Recently I've been swamped with successes from the new marriage tax allowance, which gives many couples a free £212. It got me thinking, what are the other benefits of being coupled up? So I've pulled together key twosome tips and perks - with some you need to be married, but most allow any MoneySavers to, ahem, do it together.
Must be married or civil partners
Just cohabiting doesn't do it, ONLY marriage (incl civil partners) counts.
1. One of you a non-taxpayer, the other paying basic 20% tax? FREE £212. Over 3m couples are missing out on an easy, but under-publicised, tax break launched last April. It lets the non-taxpayer give £1,060 of their tax-free allowance to the taxpayer. This means £1,060 of income they were taxed on at 20% is now tax-free - a £212/yr gain. Apply now for this tax year, and get it for every year going forward.
As a rather flattering Debbie emailed: "Easy, we've a backdated refund and saving of £200+/yr. Who needs to win the lottery when you've Martin Lewis?" Full info & how to get it: Marriage Tax Allowance.
2. Full service breakdown cover, £42 for two. Our top-pick full service breakdown cover (ie, home start and onward travel) AutoAid is £42/yr and covers any car you drive, and spouses too, at no extra cost. A joint policy can also be cheaper than two single policies with the AA & RAC. See Cheap Breakdown Cover.
3. You can pass on your inheritance tax allowance. When you die everyone can leave an 'estate' (all property, savings, valuables) worth up to £325k without inheritance tax coming off it. Yet there's never tax on what you leave to your spouse if they live in the UK, and if you die, their allowance rises by the amount you didn't leave to others. So if you left them everything they could leave £650k tax-free. Inheritance Tax
For ALL couples - married or not
These work for all couples - and sometimes even just friends. But most need a TRUSTING financial relationship. Think very carefully before doing any that involve giving away your savings, or taking on others' debt. You may also like my five tips for a happy relationship blog too.
4. Get a £6,000 boost toward your first home together. If you're a first-time buyer, save in a Help to Buy ISA and the state will add 25% on top towards a mortgage deposit, up to a maximum £3,000. And if you're buying together, GET ONE EACH, so that's a maximum £6,000 (if one of you has owned before, the one who hasn't can still get one).
You're allowed to save £1,200 in month one and £200/mth after. Even if buying soon, it can still be worth it, as Laurence emailed: "Thanks to MSE, me & my partner both opened Help to Buy ISAs in December. [Now we're buying] we've got the min £1,600 each, and will get a total £800 bonus." Full FAQs and best buys in Top Help to Buy ISAs.
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5. Yes, you can shift your partner's debts to your 0% card. If you've a better credit history than them & they've costly credit card debt, you may be able to do a 0% balance transfer for them. This is where you get a new card, preferably at 0% interest, that repays debts on old card(s) - so you owe it instead but at a far cheaper rate. Do this and the debt transferred becomes YOUR debt, not theirs.
A) First see if you really need to, ie, if they can do it themselves, by both using our balance transfer eligibility calc to show what cards you'll be accepted for without hitting your credit scores.
B) If you need to help them, officially some cards say you can only transfer from a card in your name. We asked the major firms with good deals if they allow it.Barclaycard is the pick of those that have confirmed they do - its longest card's up to 37mths 0%* with a 2.45% fee, or if you can pay off quicker, up to 20mths* with no fee, or up to 32mths 0%* for a low 0.72% fee. Ensure you clear the card before the 0% ends, or they jump to 18.9% rep APR. See major lenders' policies.
Balance transfer savings can be huge, as Paul emailed: "I'd never done a transfer before but thanks to your weekly email I transferred £6,900 onto a 0% credit card, saving me in excess of £1,500 interest at 16.9%."
6. Love is... getting a YEAR'S 2for1 cinema together for £2ish. This is all about our Meerkat Movies year's 2for1 for £2ish trick, letting you go together to most big cinemas on Tue & Wed but only pay for one. Andy found it easy: "Thanks, I got travel insurance for £2.50 and gained 2for1 cinema tickets for a year. No-brainer."
7. Unmarried? Your partner has no status under law - if you die they may not get the house or even the kids. Even if you've been together 37 years and have 6 kids, if you die will-less, in some circumstances your partner may have no rights over the home. It's worth checking out - see Cheap & Free Wills. Plus unmarried fathers may not automatically get the kids if the mother dies, unless the right forms have been filled in. See Parental responsibility.
