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WEEKLY EMAIL 12/09/2012

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This email was sent
12th Sep 2012
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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 8m who get it each week."

This week

Last cheap energy fix ends FRI
19% code for M&S 50% off Outlet
Totally free toothbrush / toothpaste
2x designer specs £44
50% off Sky TV
Ocado mega-discount deal
Free Youth hostel card
3,000 Tesco pts with FREE insulation
Debenhams / J Lewis 25% off
£16 annual travel insurance
23 months 0% debt shiftcard
20% off Oasis, Warehouse etc
'Free' personal 2013 photo calendar
£19 Travelodge Rooms
50 student MoneySaving tips
New cheapest 5.7% loan
£69 Kindle
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

It's 100 days till Christmas (groan)
Early action pays. 10 do-NOWS that'll save £100s on the big day

It's too early to celebrate (grrr to grottos in August), but not too early to prepare. This Sunday, it's 100 days to Christmas. Here are the must-dos...

1. Try some DemoHoHotivation. www.demohohotivator.com shows you how much you can save with small sacrifices to boost your Christmas cash. Cut out a cappuccino and muffin every working day to have £290 more.
2. Bag 5% off ALL Xmas shopping. Capital One's Aspire World* credit card pays a big 5% cashback (max £100) on ALL spending in the first 99 days (up to 1.25% after). Apply now to use in Xmas spending period and ALWAYS set up a monthly direct debit to fully repay to avoid the 19.9% rep APR.

Poor credit score? Get 3% cashback. Designed as a credit-rebuild card, Aqua Reward* pays 3% cashback (max £100/yr) on all spending. It even accepts some with older CCJs or defaults, though ALWAYS fully repay or it's a huge 34.9% representative APR. Full help: Top Cashback Cards & Official APRs
3. student guideWarning: Xmas is due 25 Dec this year. Surprised? Unlikely. So why are so many skint in Jan as if it crept up on them? A typical family's Xmas spending is £600, too much for Dec's income alone. So work out your likely spend and put a quarter aside in Sept, Oct and Nov.

If that's too much, cut your cloth accordingly. Too many set themselves up for debt or disappointment by asking themselves: "What do we need for the perfect Christmas/Eid/Chanucah/Diwali?" Instead, to avoid ruining the new year, work out your budget and ask: "What's the best time we can have with this amount of cash?"
4. Don't use Tesco vouchers for festive food. A £10 voucher is worth just £10 in-store, yet you can triple its value (£10 becomes £30) on gift items such as jewellery or breakdown cover. Plus, I suspect in Nov it'll relaunch its in-store 'double-up' scheme, letting you get 2x value on selected items, possibly incl frozen food. See Reclaim Tesco Vouchers (some find £100+).
5. Ban Christmas presents? Christmas isn't a retail festival. Yet gift inflation sees people give to an ever-widening glut of extended family & colleagues. The joy of giving can be selfish if it obliges someone to unaffordably buy you back. Read my Ban Xmas Gifts blog and consider a No Unnecessary Presents Pact.
6. Got it & don't need it? Flog it now for fast Xmas cash. Many old items can be worth serious cash. Our MobileValuer comparison finds the best payer for any handset - sometimes you get £100s. Plus see eBay Selling for tools & tips on getting max value for any wares at the online auction giant.
7. Comp for Crimbo prezzies. If you've nowt to sell, try comping - systematically sourcing and entering 100s of the right competitions using web gadgets. From cars to 5-star USA holidays, MoneySavers have won it all. No guarantees, but why not try it? Full help in the Comping guide.
8. Hidden up-to-70% Amazon & eBay discounts. For stocking fillers, the Amazon Discount Finder manipulates web links to create bargain pages, eg, Toys 50%+ off* & Beauty 70%+ off* . Or try the Local eBay Deals Mapper which finds 'pick-up only' deals with fewer bids, so they are cheaper.
9. Pounce on deals then pop 'em in your Christmas cupboard. If you're buying gifts, put a 'Christmas cupboard' aside, create your list, and be prepared to pounce when discount vouchers or bargains appear (eg, in this email). To instantly compare shop prices, use MegaShopBot.com and keep an eye out for Photobook & Canvas Codes.
10. Don't borrow for Christmas, but if you do, ensure it's 0%. Far better to budget, but no matter what I say, some'll borrow. If so, the longest 0% SPENDING credit card for new cardholders is Tesco's 16mth 0%*. Yet plan repayments, ideally to clear it before next Christmas; definitely before the 0% ends as it jumps to 16.9% representative APR. Full help in Top 0% Cards.

