While we’re all for making an honest living with hard work and hustle, there’s nothing quite like the joy a bit of free money brings, now is there?
Of course this is hardly something that happens every day – typically on birthdays, at Christmas or when a family member feels generous. 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 for claiming back money from organisations and companies you may not even know are in your debt.
- Gas and electricity companies
- Water suppliers
- Mis-sold PPI
- Forgotten bank accounts
- Train companies
- Phone and broadband companies
If you tend to be conservative in the use of essential resources such as gas and electricity at home, chances are good that you’re overpaying your supplier.
According to recent research released by online comparison service, uSwitch, energy suppliers owe £1.3bn collectively to around 11 million of Britain’s households — with one in 10 having 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, so 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.
Most rainwater falling on properties drains into public sewers owned by the ten water and sewerage companies in England and Wales.
These companies are responsible for removing and processing this rainwater and 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 of up to £240.
To find out if you qualify and how to apply for a surface drainage rebate, visit the Ofwat website.
Whether you’ve ever 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 has the tenacity to go through the motions of filing 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
Between the early 1990s and 2010, selling payment protection policies (PPI) alongside loans, credit cards and mortgages was common practice with banks in the UK. And while it seemed like a sensible addition to any big purchase, many banks and credit card companies extended the products to people who would never have been able to claim.
In other words, if you took out a loan, applied for a credit card or purchased a home in the past 30 years, chances are pretty good that it came standard with mis-sold PPI and you didn’t even know.
Now, following the Plevin court ruling, you may be able to apply for a refund.
The scenario is so common in the UK that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has put together an entire guide to the process and set 29 August 2019 as a deadline for all applications.
Visit the FCA website for details on how you can go about claiming your PPI.
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.
According to an article on Money Saving Expert, one of their forum users actually found an old pension worth £39,000 this way!
Of course, the site can also be used to trace all the bank accounts of a deceased loved one too, which could simplify the process of finalising an estate.
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, while 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 following the affected journey.
To find out more about the process, visit the National Rail website.
Apart from claiming a refund from delays or cancellations, you may also be entitled to a refund on the APD (air passenger duty) if you booked a flight for your family before March 1st 2016.
The reason for this is that APD was scrapped for children under 12 on May 1st 2015, and then abolished 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 and we’ll update accordingly!
phone and broadband companies
From 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.
- Student taxes – what you have to pay and how you can get refunds
- Get your money back for delayed trains