With family budgets tight, inflation stubbornly staying at or above 4% and interest rates on savings accounts still very low, there are plenty of ways to boost your income with free money. We round up ten of the best ways to get your hands on free cash and high street vouchers.
1. Get paid to complete online surveys
If you have a bit of spare time, filling in surveys can be a lucrative way to earn extra cash. From the best-known polling organisations such as YouGov to newer entrants such as Valued Opinions and OnePoll, survey websites pay out in either cash or vouchers.
2. Cashback websites
There are dozens of websites offering cashback on your shopping. The best known include Quidco, Greasypalm and Topcashback. Cashback sites only offer free money if the deal itself is competitive. So if a cashback site is offering £50 on home insurance, but the featured company charges £60 more than equivalent cover from a Which? Recommended Provider, it’s not worth bothering with. Shop around for the best deal first, then see if the top deals are available through a cashback site.
And don’t leave a large balance in your cashback account. As soon as you’ve got enough cashback to trigger a payment into your bank, always take it. Cashback sites aren’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so if the cashback site goes bust, it’s unlikely you’ll get your money.
Read our Guide to cashback sites for more information and reviews of the most popular sites.
3. Free vouchers
Similar to cashback sites, websites like Pigsback pay you for clicking on retailers’ links and shopping online. However, it pays you in vouchers rather than cash, although the rewards can be higher than with cashback equivalents. When you click on an on-site advert and buy items from the retailer, you earn ‘PiggyPoints’. You have to ensure that you go to the partner site via the link provided and that you don’t change windows.
Your transactions must be completed online and PiggyPoints are not awarded if you take up the offer using another promotion or discount. Participating retailers include The AA, Debenham’s, Marks & Spencer and La Senza. If you use a lot of cashback and reward websites, it’s worth clearing your cookies before logging in each time as different sites’ cookies may compete with each other and prevent you earning your cashback.
4. Recommend a friend deals
It’s worth talking to your friends if you’re thinking about switching provider or if they mention that they’re looking for a new subscription deal.
For example, Sky is currently offering you and a friend a free £50 Marks & Spencer voucher when you recommend its service and they take out a subscription. Mobile phone providers also regularly offer incentives to introduce a friend. Three, for example, currently offers you and a friend up to £45 free credit if they sign up for a telephone and mobile broadband contract. Play.com offers you a 50p discount for every friend you recommend them to, as well as a discount for your friend.
Of course, you should check that the service is suitable and competitively priced before signing up – you may also be able to get a higher cashback rate by going through a cashback website (see above).
5. Cashback and reward credit cards
If you pay off your credit card bill in full every month, get a cashback or a reward credit card. The best cashback credit card will pay you up to 1.25% cashback on your spending, while the best reward credit cards will pay you up to 5% reward on in-store shopping and 1% elsewhere.
6. Switch bank account and earn a £100 bonus
Santander will give you £100 cashback when you switch your main current account to it using its dedicated switching service. You need to pay in at least £1,000 a month, but in return you’ll earn 5% interest on balances up to £2,500 for the first year, as well as the £100 welcome bonus.
First Direct also offers £100 to switch your current account, so long as you pay in £1,500 a month. First Direct is a Which? Recommended Provider for bank accounts and has the highest customer satisfaction score on the market, 90%.
And if you don’t fancy either of these offers, it’s still worth switching to a current account that pays interest on credit balances, such as Classic Vantage from Lloyds TSB. Alternatively, the flat-rate £5 a month paid by Halifax’s Reward current account is worth considering, so long as you pay in at least £1,000.
7. Sacrifice part of your salary
It may sound perverse as a way to earn extra money, but salary sacrifice can help you do just that. Some employers offer salary sacrifice schemes, which let you exchange part of your salary for an alternative or non-cash benefit, such as boosting your pension or in return for benefits such as bikes, childcare vouchers, mobile phones and, in certain areas, bus passes.
In many cases both you and your employer will pay less tax and National Insurance. If it is saving money on your salary, you may even be able to convince your employer to increase your pay or its contributions to your pension fund. For more details, read the Which? guide to salary sacrifice.
8. Rent out your house to a film crew or overseas students
You can get your house to generate extra income, whether it’s renting out an unused driveway to commuters, renting a room to an overseas student or, more glamorous, allowing your home to be used for TV and magazine shoots.
You could earn around £140 a week per student for full board, while you could receive up to £400-550 per day for magazine shoots and £700-900 per day for adverts. Read the Which? guide Make money from your home for more information.
9. Get a 0% purchases credit card and a savings account at the same time
If you’re organised and usually pay off your credit card bill in full, you can make money with a credit card / savings account combination. The best 0%-on-purchases credit card now offers 15 months interest-free on new shopping, so long as you make the minimum payment each month and keep within your credit limit. Rather than paying the balance off in full every month, just make the minimum repayment and put the rest into a Best Rate savings account. Towards the end of the 0% credit card period, withdraw the money from your savings account and pay off your credit card bill in full. You won’t have paid any interest on the credit card for a year, and you’ll have been earning interest on the savings account.
10. And finally, earn free cash for your favourite charity
Powered by Yahoo, www.everyclick.com is an internet search engine with a difference – each time you search the internet you raise a small amount for charity. Everyclick isn’t a non-profit organisation. However, using Everyclick for searching the web costs the user nothing. Instead, like other search engines the site makes money from advertising and sponsored links. It then passes half this income to charity.