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How to get high street discounts through your current account

Several bank accounts now offer dozens of deals to customers

Several banks are now offering dozens of high street discounts to current account customers.

Earlier this month, First Direct joined Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds among the banks offering cashback on spending with retail partners.

While many banks run huge marketing campaigns to advertise their in-credit interest offers and switching incentives, this is a feature which fewer customers appear to be aware of.

Below, we compare the retail reward schemes from five banks.

Bank Reward scheme Number of retailers Notable deals
Barclays Blue Rewards  185

Apple: 2% cashback

iTunes: 4% cashback

Waterstones: 2% cashback

First Direct Visa Offers  24

Lidl: £10 cashback when you spend £40

Esso: £5 cashback when you spend £40

Marks & Spencer: 5% cashback

Uber: £8 cashback when you spend £8

Lloyds Bank Everyday Offers  45

Waitrose: 5% cashback

Morrisons: 7% cashback when you spend £30

The Co-operative: 5% cashback

NatWest MyRewards  17

Caffe Nero: 1% cashback

Europcar: 1% cashback

The Body Shop: 1% cashback

Santander Retailer Offers  21

National Express: 5% cashback

Travelodge: 10% cashback 

Europcar: 10% cashback

*Information correct as of 19 September 2017

How to access bank account retail rewards

The main difference between retail rewards and most other current account incentives is that you have to actively choose and activate them.

With Barclays, Lloyds and Santander, you have to log in to online banking, browse the available deals and select the offers you want to take advantage of. The First Direct and NatWest schemes each have their own separate website.

Once an offer is activated, simply spend money with the chosen retailer using your debit card. Cashback should then automatically be paid into your account. Many of the offers are available on in-store spending, although Barclays Blue Rewards works primarily as a cashback website, where you have to click through to redeem online-only offers.

Most offers have a deadline attached to them, and you can typically only make use of each deal once. For these reasons, we think this type of incentive is a useful bonus for account holders to utilise, rather than a compelling reason to switch accounts.

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Current accounts that offer in-credit interest

Many banks are attempting to attract current account customers by offering market-leading interest rates on small balances.

The Nationwide FlexDirect account pays 5% AER on balances up to £2,500 in the first 12 months. That’s a maximum of £125 interest you could earn in a year.

Alternatively, the Santander 123 account pays 1.5% AER on balances up to £20,000, albeit with a £5 monthly fee. You can earn a maximum of £150 net interest per year with this account.

Most current accounts require customers to set up a minimum amount of direct debits and fund the account with a certain amount of money in order to pay interest.

StilI, if you’re after an account that rewards you for staying in credit, these are two to consider. See our current account tables for more details on the best accounts that pay in-credit interest.

Current accounts that offer switching incentives

Many banks and building societies offer incentives to tempt people into switching current accounts.

HSBC recently reintroduced its £200 switching incentive for its Advance and Premier accounts, while First Direct pays £125 to customers who switch to its 1st Account via moneysupermarket.com. M&S Bank offers a £125 M&S voucher to switchers, while The Co-Operative Bank will pay in £125 in cash.

Other bank accounts offer cashback based on your spending. Our best bank accounts for cashback table lists the terms and conditions involved.

How to choose the best bank account

To find the best bank account for you, it’s important to decide what qualities you’re looking for. Rewards are a great sweetener, but you might be more interested in an account that offers great customer service, or a generous overdraft. Click the links to see which banks which rank best for this criteria.

Alternatively, take a look at our packaged bank account tables to explore which paid-for accounts offer the best-value add-ons and incentives.

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