Up to free £150 free bank switch cash, new 26-30 railcard, free gym passes, and doing dry January? Know your tap water rights. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Quick Deals.
Remember, deals can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these deals will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.
Bank bonuses are back – First Direct £100, HSBC £150
To kick start the New Year, two banks have relaunched their bonuses for switching accounts. Very useful if the coffers are a little short. Full details of all the options in Martin’s full top bank account guide, but in brief.
- First Direct has won every customer service poll I’ve done with 89% rating it great. Last year it stopped offering free cash and instead gave free gadgets, something I thought was a bad move at the time, and it seems now so does it. It rekindled its free cash offer and now gives accepted new switchers a free £100 (more via certain sites), you can also save up to £300 a month at 5% with its linked regular savings account, and most customers get a 0% £250 overdraft too.
Only do this if you pay in £1,000 a month though (for most people that just means a salary of £12,600+/yr going in) or eventually it charges a monthly fee.
- New switchers to HSBC Advance account get £150 within 30 days of switching. You need to switch minimum 2 direct debits and pay in at least £1,750/month, for most that just means paying in a salary of around £25,900/year. Here too you also get access to a 5% linked regular saving account you can put up to £250 a month in.
And don’t forget switching accounts is easy. Within seven days your old account is closed, any direct debits and standing orders are moved across and any payments going to your old account is auto-forwarded to your new one. Plus when opening a bank account you will be credit scored.
New. 26-30 year old railcard gives a third off travel, even during commuting times
From yesterday (Wed) 26-30 year olds can now buy the one-year 26-30 Railcardonline (not in stations) which costs £30 and gives a third off most rail fares across Great Britain.
The railcard works at any time including the peak commuting time, though there’s a minimum £12 fare between 4.30am and 10am from Monday to Friday (so to get the full third off discount your ticket needs to cost more than £18). Plus, you also get a discount on London travel – a third off off-peak single fares and off-peak daily caps on Oyster cards. But it doesn’t work on buying season tickets.
You can buy a 26-30 Railcard up to the day before your 31st birthday, do that and it’s still valid until the day before you turn 32 – so it’s worth diarising that – I’ll be certainly doing that when I get that old.
Alternatively, if you’re aged between 16 to 25, or a mature student of any age you can apply for the 16-25 railcard. It also costs £30 (one-year) or £70 (three-year) and also gives a third off travel on most rail fares (mature students can only get a one-year card, but can keep renewing it if you’re still studying). You can buy a three-year railcard the day before your 24th birthday to get the discount almost until you turn 27 – worth doing as it is cheaper than buying a one year card.
Free gym passes for your New Year resolution.
It’s said some people’s New Year gym resolution doesn’t last as long as the Christmas turkey. So let’s be straight, paying for a gym membership doesn’t make you fit, it’s actually going that does.
So be careful joining up to an expensive contract on a new year’s resolution whim, it could cost you £100s. First of all try before you buy – not just the gym but your own commitment - there are plenty of free gym passes out there, including from Xercise4Less which is giving a free 5-day pass, Anytime Fitness is giving a free 3-day pass (or one-day pass depending on location) and DW Fitness First (used to be Fitness First) a 3-day pass. You need to register with each first, and they have to be used over consecutive days.
Alternatively, there are pay as you go gyms, which may work out a little more expensive than the usual yearly contract, but it can be worth paying a little more for a few months until you're sure you'll continue to go. PayAsUGym is a ‘gym broker’ selling pay-as-you-go passes for more than 2,700 gyms across the UK - from local council-run centres to posh spas. Sometimes, it's cheaper to buy a day pass via PayAsUGym than to go direct, though it does offer a 10% discount when you buy five passes and 15% when you buy 10. And more and more no-frills gym chains allow you to sign up month by month rather than lock you in for a year.
Doing dry January? Know your tap water rights
If you’re giving up alcohol this month, or you don’t drink it anyway, it’s good to know what rights you have when it comes to ordering tap water when you’re out and about – as not everywhere has to give it to you for free.
Legally any place that serves alcohol in the UK (except northern Ireland) has to give paying customers free drinking water – so that includes all bars, pubs, and restaurants that serve it (and in practice most do), yet not cafes as they generally don’t have a licence to sell alcohol. And even then, they only have to give if you’re a paying customer. In Northern Ireland, restaurants don't legally have to provide it for free, though generally many do give free tap water anyway.
It’s worth noting too that many take away restaurants which sell bottled water will give you tap water if you ask, including fast food joints like KFC and coffee shops like Pret and Costa.