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This week: Over 50 ways to save, incl...Free £200 ends, airline seat secrets, £10/mth Sky b’band, beat passport hikes, Next 50% off?, S8 deals

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 12m who get it each week."

21 March 2018
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.


Act now to beat April price hikes, incl... Passports UP, stamps UP, council tax UP

Don't be a fool - steal a March on April rises - boom, boom

The new tax year kicks into gear on 6 April, marking an important point in the financial calendar. That's the day key changes to tax allowances hit, while the week or so before is when many public  and essential service prices rise. But if you hurry you can spring into action to cut the cost of many of 'em...

  1. Beat stamp price rises. Next Mon - standard 1st & 2nd class up 2p. The price of a 1st class standard letter rises to 67p, 2nd class to 58p. Large letters rise by 3p to £1.01 (1st class) and to 79p (2nd). As stamps just say 1st or 2nd, if you buy now they're valid forever. So while it's only pennies, lock in now and if you'll send lots of letters/cards, eg, at Christmas, you're winning.

  2. Urgently check when your passport expires to beat hikes. Next Tue - online renewals rise by £3 to £75.50 (£49 kids), postal by £12.50 to £85 (£58.50 kids). Passports last 10 years, for kids it's 5. So expiry dates can rapidly creep up. There are four need-to-knows...

    - If it expires in 9mths or less, renew NOW to take advantage of the cheaper price (unless you need it soon). You get the time left on your old passport (max 9mths) added to the new one.

    - Some countries refuse entry to anyone with less than 6mths left. We heard of a child turned away in Dubai because of this, so his family had to fly back. See country-by-country rules.

    - Don't google passport renewals - there are scam sites that charge extra. Find out how to renew your passport the cheapest way.

    - Warning if going abroad soon - renewing takes 3-4 weeks unless you pay extra, so don't risk your holiday for the sake of a few quid.

  3. Switch to beat the prepay energy bills hike. On 1 April - prepay price cap rises by £58 to £1,089/yr on typical use. Ofgem's putting up the prepay price cap, and our analysis shows most energy providers are hiking prices to hit the cap. Yet you can avoid it. Here's what you can do:

    - Switch prepayment tariffs for lower rates. Though there are fewer deals for prepayment, you can still find tariffs about £100/yr lower than the price cap. Do a prepay comparison to find your best deal.  

    - Move to a billed meter and save £££s. All of the Big 6 let you move from prepay to a billed meter for free. You can then save big by switching to the cheapest providers - £280/yr on typical use. Plus you can fix to protect against future hikes. See our Prepaid Gas and Electricity guide for more on how to change.

  4. Council tax to rise - can you save £1,000s via our check & challenge system? On 1 April - most councils to impose 3-6%-ish rises. Council tax will jump for almost every council in Eng, Scot and Wales - a 3% rise equates to about £50/yr more for a band D home. Many are seeing double that. So it's a perfect nudge to check if you're overpaying, with these four key points:

    - Are you in too high a band? Up to 400,000 households in Eng and Scot are in the wrong band, so may have overpaid for years. Our council tax check & challenge system shows how to do it all (including the risks). Some get £1,000s back and cheaper future bills, such as forumite janeyandpaul: "Refund £3,141 backdated to 1993, and saving approx £180/yr. Massive thanks MSE." 

    - Do you live alone? You may qualify for the single person's discount of 25%. See single person's discount for full help. 

    - Do you have or live with someone with a severe mental impairment, eg, Alzheimer's or learning difficulties? You may be disregarded for council tax (ie, not have to pay it) or get 25% off. See SMI discounts 

    - Are you a full-time student or on benefits? You may get a discount or have to pay nothing at all. See more council tax discounts.

  5. TV licence costs up - but do you need one? On 1 April a colour licence rises £3.50 to £150.50, black & white £1 to £50.50 (yes, really). You can't beat it by paying early as you can only renew in the calendar month it's due. However, if you only watch certain catch-up TV you don't need a licence. See how to legally ditch the TV licence.

  6. Water bills up - check if switching to a meter could save £100s. On 1 April - avg £9/yr rise in Eng & Wales, £6/yr Scot. It varies by region and a few will even see bills drop. You can't switch supplier to save like with energy but some may be better off with a water meter instead of paying set rates, such as Andy: "£348/yr saved by switching to a meter." How to check if you can slash your water bill.

  7. NHS prescriptions up 20p - but there's a little-known route to cut costs. On 1 April - up 20p to £8.80 (Eng only). It doesn't always have to be a bitter pill to swallow, as those who regularly use prescribed meds can save via a prescription season ticket (which isn't being hiked). Yet as we discovered in Jan, 800,000 missed out on one last year, costing them an average of £50/yr each. Check if a prescription season ticket wins for you.

