Dec
04
2019

MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

04 December 2019

THIS WEEK: Over 50 ways to save, incl... 2.7% savings, 50 coupons, MSE Leaders' Debate, £16 FAST b'band, £330/yr energy save, £10 theatre tix, last chance Santa letter, Kindle hacks

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


 

Top 2.7% savings... if you can put money away each month - available to all

Do it right and combine a few of these and you can save up to £900/mth, all earning at least 2.5%

The no-brainer minimum you should get with your savings is 1.45% AER variable, as that's what you get from the top easy-access account from Marcus* - an arm of US giant Goldman Sachs. Yet you can nearly DOUBLE this with a regular savings account. But... they limit how much you can pay in, and how long you can save for. Having said that, if you are, well, saving regularly, that means they're the best payers.

A few months ago some of these accounts paid 5% - but only the ones linked to bank accounts (ie, you must have that bank's current account to open one). Rates have dropped since, but they're still much better than most other rates. Let's run you though it... (All below have £85,000 UK savings protection.)

  • Top-paying regular saver - earn 2.75%. They're linked to bank accounts, but pay only a tiny amount more than the top open-to-all regular saver at 2.7%. What counts is which you can open and how much you can put in:

    - Bank with First Direct, HSBC or M&S Bank? If so you can earn 2.75% fixed for a year. While you can vary what you put in, you must deposit at least the minimum. First Direct allows £25-£300/mth, HSBC £25-£250 & M&S Bank (only if you've switched to it) £25-£250. If you need access to your cash you'll need to close the account early, which leads to a big interest penalty. 

    - How to open a 2.75% account. See Best Bank Accounts if you want to switch current account (some pay you to do that). Once you're a customer (or if you already are), the easiest way is to just open the regular saver via online banking.

  • Top open-to-all regular savers - earn 2.7%. Here, both accounts have no minimum, so you can miss monthly payments without penalty.

    Principality BS pays 2.7% AER fixed for a year and lets you put in up to £125/mth. If you need access to your cash you'll need to close the account and take it all out.

    Coventry BS pays 2.5% AER variable and lets you save up to a big £500/mth. You can withdraw cash at will, but you lose 30 days' interest.

  • Combine the accounts to save more. If you're lucky enough to have lots of spare cash each month, there's nothing stopping you combining these accounts. Someone with a First Direct bank account who opens a Principality and Coventry saver could put £925/mth away - all at a minimum 2.5%.
     
  • Beware - after a year the money is moved to a rubbish instant-access saver. Diarise when it ends and move it to a better payer. Then reopen a new version of your regular saver(s) - provided they're still around - and start again.

  • Don't believe the 'they only pay half of what they promise' naysayers. If you put money in a regular saver, they pay the interest stated. But at the end of the year you may get less than you think.

    Here's why. Imagine you save £200/mth. At the year-end you'd have £2,400. In a 2.7% interest account, many expect to see £65 interest added (2.7% of £2,400). Yet you'd actually have £35. That's because you wouldn't have £2,400 in there for the full year, as your average balance would be £1,200.

    So if you compare it to saving a lump sum over a year, the interest looks less. But these accounts aren't for lump sums, they're for regular saving (hence the name), and if that's what you're doing then these pay nearly double the top easy-access rate on monthly sums.

  • On a low income? Regular savings with a 50% boost. If you're claiming tax credits or universal credit, you may qualify for a state-backed regular saver which gives a 50% bonus on what you save. Check if you can get it in Help to Save.

Looking to save lump sums? Your best options...


There are some strict rules with regular savings accounts, so if they're not for you, or if you've a lump sum, here's what you should be thinking of:

  • 1.45% easy access - good if you need to dip in. Here you can withdraw at will, though rates are variable and can move, so keep an eye out. Top payer is Marcus* - UK arm of US giant Goldman Sachs - at 1.45% AER variable (incl a 0.1% 1yr bonus). Full options in top easy-access savings.

  • 1.8% fixed for a year. If you know you won't need access and are happy to lock cash away, fixes pay more, but you won't benefit from any rate rises in the meantime. Metro Bank offers the top 1yr fix at 1.8% AER (min £500). More info plus two, three and five-year options in top fixes.

