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LATEST MONEYSAVING EMAIL

LATEST MONEYSAVING EMAIL

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Feb 25

This week: Over 50 ways to save incl... cheap iPhone 6, earn cash online, what happens to kids if you die? 118 call £183, free £8 Lancome

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

"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."

This week

What happens to the kids if you die?
'I switched prepay energy & saved £140 a year, plus got £15 cashback'
30 ways to earn cash online
New cheap iPhone 6 deal
100-page £80 photo book £19 del and other Mother's Day deals
Beware - the £183 cost of 118 118
Ends Sat: Free £30 M&S food vouch
Free £8ish Lancome beauty sample
Free Martin's First-Timer Mortgage & Remortgage 2015 booklets
Poundshop code incl Calvin Klein
Sales & codes: Aldi £5, Laura Ashley FLASH 37% off, Topman 15%
Hot Diamonds 30% off sale code
Don't believe bank PPI rejections
Free rail ticket split tool
Ask Energy Sec Ed Davey a question
John Lewis 'sale matching' 25% off
5 amaryllis bulbs £13 del
Don't pay unfair private parking tix
'I saved £268/yr leaving British Gas'
5 Plain Lazy women's T-shirts £35
Orange/EE Wednesdays extended
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

Free £150 or 5% interest or travel insurance
There's never been a better time to switch bank - the 10 need-to-knows

Now HSBC's hitting the headlines for moral failings, following Barclays', Lloyds' & others' past misdemeanours. My ears regularly burn with people growling about their bank, yet last year only 1 in 50 people punished theirs by leaving...

If your bank's a b*****d, don't whinge - switch.

And thankfully if you do it right now, other banks are salivating for business, pushing out lucrative perks for switchers. Here are the 10 need-to-knows...

1. Seven-day switching means it's mostly no hassle. Seven-day switching is now over a year old. Within seven working days your new bank will...

- Switch your direct debits and standing orders for you.
- Close your old account & make sure any payments to it are forwarded to the new one.

Yesterday I did a snap poll on my Facebook page. Of 220 who'd switched since seven-day switching began, 82% found it "easy and hassle free", eg, Emma said: "NatWest to First Direct, fantastic. I couldn't have asked for it to be easier." Only 4% of people had problems. See poll results.

What counts as switching to get the perks? For many of the accounts below, to get the perk you need to not just open it but switch. Full account-by-account info in top bank accounts, but in short...

a) You need to pass a credit check, though they're not normally too harsh.
b) Most require a 'min monthly deposit'. In reality it's just how they ensure you pay your income in there. A £500/mth pay in = £6,000/yr salary.
c) Many require you to have a couple of direct debits set up.
2. Get paid £150 to switch. Some banks want you to switch so much they pay you, and this bribe is almost always tax-free. Here they are in size order.

- Free £150 (ends Sat): Clydesdale's* Current Account Direct also pays 2% interest on up to £3,000.
- Free £125 + £5/mth: Halifax Reward* pays you £5/mth (after basic tax) if you're in credit.
- Free £125 M&S gift card: M&S Bank* (via this specific link, if not it's £100). It also has a £100 0% overdraft and linked 6% regular savings account.
- Free £100 + top service: First Direct* always wins our customer service polls (see below), plus it offers a £250 0% overdraft and 6% linked savings. You must pay in £1,000/mth (equiv £13,300 salary) to avoid a monthly fee.
- Free £100 + £25 to charity: Co-op* gives £25 to one of seven charities.
3. Banking Top banks for savings interest: get up to 5%. Instead of cash bribes, other banks try to suck in customers by paying them loss-leading interest rates on savings (which are taxed like normal savings) to keep them with the bank.

- For bigger savers, 3% interest + up to 3% cashback: Santander 123* is the only one which pays strong rates on a decent whack. You get 3% AER variable interest if you've £3,000 to £20,000 in it - more than double the best buy normal easy access savings account.

It has a £2/mth fee but for most that's more than covered as it also pays cashback on direct debits paid from the account. You get 3% back on mobile, phone & b'band, 2% on energy and 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments. As Hannah tweeted: "£260 cashback yearly. Mortgage, broadband, phones, TV, utilities. £504 since opened account."