  8. If you need to see the dentist, it'll be cheaper in March. On 1 April - basic NHS check-up in Eng up £1 to £21.60, fillings, removal of teeth up £2.80 to £59.10. No change in rest of UK. So if you need treatment, book an appointment and get seen beforehand (if there's space). And if your gnashers need attention you shouldn't delay anyway.

PS: Don't forget the clocks go forward at 1am on Sunday. While we do our utmost to save you money, we can't always save you time. We all lose an hour on Sunday - but that means lighter, longer evenings and that warmer weather's on the way (eventually).


Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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Ends Sun. FREE £200 (the biggest bonus available) to switch bank

Top deals are disappearing, so GO QUICK if you want to give your bank the boot

The bank switch bribe war is rapidly cooling. Halifax slashed its bonus from £125 to £75 on Mon, and now HSBC is dropping its top £200 switching incentive. Others may follow, and while these deals come and go we don't know for sure if they'll be back. So if you want to take advantage - hurry. (All do a simple credit check when you apply.)

  • Ends Sun. Free £200. Anyone who hasn't had an HSBC bank account since Jan 2015 can get £150 within 50 days of switching to the HSBC Advance* account, and £50 more if still with it after a year. Plus you get access to a linked 5% fixed regular savings account. Some also get a 6mth 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? Apply by 11.59pm Sun, switch incl 2+ direct debits or standing orders within 30 days of account opening, register for mobile or online banking within 60 days and pay in £1,750+/mth (equiv to £26,100/yr salary).

  • Free £125 + top service. Apply via this link and First Direct* gives £125 to new customers who switch to it (£100 direct). It's won all our customer service polls for seven years - with 91% recently rating it 'great'. You also get access to its 5% fixed regular saver, and some get a £250 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? Once you've switched, pay in £1,000/mth (£12,850/yr salary equiv) to get the cash and keep the account free - if not, it's £10/mth. You get the cash within 28 days of your first pay-in.

  • Free £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth added for 1yr. M&S Bank* gives new switchers a £125 M&S gift card, and for the first year adds £5/mth. It offers a 5% fixed regular savings account, and to some, a £100 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? You get the initial £125 within a month of switching if you move 2+ active direct debits. For the rest, you need to keep the direct debits active and pay in at least £1,000/mth (£12,850/yr salary equiv).

Switching's easy and takes just seven working days, plus the new bank closes your old account and moves all direct debits, standing orders and payments. For full info, eligibility and more options, see Best Bank Accounts.


New. Just '£10.40/mth' for Sky broadband AND line rental. Done via a prepaid card and voucher combo. Check if you can get it via our Broadband Unbundled tool.

Airline secrets - how to sit together for FREE on BA, Easyjet, Virgin etc. They've sneaky ways of making you pay, even if you're a family. We've airline-by-airline tricks on how to beat 'em in our new Airline Seating guide.

Check your Facebook privacy settings NOW - you're likely allowing firms to access all your data. If you've ever done a quick quiz, played games etc on Facebook you could be affected. See how to protect Facebook privacy.

Not confirmed, but we're almost certain it starts Sat. See Next sale updates.

Warning. If the state helps pay your mortgage, act now or it'll be stopped. The Support for Mortgage Interest scheme is changing from a benefit to a loan. But even if you already get it you'll have to sign forms to continue. If you don't, it can stop. Full help in Support for Mortgage Interest changes.

EXTRA 20% off 'secret' eBay electrical outlets for big brands, eg, £64 cordless Vax (norm £80), £80 Bang & Olufsen headphones (£139 elsewhere). Firms have little-known outlet stores on eBay. Code works on 9 brands until Thu. Min £30 spend. Ltd stock.  Outlet code

Ends Sat. Get £200 cashback on £1,900+ Nutmeg investment (incl ISAs). Investing can be risky. But if you're going to put money into one of these 'robo-investors' before the tax year ends, apply and give your payment details by 11.59pm on Sat 24 Mar and our special link gives a 10%+ head start. Full explanation in Robo-investing cashback



  1.  A 'FREE' £50 Sainsbury's trick, if you shop there... or 
2.  The longest 0% spending card - 31mths - and get £50 'free'?

There's been a fierce financial fight in MSE Towers over what this deal is - there's been geekish blood and pecuniary guts spilt (in a non-violent way, of course). The deals posse see it as a nice way for Sainsbury's shoppers to manipulate a credit card at no additional cost and get £50 extra. The money team see it as the best 0% card on the market, so an easy way for those who need to borrow and can afford to repay to do so at no cost. We asked Martin and he bashed heads together with an "It's both, stop fighting, shake hands, and help the world save..." So...

  • Before you start, check if you can get it. Usually, the only way to know if you'll be accepted for a credit card is to apply - yet this marks your credit file. Our Reward and 0% Spending Eligibility Calculators show your chances of being accepted before you apply, and so don't impact your file. Plus if the calc pre-approves you, you'll definitely get the card if you apply.

