The site, history and team
MoneySavingExpert.com is the UK's biggest consumer website, with more than 16 million users a month. The site's dedicated to cutting your bills and fighting your corner with journalistic research, cutting-edge tools and a massive community – all focused on finding deals, saving cash and campaigning for financial justice.
The average person in the UK can give themselves the equivalent of a 25% pay rise by being an active, savvy consumer and shifting to the very best deals. This site's here to show you how. To get started, see the Money Makeover guide.
Founder and Executive Chairman Martin Lewis created MoneySavingExpert in February 2003 for just £100. The site's ethical stance and consumer revenge approach have made it the UK's most popular money website, one of the top 25 most popular of all digital services among Brits, and the UK brand most recommended by consumers, according to YouGov. It's won many awards and is now a constant port of call for consumers and policymakers alike.
In September 2012, the site joined the MoneySupermarket Group (see Martin on joining MoneySupermarket). This has boosted the technology resource and secured MSE's future, meaning even more people will benefit from its unbiased, campaigning stance. Yet the site continues to operate as an entirely independent entity, and its stance of 'putting the consumer first' is protected by an iron-clad legal Editorial Code.
The site's honours include Radio 2's Most Useful Website of the Year 2003, the winner for New Media at the 2005 Bradford & Bingley Personal Finance Awards and being named number one for business information in the 2010 Hitwise Awards. It was also commended by a parliamentary motion in 2005.
In 2018, MoneySavingExpert won Brand of the Year at the Drum Online Media Awards, Organisation of the Year at the Protection Review Awards, and a gong for blogging at the Shomo Awards. MSE was also named Personal Consumer Website of the Year at the Santander Media Awards in 2015, and was runner-up in the Financial Consumer Website of the Year category at the same awards in 2016.
The site never charges to save people money, nor does it take any advertising. Companies cannot pay to buy space on the site (see the How this site is financed guide for more info). Any top deals, best buys, tips or suggestions on the main site are purely down to journalistic research from the MSE team and Martin (see the Editorial Code).
The underlying philosophy is that we live in an adversarial consumer society:
A company's job is to make money. A consumer's job is to maximise their cash. Companies spend billions on advertising and teaching their staff to sell, yet we don't get buyers' training.
We want to redress the balance and aim to do it in a number of ways.
The weekly MSE Money Tips email
About 7.5 million people receive MSE's Money Tips email every week. All the latest deals, guides and loopholes go into it. And as more than two-thirds of the best deals expire within a week, the email's aim is to ensure you don't miss out.
Super-detailed MoneySaving guides
The main site has a huge range of guides, from Cheap Gas & Electricity and PPI Reclaiming to Balance Transfers and Budget Flight Fee-Fighting. Rather than just saying "shop around", the guides feature super-detailed product research. A good starting point's the Money Makeover guide.
Nifty free MoneySaving tools
The MoneySaving Forum
The MSE Forum is one of the UK's biggest social networks. It has 2.1 million members, and at any one time, thousands of users are discussing ways to save, as well as supporting and motivating each other.
The forum's split into different subject boards, each with its own mini community, including Debt-Free Wannabe (working together to get out of debt), Grabbit While You Can (top bargain spotting), Old Style MoneySaving (thrifty ways from older days) and Freebies (free stuff grabbing).
New to the forum? If you're unsure where to start or find it daunting, read our Forum Intro guide to help you find your way around.
MoneySavingExpert has a small campaigns team, who work alongside Martin to liaise with charities and politicians to put the consumer's point of view across.
We lobby over issues such as financial education, payday loans and claims management regulation, as well as making sure the consumer's voice is heard in the corridors of power.
Watch Martin's Money Rant video
In the video below, Martin Lewis explains the philosophy behind MoneySavingExpert. While it was filmed in 2007, the message still stands.
Subtitles are available by pressing the closed captions icon on the bottom right of the video
Terms and conditions of use
It's important to let you know that information on this site does not constitute financial advice. All information is based on journalistic research and analysis rather than tailored advice aimed at individuals.
Decisions should be taken only after considering the effects on specific circumstances. Please read the full legal terms and conditions. To protect the site, Martin Lewis is a registered trade mark belonging to Martin S Lewis, and Money Saving Expert, MSE and MoneySavingExpert.com (among others) are registered trade marks owned by MoneySupermarket Group PLC.
Martin officially launched MoneySavingExpert.com 18 years ago, meaning we're now truly grown up. In truth, there'd been a homepage-type version – the 'black' MSE site – since summer 2002, but the point things got serious was February 2003, which we count as its real birth.
