15 HUGE MoneySaving Successes of twenty twenty WON - can you win big too?
As another difficult year ends with bad news aplenty, we wanted to lift the mood by warming your cockles with inspiring MoneySaving successes from people who used our tips in 2021. These include a £17,500 chargeback refund after a bathroom botch, an £8,200 overpaid council tax reclaim and £3,000 for flogging rubbish on eBay.
This article was first written by MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) team for our weekly email on 22 December 2021. It was updated by the MSE Team on 29 December 2021.
Hopefully they provide motivation for you to follow in their footsteps, whether they righted wrongs, manipulated loopholes or ditched dire deals. So pick up a mince pie, pour yourself a warm mug of something nice, and indulge in a little festive cheer...
1. 'I got a refund of over £17,500 via CHARGEBACK after rogue traders ruined my home.'
If something goes wrong with goods or services you've bought, you've a couple of ways to try to claim money back from your credit or debit card firm. One is via the chargeback scheme, where you ask your card provider to get the money back from the supplier's bank for you. It's a customer service promise from card providers, rather than what's often stronger protection under Section 75 (see below), but chargeback can be key when Section 75 doesn't apply.
Andreja used chargeback in November, resulting in the biggest success we can remember seeing: "When rogue traders botched our bathroom, doors and windows a few months ago, I asked our bank for a chargeback and received a full refund of £17,527. Without your advice I'd never have thought of doing this. Thank you so much."
PS: Under Section 75, by law credit card providers (not debit) are liable if something goes wrong for items that cost over £100 (up to £30,000), even if you only paid a 1p deposit on the card. Back in 2014, Linda used it to claim a HUGE £23,500 when her kitchen supplier went bust.
2. 'I saved £450 buying my dream coffee machine via the little-known AMAZON WAREHOUSE.'
This is the often hidden part of Amazon that flogs returned or slightly damaged items for a fraction of the price. See our Amazon Warehouse blog for how to bag a discount on something you were planning to buy anyway.
Hamish emailed us in August: "Thanks for the tip. I bought my dream coffee machine when I found it for £550 instead of £1,000. It works brilliantly but is missing two minor pieces which I've found online for less than £20."
3. 'I've saved £840 over two years SWITCHING BROADBAND.'
Over seven million are out of contract and overpay for broadband. In fact, some spend an eye-watering £45/month (£540/year) for the slowest speeds when most can more than halve costs, and get faster speeds by pouncing on hot, short-lived deals. Use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the top deals in your area.
Kathy used it in November and bagged a massive saving: "When BT notified me my contract was ending, I used your comparison and switched. Over the 24-month contract I will save around £841."
4. 'I got £6,200 back for reclaiming PACKAGED BANK ACCOUNT FEES.'
They're the Marmite of banking. While they're good value for some, packaged bank accounts were mis-sold on a mass scale to others. If you're paying a monthly fee for account extras you don't need or can't use, our packaged bank account reclaim guide and tool can help.
Phil got in touch with us after using it: "I saw the section about claiming back money from a packaged bank account. After filling in your template I got refunded £6,200 from Lloyds. You guys made it so easy for me. Thanks once again."
5. 'I made £3,000+ FLOGGING RUBBISH that I was planning to just recycle.'
Shops do stocktakes... most of us don't. Yet many have £1,000s of items sitting in our homes we don't use enough to justify keeping. And you might be surprised by what others are willing to pay for items such as jam jars or toilet roll tubes. Our Flog your junk guide tells you what we've seen sell, and how to do it.
Karen emailed us in April after she made £1,000s from selling crisp packets: "It's worth checking just about anything before you throw it away to see if you can sell it. I have a collection of empty crisp packets from the 1980s. Was planning to recycle them - but checked eBay and found people actually buy them... over the last few months I've sold around 250 for £3,040... one even sold for £170. Thanks for all your great weekly tips."
6. 'We reclaimed £8,200 in COUNCIL TAX after 24 years in the wrong band.'
Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may be in the wrong council tax band because the original valuations were slapdash. Yet it takes just 10 minutes to check before making a claim - our Council tax bands guide has the full system.
Suzanne and Sami emailed in October with their massive win: "After reading Martin's advice, we checked our council tax band. Ours was higher than our neighbours', so we went through the process and received an £8,192 refund - after paying the wrong amount for 24 years. Thank you. Martin... keep up the good work."
7. 'I'll save £1,900 in interest after using your eligibility calculator to find a 0% BALANCE TRANSFER card.'
