When pre-school worker Ami Hay took out a £15,000 loan to help sort out her finances, the last thing she expected was that she wouldn’t have to pay it back.
But that’s what happened to the 33-year-old, of Tidworth, in Wiltshire, when she was the lucky winner of an offer that high street banking giant Halifax made.
Halifax’s ‘A Loan With a Twist’ offer may be a marketing ruse aimed at selling more personal loans, but for Ami, the bank’s offer came good.
Now Halifax has relaunched the promotion and offered to pay off the full loan of 31 customers who sign up before the February 7 deadline. But on the basis that you are unlikely to be as lucky as Ami, is it a gimmick worth considering?
Lucky winner: Ami Hay (left) from Tidworth had her £15,000 personal loan repaid by Halifax
The offer means that borrowers taking out a loan of up to £50,000 from Halifax are in with a chance to win the cash for free.
Last year the bank cleared £720,000 worth of winners’ personal loans, writing off amounts up to £30,000.
Ami, a deputy manager at a pre-school in Tidworth, and her husband borrowed their lump sum mainly to consolidate their finances.
The couple also used some of the cash to fund some green-fingered improvements to their garden and a holiday in Italy to celebrate Ami’s brother’s wedding.
Ami says she was in shock when Halifax told her it had torn up her balance. Without the repayments she saves £270 per month, money that she now squirrels away into a rainy day fund.
But is it just a gimmick?
While the prospect of a free lump of cash to pay for a wedding or home improvements sounds tempting, the Halifax doesn’t offer the cheapest rates on the market.
Anyone who is not lucky enough to be picked out will likely end up paying more in interest to put themselves in the running to win the cash handout than if they’d got a loan from elsewhere.
For example, Halifax charges a whopping 28.9 per cent to borrow £1,000 compared to the cheapest deal from Hitachi Personal Finance of 7.3 per cent.
HOW DO YOU ENTER?
To enter the prize draw you will need to be over 18.
All you need to do is apply and take out a loan with Halifax before the February 7 deadline.
You must also have paid your first scheduled loan repayment.
If you are picked, the bank will notify you by phone and post.
On mid-sized loans in the popular £7,500 to £15,000 bracket, Halifax charges 3.5 per cent.
The top rate on £7,500 to £15,000 is currently offered by M&S Bank at 2.8 per cent, followed close behind by TSB, John Lewis Finance and Sainsbury’s Bank (Nectar cardholders only) at 2.9 per cent.
If you want to borrow more, between £15,000 and £25,000, the cheapest market rate This is Money could find was 3 per cent from Sainsbury’s Bank and Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.
Halifax is one of only a few lenders offering larger loans up to £50,000 (to borrow between £25,000 and £50,000 you must hold one of its current accounts). It charges 6.8 per cent and offers terms of up to seven years.
Sainsbury’s Bank goes up to £40,000 for a rate of 6.9 per cent over three years or up to 9 per cent if you spread repayments over a seven-year term.
First Direct offers 3.3 per cent up to £30,000, or 6.7 per cent up to 50,000 – but you must be an existing First Account holder to apply. NatWest charges 6.9 per cent on between £25,000 and £50,000 repaid over up to eight years.
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