MoneySavingExpert.com turns 17 – here's how we've changed over the years and helped you save BILLIONS
MoneySavingExpert is 17 years old this weekend – and to celebrate, we're taking a look back at how the site has evolved since 2003 and some of our users' most eye-catching success stories.
The big day's on Saturday (22 February) – 17 years after Martin Lewis officially launched MoneySavingExpert.com. At the time that he did, on 22 February 2003, t.A.T.u.'s All the Things She Said was number one in the charts, Tony Blair was Prime Minister and England's rugby union team was on the verge of completing a Six Nations grand slam.
Since then, we've become the UK's biggest consumer website, leading the charge in campaigns against PPI mis-selling and unfair bank charges, fighting for your rights on student loans, council tax and much more besides, and saving millions of users billions of pounds, on everything from mortgages to their weekly supermarket shop.
Over the past 12 months we've kept up the good work, helping 100,000s get in last-minute PPI claims, prompting the Welsh Government to help those with a 'severe mental impairment' claim council tax discounts, and providing detailed, timely help to 100,000s hit by Thomas Cook's collapse.
Read more about the history of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin and the rest of the team on our About MoneySavingExpert.com page.
How it all began
Martin started working as the Money Saving Expert in 2000, using the title when on TV and writing a newspaper column. On the side he'd send his 'Martin's Money Tips' to friends and family, alerting them to short-lived deals and ways to save.
In February 2003, he decided to launch the website properly, which cost just £100 thanks to a web designer in Uzbekistan. Here's how it looked back then, and how it's changed over the years since:
It's not just the homepage which has changed, either. Below you can also see snippets from the Top Savings guide – the top of the guide and our top picks – and how they've changed over time.
(The very sharp-eyed - and we appreciate the image below is quite small - will notice that back in 2003 the top instant-access savings accounts were paying rates of over 6% – which is simply unheard of nowadays, when the top easy-access savings accounts pay just 1.3%.)
'I reclaimed £247,000 in PPI': MoneySavers' best success stories
Here at MSE Towers, we love hearing how our users have used our tips to save money. We receive 100s of emails every month – here are just a few of our favourites:
- June 2009 – We told the story of a MoneySaver who bagged a train ticket from London to Southampton for just 35p as part of a massive one-day sale.
- March 2012 – A MoneySaver had a successful PPI claim for £82,000 – the biggest we'd heard of at the time.
- September 2013 – A lucky MoneySaver using the comping board on the MSE Forum won a trip for two to watch Manchester United play Chelsea, and got to take penalties on the Old Trafford pitch.
- October 2014 – We saw one of our biggest Section 75 successes, as told in our 'I got £23,000 back under Section 75 after paying just £200 on a credit card' MSE News story.
- March 2016 – A MoneySaver who made the most of banks' hefty switching incentives told how he netted almost £800 in free cash and vouchers after opening six bank accounts in just over two years.
- June 2017 – A bride-to-be won a £10,000 wedding in central London after entering a competition listed on MoneySavingExpert.com's 'comping' forum board.
- August 2019 – We celebrated the biggest PPI reclaim we've ever seen, as the owner of a family business told us he'd successfully reclaimed an astonishing £247,000.
- February 2020 – Just this month, a MoneySaver told us he'd become the "favourite neighbour" in his area after challenging his council tax band and getting a price reduction for him and 29 other apartments in his postcode – with help from the MSE Forum.
Think you can top that? We'll continue to celebrate our users' successes in years to come – so let us know how you've got on by emailing email@example.com.
Our biggest campaign wins
From the very beginning we've always aimed to protect consumers and give them the tools they need to fight back, and we're proud to say this has been at the heart of everything we've done. Here are a few highlights:
- 2005 onwards – Our long-running battle against unfair bank charges began, eventually reaching the Supreme Court. It is thought to have helped consumers save almost a billion pounds a year in lower fees.
- 2006 onwards – We started our campaign highlighting PPI mis-selling.
- January 2007 – MSE launched its council tax rebanding system to stop millions overpaying each year.
- July 2008 – Carol Vorderman quit doing secured loan adverts, two years after MSE was at the forefront of a petition to ask her to stop doing them.
- May 2011 – After a long slog, the banks threw in the towel on PPI mis-selling claims and since then we've been inundated with successes from users who've reclaimed PPI for free.
- October 2011 – Then-Prime Minister David Cameron and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne chose to reveal their plans to tackle rising energy costs by writing exclusively for MSE.
- February 2013 – We launched our Cheap Energy Club, which monitors the best deals for you and tells you when to switch.
- September 2013 – We finally won our campaign to make financial education compulsory in English schools.
- June 2014 – Martin was awarded an OBE for services to consumer rights and his charitable work.
- September 2016 – The MSE Credit Club was launched to show you your credit score for free and tell you if you're likely to be accepted for credit.
- October 2017 – We won a notable victory for graduates after years of campaigning when then-Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to raise the student loan repayment threshold.
- November 2017 – MSE delivered its landmark report Sharper teeth: The consumer need for ombudsman reform after being commissioned by a cross-party group of MPs to investigate the effectiveness of ombudsmen.
- October 2019 – After several years of MSE campaigning, the FCA removed some barriers that stop mortgage prisoners from finding a cheaper deal – though many will still be left trapped and we're continuing to campaign for solutions to help them.