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This week: Over 50 ways to save incl... Black Fri deals, free Xmas £100, Selfridges 20%, solar panel warning, 6% kids’ savings, La Redoute 50%

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25 November 2015
Martin's Briefing: Ends in 8 days: Hidden British Gas £270/yr saving
Urgent: Free £100 in time for Xmas
Black Friday PREVIEW: Early access codes, confirmed deals & predictions
Urgent: Don't delay on solar panels
6% kids' savings - great Xmas gift
Shhhhh - Selfridges 20% off code
Buy £25 Ikea Xmas tree, get £20 vch
La Redoute 50% off EVERYTHING
£19 for 100-page photo book
Experian credit score dropped?
BMX bikes 30% off code
Top 37mth 0% debt shift ending
6mths' FREE music streaming trick
Hot home ins deals, incl £80 M&S vch
'I saved £312 on Virgin Media'

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

8 days left. Hidden British Gas £270/yr saving

Too many people are burning cash to keep warm this winter - urgently take five minutes to see how much you're throwing away

British GasI don't know whether to GRRR or BRRR. It's cold, so energy use is rising, but 7 in 10 UK homes frustratingly still overpay by an average 35%. Yet it's EASY to sort. It takes minutes to find your cheapest, then it's switched in 17 days. And don't worry, there's no service break - your heating stays on.

The impact can be huge. As Rachel tweeted me: "@MartinSLewis Consider myself money-savvy, but just done your energy supplier swap and saved £548 a year". To find out just do a comparison. If you want to know more...

1. Hidden British Gas tariff - £270 cheaper. Ends Wed 2 Dec. British Gas has a 12mth dual fuel, direct debit fix, ie, the rate is locked in. For someone with typical use it's £805/yr, compared to £1,075/yr on BG standard or Fix & Fall. Leave it early and there's a £60 exit fee.

It's not just for new customers. Existing BG custs (incl Sains Energy) can get it too and it'll waive any exit fees for these internal switches.

Helen tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Thanks. We moved from British Gas to British Gas and saved £600/yr. Can you get kids to turn lights off too?"

Sue tweeted: "Hurrah - switching supply to BG, paying £541/yr less."

How to get it:
When I say it's 'hidden', that's not a dig at BG - it's just you can't get it direct as it's a collective switch (where an intermediary asks energy firms to bid to provide a tariff) via MoneySupermarket.

As we're part of the same group, our Cheap Energy Club has the British Gas 12mth fix & we give £30 dual fuel cashback (even if you're switching BG to BG), which you won't get via MoneySup. As your price depends on usage & location, we do a full comparison.
2. How it compares to the best elsewhere. Since the BG tariff launched, a few small providers have undercut it, with both variable (so prices could rise or fall once you get it) and fixed deals. Here's a chart based on typical use at average prices, yet always compare for yourself to see YOUR prices.

Are you overpaying? (varies by region, based on typical use)

Full top picks comparison to find YOUR actual price

Tariff Cost (1) Cashback (2)
Typical big six standard cost £1,095/yr -
British Gas 12mth fix (MoneySup) £805/yr £30 dual fuel
GB Energy - Cheapest variable £787/yr None
Extra Energy - Cheapest 12mth fix £798/yr £15/fuel
First Utility - Cheapest long fix (ends 12/17) £915/yr £15/fuel
(1) For dual fuel, paying by direct debit. (2) Via Cheap Energy Club.

Warning. Extra Energy has the WORST results in our new customer service feedback poll - 80% say it's poor. GB Energy is new-ish so we've only limited feedback, though what there is is decent.

British Gas is rated 38% great, 34% OK and 28% poor. Do factor service in as well as price when you do a comparison.
3. Unique unlimited-use tariff - fixed price regardless of use. With fixed tariffs, while the rate is fixed, of course if you use more, you pay more. However there is one totally different deal...

Green Star Unlimited* is a 12mth dual fuel tariff where what you pay is locked in regardless of use. While not that cheap, it's good for those, including many elderly people, who want to turn the heat on and not worry. See my full Green Star unlimited energy - any good? analysis.
4. Ensure your bills stay permanently low. I've mentioned our Cheap Energy Club above, but wanted to explain a bit more. To use it (not NI sadly), fill in your details based on where you live and usage. If you don't know that, it can estimate. Then it...