  • Do you need cash ISAs? As savings interest has been tax-free for most since 2016, a tax-free cash ISA isn't the no-brainer it once was. But if you've lots of savings or a high income (where your tax-free allowance is less or nothing at all), an ISA may be worth it. Note that ISAs retain their tax-free status forever - unless the rules change - so may still be worth it long term.

    The top payer is Virgin Money's 1.36% AER variable account. You can open it with £1, but you can only withdraw twice a year. More help and options in Top Cash ISAs.

  • Earn 5% on smaller savings. Some current accounts pay a higher rate, but only on a small amount. Nationwide* pays 5% AER fixed in year one on up to £2,500 (1% AER variable after), though you'll need to pay in £1,000+/mth. More options and full eligibility criteria in high-interest current accounts.

  • Saving for a first home? Get a 25% bonus from the state. Lifetime ISAs let 18 to 39-year-olds save up to £4,000 a year, and you get a quarter of what you put in as a bonus. But you'll pay a penalty if you need access to your cash for anything other than a first home (or retirement). Check if it's right for you in our Lifetime ISA guide.
 
 

DON'T believe the fake ads on Facebook
Lots of scam ads that litter social media lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

The MSE General Election 2019 Leaders' Debate

We put YOUR consumer issues to the party leaders - including mortgage prisoners, the costs of going green, social care, rail fares, student finances, first-time house-buying and more. Judge their answers (or avoidance)

Who governs the country has a big impact on all our personal finances and society generally. Unless you're a party loyalist the decision isn't easy, factoring in your local candidate, party policies and the leaders. So we asked you to suggest questions to ask (within our topic areas), then invited you to vote on which to put to the party leaders. We also added a few of our own campaigning priorities. Now it's time to hear the leaders' answers.


ALL MAJOR PARTY LEADERS EXCEPT NIGEL FARAGE agreed to take part (he didn't respond to repeated requests). We've three ways you can engage...

1. Watch their videos. 
We gave each up to 90 seconds unedited to talk consumer issues. Watch the vids: Johnson (Conservative), Corbyn (Labour), Swinson (Lib Dem), Bartley (Green). Sturgeon (SNP) and Price (Plaid) didn't send videos.

2. Go through policy by policy. 
It's been interesting how many of our dozen questions have come up as major policy announcements since we sent them. You can view all the responses to those questions in one place via these links...


3. Go through leader by leader. Alternatively, you can read what each leader has said about all policies...

PS: And do make sure you vote; if you don't have your say, don't expect them to listen.

 

50+ supermarket coupons, incl free yogurt, £1.25 off Pot Noodle & £1 off Petits Filous. See Dec's coupons.

£10-£40 London theatre tix (Jan/Feb), incl Lion King, Snowman & Fame. See when you can get your hands on cheap West End tix - it depends on your plastic. £10 London theatre

5,000 left. Special Igloo Energy deal - save £330/yr + top 'MSE enhanced' service. MSE Blagged. Last week, we launched our Igloo Pioneer variable tariff exclusive deal - its normal cheap tariff, but with an extra £62 bill credit and £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback. Igloo already has a 97% 'great' service rating, and we've arranged for it to offer enhanced service (ie, we can get involved if there are problems). Last week it was the market's cheapest, now Utility Point pips it by £5/yr on avg, yet regional variances mean this can swing, which is why it's vital to compare before winter hits.

A5 photo greeting card £1.59 delivered. MSE Blagged. For Christmas & more. Card Factory code

Updated. 22 free (or very cheap) ways to sprinkle Christmas magic for kids. New tips this year, such as camping out under the Christmas tree, join old favourites incl driving round after dark to admire twinkly streets & tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. Free Christmas Magic

Are you one of 3.4m disabled over-65s missing out on up to £4,500/yr to help with care? Check if you're eligible for the attendance allowance.

Updated. 11 cheap Kindle book hacks, incl any book from the Harry Potter series for free. We've more tips incl get alerts when cheap romance books appear + 80 books at £1 each. See Kindle book hacks.

