Benchmarking Monthly Current Account 'Admin'

Something I’ve often seen discussed in line with other threads here has been the amount of benefit available from holding many current accounts vs time spent jumping through neccessary loopholes.

Well, it’s the first of the month and I thought I would actually record how long this stuff takes. I’ve often alluded to it taking short amounts of time but it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much for what because I tend to all my admin in one burst each month (paying off credit cards, topping up regular savers, setting up scheduled payments from my savings to meet my bills which aren’t paid at the top of the month and moving the balance to other savings; as well as the stuff I’m going to benchmark here). I also typically just do it in drips and drabs over an evening, sometimes waiting on my fiancee to do her bit, sometimes distracted by life in general - as long as I do it all at the top of the month I’m easy going about it.

This month I’m going to keep things separate and do each part in ‘runs’.

So in scope for this test is only the stuff I need to fulfill the current accounts ‘with benefits’ that I maintain month to month, namely:

  • Natwest Reward account (sole + joint)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Reward account (sole + joint)
  • Santander 123 Lite
  • Club Lloyds (sole + joint)
  • Halifax Reward x3
  • TSB Spend & Save in its first 6 months (with added switching bonus stuff neccessary)

So, first things first - to meet the ‘deposit’ criteria. All the accounts above require an amount to be paid in each month, varying from £500 for the TSB ‘Stay for 6 months’ offer to £2000 for the fee waiver on Club Lloyds. Each organisation and bank has slightly different quirks which it’s worth becoming familiar with - for example Natwest Group only need the £1250 to be paid once “to an eligible NatWest [or Royal Bank] account every month”, which means that meeting that criteria in just the joint account satisfies the requirement for any sole accounts the account holders also have with Natwest/Royal Bank. The other thing to note is that most banks stipulate the money can’t simply be transferred in from another account with the same bank - the (very useful) exception being LBG who don’t stipulate that the money can’t be ‘transferred between’.

I’m not going to stress myself about creating an optimum flow or rehearse or anything like that tho, my only prep has been to write down all the account moves neccessary:

Barclays → Natwest Joint
Natwest → Santander
Santander → RBS Joint
RBS Joint → Lloyds
also do Lloyds joint
Lloyds → Halifax
Cycle through Halifax
Halifax → Lloyds
Lloyds → TSB

So I glanced at the clock at 0808 and started fumbling my way through my apps to do it. It was very sub-optimal as runs go, RBS decided to check my marketing preferences and I had to do a couple of steps which wouldn’t have been needed if I had ‘the next step’ payee set up on the correct account, but in any case by the time the last one happened it was 0816.

8 mins in, let’s take stock:
:white_check_mark: Club Lloyds is sorted, nothing further to do on either account
:white_check_mark: Natwest, RBS and Santander are also sorted in terms of monthly admin - all that needs to happen is to let the DDs payout
:white_check_mark: TSB is also sorted - the ‘20 debit card transactions’ is taken care of by a £1 daily automatic Amazon topup

All that remains is to spend £500 on each of my three Halifax debit cards. I tend to do this by paying off my credit cards in £500 chunks and then popping the rest on a YBS deposit (rounding off and in £500 chunks again). This month I actually have more-or-less £1500 to settle with Amex, so I’ll do 3 £500 debit card transactions and pay a bit of next month’s bill for simplicity. Ideally I’d use basically any other provider - Barclaycard is great since they allow you to save multiple debit cards and make all the payments you want to straight away; unusually Amex rate limit you at one debit card payment per hour so what I’ll do here is measure the time it takes to add debit card details, spend £500 then delete the card details - that way you have a metric that can be used 3 times.

