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Oct 07

This week: Over 50 ways to save incl... NEW Sky hike, M&S sale, energy myths, £120Amzn + hot bband, Govt student U-turn, urgent PPI, Hi-Tec 60%

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"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 10m who get it each week."

07 October 2015
Martin's Briefing: 1.69% first-time buyer mortgages
£183 for yr's line, b'band + £120 Amzn
Free tool to reclaim bank account fees
Bag cheapest Xmas train tix TODAY
Urgent: Fight Govt student loan U-turn
Hi-Tec 60% off code (eg, £23 shoes)
£35 cashback on 37mth 0% debt shift
Beat NEW Sky price hike
PPI deadline: Reclaim NOW or try again
Should you leave heating on all day?
M&S up to 60% sale (eg, £10 dress)
£110 of Ciaté nail polish £25
Tesco Wine 500pts on £60 spend
When you MUST show boarding pass
Mag beauty freebies, incl £11 Nails Inc

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

Cheap first-timers' mortgages, eg, 2yrs 1.69%

First-time buyer need-to-knows - from low rates to Help to Buy ISAs

Now's a stonking time to get a mortgage. Rates are close to rock-bottom - some with a 20% deposit may pay just 1.69% for a 2yr fix or 2.69% for a 5yr fix (with chunky fees). This doesn't automatically mean it's a great time to buy though - a big part of the decision is house-price moves, but no one truly knows what'll happen.

Instead, look at your finances - is your deposit big enough, income stable, credit score good and can you afford repayments? If so (especially if buying doesn't cost much more than renting) it may be YOUR time to buy. Here are 14 quick tips...

1. Cheap mortgagesIt's all about the deposit - I say you need 10%. I know the Chancellor's pumped 5% deposit Help to Buy mortgages (see point 4), but rates are horrid. So push to get over the 10% threshold, where they plummet. Here are some examples of the cheapest open-to-all 2yr fixes with similar fees on a £150,000 home, on a 25-year repayment mortgage (though always check for YOUR best deal).

- 5% deposit: 3.98% so monthly payments of £751
- 10% deposit: 2.38% so monthly payments of £598
- 20% deposit: 1.69% so monthly payments of £491
- 40% deposit: 1.19% so monthly payments of £347

As you can see it gets cheaper again at 20% or a huge 40%, but the really big change is 5% to 10%. If you've less, can you wait?
2. FREE 60-page First-Time Buyers' Booklet. A mortgage is most people's biggest expenditure, so make sure you really know what you're doing. My fully updated guide takes you through step-by-step. As Katie tweeted: "Just read the First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide from start to end. Martin Lewis knows his stuff."

- First-Timers' Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
- Remortgage Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
- Buy-To-Let Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
3. The new Help to Buy ISAs are a no-brainer. From 1 Dec, first-time buyers can save for any mortgage deposit (not just Help to Buy) in one. For every £200 you add, the Govt adds £50. See Help2Buy ISAs.
4. Yet the Help to Buy scheme itself is mostly irrelevant to you. Under the Help to Buy guarantee scheme, the Govt gives LENDERS an assurance that helps them offer more 5% deposit mortgages. It's worked, there are more. Yet when you choose, the fact it's Help to Buy makes no difference.

