Jun
09
2021

MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

09 June 2021

THIS WEEK: Over 50 ways to save, incl... hurrah 1% savings, cheap iPhone 12, 40+ coupons, Boots tricks, how £100 boosts mortgage chance, 2for1 theme parks, 29mths 0% + £25 ends, Ikea sale, Portugal rights

Plus... how £100 boosts mortgage chance, 2for1 theme parks, 29mths 0% + £25 ends, Ikea sale
                                                           
 


 

MSE's Best Bank Accounts guideDon't worry, this isn't a saucy article - no fnarr fnarrs needed (shame). This is about quirks in the financial system you can exploit to make money or improve your finances.

The idea for this blossomed from the Loans Loophole - when borrowing MORE means you pay LESS that I put in this email a couple of weeks ago. It was popular, so I challenged myself to come up with 10 more. Let's quirk...

  1. When paying just 1p on a credit card can be worth £10,000s. Many people know that paying on a credit card is the ultimate financial self-defence weapon, as the Section 75 law means card providers are jointly liable for purchases over £100 (ie, a min £100.01), up to £30,000. So if things go wrong you can ask the card firm to sort it.

    Yet what few know is even if you just pay for 1p of the purchase on the credit card, the card firm is still responsible for the WHOLE amount.

    So buy a £22,000 fitted kitchen and pay a bit on the card and you're covered. That may sound far-fetched, but having heard me talk about it, it's exactly what rescued MoneySaver Linda in 2014 when her kitchen fitters went bust. As she'd paid £200 on a credit card, this meant - with a bit of a fight - she got her money back. The rule still stands.

    And don't think Section 75 is only for when firms go bust. If something is faulty, you can go to the card firm instead of the retailer (really useful if the shop was overseas). Our Section 75 guide takes you through how it works, and how to claim. Of course aim to pay the card off IN FULL each month, so there's no interest.

  2. How an extra £100 can get you accepted for a mortgage. What's well known is that mortgages typically get cheaper at 90%, 80%, 75% and 60% loan-to-value (or to put it another way, 10%, 20%, 25% and 40% deposits), so obviously if you're nearing a border, it's worth pushing to it to reduce the rate. See Boost your Mortgage Chances for help on this and more.

    Yet what fewer know is if you push £100ish further beyond that, it can increase your chances of acceptance, as it no longer looks to mortgage underwriters like you're scraping to get to the limit.

    In fact, the geekiest mortgage geek of them all (a big compliment from me) Ray Boulger of John Charcol tells us even a fiver more can make a difference, especially for higher loan-to-values and with bigger lenders who process via algorithms when credit scores are touch and go. As it can never harm, you may as well try.

  3. How two people can have a financial threesome to make £340. I made you wait a little for the threesome, but I suspect that's usually no bad thing. This is all about the fact that with bank accounts, two people can be three financial entities. Each can have their own account, and then there's a joint account, as many have for bills.

    That means you're able to get three switch bonuses between the two of you. And right now there's a good combination for it...

    MSE's Best Bank Accounts guide- First Direct gives switchers £100 and has top service. First Direct* has a 91% 'great' rating and gives newbies a free £100, access to a linked 1% saver and often a 0% £250 overdraft. To get this, you just need to pay in £1,000 once within 3mths.

    - Virgin Money gives switchers £140 wine + £50 to charity. New Virgin Money switchers get 12 bottles of wine 'worth £138' (pls be Drinkaware), plus £50 to your choice of charity. To get this, you need to put £1,000 in the linked 0.35% savings account until you're sent the wine code.

    - Santander 123 gives up to 3% back on bills. For a £2/mth fee, Santander 123 Lite* pays cashback on bills you pay from it via direct debit, eg, 1% on council tax, 2% on energy and 3% on water. Those with mid-to-large household bills should make £40-£80/yr after the fee. You do have to have £500+/mth going into it though.

