Love is in the air with Valentine's Day looming. You may be amorous newlyweds, or sick of the sight of each other after 30 years of, er, domestic bliss, yet when it comes to MoneySaving it often pays to join forces.
Even better, it doesn't always matter if you're married, living together, with or without kids, have swiped right with success or are even just good friends. So here are our top tips for richer, not poorer, lives together.
1. Why not spend a romantic 10 minutes together switching bank accounts and making £400? Switching's easy. Use the official switching services and it takes seven working days and can net you up to £200 in free cash as a new customer. That means £400 per couple. If you only have a joint account - you're missing out. Full help and eligibility in Best Bank Accounts, here are the top deals...
- Free £200 each (£150 upfront, £50 if you stay). Switch to the HSBC Advance* account and you get £150, and another £50 if you're still with it after a year. Apply for the account online, but once opened you need to switch in branch or on the phone. To get it all, pay in a min £1,750/mth, switch 2+ direct debits/standing orders and register for online/mobile banking within 60 days.
- Free £125 each, No.1 for service. Via this First Direct* link you get £125 (£100 direct) to switch. It's won every customer service poll we've done. Pay in a min £1,000/mth or it's £10/mth.
- Free £125 each + £5/mth cashback. Via this TSB* link you get a free £125 (zero direct) to switch if you pay in at least £500 within 28 days of switching + switch 2+ direct debits. Spend up to £100/mth on contactless debit and you get 5% cashback up to a max £5/mth till Sep.
- Get £200 if one of you is already a Nationwide customer. If you've a Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect or FlexPlus account, you can refer your partner - if they then switch to one of those accounts (incl 2+ direct debits) within 90 days you'll both get £100, paid the month after the switch. Know more people who'd benefit? You can get paid for switching 5 people per tax year, so could net a cool £500.
2. If you're married or in a civil partnership, there's a FREE £432 tax break. A whopping 2.7m couples are missing out on an easy but under-publicised tax break, which is worth £220 this year, and £212 last (which you can still get). It takes five mins to arrange and you'll be sorted for as long as the tax break exists. Our Marriage Tax Allowance guide explains all. Edwina used it: "Thanks Martin for your tip, I have just claimed and will receive £432."
3. Did you know you can shift your partner's debt to your 0% credit card to save £1,000s? If you've debt on a credit or store card we always tell you to shift it to a 0% balance transfer card. It means you get a new card that pays off your existing ones, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. Your repayments clear the debt rather than just interest, so you're debt-free quicker. The problem is getting accepted can be difficult.
But if you're in a loving, trusting relationship there is a way around this. If one of you is struggling to shift debt, the other could apply for one of the few cards that let you shift someone else's debt.
- First, see if you really need to, ie, can they can do it themselves? You should both use our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc to see what cards you're most likely to be accepted for.
- If you need to help your partner, a few cards will let you transfer their debt, but many won't. MBNA and Barclaycard told us all their cards will let you.
This MBNA (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) card offers up to 43mths 0% (3.29% fee), plus gives £20 cashback if you transfer £1k+.
Or Barclaycard (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers up to 37mths 0% (1.4% fee), while if you can repay quicker, another Barclaycard (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) is up to 24mths 0% with no fee.
Clear the cards before the 0% ends, or they jump to 20.9%, 18.9% or 18.9% rep APR. If you do it on other cards, you may be breaching their terms, see lenders' policies.
4. New. Save a whopping £12,000 at 3% easy access until April 2019. This is a massive lifeline for savers, and couples can double the advantage. See How couples can get 3% on £12,000 below.
5. There's full service breakdown cover for £43 and it covers your spouse. Our top-pick for full service (ie, home start and onward travel) AutoAid* is £43/yr and covers any car you or your spouse/civil partner drives. A joint policy can also be cheaper than two single policies with the AA & RAC. See Cheap Breakdown Cover.
6. If you've a joint bank account for bills make sure it's one that pays you when you pay. Many couples have 3 accounts: 1 each and 1 for bills. If that's you, it's possible to earn up to 3% cashback on bills you pay by direct debit, including phone, broadband, mobile, energy, water and council tax. Full info in Best Bank Accounts, but in brief...
- Best for cashback. NatWest's Reward account* pays a straight 3% cashback on bills, but has a £3/mth fee.
- Best if you've a Santander mortgage. The Santander 123 Lite account pays up to 3% on bills, 1% on Santander mortgages (max £10/mth) and has a cheaper £1/mth fee.
- Best if you've savings and a Santander mortgage. The Santander 123* account has the same cashback as the Lite account (but with a £5/mth fee), plus it pays 1.5% AER variable on up to £20,000 savings, if you pay in £500+/mth + have 2+ active direct debits.