The separate Help to Buy new-build scheme is different & needs some reading. Full info on all in our Help to Buy & Other Schemes guide.
5. Benchmark your cheapest deal at speed. OK, so mortgage rates are low, yet many factors affect your top deal. To find your cheapest we've our...
  Mortgage Best Buy Comparison Tool
First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Best Buy Comparison Tool
(or alternatively, our Remortgage or Moving Home tools)
6. Is your credit score good enough? This has become a huge part of whether you'll be accepted. So a good time in advance, start measuring it - see my 36 tips to boost your credit score.
7. Minimise your outgoings AT LEAST 3mths ahead. Many mortgage applications are rejected for failing affordability checks which the regulator introduced in April 2014 - incl stress-testing it's affordable if rates hit 6-7%. So they'll pore over your expenses, even gym memberships & eating out. See full Affordability Help.
8. Mortgage brokers can help boost acceptance. You can, and often should, use a broker to help find the right deal. They've info unavailable to consumers, eg, lenders' credit and affordability criteria. A good broker can ease acceptance by matching you to the right deal - and the application process is quicker. See Top Mortgage Brokers.
9. Yet brokers miss some mortgages... A few lenders, incl First Direct, Yorkshire Bank & Tesco, cut brokers out and sell only direct to the public. So some brokers can and do exclude them - we suggest you use a broker in conjunction with our mortgage comparison, which has all these deals.
10. A tool to factor in fees to see each mortgage's true cost. The smaller your mortgage, (especially if under £100,000), the bigger the impact of fees. To assess, spread fees over the fixed or tracker period (as after you may shift to another deal). To help, the MSE Total Cost Assessment in our best buys comparison factors both fee and rate for your true cheapest.
11. Interrogate your options with eight calculators. Now you know what rates are possible, use our mortgage calculators to compare deals, find monthly payments, see how much you can borrow & more...
  Ultimate Mortgage Calculator
Eight tools to home in on the right answer for you, incl...
Basic Mortgage Calc | Compare Two Mortgages | How Much Can I Borrow? | Compare Fixed Mortgages | Saving For A Deposit
12. Should I get a fix or tracker/discount? With a fix, the amount you repay is, er, fixed, like buying insurance against possible rate rises. Variable deals move with UK interest rates (sometimes just at the provider's whim). Currently you only pay a touch more to fix.

It's difficult to predict future interest rates, so focus on your finances - the more crucial the surety of knowing what you'll pay, the more you should hedge towards fixing, and fixing longer. If cracking a rock-bottom deal's your focus, hedge towards short-term trackers. See full pros & cons in Fix vs Variable.
13. Don't fall for the hard sell on mortgage extras. Lenders & brokers may try to flog their mortgage life insurance, home insurance or mortgage PPI. These can be expensive so use the links above to check what you need and how to buy cheapest. Also check if you're in the right council tax band.
14. Finally... renting's not a dirty word. Many, especially younger people, think they must move heaven and earth to buy. Yet it's best to ensure you're financially stable before such a big commitment.

If not, you could lose the home or be in negative equity (where your mortgage debt is more than your home's value). Don't push yourself to get an unaffordable mortgage - renting can be a winner (certainly if house prices drop). More in 50+ Renting Tips.

PS, from Martin. I'm in Leeds today filming my ITV Roadshow so the final version of this email is in the more-than-capable hands of the MSE team.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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Pay £183 for a YEAR's EE line rent & b'band and get £120 Amazon vch

Providing you'd use the vch anyway and pay line rent upfront, it's £63 for the whole year - equiv to just £5.25/mth

Home phone and broadband are one of the big bills - typical BT, Virgin, Sky & TalkTalk line and broadband packages cost £300+/yr before calls. Yet as we always say, the key to cost-cutting is pouncing on hot promos. Here's the latest...

  • Cheap broadbandEE line & b'band £183 for a YEAR with £120 Amazon voucher. MSE Blagged. This deal's for a year's EE* contract which includes line rental, weekend calls to landlines & unltd download, up-to-17Mb speed broadband available to 95% of the UK. Anyone can get it unless you're currently an existing EE broadband customer. Here's how it works...

    1. Sign up by 11.59pm on Mon 12 Oct. Go via this EE link* use the code MSE120.
    2. Paying line rental upfront for a year is cheapest.
    It's £165 (or £16.40/mth if you pay monthly).
    3. B'band's £1/mth over the year.
    After it's £9.95/mth but you can leave. You also pay £6 p&p for a 'free' router.
    4. We've blagged you a £120 Amazon vch. It's emailed automatically within 3mths of installation. Important: If you use ad or cookie-blocking software, turn it off or it may not track the voucher (for help, see cookie blockers).
    5. All that means it's £63 for a year factoring the voucher in. If you pay the line rent upfront for a year, the total cost (excl calls) is £183. If you'd spend the voucher at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £63 for the year, equiv to £5.25/mth. If you pay the line rent monthly it's £215/yr, so £95 after the voucher (£7.90/mth equiv).

