This is a regularly-updated list of top short-lived bargains. They're all checked with the company's press office where possible (unless stated).
Before you get seduced by the deals, first follow this checklist. 1. Check for vouchers: See the Shopping vouchers guide. 2. Benchmark prices: Use the MegaShopBot to compare prices. 3. Will you use it: If you won’t use it, or can’t afford it even sales goods aren’t worth it. Read our tips for safer shopping.
Whether it's a retailer or restaurateur, airline or air-conditioner seller, computer shop or car rental company, there are always two main risks. Either it's a dodgy company, or it's a legit company that has financial problems and goes bust.
The aim of these tips is to help you minimise the risks.
Quite simply, its customers are immediately transformed into creditors. This hits hardest if you've ordered goods or tickets from them, and not had delivery, as then you become one of a line of people trying to get your money back out of the company's assets, and you usually get back much less than you paid in.
Even if you've had delivery, if the company you bought from goes under and there's a problem with the goods, it can mean you've no comeback.
While MoneySavingExpert.com endeavours to check deals are valid, we don't check companies ' finances. Even huge names like MFI and Woolies have folded, so it's very important you use the right strategies to stay protected where possible.
Pay by credit card for something over £100, and Section 75 laws supercharge your consumer rights.
Unlike debit cards, cheques or cash, pay in full or part (even just £1) on a credit card and by law the lender's jointly liable with the retailer.
This means you have exactly the same rights with the card company as you do with the retailer. So if it goes bust, you can simply take your complaints there instead and get money back if there's no delivery.
Yet it's important you ALWAYS REPAY IN FULL each month, so there's no interest cost. See the full Section 75 guide.
Section 75 doesn't apply to purchases under £100, but there's still an option which can help. It isn't a legal protection, just Visa, Mastercard and Amex's rules, but it's a good back-up.
Spend on a Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card or any debit or charge card. If the goods don't appear, you can try to ask your bank/card provider to reclaim the cash from the seller's bank, so long as you complain within 120 days of realising there’s a problem. See the Chargeback guide for full details.
Bogus websites are often set up to cash in on popular products like Ugg boots and Tiffany necklaces, so be wary if it's an unfamiliar site. And don't think that because it appears on a reputable search engine, that makes it a reputable site - always check.
Most folk know to look for a security padlock on the bottom right of a website, but that doesn't mean the site's legit, just that payment's secure.
To find out who registered the site and when, search the Whois database. Reputable firms should also appear on the Companies House site, the UK Government's official companies register. Be very wary of businesses with just a PO Box or email address.
Study the site's worldwide web ranking on Alexa. Anything in the top 100,000 means it's reasonably big and a good, though not foolproof indication of legitimacy. Do a quick Google search for other shoppers' experiences.
Crucially, ensure your security's up-to-date - free software can be downloaded to your computer in about five minutes. Full details in the Free Antivirus Software guide.
Many people are surprised to learn you've MORE rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Distance Selling Regulations.
These give you a legal right to send most goods back within seven days for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault. You'll usually need to pay for the return delivery. Read Consumer Rights for a full guide.
However, of course, this is balanced by the fact ordering online automatically means there's a time gap between ordering and delivering - when the company has your money. So if it goes bust during that time, the distance selling rights don't help.
Ultimately, there is always a risk that a company can go bust. If the above routes don't apply, then you have to make a decision about whether you're willing to take the risk of parting with your cash.
Don't be scared of this. Every day we all make transactions based on trust, and this is part of that, but do balance up the amount you're spending against the risk. Don't give large amounts of money to a company you're not sure about.
If you're updating your make-up and skincare for spring, this is a fiddly, but delicious little bit of extreme MoneySaving. ‘Stack’ multiple promotions to get potentially huge discounts on skincare and make-up products.
Boots says you shouldn't be able to use both coupons in one transaction, but we knew this deal had worked for our forumites in the past. So MSE Charlotte trekked to our local Boots to try it out. Inside, the staff spilled the beans, spending 10 minutes excitedly taking her through the tricks to boost the saving - brilliant!
Here's how you get the deal...
Step 1: Spend £5+ in-store on anything before Sun 30 Mar. OK, we've not included the initial £5 spend in our calculations, but it's so easy to spend £5 on essentials at Boots, you can buy things you actually need. Once you've spent the £5, you'll be given two No7 vouchers: one for £5 off No7 skincare, one for £3 off No7 make-up.
Step 2: Use the vouchers in-store on its No7 current 3for2 offer, on till Tue 18 Mar. Combine the 3for2 with the money-off vouchers in the same transaction.
