Who says there is no such thing as free cash? There is plenty – if you know the right places to look
We have rounded up 40 different cash-generating ideas you may be eligible for. Some could be worth hundreds of pounds. Add a few together, and you could be putting away thousands of pounds – and all just for making a few phone calls or filling in a couple of forms.
We’re always interested in your ideas for getting hold of free money – whether it is thousands of pounds or pennies. Please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Track down lost pensions and bank accounts
There is over £5 billion sitting untouched in lost pensions, according to the Pension Tracing Service. Similarly, there is an estimated £850 million languishing in dormant current and savings accounts.
2 Free money for switching suppliers
Switching providers, such as mortgage lenders, insurers, broadband and energy suppliers, can save you hundreds of pounds. But as well as saving, there are ways to make money too.
Some firms will offer cash sweeteners to encourage you to switch providers – bank account moves are particularly lucrative. Look out for cash incentives from Barclays and NatWest.
Cashback sites can offer free cash when you click through their website before switching providers. These also offer free money when you click through them while shopping at hundreds of retailers. Sign up to sites such as TopCashback or Quidco.
3 Cash to make your home warmer
Energy-efficiency grants can be used towards the cost of improvements such as adding insulation or installing a new boiler.
Ask your energy provider if you are eligible for any schemes it is running. At a minimum, you can get a free smart meter installed, which can help you to cut your energy bills.
4 Are you a Premium Bond winner?
Premium Bond prizes worth more than £60 million remain unclaimed, including five £100,000 prizes. NS&I holds a register of all the unclaimed prizes.
Similarly, there are thousands of National Lottery prizes that have gone unclaimed, amounting to £122.5 million last year.
Always check your tickets and make sure your contact details are up to date.
5 Lost insurance policies
Could a family member have had a life insurance policy that went unclaimed? These can be worth huge sums. If you think there is a chance, check bank or credit card statements for payments to an insurer or contact the Unclaimed Assets Register (Uar.co.uk).
6 Lost legacy
There are nearly 10,000 unclaimed estates in the UK, worth an average of £150,000. Could you have a claim? The government publishes a list of unclaimed estates, which is updated daily (Gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/unclaimed-estates-list).
7 Council tax discounts
Do you live alone? If so, you could be entitled to a 25% council tax discount, regardless of income. If you are on a low income, you may pay even less.
8 Make money from your home
If you have a room, loft or driveway you don’t use, turn it into a money-spinner. You can earn up to £7,500 a year tax free using the government’s Rent a Room Scheme (see more here), while some companies help you to rent out storage space (Stashbee) or a parking space (JustPark, Parklet and ParkonMyDrive).
9 Birthday freebies
Many retailers will give you a discount or freebie on your birthday. Check if your favourite shops and restaurants have any deals – you usually have to sign up to their newsletters to be eligible. For instance, you can get a free bottle of prosecco at Pizza Express if you buy two main meals or a free milkshake at Ed’s Diner with a loyalty card.
10 Free money online or via your smartphone
- Job Spotter Take photos of job adverts in windows and submit them to jobsite Indeed.com, so the ads an be viewed online. Earn points that are converted to Amazon vouchers.
- WeBuyBooks Use the app to scan the barcode/ISBN number of books you’ve read to get an instant valuation. Post them for free and get paid cash.
- Zapper.co.uk or MusicMagpie Sell old books, CDs, DVDs, games and phones.
- Zeek Sell unwanted giftcards to release the cash.
- Google rewards If you have a Google or Android device, you can sign up for Google rewards. The app asks you questions about your shopping habits. If you answer, Google gives you credits towards your Google Play account.
- Honey When you visit shopping sites, this add-on to your web browser automatically finds and applies coupon codes at the checkout when you buy online.
FREE CASH FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
11 Boost your deposit for a first home
Fancy £1,000 free cash a year towards your first home or retirement? That’s what the government is offering to under-40s.
All you need to do is open a Lifetime Isa – a tax-free individual savings account – and for every £4,000 you put in, the government will top it up with £1,000. The cash can only be used towards retirement saving or buying your first home – withdraw it for other reasons and there are hefty penalties to pay.
12 The 16-19 Bursary Fund
You could get a bursary to help with education-related costs if you’re aged 16 to 19 and studying at a publicly funded school or college in England – not a university – or on a training course, including unpaid work experience.
There is a different scheme in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland called the Education Maintenance Allowance.
13 Money from your university
Many universities offer bursaries, scholarships and awards to students. University student support services will be able to tell you what is available. Some also offer hardship funds.
FREE CASH IF YOU’RE WORKING
14 Government pension perks
The government offers massive incentives to encourage you to save into a pension. When you make contributions, the government generally automatically tops them up.
Even if you’re not in work, you will still be eligible for tax relief – this includes spouses who are not working, and even children.
You don’t have to be an employee to take advantage – you can set up your own pension, known as a Self-Invested Pension Plan or Sipp, and benefit from tax relief.
15 Employer contributions to your pension
Employers are obliged to contribute to their workers’ pension savings. Chances are you are part of a scheme through auto-enrolment.
Your employer should pay in a minimum of 2% while you pay 3%, and this will increase from April 2019 to 3% and 5% respectively.
16 Extra work perks
Check whether your employer offers any perks, which could save you hundreds of pounds. For example, the Cycle to Work scheme allows you to buy a bike out of your pay packet tax free. That can amount to a saving of 25% to 39%. That’s in addition to the potential savings from avoiding public transport or driving.