7. Cuddle up in the cinema with 2for1 tickets for A YEAR. This is all about our Meerkat Movies year's 2for1 for £2ish trick. Lianne did it: "Bought two nights' travel insurance for £1.87 & got free cinema for a year."
8. If you stagger cashback cards between you, you can get 5% cashback for SIX mths. Cashback credit cards pay you for spending on them. The big payer's Amex Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) at 5% cashback (max £100) for the first 3mths. Yet couples can get six months at 5%. Here's how:
Eg, Beyoncé applies, making Jay Z her 2nd cardholder, so both get the 5% cashback (to use on baby products). Before that ends, Jay Z applies, making Beyoncé his 2nd cardholder, to bag another 3mths at 5%. Once they end, it'll be best for them to use one person's card as they'll get a higher rate of cashback (up to 1%) if they meet a certain level of spending - though they need to spend at least £3,000/yr per card to get ANY cashback.
Ensure you set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month so there's no 22.9% rep APR wiping the rewards gain. Full help and how to use them in Top Cashback Cards (APR Examples).
9. Starbucks has a brew romance offer on Valentine's Day. Frappuccino & hot chocs are 2for1. Starbucks
10. Planning to buy your first home together? You can get a £6,000 boost. If you're a wannabe first-time buyer, save in a Help to Buy ISA and the state will add 25% on top towards a mortgage deposit (max £3,000). If buying together, get one EACH (and if one has owned before, the other can still get one).
You can save £1,200 in month one, £200/mth after. Full FAQs & best buys in Top Help to Buy ISAs. Even if you plan to open a Lifetime ISA when they launch in April, if you've money to save now, open a Help to Buy ISA & transfer it later (if you want to).
11. Seems strange, but adding your partner to your car insurance can bring the cost DOWN. Two drivers can be cheaper than one, especially if the 2nd driver has a good record (NEVER claim they're the primary driver if they're not as that's fraud).
Usually this trick works best for younger people adding parents, when some can save £1,000s. But it works for partners too, as SouthoftheRiver posted: "Insurance renewal £800, added husband - £700." Full info and more tips, including cheap multi-car policies, in Cheap Car Insurance.
12. How you and your partner can fly business class for less than an economy ticket, if you're a bigger spender. It's all about credit cards where you earn frequent flyer miles for normal spending, and if you spend certain trigger amounts on some, you get a 'free' companion ticket. With it, you pay for one ticket in points but get the second - in the same class, even first - for zero points (though you pay taxes in cash on both). The best fee-free cards, which also give intro points bonuses, are BA Amex and Virgin Atlantic White.
By also bagging 10,000s of free points, MSE Guy amassed enough for him and his fiancée to fly business class to New York for less than the price of an economy ticket using a companion ticket.
To max the gain, put ALL spending that you can on the card and set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month so interest doesn't wipe the gain. Full help and more options, including fee-paying cards offering bigger rewards, in Top Airline Cards.
13. Get 1/3 off train fares when you travel together. The Two Together Railcard gives the two named cardholders 1/3 off most fares if travelling together. It usually costs £30, but there's currently a 10% off code. Abi tweeted: "Didn't know about the Two Together Railcard before, saved over £40 on train tickets, thank you."
If you've kids and travel with them, the Family & Friends Railcard (with 20% off) is an alternative. See Cheap Train Tickets.
14. There's a way to get £600 worth of FAMILY travel, phone and breakdown insurance for £120. If you've a packaged bank account and use the perks, make sure you add your partner as a joint account holder, so they benefit as well.
Our pick's Nationwide's FlexPlus for £10/mth. Full eligibility info & more options in Packaged Bank Accounts. For straight cheap travel insurance, if you live together, joint policies can be cheaper.
15. Only pay for one Amazon Prime account between two of you. We're not saying you need to have Amazon Prime, but if you do, then you can legitimately link your Amazon account with someone else in your household. Got more than one Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play account? See family music streaming.
16. The couple who saves a lot together... may be able to reduce tax. Basic-rate taxpayers can earn up to £1,000/yr interest tax-free under the personal savings allowance (higher rate £500). If you will go over your allowance & your partner won't, consider putting some savings in their name to minimise tax. You'll need to trust each other financially, because ultimately it's handing money over from one to the other. With joint accounts, interest earned is assumed to be split 50/50.
17. And finally, a warning... it doesn't matter if you're kissing, sleeping or living together, or hitting your diamond wedding anniversary. It's your financial relationship that counts. Apply for joint mortgages, loans, bank accounts and sometimes utility bills (credit cards aren't included as they're 2nd cards, not joint) and your file can be linked with the other person, meaning next time you apply, their credit score can be taken into account. So with the tips above, don't get joint products if your partner has a bad history. See Boost Your Credit Score.
This article first appeared in the weekly email on 08 February 2017.