    - What about calls? Wknd calls to landlines are included, other costs are slightly less than BT (see full charges).
    - No line/switching from cable (or in a few cases, Sky cust)? Installation's £30. You'll know before committing.
    - How's EE's customer service? Middling. In our June survey 29% said it's 'great', 38% 'ok' and 33% 'poor'.

  • Already with EE or want fibre? Some alternatives... There's Sky line & b'band £216 for a year, get £100 M&S vch or for fibre, TalkTalk's fibre b'band & line rent is £394 for 18mths, get £100 Love2Shop vch. For more top picks, see Cheap Broadband.


Urgent: Fight Govt student loan U-turn or many could pay more. It's looking to retrospectively hike costs, breaking a promise. Full info & template to write to your MP: Student loan U-turn + MSE's formal reply.

Hi-Tec 60% off code incl £23 walking shoes (were £53). MSE Blagged. Selected footwear & clothing. Hi-Tec

New. Shift debts to 37mths 0% & get £35 cashback. The new Halifax* card's the joint-longest 0% balance transfer. Accepted cardholders can shift debt for up to 37mths 0% for a 2.75% fee (slightly lower than Virgin's 37mths 0%). Repay quicker & another Halifax* card's up to 32mths 0% - 1.39% fee. Apply for either & shift £1,500+ in 90 days to get £35 cashback, covering much of the fee. On the 32mth, shift up to £2.5k & the cashback's more than the fee. Clear before the 0% ends (& never miss min repayment) or they jump to 18.9% rep APR. Don't just apply in hope, that hits your credit file - first find the odds of getting most top cards via our Eligibility Calc. FULL info: Balance Transfers (APR Examples)

Beat NEW Sky price hike. It's revealed up to 6% inflation-busting line rental & call jumps from Dec. Beat Sky hike

Warning: PPI deadline announced - reclaim NOW & if you've ever been rejected TRY AGAIN. We predicted it last Wed, then on Fri the regulator launched plans for a PPI time-bar. If you've ever had a loan, credit card, mortgage, car finance or other credit, check now if you can claim. Tried before, rejected & didn't go to the Ombudsman? Start again - banks' complaints-handling has been unfair, as snufflemoo proves: "Payout 2yrs ago - £5k. Re-evaluated this week - £13k." Steve said: "Didn't think I had a chance, got £15k this week. THANKS". Full help in Reclaim PPI for FREE.

Should you REALLY leave the heating on low all day? As winter approaches, we present the arguments (it's not always clear-cut), plus loads more tips in our 12-point winter prep checklist.



- EE line & b'band £183 for yr + £120 vch. Ends: Mon

- Hi-Tec 60% off code. Ends: Tue 20 Oct

- £110 Ciaté £25 via advent calendar. 5,000 available

- Tesco Wine spend £60, get 500 points. Ends: Sun

- 50% off Thorntons bundles. Ends: Sun


- Warning: Beware iPhone data trap

- Over 55? Oct is Free Wills Month

- Should I ditch Santander 123?

- Your rights: You've now 30 days to return faulty goods

- P&O £25 Dover-Calais car day-return & 6 bottles of wine


New. Free tool to reclaim bank account fees - 'I got £1,800 back, easily'

Do you pay/have you paid a monthly fee for a packaged account? 100,000s were mis-sold. RECLAIM FOR FREE

We're swamped with success stories from people using our template letters to reclaim mis-sold fee-paying bank accounts. Packages such as Barclays Additions, Lloyds Platinum or NatWest Select Silver cost £10-£20/mth due to 'extras' incl travel insurance. Now we're taking reclaiming a step further with a new free auto-reclaim tool to make it even easier. Full info in Reclaim Packaged Accounts, in short...

  • packaged accountsIs it worth paying a fee for my bank account? These are the Marmite of banking. If you made an active choice to get one, they can be fantastic. Yet if you were upsold as part of a 'bank review' (ie, sales pitch) you may have been mis-sold.

    Work out its annual cost, eg, £15/mth is £180/yr. Could you buy the 'extras' it includes that you use for less? If so, switch to a top fee-free account, eg, free £150 bank switch. If you've been mis-sold, you can still reclaim after cancelling.