If you've less and the cashback isn't for you then:

- Earn 4% on £4,000-£5,000: Club Lloyds* pays 4% AER variable.
- Earn 5% on up to £2,000: TSB* pays 5% AER variable.
- Get £5 each month you stay in credit (+£125): Halifax Reward* pays this regardless how much you've got. As it's after basic tax it beats TSB for most averaging under £1,500 in their account even before the £125.
- Want to save monthly not a lump sum? Two 'free cash' bank accounts - First Direct* (free £100) and M&S* (free £125 M&S gift card) - also have linked 6% regular savers where you can save up to £300 and £250/mth.

You can open more than one to save large sums?
But it can be tricky. For all top bank savings and help combining them, see 5% savings loophole.
4. Which pays more - free cash or bank savings interest? As a rough rule of thumb, if you've got £10,000+ Santander 123* always wins. Below that, it's close - to work out which wins, we need to get a little nerdy...

a) How often will you switch? You could switch annually (or more often) to keep bagging free £100s. To earn more in bank savings needs £3,000+. Yet if you just want one account to stick with, as savings pay each year, it wins.

b) Where'd you save it otherwise?
The top savings accounts pay 1.4% AER so you can earn that without switching bank. So if bank savings pay, for example, 3%, then the gain from choosing it as your bank is just 1.6%.

c) Tax. The free cash for switching is tax-free, but interest is taxed like income tax, eg, at basic rate you lose 20% of it (higher rate 40%). So £100 free cash is £100, but £100 interest is £80 (£60 at higher rate).

As you can see there are a lot of variables, but in a nutshell, if you don't want to regularly switch and have above say £4,000 then the high interest current account wins. PS: Also read my Santander 123 v cash ISA analysis.
5. The MSE gold medal for bank service. As we interact daily with our bank accounts, service counts. Our latest six-monthly poll closed yesterday. How much you value service over the pure cash perks above is up to you.

The gold medallist, yet again, is First Direct*, which (as above) pays £100 to switch to it, has an 0% overdraft up to £250, and a 6% linked regular saver.

HOW DOES YOUR BANK RATE ON SERVICE?
Accounts that are best buys elsewhere in these 10 need-to-knows are linked
Rank (a) Provider Great OK Poor
1 First Direct* 92% 6% 2%
2 Santander 123* only (b) 79% 19% 2%
3 Smile 77% 19% 4%
4 Nationwide* 73% 23% 4%
5 Santander (all accounts) 73% 22% 5%
6 Co-op Bank* 72% 21% 7%
7 Halifax Reward* only (b) 60% 33% 7%
8 Halifax (all accounts) 57% 33% 10%
9 TSB* 55% 35% 10%
10 Lloyds* 47% 40% 13%
11= Bank of Scotland 47% 37% 16%
11= NatWest 45% 41% 14%
13 RBS 45% 39% 16%
14 HSBC 43% 41% 16%
15 Clydesdale* & Yorkshire* 43% 40% 16%
16 Barclays 39% 43% 18%
11,935 votes. (a) Ranked via 2 pts for great, 1 for OK, 0 for poor. Excludes banks with sub-100 votes. See full results. (b) Split out for a more accurate rating.
6. How to cut overdraft charges to 0%. An overdraft's a debt like any other, so if you often go into the red, cutting its cost makes it easier to clear.

- Switch to 0% overdraft. First Direct* has a £250 0% overdraft and you can put the £100 it pays switchers towards it too. Nationwide's FlexDirect* may give a bigger 0% overdraft, credit score depending, but only for a year (it's 50p/day after so try to clear by then). Eligibility info: Top 0% overdrafts.

- Shift it to a 0% credit card. A few cards let newbies 0% money transfer - ie, pay cash into a bank so you can pay off the overdraft and owe the card instead. Fluid* is 29mths 0% for a one-off 4% fee, MBNA* is 24mths but with half the fee (1.94%). Our Eligibility Calc shows your acceptance odds.

Follow the golden rules, though. (i) You must ask for a 'money transfer' to do this, don't just withdraw cash. (ii) Never miss a min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0% deal. (iii) Ensure you repay before the 0% ends or they jump to 22.9% rep APR. Full help in our Money Transfers guide.
7. Free travel insurance bank accounts. The Nationwide FlexAccount* is fee-free and includes Europe travel insurance for the account holder(s) up to age 74, (which is when travel insurance gets expensive). You can upgrade to world cover for £40. Full eligibility info and more options in Best Bank Accounts or see Cheap Travel Insurance to compare.