Here’s an example:
Buy one x £7 No7 face wipe (skincare) = £7
Buy two x £6 No7nail polish (counts as make-up) = £6 because it’s a 3for2 with the cheapest free.
Now use your voucher on top of this and take £5 off for skincare, and £3 off for make-up. So that’s £19 of stuff for £5. We’ve tested this and it works (store staff have also confirmed this, but Boots officially hasn’t). If you have trouble using both money-off vouchers in one transaction, split your purchases into skincare and make-up, and use the vouchers separately.
Step 3: Combine with kiosk vouchers. All pretty straightforward up to here. But to really push it…(although Boots hasn't confirmed any of this so we're going on a bit of a flyer).
Check your coupons from the in-store kiosk – you know, the thing that looks like an ATM machine you stick an Advantage card in. The vouchers are usually targeted but check for one that gets you money off make-up. Also keep an eye out for No7 sale items. You may be able to use the vouchers with sale items.
Boots hasn't confirmed you can do this, so be aware this may not work.
The toy brand of choice for the yummy mummy, Brio, can now be found in Poundworld (it's so posh, apparently it supplies toys to Swedish royalty!)
There are two products available for a quid: a Brio Pull Along Seal (currently £5 on Amazon, down from £15), and a Brio SUV wooden car (next cheapest is currently £5 on Amazon, down from £7).
Poundworld says there are 5,000 items spread across all 232 stores, available while stocks last - so go quick if you want one.
ToucanBox is a subscription service that delivers arts and crafts kits to children aged 3-8 years old, either fortnightly or monthly. Prices start from £3.95 + 98p P&P.
Yet we've blagged a code that allows new users to get their the first box free, and then you've the option to cancel at no cost.
You'll need to create an account and enter your card details to get one, but you WON'T be charged if you cancel within SEVEN days of the freebie being dispatched (don’t do it earlier or you might not get your freebie).
The boxes include activities and craft materials such as stencils, pens and paper (though the contents vary, so you might not get these particular items).
There are 3,500 boxes still available and the deal is available while stocks last, one per household.
How do I get it?
Reminder! As ToucanBox is a subscription service, you pay for each until you cancel. You can stop the subscription by going to "change my box" in the "your account" section.
If you only want the free box, it's worth noting down the dispatch date from your confirmation email and setting a reminder to cancel the day after.
You can currently get £5 off £25 on M&S food, wine and flowers, £5 off £25 at mother and baby brand Jojo Maman Bebe (branches in England, Scotland and Wales) and 25% off Rush hair salons (all in SE England). The catch? You have to pledge to be eco-friendly - try reusing a carrier bag, cleaning with lemon juice rather than chemicals or growing your own veg.
For each green action you take, you'll be rewarded with points to exchange for the discounts.
How do I get my discount vouchers?
1) Sign up at Greenredeem (it's free) and you'll automatically recieve 100 points.
2) For every pledge you make or quick you take (see the 'earns' tab) you'll get extra points into your account. Pledges and quizzes change each week, so you can continue to make different promises to build up your bank of points.
3) Check the 'rewards' section of the site to see what discounts are available (65 is the minimum number you can redeem).
There's a £5 off £25 at M&S food, wine and flowers voucher on at the moment, and they don't come around often. To get it, you only need 100 points, which will just take two minutes' work. When you redeem your points for a voucher, it'll be either delivered to you by post (it takes a few days) or you can show the voucher on your phone.
The M&S voucher's valid till 31 Jul 2014.
The aim of giving out such vouchers is to encourage you to be greener. So please, if you are going to pledge to do lots of things, do your best to live up to it.
Depending on which reward you go for, you'll either be able to use it online or in-store. Each reward will have individual T&Cs so check these before you use it. The M&S voucher excludes Lunch to Go, food to order, restaurants, deli bars, M&S Cafe, all branded groceries, branded household goods, branded toiletries and reduced food products. One voucher per person.
Marilyn Monroe said "a smile is the best make up any girl can wear". After reading this to the girls on the deals desk, the general feedback was "RUBBISH!" So if your smile isn't quite making you as beautiful as Marilyn, you could try popping into a pound shop and picking up some £1 branded beauty bits. The bonus is, you'll be so pleased with your bargains you'll be positively grinning!
What we found in-store at Poundland...
What we found at Poundworld...
We've not been able to get exact stock levels for all of the items, so don't be surprised if you can't find certain items in your local store.
Poundshops have loads of hidden branded gems. They are often discontinued stock, out of season, or from different countries - but all still good!