So this time I waited for the clock to tick to 0850, hurriedly signed in to the Halifax app, grabbed the first debit card details (memorising the expiry and security code), nipped to the Amex app, scrolled right the way past the open banking integrations they’d obviously prefer you to use, add the debit card details from memory/clipboard and submitted the payment. A tip for anyone following along at home - I find it’s easier to pass the 3D secure check in these circumstances by opting for an SMS rather than using the app so I don’t have to flit between apps. Finally I went back and deleted the debit card, ready for another payment in an hour’s time. The clock still hadn’t made it to 0852, so under 2 mins.

So let’s say it’s 6 mins to get the debit card part sorted. Add that to the 8 mins from earlier on, and in exchange for 14 mins of my life I have earned:

  • £15 in cash from Halifax
  • £12 in ‘MyRewards’ which I can exchange for cash from RBS and Natwest
  • £5 in cash from TSB
  • Disney+ from Club Lloyds
  • a magazine subscription from Club Lloyds
  • Santander 123 cashback (which I’m leaving out of the calculation for now, but suffice to say is worth the effort!)

Ignoring Club Lloyds and concentrating on the cash - earning £33 in 16 mins is an effective hourly rate of £123.75/hour free of tax; and what’s best is this is real ‘low intensity stuff’, as long as you’re in a position to use your phone (and/or laptop) you can do this alongside basically anything else you might do. In a past employment there was a mandatory 2 hr meeting every first working day of the month - complete waste of time had I not been ensuring it was not :joy:

It’s still the easiest £33 I’ll earn all month, that’s for sure. (Or it would have been had I not decided to commit it to record in this fashion!)



Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to do this.

Having just completed my own beginning of month admin, it was an interesting read.

My routines are not quite as profitable as yours, so seeing what others do is always helpful.


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An intricate set up, it’s never a bad idea to harvest free money!

I think we all have varying views on what constitutes too much effort or difficulty in this pursuit (to quite a nuanced degree compared to average joe).

Just a reminder to keep any ensuing discussion non personal and inclusive of all opinions :+1:

Thank you for this insightful post. I decided to save time by automating most of the actions. At the moment the accounts I use for the “benefits” are; Club Lloyds, TSB, Halifax reward, RBS, Natwest, and Chase. You can see that all these need income funding requirements ranging from £500 to £2000.
What I did is I reserved £500 that is moved around in standing orders weekly as follows:
Monday: Halifax > RBS
Tuesday: RBS> Natwest
Wednesday: Natwest > TSB
Thursday: TSB> Lloyds
Friday: Lloyds > Halifax
With Chase I have a standing order that goes there once a month from Lloyds to cover some direct debit (meeting the £500 requirement)
This means each month I will not have to spend time to meet any of the income requirements. I only review this when a new bank comes in the mix.
For the card spend requirement, I sorted TSB with Amazon automatic daily top ups of £1.
For the Halifax card I usually pay a credit card off with it by just entering the CVV that I have recently been forced to remember, this takes less than 2 minutes of my time.
With direct debits, those are set up once.

So I practically spend no more than 5 minutes a month to net £3 from Natwest, £3 from RBS, £5 from Halifax, £5 from TSB (+ switch and stay incentive later), Disney+ from Lloyds, Chase cashback.
It is really worth it for me.

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Where am I at then?

Salary and personal DDs to RBS for the £3

I put all of my personal spend through Plutus for 3% cashback and perks. I’ve netted about £170 in a year & was dipping my toe at the start.

I do switches wherever they are available but am snookered presently, took Nationwide up on the 8% offering as a drip feed.

My use of Revolut and my RBS credit card nets me £0. But I’m ok with that, as they oil the machine generally and aren’t used for everything.

I’m going to have to up my game to keep up!

Hadn’t thought of doing the Halifax by ‘spending’ £500 to pay the credit card so I’d ruled that one out.

I did this initially too but I found that it got too complicated after I had more than 5 of them. If banks had an option to process standing orders daily it’d be much more doable, but with weekends and holidays out you quickly run out of days in a month allowing an adequate ‘buffer’ between should a weekend fall in such a way.