    The choice is yours, but I'd hedge for First Direct for your personal accounts (you can't do it for all three, as you will only be a newbie once) and one of the other two for the joint one. Full T&Cs and options are in our Best Bank Accounts guide.

    Don't have a joint account? You can set up a Santander 123 without switching. As the bonuses elsewhere are for switching though, to get them you'd first need to set up an account at a different bank, then once it's up and running move it across.

    A warning about joint FINANCES

    Some of these quirks involve couples getting joint accounts or being added as a 2nd credit card-holder. Please only do that if you are in a financially-trusting, caring, non-abusive relationship. Don't ever feel pressured by a partner into getting a joint account, it can sadly be a precursor to financial abuse - a form of domestic violence. For help and info, see my Financial abuse & joint accounts blog.


  4. How £1ish insurance can get you a YEAR's 2for1 at cinemas and 1,000s of restaurants. This is all about manipulating Compare The Market's Meerkat Meals and Meerkat Movies promo. You need to buy a qualifying product, and the cheapest one of those is a one-day single-trip UK travel insurance policy, costing a quid or two. So even if you don't need it, you can get it to qualify. Simples. See full Meerkat trick info.

  5. When increasing pension contributions can boost child benefit. If you or your partner earn £50,000+ a year, this starts to reduce your child benefit entitlement (in practice it's usually still paid, but tax is increased accordingly), and by £60,000 you don't get anything.

    Yet this is based on your 'adjusted income' - which usually deducts pension contributions, so increasing them can increase your child benefit entitlement.

    For example, someone earning £51,000 with two children who increases their pension saving by a grand (which, of course, is still your money - just for use later) would see their child benefit entitlement upped by £182/yr. See high-earner child benefit charges for full info.

    Similarly, for those who make pension contributions from gross pay, increasing them to bring your salary below the 40% tax rate threshold could make you eligible for the marriage tax allowance and a bigger personal savings allowances, though a lower disposable income can impact mortgage and other applications.

  6. MSE's guide to the top pick packaged bank accountsHow opening a bank account, even if not needed, can get £500 of mobile phone, travel & breakdown cover for £150. Packaged bank accounts charge you a monthly fee, but in return they include high-level insurance packages. For many these aren't good value, as you could just buy the insurance cheaper direct (in fact, many can reclaim packaged bank fees).

    Yet for couples, and more so families, especially with expensive mobiles, these can be a blockbuster, as the insurance benefits dwarf the monthly fee. Most don't even require you to switch to them to get it, nor have a min monthly pay-in, so you can just open it for the insurance, though that may feel more hassle than just moving your banking there.

    Full help and options are in Packaged Bank Accounts, but let me highlight the top pick for many, Nationwide FlexPlus*. With it you pay £13/mth (so £156/yr) and it gives you...

    - Worldwide family travel insurance (oldest age 69).
    - Family smartphone insurance (covers you, your partner and kids under 19, or under 22 and in full-time education, provided they live with you). This is the big one, as many pay well over £100/yr per person.
    - UK and European breakdown cover for the account holders.

    So add up what you pay for those products now, and if it's more than £156/yr it'd be cheaper to get this bank account.

  7. Why bizarrely the best way to (re)build a good credit history is to get a credit card. Would you lend money to someone who'd failed to repay in the past, or you knew nothing about? No? Well, nor will most lenders. That's why if you're always rejected because you've never had credit, or had problems, you need to let them get to know you and show you can be trusted. 

    The easy way to do this is to get a credit card, do £50-£100 a month of normal spending on it (not an excuse to spend more) and always repay on time. Provided there are no other issues, this should start to improve your creditworthiness within a year.

    The catch-22 is getting a credit card is hard with a poor credit history. So use our (Re)build Credit Card Finder, which shows which specialist poor-credit cards you're most likely to be accepted for. They have hideous interest rates, but as long as you repay IN FULL each month, never withdraw cash or breach the credit limit, then you won't pay interest, so it's free. More info and help in 37 tips to boost creditworthiness.