  • What counts as mis-selling? Being bad value isn't enough (though it is for cancelling). Our mis-selling checklist has all the key points incl... 1) You weren't actually covered, eg, you were sold it on travel insurance but were over the age limit/had pre-existing conditions. 2) You were wrongly told you had to have the account to get a loan, mortgage or overdraft. 3) You were upgraded without your permission, or without being given fee-free options.

  • New free reclaim tool. Our new packaged bank account reclaim tool is our latest collaboration with complaints site Resolver, merging our template letters & experience with its technology. Enter your details and it helps draft the complaint, sends it, keeps track & escalates it to the Ombudsman if necessary. Pls feedback. Related: Resolver guide. PS: Reclaiming for charges for busting your overdraft is different - see Bank Charges Reclaiming.

  • 'I got £2,300 back'. This campaign is becoming massive, 2nd only to PPI at the Ombudsman. Successes flow in to us constantly, eg, Kate via email: "In 2002 I applied for a Lloyds loan, it told me I needed its Gold Service account to get it. I sent your letter two months ago and today got a call saying I'd get £2,328. Thanks so much." Rona's another: "I received £1,800 from RBS for packaged account charges. So easy using your template."

  • If you need the extras, the top pick's £10/mth. Nationwide's FlexPlus* for £10/mth gives cover for ALL the family's smartphones, world travel ins (max age 74) & Euro breakdown cover. See Top Packaged Accounts.


M&S £10 women's dress, £10.50 men's trousers. Up to 60% off M&S sale. Stock limited. M&S sale

£110ish worth of nail polish £25 in Ciaté advent calendar. MSE Blagged. Calendar norm £49. 5,000 avail. Ciaté

Tesco Wine code: Spend £60, get 500 Clubcard pts (new & existing custs). MSE Blagged. We've blagged 3,500 codes for new & existing Tesco Wine* customers - just enter XXPPGG by Sun (or till codes run out if sooner). The 500 points are worth £5 in stores or up to £20 on Tesco Boost. Full info: Wine Deals. Pls be Drinkaware.

You DO have to show your boarding pass at duty free. Time to clear up the myths in Martin’s boarding pass blog.


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Magazine beauty freebies, eg, £11 Nails Inc polish. Or £8 L'Occitane hand cream, £12ish Ren skincare set, £9.50 Orly nail polish. Via £2-£4 mags. See all magazine freebies.

£14 personalised phone case £2 del. Upload photo of your choice for iPhones & Samsungs. 3,000 avail. Personalised covers

50% off Thorntons bundle codes - stock up for Xmas. MSE Blagged. Eg, £50 bundle £25. Thorntons

FREE £15 winter car check. Normally £15, but there's a promo on till spring 2016. It checks your battery, wiper blades, oil levels, screen wash (filling it up for free if too low) and head & tail lights. Full info: Halfords Deals


Today's the day to bag the cheapest Christmas train tickets

To get cheap train tickets sadly involves tactics - one of those is timing it right, and now's the moment for Xmas

Rail firms must confirm timetables 12 weeks ahead, and most roughly launch their cheap advance tickets then too. There are limited numbers for each journey, so to bag 'em, book soonest. They're starting to be available now until at least Xmas Eve - eg, 23 Dec off-peak Ldn-Manc £20 (£81 on the day), but keep checking over the next few days, or set up an alert for your journey. This is just the start of the tips, see 20 Cheap Train Tricks too - here are a few to get you on track:

  • TrainsBag a cheap single now or wait for a return? As almost everyone now knows, two singles often beat a return. Yet this is especially important for over Xmas, as the week-before's tickets are mostly available now, with the cheapest fares on some routes disappearing, but the majority of after-Xmas tickets aren't available yet. In general we'd bag the cheap single now & another as soon as they go on sale. See Book early for Xmas.

  • Use our Tickety Split tool to get cheaper than the cheapest tickets. Buying two tickets for one journey can bizarrely save you money (even though you're on the same train, at the same time, even the same seat). Eg, a 23 Dec Ldn-Bristol single is £99, but buy Ldn-Didcot (where the train stops, you don't have to change) and Didcot-Bristol and it's just £51 all-in, saving £48. Our Tickety Split tool shows how and where to split and the saving.

