Using a sat-nav to get from A-to-B is now the rule rather than the exception, and they make great presents for the directionless!
Whether you're looking for a Christmas gift or want to treat yourself, it's possible to get a big brand sat-nav for under £100, or a budget model for less than £50.
We've rounded up some of the best sat-nav deals online and on the high street, and added a section on handy apps for smartphones, which could mean you don't need to buy a sat-nav at all.
Important! Ensure you know how to shop safely before trying these deals
- For safety, pay by credit card if over £100
- Protect purchases under £100
- Use unfamiliar sites without checking
- Let your antivirus run out
Tips for shopping safely
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.
What happens if a company goes bust?
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.
DO Pay by credit card for goods over £100
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.
DO Protect purchases under £100
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.
DON'T Use unfamiliar sites without checking
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.
DO Check the site's legit
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.
DON'T Let your antivirus run out
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.
DO Know your distance selling rights
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.
DO Understand sometimes there's no protection.
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.
You can order the budget Foehn & Hirsch sat-nav online from eBuyer* for £43.57 including delivery (order before Sun 18 Dec for delivery before Christmas). It's in its clearance section though, so stock's limited.
Perhaps the simplest sat-nav on the market, it's slim, light and compact. It has a 3.5" colour touchscreen, and instant route calculation so, if you make a wrong turn, it'll automatically get you back on track.
It has a built-in FM transmitter, which you can tune your car stereo into so music stored on the sat-nav can be played over your car system. It also lets you browse any photos, e-books and videos you've saved on the 2GB internal memory, which can be expanded via the SD card slot.
If your budget doesn't quite stretch to TomTom prices, the Mio F360 GPS is a cheap equivalent at £49.97 delivered from Dixons*(order before Fri 23 Dec for delivery before Christmas).
Its 3.5" colour LCD screen shows detailed maps of your route, and for tricky junctions, there's a 3D view. The lane assistance feature combined with spoken street names means you can listen for when you have to turn, without taking your eyes off the road.
Reviews seem to agree it's simple to set up and easy to use.
As a big player in the sat-nav market, Garmin models usually come with a hefty price tag, but Amazon* is currently selling the Nuvi 2200 for £69.99, including delivery.
It's preloaded with UK and Ireland maps, plus speed limit warnings and a handy fuel-saver feature that calculates the most fuel-efficient route.
However, several reviews say the Nuvi 2200 reads numbers as a whole rather than single digits (think A-three-hundred-and-twenty-nine, instead of A-three-two-nine), which can be confusing. It doesn't feature lane assistance either.
Currently cheapest at Amazon*, the TomTom Start² includes full EU mapping for £93.28 including delivery (order before Sun 18 Dec for delivery before Christmas).
It has all you'd expect from a TomTom, including lane guidance, speed restriction notifications, fixed speed camera notifications and "POI" (points of interest).
TomTom users also get a free update with the latest maps, as long as you register it online within 30 days of purchase.
If you don't mind a refurbished TomTom it's also worth browsing the TomTom outlet store, which can offer some decent discounts off standard prices.
If you've a web-enabled phone (with a decent screen), it's possible to use this as a sat-nav, so you can avoid buying a separate product. Many mobiles now include Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which you can use with various downloadable apps.
Apps can vary in price, from free to around £50, but if you're going to pay this much for an app it's probably wiser to buy a separate sat-nav. The only downside to using apps over maps is that the large files could take up a lot of your phone's memory, and if your screen's not big enough you may not be able to see where you're going anyway.
If you're going down this route though (pardon the pun!), below are some of the top free apps for iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys:
Google Maps for mobile
Available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
What is Google Maps? The app offers free turn-by-turn directions (with voice prompts if you choose to turn them on) whether you're travelling by car, by bike or walking.
How does it work? Most smartphones now come with Google Maps pre-installed, but the service itself works best with devices that support Google's operating system, Android.
The mapping itself is like normal Google Maps, but less detailed. However, It moves fast and follows where you're going, so you can see if you're going the wrong way.
Pros: It has a simple POI search and can be integrated with other Android and Google Apps, for example, "check in" wherever you are to let your friends know you're there with Google Latitude.
Cons: This app requires a constant data connection, so isn't that handy if you're lost in the middle of nowhere and can't get a 3G signal. Also, the "navigation" aspect is still being tested, so may not always be accurate.
Available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry.
Waze GPS & social traffic app
Available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
What is Waze? Waze is a free GPS and social traffic app, available on iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys.
How does it work? Powered completely by its users, you can build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation to improve your daily commute.
Pros: Once your route's planned, should other "Wazers" report any traffic jams, road works, etc you'll automatically be re-routed based on live road conditions.
Cons: While it's free to download, unlike Navfree it needs a constant data connection to work.The UK mapping for the app only began this year, so isn't that developed. Waze says: "It'll be a little while until the app delivers its full value."
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