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Make Money

13 ways to get free money

Need to boost your bank balance without having to work for it? Sounds like you need to read this list of ways to make free money.

happy man pointing at pile of free money

Credit: Meilun (sign), radovlad (money), Prostock-studio (man) – Shutterstock

Your parents may have told you that you can't get money for nothing. But, unfortunately for them, that simply isn't true. We've found a bunch of ways to earn free cash with little or no effort.

Now, that 'effort' part is crucial. Lots of other guides to making free money include the likes of paid online surveys, which we think is misleading. Having to do anything other than the bare minimum for your money means it isn't free – it means you're working.

So, with that in mind, we've only included the very easiest, very simplest ways to make free money. And don't worry, you can still earn £100s!

Got a little more time on your hands? Our list of ways to make money quickly may require some effort on your part, but the earnings make it more than worth it.

How to earn free money

Here are the best ways to make free money with little or no effort:

  1. Bursaries, scholarships and grants

    university with bags of money

    This one won't be news to a lot of you, but hear us out – we are a student money site, after all.

    You're probably well aware that students can receive money in the form of bursaries, scholarships and grants (and that, unlike Student Loans, these don't have to be repaid). But what you may not know is just how many people are eligible for this free cash.

    Many students tend to assume that these funds are only on offer to those with the top grades, a talent for a particular sport or instrument, or those from less privileged backgrounds. But, while these students can get support, plenty of others can get some of this free money too.

    As we explain in our guide to weirdest bursaries, funding's available to students for all kinds of reasons. Whether it's being a vegetarian, having a knack for FIFA or just having the right surname, you could get free money for almost anything. So, there's no reason not to search for funding yourself.

  2. Sign-up offers

    Creating an account with a company selling... well, anything? Check to see if there are any sign-up offers for new customers.

    Far from just offering an initial discount, loads of companies give you free money for signing up. You may have to make a qualifying purchase first, but if it's something you were going to buy anyway, it's 100% free cash.

    Sometimes the reward will come in the form of an Amazon voucher. But as Amazon sells pretty much everything, a voucher is as good as cash. And if you use our Amazon shopping hacks, you'll be guaranteed a bargain.

    There are countless signup offers out there but among our favourites are the £5 bonus for joining OnePoll and the £10 payout for signing up to Monese or Curve (you can even find out exactly what Curve cards are in our guide).

    You can also earn free cryptocurrency by signing up to Coinbase and completing some short tasks. Although you won't can't spend it with most retailers, you can exchange it for Bitcoin (some shops do accept Bitcoin) or sell it for £20+.

    If you're after more, head to our deals page for all the best ways to earn free money by signing up with companies.

  3. Money for switching bank or utility supplier

    lloyds and tsb banks

    Credit: Barry Barnes – Shutterstock

    One of the main things we recommend students do before they start uni is open a student bank account. But did you know you can switch bank accounts even when you've already started uni? And, better still, that you could get free cash for doing so?

    Switching bank accounts couldn't be simpler. And whether it's pure cash or an Amazon voucher (which, again, is as good as cash anyway), loads of banks offer up to £100 to convince you to switch.

    And if you don't have a bank account yet, don't worry. These offers are available for new customers too, not just those switching.

    Just make sure to double-check the terms of each bank's offer, as there's a chance you may not be eligible for the free cash (if you've already completed your first year of uni, for instance). And remember, banks also offer cash to non-students looking to switch.

  4. Free money for referring friends

    We absolutely love referral codes. In terms of how little effort is needed and how much money you could make, it's hard to think of a better way to earn free money than referring your friends and family to sign up with a few companies.

    There's actually a fair bit of overlap here with our previous tip. Some of the very best referral codes are offered by banks, energy companies (Octopus Energy gives £50 credit) and broadband providers.

    Often the promotions for new customers (like £100 for joining) mirror the refer-a-friend schemes. But there's a crucial difference – both you and the person you're referring get a reward.

    Sure, the biggest and best offers come from the banks and utility providers. But loads of companies have referral schemes. Some reward you in the form of credits, while others pay you cold, hard cash.

    Cashback sites (which we'll cover below) and automatic savings apps are among the most reliable for this (although the specific offers often change). You could earn up to £15 per sign-up!