  8. Why some savers earning around £50,000 may be better off earning LESS interest. This one's a weird glitch, which means some savers may be better off going for lower interest rates. It's complex and only affects a few people, but if you may be one, have a read of this 2016 blog I wrote on why lower interest may earn you more.

  9. MSE's Credit Card Eligibility CalculatorWhen the cheapest way to get a loan may be via a credit card. There's nowt cheaper than interest-free, and there are 0% credit cards but not 0% loans. So the obvious question is... can you turn a credit card into a loan?

    The answer is yes. Though it's best for borrowing under £3,000, as above that credit limits get tricky. There are two routes for this:

    - Is the loan for something you can pay for by card? 
    Use our 0% Purchases Card Finder to see which the best card you're likely to be accepted for is. Up to 21mths 0% is possible. Then just use the card to pay.

    - Do you need cash or can't pay on the card? Use our 0% Money Transfers Card Finder to see which the best card you're likely to be accepted for is. Up to 18mths 0% is available.

    These are specialist cards, where you pay a one-off fee of 3-4%, and the card pays money into your bank account, so you owe it at 0% instead. Once the money is in your account, use it like you would've done with a loan. Step-by-step help is in 0% Money Transfers.

    - Important tips for doing this safely. 
    As with any loan, it should be for a one-off, needed, planned, budgeted-for purchase. If not, don't do it. And only use it for that, nothing else (put it in a bowl of water in your freezer to ensure you don't use it).

    One disadvantage of cards compared to loans is the payments aren't fixed, which is bad for financial discipline. So set up a direct debit to repay a fixed monthly amount that will clear the debt within the 0% period. If you don't think you can stick to this, then even though it's costlier, it's safer to go for a traditional cheap loan.

  10. How a couple may be able to get 5% cashback on all spending for SIX months. Cashback credit cards pay you for spending on them. The big payer is the Amex Platinum Everyday* card (best to use our eligibility checker first), which gives 5% cashback up to £100 for the first 3mths, and up to 1% after. Yet there's a route for a couple to get it for 6mths...

    - Step 1: Apply and add your partner as a 2nd cardholder (it's not a joint account, they just spend on your account). Both use it for all normal spending, to max out the 5% within the 3mths.
    - Step 2: As the 5% ends, your partner applies for the same card, and you become their 2nd cardholder to bag another 3mths at 5%.
    - Step 3: Return to your own cards to ensure you hit the £3,000 annual min spend to get the cashback. After that, just use one card, as it pushes you up the tiers you get cashback on.

    Of course, ensure you set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month to avoid the 22.2% rep APR interest, which would wipe the gain. Full help & options in Credit Card Rewards (APR Examples).
 
 

DON'T believe the fake 'Martin Lewis' or 'MSE' ads
Lots of scam ads litter social media and even newspaper websites - some of these lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

New. Hurrah for savers as the top 1yr fix hits 1% again. Time to lock in?

Every little victory for savers helps. Rates have been inching up since hitting historic lows in March, when the top one-year fix paid just 0.58%. Now the top payer's breaching the 1% barrier again, though as the next best is just 0.85%, there is a question over how long it'll last. The direction of travel looks good, though - the economic recovery is seeing increased competition between banks for savers' cash, and City predictions of long-term interest rates are also on the up. All accounts below have the full £85,000 savings protection.

  • Top fixed savings in MSE's Top Savings Accounts guideNew top 1% fixed savings. With fixes, you lock your money away for a set time to get a rate that's locked in too. The new top payer is Aldermore's 1% AER 1yr fix* (min £1,000), far ahead of Union Bank UK's 0.85% AER - though some can get £10-£100 cashback with it (the link has details).

    There's not much gain in fixing for longer, but if you want to, the top 2yr fix, also from Aldermore, pays 1.05% AER* (min £1,000). And even if you lock in for five years, the top rate's just 1.55% - see full options in Top Fixed Savings.

