Aug
05
2020

MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

05 August 2020

THIS WEEK: Over 50 ways to save, incl... £100 bank bribe, how to be tight, new top savings, learn new skills, £5k green home vchs, Netflix tricks, 50% off Nando’s & Michelins, £300+ off green energy

Plus... Netflix tricks, 50% off Nando's & Michelins, £300+ off green energy
                                                           
 


 

16 MoneySaving lessons from lockdown - incl learn new skills for free, cut debt to 0%, TV tricks & how to be tight (in a good way)

The pandemic has changed our way of life. And as we've had to adapt, so too have our MoneySaving skills while we try to stay safe, healthy, entertained and keep our bills down amid shifting habits. 

As restrictions are still in place and many are wary of getting back to old ways too soon, we've rounded up our top MoneySaving lessons from lockdown to help you save cash in this new world. They're worth knowing whether everything's rosy, or you're one of millions struggling financially. Here goes...

1) 12 FREE ways to learn a new skill, eg, play an instrument, gain a qualification or learn a language. If you're spending more time at home, you can use it to gain some impressive know-how. See how to learn skills for free.

2) 42 easy ways to be tight (in a good way). Eg, bulldog clips to eke out the last of the toothpaste. If money's tight, you want to cut waste or you simply don't want to have to go shopping as often, see tips from the MSE team and our Forumites. 42 household hacks

3) Paying card or loan interest? Shifting to 0% or cheap rates is key. Yet acceptance is tougher, so first use our eligibility calculators to check your chances. If you've manageable existing debt, it's vital to ensure the interest rate is as low as possible. Sadly our eligibility data shows far fewer people are getting accepted for new cheaper cards and loans now, likely due to a mix of tighter credit scoring, and worsening finances:

- Credit cards: The number not eligible for any cards has jumped to 20% from 7% pre-coronavirus, while those offered at least one pre-approved card has dropped from a half to a third.

If you pay interest on any existing credit card, a balance transfer - where you shift debt from one card to another, often at 0% - could be your key weapon. Use our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc to see which 0% cards are most likely to accept you, without harming your creditworthiness.

- Loans: The number not eligible for any loans has jumped from 3% pre-coronavirus to 45% now. Sometimes a cheap loan can help you slash interest costs compared with existing debt. If you want one, it's best to use our Loans Eligibility Calc to see which providers are most likely to accept you, without harming your creditworthiness. Also see our Cut loan costs guide for more help on switching.

Those in dire straits should consider a credit card or loan payment holiday, though only do that in an emergency, as interest still racks up.

4) 23 TV tricks, incl free box sets (eg, Fleabag, ER & 90210), and when you do (and don't) need a TV licence. With many on the sofa for longer, we've rounded up top TV MoneySaving Tricks

5) 18 Netflix hacks - can you save up to £72/yr? As it's arguably the box-set biggie, we've specific Netflix MoneySaving

6) 14 cycling MoneySaving tips, incl work-based discounts, try-before-you-buy & DIY repairs. There's been a wheely big rise in cycling in lockdown, to get around and to keep fit, so we've recently launched our 14 MoneySaving Cycling Tips to help.

7) Save £100s on broadband & line bills while getting a speed boost to boot. With many of us working at home and with families also online more, fast broadband has become even more important - no one wants their Teams or Zoom calls dropping out.

Yet millions overpay for their connection, sometimes shelling out £45/mth for slow speeds. The secret to slashing costs is to pounce on short-lived promos, so here are the top deals - fastest first...
 

- Ends Wed (today). 63Mb fibre (ie, V FAST) b'band & line: TalkTalk '£20.56/mth' - though it scores worst of the biggies on service
- Ends Mon. 35Mb (FAST) b'band & line: Shell '£17.74/mth'
- Ends Mon. 11Mb (standard) b'band & line: Shell '£15.83/mth'

Links take you via our Broadband Unbundled tool to check eligibility, as not all deals will be available in your area. It shows other offers if you can't get these and it includes lots more switching help.

8) Check what you'll save by quitting smoking, dumping the latte habit etcMany people have had to cut back with money tighter, eg, 1m+ have quit smoking since lockdown started. Our fun Demotivator tool shows how much a £10 pack of cigs or a £3 daily coffee costs you in the long-run, to give you that push to keep saving.