 
 

A whopping 11m are out of contract on broadband and line, and almost all hugely overpay. If that's you, we've a set of hot, short-lived promos that can save you £100s/yr. They include a pre-Christmas cracker from Vodafone, and we've not seen the 35Mb fibre speed it offers cheaper since May. (Links go via our Broadband Unbundled tool to check your eligibility, as deals are postcode-dependent. Plus you can use it to find alternatives.)

TOP DEALS FOR NEW BROADBAND & LANDLINE CUSTOMERS (1)
DEAL EQUIV COST (2) HOW IT WORKS
Shell
11Mb
'£10.74/mth'
MSE Blagged
Ends Sun. Via this Shell link, you pay £16.99/mth over the 1yr contract and automatically receive a £75 bill credit within 3mths, making it an equiv £10.74/mth.
Vodafone
35Mb fibre
'£15.78/mth' 
or '£13.78/mth'
MSE Blagged
Ends Fri. Via this Vodafone link it's £23/mth over 18mths and you automatically receive a £130 Amazon vch within 4mths. Assuming you'd have spent it anyway, it's equiv £15.78/mth.

Vodafone pay monthly mobile customer? You can get the same deal for £2/mth less via the same link, with the same Amazon vch, making it an equiv £13.78/mth. Remember, you're NOT eligible if you also have Vodafone broadband. 
TalkTalk
67Mb fibre
'£18.07/mth'
Ends Thu. You pay £21.95/mth for this 18mth TalkTalk contract, but you can claim a £70 Amazon, Argos or Tesco vch or a prepaid Mastercard. If you'd have spent it anyway, the price is an equiv £18.07/mth. But be warned, it's the worst rated of the biggies on service.
(1) You're a 'new customer' if you don't have broadband and line with the provider now. (2) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting vouchers & averaging it over the contract.


  • What broadband speed do you need? Standard avg 10/11Mb is usually fine for browsing or light streaming. Faster fibre is best for streamers, gamers or if many use it at once in your home. Even with fibre there are differences, and the faster you go, the more of a luxury it is.

  • Will I get the average speed? Figures quoted are what at least 50% of customers get at peak times. Most big providers also tell you the minimum speed you'll get before you sign up - see how to check your speed.

  • In or around Hull? As you'll know, you can't get these as you're likely stuck with KCOM, which has an effective monopoly in your area. Sorry we can't help - it's one for your MP.
 

Last chance. Free letter from Santa. Post kids' letters by Fri to get a reply. Free Santa letter

SOLD OUT. Six bottles of wine for £20 delivered (norm £59). MSE Blagged. A corking deal for Naked Wines newbies. 1,500 avail. Please be Drinkaware.

Warning. Your bank may be about to tell you that you've less cash available. Don't panic, this is just a new rule to force them to be more transparent about the fact that any arranged overdraft isn't part of your available balance. It's important to know whether your bank will change and how it works. See Less cash in bank? 

Get £5 cashback on £10+ spends on Amex at 1,000s of local stores. Our UK-wide email means, sadly, we don't often mention smaller shops. So we're delighted to include this deal, but you need an Amex (and, of course, pay it off IN FULL to avoid interest). The deal starts on Sat and works with many independents. See full Amex £5 off help.

Last £100+ cash bank switch ends on Friday. NatWest pays £150 if you switch to a variety of its accounts, but that ends on Fri. After, the best payer will be M&S at up to £180 in M&S vchs. Full info in our Bank Switching guide.