    Is now the time to fix?
     It gives you rate certainty, and right now it also gives more interest. The risk is that if other rates rise, you'll be locked in and therefore unable to take advantage. This risk is exacerbated the longer you fix for.

    And while we can't predict the future, we know that right now the top easy-access account pays just 0.5%. It'd take a big rise - and soon - before it would no longer be worth locking in with today's top 1yr fix, at least rate-wise. In many ways that looks the best of both worlds - you get certainty, but you're not committed for too long if rates jump.

  • Top 0.5% savings you can access any time. App-only Atom Bank (no min pay-in) is the top easy-access payer at 0.5% AER. Yet we know many prefer online accounts - the top one, Cynergy (min £1), pays 0.45% AER (incl a 1yr 0.15% bonus). With both, you can withdraw when you want, though rates are variable, so keep watch. See Top Savings for more.

  • Special accounts to boost interest further. Many beat the fixes above. Plus more options in our Savings section.

    - 50% bonus for many on universal credit or tax credits. Find out if you're eligible for Help to Save.
    - 25% bonus for first-time buyers aged 18-39. 
    Open one ASAP - full info in Top Lifetime ISAs.
    - Earn up to 3.5% if you save each month. Big interest on smaller amounts - full info in Regular Savings Accounts.
    - Earn 2.02% on smaller savings. Some current accounts give higher rates, but with strict criteria.
    - Prefer to invest? Possibly much higher returns, but losses possible too - see Stocks & Shares ISAs.
 

Warning. Check your payment card contact details are correct or risk declined purchases. New verification processes are being rolled out by debit and credit card firms to combat fraud. They often use your phone number, and if it's wrong, you may be declined. Full firm-by-firm info and help.

40+ supermarket coupons, incl free nappies, £4 off frozen foods. See June's coupons round-up.

Boots tricks: £43 No7 cosmetics for £10 or £60 beauty products for £20. Full info in Boot-iful bargains.

SEISS 5 update: Govt puts out new info on 5th self-employment grant. The full technicals aren't due until late June, but a brief update has told us the scheme will open in late July and has similar eligibility to the 4th grant, but the amount you can claim will depend on how much your turnover has fallen. See SEISS 5 latest.

Theme park 2for1s are back - buy £3 cereal for 2for1 Alton Towers, Legoland, Sea Life etc. It's the first big theme park 2for1 offer we've seen since the pandemic began - and vouchers are valid until June 2022, so grab one now in case you go later. Full info and analysis in 2for1 theme parks.

Ends Tue. Shift credit card debts to 29mths 0% (2.75% fee) and get £25 cashback. A balance transfer is where you get a new card that clears old card(s) for you, but at a cheaper rate. Acceptance is key, so use our eligibility calc to check which cards you're most likely to get first. HSBC's 29mths 0% deal (2.75% fee)* is the joint-longest 0% period, and also gives accepted newbies £25 cashback if they apply before next Tuesday and shift £100+ in the first 60 days. Always pay at least the monthly min and aim to clear the card before the 0% ends or it's 21.9% rep APR interest. Full help and options in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

18 Ikea hacks, incl 60-70% off items in its 'up to 50% off' summer sale. Check out Ikea MoneySavers.

The final Martin Lewis' Extreme Savers, ITV, Wed 8pm. In the last in the series, we meet Michelle the Renovatrix, Sophie and Lalli who live in a horse box, and David who's a serial switcher. And how would you survive with four no-spend days a week? Plus watch the first three episodes if you missed them.

 
 

Mobile firms slash prices to hit sales targets, ringing in a host of cheapest EVER deals, eg, 5GB Sim '£4.50/mth' + huge iPhone 11 & 12 cuts
 

MSE's Cheap Mobile Finder toolThe most recent lockdown dialled up slow sales for mobile providers as stores were closed and online sales were sluggish. Now retailers are fighting to make up for lost time with prices dropping across the board - likely to ensure they hit sales targets and get rid of stock. So if you're one of the 9m out-of-contract mobile users, see if you can take advantage...