  • Are you a family, couple, under 26, student, over 60 or disabled? There's a railcard for you (yes, even couples now) & if you'd spend over £90/yr (even on one journey), as it gets 1/3 off, you save. Is there a railcard for you?

  • Turn a £5 Tesco vch into £10 on trains. You can double Clubcard vchs' value with Red Spotted Hanky (£1 booking fee) or get 50% off Family, 16-25 and Senior annual railcards by using £15 of Clubcard vchs.

  • Or travel UK-wide for £1.50 by coach. Post-Xmas tickets are already on sale for coach travel and if you book now there are still £1 bargain Megabus tickets to be had (50p fee), eg, Manc-Ldn on 27 Dec.


'Free' £10 Tesco gift card with £4ish newspapers. Collect 10 tokens, get £10 for groceries/fuel. Tesco deals

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"That's £212/yr saved thanks to @MoneySavingExp @MartinSLewis - I didn't know about the marriage allowance, thanks for the heads up." - See our Marriage Allowance guide to see if you can cut your tax bill.

Beat smoking this Stoptober - top freebies for quitters. If you're ditching ciggies, we've a raft of freebies to help, incl quit kits, patches, apps & 'tangle toys' to keep your hands busy. See Stop Smoking Tips & Freebies. Plus we've a pack of resources on the forum's Stoptober 2015 page.


Would you buy clothes you knew were made using child labour? There are often questions about the use of child labour to make cheap clothes. If proved, would this affect the way you balance your pocket versus the way goods are manufactured? We last asked this in 2013 and are fascinated to see if views have changed since then.

If it was CONFIRMED a (hypothetical) fashion store sold cheap, child-sweatshop-made clothes, which of these statements would be CLOSEST to your attitude?

Last week 11,602 voted on when they think interest rates will rise. See the full results for their predictions.



- Top story: Going to ANY supermarket? Bring your own bag or risk a price rise

- Morrisons shoppers dealt blow as it axes supermarket price match scheme

- RBS to launch cashback current account, but is it any good?

- Airline passengers to get ombudsman, but they may have to wait till spring to use it

- VW emissions scandal: what does it mean for you?

Should I pay for the groom to eat and drink on his stag do? My friend is getting married next year, and his bride-to-be is insistent that we should pay for his whole stag do, including all his drinks, food and other spending. We're going to Berlin, and only expected to pay for his flights and hotel. Is it fair to ask him to pay? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay for the groom to eat and drink on his stag do? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What are we good at?
- Competitions thread of the week: A trip to New York
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Storing fruit and veg
- Freebie of the week: Filippo Berrio Italian Entertaining booklet
- Game of the week: Lint
- Discussion of the week: Gifted children


- Urgent. Help fight the Government's student loan U-turn that means many will pay more

- You DO have to show your boarding passes at duty free


Fri 9 Oct - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, 10.30am-12.30pm. Watch previous
Mon 12 Oct - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, 10.30am-12.30pm
Mon 12 Oct - Consumer Panel, BBC Radio 5, 12pm-1pm. Subscribe to podcast


Fri 9 Oct - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm. Listen to previous


Q: My car insurance is about to expire and yesterday my car was involved in an accident. Do I need to renew with the same insurer if I make a claim? Forumite sthomas150.

MSE Tony's A: The simple answer is no. Even if you claim after renewal (say, if the accident happened the day before) you can make the claim and switch to any insurer you want afterwards.

If you plan to claim (whether you've done so or not at the point of switching) you must declare the claim to your new insurer, meaning you may lose any no claims bonus.

If you don't intend to claim (ie, you'll pay for repairs yourself) you must still declare the incident to your new and existing insurer.

The saga could change the price of ANY policy so it's vital to do a full market comparison, factoring in the incident, to find your cheapest. See our Cheap Car Insurance guide for how to bag the best deal.

Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).


That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this in the forum: "What's the cringiest money-saving you've witnessed?"

Of course, saving cash is the name of the game here at MSE, but some MoneySavers have seen it taken that bit further - from reusing teabags and weighing slices of ham at the deli counter to find the cheapest, to getting an IOU from the same Secret Santa two years running. Don't be shy, join in and tell us the worst you've seen.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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