Ends Fri. 20-40% off airport lounge access, making 'em £15-£35. MSE Blagged. Works for Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow (T3) and Luton. For travel till Dec 2020. Cheap Airport Lounges

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: Virgin Money* 29mths 0%, 3% fee (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: NatWest / RBS 20mths 0% - existing custs only but there's a trick for others (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss:
Direct Line*
Aviva*
Admiral MultiCar (incl £70 Amazon vch - ends Sun) 

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Cahoot* 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell equiv £10.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £15.78/mth

Ends Fri. £150 to switch: NatWest Reward
Great service + free £50 + 0% overdraft: First Direct

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Just wanted to say thank you for the prompt to take some action for a 24-hour flight delay some six years ago. After minimal effort and in a matter of weeks have just received a little over £1,000."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£50ish meat hamper for £31 delivered. MSE Blagged. We've a code to get 5kg of chicken breasts, bacon, pork loin steaks & more... for less. Muscle Food

 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Give the Bank of England your two pennies' worth. It wants to meet people across the UK next year to discuss the role it plays in shaping the UK economy, including setting interest rates and managing inflation. The Bank is setting up local 'citizens' panels', and it'll pay up to £25 in travel costs if you're asked to join one. There'll be panels in Leeds, Liverpool, London and South Shields, with more to be announced. Find out more and sign up on the Bank of England's website.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you rate your energy provider's recent service? Winter's here, the heating's on and while we're all about slashing energy bills (do a five-min comparison to see if you can save), we know service counts too. So twice a year we test recent customer service. How do you rate your energy provider's recent service?

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

How much should I spend on presents for friends' children? One of my close friends has four kids and another friend has two. I want to get them all Christmas presents, but should I spend the same amount on each child, eg, £10 each? Or should I spend a certain amount per family, eg, £30 split between each set of kids? Enter the Money Moral Maze: What's the best way to buy presents for friends' children? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: £2 Savers Club for 2020
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a £500 Fortnum & Mason hamper
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Saving money from reusing your own bags at the shops
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: How do you make your Secret Santa gift look so much more?
- Discussion of the week: Are fewer people sending Christmas cards? Why?

 

Supermarket coupons - Incl free yogurt, £1 off Little Dish
London theatre - £10-£40 tickets, incl The Lion King
Card Factory - Personalised card £1.59 delivered
Free Santa letter - Last chance, deadline this Fri

FitFlop - 30% extra off 'up to 60% off' sale code
Lookfantastic - 25% off branded make-up etc (ends Thu)
Crown Carvery - Unlimited breakfast for £4.50
Subway - 'Savers' menu, incl 99p meatballs
Lego - Free £5 'Mini Build' in stores this Thu

Thorntons - 3for2 on Christmas chocolate gifts
McDonald's - Free 'Archie the reindeer' kids' story book
Cinema deals - See Last Christmas & other films for less
Shopping tips - 41 ways to save money this Christmas
Christmas Deals Predictor - See what deals are coming

Quick Forum Tips

Lidl twin pack of bacon £1.29. Streaky Lidl saving
Love Actually free on Sky. Love is in the air
Up to 70% off Trespass. Sale away

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 4 DEC ONWARDS)

Thu 5 Dec - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 6 Dec This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 9 Dec 
- This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 9 Dec - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Fri 6 Dec - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 9 Dec
 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Oli Townsend
Tue 10 Dec 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Do all purchases I make on my credit card have Section 75 protection? Rob, via email.

MSE Amalia's A: Most do, but not all. This is protection by law (the name comes from the fact it's Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974) if a retailer goes bust, fails to deliver your goods or sells you something faulty, but only if the value of a single item costs between £100 and £30,000. That said, even if you pay just a 1p deposit on your card for it you're covered.

Do note there are some complications, eg, if you pay via intermediaries such as PayPal or a travel agent you're unlikely to be covered. For full info, see Section 75 refunds.

For items costing £100 or less, or in the unlikely event you spend £30,000+, there's a scheme called 'chargeback', which is not enshrined in law but is a customer service promise, so can pay out too. For full help, see our Chargeback guide.

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

 

WHATS YOU'RE GRAMMER BLIND SPOT? 

That's all for this week, but before we go... do you have a blind spot when it comes to speling and grammer? The Apostrophe Protection Society, dedicated too the correct use of the Punctuation Mark, has closed after 18 years, with it's founder stating that less people "are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe" and that "the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won". Let us know what misteaks you constantly make in our Grammer Blind Spots Facebook or Twitter posts. PS: Sorry, we couldn't resist the deliberate mistakes here.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team