Best Passive Income Ideas For 2024 (2024)

Table of Contents

  • What is a passive income?
  • Our best passive income ideas
  • Interest from savings accounts and bonds
  • Income from property
  • Final thoughts…

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High and rising living costs are encouraging people to find additional sources of income, in some cases to fund just the basics such as food and household bills. So-called ‘passive’ income can be one potential way of supplementing your earnings to help provide a safety buffer when finances are tight.

Fortunately, there’s a growing number of passive income options, with the pandemic having opened up innovative ways to earn extra money. Here’s a closer look at how you could potentially earn a passive income.

What is a passive income?

Passive income refers to earnings from sources outside traditional employment or contracting. This usually means either income from rental property, or from a business in which you are not an active participant (book royalties, affiliate marketing commissions or stock dividends, for example).

While there may have been potential initial investments of resources, these enterprises now require minimal monitoring or financial commitment.

Broken down a little further, the main passive income streams can be as follows:

  • Investing: generating a return from investing money in saving accounts or the stock market.
  • Asset sharing: selling or renting out assets you own, such as your house or car.
  • Asset building: examples could include adding revenue-generating affiliate links to your blog or website or selling resources such as ebooks, educational content, music and photos online.

While all these categories have the potential to generate a substantial income, here’s some of our top suggestions for earning a passive income in the UK.

Our best passive income ideas

Dividends from investments

Dividends are paid by companies to their shareholders and can provide a good passive income stream if you have available funds to invest. However, they are not guaranteed. Companies can decide to stop paying dividends temporarily or entirely. During the pandemic, many businesses chose the former.

The dividend yield is a good indicator of the ‘return’ on your investment, similar to the annual rate on a savings account. It is calculated as the dividend payment divided by the price of the share (or investment). So if a company with a share price of £100 pays an annual dividend of £4, its dividend yield would be 4%.

There are three main ways to earn a dividend stream from investments, all of which can be held in a without incurring any income tax.

Company shares

Some, but not all, companies pay dividends to shareholders. Dividends are typically paid in cash on a quarterly or half-yearly basis. Companies may also pay ‘special’ one-off dividends to return cash to shareholders, for example, after the sale of a business.

Global dividends surged to a record high of £1.3 trillion in 2022, according to forecasts from investment house Janus Henderson, driven partly by the boom in dividends paid by mining and energy companies.

However, there can be a trade-off between dividend pay-outs and share price growth. ‘Growth’ shares such as Tesla, Amazon and Meta have not historically paid dividends, preferring to invest surplus cash to generate future growth.

By comparison, the more traditional, ‘blue chip’ companies tend to pay higher dividends. The average dividend yield for the FTSE 100 and the Nasdaq is currently 3.8% and 1.3% respectively, according to data from AJ Bell and Seeking Alpha.

This illustrates the higher proportion of dividend-paying, industrial companies in the FTSE 100 compared to the technology-heavy Nasdaq.

However, caution should be taken over instances of very high dividend-yielding shares, which can occur when there’s a sharp fall in share price, artificially inflating the dividend yield. This means fundamentals other than dividend yield should also be considered when researching whether to buy shares in a company.

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Investment trusts

Investment trusts invest in assets such as shares, and typically the majority of trusts pay dividends to investors. As with shares, investment trusts have a ‘live’ trading price which can go up or down depending on demand.

The benefit of investment trusts (over funds – see below) is that they’re allowed to retain 15% of annual income to build a ‘rainy day’ cash reserve, enabling them to maintain consistent dividend payments in market downturns.

Though past performance does not guarantee future results, the latest Association of Investment Companies’ latest list of ‘dividend heroes’ show that seven investment trusts have increased their dividends for more than 50 consecutive years.

As with shares, dividend yields should be considered alongside other factors if you’re looking to buy an investment trust, particularly its future prospects for share price growth. There is a variety of investment trusts from which to choose, including specialist equity income trusts and trusts focused on different sectors such as technology, property and commodities, along with different geographic regions.


Funds are similar to investment trusts in that they hold an actively-managed portfolio of shares and other assets. However, they don’t have a ‘live’ price and are re-priced once a day based on the value of their underlying assets

Although many funds pay an income in addition to capital growth, funds whose primary purpose is to pay an income are found in the UK and Global Equity Income categories. According to investment information provider Trustnet, most UK Equity Income funds currently pay a dividend yield of between 3% to 5%.

When buying funds, you may be offered a choice of income or accumulation units. Income units pay dividends in cash to investors. With accumulation units, dividends are used to buy additional units in the fund, providing the opportunity for future capital growth by reinvesting dividends.

Interest from savings accounts and bonds

Savings accounts

Lodging your money in a savings account can also produce a passive income. Easy access savings accounts are currently paying up to 3.4%, while the leading regular saving accounts offer rates of up to 7.0%, although these typically have a monthly limit of £100 to £500.