- Does a full market comparison to find YOUR cheapest.
- Gives £30 dual fuel cashback (£15 elec-only) if it can switch you
. Suppliers pay switching sites £60ish, we split it & send within 90 days.
- Monitors it stays cheap. You set a trigger, eg, £150/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again. Perfect for short-lived cheap fixes.
Energy switching Q&A
Q. I've only got electricity - can I save? Not with BG, but the other cheap deals allow electricity-only switching. Someone on a standard tariff paying £1,000/yr would pay about £750/yr with the cheapest. So do an electricity-only comparison.
Q. I'm on prepay (key or card meter) - can I switch? Not with the tariffs above, but someone with typical use on a standard prepay tariff pays £1,170/yr - the cheapest is £1,050/yr. So do a prepay comparison.

Also check if you can move to a cheaper billed meter for free - full help in Cheap Prepaid Energy. Plus prepay users should get a voucher for the £12 Govt elec rebate. If you haven't had one, check with your supplier.
Q. Can I take my tariff with me if I'm moving house? This is known as 'portability' - some tariffs are portable, some aren't. Of those above, BG can move with you - the others can't.
Q. I'm £100s in credit with my energy firm - will I get it if I leave? It should give you this money once you've switched. Many do it automatically, but make sure you ask if not. In the past they used to operate a 'don't ask, don't get' policy, so if you've switched previously see Reclaim Past Energy Credit.

If you're in debt, you can switch, unless it's huge (eg, £500+ on prepay). Though you will still need to pay it off.
Q. I'm scared and confused about switching - is it worth it? Yes. It's far better to go for it than pay more while waiting. Our Cheap Gas & Electricity guide explains in detail - these pointers should help:

- Your new firm tells your old one - you just give a final meter read.
- You WON'T lose supply during a switch or if a supplier goes bust.
- It's the same gas, the same electricity, the same safety.
- The only thing that changes is customer service and price.
- Some firms do a credit check, incl BG. To find out what this means and a full list of who does what, see energy credit check help.
- You can't be charged exit fees to switch in the last 49 days of a fix.
Q. Is it worth switching now? The last year's seen a hidden price war - while standard tariffs haven't moved, the cheapest deals keep getting slightly cheaper. And that looks likely to continue (see energy price predictions). Yet switch now and you save immediately. Even if prices do drop in future, the savings over winter should outweigh this.

As for whether to fix and lock in a price, the benefit is if things change (and the market has switched direction rapidly before) you've certainty your rate won't go up. And if worst comes to worst you can always leave and pay the exit fees - usually trivial compared to the savings.
Q. Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day? If you've just turned your heating on and are wondering how to keep bills low, we present the arguments (it's not always clear-cut) plus loads more tips on how to save energy in our Energy Mythbusting guide.
Q. Struggling to pay? Get extra help this winter. Too many people need to choose between heating and eating. Yet there's help...

a) Winter fuel payments. If you were born on or before 5 Jan 1953, you're eligible for the up-to-£300 winter fuel payment.

b) Cold weather payments. Those on certain benefits, eg, Jobseeker's Allowance/pension credit, get £25 for every seven days it's sub-zero. It's paid automatically from 1 Nov. Cold Weather Payments

c) Really struggling to pay? There may be special tariffs/help. Try the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699 & see Housing & Energy Grants.

The Martin Lewis Money Show - Help to Buy ISAs

Wow - Monday's bank switching & Xmas deals show got our highest rating ever, 4.1m. Thanks if you watched - if you missed it, watch again here. Next Mon 8pm ITV (Tue Scot, Fri NI), it's on the new Help to Buy ISAs, cutting mortgage costs, when your student loan wipes and a shortcut to blag extra codes from shops.

Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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Urgent. Free £100 in time for Christmas (or £150 if you can wait)

Time's running out on bank account switching bonuses. Do it now to get big cash or cash in time for Christmas

Some banks want your business so much they pay you tax-free cash to switch to them. Better still, as many are best-buys it's a win-win, so why not give yourself an Xmas treat? Full options & FAQs in Best Bank Accounts - in short...

  • Ends 30 Nov. Free £150 + 2% interest on up to £3k. Sister banks Clydesdale's*/Yorkshire's* Current Account Direct pays the biggest free cash, £150, but go quick. It also pays 2% AER interest on up to £3,000 in it.

  • Want the free cash in time for Christmas? That's unlikely with Clydesdale, but definitely do-able with Halifax Reward. With M&S* and First Direct* as the table shows there's no certainty, though in practice they tend to pay reasonably quickly so there's a decent chance, if you get your skates on, to fulfil their criteria.