Or pay £10/mth and the Nationwide FlexPlus* gives worldwide family travel insurance, plus smartphone insurance for all the family (kids must live at home) and European breakdown cover. A family needing 'em all could pay £600/yr separately. See Top Packaged Accounts for more options.

As with all travel policies, disclose pre-existing conditions.
8. Fed up with banks? Want something different? Here, we factor in both perks and the rating given by Ethical Consumer, which evaluates behaviour on the environment, human & animal rights, politics and investments.

Here two building societies do well - Nationwide*, its deals I've already featured (see point 7); and Norwich & Peterborough*, its debit card allows cheap spending abroad.

Or for a real change, use a credit union. These are local savings and loan non-profit co-operatives. But while there are about 500 credit unions, not all offer current accounts, so check yours.
9. Can't get a bank account? There is a way. Sadly more than million people in the UK are unbanked. Yet as long as you've ID you should be able to get an account, though you need to ask the right way. See our full Basic Bank Accounts guide for step-by-step help.
10. Couples can do it better together... And finally, as most bank accounts need a minimum pay-in to get it, if you're a couple living together in a trusting relationship, you can max the gain by working together.

For example, one of you could get a Santander 123* current account, using it for savings and getting cashback on bills. The other could get, say, Halifax Reward* to get the free £125 and £5 each month.

Or one could get Nationwide's FlexAccount* for the travel insurance, but make it a joint account so you're both covered. Joint accounts link your credit files, so don't do it if one has a poor history.


PS: Changing bank doesn't stop you reclaiming for mis-selling.
You can still ditch, switch, then reclaim if you were mis-sold. Full help and free template letters in our Reclaim Packaged Bank Account Fees & Bank Charges Reclaiming guides (avoiding bank charges in the first place is even better though).

Blagged for MoneySavers

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Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
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Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: Payday lenders must be on comparison sites from next year
Airline ombudsman-style scheme set for launch next year
Warning: Don't throw Sentinel redress letters away
Couples can register to shift unused tax allowance between spouses
Industry challenged to do more to protect vulnerable consumers
Spread the (MoneySaving) love
If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via moneysavingexpert.com/tips
Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Wed 25 Feb 2015
What would happen to your children if you died?
How to save £1,000s & avoid life insurance rip-offs. If you've not considered it - it's time to take a deep breath...

One in 30 children will lose a parent before they grow up - I know as I (Martin) was one of them. Sadly, the grief and misery are often compounded by the loss of an income causing a financial crisis. So like making a will, facing this risk is one of those 'deep breath' moments of parenthood. To help we've fully updated our cheap life insurance guide, in short...

  • life insuranceIt can be easy & cheap. The simple option's level term life insurance, which pays a set amount, eg, £200,000, if you die within a fixed term, eg, 18 years. As there's usually little argument about whether someone is dead, provided the insurer's reputable, the cheaper the better. Don't confuse this with mortgage life insurance or other life insurance.
  • How to smash insurer & comparison site prices. Buy from a comparison site and it'll find your cheapest policy, but it gets a huge whack of commission. But you can't cut costs by buying direct from the bank or insurer, they're often at the same price and keep the commission themselves.

    The trick is to use a top discount broker - these give a comparison without advice and for a £25 fee they rebate the commission to you, hugely cutting what you pay each month. The impact is huge. We got quotes on the same day for a 45-yr old smoker getting 25-year level term cover for £200,000 (younger, non-smokers pay far less).

    - FROM BANK:
    This cost was quoted as £76/mth, so £22,800 over 25 yrs.
    - VIA COMPARISON SITE:
    The quote we got was £49/mth, so £14,700 over 25 yrs.
    - VIA DISCOUNT BROKER: Here the quote was £44/mth, so £13,225 over 25 yrs incl the £25 fee.
  • Five level term life insurance need-to-knows
    1. Confused or unsure what you're doing? Forget the cheapest, get independent advice from an advisory broker.
    2. How much to cover? The rough rule is 10x the main breadwinner's income until kids finish full-time education. See full how much to cover info (& check you don't already have an employer's 'death-in-service' cover).
    3. Is inheritance tax likely? If you've big assets, putting life insurance in trust means it's not liable for it.
    4. Declare pre-existing conditions. Don't lie or hide anything, it could mean the policy isn't valid.
    5. Already got a policy & quit smoking? Get a new quote. If you stopped at least a year ago costs could be halved.

