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This week: Over 50 ways to save, incl... Amazon £5 off, £68 shop £5, 2for1 Kew/Eden etc, tax code alert, £10/mth b’band, £80 off iPads

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."

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


Last chance ever? FREE £125 to switch to no.1 customer service bank

We've been shouting about First Direct's 1st account for around a decade. It's to bank account service what Muhammad Ali was to boxing, what Stephen Hawking was to space - it's the king. It's won every bank customer service poll we've done and to our knowledge has always given new switchers £100-£150 in that time as a cash bribe.

But the current £125 offer ends on Mon. First Direct normally then reduces it to £100, but not this time - and it's yet to confirm what offer (if any) comes after, which makes us suspect it may never return. So if you've been delaying switching to it, act now. All banks below require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check and use their official switching services for the full perks.

  • Ends 11.59pm Mon. Free £125, top service, 5% savings + 0% overdraft. The 1st account from First Direct* has been top of our picks for years. Not only does it have superb customer service, but a host of other goodies that many other accounts don't offer. Via our link, new customers get:

    - Free £125 (£100 if you go direct). It comes within 28 days of you paying in a min £1,000, which must be done in the first 3mths.
    - Top service. In our latest poll 91% rated it 'great'.
    - A £250 0% overdraft. Although you'll need to pass a credit check.
    - A 5% regular saver. Fixed for 1yr, in which you can save up to £300/mth.
    - The account's free. If you pay in £1,000/mth (equiv to a £12,675/yr salary), or it's £10/mth.

    What if I'm already a customer or have had the bonus before?Unfortunately the bonus is only for switchers who've never had an account with First Direct before.  

  • Don't want First Direct? Get £185 in M&S vchs or a free £75 to switch bank. The bank bribe war isn't as fierce as in previous months, so there are only two standout alternatives to First Direct at the moment.

    - Get £185 in M&S vchs. M&S Bank* gives new switchers a £125 M&S gift card, plus £5/mth is added to the card for the first year when they deposit £1,000/mth. It also has a £100 0% overdraft (subject to a credit check) and a 5% regular saver fixed for 1yr, where you can save up to £250/mth.  
    To get it all you need to switch, incl 2+ active direct debits, within 3mths of opening.  

    - Free £75 (paid quickly) + £3/mth. While the bribe is far lower than the others, Halifax pays new customers £75 even before the switch completes. Plus, if you pay in £750/mth, remain in credit, and pay out at least two direct debits, it pays £3/mth. There are no overdraft fees for the first 6mths for switchers but they can be costly after, so beware.

    For a full lowdown and more options, incl accounts for high interest, overdrafts and insurance, see our Best Bank Accounts guide.

    Bank switching FAQs
    If you're unsure how it all works, this should help...

    Q. How difficult is switching? Not difficult at all. In fact, in our last poll, 76% of you said it was hassle-free. Under banks' switching services, your account is switched and your old one closed, all within seven working days. And the banks do the hard work of moving money and payments across.

    Q. What if money is paid into the old account or something goes wrong? The bots behind the scenes sort it, so for at least 3yrs any money paid into the old account or wrongly earmarked to come out of that account is transferred to the new one. If you're hit with any charges due to an error in the switch service that leads to a missed payment, this should be refunded by the new bank.

    Q. I don't qualify for one of these accounts, what can I do? Sadly, 1m+ don't have a bank account. Yet as long as you've ID, you should be able to get what's called a basic bank account where there's no overdraft facility. See our Basic Bank Accounts guide for help.

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.



MSE Big Energy Switch Event 10 
SAVE typically £320/yr + get top service 
Beat price hikes with one of the CHEAPEST deals available, or fix for 2 winters 

Millions face paying more for their energy in the coming weeks. E.on's prices go up 2.7% this Thu, while British Gas is raising gas & elec prices by 5.5% in May and EDF 1.4% in June, with more likely to follow. So if you're one of the 60% still on a standard tariff, sort your energy NOW - you're likely massively overpaying.