FREE CASH FOR PARENTS
17 Tax-free childcare
Parents can benefit from tax-free childcare. For every £8 you pay in, the government tops it up by £2, with total savings of up to £2,000 per child. Savings are doubled for disabled children and you can spend the money on nannies, nurseries, childminders after-school clubs and holiday clubs.
18 Free school meals
If you’re claiming certain benefits, including income-based jobseeker’s allowance, universal credit and child tax credit, and are on a low income, your child may be entitled to free school meals.
19 Cut costs for your school children
Your local education authority may be able to help with the cost of school uniforms or music lessons.
20 Child benefit
Eligible for child benefit? You’ll get £20.70 a week for your first child and £13.70 a week for other children.
Anyone responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in education or training) can claim it. If either you or your partner earn more than £50,000 a year, you may have to pay some or all of it back. But it can still be worth applying to help build up your national insurance contributions and boost your pension.
FREE CASH FOR FAMILIES
21 Amazon Prime
Are you already paying for Amazon Prime? Then you can share your free shipping benefits with up to four additional family members who live at the same address. It could save your household a fortune in postage.
Stream music for free by sharing multiple account deals
22 Share your music downloads
Look out for multiple account deals from your music streaming services. While you can get Spotify for free with ads, Spotify’s Premium for Family, which costs £9.99 a month, allows you and up to five people who live at the same address to play their own music and keep their own playlists without the annoying ads, plus you can download music for offline listening. You can try it out for free for 30 days.
23 Give your family free mobile data
Chances are your kids will use up their mobile data faster than you do. If you all have an EE account, you can manage your family’s data in the My EE app, gifting data to anyone in the family who is running low – you just need a minimum of 500mb left on your account.
24 Share Netflix with your family
Buy Netflix’s Premium plan for £9.99 a month and get access to programmes on four devices at the same time – that is only £4 a month more than the basic plan where you can only view on one screen.
And remember – if you’re new to Netflix, you can get a 30-day free trial.
But with all free trials, make a note in your diary and remember to cancel the subscription if you decide not to start paying for the service.
FREE CASH FOR OVER-65s
25 Cash if there is acold snap
If the temperature plummets, over-65s who claim income-related benefits may be eligible for extra help towards their energy bills.
The cold weather payment of £25 will automatically be paid when the temperature falls below zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March.
26 Pension top-up
Pensioners on low incomes may be able to claim two types of pension credits that can be worth thousands of pounds.
The guarantee credit boosts your weekly income if it’s below £163 for single people or £248.80 for couples.
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement – for example, a pension.
27 Winter fuel allowance
The winter fuel allowance is a set payment offered to retirees to help with the cost of heating over the winter months. Anyone born before 6 May 1953 is eligible for an annual payment of between £100 and £300.
28 Free TV viewing
If you’re over 75, you are entitled to a free TV licence. You can get a special discounted licence of £7.50 if you’re living in residential care, so long as you are retired and over 60.
29 Free prescriptions and eye tests
Over-60s are entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests, as well as vouchers towards the cost of glasses and contact lenses.
Those who receive the pension guarantee credit are also entitled to free dental treatment.
30 Free travel
Once you hit state pension age, you can get free off-peak bus travel if you live in England.
If you are aged 60-plus and live in London, you will be eligible for a 60+ Oyster card, which gives you free travel across the capital. When you reach state pensionable age, Londoners can apply for a Freedom Pass, which offers free travel across London and free local bus journeys nationally.
If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, you can apply for a free bus pass when you turn 60.
31 Christmas bonus
If you receive the state pension or pension credit, you are entitled to a Christmas bonus, which is usually £10 a year. This is also paid to some people who receive disability or bereavement benefits.
FREE CASH FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS
32 Help with housing costs
If you’re on a low income and pay rent, you may be eligible for government help towards your housing costs.
If you’re on a low income and are struggling to keep up with interest payments on your mortgage, you may be eligible for support and can apply for a mortgage interest loan.
33 Budgeting loans
If you’re receiving certain income-related benefits and need help to pay for clothing, furniture or rent, you may be eligible for an interest-free budgeting loan.
If you’re getting Universal Credit, you need to apply for a budgeting advance. Contact Citizens Advice for more information.
34 Cut phone and broadband costs
You can get a cheap phone and broadband deal from BT if you are on a low income. It costs £9.95 a month and has a price cap to help you budget.
35 Help to Save
If you are on a low income, are entitled to working tax credit or receiving universal credit, the government has recently launched a scheme to help you save. You will receive a bonus of 50p for every £1 you save over four years. You can save up to £50 each calendar month.
36 Help towards hospital travel costs
Check out the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme, which helps those on lower incomes with the cost of getting to and from hospital appointments.
FREE CASH IF YOU ARE DISABLED
37 Health costs
You may qualify for help towards some NHS charges if you’re on income support. You may also qualify for help towards healthcare travel, adapting your home for your needs, a reduced earnings allowance, disabled students’ allowance and a Blue Badge parking scheme.
FREE CASH WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT
38 Free dental care and prescriptions
If you are pregnant, you will receive free NHS dental care and for a year after the baby is born.
In England, you’ll also get free prescriptions over that period; in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you’re entitled to free prescriptions at all times.
39 Free time off
You have a right to paid time off from work to go to antenatal appointments, regardless of how long you’ve been in your job.
The baby’s father or your partner are entitled to take unpaid time off work to go with you to two of your antenatal appointments.
When you have a baby, you’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave and pay from your employer for up to 39 weeks while you’re on leave, or shared parental leave, if you’re eligible.
40 One-off grant
If you or your partner are in receipt of certain benefits, you may be entitled to a Sure Start maternity grant, which is a one-off payment of £500 from the Social Fund to help with the cost of your baby.