9) Don't want to go abroad? Top UK bargain-break tips, incl £25/night hotels & cottage dealsWith many restrictions still in place on overseas travel, many of us are staying closer to home - read our bundle of UK bargain-break tips.

10) Uncomfortable going to the hairdressers? Our home haircut dos & don'ts. While many salons and barbers are now open, nearly 40% of you told us in our July poll you'd prefer not to go to one yet.

Of course, MoneySaving, not grooming, is our forte but to help we've collected fun tips from those who have tried a DIY haircut (or who have done someone else's hair) - plus the pitfalls to avoid so you don't end up looking like Chewbacca. Home haircutting tips

11) How to make face masks with spare fabric. With coverings now mandatory on all public transport, plus in shops in Eng and Scot, we show how to craft them from spare fabric + we've the cheapest ready-made masks. See homemade face masks.

12) Many gyms are open... but you can keep fit for free. This is actually a useful tip at any time, not just in lockdown, given many waste £100s paying for memberships they don't use. Yet it's particularly pertinent now given more than 60% of you told us last month there was no way you're going back to the gym yet.

While new sessions of the popular free 'PE with Joe' may be finished, you can still watch all the videos back - our 13 ways to keep fit for free blog includes this tip and other top online/app workouts.

13) Create a magical summer for kids on a budget, eg, fruit picking & beaming a T-Rex into your home. Often it's the little things that make the best childhood memories. So we've updated our blog with more creative ideas to wow kids in these new ways of living. See our 21 free (or cheap) ways to create safe summer magic for little 'uns.

14) Stream live music from Little Mix, Elton John, Oasis, R.E.M. & more for free. Some venues were supposed to reopen last weekend, but now won't for at least two weeks. Thankfully, you can still get your live music fix online via virtual gigs, classic performances and more for free - plus the world's tallest person won't be standing in front of you. See what's on with our Free live music online blog.

15) Watch out for coronavirus scams. Lockdown has brought out the best in many, but sadly some lowlife criminals have used the pandemic to prey on people's pockets - we've seen NHS Test and Trace scams, fake HMRC emails and more. Full info and what to do in our 20+ coronavirus scams to watch out for blog.

16) Save £300+/yr by switching energy - crucial as we spend more time at home. With more of us working at home and going out less, bills have risen. And with 11m overpaying on expensive standard tariffs anyway, do a full Cheap Energy Club comparison to find your best deal. Plus we've a full rundown on the top deals below, which are all currently green tariffs too.

A reminder of our constantly updated guides that remain crucial...
Coronavirus travel rights, incl Spain, refunds & insurance

Coronavirus employees' help, incl furlough rights
Coronavirus self-employed & small ltd co help, incl income scheme
Coronavirus finance & bills help, incl mortgages, energy & TV
Coronavirus universal credit & benefits, incl what you're due
Coronavirus life in lockdown, incl MOTs, food & entertainment

 
 

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.

 

 
 

The return of the big bank bribe
Bag a free £100 to switch current account to Halifax

The first big one-off bonus in 5mths launches as the switching force awakens, plus more hot deals

We told you last week banking had gone to the dark side, with sky-high 40% overdraft rates and all switch bribes axed. But from yesterday (Tue) Halifax began offering £100 to move to it, giving a new hope to switchers. While it's flying solo on that score, there are some other good deals that pay interest or cashback so we've a full round-up below. Sadly, this still isn't the market of 2019, but it's as good as the switch wars have been in months. All require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check.

  • New. Top (& only) one-off bonus - free £100. The Halifax Reward account offers £100 if you switch using its official switching service, though you need to pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv to a £21,300 salary) to avoid a £3/mth fee.

    - Who's eligible for the £100? You can't currently have a Halifax bank account and can't have had a switching bonus from it since April 2018.

    - Any other rewards? You can also earn a choice of the following: £5/mth cash, three digital magazine subscriptions (eg, Cosmo, Esquire), two monthly online movie rentals from Rakuten, or one monthly Vue cinema ticket + 1/2 price popcorn. However, there are a host of conditions to qualify - see our Halifax Reward review for full info.

  • Top for bill-payers - up to 3% ongoing cashback. The Santander 123 Lite* account pays cashback on bills paid by direct debit. There's a £1/mth fee, rising to £2/mth on 27 Oct, but you can still make a tidy profit even after the hike...