New cheap heavy user iPhone 6 deal - unltd mins, texts & 4GB of 4G data. MSE Blagged. New iPhones aren't MoneySaving, but if you're going to get one we want to show you how to do it for less. Pay £33.49/mth on a 24mth EE contract via Mobile Phones Direct, plus use code 'MSE1' on the silver*, gold* or grey* 16GB handsets and the £75 upfront's reduced to £40 - £844 for 2yrs all in. Unusually this is cheaper than buying the handset outright and pairing with a Sim-only. This is the top deal for heavy users - for full analysis and low user options, see iPhone 6 best-buys.

100-page £80 hardback photo book £19 deliv. MSE Blagged. Do it now in time for Mother's Day. Plus £45 canvas for £16 code, see all photo deals. And 1,000 £35 Mother's Day candle bundles with items that sell for £93 separately.

'Just been charged £183 for one call via 118 118'. Beware hideous charges, see Martin's £183 for 118 help.

Last chance. Free £30 M&S food voucher via credit card freebie. Ends Sat. Get an M&S 19mth 0%* card (will you be accepted?) via this link, spend 1p or more on it by 31 March and you'll be emailed a £30 M&S food & wine voucher. You could just spend the penny, pay it off, then cancel, or it is a best buy 0% card anyway if you NEED interest-free borrowing - though do repay it before the 0% ends or it jumps to 18.9% rep APR (APR Examples). Applying can have a minor impact on your credit score. Full pros & cons in application help.

Free £8ish Lancôme beauty sample. Choose from two 5ml serums at your nearest Lancôme counter. 500,000 avail

'I switched PREPAY energy and saved £140/year, plus got £15 cashback'
Don't think if you're on a key/card gas & electricity meter you're locked in - many can still compare switch & save

Sadly, those on prepayment meters usually pay more than those on billed meters, and have less choice. That doesn't mean there's nowt you can do - it's still worth taking five mins to do a comparison on the Cheap Energy Club. As Kate tweeted Martin: "Didn't think I could switch as on prepay meter but switched this AM saving £140 a year plus cashback."

TOP PREPAY TARIFFS AT TYPICAL USAGE
Full comparison to find YOUR actual price
Fixed till Exit fees Cost/yr Cust service
Expensive prepay - - £1,434 -
Scot Power May 17 None £1,205 17% great
58% poor
E.on (1) Variable None £1,205 53% great
14% poor
New EDF March 17 None £1,227 55% great
12% poor
Based on Ofgem typical usage, varies by region. Source: MoneySupermarket.com. (1) Plus 1,500 E.on points which can be exchanged for up to £60 Tesco rewards.
  • Speedily compare your tariff. No spiel - switching prepay tariffs isn't as lucrative as for others, yet many can save. The Cheap Energy Club lets you compare & gives £30 dual fuel (£15 elec only) cashback if you switch. It monitors the tariff after in case rates rise, and emails if you need to switch again.
  • There are prepay fixes. As your comparison will show, finally there's a bit more choice for those on prepay. Fixes let you lock in at a set rate, ensuring no price hikes (the two in the table last till spring, 17). Though of course use more & you pay more. And if things change, these two let you leave when you want without any early exit penalties.
  • Can I switch if I owe my supplier? Yes, if it's under £500 per fuel (many are switched to prepay due to debts).
  • Would I save switching to a billed meter? This is what most people have, where usage is measured, and you're billed after. While some prefer prepay for budgeting, pay a billed meter by direct debit on the cheapest tariff, and on the usage in the table you could pay nearer £900 a year, not £1,200. Not everyone's allowed to change though, and some suppliers charge for changing - to investigate read our Shift To A Billed Meter help.

New. Free MSE First-Time Buyers' Mortgage 2015 and Remortgage 2015 60-page booklets. We've updated our First-Time Buyers, Remortgage and Buy-to-Let guides for 2015. Related: Mortgage Best Buy Comparison.

