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What is Help to Save?

If you're on a low income, you might qualify for a Government-backed scheme called Help to Save.

It’s a type of savings account that gives a bonus of 50p for every £1 you save over 4 years.

Help to Save accounts are held by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) and bonuses are paid into nominated bank accounts.

The scheme is separate from any HSBC savings accounts you might hold.

Who can take part in Help to Save?

If you live in the UK, you can open a Help to Save account if one of the following applies:

  • you’re getting Working Tax Credit

  • you’re entitled to Working Tax Credit and are getting Child Tax Credit

  • you’re claiming Universal Credit and your household earned £617.73 or more from paid work in your last monthly assessment period

If you live outside the UK, you can also apply for an account if you’re either of these:

  • a Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner

  • a member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner

You and your partner can both apply for your own Help to Save accounts if you get payments as a couple. However, you’ll need to apply separately.

Even if you stop claiming benefits, you can still carry on using your Help to Save account.

How Help to Save works

Each calendar month, you can save between £1 and £50. But you don’t have to pay money in every month.

You can make as many payments into your Help to Save account as you like, as long as you don’t go over £50 each calendar month. For example, if you’ve saved £50 by 15 June, you can’t pay in again until 1 July.

You can make these payments by debit card, standing order or bank transfer.

You can only move money out of your Help to Save account to your nominated bank account.

How bonuses work

At the end of the 2nd and 4th years, you’ll get a bonus. This is based on how much you’ve saved.

After 2 years, the bonus is 50% of the highest balance in your account during the previous 2 years.

After 4 years, another bonus is paid. This time it's 50% of the difference between the highest balance during the first 2 years and the highest balance during the second 2 years.

For example, if you paid in £10 a month for the first 2 years and made no withdrawals, the amount in your Help to Save account would be £240 (£10 x 24 months). The bonus of 50% of the highest balance of £240 would be £120, paid into your nominated bank account. 

If over the next 2 years you carried on paying in £10 a month, that would bring the total amount in your Help to Save account to £480 (£10 x 48 months). The difference between the highest balance during the first 2 years and the second 2 years would be £240 (£480 minus £240) so the bonus after 4 years would be £120 (50% of £240).

Closing a Help to Save account

Your Help to Save account will close 4 years after you open it. The money is then paid into your nominated account.

You can also close your account at any time. If you close your account early, you won’t get your next bonus. Once an account has been closed, you can’t reopen it, or open a new Help to Save account.

How a Help to Save account could affect your benefits

Saving money through a Help to Save account might affect certain benefits.

Universal Credit

There’s no impact on how much Universal Credit you get as long as you or your partner have no more than £6,000 in personal savings. This includes your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonuses won’t affect your Universal Credit payments either.

If your savings are more than £6,000, anything above that amount is counted as monthly income of £4.35 for each £250 or part of £250. For example, if you have £6,250 in savings, £250 of that will be treated as monthly income so £4.35 will be taken off your Universal Credit payment.

Housing benefit

There’s no impact on how much Housing Benefit you get as long as you or your partner have no more than £6,000 in personal savings. This includes your Help to Save account. The same applies for savings above £6,000 as with Universal Credit.

Working Tax Credit

Savings and bonuses you get from Help to Save won’t affect your Working Tax Credit payments.

What next?

You can apply online on the GOV.UK website. You’ll need a Government Gateway user ID and password and you’ll need to give your UK bank details.

Our useful savings articles are also packed with advice on how to start saving and everyday tips to help you to save.