We know many are worried about choosing a new tariff, so to help we've secured two rock-bottom deals from reliable firms as part of our latest Big Energy Switch. 13,000 have already saved, such as Fraser who tweeted: "Just used Cheap Energy Club. Goodbye British Gas, hello eco-friendly Bulb & HELLO to the extra £336. #winwin" 

After the hikes, a typical dual-fuel user will pay an avg £1,149/yr on a Big 6 standard tariff. Compare with prices below, but act quick - the deals won't last for long.

  • BIG SWITCH WINNER 1Save £320+/yr, + 'great' service + 100% renewable elec. The Bulb Vari-Fair is the cheapest deal we'd put our name to. It's £823/yr after £25 MSE cashback and £30 bill credit, based on typical dual-fuel use. Bulb has over 300,000 customers and its service smashes most others' in our polls - with 95% voting it 'great'. The tariff's variable so rates can go up or down but you'd get 2mths' notice, and can leave any time penalty-free.

    How does it compare?  A few tiddler firms beat it but we've little feedback on 'em, so as prices vary by region see how it compares with the whole of market, and make sure you add the bill credit to savings quoted as it isn't included in results. 

  • BIG SWITCH WINNER 2CHEAPEST big name 2yr fix + it's from a Big 6 firm. The EDF Simply Fixed Apr20 tariff lets new and existing customers lock in a cheap rate till 30 April 2020 - great if you don't switch often. It's a typical £911/yr after MSE cashback, saving £235/yr on standard variable prices.

    How does it compare? Use our special long fix comparison filter which only shows deals fixed for 18mths or longer. Or compare with the whole of market. Though you'll only see it if you were signed up to this email (using the same email address) or an existing 
    Cheap Energy Club member before 10am last Tue.

Switching's easy, but if you're worried about it or want more info, see our Switching FAQs. Sadly, the deals above aren't available in Northern Ireland or on prepay. 

PS: If you wonder if we're paid for this - we are. But we pay roughly half to you via cashback, which you don't get applying direct. The rest pays our costs, and hopefully makes us a little profit.


Amazon £5 off £25 for virtually EVERYONE. Many of its deals are limited - not this. How to bag £5 off Amazon

Check your tax code - MILLIONS are wrong, and it could cost you big. A new tax year means new tax codes. They affect your take-home pay, yet it's your responsibility to check. If wrong, it can mean nasty surprises. Use our Tax Code Calculator to check yours is right.

Free YEAR'S 2for1 garden pass via £5 mag incl Kew/Eden. Works for 400+ gardens. Garden pass

Martin: 'Pls help stop people who are suicidal being harassed by creditors. People in hospital due to severe anxiety, depression and other tough mental health conditions struggle enough without heavy-handed creditors pushing them. My Money & Mental Health charity is campaigning with MPs to get them breathing space, helping their recovery and improving the chances they'll repay one day. Agree? Pls sign this letter to the Chancellor.'

Standard b'band & line '£10.24/mth' from Plusnet - joint CHEAPEST this year, with top service. In our latest cust service poll, 85% scored BT-owned Plusnet 'great' or 'OK'. Its up-to-17Mb standard speed for 1yr is an equiv £10.24/mth if you claim a £75 cheque & pay line rent upfront (£12.74/mth if line paid monthly). Hot Plusnet

Want faster fibre b'band? Vodafone from '£18.23/mth'. For up-to-38Mb speed, Vodafone is '£18.23/mth', while for even faster up-to-76Mb, Vodafone's '£23.23/mth'. Both deals are for 18mths & you must claim a £50 Amzn vch for those prices.

Want more options & help? Do a full comparison of the best deals in YOUR area.


Warning. Mortgage rates are RISING - so if you're gonna fix GO QUICK

The cheapest-ever era is over, yet many can still save £1,000s/yr. Here's a checklist for EVERY mortgage holder 

For mortgages, the only way is up, it seems. Last autumn you could get a 2yr fix for just 0.99%, in Jan the cheapest had risen to 1.09% and now it's 1.29%. It's all because the rates lenders pay to borrow have risen, largely due to expectations the base rate - the official Bank of England borrowing rate - will go up in May. Yet many can protect themselves by acting now to beat further increases. Full help in our Free Remortgage 2018 Booklet, here's our quick step-by-step plan...