    The bottom line is: check all the apps and services you use to see if they offer a referral programme. You could be raking in the cash in no time.

  5. Get a Student Loan refund

    piggy bank with graduate cap

    There's a lot wrong with the current state of Student Finance in the UK. But, broadly speaking, Student Loan repayments are pretty sound. That is until the flaws in the system mean you end up making repayments when you shouldn't be.

    You see, to start repaying your Student Loan, two things need to happen. First, you must have reached the first April after your graduation. And, secondly, you must be earning over the threshold for your repayment plan.

    We explain things in more detail in our guide to Student Loan refunds but, over the last few years, it's emerged that 100,000s of graduates have ended up repaying their loans before the April after their graduation.

    While this is less than ideal, it does mean that 100,000s of graduates are also entitled to a refund – a lump sum of free cash that averages a few hundred quid.

    We've got a guide for a full explainer of how to check and claim your refund, as well as why you probably won't end up having to pay it back again later.

  6. Check if you're owed a tax rebate

    Student Loan refunds aren't the only way to get back some free cash you've overpaid.

    Every year, thousands of people across the UK accidentally pay too much tax. If you're one of them, you're entitled to a rebate.

    You may have overpaid tax for one of a number of reasons. But the good news is that it doesn't matter if it was your fault or not.

    And, even better, it also doesn't matter if it happened many moons ago. You can claim a refund up to four years after the end of the tax year in which you overpaid.

    Also bear in mind that students rarely earn over the annual threshold for paying tax (currently £12,570 a year). So, if you think you've paid tax when you've earned less than this, you should definitely look into claiming a tax rebate.

  7. Earn interest with savings and current accounts

    watering can and money tree

    Credit: Anon_tae – Shutterstock

    We know that, if you're a student, you might not have too much spare cash floating around. But if you are able to save some money, we'd definitely recommend putting it in an ISA or regular savings account.

    Although the 2008 financial crisis, austerity measures, Brexit and even COVID-19 have kept interest rates down for a while, there are some decent offers out there.

    But thanks to inflation, £100 today will not be worth quite as much in a year's time (you'll still have £100, it just won't be able to buy you as much anymore).

    As such, you should always try to keep as much of your spare money as possible in an account with the highest interest rate going. Even if you're not after the free cash you could earn in interest, you'll want to make sure your money retains its value.

  8. £1,000 free every year with a Lifetime ISA

    Owning a house may seem like a distant pipe dream right now. But you can help bring that dream to life by putting money in a Lifetime ISA (LISA).

    Offering up to £1,000 every year, a LISA is undoubtedly the most generous source of free money that we can think of.

    To get the full grand, you'll need to deposit £4,000 into your LISA in a single tax year (April to April). But don't worry if you haven't got that much going spare. The government will still give you a 25% bonus on anything you save up to £4,000, too.

    The maximum total bonus you can earn from a Lifetime ISA is £33,000 (equivalent to 33 years in which you deposit £4,000 each year), which is certainly a lot of free money. But, as is forever the case in life, there are a few catches.

    For starters, you can only withdraw money from your LISA if you're using it to buy a house, if you're aged over 60 or if you've been given less than 12 months to live. Withdraw money for any other reason, and you'll lose the bonuses you've received, plus an additional percentage of your money.

    So, while you should only put money into a LISA if you're confident you'll use it for a house or your retirement, it's probably the trick that'll earn you the most free money. Check out our guide to the Lifetime ISA for everything you need to know.

  9. Use cashback sites for online shopping

    quidco website

    Credit: Sharaf Maksumov – Shutterstock

    We've already mentioned it in this guide on how to get free money in the UK. And, if you're a fan of making and saving money, chances are you're well versed on cashback. But, just in case you're not, here's a quick breakdown.

    When you buy something online, you can either do it directly or go via a cashback site. Whenever possible, we'd always recommend using a cashback site.

    If you shop with cashback sites, you'll have the exact same shopping experience as when you're on the website of your chosen retailer. However, the cashback site will track your activity and will refund you a percentage of the total purchase (or, in some cases, a set amount).