Poundshop.com 10% off £20 code - incl Calvin Klein make-up. MSE Blagged. Ends Tue. Items include Flash cleaning products, Calvin Klein make-up & Pedigree pet food. Plus free delivery (norm £2). Poundshop.com deals

SALES & CODES: Aldi £5 off £40, Laura Ashley FLASH 37% off, Matalan 20% off £40
Voucher: Aldi £5 off £40 via paper. Flash Sale: Laura Ashley 30% off + extra 10% off Thu only, works on most things.
Codes: Topman 15% | Miss Selfridge 15% | £27 Converse, £23 Vans via 20% off | Hotpoint extra 30% off
Matalan 20% off £40 | H&M 10% off + free delivery | See ALL codes & vouchers

Hot Diamonds 30% off sale code. Branded jewellery. MSE Blagged. Discounted women's diamond jewellery, eg, teardrop earrings £21 (were £60), bronze bracelet & charm £28 (was £75). Free p&p. Hot Diamonds

Don't believe PPI rejections - 82% of Lloyds rejectees who go to the ombudsman win. Shameful figures from the ombudsman this week show banks again seem to be rejecting people knowing they'll win at the ombudsman, in the hope they won't take it further. Don't be fobbed off. Full Reclaim PPI for free info and see Bank-by-bank figures.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard
36mths 0%, 2.99% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

No fee 0%: Santander*
15mths 0%, no fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

MoneySupermarket*
Confused*
Direct Line*
Aviva*
Admiral MultiCar*

Clydesdale* (£5k - £7.5k)
4.7% rep APR



Sainsbury's* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.6% rep APR


Post Office 1.5% AER
Min £100, incl bonus
Online. Transfers allowed


Coventry BS 2.25% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018


See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Free split ticket tool can save £££s. The cheapest Ldn-Newcastle standard fare is £154, but splitting tickets it can be £21. Tickety Split

Ask Ed Davey (Sec of State for Energy) a question. He'll be at MSE Towers next Wed making an announcement. Suggest your questions to him via email, the forum or tweet using #AskEdDavey. Live stream here

John Lewis 'sale matching' Debenhams up to 25% off ALL DEPARTMENTS. Till Sun, D'hams has up to 25% off (some depts 10%, eg, beauty) and John Lewis is matching an, ahem, "unnamed competitor's" sale. High St sales

5 amaryllis bulbs £13 del (next cheapest £31). Bright plants. Ends Mon. 2k avail. This is the way to amaryllis

30 ways to earn cash from your sofa
Click at home and make money - just watch videos, write, Google, make your own YouTube clips & much more

There are many work at home scams out there. Truth is, outside conventional work, there are few ways that really pay. Yet we do have 30 (legit) ways to earn cash online in our guide - though think a wee income boost, not a proper wage.

earn cash online - Get paid to Google. A browser add-on pays £5ish/mth to click ads when you search.
- Give your views. Dedicated survey-fillers can make £800/yr with our Top 20 Survey Sites.
- Write copy. Web content brokers pay £5-£30 per piece, eg, ads & travel descriptions.
-
Check shops' prices. Free app Field Agent pays up to £10/job to check prices/snap photos.
- Pen product reviews. DooYoo pays up to 60p/review - rate anything from TVs to toasters.
- £25ish/mth to watch vids & play games. Swagbucks pay for ads/market research, and you get a cut - plus sign up by Fri for £10 worth of M&S/Amazon vouchers once you accrue £5.
- Make watchable video clips. Upload home-made YouTube clips and get a cut of ad revenues. Forumite Sophie Christie says: "I made £6,375 last year - and used my earnings to help buy a car." Read her full story.
- Get paid to scan shopping receipts. Earn up to £10/mth in vouchers. It's invite only but - join a waiting list. ShopandScan

Don't pay unfair private parking tickets. We've been saying it for years, now the RAC Foundation thinks a court case may mean millions could reclaim past fines. Full help in Fight Private Parking Tickets & see Legality of parking fines to be tested in court MSE news story.

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"After hearing Martin on TV every week (and basically ignoring him), this morning I kicked myself up the butt and I have saved £268/year moving from British Gas."
Give yourself a kick up the butt too. Use Cheap Energy Club to compare and see if you can save on gas and electricity.

£110 Plain Lazy women's T-shirts for £35 code. MSE Blagged. Lucky dip of 5 T-shirts (norm £22 each). 700 avail

Orange/EE Wednesdays 2for1 extended at Vue Cinemas & PizzaExpress. Orange/EE custs can get 2for1 cinema tix every Wed till 25 Mar. At PizzaExpress EVERYONE can get 2for1 mains every Wed till 18 Mar. 2for1 Deals


Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines

Compare, get £30 dual fuel cashback & alerts if your deal's no longer cheap. Go via the free MSE Cheap Energy Club Top Pick Fixes Comparison.