This is just the start. See the full 40+ Christmas MoneySaving Tips and join forumites in the Let It Snow: Christmas 2012 festive fans thread.

Do us a favour? If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via moneysavingexpert.com/tips

Blagged for MoneySavers

Did you miss?

Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss 12 September 2012
Cheap energy fixes: TWO down, last one closes by FRI
If you've not listened to our nagging yet, do it TODAY. Beat hikes, save £250+. Last chance to bag a doozy

As we predicted last week, two of the three super-cheap fixes have been pulled. With Big 6 energy firm SSE hiking prices 9% in Oct, and others likely to follow, this is the last chance to lock in a super-cheap pre-rise price.

  • energy fixesUrgent: Cheap fix until 31 Dec '13. A fix guarantees no price hikes for a set time. Normally fixing costs more, but currently the market's cheapest tariff is Scottish Power's* fix, so most can lock in and save. Better still, it has no exit penalties, so if a cheaper deal launches, you're free to switch. It'll close to newbies by Fri at the latest.
    Closed to new customers Friday 14 Sept.
  • How cheap is it? A typical home on a standard tariff pays £1,310/yr (pre-hikes) but this deal averages at £1,050 for the same. After it closes, the next cheapest fix is £40 more and has exit fees.
  • You can't compare it. This Scottish Power tariff's been replaced on comparisons with a costlier (£1,099 on use above) but 2mth longer fix. So the best you can do is take 4% off that for a rough price – worth checking especially if you’re on an old best-buy as some may not save. If you choose a different fix (variables are likely to rise) & switch via these links you get cashback after 3mths. Top comparison: £15/switch Energyhelpline*. Dual fuel: £30 cash via MoneySup* & a crate of wine at uSwitch*. Full info: Cheap Gas & Electricity

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EXTRA 19% off M&S online Outlet (up 50% off).✔ MSE blagged. Get a 10% off code for M&S's online Outlet, which can be combined with its newsletter sign-up 10% off. See M&S Deals. (PS. Yes, 10% off 10% off is 19% off.)

FREE £1.50 Aquafresh toothbrush or toothpaste. Just sign up online, sent for free. Aquafresh Deals

Lying scum cold callers pretending to be from MSE. Fraudulent firms are exploiting our good name to rip people off. Spread the word - we NEVER call, mail or knock on doors. Sadly, even one of the MSE team's mum was duped.

2x designer specs £44 delivered (incl Jeff Banks & Bench). Combines code, sale & 2for1 offer. Cheap Glasses

50% off Sky TV code
1,000 codes blagged for MoneySavers, so go quick | Existing customers, magic can happen if you haggle

With the Olympics no longer gracing our TVs, viewing top-notch sport costs. So we've blagged a Sky code to help...

  • cheap sky 50% off code plus £50 M&S vouchers - can save £500/yr. If you're new to Sky (or cancelled it over 12 months ago), we've 1,000 codes that get 50% off all Sky TV packages including Sky Movies, Sky Sports and Sky World. On the full package (question if you really need it) that's nearly £50/mth off. See Sky 50% off code.
  • £100 cashback for existing customer upgrades. If you're planning to upgrade your existing package, some cashback websites give cash, eg, Sky+ to Sky+HD £100 or take Sky Movies or Sports for around £20. See Cashback Upgrades for more info.
  • Paying too much already? Haggle. Sky came 2nd (Virgin 8th) in our 'best firms to haggle with' poll, with 83% (80%) of those trying succeeding. If you're overpaying, tell 'em, and If necessary, ask for 'disconnections' (after all, Freeview's not bad). Which internally is known as 'customer retentions' and has much more deal discretion. For example: "Half price for 6 mths, then half price for another 6 mths, because I suggested I'd move to Virgin." See Digital TV Haggling Tips and report successes/failures.

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Ocado mega-deal: £40 gets £50 groceries + 6mths free del + year's 10% off. Newbies' discount at the online grocer. Pay £40 for £50 of shopping, plus a £50 delivery pass and a year's 10% off 600 branded goods, already Tesco price-matched. See Ocado Deals

FREE under-26 Youth Hostel Association card (RRP £9) or £5 for oldies (RRP £14). Phone or pick one up from your nearest hostel this Sat ONLY - family cards are half price too. These get £3 off pp/night at 4,000+ hostels. Full help and locater in YHA Deals.

