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Saving money and increasing income

Help to Save: how to boost your savings

The Help to Save scheme, a government-backed savings account, can help those on low incomes boost their savings by 50p for every £1 saved.

If you’re claiming Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit, you could be eligible to open a Help to Save account. And because it's a government scheme, all your money is secure.

How does Help to Save work?

Once your Help to Save account is open, it’s up to you how much and how often you add to it, between £1 and £50 each month. There’s no minimum amount of savings to get the tax-free bonus.

You can withdraw the money from your savings at any time and it’ll be paid into your bank account.

The account stays open for four years, after which it closes. You’ll keep the money you saved in it but can’t reopen it.

You can close the account early if you like. However, as you’re only allowed one Help to Save account, you won’t be able to open another in the future. If you close the account early, you also won't be eligible for the next bonus that's due.

Struggling with the rising cost of living? Read our guide.

How is the Help to Save bonus paid?

You can earn two tax-free savings bonuses that’ll be paid into your own bank account (not your Help to Save account). The bonus is based on how much you’ve saved.

Even if you’ve withdrawn money from your savings, you could still be entitled to a bonus. However, you'll be affecting your chances of earning the maximum bonus by doing so.

The first bonus is paid at the end of the second year, and will be 50% of the highest balance saved. For example, if you saved the maximum £50 every month, at the end of the two years you’d have saved £1,200. Your bonus would be 50% of that - £600.

The second bonus is paid at the end of the fourth year, and is 50% of savings you pay into the account above the highest balance you’ve saved.

For example, if you continue to save £50 a month you’ll be adding another £1200 to your savings pot and you'll receive another £600 bonus.

However, if you withdraw all the money you save after two years and then carry on saving, you won’t get a bonus in year four because your highest balance would never go over £1,200. 

Looking for more ways to maximise your income?

Who can open a Help to Save account?

You can open a Help to Save account if you’re living in the UK and you’re:

  • entitled to or receiving Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit payment, or
  • claiming Universal Credit and your household income in you last monthly assessment period was £654.54 or more. Your Universal Credit payments don’t count as part of your household income.

If you and your partner have a household award of tax credits or Universal Credits then you’ll be allowed to open a Help to Save account each. 

If you stop claiming benefits, you’ll still be able to keep using your savings account. 

You can also apply for the account if you live overseas and you’re a:

  • Crown servant or their spouse or civil partner
  • Member of the British armed forces or their spouse or civil partner

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Will my Help to Save affect my benefits?

It's possible your savings through Help to Save could affect whether you can get certain benefits and how much you’d receive.

Universal Credit

You or your partner can save up to £6,000 without affecting your Universal Credit payments. This includes any money in your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonuses you receive won’t affect your Universal Credit payments.

Working Tax Credit

This isn’t affected by any savings or bonuses through Help to Save.

Housing Benefit

You or your partner can save up to £6,000 without affecting your Housing Benefit payments. This includes any money in your Help to Save account. Any Help to Save bonuses you receive won’t affect your Housing Benefit payments.

How do I apply?

If you’re eligible you can open a Help to Save account online or through the HMRC app.

You’ll need:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your bank account details – this is where any withdrawals or bonuses will be paid into
  • A Government Gateway account – if you don’t have one you can set one up as you apply

If you can’t get online you can call 0300 322 7093 to open an account.