucrative switching offers this year.

Britain’s biggest building society, Nationwide, is currently offering new joiners £200 if they switch to a FlexPlus, FlexDirect or FlexAccount — a £75 increase on what it paid previously. You must have at least two active direct debits and close your old account to qualify.

TSB is offering customers up to £180 to switch to its Spend & Save or Spend & Save Plus current account. The incentive will be paid in two instalments.

Customers who close their previous current account will qualify for £125, as long as they have set up two direct debits and make a payment using their debit card by November 18.

They will then get a further £55 if they make at least five payments and pay in £500 a month between December and May.

NatWest will pay £175 to customers who open Select, Reward, Premier Select or Premier Reward current accounts before 5pm on November 3.

You must deposit £1,250 and log into its mobile banking app once before December 16 to qualify. Royal Bank of Scotland offers a near-identical incentive.

First Direct is also offering customers £175 to switch. You will need to` deposit £1,000 within three months and must not have held an account with First Direct or HSBC since January 1, 2019 to be eligible.

However, First Direct warns that it is experiencing high demand, so applications may take longer than usual.

To avoid any hiccups when switching, avoid moving over on a day you expect direct debits to go out of your account.

You can still move accounts if you are in your overdraft, but check your new provider has a similar arrangement.

Jo Thornhill, personal finance expert at comparison site MoneySuperMarket, adds: ‘When you apply for a current account many banks will do a ‘hard check’ which shows on your credit report.

‘One isn’t going to cause too much of an issue, but if you log multiple hard checks in a short space of time then it could damage your credit rating.’