How this site is financed isn't a typical website. It allows neither advertising (companies can't pay to appear on the site), nor subscription (no charge is ever made for using the site).

Yet it's a mammoth beast, with 9.2 million receiving our free Money Tips email every week, around 65 full-time staff, plus complex MoneySaving tools to develop and a huge amount of technology to keep the site online. This guide explains how a site set up for just £100 in 2003 does all that.

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MSE is completely free to use will always be 100% free.

MoneySavingExpert is free to use and doesn't allow advertising – anything on the main site is here because we believe it's the best way to save money. That's based on independent, detailed and specialised journalistic research by members of the team.

When it first started in 2003, it was a one-man Martin Lewis band, and it wasn't set up to make money. But within a year it had so many users that the running costs escalated substantially – and it needed to find a way to generate revenue.

These days, MoneySavingExpert is the most popular consumer finance website in the UK, is one of the top 20 most popular of ALL digital services in the UK, and was the brand most recommended by UK consumers in 2022, according to polling firm YouGov.

While our focus on the best information hasn't changed, the finances have. There's a large team, and the site's expensive to operate, but, thankfully, it is strongly in profit and donates to charity each year.

In September 2012, MoneySavingExpert joined the Moneysupermarket Group. Yet it still continues to operate as a separate entity, with no change to the way it works editorially or is financed. To guarantee that, a strong, legally binding Editorial Code was agreed as part of the legal sale contract, as described below. will continue to follow its founding principles. Its primary job is to ensure it provides the best information to help consumers, based on journalistic research, and the editorial line will stay independent of any commercial objectives or influence.

We will continue to highlight to users how the site is financed – and if a paid link is used, where practical, give you an alternative, unpaid link.

As part of the Editorial Code, we're free to review MoneySupermarket's services and speak freely, be that positively or negatively. Whether we include its comparisons must be based on exactly the same criteria we'd use for any other site – only when it's best for users.

So how does MSE generate revenue?

Companies cannot pay to appear on the site. Guides are written purely from a 'What's the best way to save money?' stance. Once the guides are finished, it's the commercial team's job to see if they can find 'affiliate links' to the top products.

These look and work in the same way as normal links, but if someone clicks through, the link is tracked and may generate a payment to the site. The details vary – sometimes the payment's per click, per user, per application, per accepted application or any combination.

Also, certain links in the MSE Forum posted by users have a software called Skimlinks added. This simply tracks the link to MSE. These look and work in the same way as normal links. If someone clicks through, the link is tracked and it may generate a payment to the site (see our guide on Skimlinks for more details).

We only use affiliate links that give you an identical (or better) deal than going direct. However, as these are technologically generated, issues can happen, so please let us know if you spot any.

We don't track individuals' data (unless we've asked you, where it's necessary for a specific service, such as Cheap Energy Club). Nor will we ever sell it to third parties, or pass it to MoneySupermarket, without the individual user's permission.

Doesn't this compromise the site?

We don't believe so. The MoneySaving guides are written, then, totally separately, paid links are looked for. If no paying link is available, nothing in the guide changes. If the best is the best and doesn't pay, it stays the best. The link used is simply 'non-affiliated' – in other words, non-paying. Financial considerations do not affect inclusion in articles.

Yet just like best buys change all the time, so do the products with affiliate links available. We may use the weekly email and website navigation to remind you more often about deals or guides that generate more revenue for the main site at that time, but, crucially, the info within will be exactly the same.

We will never change our stance, or picks, because of commercial considerations.

What about MSE Blagged deals? How do they work?

MSE Blagged deals are exclusive deals arranged by MSE. They will only ever appear on the site on editorial merit, because they're the best deal of their type on the market.

MSE shares the revenue from these deals (we have staff to pay) at similar values to market averages for non-exclusives.

Where do the links come from?

Even though you don't necessarily see it, the links to products come from finance comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket, uSwitch and TotallyMoney, or affiliate sites such as Tradedoubler or Awin. Their links are used and then if someone clicks through, MoneySavingExpert gets a split of their revenue.

In fact, this was part of the logic of joining the Moneysupermarket Group, as it cemented its position as our primary supplier of links.

It's easy to get confused about this – some newspapers did. This doesn't mean we link to MoneySupermarket itself more. Instead, when we're looking for a link to First Direct that pays us, for example, we ask MoneySupermarket or other companies to provide that link, so we get a share of the revenue. Since the deal, it means when we've researched an offer that editorially merits being on the site, we ask MoneySupermarket first if it can provide a link.

We usually try to avoid going directly to, or building a relationship with, financial product providers themselves, to reduce opportunities for them to exert pressure (which we'd ignore anyway). Occasionally, links are direct, for example to comparison services, new cards or shopping, when, within the context of the guides, they're the best way to save money.

We want you to know when links are affiliated...

A write-up of a bank account on, titled "Get ongoing 1% to 3% cashback on household bills". It shows a link to the Santander 123 Lite account, with an asterisk to denote it's an affiliated link, and a red circle drawn around the whole link.

Unlike many sites that use affiliate links, from the very first time we used them we were always deliberate about including an * after every one (and we're pleased to see a few other sites starting to adopt this).