Get 3,000 Tesco pts (worth up to £120) with FREE insulation.✔ MSE blagged. All with a suitable home getting free loft/cavity wall insulation (worth £300ish) now gets 3,000 pts worth £30 convertible to £120 of deals: Free Insulation

25% off almost EVERYTHING at Debenhams and John Lewis matching it. Ends Sun. Cross-store D'hams sale, and whaddya know? John Lewis is price-matching an 'unnamed' competitor's 25% discount. Sales Diary

£16 for a year's travel insurance
Heading off soon? Check if policy's expired. Cover's needed from when you book, not go

If you've booked a holiday but no insurance, you're not covered if it's cancelled. This includes weekend breaks common at this time of the year. We've updated our Cheap Travel Insurance guide with all the top prices. Here's a taster.

  • Cheapest policies. Trip away even twice a year and annual policies usually win. Below are our best buys, but if you've time for a full comparison, slightly cheaper's sometimes possible via MoneySup*, which also wins for finding single trip deals.
Annual policies Cheapest Europe Cheapest worldwide Top value pick
Lowest prices (FSA-regulated policies meeting our min cover levels) Incl past payout record & feedback
Individual Age 18-40 Travel Guard* £16-£20
41-65
HolidaySafe* £23-£26
18-35 Protect Your Bubble* £31
36-65 HolidaySafe* £37-£40
Direct Travel* Europe £37-£53 World £56-£81 (+£20 for catastrophe cover)
Family / Couple 18-35 Protect Your Bubble* £36
36-65 HolidaySafe* £42-£46
18-35 Protect Yr Bubble* £44
36-64 Diamond £58
Direct Travel* Eur £70-£100 World £106-£153 (+£40 catastrophe cover)


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New top 0% balance transfers. Accepted new cardholders can now shift debts to Barclaycard* for 23mths 0% (2.8% fee) or Tesco* 22 mths 0% (2.9% fee). Repay before the 0% ends, or they're 17.9%-24% rep APR: Best Balance Transfers

20% off Warehouse, Oasis and more...
Oasis 20% off In-store and online | Warehouse 20% off Online code | Body Shop £10 off £20 Online code
American Apparel £10 off £40 via newsletter sign-up. Full list in Discount Vouchers.

'Free' £10 personalised 2013 photo calendar (£2 p&p).✔ MSE blagged. Only 4,000. See Photo Prints & Deals

£19 Travelodge rooms. Travelodge still has 13,000 rooms at £19 for stays until 18 Nov. See Cheap Travelodge Rooms

Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
23 mths 0%, 2.8% fee

(17.9% rep APR)

Low fee 0%: Fluid*
15 mths 0%, 1.5% fee

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

MoneySup*
Confused*
Direct Line*
Aviva*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsburys* (£5k - £7.5K)
7.1% rep APR
(Need Nectar card)

Tesco* (£7.5k - £15k)
5.7% rep APR

(via MoneySup link)

Manchester BS 3.06% AER
Min £1,000. Incl bonus.
Postal only. Transfers allowed.


Santander* 3% AER
Min £500. Incl bonus.
Transfers allowed

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

£41m of Premium Bonds prizes unclaimed - are any yours? Many forget to update their NS&I contact details so huge prizes sit unclaimed. Check if you're due a prize and use our updated-for-Sept How likely am I to win? Calculator

Pay £9 for BHS £20. Buy £9 voucher via daily deals site and get £20 to spend at BHS online. 20,000 avail. BHS Deals

50 student MoneySaving tips
Grab FREE cash to study | Are you due a tax rebate? | Bag biggest 0% overdraft

Whether a new starter or an old-timer, we've 50+ Student Tips, Deals & Discounts for the academic year. Here are a few...

  • student guideCouncil tax discounts and tax refunds. Students are council tax-exempt so all-student homes don't need to pay; see how to split the bill if sharing with non-students. If you had a summer job, but won't earn £8,105+ this year, you may get a tax refund.
  • Free cash to study. There are lots of pots of money if you know where to look, from scholarships for doing a degree, to grants for women in need who want to further their career after having kids. Find Education Grants & Scholarships
  • Top Student Bank accounts: With student banking, the key is getting the biggest guaranteed 0% overdraft. Up to £2,000 is possible - see Top Student Accounts. For existing students, unless you apply for an increased overdraft you won't get it - even if it's guaranteed. See Don't Ask, Don't Get Overdrafts. Next week... Student Finance Guide.

