The best bank accounts for switching bonuses

Today is your last chance to grab the M&S Bank switching bonus, which could be worth up to £220. Here's a look at how the offer works, as well as the best alternatives if you miss the deadline.

Banks have long used juicy current account switching bonuses as a way of enticing new customers.

They can be an easy way to boost your bank balance, especially if you're looking to change banks anyway.

What’s more, they often come with other perks like interest-free overdrafts and access to savings accounts with excellent rates.

The bad news is banks have been slashing these switching deals left, right and centre. 

The latest casualty is M&S Bank’s generous offer of £180 in M&S vouchers (or £220 if you’re an M&S credit card holder), which will come to an end at midnight tonight (6 January).

When we contacted M&S Bank, they said there were no new current account offers planned at this time, but if you set aside some time after work tonight you can still bag its outgoing deal.

Best bank switching offers

Of course, there are other banks that still offer incentives to those who switch.

HSBC is offering up to £175 to new customers switching their bank account, while first direct has recently doubled its incentive for switchers from £50 to £100.

It’s not confirmed how long either offer will be around for, so you should be quick to apply if either account is right for you.

Earn up to 5% on your cash: compare current accounts now

Nationwide branch. (Image: Shutterstock)

Best switching bonuses

Be warned: while the incentives are great, you need to ensure the account you're switching to meets your specific financial needs or you could end up significantly out of pocket.

For example, if you're constantly in the red and the account has no interest-free overdraft, you could quickly rack up hundreds of pounds in interest and charges.

Here are the top accounts, arranged alphabetically:

Bank account

Switching bonus

Minimum monthly payment

Extra benefits

first direct 1st Account

£100

£1,000*

2.75% Regular Saver linked account

HSBC Advance Account

£175

£1,750

2.75% Regular Saver linked account

HSBC Bank Account

£75

No minimum monthly pay-in**

2.75% Regular Saver linked account

M&S Current Account

£100 + £80 vouchers***

£1,250

2.75% Regular Saver linked account

M&S Premium Current Account

£100 + £80 vouchers***

£1,250 + £10 monthly fee

2.75% Regular Saver linked account and £200+ in vouchers

Nationwide FlexDirect account

£100 for you and a friend****

£1,000

5% on balances up to £2,500

*Within three months of account opening
**You must complete a full switch with at least two Direct Debits or standing orders

***If you make at least the minimum monthly payments, register for internet banking, retain four Direct Debits and stay for 12 months
****Only available when you get a friend to apply for the account

M&S Bank – between £100 & £220 in vouchers

Sadly, it's not a cash reward, but you can pocket up to £220 in M&S vouchers when you join M&S Bank and stay for 12 months – but you have to act fast as this offer ends at midnight tonight (6 January).

You'll need to switch to the M&S Current Account or M&S Premium Current Account using the Current Account Switch Service and move a minimum of four active Direct Debits – more than other switching offers listed here.

A £100 gift card will be sent to you once everything is wrapped up.

You then get another £80 gift card if you stay for 12 months, pay in £1,250 a month, retain the four active Direct Debits and opt for internet banking and online-only statements.

M&S credit card customers who switch get an even bigger bonus of £120 in gift cards if you switch and stay for 12 months, meaning a total of £220 in vouchers.

This offer also ends today (6 January).

M&S Bank hasn’t announced any new current account offer to replace this, but we’ll update our article if this changes.

Marks and Spencer (image: Shutterstock)

The fee-free M&S Current Account gives you access to a monthly savings account paying 2.75%, £100 fee-free overdraft and loyalty points for spending at M&S.

The M&S Premium Current Account offers all that plus a range of other benefits in return for a £10 monthly fee.

With the account, you can also get vouchers, including a birthday gift worth £10, 48 hot drink vouchers per year worth £132, access to exclusive offers and triple points in M&S stores and online when you pay with an M&S credit card. 

HSBC – up to £175 cash

You can get £175 when you switch to the HSBC Advance Bank Account, which comes with a 2.75% Regular Saver.

But there’s a catch – you need to complete a full switch with at least two Direct Debits or standing orders and pay in at least £1,750 every month.

So, this account may not be suitable if your income fluctuates every month.

If so, you can still bag £75 by choosing the HSBC Bank Account and setting up two Direct Debits or standing orders. 

You don’t need to pay in a set amount every month to qualify and you’ll also get access to the 2.75% Regular Saver.

first direct – £100 cash

While this isn't the largest switching bonus out there, first direct's current account would be worth considering even without any bonus at all.

In 2018, a Government survey of customer service at all large banks named first direct as number one for overall service quality.

The account also comes with a £250 interest-free overdraft, exclusive access to leading rates on loans and savings (including a 2.75% Regular Saver).

Previously, there was a £10 monthly fee for the account after six months unless you pay in at least £1,000 a month, maintain a balance of £1,000 or hold another first direct product, but the bank scrapped it as almost everyone was able to skirt it anyway.

You'll need to pay in at least £1,000 within three months of opening the account to get the switching bonus.

You can find out more and apply for the account here

Nationwide FlexDirect – £100 for you & a friend

This one requires you to rope in a friend, but you'll both get £100 for your troubles at the end of it.

In case they need some convincing, tell them the Nationwide FlexDirect account is fee-free and pays 5% on balances of up to £2,500 for the first 12 months (falling to 1% thereafter).

To qualify, you'll need to have a current, mortgage or savings account with the building society. You'll then need to fill out a ‘Recommend a Friend’ form online.

They'll need to sign up within 90 days of the invitation, ensuring they set up at least two Direct Debits and pay in £1,000 a month in order to qualify.

Know a few people who would be up for switching? You're entitled to invite up to five people, so there's a potential £500 to be earned by both you and them. 

Finding the best deal

We mentioned this at the start, but it's worth repeating – make sure you consider what your long-term needs are, as well as the short-term gains a cash or voucher bonus can provide.

Accounts like Nationwide's FlexDirect, for example, offer decent levels of interest that could provide more value in the long-term, and not just give your bank balance a quick boost.

If you have a friend with Nationwide and they refer you, you'll both get £100.

TSB will also give you and your friend £100 each if you refer them to the Classic or Classic Plus Current Account.

You can compare the benefits and features of the top current accounts by visiting the loveMONEY comparison centre.

This article is regularly updated

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