Yes, Halifax’s definition of spend is basically anything which goes through as a Visa Debit transaction; doesn’t appear to be any MCC exclusions. A fly in the oinkment here is that credit card issuers are actively discouraging or stopping debit card payments altogether - unfortunately HSBC and Natwest Group are in the latter category now, but LBG really hide away the debit card payment option (on the app you have to scroll past a list of open banking options and then press ‘bank not listed’ IIRC) and Amex are not far behind.

Excellent post.

I used to play this game (all automated though, so admin time was pretty much 0). What put me off really was the complexity of it. All it took was for one bank to have an outage and destroyed the whole daisy chain (it happened more common than you might expect), particularly once I added Monzo to the mix given that they live in GMT year round and the others don’t (the standing order goes out an hour late in summer, and it would often cock things up at the next bank).

The financial returns for me are/were much less for me than they are for you because they don’t take into account circumstances.

I don’t spend £1500 every month discretionally to benefit from the Halifax cards that way. I won’t get that £15. £15 on £1500 also equates to a 1% return on your spending. I get that from Chase (and more from Algbra) without having to think about it anyway.

I also don’t have the quantity of direct debits necessary to fit with all the rewards that require them. I’d have to set up throwaway ones which either eats into the returns or introduces more admin. Of the direct debits I do have, they aren’t cheap bills, and total more than £1700. Chase pay me about £6 per month currently just for paying them all through them.

I’m also single and will only ever be single, so can’t benefit from added joint accounts like you can.

I don’t really watch Disney+ nor care for a magazine subscription to find monetary value from those club Lloyds benefits.

I miss out on the TSB one, because the admin involved puts me off. I don’t want to shop at Amazon. So your solution around that admin doesn’t work for me.

The aspect of the admin that deters me isn’t necessarily quantified in terms of time. That’s not the issue. But it’s the frequency of it. If all of it was just 14 minutes at 8am once per month and then forgotten about, and required no extra work on top on my part, then I’d agree with your assessment and find the benefit for me worthwhile too (though I wouldn’t get as much as you do). When I did play this game, I think I capped at about £20 but that was at a time when Barclays gave you a free fiver just every month just for having the account (I think you paid £3 and if you paid in £800 they gave you £8 back).

It works great for you, and that’s fantastic, but it’s not going to for everyone, nor will it be for everyone.

I currently get the same 1% returns on my spending with Chase that Halifax gives you via £500 spent 3 times with 3 different accounts. If I max that out (which is almost never), thats £15 too. Add on the savings interest for keeping that money aside in chase until they’re due and I’m earning £21 for 0 minutes spent on admin, and for just having and using one account how I normally otherwise would. It’s much much simpler, which is just how I like it and much prefer it. And get a free (up to) £21 every month. And that’s without having to go out of my to way to use products and services I wouldn’t normally use in ways I don’t normally use them, to bag a few extra quid. It’s too much friction for too little reward for me.

I like life to be as simple as it can be where, more so than I care for mining free (? the hourly rate you reference is a fraction of my consulting fee) money from various banks. The hourly rate of income also isn’t the only metric for determining success or whether something is worth doing either. It’ll be personal and different for everyone. For me, it’s not. Been there and done it, so I know.

Matched betting was something else I used to play. I do have an affinity for these games until I get bored and they no longer seem worthwhile. That took about half an hour every Monday and earned about £60-£80 per week in free money.

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This is actually an interesting thread, as I too have completed my first of month tasks, but mine also includes recording the interest paid on my accounts too, so uses a bit more time.

A lot of what @WillPS has done manually, I have automated. Money bounces back and forth on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday each week via SO. I avoid Mondays and Fridays as these always contain a bank holiday each year.

I spent about 45 minutes doing my usual monthly review while drinking my coffee.

I don’t watch TV much, and don’t work, so I’m not missing out on anything while doing it.

I spent 56

Chase still pays out standing orders or weekends and bank holidays.

