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Barclays rolls out free cash withdrawals ‘without purchase’ scheme

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

Anyone with a debit card, from any bank, will be able to withdraw up to £100 a day without making a purchase, under a new scheme from Barclays.

It has been launched to increase the number of places where people can withdraw cash for free and will include shops, cafes, and pubs.

The free scheme will provide cash access from 1p to £100 per day. They can also request non-rounded figures, which is not possible when withdrawing cash from an ATM.

It has been launched in response to the falling numbers of bank branches and ATMs in the UK. Its aim is to provide more options for accessing cash for those who still rely on it.

To use this scheme, people will need a Visa or Mastercard debit card to access cash this way and they will not pay any fees to do this.

Businesses using the scheme will receive a payment for every transaction they process. To participate businesses need to have a Barclaycard Payments terminal.

Barclays says this is the first time a UK bank has launched a cashback without purchase scheme.

Roll-out to thousands of businesses

It is now being rolled out to thousands of small businesses and when in place the bank will publish information on all retailers who are participating.

The proposal for shops to offer free access to cash were first made in 2020 by the Treasury.

Last year, a similar scheme was launched through Link to allow access cash without buying anything. It has an interactive map which will show you nearby locations for accessing cash.

It comes as the Post Office said it has been handling increased amounts of cash. In August, it processed £3.45bn of cash, the highest total for five years. It said this was in response to the cost-of-living crisis and it expects the trend to continue as people tighten their budgets.

Bank branch and ATM closures

The number of bank branches and free-to-use ATMs has been steadily falling over the past decade.

Between July 2018 and May 2022, the number of ATMs in the UK fell by 13,679 or 21%. The total number of ATMs in the UK peaked in 2015 and has fallen each year since then, according to government data.

Between 2012 and 2021, the total number of bank and building society branches in the UK fell by 34%.

Tim Allen, head of access to cash at Barclays UK, said: “While an increasing number of our customers choose to pay digitally, we recognise that for some, cash remains vital.

“This service will benefit communities around the country, beyond our customer base, giving them the choice and flexibility to access their money conveniently. This is part of our broader commitment to preserving long-term access to cash for those who require it.”

Natalie Ceeney CBE, chair of the Access to Cash action group, said: “This new service from Barclays is very welcome.

“ATMs work well for most people, but having additional places to withdraw cash, particularly if you want to get out less than £10, can help communities and small businesses as well as vulnerable consumers.

“Making cashback without purchase widely available needs to be a key part of the national strategy to keep cash accessible.”