The savings can be huge. Someone with typical dual fuel usage on a big 6 standard tariff pays £1,158 a year, the cheapest deal's £918.


First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service


Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...

Confused.com*
Compare The Market
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£11/mth (pay a yr upfront)



Post Office*
with weekend calls
£12/mth (pay a yr upfront)


Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
Show Vouchers and Top Deals

Restaurant vouchers

Discount vouchers

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
Show Money Saving Community
The MoneySaving Community

THE GREAT HUNT
Why did you give your kids or teens a prepaid card?
We want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on why you gave your offspring a prepaid card. What did you look for in a prepaid card for them? What rules did you set up in how they use them? How did you find the security facilities on the card? What features do you like or dislike? Share yours/read others': Why did you give your kids a prepaid card? Past topics: View all

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA
Should I ask to take the rest of the wine bottle home?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... We often go out to dinner and order wine at the restaurant. Sometimes, especially if we've bought a second bottle, we don't finish it all. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK to take the rest of the wine bottle home? | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Girl Online signed by Zoella.
Five copies blagged for MoneySavers. Want to get your hands on one?

CHEAP FLIGHT SALES ALERT
Airline: Jet2* Offer: 10% off all flights Ends: Tue 3 Mar
Our pick this week is Jet2's* 10% off all flights sale, which ends Tue 3 Mar. Each passenger gets 10% off the cost of any flight (includes taxes, but excludes some charges and extras) between 29 Mar 2015 and 30 Apr 2016. It flies from seven UK airports to more than 50 European destinations. There is no code to enter, the discount appears automatically. Excludes group bookings (10+ people). Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

THE GREAT HUNT... REVEALED
Cheap packing materials for moving home

We asked for your top tips on moving home without spending a fortune on packing.
You said boxes were easy to get by asking in hospitals, retail parks and McDonald's, while there was often spare bubble wrap in supermarket fruit and veg sections. You also had novel ideas, including stashing cutlery in Pringles tins and filling pillowcases with books.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's appearances (from Wed 25 Feb onward)

Thu - Good Morning Britain ITV 7.40am Deals of the Week. Watch past shows
Fri - This Morning ITV from 10.30am 90 Second Savers. Watch last week's
Mon - This Morning ITV Martin's Money Monday from 10.30am. Watch last week's
Mon - Consumer Panel BBC Radio 5 12.15pm-1pm. Subscribe to podcast

Once a week not enough? Follow all our tips on Twitter and Facebook.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

How much is a pint in your local?

Forumites typically pay from 99p to a fiver for a pint in their local areas. We'd love to find out how much a pint costs in your neck of the woods. Can you get one with your spare change or do you find yourself having to resort to large notes to cover the cost? Tell us how much a pint is in your local.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 135.01 121.50
US Flag $ 152.91 137.61
Turkish Flag TL 371.05 321.86
Rates correct at 3pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Which services do you pay cash in hand for?

Poll results

How do you rate your bank account's service?
You've once again chosen First Direct as top dog for service.

- 92% of First Direct customers voted its service "great"
- 79% of Santander 123 customers voted it "great"
- 18% of Barclays Bank customers voted it "poor"

11,935 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q. I fixed my mortgage at 2.79% for five years a couple of years ago thinking rates would have risen in that time. I could have fixed for two years at less than 2%. But rates haven't risen. In fact, they're much lower. Did I make a mistake? Philip, via email

MSE Helen's A: When you decided to fix your rate, you made the best decision you could with the information available to you at the time. You, and indeed many economists, expected interest rates to rise in that time.

It may have been cheaper for you to fix at a lower rate for a shorter period, and then perhaps take out another fix now as rates are lower.

But this doesn't mean that you made the wrong decision. You wanted to ensure you wouldn't pay any more in interest if rates did rise, and you got that certainty with the deal you went for, even though the outcome wasn't what you wanted. Martin's penned his thoughts on this very issue, telling you why you shouldn't look back in anger...

And remember, even if you had chosen differently, there's no surety you'd have qualified for a rock-bottom rate now - particularly if your credit score or circumstances have changed, as banks have significantly tightened their lending criteria since you took out your original deal.

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

 Nick's free game of the week: Ball Brothers

What is astronomer an anagram of?

That's it for this week, but before we go check out this super collection of anagrams from forumite Gunte. If you're stumped, highlight the space to the right of each word and you'll see the answer.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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