    - What's the cashback? It pays 1% on council tax, Santander mortgages and water, 2% on energy and 3% on phone, broadband and TV packages. That's changing a bit on 27 Oct - it'll then offer 3% on water and 1% on phone, broadband and TV bills. Also note, there's a £5/mth cap on each cashback tier. After the changes, those with mid-to-large bills can make £40-£90/yr after the fee (more pro-rata before), so it'll give the top ongoing rewards for many.

    - Who's eligible? New and existing customers can apply, though to get cashback you must pay in £500+/mth (equiv to a £6,000 salary), have 2+ active direct debits and log in to online/mobile banking at least every 3mths. Note, you can open the account without having to switch from another one so it's simpler than Halifax in that sense.

  • Top combo - 2.02% easy-access savings + cheap spending abroad. And it's simple to open. The Virgin Money* current account pays 2.02% AER variable interest on up to £1,000 - the top easy-access interest rate, albeit on a low amount. And you can use the debit card overseas without paying the usual 3%-ish exchange fees. While fewer of us are going abroad now, it's useful if you're heading away or buying from overseas. The card should come within a week.

    - Who's eligible? New and existing customers can apply, you don't need to switch to it and there's no minimum pay-in. So you could leave money sitting there to earn interest and top it up before going away.

For full info on these accounts and lots more deals, see Best Bank Accounts.

 

STOP PRESS: What £5,000 green home-improvement vouchers in Eng will cover. The Govt's just released an update with this key info on the scheme which launches in Sept. Eg, those who just planned on getting double-glazing will miss out. See Green Homes Grant latest. Also see below for how to go green and save on energy bills NOW.

Ending. Cheapest 8GB Sim we've seen + unltd mins & texts - '£6.33/mth'. MSE Blagged. Until 11.59pm next Tue, newbies to Three* pay £8/mth, but as you automatically get £20 cashback, factor that in and over the 1yr contract it's equiv to £6.33/mth. More deals, plus how to switch, in Top Sims.

13 charity shop tips, incl find designer clobber, spot sales & buy online. Shops are fully stocked thanks to lockdown clear-outs - eg, Scope says donations have been up 230% on last year. So we've dusted off our tips to help you and the charities. Charity shop tips

New. Top 'fixed' savings: 1.2% for 1yr or 1.4% for 2yrs - but via Shariah accounts. If you want a more straight-forward easy access deal, Govt-backed NS&I pays the top 1.16% AER variable rate (min £500, while you can only withdraw/deposit in £500+ chunks). But if you're prepared to lock money away you can earn more with a fixed rate, and Sharia bank QIB UK has launched two stonking deals via savings marketplace Raisin: a 1.2% AER 1yr fixed account* and a 1.4% AER 2yr fixed account* (min £1k in each). In accordance with Islamic principles, both pay an 'expected profit', not interest, though we've not seen any UK-based Sharia banks fail to meet expected rates. Those rates smash other 1yr and 2yr fixes, and via those links, Raisin newbies can claim £10 on £5k+ too. QIB also has the full £85k per person savings protection. Full info and more options in Top Savings.


Who's taking part (incl postcode checker)? Eg, Nando's, KFC & even Michelin starred restaurants
Who's giving more than 50% off? 
Eg, Carluccio's & Beefeater  

Then, see if you can stack it with: 2for1 meals for £2ish | Amex £5 off £10+ at independents |
Standard deals, eg, £2 BK Whopper, £8.50 unlimited Pizza Hut

 
 

GREEN GAS & ELEC ALERT
Help the planet & save £300+/yr, as ALL the cheapest deals now come with clean energy - incl from biggies British Gas & E.on

It may be warm across much of the UK right now, but a host of hot green deals can help you get ahead for autumn

With huge interest in the £5k energy-efficiency grants for home improvements that launch next month (more info above), going green is high on the agenda. Yet why wait to do your bit as all today's cheapest energy deals are green and could save you £100s/yr. While switching energy may not be your number one thought in summer, by acting now you can lock in cheap rates and you'll be sorted for autumn/winter. So if you're keen to go green and/or you live in one of the 11m homes overpaying for energy on a standard tariff, here's the key info.

Note: Most standard-tariff users pay very close to the regulator's price cap - an avg £1,127/yr on typical dual-fuel use. Savings below are vs that. All deals below except Outfox are only available via our Cheap Energy Club links.