8. Together, you can save up to £60,000 tax-free at 3% interest. Easily the best-paying savings vehicle for a decent whack is the Santander 123* bank account. It pays 3% interest if you've £3,000 to £20,000.
On your own you can only have one account, but couples can have THREE - one each, one joint, covering up to £60,000. Plus from 6 April, the new personal savings allowance means tax-free interest.
The account does have a £5/mth fee, but for most that's covered by the cashback it pays on bills. As Andy emailed: "Took your advice. Got a Santander 123 joint account then opened individual accounts for my wife and I. Estimate I've generated £2.5k per year. RESULT."
You need to ensure you pay £500/mth in to each, with 2 direct debits set up (if necessary, £1/mth to a charity). See Best Bank Accounts.
9. Love is... 33% off train fares. The Two Together Railcard gives the two named on the card 1/3 off fares if travelling together (after 9.30am weekdays). It usually costs £30, but there's currently a 20% off Two Together cards code. As Flo tweeted me: "@MartinSLewis Our Two Together Railcard paid for itself on one journey. Go me."
If you've kids and buy tickets for them, the Family & Friends Railcard (also with 20% off) is an alternative. See Cheap Train Tickets.
10. Free travel insurance for two with one joint bank account. The fee-free Nationwide FlexAccount* gives a decent free European travel insurance policy up to age 75 (good for older travellers when policies are expensive). And with joint accounts, you're both covered. So you could just add your partner, even if they won't use it, to get them free cover. Full info incl eligibility criteria in Nationwide FlexAccount info.
For straight cheap travel insurance, if you live in the same home, joint policies can be cheaper, especially if you're of similar age (as prices are age dependent). For one annual worldwide cover with winter sports policy I checked, it was £46 for a single person but just £83 for joint. Most joint policies let you travel separately, but always check.
11. Two drivers can be cheaper than one with car insurance. It may seem counter-logical, but adding a 2nd driver can bring insurance cost down, especially if the 2nd driver has a good record. This happens because they decrease the risk average (only put them as 2nd driver though - unless they're genuinely the primary driver, or it's fraud).
Usually this trick works best for younger people adding parents, then some can save £1,000s. But it can work for partners too as SouthoftheRiver posted: "Insurance renewal £800, added husband - £700". Full info and more tips, including cheap multi-car policies, in Cheap Car Insurance.
12. Love is... getting 5% cashback together for SIX months. Cashback credit cards pay you for spending on them. The big payer's Amex Everyday* (eligibility calc) at 5% cashback (max £100) for the first 3mths. Yet there is a way for couples to get six months at 5%.
Eg, Janet applies, making John 2nd cardholder, so both get the 5% cashback. After, John applies, making Janet 2nd cardholder, to bag another 3mths at 5%. Once they end, mainly use one person's card as the rate afterwards is tiered up to 1.25% depending on how much you spend - though spend at least £3,000 on each as that's the min to get ANY cashback.
Cashback can add up, as Mike tweeted: "£330 cashback this month, just for using an Amex card for everyday stuff. Thanks @MartinSLewis :)". Ensure you set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month so there's no 22.9% rep APR interest wiping the cashback gain. Full help and how to use it in Top Cashback Cards. Also APR Examples.
13. Bigger saver? Put the savings in the lower taxpayer's name. From 6 April, basic-rate taxpayers can earn up to £1,000/yr savings interest tax-free under the new personal savings allowance (PSA) (higher-rate taxpayers £500). If you may go over, you can put some of your savings in the lower earner's name to max out the PSA and any tax paid above it. With joint accounts, interest earned is assumed split 50:50.
14. Boost your home-buying power with a joint mortgage. It's possible to take out a mortgage in just one name, meaning the other person's income isn't included, though the whole household expenditure may be. Buy together and pooled salaries will increase your buying power. Full info in our free First Time Buyers 2016 and Remortgage 2016 guides. For best deals use the Mortgage Comparison tool.
15. A warning... joint products link your credit file. When it comes to credit scoring, we are usually assessed as individuals. But sometimes you're linked, meaning their file can be taken into consideration.
This doesn't happen because of marriage or living together, but ONLY due to joint mortgages, loans, bank accounts and sometimes utility bills (note credit cards aren't included as they're 2nd cards, not joint). So with the tips above, don't get joint products if your partner has a bad history. See Boost your credit score.
This article appeared in the weekly email on 16 March 2016.
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