Can cosmetics go off? The British Skin Foundation says:
"Cosmetic products will remain safe to use provided they are stored under suitable conditions and not subjected to extreme temperatures."
"To ensure the maximum durability of cosmetic products, they should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and with the lids firmly closed."
It also said the use by date on cosmetics, is from when you open the product. So if it says 18 mths on the box, it should last for 18 months from when you open it, provided it's been stored correctly.
This is a fun free daily competition we thought we’d let you know about as the MSE Deals team are big fans (we even have a winner in our midst).
Register your email address and postcode online at Free Postcode Lottery and check it each day from 12 noon for your chance to win a cash prize. Plus, you get a bonus of 1p every day you check the site, which is added onto your winnings (if you're ever lucky enough to win). It's for over-18s only.
How does it work?
It selects one registered postcode at random at 12 noon each day. Only registered postcodes are drawn (around 40,000), so there's always at least one eligible winner.
The prize starts at £30, and if unclaimed, goes up by £30 each day (your bonus doesn't roll over). The biggest prize claimed since the site started is £240.
How does it make money?
From Google Adsense adverts (that appear on the website and nowhere else) and via links to other free competitions and survey sites. The site owner, Chris, NEVER passes your email address on to third parties and you never need to enter your card details.
Am I likely to win and what happens if I do?
The more times a postcode has been registered, the more likely it is to win (ie, if it's been registered twice, it appears in the list twice, so is twice as likely to win). If multiple winners claim, the pot is split and if no one claims by noon the following day, it rolls over.
If your postcode comes up and you check the site that day, a big "collect" button appears. Press it, and your winnings will be paid to your PayPal account, or you can opt for Amazon vouchers instead.
You can also opt to "double & donate" to double your prize and donate it to charity.
Will I get spammed?
Absolutely not. You automatically get opted in to receive a reminder email each day, but you can unsubscribe at any time (click "unsubscribe" at the bottom of the email). Or you can leave the lottery at any time via this unsubscribe link.
Links to other sites (surveys, competitions and charities) and user comments that appear on Free Postcode Lottery are all checked out before they appear. Even so, it's always worth checking sites before entering any details and reading the full T&Cs for yourself.
The MSE Deals team loves this site, especially MSE Deborah who won £20 in Amazon vouchers just 42 days after joining. Poor MSE Michael's not been so lucky... He's currently on £6.36 bonus (which means he's checked it 636 times without winning!).
Of all the days you could do with a laugh, it has to be Valentine's Day. All that pressure to spend lots of cash can wipe the smile off any MoneySaver's face.
But in Poundland, you can get stand-up comedy DVDs for a quid each. So you can stay in and stick on a DVD - no cash wasted!
We found in our local store:
We've been in touch with Poundland, which told us the DVDs are available nationwide and it has over 60,000 in stock.
Right. Lego's definitely the best kids' toy, and we know a few adults who are fans too. We won't hear any arguing that it's Barbie, Playdoh or Xbox - Lego wins it hands down (OK, OK, that's just my opinion - MSE Charlotte).
But there's an issue which we can't block out - Lego can be SO expensive. So hopefully this deal will help you out.
If you're between six and 14 (sorry grown-ups, this one isn't for you, so please let your kids know!), go into your nearest official Lego store (there's more info on where below) on the first Thursday of every month between 4-6pm to take part in the Lego Mini Build.
Get there as soon as you can, as stock is limited to 200-300 models per store (depending on size and location), and it's first come, first served. Staff will show your kids how to make the model, which Lego told us is worth around £5 (but it's not for sale). Once it's been made - it should take about 10-15 mins - the kids can take it home for free.
The models are different each month, and you don't know what you're going to get till you get in there. But Lego's given us a heads-up on the next three:
Got the January blues? Fed up with the Apollo-ing weather? Diet gone wrong? Put down that Mars bar, suck yourself out of that black hole and take yourself to Bennu - our favourite Asteroid (the others had no atmosphere). Kids will love it (let's face it, adults too!), we're over the moon with this deal, it's just out of this world.
Nasa is sending a spacecraft (Osiris-Rex) to the asteroid Bennu in 2016 to collect a sample of its surface. You can get your name etched on a microchip that's carried on it. The robotic mission (and your name) will spend more than two years near the 1,760ft-wide asteroid.
Just visit The Planetary Society, fill in your details and print out your certificate (which will have your unique number on it). You can go back later to print it if you prefer.
It's our star deal - you'd be a luna-tick not to sign up.
