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21 Feb 2022

Cashback accounts compared: which bank will let you earn the most money?

Virgin Money recently rolled out cashback rewards to its current accounts - how does it compare to the competition?

With multiple price rises on the way, it's likely we're all going to have to spend a bit more this year, from energy bills to car insurance premiums.

It's not good news for anyone's pocket - but cashback could be the key to at least getting back some of what you spend.

Virgin Money has recently joined several other UK providers offering cashback on current account spending - some of which see could see you earning up to £15 a month just for paying household bills.

However, lots of spenders might be missing out on cashback offers, either because they haven't activated the feature on their account or because they're not keeping up to speed on the latest offers.

Here, Which? compares current account cashback offers to see how much you could get paid on your spending. If you want to see a specific offer, choose from the list below:

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Which current accounts offer cashback?

We've rounded up the cashback offers currently available from UK bank account providers.

Virgin Money cashback

Virgin Money's cashback offer launched in January 2022, allowing those with a Virgin Money current account to earn cashback when they use their debit card at participating retailers.

Cashback rate:Varies - currently you can get up to 20% cashback on retailers including Morrisons, Costa, FatFace and Sweaty Betty.

How to activate cashback: You need to register on the Virgin Money app. You'll use the app to track available offers, and how much cashback you've earned.

Monthly fee: M Plus Account - free; Club M Account - £14.50.

Terms:Cashback can either be paid straight into your account, or swapped for an e-voucher to spend at retailers such as John Lewis, Cineworld, M&S or Currys. Most of these e-vouchers can also earn cashback.

Maximum cashback per month:No maximum.

Chase by JP Morgan

Chase by JP Morgan offers cashback on most debit card spending for the first year after opening the account. This means you won't need to try and keep on top of specific retailer offers that may change and expire each month.

Cashback rate:1%

How to activate cashback:Via the Chase app.

Monthly fee:Free.

Terms:Certain types of spending are excluded from earning cashback, such as cash withdrawals, cryptocurrencies, gambling transactions and tax payments.

Maximum cashback per month:No maximum.

Santander 123 and 123 Lite

There aren't many current accounts that pay cashback on your bills, which is why Santander's 123 and 123 Lite accounts are so popular. You can earn 1-3% on household bills, including council tax, broadband, water and energy bills, and on Santander mortgage, home insurance and life insurance products.

There's additional cashback to be earned from Santander's retailer offers.

Cashback rate:1-3% on bills; up to 15% via Retailer Offers which cover Morrisons, Coop, Just Eat, Costa and more.

How to activate cashback: You must pay in at least £500 a month, and have at least two direct debits set up. Those with 123 Lite also need to log in to online/mobile banking at least once every three months.

Retailer Offers must be switched on via Santander's online or mobile banking - go to the 'retail offers' section and follow the instructions.

Monthly fee:123 account - £4; 123 Lite - £2.

Terms:Cashback isn't paid on all bills - TV licence, mortgages and insurance products from other providers, and maintenance contracts (e.g. boiler repair cover) are excluded.

Maximum cashback per month:up to £5 for each cashback tier to a total of £15; no maximum for Retailer Offers.

NatWest and RBS Reward accounts

The Reward accounts from NatWest and RBS come with several benefits - such as being paid £4 a month in Rewards just for setting up two direct debits worth at least £2 each, and earning £1 a month in Rewards if you log in to the mobile app once a month. They also come with cashback offers.

Cashback rate:At least 1% in Rewards, but only when you spend with retail partners that include Caffe Nero, EuropCar, Barrhead Travel, Boux Avenue, P&O Ferries and ATG Tickets.

How to activate cashback:Rewards need to be converted to cashback or vouchers, otherwise they'll continue to accumulate in your account.

Monthly fee:£2.

Terms:Rewards can be converted to cashback or vouchers, but only when your balance is worth £5 or more. You need to log in to My Rewards to do this. If you convert your Rewards to cash, you'll receive it in five working days.

Maximum cashback per month:No limits on what you can earn via retail partners.

TSB Spend and Save/Spend and Save Plus

TSB's cashback is based on how often you spend using your debit card, rather than how much you spend or which retailers you spend with. It's available on its 'Spend and Save' and 'Spend and Save Plus' accounts.

Cashback rate: £5 a month, but you'll get nothing if you don't make enough qualifying debit card payments.

How to activate cashback:Make at least 30 debit card payments during a calendar month.

Monthly fee:Spend and Save account - free; Spend and Save Plus account - £3.

Terms:Some payments are excluded, such as ATM withdrawals, direct debits, standing orders and payments made using Pay A Contact (Paym).

Maximum cashback per month:£5 - only for the first six months from account opening on Spend and Save account; offer is ongoing for those with Spend and Save Plus. Cashback will be paid into your account by the 20th of the following calendar month.

Lloyds Everyday Offers

Lloyds Bank offers cashback on all three of its current accounts - Classic account, Club Lloyds account and Platinum account.

Cashback rate:Up to 15% on retailer offers from the likes of Costa, Just Eat, Harvey Nicholls and Sainsbury's.

How to activate cashback:Log in to the Lloyds mobile app, go to 'Earn cashback while you shop' and select 'Find out more'. Read the sign-up page, and select 'Yes I want Everyday Offers'. Select the offers you're interested in to active them, and you'll earn cashback when you spend with a Lloyds debit or credit card.