Martin had put the build work out to tender, and paid a web designer in Uzbekistan the princely sum of £80 to build the 'orange' site that included a forum. Rather scarily, that's the only capital outlay he ever put in. We'll let you decide if it was a good return.
It's probably worth hearing from Martin at this point
It's funny to look back at the birth of MoneySavingExpert – in many ways it went viral before the term viral did.
Having been a business and personal finance journalist at the BBC, I'd then moved on to start working as the Money Saving Expert on TV since 2000, starting at a small channel called Simply Money.
Once that went under (as many digital channels did), I started writing a newspaper column and doing various TV appearances. If during my research I stumbled across a short-lived way to save money that was too quick to be able to put out in my work, I'd pop them in an email to friends with the tongue-in-cheek subject line 'Martin's Money Tips'.
I didn't think much of it until, after a couple of months, I was at a party and people I'd never met before were thanking me for the emails. My friends had been forwarding it to their friends. I thought I'd make it easier and set up an email list built around a basic homepage so anyone could get the info. I'd never have believed that email would end up being sent to so many millions each week.
And that really was the birth of MSE, an email backed up by the website. Perhaps the cleverest move I ever made (accidentally in many ways) was to ask the newspaper if I could retain copyright of my columns – as days of research work went into each, and I wasn't paid for days of work.
It agreed ('who cares if some new unknown journalist wants to keep them?') and those articles, updated, were then the basis for the first guides on MSE.
Looking back, I'm staggered by how it all happened. I wish I'd been clever enough to design the growth with a masterplan, but in truth, it's been a gradual, instinctive thing over many years.
The fact this once-little site is now a campaigning beast, such that when it growls even Number 10 listens, as well as being a place millions have saved billions, is a source of great pride.
Yet the most important thing is still that this is a place consumers can call home.
It started as a one-man band, with a stated aim "to cut your bills without cutting back", with nerdily-detailed, unbiased guides on all areas of consumer finance, but principally credit cards, loans, energy, mortgages and insurance.
But it was also about finding and exploiting product loopholes, leading to the aggressive motto: "A company's job is to screw you for cash, our job is to screw 'em back". As the site – and, as he says himself, Martin – matured, these thoughts merged into our long-standing mission: "Cutting your costs, fighting your corner".
Things took off at speed, with the site helped as its launch coincided with Martin's own profile growth on Radio 2, This Morning and elsewhere. By the end of February 2003, 5,300 people had added their emails to get the weekly Martin's Money Tips, by April 2003 it was 10,000, and little more than a year later 100,000.
In late 2003, the first MSE team member, Brendan, a part-time webmaster, came on board. By 2005, then a team of eight, our first big campaign – reclaiming bank charges – started, including the now-famous template letters. That campaign resulted in over £1 billion reclaimed from the banks, before a legal quirk kiboshed it.
By 2007, there were a million people on the email list. Do take a look at the Internet Archive to see what the site looked like when you joined. Not long after, in 2008, the MSE Charity was set up. And soon we even got big enough to do our own MSE leaders' debates at general elections, something we now do each time.
There've been many other campaigns, bigger even than bank charges. It's estimated MSE and Martin together have helped people get £12 billion back in PPI alone (while that's now closed, you can still reclaim tax on PPI payouts), while 100,000s have rebanded their council tax.
In 2012, MSE joined the MoneySupermarket Group. Part of the deal was a binding ethical editorial code, ensuring users' interests remained the priority ahead of making money. That back-end change substantially boosted our tech abilities, letting us build things like Pick Me A Tariff on energy, eligibility calculators and more. These days, we even have our own MSE Open University course.
Today, over 15 million emails have been added to our email list (though we now instead talk about sending to about 7.5 million active accounts). And even though Martin's baby is fully grown, he's still here, in his role as executive chair, one of more than 80 people who work on the site – a good few who've been here for more than a decade.
Together we hope MSE is still fulfilling what it was born to do – cutting your bills, fighting your corner.
This site's dedicated to empowering consumers and putting money in their pocket, and the MoneySavingExpert Charity Fund does it even more directly. With almost £2 million donated so far, it's MoneySavingExpert's way of giving back to users.
The money we raise currently goes to support the MSE Charity, which offers grants to groups to provide education and information about consumer and debt issues.
This is separate from the money Martin put into the Martin Lewis Charitable Fund when MoneySavingExpert joined the MoneySupermarket Group. For more information on what Martin's donated, see his blog.
For more info on MSE's donations over the years, please see our MSE Charity Fund guide.
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