If you're on Twitter or Facebook, make sure you 'follow' or 'like' the mission (you'll see the option when you enter your details). You'll get updates on where your name is in space from launch until the craft returns to Earth in 2023.
Get children's books for £2.99 or less in the Scholastic* sale. It's on until Fri 4 Apr, though it's likely many books will have sold out by then, so go quick if you're after a particular title. Delivery's £3.95 on orders under £25.
Also, for every purchase, 20% of the order value goes back to a school of your choice, to be spent on books and resources, or to Save the Children if you’d prefer.
Some of the books included in the sale (correct as of Tue 28 Jan):
We've compared prices for the titles in the example and found them to be the cheapest available, but it's always worth comparing individual prices before buying.
Complete a five-question test for Prostate Cancer UK and Iceland will donate 50p on your behalf.
Iceland will donate a maximum of £50,000. You can also get a free pin badge - just tick the 'get a free pin badge' box at the end.
Prostate Cancer UK says it will use the answers and statistics from the questionnaire for future awareness campaigns and media stories and WON'T store your answers on a database, link them to your name and contact details or pass them on to third parties.
Forumites have been completing the questionnaire and sharing it on Twitter and Facebook. Read the full Free 50p donation to Prostate Cancer UK discussion thread.
If you're a student with an NUS Extra card, you can get 10% off food and drink (exceptions are listed below) at more than 2,800 participating Co-operative Food stores. The Co-op says it has a store in every UK postal area, so you should be able to find one close to you. Just show your card at the checkout to get the discount. Please be Drinkaware.
The NUS Extra card is available to all students aged over 16 years (including distance learners and vocational students). It costs £12 and is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. With your NUS Extra card, you can get discounts at loads of stores, including Asos, Warehouse and Domino's. This is the first time an NUS Extra card can get you discounts on groceries.
Co-ops are convenience stores, so it won't always be as cheap as the supermarket giants, however you'll often find some really good offers - especially if you combine them with coupons.
O2 Priority Moments is a deals app for O2 smartphone users. It tends to run bespoke offers, which we think are subsidised from O2's marketing budget, so it sometimes has deals you can't get elsewhere.
What type of offers are available?
Deals may not be the same for everyone, as they're often based on your location. At the time of writing, deals on offer in central London include a free £7.99 Richard and Judy spring book club title for WHSmith, and a year's Evernote Premium organisation app (RRP £35).
Over the past year, it's had free packs of Christmas cards (normally £10), free £5 at The Body Shop, Hotel Chocolat freebies, £10 off Fragrance Shop, 40% off Odeon cinema tickets, and many more.
Not on O2? How to get it
O2 says anyone with an O2 mobile – including Pay and Go, Pay Monthly and business customers – is eligible to get it. So if you've ANY unlocked phone, it's easy.
2. Connect to wi-fi, and download the Priority Moments app (Android, iOS/Blackberry).
3. Insert the Sim everytime you want to check for new deals. While the app is meant to disappear if you insert other Sims, but we've tried it on a few unlocked handsets, and the app's stayed and is still usable.
Get a free John Lewis loyalty card and you can get FREE tea/coffee and cake, every month! Here’s what you need to know to get it:
WARNING! Gratuitous pictures of cake coming up...
When we first wrote this, we didn't have all the cake-based info. We don't do things by halves here at MSE, so even though it was a terrible inconvenience, I trudged all the way (at least a five-minute walk) to 'research' what was on offer.
My card STILL hasn't arrived yet - c'mon John Lewis! (It must be busy making super-cute Christmas adverts...) So I got some tea and cake and put it on my expenses instead. The things we do for you!
Here are some pics of what I found and what they cost.
Buy CDs/vinyl from Amazon and its Autorip service* means you now get the MP3s free. Yet this also works for anything bought since 1999. So know what you are doing and you can recover years worth of music, maybe from CDs you may have lost, damaged or thrown away - or re-download MP3s.
How do I check?
Just check 'your music' in Amazon Cloud Player to see if you have any albums or songs from your past, you can then stream or download your music. Simple.
It can take a while for it to find the music. The biggest musical treasure trove in MSE Towers belonged to MSE Darryl, who had 150 albums going back 13 years, which took 10 minutes to get.
We discovered this after I was chatting with MSE Shrey about music storage (we're very interesting) and he told me he recently signed up to Amazon Cloud Player* and found more than 30 albums he'd bought hard copies of years ago.
I asked the rest of the MSE team if they had any music lurking about from their past. To our surprise a load of us did (feel free to judge):
Found music you didn't realise you had? Let us know in the Reclaim lost music forum thread.