It is worth reviewing the interest rate on a regular basis as it may include a limited-period bonus rate. In addition, banks may not pass on any increase in the Bank of England base rate in full to customers with variable-interest rate accounts.

You should also check that your account is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects customers up to £85,000 in the event of the failure of a bank or building society.

Although investing in savings accounts is lower-risk than the stock market, the average return has also historically been lower. Given that the inflation rate hit 11% last year, money invested in savings accounts paying an interest rate of 3% will be effectively losing 7% in real terms each year.

Fixed-rate bonds

Fixed-rate bonds are another option if you’re willing to tie up your money for a longer period. Some of the leading fixed-rate bonds offered by banks and building societies are paying up to 4.5% for a two-year fixed rate or 4.6% for a five-year fixed rate.

Premium bonds

Premium bonds are a type of savings product from National Savings & Investments (NS&I), held by over 25 million people in the UK. Instead of paying interest, premium bonds offer bond-holders the opportunity to win prizes ranging from £25 to £1 million each month tax-free. You can withdraw your money at any time by cashing all, or some, of your bonds.

According to the NS&I, there is a 24,000 to one odds of winning a prize per £1 bond, equivalent to a 3.3% interest rate. This rate is broadly in line with the leading easy-access savings accounts, although there is no guarantee that you will win a prize.

Income from property

Investing in property can generate a substantial passive income, either from long-term rental or short-term holiday lets. However, this involves a significant up-front investment, as well as ongoing maintenance and management of the property.

Landlords have faced an increasingly challenging environment in the UK, with the end of tax-relief on mortgage interest in 2020, rising interest rates and the recent requirement for minimum Energy Performance Certificate ratings for rental properties.

Property yield is used as a rule-of-thumb measure for estimating the annual return from property, and is calculated as the annual rent divided by the purchase price. According to Statista, the average rental yield in the UK is 5.8% (as at October 2022).

However, yield varies by region with Statista reporting that average property yields in 2022 ranged from 5.0% in London to 6.3% in the North-East, Yorkshire and the Humber. While holiday lets may offer higher potential yields, this is dependent on how many weeks a year the property is rented for and the additional management fees.

In summary, the income yield from property is low, given that costs such as mortgage interest and maintenance need to be deducted from rental income. However, rental property can also provide capital upside over a longer-term period.

Final thoughts…

Although substantial capital is required to invest in property, it is possible to generate a passive income from investing small amounts of money into savings accounts and equity investments.

As with any investment, you should consider the level of risk associated with the product and whether you are able to absorb any losses. In most cases, income tax will be payable on passive income, unless you hold investments in a tax-efficient wrapper such as an ISA.

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I'm a seasoned financial expert with a deep understanding of various investment avenues and passive income strategies. Over the years, I've gained hands-on experience in navigating the intricacies of financial markets and have successfully managed investments across different asset classes.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article about passive income.

What is Passive Income?

Passive income refers to earnings from sources outside traditional employment or contracting. It involves minimal monitoring or financial commitment once the initial investment is made. The main passive income streams highlighted in the article are:

  1. Investing:

    • Generating returns from investments in savings accounts or the stock market.
  2. Asset Sharing:

    • Selling or renting out assets like your house or car.
  3. Asset Building:

    • Adding revenue-generating elements to your blog or website, such as affiliate links.
    • Selling resources like ebooks, educational content, music, and photos online.

Best Passive Income Ideas in the UK

  1. Dividends from Investments:

    • Companies pay dividends to shareholders, providing a passive income stream.
    • Dividend yield, calculated as the dividend payment divided by the share price, is a key indicator.
    • Investment options include company shares, investment trusts, and funds.
  2. Investment Trusts:

    • Invest in assets like shares and often pay dividends to investors.
    • Can retain 15% of annual income to maintain consistent dividend payments.
  3. Funds:

    • Similar to investment trusts, funds hold portfolios of shares and other assets.
    • Offer income or accumulation units, with income units paying dividends in cash.
  4. Interest from Savings Accounts and Bonds:

    • Savings accounts offer a passive income with varying interest rates.
    • Fixed-rate bonds provide higher returns for a longer investment period.
    • Premium bonds offer a chance to win tax-free prizes.
  5. Income from Property:

    • Investing in property can generate passive income through long-term rental or short-term holiday lets.
    • Property yield, calculated as annual rent divided by the purchase price, is a key metric.
    • Considerations include upfront investment, ongoing maintenance, and regional variations in yield.

Final Thoughts

While substantial capital is required for property investment, there are opportunities to generate passive income from smaller investments in savings accounts and equity. It's crucial to assess the associated risks and consider tax implications, especially if not investing within tax-efficient wrappers like an ISA.

Remember, every investment involves risks, and thorough research is essential before making financial decisions.

This overview should provide a comprehensive understanding of the key concepts discussed in the article. If you have specific questions or need further details on any aspect, feel free to ask.

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