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New cheapest 5.7% loan (£7,500+). Tesco's* launched the cheapest loan we've seen since 2007, at 5.7% rep APR for £7,500-£15,000. Full best buys: Cheap Loans (Official APRs). Never borrow more than you need, & plan repayments.

New cheaper £69 Kindle launched today (Wed) A new, £20 cheaper, wi-fi e-book reader. See Cheap e-Book Readers for full info.

Under 3 weeks left to reclaim £100,000+ for elderly care. Many older people in England have paid for care when the NHS should've. This money's being repaid, but the deadline to start is 30 Sept. Reclaim Care Costs For Free

Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Compare, switch & get cashback

Energyhelpline*
£15 per switch

MoneySupermarket*
£30 dual fuel

uSwitch*
6 bottles of wine

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*
CompareTM*
Direct Line*
Aviva*
Get quotes in this order...

Primus Line Rental Saver*
£7.99/mth


BT Line Rental Saver*
£10.75/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Free Budget Planner Free MSE car sticker £16 Travel Insurance

Restaurant vouchers

High street sales

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
The MoneySaving Community

MSE Charity community grant applications. The next funding round for charities/groups involved with financial & consumer education projects is now open. Only the first 40 applications that meet the criteria are considered. Full info: The MSE Charity. Related: MSE's Charity Fund, How This Site's Financed

SPILL THE BEANS | ...on how to minimise loo paper use
Toilet roll is expensive, so using less saves money & the environment. So do you go up a brand for quality, stick with savers, or even use old-school style tracing paper? And any special techniques for reducing the amount used? (Warning: Not for the faint hearted) Spill 'em: Reduce toilet roll use Past topics: View all

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK | Shelter - stop unfair letting agent fees
Housing charity Shelter is investigating letting agents' unfair practices harming landlords and tenants in England. Its survey shows one in four people have been charged unfair fees - have you? Take its Letting Away With It survey. In Scotland, fees are illegal - find out how to get them back. Suggest a campaign: This is for MSE to support work by other charities, groups and campaigners. Send your campaign of the week suggestion.

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA | Should 13-yr-old's pal pay for his iPhone?
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... My 13-yr-old saved up for two years to get an iPhone, which he bought six months ago. Last week one of his friends pushed him in a river and now it no longer works. Phone recycling companies won't offer more than £50 for it and though it's covered by my home insurance, the excess makes it not worth claiming. Should he ask the person responsible to contribute? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should 13-yr-old's pal cough up for iPhone? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

BOOK GIVEAWAY result | OUCH! 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one.

CHEAP FLIGHT SALES ALERT | Airline: Flybe Price: From £30 each way Ends: Wed 12 Sep (Today!)
Our pick this week is Flybe's from £30 each way flights. It's on various routes & dates for travel until Thu 31 Jan 2013, and includes taxes & charges. Flights incl Birmingham to Amsterdam for about £30 each way. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £50 one way max search. 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

SPILL THE BEANS... REVEALED | Ways to cut the cost of learning to drive
There were lots of moneysaving tips in response to last week's topic, including some directly from driving instructors. The most popular tip was to go with a reputable instructor in the first place, since you're likely to learn quicker. Having DIY lessons with Mum/Dad for practice can also save £££s, as can taking the test in your own car.

Quick forum tips

Andrea's freebies

Martin's blogs

Martin's Appearances

Thursday 13 September
Shelagh Fogarty, Radio 5, 12-1pm.
Consumer Panel.
Listen to past shows.

Tuesday 18 September
Daybreak, ITV1, between 7am & 8.30am.
Subject tbc.

Cheap travel money

UK's best currency rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 124.36 113.38
US Flag $ 159.06 145.26
Turkish Flag TL 280.50 253.18
Rates correct at 4pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Where's best to haggle on the high street?

Which of these 40 chains have you tried to haggle in and did you succeed?

Aldi Currys / PC World M&S Superdrug
Apple Debenhams Miss Selfridge Tesco
Argos Game Monsoon TK Maxx
Asda GAP / Banana Repub Morrisons Topshop / man
B&Q H&M Mothercare Toys R Us
BHS HMV New Look Warehouse
Boots Homebase Next WH Smith
Burton / Dotty P House of Fraser Primark Wickes
Clarks John Lewis Sainsbury's Wilkinson
Comet Lidl Sports Direct Zara

Poll results

Should car insurers be banned from auto-renewing?