  1. Check your mortgage NOW - some can save £1,000s. Dig out its details: rate, type (fixed or variable), length, exit fees and loan to value - the proportion of your property's value you're borrowing. Alysia did: "We switched and fixed for 5yrs, taking 2yrs off the term. Our 5yr saving is £20k." Here's who's most likely to save, full help in our Remortgage Booklet:

    - Fix/tracker about to end? Your rate'll likely rocket to your lender's standard variable rate (SVR), so check if you can get a new cheap fix. Even if your current deal ends in 3mths, the new rate will likely still be valid then, and some even last 6mths. See when to lock in a new deal.
    - Already on an SVR? As it's expensive, many can save by ditching it, but this isn't a universal rule. See SVR help.
    - Should you ditch your fix or tracker? In a few cases ditching expensive fixes or trackers and even paying the exit fees to lock in a good deal for years is worth it. Though this is complex & won't work for many. Check our Ditch your fix? Calculator.

  2. Benchmark YOUR top deal in 2 mins. Use our Mortgage Best Buys comparison to see the best deals.

  3. Compare it to your current deal. Check if your winner is cheaper using our Ultimate Mortgage Calc.

  4. Use a broker to improve your chances. What matters is your credit score, if payments are affordable and if you and your home meet lenders' eligibility criteria - a good mortgage broker can help. Also see how to boost your mortgage chances, plus check your credit score via our free Credit Club.

New. Top 1yr fixed savings - 1.85%. Fixed  savings rates have started nudging up again. Wyelands Bank pays 1.85% on a £5k min. Or there's Atom's 1.8% (min £50). For a 2yr fix, Wyelands pays the top rate of 2.15% (min £5k). Full options in Fixed savings.

Apple-refurbished iPads up to £80 cheaper than new. Loads of models to choose from, but stock of each is limited. All incl 12mth warranty, new battery, outer shell, accessories & packaging. Refurbished iPads

Warning. DON'T believe all you read in the regulator's new Arnie PPI ads. You could LOSE a third of any PPI reclaim payout. See Arnie ads warning.

EXTRA 10% off 'best before' clearance groceries, eg, 26p Pepsi. MSE Blagged. Online shop sells discounted food close to or past 'best before' dates, but still safe to eat. Our code makes it even cheaper. Min £22.50 spend + £6 del, so best for bulk-buyers. Approved Food

Tube or train delayed in London? New free tool 'auto-claims' refund for you. You won't miss out if you forget to claim. Full details of routes it works on in Tube & train refunds.

Naked Wines £35 for 7 bottles (norm £78) and 2 glasses. MSE Blagged. Incl prosecco. 1,500 available for Naked Wines newbies. Pls be Drinkaware.


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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 36mths 0%, 1.99% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.7% rep APR (1-3yrs, needs a Nectar card)  

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £10.24/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £18.23/mth

£125 to switch + top service: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: Nationwide FlexDirect  


MSE's Coupon Kid: 'I got £68 of shopping for £5'

Can you beat it? We've a trolley-load of couponing tips for huge supermarket savings 

Our Coupon Kid Jordon has unfortunately spent most of the past few months in hospital because of his Crohn's Disease. But that didn't stop him doing what he does best - hoarding a tonne of coupons. Now thankfully out and on the mend, he's used his stash to get an incredible £68 of shopping for £5, incl nine packs of cat food for free. So can you beat Jordon? There's full help in our Extreme Couponing guide, but in brief...

  • Get 100+ coupons worth £120+. Our updated Supermarket Coupons page now boasts more than 100 coupons, including £2 off Ariel 3-in-1 pods, £1 off Herbal Essences and £1 off Oral-B toothpaste. It's your first step to cut grocery costs.

  • Stack coupons for extreme savings. This is how to combine a range of offers on one item for a mega-saving, eg, right now you get a £5.50 pack of Ariel pods for £1.50 by combining a sale at Tesco where they're £3.50 and a £2 off coupon - see how to stack.

  • Know the best times to get the biggest 'yellow sticker' reductions. We've craftily gathered insider info from supermarket staff and shoppers on when stores want to offload stock, to help you time your trip right.

  • Decode coupon barcodes. You don't need a scanner - find how to read a barcode by sight, so you can tell how much your coupon will take off, handy for deciphering how much a freebie coupon is worth.