If you pay interest on credit or store card debt, STOP. With a balance transfer, you get a new card to pay off debt on old cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest. The toughest part is acceptance, so use our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Tool, which shows which top cards you're most likely to get before you apply. See Top balance transfers for full help and options.
Patricia's email in June shows huge savings are possible: "I used the eligibility checker for balance transfers and received the card yesterday. I've 18 months at 0% and have saved what would have been £1,940 in interest."
8. 'I saved over £2,000 following your CAR INSURANCE tips.'
Our main tip to get cheaper car insurance is to never auto-renew, but following our tried-and-tested four-step car insurance cost-cutting system in full helps you drive costs down even further.
We're inundated with success stories from those who've done so, but Mitchell's saving in November is the biggest of the year: "Followed your tips by checking 23 days before. You won't believe it, I saved over £2,000 with Direct Line versus my renewal price and comparison site quotes. Thank you."
9. 'I saved £750 a year HAGGLING OVER MY SKY BILL.'
The best savings usually come from switching, but if you don't want to, haggling with your existing provider can help slash costs. See our full help and tips in How to haggle with service providers.
Luke emailed us in July after his huge win: "I used your haggling information with Sky as my contract was coming up for renewal. I've got them down from £133/month to £70/mth for TV, movies, sports and a Netflix add-on - a saving of £756/year. Thank you MSE."
10. 'I'm saving over £650 a year after switching to a WATER METER.'
As a rule of thumb, if you're in England or Wales and there are more or the same number of bedrooms in your home as there are people, it's worth checking if you'd save with a free water meter.
Matt emailed us a few weeks ago after he pulled the plug on overpaying: "We switched to a water meter and overnight our direct debit went from £83 to £28, saving over £650/year. So easy to do as well - filled out an online form and it was fitted within a couple of weeks. No disruption or hassle at all. Thanks."
11. 'I got an extra £1,600 back by reclaiming TAX ON MY PPI PAYOUT.'
With successful PPI reclaims, you didn't just get what you paid back - lenders and insurers also needed to add annual 8% statutory interest on top.
This counts as savings interest, but unlike savings, 20% tax is automatically deducted from interest on PPI reclaims. And as most can earn £1,000/yr interest without paying tax, if you got a PPI reclaim payout since April 2017, you may be due some back - Martin's Reclaim PPI tax blog shows who can claim and how to do it.
As Richard found out: "Thank you for your advice regarding PPI, Martin. Just had a cheque from HMRC for £1,633 for my claim for tax paid on my PPI payout. I had no idea about the possible refund until I saw your programme on it."
12. 'I got a year's 2FOR1 at CINEMAS AND RESTAURANTS for just £1.'
This is all about manipulating the Meerkat Movies and Meals promo.
Reuben took it to the max, as he emailed in July: "My daughter wanted to go to the cinema... so I bought travel insurance for one day - it cost me £1.01. Instead of paying £18 at the cinema it was just £9, then we went straight to Pizza Hut and saved 50% on the bill. I thank you."
13. 'I got £1,200 by claiming and backdating the MARRIAGE TAX ALLOWANCE.'
More than two million eligible couples miss out on this easy tax break, worth £252 this tax year and paid via a tax code change. You can also backdate it by four tax years if you were eligible, which can net you a cheque for up to £970 on top of this year's gain. See our Marriage tax allowance guide for who qualifies and how to claim.
Reva got in touch back in October: "I just got a cheque for £970 from HMRC for backdated marriage tax allowance and will save £250 this year, I can't thank you enough. It only took about a week and is an absolute godsend just before Christmas."
14. 'I saved £3,800 in interest by switching to a CHEAPER LOAN.'
If you're paying off a personal loan, it's worth checking if you can switch to cut costs, especially with rates from 2.8%, which is close to the lowest ever. See our Cut existing loan costs guide for step-by-step help.
Nicola emailed us in August with her saving: "Thank you so much for your tip about loans in this week's email - I have just saved £3,788 by switching my existing loan. As a single mum, this is massive for me."
15. 'I got £6,000 of BANK CHARGES back - now I'm debt-free.'
If historic overdraft charges put you into financial hardship, or made your situation worse, check if you're eligible to get them back.
Shaz emailed us her story in November: "I was constantly in my overdraft and more, and never came close to paying it. I tried to talk to the bank, but it was no help at all. After going to the ombudsman, the bank agreed to pay me back over £6,000 meaning so I am now totally debt-free. If it wasn't for you Martin, I would never have been in the position I'm in now. Thank you."
PS: If these success stories have inspired you, please tell us how much you saved, made or reclaimed.