  • I want it for the 'free' Sainsbury's £50. Until Sunday, accepted new Sainsbury's Bank* customers get £5 of Nectar pts for every £40+ spent at Sainsbury's in the first two months. You can get up to £50 (10,000 pts), but only earn the bonus at Sainsbury's so it's best if you shop there anyway.

    - Trick to get the pts quicker. SPLIT your shop if it's large. Eg, you're allowed to put £120 through as three transactions of £40 - netting you 3,000 pts in total.
    - How much are Nectar pts worth? They're worth 0.5p in Sainsbury's, though can be boosted up to 2x their value if spent elsewhere. See Nectar points boosting.

  • I want it as a 0% spending card. Used right, 0% spending cards are the best way to make a planned, budgeted for purchase (eg, sofa, kitchen). The same Sainsbury's Bank* card gives the longest interest-free period on spending available - a huge 31mths. And of course you get the points if spending in Sainsbury's. Never use it willy-nilly or to fill gaps in day-to-day spending, and budget carefully to clear the debt before the 0% period ends. Full info in 0% Spending Cards.

  • Follow the Credit Card Golden Rules (APR Examples).
    a) Always pay at least the set monthly minimum and stick within the credit limit or you can lose the 0% deal, get charged £12 and receive a mark on your credit file.
    b) If using it for spending, plan to clear the card (or balance-transfer) before the 0% ends or it's 18.9% rep APR after.
    c) This card is ONLY good for 0% spending or the 'free' Nectar pts - avoid cash withdrawals or balance transfers.


36 'lucky dip' summer plug plants & garden snips £7 all-in. MSE Blagged. Norm £25. 10,000 plant bundles available. Via Thompson & Morgan.

Ted Baker rare 25% off all full-price items. Online and in stores. Thu-Sun. Ted Baker

Cheapest ways to get a Samsung Galaxy S8 & Sim. Some S8 prices have dropped since the S9 launch last week, and this hot EE deal* gives newbies 8GB data + unltd mins & texts for £30/mth and £50 upfront. It's £770 over the 2yr contract - £40 less than buying the handset and pairing with an equiv cheap Sim. Or Vodafone* newbies can get 4GB + unltd mins & texts for £23/mth and £160 upfront when they use code 50OFFVODA (to input, click 'add', not your return key). It costs £712 over the 2yr contract - about £25 less than a similar handset/Sim combo. Full info: Samsung S8.

Thorntons 2 personalised Easter eggs for £10 delivered, or 5 for £20. Stack multi-buy Easter egg deals with flash free-delivery offer when you spend £10+ (norm £3.95). Mid size, ends 9am Thu. Thorntons 

20% off one-year Family & Friends Railcard - great if you have kids. Norm £30, code gets it for £24. It gives a 1/3 off most fares for up to 4 grown-ups when travelling with 1-4 kids, who get 60% off. Family & Friends Railcard 


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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 36mths 0%, 2.49% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Sainsbury's Bank* 28mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-7 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Sky equiv £10.42/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
BT equiv £20.16/mth

Ends Sun. £150 to switch + £50 if you stay a year: HSBC
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect


3 cheap airport parking savers: 'Thanks - I paid £151 less'

If you're jetting off and plan to park at the airport - whether this Easter or beyond - don't wing it by leaving it late

If you're in a group, going at an unsociable hour or overloaded with luggage, driving to the airport can be cheaper and easier than public transport. The key is to book in advance as prices can take off if you leave it late. Suzanne emailed: "Used your link, booked in May for August last year, and saved £151 at Gatwick. Where would we be without MSE?" Full info in Cheap Airport Parking, these are the top tips...

  • Tip 1: Use comparison sites for cheapest rates + 35% extra off. They usually beat going direct plus we've blagged extra discounts via the links below. Try a few as there's no overall winner and prices change daily. But don't choose based on discount - it's the final price that matters.

    Try Holiday Extras* (10-30% off its standard price and searches the most car parks), Looking4Parking* (20-35% off), SkyParkSecure* (13-35% off), FHR* (12-30% off), Trusted Travel (12-30% off), Airparks* (12-25% off) & APH* (16-20% off).

    Extra tip: Max your time or risk a fine. You often pay in 1-day or 24-hour slots. So say you depart at 10am and land back at 6pm a few days later, don't give that as your car collection time. It's usually the same price to make it midnight that night or up to 10am the day after. This protects you if your flight's delayed, as some charge for a full day if late. See Airport parking warning.

  • Tip 2: Check if staying the night before at a hotel to bag cheap parking wins. A night's stay can take the stress out of travelling and some charge less for a one night + parking package than the cost of parking alone elsewhere. We found a week's parking plus one night at the Normandy Hotel near Glasgow Airport for £42, yet a week's parking at the airport was £50 for the same period. See Stay & park deals.

