Martin's Wallet Workout: Take his five minute exercise class to gain those financial pounds
It may seem like such a minimal task, but rummaging through your purse or wallet could save you some extra cash. So dig deep and get moving to gain those extra pounds.
This article was first written by MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder Martin Lewis for our weekly email on 8 December 2021. It was updated by the MSE Team on 17 December 2021.
Whether you've a packed purse, a withering wallet, or are a digital doyen with it all filed on your phone, the cards & products you hold are a gateway to your finances.
Yet few people ever put their purse through its paces. In just a few minutes, that can cause a financial epiphany (less painful than it sounds).
So if you've time, join or log in to our free Credit Club for its Wallet Workout tool or just put your virtual cards on the table as I show you how to get a fiscal sweat on...
1. Dig out your photocard driving license: Is it still valid?
The photo only lasts 10 years, and a whopping 2m are out of date - check yours or risk a fine of, at the extreme, up to £1,000. See driving licence checks & help.
2. Is your bank card just bog standard? Get paid to get a new one
Is your bank card just bog-standard? Get paid to get a new one. Debit cards are linked to bank accounts, and if you're not fussed about your bank provider, switching is easy. Better still, currently three banks will pay new customers to do it...
- The top customer service bank's free cash offer is First Direct's £100*.
- The highest switch bonus is £125 for existing Nationwide customers switching from a non-Nationwide account, or £100 for newbies.
- Virgin Money's 12 bottles of wine* is a different flavour (please be Drinkaware) or alternatively get a £150 experience day voucher.
IMPORTANT: Check eligibility criteria for each account before signing up. Some require you to pay in a set monthly amount, others want you to shift direct debits across. For our FULL bank-by-bank review, eligibility info & more options see Best bank accounts.
3. Do you have a donor card? It's no longer needed in England, Scotland and Wales
If you still have your donor card, it's actually no longer needed in England, Scotland and Wales, as you're automatically considered willing to be an organ donor unless you opt out. Yet do register your decision - or via this link in Scotland - so your family know you consented / opted out (better still, discuss it with them).
In Northern Ireland, you need to opt in to register consent, though it's also moving to an opt-out scheme in 2022.
PS: There are many worthwhile things you can be a donor for while living, including blood & plasma donation, bone marrow donation, stem cells (age 16-30) and hair for young cancer patients.
4. Stash coupons in a virtual wallet to save £100: free Starbucks, nappies and more
While it is still possible to clip coupons out of a magazine or newspaper, couponing has largely gone online.
Our December update has 40+ coupons including free £2 Starbucks Doubleshot, free £3.75 Vita Coco chocolate drink and free 79p Aldi 24-pack of nappies.
5. Can't afford to fully repay your credit or store cards? You can't afford not to try a balance transfer.
If you pay interest on card debt, quickly put your details into our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator to see your odds of being accepted for a deal. These cards pay off debt on old cards for you, so you owe the new card instead, but at 0% interest for a set time. You get debt-free quicker as more of your payments cover the debt, not interest.
If you've lots of choice, go for the card with the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay in. If you've little choice, as cutting debt costs is a priority, apply even if your best chance is only, say, 20%.
The longest 0% is from Virgin Money*, which allows accepted cardholders to shift debt to it for 35mths 0% with a 2.94% fee.
If you can repay quicker, Sainsbury's* is up to 21mths 0% NO FEE, though some accepted will get fewer months. If you get a card, follow the Best Balance Transfer Golden Rules (also see APR examples)...
a) Clear the card before the 0% ends, or they're 20%+ rep APR interest.
b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
d) You must usually transfer within 60 days to get the 0%.
PS: 0% balance transfer cards are better in a freezer than a wallet. These aren't usually cards you should spend on, so if you struggle with self-control, put it in a bag in a bowl of water, then pop it in the freezer. That way you'll need to smash the ice to spend on it - a good punctuation mark to decide if it's worth it.