All credit-score you. To get the bonus you need to use their 'switching services'.

Account & Switching Bonus Key account benefits MAX wait for the cash
Halifax Reward - free £100 Pays £5 each month you're in credit c. 12 days (1)
M&S Bank* - free £100 gift card No min monthly pay in. £100 0% overdraft, 6% regular saver c. 39 days (1)
First Direct* - free £100 No.1 for service, £250 0% o'draft, 6% regular saver c. 53 days (2)
Clydesdale* - free £150 (3) 2% interest to £3k, 9.9% EAR overdraft c. 85 days (2)

(1) The timetable starts after you switch, which takes 7 working days, so we've added 9 days. Halifax is 3 working days after, M&S up to 30 days. (2) Timetable starts after you switch, set up direct debits & hit the min pay-in - we allow 15 days. First Direct is up to 28 working days after, Clydesdale up to 70. (3) Also, sister bank Yorkshire*.

  • Do you earn enough to get 'em? As well as a credit check, and requiring you set up direct debits, banks also set a min monthly deposit - a way of saying "pay your salary in" (there is a workaround). The exception's M&S*, so it's great for those with irregular incomes. Halifax's min is £750/mth (equiv £9,150/yr salary), First Direct & Clydesdale £1k/mth (equiv £13,200/yr salary).

  • Got savings? 3% interest may be better. Santander 123* pays 3% AER on balances of £3,000 to £20,000, plus up to 3% cashback on bills, which usually wipes out its £2/mth fee (rising to £5/mth in Jan, see Martin's Will it still be worth it? analysis). Plus earn up to 5% for smaller amounts - see Top Interest-Paying Bank Accounts.


It's Black Friday week, which means stores are pumping out deals galore, and they change daily. This is just a taster - see our full Black Friday Deals page and get regular updates from our MSE Deals Twitter & MSE Deals Facebook feeds. And beware impulse buys - our aim's to show you how to cut the cost of what you'd have bought anyway.

Black Friday EARLY ACCESS codes incl... Hi-Tec 50%, Ralph Lauren 20%, £104 Body Shop £42, Urban Outfitters 30%. MSE Blagged. Get discounts early, while stock's at its best. Black Fri early access

Black Friday CONFIRMED deals incl... £56 Burt's Bees £24, 2for1 dry cleaning, magnum of Prosecco £10, M&S 30%-50%, John Lewis price-match. Plus Sports Direct, Nike, New Look, Illy coffee machines. Black Friday Deals.

Black Friday PREDICTIONS incl... Gap 30%, Asos 20% off, River Island 20%, Disney Store 40%. Plus Laura Ashley extra 10% off 30% sale. A full list of our Black Friday Predictions.

Shhhhhh. Selfridges 20% off code & vch. Thu-Sun. It won't confirm but we've found out... Selfridges Deals.

Buy £25 full-size Xmas tree at Ikea, get £20 voucher. Starts Thu. An offer many pine for. See Ikea Tree Deal.

La Redoute 50% off EVERYTHING code incl its sale, eg, FCUK, Levi's etc. Wed-Mon. Men's, women's & kids' clothes, shoes, bags & accessories, homeware, Xmas decorations. ALL half-price with this La Redoute code.



- Hi-Tec 50% off. Ends: Mon 30 Nov

- Ralph Lauren 20% off. Ends: Mon 30 Nov

- Urban Outfitters 30% off. Ends: 11.59pm Wed 25 Nov

- Body Shop £104 bundle for £42. Early access ends Friday

- Burt's Bees 20% off code. Ends: Monday

- £19 for 100-page photo book. Ends: Thu 31 Dec

- BMX bikes 30% off code. Ends: Wed 2 Dec

- Hot home insurance deals, incl £80 M&S vch. Ends: Monday


- Free broadband speed test

- Free Santa letters (including Braille)

- £27 off free-range Christmas turkey bundle

- Hot Diamonds 35% off + 'free' necklace

- 50,000 'free' Megabus tickets (50p booking fee)


Warning: Use savings to buy solar panels NOW - delay could cost £400/yr

From Jan returns are likely to be slashed. If you've a suitable house, there's still time to grab this lucrative option

Solar panels not only reduce your electricity bill; you GET PAID for generating energy, even if you use it. Yet the Govt's consulting on slashing the payout from the end of Jan. If so, it'll no longer be worth it for most people. Even if the Govt doesn't go the whole hog, returns'll likely drop. So if it's right for you, go ASAP. Full help in Solar Panels - in short...