CHEAPEST ENERGY DEALS FOR NEWBIES
Prices are averages on typical use. Your winner depends on region & use so links go via our comparison
PROVIDER & PRICE  HOW GREEN? HOW GOOD IS IT?
CHEAPEST FIXES (rate is fixed so offers security, but what you pay depends on what you use)
E.on 1yr fix
£816/yr (save £311/yr)
100% renewable elec  Cheapest fix. This dual-fuel or elec-only E.on fix is only cheapest by a whisker on avg, so as it may not win for all, ensure you compare. You'll need to get free smart meters installed. Service rating: a middling 3.0/5.
Pure Planet 1yr fix
£817/yr (save £310/yr)
100% renewable elec + 100% offset gas  Greenest cheap fix + good service. Unlike its rivals, this dual-fuel or elec-only Pure Planet fix has green elec AND gas. Plus, it'll win for some on price as it's only just behind E.on on avg. Service rating: a good 3.9/5.
British Gas 1yr fix 
£819/yr (save £308/yr)
100% renewable elec Cheap fix + good service. This dual-fuel-only British Gas fix is so close in avg price to the two above, it may win for some, so compare. You'll need to get free smart meters installed. Service rating: a good 3.9/5.
Also compare 2yr fixes. Avg savings are a lower £235/yr with top deals from tiddlers, but they're green & could win if prices rise. 
CHEAPEST VARIABLE DEAL (rate can go up or down)
Outfox the Market
£788/yr (save £339/yr)
100% renewable elec

Cheapest but POOR service. This Outfox deal for dual-fuel customers, like any variable, can move in price. It's the market's cheapest but we've seen issues with Outfox's service. Service rating: a poor 2.3/5.
CHEAPEST PREPAY METER DEAL
Bulb 
£973/yr (save £191/yr)
100% renewable elec + 100% offset gas   
Cheapest prepay deal + great service. This dual-fuel and elec-only Bulb tariff, like most prepay deals, is variable, so prices can move, but it's always been consistently cheap. Service rating: a great 4.1/5. 
All tariffs are for new customers and are not avail in N Ireland. Prices are avg dual-fuel costs on typical use, incl £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback, where avail. Savings are versus the standard-tariff price cap, at an avg £1,127/yr on typical use (for Bulb, vs the avg £1,164/yr prepay cap).


  • Want the greenest energy? You'll pay a premium for it. While the tariffs above offer renewable elec or offset gas, if you're willing to pay more, Green Energy UK offers the only pure renewable tariffs we can find (it has 100% renewable elec and 100% renewable gas). Yet its cheapest deal, for dual-fuel and elec-only custs, costs a typical £1,350/yr - that's £223/yr more than the price cap. Use our Cheap Energy Club green filter to find it but you may have to scroll down to see it in your results.

  • What is green energy? We all use a mix of 'clean' and 'dirty' energy as what comes into our homes is from a national network, fed by multiple sources. But if you select a green tariff, your supplier funds green initiatives. Here's a rundown of what the green terms above mean (or see green energy explained).

    Renewable electricity. This is the most common type, where suppliers fund enough renewable elec - from solar, wind, hydro etc - to match your use.
    - Offset gas. Here firms plant trees to 'offset' the carbon from the 'dirty' gas you use.
    - Renewable gas. This isn't common, but it's where your supplier funds enough clean gas made via 'anaerobic digestion' (the breaking down of biodegradable material) to match your use.

PS: Switching energy isn't difficult - and it only takes 10 mins or so. Your supply won't be cut off, no one visits your home (unless you want a smart meter) and it's the same gas, same electricity, same safety. The only changes are price and service. See our switching FAQs.

 

Now only those who get pension credit can bag a free TV licence, but 1m+ fail to claim. Not claiming means you miss out on the £1,000s extra a year from the benefit itself (which gives additional income to low earners above state pension age). You also don't get the extras it entitles you to, which includes free TV licences for over-75s, council tax discounts and free dental care. If you know someone who can claim but isn't, spread the word. See Pension Credit help.

15 top tips to beat the heat & save cash, eg, £2ish sun cream. Plus £9ish fans, put bedding in the freezer (yes, really) and more heatwave-busting MoneySaving tips, as it's warming up in much (but not all) of the UK.