This is so you know which links contribute to the main site and which don't, so you can make your own decision. We hope you will choose the ones that help pay for the huge resource that the main site offers.

Occasionally, this means you'll go to one of the comparison services' landing pages to get the product. However, the product itself will be the same – or possibly even better – and you shouldn't notice a difference in any way.

In other words, if there's a link to SuperTelephoneCompany because it's the cheapest provider, and has an *, you'll go through directly and we may get some money. If it doesn't have an * you'll go through directly and we won't make any money. That's the only difference.

Wherever we include an * link, there's a full explanation at the bottom of the page and an unaffiliated version of the same link, so you can check there's no difference.

Links to free complaints tool Resolver* are also marked with an *. In the specific case of Resolver, sending traffic there doesn't mean a payment but can increase our ownership share.

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Is this different from other sites?

Yes, although following the success of MoneySavingExpert's clean way of doing things, other sites have adopted similar rules.

In general, there are two main models. Which? funds its magazines and website through a subscription model and some paid-for services such as legal support. We prefer to keep this site free, especially as a good number of users couldn't afford to pay.

The other is used by more commercial sites, which prioritise, or even limit inclusion only to, products that pay them.

We hope and believe this site's recommendations are the best. Plus this site isn't just about 'finding the best product' – instead it's 'finding the best product and using it in a way that works for you, not the company'.

This stretches far further and means we list vouchers, deals and tools that aren't on other sites or even published in newspapers and magazines. We don't solely focus on deals we've arranged and that pay us money, as some other sites do.

In the money world, we can sometimes list niche products you need to apply for through a special website to get certain terms.

Everything we write is unbiased, objective and free from outside influence (including MoneySupermarket), as explained in the Editorial Code.

Our stance can mean we list deals others don't

A snapshot example to highlight this comes from our Top savings guide, one of the most-read on the site. In February 2024, two of the top three standard easy-access savings accounts didn't pay the main site, so didn't have * links. But because their rates were the best, we still featured them within the top three accounts.

Some other money sites out there don't usually include non-paying accounts in their best-buy tables. The core difference is that their top recommendations tend to be ones that pay them.

This is reflected across lots of different subjects at various times. As these issues don't affect MoneySavingExpert, its best buys are better.

Of course, sometimes the best do pay, so sometimes the best-buy tables coincide.

What costs us money?

Rather than any grand design to set up such a massive beast, the revenue concept behind the main site grew organically, based on the need to fund costs. We believe it's done in a way that makes this a successful project without compromising the information on the site or its campaigning agenda.

Our finances have always been strong, which has allowed the main site to grow, create employment, build more tools and help our users.

Here are some examples of where the money goes:

  • A team of editorial and technical staff

    There are about 65 highly qualified and skilled full-time team members working at MoneySaving Towers. Two-thirds are editorial, contributing to research, campaigns, guides, deals hunting and more.

    The rest are a mix of developers building tools to help people save money, forum administrators to help that particular behemoth function, and commercial, design and admin staff.

  • Servers and keeping the site running

    With more than 16 million unique users a month, the site requires mammoth processing power and technology to stay up-and-running at speed.

    The MSE Forum alone is one of the UK's biggest social networks, with over two million members, and takes huge resources. As well as technology, there are the rules and issues of policing such a large community to keep it a safe place for all.

  • Developing new tools and clubs

    We constantly strive to create clubs and add clever free tools to help you analyse your finances, bag deals and find the market's best products – from the Ultimate Mortgage Calculator to Cheap Energy Club and Cheap Mobile Finder. Many tools don't generate revenue, one of the reasons they're unique.

  • Legal bills

    You may be surprised that this isn't usually for the main site. Despite campaigns such as bank charge or PPI reclaiming being somewhat controversial, and on occasion requiring legal consultancy, they're still relatively minor.

    The big bills come from defending consumer comment in the forum, when companies whose reputations are rightly tarnished try to force it to be taken down, or when other firms incorrectly use the MSE brand or logo as endorsement, and we have to ask them to stop this. We have to pick and choose our fights carefully, but it is important that MSE isn't cowed and can fight its corner where necessary.

  • Campaigning work

    We believe a site such as MoneySavingExpert has a responsibility to fight consumers' corner. That's why we have a dedicated team campaigning for your rights by pushing key bodies and groups – including the Government, Parliament and regulators – to end the rip-offs and beat unfairness in personal finance.

    This has ranged from calling for buy now, pay later services to be regulated, to working with a coalition of partners to get scam ads in the Online Safety Bill. And of course we've previously led high-profile campaigns against unfair bank charges and mis-sold PPI, to name just two.

    We also work to represent our users in meetings with policymakers, and to respond to consultations on issues that affect consumers. You can find out more about our work on our Campaigns hub.

  • It's allowed nearly £2.4 million to be donated to charity

    For years, the site's been donating to charities large and small, with some voted for by users. The charity fund got so big (well in excess of £100,000 a year), that there was enough cash to set up its own charity.

    The MSE Charity gives grants of up to £8,000 to groups that provide education, information and support to help people learn how to manage their money better.

    For more info on MSE's donations over the years, see our MSE charity fund guide.

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