    So, so many of your favourite shops are on cashback sites like TopCashback and Quidco. Adidas, ASOS, Amazon, plus some retailers that don't begin with A, are all on there. You'll usually be looking at getting a maximum of around 5% back, but it's better than nothing!

    The big money is, as you'd expect, in the big purchases. If you're buying car insurance or getting a new phone, cashback sites will pay you in excess of £100 to purchase it through them.

    It's also possible to get money back at supermarkets. As well as cashback sites offering money back on online food shops, supermarket cashback apps pay up to 100% cashback on a whole range of single items, from sweet treats to pet food.

    Use cashback sites every time you shop online and you could earn a few hundred quid in free money each year. Just read our guide to earning cashback to get started.

  10. Get paid to use the internet with Swagbucks

    Spend your life online? Well, when you're not re-readingyour favourite Save the Student guides (we all have one), you could be earning free money just for using the internet.

    Among the many ways to make money from Swagbucks is to make it your default search engine. While that means saying goodbye to Google (or, god forbid, Bing), you'll earn 10–20 SB points (the virtual currency used on Swagbucks) for every 10–20 searches.

    Using these figures, we've worked out that searching as normal for six months could earn you around £300.

    But the free money doesn't end there – Swagbucks will also pay you to watch videos. And, let's face it, that's pretty much all most of us end up doing online anyway.

    You may find it a little harder to earn free money this way as it's not as effortless as simply searching, and it's not always available to all users. But it's definitely worth a go!

    Head over to our Swagbucks review for more info, or sign up to Swagbucks right now.

  11. Earn money from walking

    dog holding lead waiting for walk

    Credit: Jaromir Chalabala – Shutterstock

    We all know about the main benefits of walking: it's free, it helps you stay healthy and it's completely carbon-neutral. But what if we told you there was a fourth reason to walk everywhere?

    Thanks to apps like Sweatcoin, BetterPoints and winwalk, walking is now even better than free – it's a source of free money.

    These apps track your movement throughout the day and reward your steps with virtual currency. This 'money' can be exchanged for gift cards at a number of popular shops and restaurants and, more importantly, for free money too.

    We won't lie, you won't become a millionaire by earning free money from paid walking apps. But keep your phone on you while you're out and about, and you'll start to see the free cash trickling in.

  12. Win free money from competitions

    Now, let us be clear. When we say you can win free money from competitions, we mean free. We're not talking about entering the lottery, which costs money and gives you a lower chance of winning than these unlikely things.

    We mean the hundreds, if not thousands of other competitions running in the UK right now which are free to enter and could win you an eye-watering amount of free cash.

    Elite-level compers (people who enter competitions on the reg) claim to enter around 100 competitions each day. But that's simply not manageable for most of us. If you aim for around 30 a week, you should end up winning a fair number of prizes (be they cash, items or experiences).

    One of our favourite ways to win money is to enter free lotteries. Most require you to check the results daily to claim your prize (if you've won, of course), but with jackpots as high as several hundred pounds, it's definitely worth a few seconds of your time.

    And there are plenty more competitions out there offering thousands of pounds worth of free money. So, read our guide to winning competitions for the best places to find them.

  13. Scan your receipts for cash

    card machine with receipt paper

    Credit: ADragan – Shutterstock

    Last, but by no means least, on our list of ways to make free money: receipts. If you usually bin your receipts, or reject them altogether, you may want to reconsider your actions.

    Aside from making it a lot harder to guarantee your consumer rights, chucking your receipts could see you missing out on free cash, too. So, make sure you keep a hold of them – at least long enough to take a picture.

    Receipt-scanning apps like Storewards, Shoppix and Huyu pay you to upload copies of your receipts for any purchase from any shop. And while you won't get paid actual cash for each receipt, you will get coins or tokens whenever you make a submission.

    Once you've earned enough coins to make a withdrawal, you'll be able to get your free money. This will either be a voucher (including Amazon) or free cash (usually via PayPal).

    It may take you a while to get to this stage. But with such little effort required, we'd say receipt scanning is definitely a worthy way to make free money.

Feeling creative? This list of weird ways students make money has all the inspiration you'll need once you've exhausted our sources of free cash.

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