  • Write a poem (or just an email) to a manufacturer. Companies love hearing how much you enjoy their products and often send coupons to say thanks. Poems and drawings go down particularly well. See blagging coupons.

Also find more top tips in our 34 Supermarket Shopping Tips guide.


Free tennis sessions & coaching. 1,500+ Lawn Tennis Association events across Eng, Scot and Wales. Anyone for tennis?

"On your suggestion I queried my council tax banding as my neighbour's was lower than mine. I have just received a refund for the last 19 years as I was in a higher band than I should have been. Thanks."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Run 26.2 miles for free food... London Marathon freebies. Burgers, pizzas, beer, sushi, free travel and more for runners and volunteers. Fast food



Ever asked for a pay rise? Pay is big news, with many bigger companies having to report their gender pay gap. Normally in the consumer world if you're unhappy with something, you should politely complain. We wanted to test whether this applies in the world of work too. Ever asked for a pay rise?

Toiletries are the most likely items you'd take from a hotel. Last week we asked what you've taken from a hotel and got 13,000+ votes. Toiletries were the most popular choice, with about a fifth of respondents admitting to stocking up. Biscuits/chocolates were the second most popular, followed by coffee/tea/sugar sachets. Interestingly, roughly 3% would 'treat' themselves to a new towel before checking out. See other items people take from hotels



Should I split my winnings and risk my wedding? A friend and I went to the races and he won about £50, which he split with me. On a more recent visit together I won a much larger amount - enough to pay for my forthcoming wedding. He says I should split it with him, but then I won't be able to afford my wedding. Can I get away with giving him a token amount? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I split my winnings? | Suggest an MMD  | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: MoneySaving horror stories...
- Competitions thread of the week: An epic trip to New York
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Does anyone wear a bed jacket? 
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: When sharing the expenses 50/50 isn't 50/50
- Discussion of the week: Smartphone in USA?


Asos - up to 60% off sale
Grand Designs Live - free London tickets for 5-13 May
Cornerstone - shaving set £14 all-in (norm £36)
Vue - £4-£5 cinema tickets on Mondays
Travelodge - how to bag a room for £18

Burger King - meal deals incl burger and fries £2
Domino's - 2for1 collection only
Prezzo - 40% off mains
Giraffe - 2for1 on all courses
Café Rouge - 25% off food

Parkrun - free weekly timed 5K run
Free outdoor gyms - could you save £100s on gym membership?
ParkLives - free £5-£10ish yoga, Zumba, bootcamp etc
Anytime Fitness - free 3-day pass
MoveGB - five free passes

Quick Forum Tips

240 Yorkshire Tea bags for £4 (norm £6-£7ish). Tea-riffic
Lidl weekend offers, eg, 49p 720ml passata. Hit the sauce
Free classic video games, eg, Pac-Man. 8-bits and pieces



Thu 19 Apr - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 20 Apr - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. See previous
Mon 23 Apr - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 23 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again


Wed 18 Apr - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 20 Apr
BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 23 AprTalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 24 Apr - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: When I go on holiday this summer and pay the hotel bill on my credit card, should I choose sterling or local currency? Malcolm, via email. 

MSE Karl's A: When overseas, always pay in local currency no matter how hard the hotel, restaurant, ATM, shop etc tries to persuade you otherwise. If not, you risk a hideous exchange rate.

We always say to get a top overseas credit card, as you get near-perfect exchange rates from the card provider with no fees, so paying in local currency ensures you're doing it at the best rate. 

Yet even if you don't have an overseas credit card (er, why?), and have one that charges, paying in local currency is still likely a better option than risking the hotel or retailer doing the exchange for you - we've seen examples of some charging up to 10 times the best rate. For more, see pounds vs euros. 

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... after the Facebook privacy scandal, where it emerged millions unwittingly gave apps their data (see how to stop third-party apps accessing your data), MoneySavers were amazed to learn how many had access - 200+ in one case. Many were also embarrassed to learn of the wacky apps they'd given permissions to, incl 'Which Disney princess are you?' and 'Which Beyoncé song is your anthem?' Tell us your story in our Facebook privacy post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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