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While many households may find their finances are more strained than usual this Christmas due to the coronavirus crisis, many people will still want to celebrate the festive season.
That’s why we’ve come up with nine easy ways to make some extra money before the big day – from getting paid to shop, to cashing in on the stuff you don’t even want any more.
Here, Which? reveals some easy ways to get some extra cash or vouchers before the end of the year.
1. Cash in on cashback
Getting paid for doing your Christmas shopping is a pretty great win-win situation, and there are loads of ways you can do it.
If you’re shopping online, like so many of us are this year, cashback sites such as Quidco, TopCashback and My Money Pocket partner with certain retailers to pay you back a percentage of what you spend – but it only works if you go through their tracked online links.
If you’re likely to forget to go to these sites when you’ve spotted the perfect present, TopCashback and Quidco have browser extensions you can download which let you know whenever you’re visiting a retailer that offers cashback.
- Find out more: cashback sites explained
Via your bank
Alternatively, you could look to your bank account for cashback.
Santander’s 123 account pays up to £15 cashback per month when you use it to pay certain bills, for which you’ll receive either 1%, 2% or 3% cashback, along with up to 15% cashback when you spend with certain retail partners through its Retailer Offers. It also pays 0.6% AER interest on up to £20,000, but you should also weigh up the fact that it costs £5 per month.
Elsewhere you can also switch on cashback offers with other banks when you spend with your debit card in-store or online with certain retailers. Lloyds Bank has Everyday Offers and Halifax has Cashback Extras.
Credit card cashback
Lastly, your credit card could also give you cashback.
The best offers are currently from American Express; its Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card offers 5% cashback for the first three months (capped at £100). After that, you’ll get 0.5% cashback on spends up to £5,000, going up to 1% on spends over £5,000 in a year, with a representative APR of 22.2%.
American Express is also bringing back its Shop Small scheme from 5-20 December this year. Cardholders can get a £5 credit statement when they spend £10 at a participating small business, with the potential to earn up to £50 if you spend with 10 different businesses – but you can only use it once per participating location.
You must be enrolled to take part; enrolment opens today (4 December).
- Find out more: best cashback credit cards
2. Nab a current account switching bonus
There’s only one current account switching offer on at the moment – but if you sign up fast you might be able to get the bonus in time for Christmas.
Virgin Money is offering a free luxury case of Virgin Wines to new customers who switch to its Virgin Money Current Account and carry over at least two direct debits.
The account pays a market-leading interest rate of 2.02% AER on balances up to £1,000, and you can also get a discount of up to £225 on Virgin Media (if you’re not an existing customer).
To get the wine, Virgin Money says it will send a redemption code with a special link within 31 days of your account opening date – so even if you don’t get them by Christmas, they might help you celebrate the new year.
- Find out more: best and worst banks
3. Get paid to recycle
If or when stores near you are open, several retailers will reward you with a voucher for recycling your unwanted clothes.
As part of Marks & Spencer’s ‘shwopping‘ recycling initiative, it has teamed up with Oxfam so that if you take an old M&S item to an Oxfam charity shop, you’ll get a £5 gift voucher to spend at M&S.
Those who have worn out their running shoes during lockdown can take them into a Runners Need store to be recycled between now and 31 December 2020, and get a £20 voucher off a new pair of kicks as part of its Recycle My Run scheme.
Sticking with unwanted shoes, Schuh’s Sell Your Soles scheme gives you a £5 voucher for every unwanted pair of shoes you donate in-store.
4. Save with a lifetime Isa
For full disclosure – you won’t be able to spend the money you get from this yet, but if you open an account soon it could at least be in your account by the new year.
Lifetime Isas are tax-free savings accounts that can only be opened by those aged between 18 and 39. You can save up to £4,000 in each tax year, and the government gives you a 25% bonus of up to £1,000 per year on whatever you save – and it’s paid into your account monthly.
The money can only be spent on buying your first home, or for use in retirement when you’re over the age of 60. So, while you won’t be able to spend the extra cash right now, it will certainly help you out when you need it in the future.
- Find out more: lifetime Isas – should I get one?
5. Sell your stuff…
6. …or your hair
Yes, you read that right. High-quality wigs, hair-pieces and hair extensions all need real human hair, and you can earn a fair amount from it – the more you have, the more you’ll earn.
According to Hair Harvest, you’ll need to be able to send at least 14 inches of hair for it to be used – and prices are considerably better if your hair is 16 inches or longer. As a typical guide, they say 14-16 inches of hair will get between £25 and £60; 16-18 inches of hair can bring in £50-£150, and hair that’s 19 inches or longer could be worth £60-£200.
So, if you were planning a dramatic lockdown hair makeover, why not see if it could earn you some cash?
7. Refer your friends
Lots of brands have refer-a-friend schemes, but financial firms tend to pay the most if you send your pals their way.
If you have a Metro Bank account, you can earn up to £250 for referring your friends – you’ll get £50 for each person you refer, and they’ll get £50, too.
Elsewhere, savings app Chip is offering a savings boost on its new Chip+1 instant-access account for anyone who invites a ‘plus one’ to open an account, or is invited to open an account by a friend. The account pays 1.25% AER on savings of up to £5,000 – which is a market-leading rate, but its restrictions mean you can only earn around £62 if you save the full £5,000 for a year.
For other kinds of referral deals, you can sign up to site Refer me Happy, which currently has deals for Sky TV, Virgin Media, Ocado and Littlewoods.
8. Get paid for using your free time wisely
Christmas parties and get-togethers are sadly going to be lacking this year – but, if you put this extra time to good use you could make some extra cash from the comfort of your home.
There are lots of online survey sites out there – I-Say, Swagbucks and PopulusLive are a few of the most popular ones. All you need to do is sign up online, wait for survey alerts to be emailed to you, and then fill out your opinions on as many as you like.
Some sites pay in Amazon vouchers, and you may need to earn a certain number of survey points before a voucher gets paid – but you could earn up to £200 a year if you stick at it.
You can also get paid for conducting online searches from the comfort of your home. Qmee – which also runs paid surveys – has a browser extension which pops up with a set of results each time you use certain search engines, and you’ll sometimes be offered a cash reward for clicking on certain links.
Note there’s no requirement to buy anything – it’s all about the clicks.
9. Rent out your most useful items
If you don’t want to part with your more useful or valuable items, but don’t use them all the time, you can earn money by renting them instead.
You can do this through sites like Fat Llama – it’s free to list your stuff, and the firm has an insurance policy in place that protects your items against theft, loss and damage.
Popular items include cameras, drones, projectors and musical instruments – so if you have any of those lying around it’s time to put them to use.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on 4 December 2020 with new details of the American Express Shop Small offer.