Is this on the Android app? With iOS just tap change from option and select Debit card at bottom of the list. It will list accounts you have with them, then option to select account with another bank, then Debit card last.

You don’t have to spend the £1500. They just want that in, then spend only £500 on card.

If you use Paypal, you can set up multiple DDs with them and choose when to charge. You still use your money to your benefit, no loss.

On just one card?

I thought you had to spend £500 on each card?

According to the website, you pay in £1500, spend £500, get £5.

To get the £15 quoted above you need 3 accounts and need to spend £500 on each of them according to Halifax.

I’d probably spend enough to earn a fiver. Maybe £10. But I’m having to use two accounts for spending to achieve it. And it means those accounts having to be Halifax ones (I can’t stand the app).

Or I can just continue spending with Chase and get that same 1% return on my spending + 1% interest when I don’t. And more importantly, keep banking the way I want to bank, and the way I like to bank, as opposed to having to conform to someone else’s way for the same return.

That’s extra admin and extra hassle that I don’t want though. I’d then have to go out of my way to spend using PayPal. Or manually withdraw it back to my account which can take days.

As I’ve said above. I’ve played this game once before. It’s a profitable way to bank, but it’s not (for me) an enjoyable way to bank. It’s not how I want to bank, nor how I like to bank.

The brunt of it might only take 15 minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it. I find it pretty mentally taxing and incredibly frustrating to be micro managing my financial life like that in a process that’s always looming and you’re always having to think about it even when you’re not supposedly doing admin. Because when I did it, it effects almost every financial decision you make, so you’re always having to admin it outside of the once per month meet the requirements mantra. It’s why I stopped.

I wish I was able to afford £1500 discretionary spend each month! This month has been higher as it includes a holiday and most of my Christmas spend, also had to fork out for the washing machine to get repaired. Most months my combined credit card bills are ~£1000, it’s unusal that I’m able to settle it all that way with one issuer. Usually there’s a bit which needs to be ‘moved’ rather than ‘spent’.

The £15 would be easy in October, or whenever I book a holiday. Because that’s when the big monthly spends happen.

But for the rest of the year, my discretionary spends (outside of bills) is quite literally just groceries, subscriptions, and my haircut every 3 weeks. I’m very frugal otherwise.

When I do spend in other areas of my life I tend to go looking for buy it for life quality items, so that sort of spending, whilst expensive when I do it, is something I never have to do again, or only rarely have to it again. Last time I bought any new clothes for instance was in 2021. It’s just a case of looking after them.

I also tend to bulk buy a lot of things. In part because it’s cheaper, and in part because it’s fewer things to worry about needing to replace month after month. Like toilet roll, and toiletries etc.

So for most months of the year, my discretionary spending is lucky to touch £500. And it only really gets that far now because of the cost of living. My grocery bill is more than two times more expensive now than it was in 2021.

I don’t spend that either. I recycle the £500 between my savings account with another provider and the current account debit card. Dead easy.

But as @N26throwaway points out, it’s each to their own. What’s trouble or hassle for one, may not be for another. Not for me to judge.

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Very well put!

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I don’t think the conflation between ‘what I spend’ (or discretionary spend, which is different again :wink:) and ‘what I can put through a Halifax Visa debit card’ is helping you here.

With Chase, credit card cashback and similar there is a somewhat neccessary line to draw - you have to be parting with the cash. The same isn’t true of this; however, as long as you have £500 which isn’t tied up or needed in some way for a few days each month, you can do it.

How? Halifax state the £500 has to be spent in debit card payments. I simply don’t spend enough to take advantage. On credit card or otherwise.

Deposit £500 in a savings account which accepts debit card deposits :slight_smile:

NS&I is onesuch option.

Which goes back into what I’ve said above.

It’s just not something I want to do. The cost benefit isn’t there for me, and the trade off is not worth it for me.

Out of interest though, are there any other savings providers that aren’t NS&I which let you deposit by card payment? I might be interested in one of those.