  • Record low Sim prices, incl 5GB/mth Sim '£4.49/mth'. The biggest savings come if you stick with your handset and switch Sim. We've looked at prices across the board, and at many data levels, they're lower now than we've ever seen before. And while, switching Sim and keeping your number is simple, we know many prefer to stick with the same network - to do that, use our cheap Sim comparison to quickly home in on your cheapest deal.

    As an example of where prices are, this MSE Blagged Lebara (uses Vodafone network) 5GB/mth Sim costs '£4.49/mth' with unlimited calls and texts, and is the cheapest 5GB Sim we've seen. It's £2.99/mth for the first 6mths, then £5.99/mth, on a 1mth rolling contract - we've averaged the price over a year. If you need more data, via the Sim comparison tool you'll see 12GB/mth at '£6.67/mth', and a massive 50GB/mth at just '£8.67/mth'.

  • iPhone 12 with 100GB/mth data for £31/mth over 2 years (£3 upfront). The iPhone 11 and 12 are the most searched for phones in our Cheap Mobile Finder tool, and they keep getting cheaper (use the tool for more data options, or if you're looking for cheaper handsets - there are 10,000s of combos in there). We've taken advantage of the price war to blag the cheapest deals we've ever seen for these phones...

    - iPhone 12 (64GB storage), 100GB/mth data. With this Affordable Mobiles iPhone 12 deal on the Three network (which, of course, has unltd mins & texts), you pay £3 upfront, then £31/mth, making it £747 over the 2yr contract. That's £52 cheaper than buying a new phone outright at Apple without a Sim, £200+ cheaper than buying it outright at the cheapest place and adding a similar Sim, and £500+ cheaper than buying this phone direct from Three.

    - iPhone 11 (64GB storage), 5GB/mth data. With this Affordable Mobiles iPhone 11 deal on the EE network (again, it has unltd mins & texts), you pay £47 upfront, then £23/mth, making it £599 over the 2yr contract. That's only £10 more than buying a new handset outright, and again £500+ cheaper than getting a similar deal from EE.

    Note: For both deals, the network is responsible for your contract, reseller Affordable Mobiles for the handset.

  • Mobile switching need-to-knows...

    - Need to keep your signal? You can still switch. There are only four UK networks - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone - all others piggyback on their signals. Our Cheap Sims tool lets you opt for providers with your chosen signal.
    Don't overestimate data use - 3GB is good for most. Check yours, or try our Data Calculator if unsure.
    - You can keep your number. Send a free text, then give the code you're sent to the new network and it'll sort it.
    - Unlock your phone for free. If out of contract, your network must let you do so at no cost. See Mobile Unlocking.
 

Refund rights as Portugal axed from travel 'green list'. Check if you can get money back or move your trip.

Father's Day deals, incl 33% off all cards at Scribbler, 26% off Buyagift & free gift cheques. We know it's not for everyone, but if you're celebrating, it's a week on Sunday (20 June). See our Father's Day round-up.

'Thanks for your email last week, I saved £1,700 on car and home insurance'. Success of the week. Our car and home insurance warning in last week's email paid off for Richard, who got in touch to say: "A quick thanks for the wonderful email newsletter. We finally switched insurers last week after years with the same firms (two cars & one home). Total saving was £1,700, with £1,100 of it down to the house insurance reduction. Chuffed." Savings won't be that big for everyone, but if they are, let us know. Please send your MoneySaving successes on this or anything else.

A year ago, Martin was cast away on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. If you missed it, catch up here.

1,000s of GNE custs STILL haven't been transferred to EDF. Find out how to get an update in GNE delays.