  • Solar panelsHow much can solar make? With savings rates dire & looking to remain so, panels can be a lucrative alternative. Of course, first check if your home's suitable. Based on typical £6,500 panels (using data from the Energy Saving Trust), you gain by...

    1. A lower elec bill. You can use the elec as it's generated, saving around £65/yr.

    2. You're PAID the 'feed-in tariff'.
    You're paid for generating elec even if you use it yourself, c.£435/yr. Yet the proposal could mean those getting it AFTER 31 Jan will only get £55/yr.

    3. You're PAID the 'export tariff'.
    It's on half the elec generated (what you're assumed not to use), c.£85/yr.

    So in total that's a £585/yr return, which means the panels pay for themselves in 11yrs. The rate is LOCKED IN (plus rising with RPI inflation) for 20 years - so you should be seriously quids in. Yet if the Govt proposals happen, the return's just £205/yr, so the payback time will be over 30yrs - longer than the guarantee.

  • When will the consultation announcement come? It's likely to be mid-December; and then whatever cuts are due will come in 40 days later, so that's why we're saying the end of Jan.

  • Is there still time to beat this? Yes. The rate is FIXED FOR 20YRS from when your panels are registered. Some firms can install & fit in c. one month, so there's just time to beat the big deadline (the rate drops a touch anyway on 1 Jan, but not hugely). If it's right for you, go quick & ask installer for a time estimate. Full help: Installing solar


£19 for 100-page photo book (next cheapest £52). MSE Blagged. Landscape (A4-ish) or square. £19 photo book

Has your Experian credit score suddenly dropped? It's shaken up how it does them. See Experian'ced change?

BMX bikes 30% off code, eg, £200 kids' model £140. MSE Blagged. Wheelie good deals at Chain Reaction.

Ends Mon. Shift debts to 37mths 0% and get £35 cashback. Apply for this Halifax 37mth 0%, 2.65% fee* card by 30 Nov and you get £35 cashback if you shift £1,500+ within 90 days. How good? It's the joint longest 0% available, and the fee's only a smidgen higher than Barclaycard at 2.55%, so with the cashback it's a big winner. Will you be accepted? Use our free eligibility calc to find out without affecting your credit-worthiness. Warning: Never miss min repayments & clear the debt before the 0% ends or it's 18.9% rep APR. Full info: Balance Transfers (APR Examples)

Trick - get a FREE 6mth subscription for ad-free music streaming (norm £60). This Deezer trick's a doozy - see our Deals Hunter blog.


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Ends Mon. Hot home insurance deals, incl £80 M&S vch. MSE Blagged. Get combined buildings & contents via this Together Mutual* link to get £80 M&S, or use this L&G* link and the code GIFT17 for £70 M&S. They arrive within 120 days. Warning: We're only saying to get quotes, not that these are cheapest - always compare with results after combining comparison sites.

Watch the Autumn Statement with us. Wed 12.30pm. Join Martin on Twitter for translation, MSE Twitter for news.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I was paying over £90/mth for broadband, TV & phone with Virgin. Following your haggling tips, I phoned up and told it I could no longer afford it. It reduced my payment to £64/mth, saving me £312/yr. It also threw in a new hub and increased my internet speed. Thank you MoneySavingExpert."

Free £5ish Malibu hot chocolate. Show vch on phone (excl Scot). Works in 188 bars. Free hot choc. Be Drinkaware


Top 6% children's savings

Christmas is coming. Grandparents & parents - instead of piling present after present, why not teach kids to save?

Saving for children's futures is a lovely gift. Better still, if they're old enough, get them to monitor the rate and see if anything better arrives. Then they also get the gift of financial education. So here's our kids' savings masterclass.

  • Kids SavingsTop 6% kids' savings. Put £10-£100 in monthly and the Halifax Kids' Regular Saver pays a fixed 6% AER for a year (no withdrawals allowed). For putting lump sums in, Nationwide is 3% AER (max £50k) allowing one withdrawal a year; HSBC pays 3% (max £3,000) and you can withdraw whenever you want. See: Top Kids' Savings.

  • Top Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds. These are tax-free savings you can put up to £4,080 per tax year in, locked away until they're 18. Kids aged five to 13 would've got a Child Trust Fund (CTF) - younger or older are eligible for a Junior ISA (JISA).

