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If you have kids, visiting a National Trust or English Heritage property is a great day out. Not only is it educational and great for exploring, if you buy an annual membership, it makes a cheap day out for the whole family.
We bought a family membership and we use it more than I anticipated. I reckon we actually got our money’s worth in the first two months too – have you seen the eye-watering entry fees to these places? Nyman’s Gardens, one of our favourite National Trust sites due to a family connection, costs £26 for the three of us (and that is with our daughter going free as she is under 5) while an afternoon at Bodium Castle would set us back £28.75 with parking.
At the moment, you can register for a National Trust family membership (two adults and up to 10 kids/grandkids under the age of 17 – those under 5 go free) for £114.60 a year or £9.55 a month if you pay by direct debit. While a similar membership with English Heritage (two adults and up to 12 kids under 19) costs £96 annually or £8 a month.
Not bad, is it? But few people know that you can cut the cost of membership even further. Here are three ways you can save on visits to stately homes and gardens.
OPT FOR A SCOTTISH MEMBERSHIP & CUTS COSTS BY 20%
But few people know that you can actually cut costs for joining the National Trust, by opting for memberships at their Scottish partners? Thanks to a reciprocal agreement, you can pay to join a sister organisation north of the border and slash your family membership costs by a fifth – and it is completely legitimate.
For instance, buying an annual National Trust Scotland membership (£90 annually/£7.50 a month), rather than England, will save you as much as £25 a year and covers up to four kids under 15 to visit any NT venue in all of the UK – including Wales and Northern Ireland.
What’s more, you can do a similar moneysaving trick with Kew Botanic Gardens. Become a member of Kew Garden and face an annual cost of £72 for an adult. But buy a £32 adult membership at Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens and you will qualify for free entry to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew & Wakehurst Place, Westonbirt Arboretum, Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Ness Botanic Garden, University of Oxford Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum, plus many more gardens overseas. Opting for a Scottish membership will save you £40 a year – plus provide additional benefits you do not get with an English membership.
LOOK FOR ONLINE DEALS
It’s also worth looking for online deals on an annual membership for any stately home or garden association, so keep your eyes peels for with for money off or extra months when paying by direct debit. This week, for instance, use the code NT16022M0 for a free £5 Marks & Spencer E-Gift card with direct debit on annual membership at National Trust (England). While those who use discount code EH2017 when applying for English Heritage membership, can save 15%.
But bear in mind that the discounted annual price is an introductory rate for the first year of membership, so once the money’s taken from your account you should cancel the direct debit if you want to avoid automatically being charged for a full-price membership next year.
GET CASH BACK ON YOUR MEMBERSHIP FEES
The sites list product providers and retailers that pay commission when shoppers click on their links. In turn, the cash back website passes on the commission to the consumer. Some retailers pay a fixed sum, while others pay a percentage of your spend.
The concept behind these websites is simple: each will pay a cash reward when you visit one of their retail partners via the site. All you do is sign up and provide your bank details.
To use the sites is relatively simple – register with the site and then, every time you buy online, visit the retailer via your chosen cash back operator rather than directly. The retailer typically pays a commission into your account at your cash back site, which in turn sends your cut direct to your nominated bank or PayPal account.
At Quidco.com, for instance, this week you can National Trust are offering £5 cash back for all membership sales and English Heritage are offering 4% cash back on all membership sales. While Topcashback.co.uk is offering £5.25 cash back on new NT memberships and 5.25% on English Heritage memberships.