With just nine weeks left until Christmas, consumers are running out of time to get their finances sorted ready for the festive period.
While it is estimated that two in five of shoppers buy Christmas gifts throughout the year to spread the cost and make the most of discounts, the reality is that most consumers leave their festive shopping until the final few months of the year. For those wanting to make their cash stretch a little further, or who are looking for a cash boost in the run up to Christmas, these tips might help.
As traditional savings accounts are not offering particularly high rates at the moment, consumers could benefit from looking for savings options that could potentially offer large returns. Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk said: “Credit unions are now offering savers a chance to win up to £5,000 if they deposit as little as £1 a month. The new PrizeSaver, designed by the Treasury, is an initiative to ignite the savings habit and consumers would win big – similarly as they could with a Premium Bond. The more someone saves, the more chances they have to win the prize draw up to a maximum of £200. Savers have plenty of time to consider one of these accounts if they are undecided, as the pilot of the launch runs until March 2021 and is available across 15 credit unions in the UK. There are other ways to win a cash prize when saving, such as with Halifax where consumers could win between £100 to £100,000.”
Cashback websites have been a money-saving tip that has been around for a while now, but still many consumers are missing out on the benefits these sites can offer. Springall commented: “One way to earn free cash when buying goods or services is by using a dedicated cashback website. There are plenty out there to choose from and it’s easy to sign up to earn cashback on all sorts of things, including shopping, holidays, utilities, savings, insurance and more. One such website is TopCashback; it has a special Spooky Savings hub covering loads of goods from multiple brands and there is a Snap and Save hub where you can upload a photo of a receipt and potentially get cashback for that spend, such as spending £10 on petrol.”
Although getting into debt using a credit card is never advisable, consumers who are able to pay off the full amount each month could benefit from using a rewards credit card. Springall added: “If consumers decide to use a credit card, then they might as well earn some cashback each time they spend in the run up to Christmas. American Express offers a fee-free card that pays 5% for three months on its Platinum Cashback Everyday Card, which caps the cashback available at £100 over that period. Customers also need to spend £3,000 each year to qualify for cashback. It’s important to clear any balance each month, too, as the card charges 22.9% APR.”
A great way of making Christmas a little bit more affordable is to use the points gained on loyalty store cards. Springall commented: “Shoppers looking for some extra cash when they shop could exchange their loyalty points for a voucher. Indeed, one example is the M&S Bank Shopping Plus Mastercard where one point can be earned per £1 spent in store. If shoppers don’t want to take out a credit card, then they could instead sign up for a loyalty points card and turn those points into vouchers in the run up to Christmas, such as with Boots, Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.”
An easy way of earning a little extra money is to take advantage of account switching incentives, which could result in gaining hundreds of pounds in cashback by simply changing bank accounts. Springall added: “Switching a current account is simple and easy to do thanks to the Current Account Switcher Service (CASS) and in some cases customers could earn some free cash when they switch. At the moment, HSBC will pay £175 in cashback when bank customers switch to their Advance Bank Account, plus there is no monthly fee to pay. While this is very tempting, it’s important that consumers look at all the features and charges to ensure it’s the right choice for their day-to-day banking needs.”
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.