Summer’s coming, and sadly shorts often have smaller pockets than trousers. The warm weather means most people go out more, socialise more and spend more. So now we’ve finally thrown off our hats and scarves and are preparing for the sun, I wanted to share five tips for bolstering your bank account in time for the (hopefully) hot weather.
Of course if you need more money the obvious ways are to work more, find better paid work, or flog things, but I’m going to focus a little off that well beaten track…
1. Free £662 if you’re married or in civil partnership (not just cohabiting)
Back in April 2015, the Government launched a new tax-break for married people and civil partners, but out of the 4.2 million eligible couples for the marriage tax allowance, far less than half have claimed it.
You’re eligible if both of you are under age 82 (if older there’s a different allowance), one of you pays the basic 20 per cent tax and the other’s a non-income taxpayer. The non-taxpayer can apply on gov.uk to transfer £1,150 of their personal allowance to their spouse, which means £1,150 of income you would’ve paid 20 per cent tax on is now tax-free, a £230 gain.
Plus you can back claim if you missed out too, like Fran who tweeted: “@MartinSLewis thanks Martin for info on marriage allowance claimed and got over £400!” And since 6 April this year, you can claim back an extra year so it’s now £662, much of which will come as a cheque. If you think you may qualify for more help and to claim read www.mse.me/marriagetax.
2. Free £100 and two airport lounge tickets
Just by temporarily changing the plastic in your pocket, you can grab a little cash.
Currently, accepted new applicants for the www.americanexpress.com Preferred Rewards Gold charge get 20,000 reward points when they spend £2,000 on the card in the first three months.
Those points are enough to exchange for a £100 voucher for a range of shops, including Amazon, M&S and more (or use for flights, eg two BA/Virgin economy return flights to Amsterdam or Paris, or one for further afield).
Now spending £2,000 sounds like a lot. But it’s £700/mth and I’m suggesting you use the card for everything you can – petrol, supermarkets and more (it’s not an excuse to spend more, just shift your normal spending on it) and if that’s over the threshold you’ll qualify for the freebies.
You also get a membership card to the “Lounge Club” scheme with gives you two free visits to most UK affiliated airport lounges (£15/person per visit after).
However, this card has a £140 annual fee after the first year, so diarise to cancel before then if you want to avoid it. And as it’s a charge card, not a credit card, you MUST repay IN FULL every month, if not you face a £12 penalty and a mark on your credit file.
3. Get up to free £250 switching bank accounts
The bank account market is fiercely competitive right now; and the way many of the challenger banks (those which don’t have a big legacy of customers) fight to get you to switch is quite simple – they pay you!
Luckily this is a positive form of bribery as their accounts often have better customer service ratings anyway. So grab the cash. At the time of writing TSB is offering up to £130 to switch and then up to £10 per month cashback on top, First Direct £125 and a five per cent linked regular savings account, and Co-Op is offering £110 and then up to £5.50 a month.
Yet the best-buys change regularly, so for my full update of today’s best go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/bestbanks.
If you’re worried about the hassle of switching, don’t be. To get these bonuses you’ll need to use their switching services and that means they shift all direct debits and standing orders for you, close the old account, and redirect payments to the old bank for three years. The vast majority of people in my polling report it’s ‘easy and hassle-free’.
4. Get a tax rebate if you wear a uniform
If you wear a recognisable uniform to work, even if it’s just a branded T-shirt, and you wash it yourself, you may be able to reclaim hundreds of pounds of tax back, like Jackie who tweeted me: “@MartinSLewis we got a £250 cheque today after writing to the HMRC about a uniform tax rebate for my husband! Thank you!”.
The amount you can claim depends on the industry you work in – the standard expense allowance is £60 which means a basic-rate taxpayer can claim £12 (20 per cent of £60), though some occupations allow up to £185 so that’s claiming £37, and higher-rate taxpayer can claim more. As you can go back four years in total you could get up to £185 extra for basic-rate or £370 for higher-rate tax payers.
To claim fill out the P87 form from Gov.uk and send it to HMRC – don’t pay anyone to do this for you. It’s free to do direct from the Government website. Once you’ve registered, your tax code will change, so you’ll be taxed less in the future.
5. Reclaim lost Tesco Clubcard vouchers
Very simple this one – though I’ve cheated slightly as it’s not quite cash. If you shop at Tesco, you can easily find any unused or lost Clubcard vouchers going back the last two years.
Just log into your www.tesco.com account (or register with your Clubcard details) and under the “my vouchers” section (found on the left-hand side) you’ll be able to see a list of the vouchers you still have to spend.
This can be huge as Alison tweeted: “@MartinSLewis £132.50 reclaimed in lost Tesco vouchers! New bikes for our boys maybe...” and AnnaV, who said: “WOW – I’ve got £413 of unspent vouchers. Ridiculously excited.”
Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 12 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip