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WEEKLY EMAIL 19/09/2012

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This email was sent
19th 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 This info may be out of date.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

1% fee 0% balance transfer
Sky TV 50% off code
Odeon 30% voucher
2 x specs £24
Burger King 2for1s
Uni fee fear? 20 need-to-knows
Cheapest iPhone 5
Lock in TWO winters' cheap energy
How to cut loo roll use
90% off cosmetics incl £2.99 Benefit
Landline just for b'band? Save £80
Next sale rumour (this weekend)
Free anti-virus & office
20% off Debenhams & BHS codes
£19 Ldn champers afternoon tea
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

Stop paying. 10 things you should get for free
Don't give 'em your cash when you shouldn't pay a penny. Save £1,000s

As the song says, 'the best things in life are free', yet in real life, the next lyric is 'so why do they charge a fee?' They want money, that's what they want...

1. It's a free EHIC, so why pay £15? The European Health Insurance Card gets you treatment at EU state-run hospitals & GPs for the same cost as a local, so if they don't pay, nor do you. It's free to get & renew, but Google it and lookalike sites charge about £15 for processing or "fast tracking" (doesn't exist). See Free EHIC Help for how to get it (incl help if you paid).
2. Don't pay £300/yr for your bank acc, let 'em pay YOU £100. Did your bank call and flog you a monthly fee account? If so, eek. How many of its 'freebies' do you actually use? Multiply your fee by 12: eg, £25/mth is £300 a year. For most (not all), just buying cover is far cheaper - see cheap travel, mobile & breakdown insurance guides. Switch to no-fee accounts instead.

Make them pay YOU £100.
Better still, First Direct*, which has topped every customer service poll we've done, currently pays switchers £100 (min £1,500 /mth income). Earn less? In-credit, Halifax* Reward (min £1,000/mth income) pays you £5 every month. Full updated info: Best Bank Accounts
3. stop payingDon't pay £28 for eye tests, get for nowt. Eye tests cost up to £28 (free in Scot) but this Optical Express freebie* gets you a voucher for a free one. Or it's always no-cost at Tesco opticians (in big stores). Remember, just because they do the test, doesn't mean you need to get glasses there. Free Eye Tests
4. 'I paid £1,150 to insure goods I don't own.' Sounds cuckoo, but it's VERY common. As one MoneySaver said: "Just discovered I've paid £16/mth to insure white goods we've not owned for 6 years." That's £1,150 wasted. Check your direct debits/recurring payments now to ensure you know what everything's for. See the Direct Debit Audit for full help.
5. Perfect exchange rates overseas - avoid hidden 3% charge. Most debit & credit cards charge a 3% load on spending abroad, so £100 of euros costs £103. Yet a few specialist credit cards give near-perfect rates, as they're load-free worldwide, smashing bureau de change rates too:  Halifax Clarity*Post Office*, Saga* (over-50s) & Select* (Nationwide custs ONLY).

If your credit score ain't hot, Aqua Reward* is also load-free and, as it's a poor credit 'rebuild' card, is easier to get, though its ATM fees are higher. With all cards, always set up a monthly direct debit to repay IN FULL, or the gain's lost by 11.9-34.9% representative APRs. See: Top Overseas Cards
6. No need to pay to reclaim PPI - it could cost you £1,000s. While 'no-win, no-fee' sounds cheap, reclaiming PPI is usually pretty easy. Billions of pounds have been reclaimed DIY (claims firms don't get special treatment). So why give 'em 30%? That's £1,500 on a £5,000 payout - when often they just fill in a few forms.

For help & templates, see Reclaim PPI. While we're at it, Council Tax Reclaiming & Bank Charge Reclaiming can & should be done gratis, too.
7. Don't pay to call 0800 numbers from mobiles. Freephones aren't, er, free from mobiles (yet), they cost up to a nasty 40p/min. Yet 0800buster lets you ring them via a local number, so they're part of your inclusive minutes.
8. Going to the USA? Don't pay to arrange a $14 ESTA. Most UK citizens holidaying in the US must pay $14 for an ESTA (permission to travel) that lasts 2yrs or until your passport expires. Again, beware Google - official-looking websites charge unnecessary extras. See the ESTA guide.
9. Don't pay £300 to insulate your house - get paid to do it. Installing loft & cavity wall insulation can cut bills by £300/yr (along with being energy efficient). Each normally costs about £150, but right now you can get paid £30 or 3,000 Tesco points to do it free. See Free £300 Insulation.
10. Don't pay £30 to book a driving test. While you pay £31 to take a theory test and £62-£75 for a practical, there are no booking fees. If you Google, some companies add one. Always book via Directgov.

And to finish, a big one. If you're in debt crisis and need help, don't pay a firm. Use a free non-profit debt counselling agency to ensure the info's right.

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


PS. My new ITV1 show starts next week. I'm excited to have a new primetime ITV series. The (gulp) Martin Lewis Money Show starts Tue 7.30pm and aims to save you £1,000s. First show: energy prices, split ticketing & more. Watch if you can.

Blagged for MoneySavers

Did you miss?

Reclaim PPI for NOWT
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top Story: Co-op blocks bankrupts from bank accounts
HSBC and First Direct customers to get Post Office banking
Calls for financial education in colleges
Benefits 'link to pay, not inflation'
Cowboy clampers 'new parking scam'
Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Wed 19 Sept 2012
New LOW 1% FEE, 0% balance transfer
The cheapest debt-shifting deal we've seen for 4 years - provided you can repay quickly

If you've existing debts let out a small cheer - the balance transfer market's hotting up. A balance transfer lets you shift costly debts to a new cheap card - slashing costs by £100s or £1,000s. All are new-customer deals & do credit checks.

  • 12mths 0%, just 1% fee. For a one-off fee of just 1% of the debt shifted, a new Barclaycard* is 12mths 0%. So if you can repay within a year, it's perfect. Need longer, or already have a Barclayard? Find alternatives in this table.
Deal Fee Once 0% ends
Barclaycard* 12 mths 0% 1.0% 19.9% representative APR
Fluid* 15 mths 0% 1.5% 18.9% rep APR
Barclaycard* 23 mths 0% 2.8% 17.9% rep APR
Tesco* 22 mths 0% 2.9% 18-24% rep APR
MBNA* 5.9% for life 1.5% Lasts until shifted debt repaid
  • Key balance transfer warnings. 1) Repay at least the monthly min or you can lose special rates. 2) Aim to fully repay cards before the 0% ends. 3) Don't spend on these cards - it isn't usually at the cheap rate. 4) Use the Which Card Is Cheapest? tool to help decide. 5) Step-by-step help in Best Balance Transfers (Official APR Examples).

3,000 x 50% off Sky codes. These went in 2 mins last week, so we've managed to blag more from Sky. If you got a code last week and had trouble accessing the site, you have until Thurs to redeem your code. More: Sky Discounts

Instant 30%-off Odeon voucher. Valid Sun-Thu. Available from this Sun. Cheap Cinema Deals

2x specs £24 delivered. Worth up to £110, incl frames & lenses; lots of mid-range brands. Cheap Glasses

4x instant Burger King 2for1s. Click 'n' print for in-store deals. See Burger King Deals

Scared of uni fees? 20+ need-to-knows
Headlines shriek '£50,000 student loans', but it's oft irrelevant. What counts is what you repay. Mythbuster time

For the first time this year, new uni starters in England face £9,000 tuition fees. So, thankfully, this Thursday is Student Finance Day - #SFD - with open days at schools & unis for students, prospective students and their parents. Check yours.

  • student financeNeed-to-knows. No first-timers need pay fees upfront. The Student Loan Company pays and gives cash for living money. Yet it ain't like a normal debt. Read Martin's full 20+ Student Finance Mythbusters for 2012 and prospective 2013 starters including...

    1) After uni, you will repay 9% of any income above £21,000/yr. Earn less, repay nowt.
    2) The loan wipes after 30 yrs. Many on low or mid incomes won't have fully repaid by then. So, while you can pay fees upfront, for many it risks throwing £10,000s away.
    3) The oft-quoted "£50,000 student debt" figure is mostly irrelevant. What really counts is the cost to you, which depends primarily on earnings. Use the updated www.studentfinancecalc.com to see your real cost over 30 years.
  • Free booklets and video guides. Free booklets for 6th formers | part-timers | teachers. Video guides: Martin's 30 min briefing | 3-min cartoon. Got a question? Tweet it to @MartinSLewis on Thurs using #SFD and he'll answer.

Cheapest iPhone 5. Our updated Cheapest iPhone Tool now lets you compare some iPhone 5 prices (more to come - we await feeds). Note it's cheapest, not "cheap" as even the top deals are £300 upfront, then £35/mth. The 4S is better value, but real MoneySavers avoid altogether. See Cheap Mobiles.

Lock energy prices in for TWO WINTERS, saving £200+/yr. As predicted, all super-cheap fixes closed last week. New top's Scottish Power's* 28 Feb '14 fix ensures no price rises for 2 winters and is still c.£200/yr cheaper than standard tariffs. It has no early exit penalties, so you can leave if you need to. See how it stacks up for you via... Top cashback comparison: Energyhelpline* £15/switch. Dual fuel: MoneySup* £30, uSwitch* crate of wine. Cheap Gas & Elec

How to minimise loo roll use. Unmissable reading. We were astounded by the popularity of our forum Spill The Beans (apt name) last week, including positioning tips, roll flattening, & even timing to poo at work. Cut back on loo roll

90% off cosmetics, incl 99p Neal's Yard, £2.99 Benefit. Cheapsmells online sale. Cheap Beauty Deals

Only got landline for broadband? Save £80+
51% of people hardly ever use their landline. Fight back if you're held hostage by needing it for broadband

Our poll of 20,000+ shows 51% hardly ever, or never use their landline (80% of under-30s). Millions feel forced to keep it just for broadband. Hopefully, 4G mobile broadband will solve this, though Govt should act too. For now, fight back...

  • landlinesLandline only for b'band? Pay £7.99/mth. Unless you've Virgin, you need a landline for broadband at home. So minimise the cost. Primus Line Rental Saver's* £7.99/mth on a 12m contract without calls - around £80/yr less than BT standard line rent. For eve & wknd calls, its Home Phone Saver's* £9.19/mth. To stick with BT, pay £129 for a year upfront on BT Line Rental Saver* to save c. £50/yr. Full info: Cheap Line Rental
  • ENDS THURS: Line rent and b'band 'equiv' £8.58/mth. Pay £114 upfront for a year's TalkTalk Essentials* line rental then £3.25/mth for b'band (for 85% of UK) and eve & wknd calls. 28 days after it goes live, you get a £50 Love2Shop vouch (use at Argos, Boots, etc). Factor as cash, and it's £103/yr, equiv £8.58/mth all-in. Cheap Broadband
  • Can I switch to any line rental? Unless you've cable or are in Hull, all lines are BT lines regardless of whether you're billed by Primus, Sky or others. So switching isn't an issue, unless you're with a provider only offering broadband as part of a phone bundle (eg Sky, TalkTalk) or you've a linked burglar/personal alarm.

£19 London champers afternoon tea for 2 (RRP £33). MSE Blagged. Only 500 avail. Afternoon Tea Deals

Discount codes: 20% off Debenhams, BHS, Figleaves & more
Debenhams 20% off In-store and online | BHS £5 off £25 Online code | Figleaves £10 off £50 Online code
The White Company 20% off £75+ Online code. Full list in Discount Vouchers.

Rumour. 50% Next sale this weekend. No official confirmation, but highly likely. Full updates: Next Sale


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%: Barclaycard*
12 mths 0%, 1% fee

(19.9% 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

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

Sainsbury's 3.01% AER
Min £500. 'Clean' rate.
Transfers allowed

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Code for 20% off pre-order games, eg, Call of Duty £34. Also incl Gears of War, Halo, Fifa 13. Hot Bargains

Freebies: Nescafe and Cranberry Juice
Free £3 Nescafe (via app, redeem at Co-op, Nisa, Spar) | Free £2.30 Ocean Spray Cranberry via 'try me free' offer

Speedily slash car insurance renewal prices. With new '62' regs out & many at renewal, a cost-cutting reminder. 1) Combine comparison sites for max quotes in min time. Our assessed top are MoneySup* & Confused*. 2) Add missed biggies Aviva* & Direct Line*. 3) U25s check Young Driver's Deals. 4) Try for cashback. Full help: Cheap Car Insurance

Free antivirus and free office software
How to get legal, professional-quality software without paying a penny | Protect against internet nasties for nowt

Whether it's big programs offered gratis in the hope you'll upgrade, or open source software collaborated on by thousands to dilute the dominance of corporate giants, high quality software's available at no cost to you.

  • free softwareFree antivirus. Without up-to-date antivirus, if you're defrauded, banks can argue negligence, and thus you're liable. Luckily, many full free versions, with regular updates, are available (they hope you'll pay to upgrade). See Free Antivirus Software.
  • Free Office suites. Before shelling out £100s to Microsoft, try a high-class free download like LibreOffice (powerful all-rounder) or OxygenOffice (good for extras). Both include Word, Excel, Powerpoint equivalents and their files are usually compatible with them. Full help: Free Office Software. Also see Free Photo Editing Software too.

£4 album MP3s 99p with code, incl Coldplay, Bruno Mars. 600 to choose from. See TuneChecker.

Extra 15% off Lastminute.com secret hotels code. Boost the discount on anonymous 3-5* UK & world hotel deals. 5,000 codes avail. Plus we show you how to undercover them. Hotel Sales

£137 of Plain Lazy men's clothes £45. Lucky dip: T-shirts, shorts, caps. Plus we've a free delivery code. Plain Lazy


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*

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

Discount vouchers/sales

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
The MoneySaving Community

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA | Should I return £2k insurance cash?
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... I accidentally put my treasured old Omega watch through a washing cycle and when it came out, it didn't work. I sent it to my insurer, who sent it back with a 'beyond repair' note and £2,000 voucher. The thing is, it's now in perfect working order again. Should I return the voucher and get my £100 excess back or keep quiet? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I return £2,000 insurance payout? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

SPILL THE BEANS | on uses for old plastic carrier bags
Do you line your bins with 'em, use them when you're out with the dog or as wrapping paper? We want to hear your most creative carrier bag uses. Spill 'em: Making good use of carrier bags Past topics: View all

BOOK GIVEAWAY | CAMRA's Good Beer Guide 2013. 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one.

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK | Stop food waste
New research shows UK consumers throw away a third of the food they buy each year, costing the average family household £680. What a waste. See our Supermarket Savings guide for tips and find recipes, storage and portion planning at Love Food Hate Waste. Want us to support a campaign? This space is for MSE to support money based work by other organisations. Send us a campaign of the week suggestion.

CHEAP FLIGHT SALES ALERT | Airline: Aer Lingus Price: From £30 each way Ends: Ongoing
Our pick this week is Aer Lingus' from £30 each way flights. It's on various routes & dates for travel until 31 Mar 2013, and includes some taxes and charges. Flights include London Gatwick to Belfast for about £30 each way. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £50 one way max search. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Ins

Quick forum tips

Andrea's freebies

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

Wednesday 19 September
Money Box, Radio 4, 3pm-3.30pm
Student finance.

Thursday 20 September
Daybreak, ITV1, between 7am & 8.30am. Student finance.

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

Tuesday 25 September
Daybreak, ITV1, between 7am & 8.30am. Subject tbc.

The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV1, 7.30pm - 8pm. Energy, split-ticketing and credit cards.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 123.19 112.03
US Flag $ 161.06 147.68
Turkish Flag TL 284.50 255.00
Rates correct at 4.30pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Who wears the financial trousers in your family?

Which of the following is closest to your family set up when it comes to the financial battle of the genders?

Poll results

Where's best to high street haggle?

2,544 voted and we were thrilled to see the high success rates of MoneySavers’ high street haggling, with 10 major retailers (including Sainsbury’s and Debenhams) hitting above the 50% mark. The top spot was shared by Comet and Currys/PC World, which both had a 78% success rate. These results should encourage the 44% of voters who have never tried haggling to give it a go. Tips in our haggling guide.

Question of the week

Q: I'm in a CCCS debt-management plan. Would it be unadvisable for me to try to claim PPI? I don't want to jeopardise things. Mags, by email.

MSE Wendy’s A: If you were mis-sold the insurance, you're still entitled to complain. But if you're successful, your lender may decide to use the cash to repay your debt. Unless that leaves you in financial hardship, you can't object. Still, reducing your debt would be a good outcome.

If you are sent a cheque, best practice is give the money to the CCCS who will share it across all of your creditors, helping you to clear your debts sooner.

This is one area where claims companies are even more dangerous, as you could have your debts reduced but then need to shell out 30% to them. Best to use our PPI Reclaiming guide to do it for free.

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

Board of the week

Local MoneySaving: The N. Ireland Board

Share advice and tips on saving money in Northern Ireland. Recent discussions include Installing Freeview, Wedding singer(s) and Temp Christmas jobs .

 Archna's free game of the week: Huebrix

Proof Martin Lewis is a mini wastrel?

It turns out there are over 5,000 anagrams of 'Martin Lewis' - who'd have thunk? Martin liked 'manlier wits', but our favourite was 'mini wastrel'. Try your own name in this anagram finder.

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 onDaybreak, 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

What do the links with a * mean?

Any links with a * by them are affiliated, which means get a product via this link and a contribution may be made to MoneySavingExpert.com, which helps it stay free to use. You shouldn't notice any difference; the links don't impact the product at all and the editorial line (the things we write) isn't changed due to it. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it's still included in the same way. More info: See how this site is financed.

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

firstdirect.com, halifax.co.uk, opticalexpress.co.uk, postoffice.co.uk, saga.co.uk, nationwide.co.uk, aquacard.co.uk, barclaycard.co.uk, card.fluid.co.uk, tescobank.com, apply.mbna.co.uk, scottishpower.co.uk, energyhelpline.com, moneysupermarket.com, uswitch.com, homephonechoices.co.uk, productsandservices.bt.com, sales.talktalk.co.uk, confused.com, directline.com, aviva.co.uk, admiral.com, sainsburysbank.co.uk, tescobank.com, santander-products.co.uk, comparethemarket.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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