How much free money could you get from switching bank accounts?

Switching bank accounts is easier than you might think and there are plenty of incentives for moving

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It has been said that you’re more likely to get divorced than you are to move from the bank account you had on your wedding day. This saying might not actually be far from reality as only 700,000 of 70 million current accounts were switched between July 2020 to 30 June 2021, according to the Current Account Switch Service.

Many people stick to the same bank out of habit, but if your needs have changed, it is worth seeing what else is available. Whether you want better customer service, an interest-free overdraft, access to a branch, or more innovation, it could be time to move.

It’s easier to switch than ever before with the current account switch guarantee, which means your new bank does all the legwork and should complete the switch within seven working days. And the good news is, you could also get free money for moving as many banks are offering incentives when you move accounts.

Free money for switching bank accounts

We take a look at how much “free” money you can get when you switch with different banks—although note, you should only move if it suits your needs and not because of the cash incentive.

First Direct 1st Account

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Switching incentive: £100

What do you need to do to get the cash? Pay in at least £1,000 within three months of opening the account. 


What else does the account offer? A £250 interest-free overdraft; access to a Regular Saver Account paying 1% AER.


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HSBC Advance

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Switching incentive: £110 plus £30 Uber Eats voucher

What do you need to do to get the cash? To be eligible for an HSBC Advance account you need to be able to pay in at least £1,750 a month. 


What else does the account offer? A linked Regular Saver account paying 1% AER.


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Club Lloyds

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Switching incentive: £100

What do you need to do to get the cash? Pay in a minimum of £1,500 a month to avoid a £3 a month fee.


What else does the account offer? Each year you can choose one from the following four perks: 12 digital movie rentals, six cinema tickets, a magazine subscription or Gourmet Society membership. 


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Nationwide FlexDirect

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Switching incentive: £100

What do you need to do to get the cash? Transfer at least two direct debits.


What else does the account offer? 2% AER interest for 12 months on balances up to £1,500; Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Paym.


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Natwest Reward (also RBS Reward)

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Switching incentive: £100 (+£50 if you stay for a year)

What do you need to do to get the cash? Pay in at least £1,500 and log in to online or mobile banking. You need to make 10 debit or credit card transactions each month for a year to get the bonus £50.


What else does the account offer? Apple Pay and Google Pay; the chance to earn rewards with selected retail partners.


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Santander 123

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Switching incentive: £130

What do you need to do to get the cash? Pay in at least £1,000 and set up two direct debits.


What else does the account offer? In exchange for a monthly £4 fee, Santander pays cashback on bills paid by direct debit. You can get 3% back on water, 2% on energy and 1% on council tax, mobile phones and home broadband/phone/TV packages, up to a maximum of £15 a month. 


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Virgin Money M Plus

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Switching incentive: £150 Virgin Experience gift card

What do you need to do to get the cash? Set up at least two direct debits, and download and login to the Virgin Money Mobile Banking app. You also need to pay at least £1,000 into a linked M Plus Saver or Club M Saver account.


What else does the account offer? 2% in-credit interest on balances up to £1,000.


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Bank account switching checklist

  • To receive a switching incentive from any bank, you need to use the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) to do the switch. This service will transfer your balance and direct debits and close down your old account. The process should be complete in seven working days.
  • Most banks insist you set up at least two active direct debits on your account to get cash or other incentives for switching. 
  • Most banks also bar customers who’ve previously received a switching incentive from the same bank (or a bank in the same group) in a set period of time. If you have a joint account with someone else, you’ll both need to agree to the switch.
  • Technically, you can close down your existing current account and open a new one yourself—but you won’t be eligible for switching incentives unless you use CASS.

Switch to the right bank account

Smart With Money

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Smart With Money is our dedicated money channel created to give you expert, easily digestible information to help you make the most out of your money.

Although free money is always tempting, it’s best not to switch bank accounts for a cash incentive alone. Instead, you should do your homework to find the best current account for your needs. If you’re always in the red, a competitive overdraft rate will be essential but if you’re normally in the black, in-credit interest will be more important. 

A packaged account—where you pay a monthly fee in exchange for a bundle of perks —will be a good option for many people. Look for benefits you know you’ll use —the most popular ones are travel insurance, mobile phone insurance and car breakdown cover. Some banks also run various reward or discount schemes in partnership with selected retailers.

According to CASS, most people switch bank accounts for reasons other than money. In the second quarter of 2021, consumers favoured better online banking facilities (47%), stronger customer service (39%), ease of mobile or app-based banking systems (39%), and location of branches (25%) in their new current account

Emma Lunn

Emma Lunn is an award-winning freelance journalist who specialises in personal finance. She has more than 17 years’ experience writing for national newspapers, trade and consumer magazines, and specialist websites. She has a particular interest in writing about property and mortgages and enjoys explaining complex issues in an easy-to-understand way.