Boots £5 off every £20 on selected beauty brands - incl YSL, Lancome, Urban Decay, L'Oreal. So it's £5 off £20, £10 off £40 etc. Boots beauty bargains

'Free' £15 school uniform via cashback site. Plus cheap uniform bundles, incl £4 at Aldi and Lidl. Uniform round-up

5,000+ mags on your phone/tablet for free, eg, OK, Gardeners' World, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping. 2mths' access for newbies to app that lets you read mags offline. Sign up by Sun. Mag-nificent

Spain travel rights latest - incl refunds help & what's cancelled. 100,000s have had plans disrupted. See the latest info in our daily updated Spain travel rights help (incl Martin's video briefing). It also details your rights if restrictions are placed on other countries too (eg, Luxembourg, which has already happened).

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: M&S Bank 28mths 0%, 2.85% fee (min £5) or 28mths 0%, 2.75% fee if you're a NatWest/RBS customer (both 19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (
check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR) or 20mths 0% if you're a NatWest/RBS customer (19.9% rep APR) 

Cheapest fixed rateE.on - save £311/yr
Cheapest 100% green fix: Pure Planet - save £310/yr

Savings incl £25 MSE cashback if avail & assume typical use vs £1,127/yr price cap. Links go to our Cheap Energy Club

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: 
Cahoot (
check eligibility / apply*) or TSB (check eligibility / apply*), both 2.8% rep APR 

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell equiv £15.83/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell equiv £17.74/mth 
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £20.56/mth

Free £100 for switching + monthly rewards: Halifax Reward
2.02% interest on up to £1,000: Virgin Money

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: 
"We followed your article and compared our council tax band with similar houses in our neighbourhood. We were rebanded and got a £3,680 refund, plus a lower payment going forward. Thank you."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you rate your bank account's service? The current account switching market is heating up again, with the first switching bribe we've seen in five months launching this week. And while we can spot the hottest deals, every six months we ask for your help to track the quality of customer service provided by banks. Tell us how you rate yours.

MoneySavers aren't keen on a full-time return to the office. Last week, we asked if you've been working from home over the past few months, and whether you'd like to keep doing so. Over 10,000 people responded, and 92% reported they'd been working from home some or all of the time. Looking forward, of those currently working from home, only 5% said they'd prefer a full-time return to their normal workplace, while 48% want to work from home fully and 47% partially. See full working from home poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I accept tips because my colleagues do? I recently started as a delivery driver. During training, nothing was said about tips, though on the company intranet it says we're not allowed to accept them. Yet I've seen other drivers accept them and when I've refused to take money from some very insistent customers, they've said my colleagues all accept cash. While I know it's not strictly permitted, I could really use the extra money. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I accept tips? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

Summer sizzlers - Eg, £2ish sun cream, fans from £9
Restaurant deals - Eg, £2 Whopper, £8.50 unltd Pizza Hut
Boots - £5 off every £20 you spend on selected beauty brands
School uniform deals - Eg, 'free' £15 set, £4 Aldi and Lidl
Readly - 2mths' free access to 5,000+ digital magazines

Co-op - £5 frozen meal deal incl fish fillets, chips, ice cream etc
Dine Club - Free two-month membership (norm £10ish)
Asda - £7 meal deal incl two pizzas, one side & four beers
Krispy Kreme - Free doughnut with newsletter sign-up
Caffè Nero - Free hot or cold drink via O2 (norm £2ish)

Apple - Free online summer-camp activities incl coding
Tails.com - 80% off 1mth's supply of 'tailored' dog food
Glasses Direct - Varifocals from £49
Boom25 - 1 in 8 chance of 100% cashback on your shopping
Lenstore - 20% off and free delivery

Tricks to help you get out of your overdraft. Over and out
Top lockdown savings lessons. A-wash with tips
Small ways to help clear debt. Chipping away

 
 

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 10 Aug - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 11 Aug 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm

 

WATERCRESS & HOT LIME PICKLE: MONEYSAVING SANDWICH FILLINGS

That's it for this week, but before we go... saving you cash is our bread and butter, but after MSE Ben asked for a bit of help last week with MoneySaving sandwich fillings, you gave us a great spread of ideas. We were inundated with tasty ideas, from old favourites such as crisps or boiled eggs, through to the more unusual beetroot with corned beef or cheese and watercress with hot lime pickle. To share yours or if you just want inspiration, see our MoneySaving sandwich fillings Facebook post. 

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