    You can choose an investment or savings product with both. The top savings JISAs are Coventry BS and Nationwide at 3.25% AER variable. The top CTF is Yorkshire BS 3% AER, yet you can now convert CTFs into JISAs so that's a better deal. Full info, incl how to transfer, in Top Junior ISAs & Top CTFs.

  • Aren't kids' savings tax free anyway? No. They pay tax just like grown-ups, ie, they can earn up to £10,600/yr tax-free. Yet as most children don't earn that, their interest isn't taxed (fill out an HMRC R85 to get it paid gross).

    However if they generate over £100 interest a year from money given specifically by a parent (not grandparents, uncles etc), then all of it's taxed at the parent's rate. This is to prevent parents stashing cash in their kids' names. It's one of the main reasons for considering Junior ISAs (see when to use a JISA) and NS&I children's bonds. Also see Martin's Kids' savings tax changes from April 2016 blog.


£10 West End theatre tickets incl Guys and Dolls & The Gruffalo. Get in early if you've got a Mastercard. For Jan/Feb shows. London theatre

Free London tube, train & bus travel MONDAYS till 14 Dec but... You need to have Mastercard & Apple Pay. Free London travel.

Help to Buy ISA ONE WEEK TO GO. Next Tue heralds the launch of Help to Buy ISAs. 14 banks & building societies have now committed to offering them but so far NONE have published rates. Full help & updates: Top Help to Buy ISAs



Is the landline dead? How many of your (non-work) calls, made and received, are on your home phone compared to mobile/web calls?

Last week 5,452 voted on what they thought of their energy company's service. Good Energy topped our poll for the third time running with an incredible 96% of its customers who voted claiming it has great service. The silver medallist in our last poll, Ovo Energy, maintained a high rating, with 85% of its customers who voted rating it 'great'.

At the other end of the scale, Extra Energy took the wooden spoon for the second time running with 80% of its customers who voted rating it poor, followed by the once-good Co-op on 76% poor. See the full results.



- Top story: Ryanair passengers to be able to complain to Ombudsman Services

- Millions of Barclaycard and Lloyds credit card customers face higher interest rates

- Barclaycard and Tesco Bank customers given free access to credit scores

- More providers to offer Help to Buy ISAs



Should I share my referral bonus? I told a friend of mine about a job going at my workplace as I knew he was looking, and told him to put my name down so I could get the referral bonus. He got the job and I've been paid, but now I'm being asked if I'm going to share it - should I split it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I share my referral bonus? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Saving For Christmas
- Competitions thread of the week: Family holiday to Disney World Florida
- Old-style board thread of the week: My war on waste
- Freebie of the week: Free personalised Santa video for kids
- Game of the week: Izzi
- Discussion of the week: I hate Christmas... who's with me?


- Trick - get 6mths' FREE music streaming (norm £60)



Thu 26 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 27 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 30 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am.
Mon 30 Nov - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 30 Nov - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.


Thu 26 Nov - Black Friday, MSE Steve - BBC Radio Leicester 10.10am, BBC Radio Leeds 11am
Thu 26 Nov - Share Radio, MSE Helen K and MSE Rebecca, 11am
Fri 27 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 1 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.30pm



Q: My daughter is about to become the main driver of my wife's car - my wife will now drive mine. Can my daughter, who's currently a second driver on my wife's policy, be given any no-claims discount from our current insurer? Or will she have to start from scratch? Alf, by email.

MSE Tony's A: First you need to call up your current insurer to ask it to make your daughter the main driver. This is vital because if you don’t disclose this information it’s known as ‘fronting’ and is fraud. The insurer will then tell you how the change will affect the cost of the policy - it may well be more expensive.

As far as the no-claims discount is concerned, it’s the policyholder who earns this entitlement for each claim-free year. As your wife has been the policyholder until now (and your daughter was only a second driver), it will be your wife, not your daughter, who’s earned any no-claims discount to date - unfortunately it can’t be transferred.

If your daughter stays with the same insurer though, it’s possible she may be offered an introductory discount. Get a quote from your current insurer and use this as a guide but check elsewhere as well - see our Young Drivers' Car Insurance and Cheap Car Insurance guides for our full cost-cutting system.

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 thread from the forum. Did you ever spend hours flipping through the new Argos catalogue? Well, one site has archived catalogues from as far back as the Seventies. The prices have certainly changed but that's not the only thing. Keep an eye out for the, erm, lovely hairdos on the models.

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

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