While we’re all for making an honest living, there’s nothing quite like the joy a bit of free money brings.
Of course this is hardly something that happens every day. Typically it’s only on birthdays, at Christmas or when a family member feels generous that we get an unexpected cash boost. But if you’re lucky and know just where to look, you may find free money in other surprising places too.
Here’s our quick guide on claiming back money from organisations and companies you may not even know are in your debt.
- Gas and electricity companies
- Water suppliers
- Forgotten bank accounts
- Train companies
- Phone and broadband companies
refunds from Gas and electricity companies
If you tend to be conservative in the use gas and electricity at home, chances are that you’re overpaying your supplier.
According to research by online comparison service uSwitch, energy suppliers owe £1.3bn collectively to around 11 million British households. One in 10 have over £200 to reclaim.
How does this happen, you may wonder?
Well, there are various factors to take into account. But it all basically comes down to the fact energy bills are usually estimated based on your previous consumption. This is especially true for direct debits. So, if you’ve mindfully been cutting down on your consumption lately, your children have left home, you’ve downsized or you’ve switched companies, you may be in line for a refund.
Unsurprisingly, energy companies aren’t jumping to pay these bills out of their own goodwill. You’ll have to put some effort into checking your accounts (you can do this online) and then ask for a refund if you qualify.
Find out more about this process on the uSwitch website.
free money from Water suppliers
Most rainwater falling on properties drains into public sewers owned by water and sewerage companies.
These companies are responsible for removing and processing this rainwater. They collect around £1 billion each year to cover the costs of this service.
If rainwater drains from your property into a public sewer, you will be charged for surface water drainage through your sewerage bill.
However, if rainwater does not drain from your property into a public sewer, because you have a soakaway or similar, you may be entitled to a surface water drainage rebate. This could be as much as £240.
To find out if you qualify and how to apply for a surface drainage rebate, visit the Ofwat website.
free money from HMRC (Tax refund)
Whether you’ve received one yourself or just heard good stories from lucky friends, the tax rebate is one example of free money we’re all well aware of.
It’s also one met with a good deal of contention, as not everyone is able to file the notoriously admin-intensive claim.
However, with the average first-time UK tax refund being around £2,500, it may be worth roping in the help of professionals, such as RIFT Refunds.
According to the HMRC website, you may be eligible to claim back some of your tax if you:
- are employed and had too much tax taken from your salary
- have stopped work
- sent a tax return and paid too much tax
- have paid too much tax on pension payments
- bought a life annuity
- used your own money for your job, for example, on fuel costs or work clothing
- paid on savings interest if you’re on a low income
- live in one country and have income in another
Forgotten bank accounts
Did you know there are billions and billions of pounds just lying around in lost bank accounts right across the UK? One of them could be yours!
If you suspect you may have forgotten about an old bank account and would like to reunite with your dormant funds, all you have to do is launch a quick search on mylostaccount.org.
One lucky person found an old pension worth £39,000 this way!
Of course, you can use the site to trace the bank accounts of deceased loved ones too.This could simplify the process of finalising an estate.
refunds from Train companies
Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, you are entitled to a full or partial refund if your train is cancelled or delayed.
In cases where you choose not to travel, you can claim a full refund. If you decide to continue with your journey you may be able to claim for partial compensation.
Although the compensation amount is different for each train company, the rules stipulate that as a minimum, if you are one hour late at your destination, you are entitled to:
- Single ticket, or return ticket if both legs are delayed – 50% of the price paid
- Return ticket with delay on outward or return journey – 50% of the price paid for the relevant part of the journey
- Season Ticket – details of arrangements for Season Ticket holders are set out in each train company’s passenger’s charter
In order to claim your refund or compensation, you would normally need to return your orginal ticket/proof of purchase/scan of the ticket to the retailer it was bought from within 28 days of the affected journey.
To find out more about the process, visit the National Rail website.
Free money from Airlines
You may be entitled to a refund on the APD (air passenger duty) if you booked a flight for your family before March 1st 2016.
APD was scrapped for children under 12 on May 1st 2015, and then for children under 16 on March 1st 2016.
With APD rates ranging from anything between £13 and £438, it may be worth investigating whether you were affected.
Skyscanner has a comprehensive guideline on how to determine your eligibility and the process of applying for a refund.
If you have any more ideas to add to this list, please mention them in the comment section below. We’ll update accordingly!
phone and broadband companies
As of 2019, if you receive poor service from your telecoms provider you should get automatic compensation.
- £8 a day if a fault is not fixed, paid as a refund through your bill
- £5 a day if your broadband or landline is not working on the day it was promised
- If an engineer misses an appointment, they will have to give you £25 in compensation
As many as 2.6 million people could benefit from the new rules. That could include you!
The agreement covers consumers of BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet – in other words, around 90% of telecoms customers. Oddly, Plusnet and EE have not agreed to this – but they are expected to join the scheme later on.
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