6. Due money back from Oyster cards or contactless London travel? You could get some funds back
If you failed to touch your card out at the end of a journey or were delayed 15mins+ by tube, you can often claim (some have got £70+ back just for not touching out). And those with old, unused Oyster cards may be due a share of £545m+ in credit sloshing about. See Oyster & TfL contactless reclaiming.
7. Travel by train even once a year? There's a railcard for you.
Whether you're a family, under 31, over 60, disabled, a couple (or you travel with a mate), you have a chance of getting this railcard. They cost up to £30/yr and get you a third off most train travel, so if you'll spend over £90 a year, you can save - see Can I get a railcard?
8. Is your EHIC still active? Check the expiry date.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card, check the expiry date (section 9) as 6.4m expired in 2021. You can't get a new one, but you can get the similar post-Brexit GHIC. See how to get a Global Health Insurance Card. (PS: Beware shyster sites that charge for it. Never pay - as it's free.
9. Do you spend on a debit card or credit card? You could make your plastic pay you each time you do.
A range of credit cards pay you to spend on them, so get one, set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month, and you neuter its interest charging ability. Then use it for all your normal spending, and you'll be quids in.
To see what cards you can get, use the Cashback & Rewards Eligibility Calculator. Doing this is easy and lucrative - I asked on Twitter how people use these cards and drowned in 100s of positive responses, such as this from Mark Williams: "@MartinSLewis Amex Platinum. Use it everywhere that takes it, pay off in full, make £200 - £300 a year plus extra occasional small business discounts."
The card Mark mentions, the Amex Everyday*, is still a top payer, giving new Amex customers 5% back for 3mths up to a max £100, then up to 1% after, provided you spend £3,000+/yr. Though fail to fully repay and it's 24.5% rep APR interest. There are many more options though - see Credit card rewards (APR examples).
10. Ditch your loyalty cards: But keep earning points...
Unless you need it for bicep curls, a heavy cluttered wallet can be a pain. So you can store cards in your Apple Wallet, Google Pay or use loyalty card keeper apps.
11. ...then max your points: itch your loyalty cards: E.g. 200 free Boots Advantage.
My adage has always been "Never choose where you shop based on a loyalty card, but always aim to use one if you're shopping somewhere that gives points".
12. Got condoms? Check they're still in date...
Carrying a condom around in your purse or wallet might be a cliche, but safety is still important. Condoms have use-by dates, so it's worth checking - better safe than sorry in so many ways.
To replace them safely, use the NHS England free condom search and here's info for Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland too.
13. ... And get a different type of protection: For only spending a penny
Under Section 75 law, if you buy something costing over £100 and up to £30,000 and pay for any of it (even 1p) on a credit card, then the card firm's jointly liable with the retailer for the ENTIRE amount. This get-out-of-jail-free protection is hugely powerful if the retailer goes bust or won't play fair or you buy abroad and can't take the item back.
You can even go to the card firm with faulty items and if it disputes it, rather than going to court you can go to the ombudsman. Full info (including when it doesn't work and how to claim) in our Section 75 guide.
Not eligible for Section 75 protection as you paid by debit card, or for items under £100 on credit card? You're likely due chargeback protection according to the Visa, Mastercard & Amex `rules. Pay by bank transfer, cash or cheque and there's no protection like this.
14. Time for me to throw in a Curve ball: The Curve Card.
I'm often asked about the Curve card. It's a Mastercard debit card you can link to existing (non-Amex) debit or credit cards, and it cats as a 'front', passing on the transaction to that card as a purchase.
It's useful if you want to pay by credit card (eg, to get rewards) but that isn't slowed, as well as for cheap overseas spending, and a small number of rewards. However, you don't get Section 75 protection. The team has done a full Curve review to help you decide if it's for you.
15. Don't wait to file expenses - make those old receipts pay you.
If you claim expenses at work then old receipts in your wallet (or elsewhere such as on your phone) may be worth as much as cold hard cash. So look after them, but as some employers say you must claim in a certain timeframe, don't wait.
If you've a cashback card, check if you can use to to pay and then reclaim so you earn on rewards and expenses.