Martin: 'Natasha died after eating sesame in a wrongly-labelled sandwich - her parents asked me to tell you this...' "I met the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in a TV green room in 2019, after they'd bravely talked about their daughter, who passed away from a severe allergy after eating inadequately-labelled food. Last year, they asked me to tell you that Tesco Free From has teamed up with their Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, and will donate 10p per item bought to the foundation, and they've been in touch to say it's doing it again from 13-19 June. So if you buy those products, please time it right." See Tesco Free From 10p donation.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: HSBC (check eligibility / apply*) 29mths 0%, 2.75% fee (min £5) + £25 cashback if shifting £100+ in first 60 days (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (20.9% rep APR)

Cheapest good-service deal: Outfox the Market variable, save £208/yr
Cheapest fix: Avro 12mth fix, save £128/yr
Cheapest big-name fix: Ovo 12mth fix, save £82/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Pick Me A Tariff Every Year

Savings include £25 MSE cashback (where paid). Assumes typical use vs price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Top standard easy access: Atom Bank 0.5%, no min
Top one-year fix: 
Aldermore 1%, min £1,000

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) (2.8% rep APR)
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k:
 
Cahoot (check eligibility / apply*), Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) or MBNA (check eligibility / apply*) (2.8% rep APR)

Standard b'band & line rent (10Mb+): Plusnet equiv £13.55/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent (30Mb+):
 Shell Energy equiv £17.83/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent (55Mb+): 
Shell Energy equiv £18.74/mth

Free £100 to switch + top service: First Direct
Free case of wine + 2.02% interest: 
Virgin Money

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

When did you last move your savings? With top-pick rates now rising, it's important to check your savings are earning as much interest as they can - and to move them if they're not. Yet we know switching savings isn't everyone's top priority. So when was the last time you moved your cash into a higher-paying account?

Most MoneySavers say they WOULD pay more to go green. Last week, we asked how important protecting the environment is to you - just over 5,000 people responded. Overall, 62% said they don't mind paying a bit or a lot more to go green, with 6% saying it was their top priority. But it did vary quite a bit by age - 79% of under-35s, but just 52% of over-65s, said they'd pay more to be environmentally friendly. See full poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I tell my son I've discovered he's in debt? My son and his girlfriend are both in full-time employment, but live with me and pay minimal rent so they can save for a deposit on a home. His girlfriend started getting letters from a debt collection agency, and then my son left out a letter from a loans firm saying he owed £2,000 - I couldn't help but read it. I'm not sure which one took out the loan, but it looks like the other has signed as guarantor, and I'm worried about the effect this will have on their ability to get a mortgage. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tell my son I've discovered he's in debt or leave them to deal with it alone? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 9 JUN ONWARDS)

Wed 9 Jun - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 1pm. Listen again
Wed 9 Jun - Martin Lewis' Extreme Savers, ITV, 8pm
Thu 10 Jun - This Morning, ITV, 10.55am, then phone-in from 11.25am
Mon 14 Jun - Politics Live, BBC Two, 12.15pm

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Thu 10 Jun - TalkRadio, Early Breakfast with James Max, personal finance news review with Helen Knapman, from 5.35am
Sat 12 Jun - BBC Radio Manchester, Saturday Breakfast with Simone Riley, on kids and money with Steve Nowottny, from 9.15am
Sat 12 Jun - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 11am
Mon 14 Jun - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.20pm
Tue 15 Jun - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.40pm

 

'I'M ON MY THIRD TOASTER IN A YEAR' - WHAT APPLIANCES HAVE YOU HAD NO LUCK WITH?

That's all for this week, but before we go... after MSE Molly told us she's on her third toaster in less than a year, we asked on social media what household electricals have cost you an arm and a leg by continuing to break down. You've told us your tales of having to fork out for multiple kettles, vacuum cleaners, irons and dishwashers - one unlucky MoneySaver even had to buy three new microwaves in four months. Take a peek at those stories or share yours in our household appliance horror Facebook thread.

We hope you save some money, stay safe,
The MSE team