Previously, to get online music streaming service Spotify on your phone or tablet, you had to pay £9.99 a month for Spotify Premium. Now that's changed - you can get it on these devices for free.
How it worked before:
1. You could get it free when online (with ads) on your desktop computer, but NOT at all on mobiles and tablets (EVERYONE found this really frustrating).
2. You could pay £9.99 a month for Spotify Premium, for your desktop, tablet and phone. This meant you could download music to listen to offline and have no ads.
You can now create a free account (it'll have ads, but it's not that bad) to use on your desktop AND on your mobile and tablet on Android and iOS, via the free app. You can only listen to tracks and playlists when you're online (only Premium users can download and listen offline).
If you're subscribed to Premium and now prefer the free version, you can cancel at any time.
Spotify has all the music you could imagine (unless you're into Oasis and The Beatles).
However, it's recently added Led Zeppelin's back catalogue, making it the only music streaming service to include the Rock Gods. I've a Whole Lotta Love for that (genuinely really sorry...).
This Nook is Barnes & Noble's version of the Kindle Paperwhite, which costs £109 on Amazon. Customer reviews on the John Lewis website are generally very good and TechRadar gives it 4/5 stars.
While this is a great freebie for dog owners, the Dogs Trust is a charity, so donations are gratefully received.
The Baby and Child First Aid app is the first of its kind and contains clear instructions on what to do in many emergencies. Handily, most of the information and videos are stored on the app, meaning no internet connection is needed for viewing, although some features (such as the nearest hospital finder tool) do require you to go online. The bite-sized videos make it easy to learn about first aid while juggling childcare demands.
Go to your nearest Millie's Cookies store and get a gift box for £35. Inside you'll find 12 vouchers, each for a box of 12 cookies. This is called "year's worth of cookies for £35" offer - but we couldn't see any ads for the promotion in our local store, and had to ask for it by name.
You can take the vouchers to any Millie's Cookies throughout the year.
We think you need a few more cookies for a year's worth! Millie's says you can't use more than one voucher at the same time at the same store. But you could spread your cookie-buying out across different days, or use all the same vouchers on the same day but at different stores.
But confusingly, the staff at our local branch said we can use our vouchers however we want - even all at once. So it's worth asking your nearest store.
How it works
Morrisons' Fuel Saver deal gives 1p/litre off petrol, diesel or LPG for every £10 of gift cards bought in-store.
There are 38 retailers to buy gift cards for, including Homebase, Debenhams, Currys, PC World, Next, House of Fraser, Halfords, and iTunes, plus new retailers TK Maxx, Oasis, Warehouse and Waterstones. The offer's ongoing, but doesn't include Morrisons' own gift cards.
If there's a large purchase you are going to make anyway - eg, £500 on a computer at PC World or a garden shed at Homebase - get it via buying the gift cards and you'll bag 50p/litre off.
If you bought £1,400 of gift cards, it'd effectively make a £1.40/litre tank FREE. Morrisons has also told us there's no limit per transaction on the gift cards, and you can split any amount above this into a second purchase to get a voucher for a second fill-up. Petrol vouchers are valid for 63 days from the issue date.
Use gift cards quickly
Gift cards are non-refundable, and it isn't a good idea to put money on the card to drip-spend over six months. Though most of those mentioned here are big, safe companies, if the firm goes bust you'll probably lose the cash, so ensure you minimise the time between buying and redemption.
It's also worth noting third party retailers (Morrisons in this case) don't have any responsibility to refund you if a gift card's retailer goes into administration. See the Beware gift vouchers MSE News story. Gift cards are generally valid for about two years, but always check.
Full terms on the Morrisons website. Find your nearest Morrisons.
Warning! While the majority of gift cards are valid for two years, it's worth remembering that if the company goes bust or even just into administration then the card becomes effectively worthless. See our section 75 guide for more advice.
Go to the Amazon Discount Finder and choose your department. Next, pick your discount and price range and choose whether you want free delivery. The tool will then generate a bespoke page full of discounts which fit your search terms.
Amazon often offers 75% and better reductions, yet it directs people to other areas, sending them to higher profit margin products instead.
This tool manipulates Amazon's web links to display all heavily-reduced bargains.
Our new Local eBay Deals Mapper lets you find bargains if you're prepared to pick them up. eBay sellers often specify items must be collected in person which means fewer bids. But you can't normally search 'collection only' so put your postcode in and how far you're prepared to schlep and watch the gems pop up.
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