Martin Lewis on how to get a free £125 in time for Christmas

If you're looking for a bit of extra cash this Christmas, Martin Lewis has found one way to get a free £125.

During the coronavirus pandemic, free bank switching was axed, however, companies are now offering legal bank bribes again.

The money is on offer to new customers moving to specific bank accounts.

Nowadays, switching banks is rather easy as the bank should have a dedicated switching service.

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It should only take around seven working days and the bank should do all the work, reports the Mirror.

Martin wrote in his newsletter : "Four banks currently pay, and two of them pay quickly enough for you to get it in plenty of time to boost your Christmas coffers.

"It only takes seven working days and the banks do it all – switching your direct debit and standing orders over, closing your old account, and making sure any payments are forwarded."

The top payers at the moment are:

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  • £125 – NatWest Reward – Min pay-in £1,250 a month
  • £125 – HSBC Advance – Min pay-in £1,750 a month
  • £100 – Club Lloyds – Min pay-in £1,500 a month

And Martin had advice to meet the minimum payment thresholds too.

"First remember if you've a joint account it's the combined pay-in that matters," he wrote.

"If not, there's usually a way to cheat it.

"Say the pay-in is £1,250, but you only have £850 coming in, then pay in the £850, withdraw £400 to an account at another bank (or in cash) and then pay it back in, and BINGO – you'd qualify."

What to pick:

Martin gave a quick rundown of which one is best for you too.

"Want the biggest upfront cash in time for Christmas? HSBC is your winner (though you'll need to switch 2+ direct debits or standing orders to get it)," he wrote.

"Plus, you won't be eligible if you've had an HSBC account or opened a First Direct or M&S Bank account since Jan 2017."

But there was more money in total available if you are prepared to wait.

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"For the max total cash, if time isn't key, NatWest Reward gives the same £125 upfront cash," Martin said.

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"Then it has cashback on top – bizarrely, it charges a £2 a month fee but pays £4 a month cashback if you've 2+ direct debits going out, and £1 each month you log in to mobile banking.

"So qualify it all and that's £5 a month minus the £2 a month, or an extra £36 a year."

He added that you can also get also get the £125 up front payment by switching to the fee-free NatWest Select account – but there's no monthly cashback.

Of course, up front money isn't everything, and if you're looking for customer service or best-in-class mobile banking, you may need to turn your attention elsewhere.

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Martin said: "None of these are close to table-topping for customer service.

"They're not dire, but are far from top (one of the reasons they likely pay bribes for your custom), though Lloyds just pips the others."

According to the latest MSE poll, First Direct and Starling Bank had the most favourable results, with Metro Bank and Nationwide the best performer of high-street current account providers.

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