Monthly fee:Classic account - free; Club Lloyds - £3, or free if you pay in at least £1,500; Platinum - £21.

Terms:Cashback will be paid into your current account at the end of the following calendar month.

Maximum cashback per month:No maximum.

Halifax Cashback Extras

As the sister bank to Lloyds, Halifax Cashback Extras are basically identical to Lloyds Everyday Offers. The scheme is available with the Halifax Current Account and Halifax Reward Current Account.

Cashback rate:Up to 15% cashback from participating retailers, including Costa, Just Eat, Harvey Nicholls and Sainsbury's.

You can also get up to £5 a month in rewards with the Reward Current Account if you spend £500 on your debit card each month or keep at least £5,000 in your account every day of the month (£5 reward can also be used for cinema tickets, digital film rentals and digital magazines).

How to activate cashback:Log in to your Halifax app, and under 'Earn money back when you shop' select 'Tell me more'. Read the sign up page, then select 'Yes I want to start earning cashback extras'. Activate the offers you're interested in, and you'll earn cashback when you spend using a Halifax debit or credit card.

Monthly fee:Current Account - free; Reward Current Account - £3, or free if you pay in at least £1,500 a month.

Terms:Cashback will be paid into your current account at the end of the following calendar month.

Maximum cashback per month:No maximum on retailer offers.

Barclays Blue Rewards

Barclays Blue Rewards is an optional add-on for Barclays current account customers. It comes with set rewards for fulfilling certain criteria each month. At the time of writing, Barclays Blue Rewards is not available for new registrations via online banking, but it's still possible to register via the Barclays app.

Cashback rate:Flat-rate rewards if you fulfil certain criteria or take out certain Barclays financial products.

How to activate cashback: Select the account you want to link Barclays Blue Rewards to (the monthly fee will come out of this account), and make sure at least £800 is paid in each month.

Monthly fee:£4, increasing to £5 from 1 March 2022.

Terms: Barclays Blue Rewards cannot be used at the same time as Barclays Avios Rewards. Blue Rewards can be cancelled at any time through the Barclays app or online banking.

Maximum cashback per month:up to £7 for using your account; additional £5 for a Barclays residential mortgage, £1 if you have a Barclays personal loan, up to £5 if you have Barclays life insurance with critical illness cover; 3% cashback when you take out or renew Barclays home insurance.

How much can you earn?

There's nothing to say you can't have more than one of these cashback offers on the go at the same time, as long as you fulfil all of the criteria.

It makes sense to have your income paid into an account that requires a certain amount to be paid in every month, such as the Santander 123 account which requires a monthly payment of £500 in order for you to qualify for cashback.

You could combine this with, say, a NatWest Reward account, and a TSB Spend and Save account.

Firstly, make sure your qualifying bills are paid from your Santander account to earn cashback and fulfil the minimum direct debit requirement - up to £15 a month.

You'll get more cashback if Santander's retailer offers suit things you want to buy - if they don't, you'll have the pick of NatWest's reward partners, too.

Pick another two direct debits to be paid from your NatWest account (just make sure you transfer enough money over to cover them each month) - this could be something like Netflix or your TV licence, neither of which are covered by Santander's offer. This will get you £4 a month - and another £1 is yours just for logging into your banking app each month.

Then, for spending that's not linked to specific retailer offers, you could set up a TSB Spend and Save account and make sure you're using your debit card at least 30 times a month, bagging you another £5 a month.

That's a possible cashback earning of £25 a month, not including extra cashback from retailer offers - minus £6 a month to fund the Santander and NatWest accounts.

'I earned £8.23 cashback on sportswear that was already in the sale'

'I consider it a double win,' says senior internal communications officer Sandra Lopez. She received £8.23 cashback last month after shopping the sportswear sales.

Sandra has an account with Lloyds Bank, and racks up cashback using the provider's 'Everyday Offers' feature. But this didn't factor in to Sandra's decision to open an account with Lloyds.

'I've had the account for more than 15 years,' she says. 'Cashback wasn't a thing when I first opened it - I chose Lloyds because there was a branch quite close to where I was working.'

Sandra also has a great way of keeping track of offers: 'I tend to make a note of the date when offers are expiring - I'm terrible with dates and likely to end up purchasing something after the offer has ended.'

The only issue? Overspending. 'Cashback offers can encourage you to buy more, or buy something you weren't planning on,' says Sandra. 'On the flipside, if you were planning to purchase something anyway, it's great to know you'll get the cashback.'

Should I get a cashback current account?

Cashback is just one benefit offered by current account providers, and it doesn't necessarily suit everyone.

For instance, if you prefer to spend using cash then you're probably not going to use current account cashback to its full potential.

Plus, the cashback you earn can be reduced, or even completely outweighed, by the account's monthly fee.

Other account perks might suit you better, such as:

Ultimately, the best bank account for you will depend on your preferences and circumstances. For instance, if you prefer to bank in-branch, an online or app-only provider is not going to work for you.

It's also worth checking out how any prospective providers fare when it comes to customer service. Our guide to thebest and worst banks shows how real customers rate dozens of banks and building societies.