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5 Dec 2021

10 ways to give yourself a Christmas bonus in 2021

With the cost of living on the rise, make the most of extra cash and vouchers

Price rises and product shortages may make Christmas shopping more expensive than usual this year.

So we've come up with 10 easy ways to make some extra cash, or earn vouchers, that can boost your finances by the end of 2021.

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1. Make the most of cashback

Cashback deals mean you're essentially paid back a little of what you spend - which can be a great way to cut down the overall cost of your Christmas shopping. There are three main ways to earn cashback:

Use an online cashback site

Websites such as Quidco and TopCashback partner with certain retailers to pay you back a percentage of what you spend with them online.

You just have to click through to a retailer's site via an affiliated link on the cashback site.

When the purchase is complete, the retailer sends the cashback site commission, and the cashback site then rewards you with a chunk of this. You'll usually have to reach a certain threshold before you can withdraw these funds.

Earn via your bank account

Some current accounts have cashback offers - but they often come with caveats, so make sure you read all of the terms.

For instance, cashback is sometimes only paid for certain payments - Santander's 123 account pays 1%, 2% or 3% cashback on certain household bills and Santander financial services. It also offers up to 15% cashback with certain retailers.

Other accounts offer cashback for a limited time - Chase, for example, offers 1% cashback on all debit card purchases for the first year.

Earn with your credit card

Cashback credit cards pay you a percentage of what you spend - usually, this is paid as credit on your bill, but sometimes the cashback is paid to your bank account.

The American Express Shop Small scheme, which started this weekend, rewards shoppers with cashback of up to £25 when they make an in-store purchase of at least £15 with an independent retailer that's signed up to the scheme.

2. Get cash for switching your bank account

We've seen switching bonuses make a welcome return in 2021 - and there are several to choose from.

Get £125 to switch to Halifax

If you get in quick, you could receive £125 in 10 working days when you switch to a Halifax Reward Current Account, or a Halifax Ultimate Reward Current Account.

The offer ends on 14 December, and you must have started the switching process by that date to be eligible.

Note that you'll need to pay in at least £1,500 a month to the Reward Account, and it costs £3 a month.

The Ultimate Reward Account costs £17 a month to maintain.

Get up to £125 to switch to Nationwide

New customers can get £100 for switching to a Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexPlus or FlexDirect current account, while existing customers can get £125.

The money will be paid to your new account within 10 calendar days of the switch completing.

There's no specific end date for this offer, so it could be withdrawn at any time.

Get £150 wine or an experience with Virgin Money

Switching to a Virgin Money M Plus account as a new customer gives you the choice of receiving either a £150 Virgin Experience Day or a luxury case of 12 Virgin Wines worth £150.

If you apply via the Virgin Red website or app you can get 15,000 Virgin points for switching instead.

3. Recycle your clothes for cash

Rather than throwing out old clothes you don't want, some high street shops are offering cash incentives if you recycle your garments instead.

H&M's garment collecting initiative has been running since 2013. Simply bring your unwanted clothes or textiles to an H&M store - these can be from any brand and in any condition - and hand in your bag at the cash desk.

As a reward, you'll be given a 'Thank you' voucher for £5 to use towards your next purchase.

Elsewhere, M&S has teamed up with Oxfam to encourage you to go 'Shwopping' in return for an M&S voucher.

You can donate unwanted clothes to both Oxfam shops to receive a £5 M&S voucher off a £35 spend - but your donation must contain at least one item M&S labelled clothing or soft furnishing to qualify for the voucher.

You can go to Oxfam.org.uk to find out more.

4. Sell your unwanted items...

If you have items you no longer want that are in good condition, you could sell them.

It's becoming increasingly easy to do this, with online marketplaces such as eBay (eBay.co.uk), Gumtree (Gumtree.com) and Facebook Marketplace (Facebook.com) - along with clothing-specific platforms like Vinted (Vinted.co.uk) and Depop (Depop.com).

You can even get rid of things like old tech, books and CDs - sites like Music Magpie (Musicmagpie.co.uk), CEX (Webuy.com) and Zapper (Zapper.co.uk) will pay a small amount to buy them from you.

5. ...Or rent out your stuff

If you don't want to say goodbye to your possessions permanently, some sites will let you list them to rent.

Vehicles, evening dresses, and household tools are often popular.

Sites like Fat Llama (Fatllama.com) let you list just about anything, but there are also more specialist sites around; GetAround (Getaround.co.uk), for instance, can help you rent out your car, while By Rotation (Byrotation.com) offers a peer-to-peer solution for renting clothes.

6. Could you make money from selling your hair?

The next time you're thinking of going for the chop, it might be worth seeing if you can sell some of your strands - high-quality wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions all use human hair and you can get fairly good money for your offcuts.

According to Bloomsbury at London Hair Clinic (Bloomsburyhair.com), you can be paid between £15 and £150 for sending in at least 18 inches of usable hair - so you might have to factor in some growing time if your locks are currently shorter than that.

7. Make money from your home

Any extra space you have in your home or garden can be used to make some extra cash.

If you have a spare room, there's the obvious option of renting it out - and if you use the rent-a-room scheme you won't have to pay any tax on the first £7,500 you earn.

But you don't need to have as much space to spare as that. There's also money to be made from hiring out your parking space or driveway on sites like JustPark (JustPark.com) and YourParkingSpace (YourParkingSpace.co.uk), earning money by renting out any spare storage space, or just letting your home and garden be used for photoshoots or film sets.

8. Earn money from online surveys

To make extra cash without leaving the house, consider signing up to take online surveys.

This kind of work is easy to fit in around other commitments and can be fun if the survey topic is something you're interested in.

Sites such as Swagbucks (Swagbucks.com) and PopulusLive (PopulusLive.com) allow you to sign up online, and then they'll email you survey alerts as and when they're available. You can fill out as many as you like, and earn either cash or gift vouchers.

9. Try mystery shopping

Mystery shopping involves using certain businesses or services to make sure that certain standards are being met. This could involve things like visiting a shop to see how the staff treat you, or calling a helpline and seeing if your questions are being answered correctly.

In return, you're paid for your time. Sites like Mystery Shoppers (Mystery-shoppers.co.uk) and Market Force (Marketforce.com) allow you to register and pick from the assignments they're running.

10. Reclaim lost cash

Like unexpectedly finding a £10 note in a jacket pocket, finding the money you'd forgotten about is one of life's true pleasures.

Billions of pounds are sat in dormant accounts - this includes current accounts, savings accounts and premium bond winnings.

Often, this happens when people move house without letting their bank or account provider know their new address, leaving the provider with no way to contact them. After a certain amount of time where communications are not replied to, and no activity occurs on the account, it's classed as being dormant.

If you think you might have a dormant account somewhere, you can track it down at My Lost Account (Mylostaccount.org.uk).