  • Tip 3: Probe local knowledge for cheap alternatives. If you don't mind the extra travelling, it can be cheaper to rent someone's parking space or park at a train station near the airport. See Cheap airport parking alternatives.

Childcare Vouchers scheme to be extended by 6 months. It'll likely close to newbies in Oct, so check now to see if right for you. See Martin's Urgent childcare warning.

"Flew with Qatar Airways for our honeymoon in 2016. Our flight was delayed 6hrs+ and we missed activities on a short stay. I used your Resolver tool and within hours we got £1,047 compensation. Thanks."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£30 free-range spring/Easter meat hamper (£40ish at supermarkets). MSE Blagged. All outdoor-reared UK meat. Incl lamb and pork joints, gammon steaks, pork mince, bacon and sausages. Meat hamper



Are you paying the 'poverty premium'? Many who don't qualify for standard borrowing rates or deals end up paying extra via prepay energy meters, payday loans or rent-to-own plans to buy appliances. A group of MPs is looking into how to tackle this extra cost, sometimes called the 'poverty premium'. If you've been forced down this route, share your story in the poverty premium forum thread to help them understand the issue better.



Have you planned how to finance your funeral? Funerals/cremations can cost more than £5,000 - and if unplanned can cause huge family stress. So we wanted to find out what preparation you have done. Have you planned how to finance your funeral?

Cash isn't king for the young. Last week we asked how often you use cash, and received over 16,000 votes. A massive 80% of those under 35 never use cash or rarely use it. Of the younger groups who still use the Queen's notes, most do so for smaller transactions, while fewer than 5% use it for everything. Perhaps unsurprisingly, older groups are more inclined to use cash for everyday purchases, with 15% of those aged 65+ using it whenever possible and over half using it for smaller transactions. See full cashless society poll results.



Should I make my son pay for his mistake? My 19-year-old regularly borrows the family car, and contributes to its running costs. He was recently in a small accident and badly dented the bumper. Our insurance will cover the repairs but my husband thinks we should make him pay upfront to teach him to take responsibility. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should my son pay for his mistake? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Are you paying more because you can't pay upfront?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win £1,000 to spend on eBay
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Sneaky ways to save the pennies 2018
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Scottish divorce... sort of
- Discussion of the week: Universal basic income for everyone


Amazon - free £6 code with £30 gift card spend, for some
Now TV - full 9-month Sky Sports package £150 (norm £306)
M&S - up to 60% off sale
Asda - £5 cheese Easter egg
Debenhams - up to 50% off sale. Ends today (Wed)

Bella Italia - 40% off mains
Harvester - two chicken dishes & drinks for £20
McDonald's Monopoly - how to max your chances of a win
Yo Sushi - £2.80 plates on Mondays
Giraffe - 2for1 on starters, mains and desserts

Thorntons - free £4 small chocolate Easter egg via O2
Odeon - five cinema tickets for £20 via Groupon
Greggs - free Lucozade Energy (norm £1.50ish)
Merlin - 2for1 Legoland, Alton Towers etc with £3ish cereal
Homebuilding Show - free Birmingham tickets for 22-25 Mar

Quick Forum Tips

25% off wine, prosecco & champagne at Tesco. Corking
Free pizza cutter with £2.50 Chicago Town pizza. Cutting carbs
NHS discounts via free or £5 Blue Light Card. Switched on



Thu 22 Mar - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. See previous
Thu 22 Mar - Ideal Home Show, 3pm
Fri 23 Mar  - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Sun 25 Mar - Ideal Home Show, noon
Mon 26 Mar - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 26 Mar - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen to previous
Tue 27 Mar - Ideal Home Show, 3pm


Wed 21 Mar - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 23 Mar
BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 26 MarTalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 27 Mar - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I'm on a fixed-term energy deal. If I move home before it ends can I transfer it to my new address without paying a fee? Peter, via email.

MSE Andrew's A: It all depends on your supplier and tariff, so check. Some will let you take the tariff fee-free to your new home, some will close your account and waive the exit fee, and some will charge you exit penalties unless you switch to another one of their deals.  

Whoever you're with, do a Cheap Energy Club comparison to find the best deal for your new home, as prices vary region by region, and it may still be worth paying an exit fee if the savings from switching are enough. 

And remember, if you're in the last 49 days of your fix, no firm is allowed to charge you exit fees.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... MoneySavers have been sharing the resourceful ways they avoid dumping unwanted food and drink to cut down on waste, including throwing a half-eaten pot of hummus into chicken soup for a "creamy broth", or pouring flat bottles of Coke down the toilet for a sparkling clean bowl. Share your top tips in our love food, hate waste forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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