Most of you decided auto-renewing policies were acceptable but with a few catches. Out of 10,526 votes, 21% said it was fine if premiums hadn't been hiked, and 28% wanted the choice of opting in. Another 12% preferred to see an "opt-out" system, while 37% voted to ban auto-renewals completely. See Full Results

Question of the week

Q: I've heard if you use sun tan lotion a year after you bought it, the SPF is halved (so factor 50 now is 25 next year). Is this true? Can I stock up on cheap, reduced sun tan lotions now for next year? Amanda, by email.

MSE Becca's A: That's not quite right. Buying cheap, discounted lotions now should be fine (and will save you money). Bevis Man from the British Skin Foundation says: "The main thing to keep an eye on is the Period After Opening (PAO) number on the back of the bottle."

This normally looks like a jar with an open lid with a number next to it (eg, 12 or 24). This is the number of months you ought to keep and use the product for before throwing it away once opened.

"Sun tan lotions may, given time, start to separate and become less effective, so it's always worth noting down on the bottle when it was first opened."

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

Board of the week

The Marriage, Couples & Family MoneySaving Board

Share advice and tips on family-related moneysaving. Recent discussions include £1 FlipFlops - Wedding Favour, Funeral clothes for a toddler and Freezer food to prepare.

Archna's free game of the week: Sticky Linky

Water Wigs!

Amazing pics of bald men with water filled balloons exploding to give them mad hair. Water Wigs

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

Important. Please read how MoneySavingExpert.com works

We think it's important you understand the strengths and limitations of this email and the site. We're a journalistic website, and aim to provide the best MoneySaving guides, tips, tools and techniques - but can't promise to be perfect, so do note you use the information at your own risk and we can't accept liability if things go wrong.

What you need to know

  • This info does not constitute financial advice, always do your own research on top to ensure it's right for your specific circumstances - and remember we focus on rates not service.

  • We don't as a general policy investigate the solvency of companies mentioned, how likely they are to go bust, but there is a risk any company can struggle and it's rarely made public until it's too late (see the section 75 guide for protection tips).

  • We often link to other websites, but we can't be responsible for their content.

  • Always remember anyone can post on the MSE forums, so it can be very different from our opinion.

Please read the Full Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and how this site is financed. Martin Lewis, MSE, Money Saving Expert, MoneySavingExpert and Moneysavingexpert.com are registered trademarks belonging to Martin S Lewis.

More about MoneySaving Expert and Martin Lewis

What is MoneySavingExpert.com?

Founded in February 2003, it's now the UK's biggest consumer help website with over 6 million people getting this email and nearly 10m using the site. Its focus is simple: how to save cash and fight for financial justice on anything and everything. The site has over 30 full time staff about half of whom are editorial researching, analysing and writing to continually find ways to save money. More info: See About MSE

Who is Martin Lewis?

Martin set up and runs MSE, he's an ultra-focused money saving journalist and consumer campaigner. He has regular slots on Daybreak, Lorraine, Radio 2 Vine, BBC1 Watchdog, Radio 5 Consumer panel and presents ITV Tonight. He is a columnist for amongst others the Sunday Post as well as an author. More info: See Martin Lewis' biog

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As we believe transparency is important, we're including the following 'un-affiliated' web-addresses for content too:

Unaffiliated web-addresses for links in this email

capitalone.co.uk, aquacard.co.uk, amazon.co.uk, tescobank.com, scottishpower.co.uk, energyhelpline.com, moneysupermarket.com, uswitch.com, travel-guard.co.uk, holidaysafe.co.uk, protectyourbubble.com, direct-travel.co.uk, ehicplus.com, staysure.co.uk, globaltravelinsurance.co.uk, barclaycard.co.uk, fluid.co.uk, confused.com, directline.com, aviva.co.uk, admiral.com, sainsburysbank.co.uk, santander.co.uk, firstdirect.com, homephonechoices.co.uk, bt.com.

Financial Services Authority (FSA) Note

Referring people to insurers or insurance intermediaries can in some circumstances require FSA authorisation. For this reason, Martin Lewis of Shepherd's Studios, Charecroft Way, Shepherd's Bush, London W14 0EH is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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