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Weekly Email
This email was sent
01st Feb 2017
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 12m who get it each week."

01 February 2017
MSE Big Switch Event 6... it's on, but not for all
Your credit score's not enough - your HIT RATE is key
Last chance. Earn £40 to rebuild credit
Boom. £600 of insurance for £120
£10+ off gift cards incl J Lewis & M&S
Can you cut debt via 43mth 0%?
How to beat Sky price hikes...
Dozen Valentine's roses £20 couriered
Cheaper train fare trials 'not enough'
Reclaim PPI for FREE before deadline £20 & £50 off codes
£5 off £20 Amazon trick
Holland & Barrett 20% off everything
Family & Friends Railcard 20% off
£35 Amzn vch with BT Sim for £8/mth

New. MSE Big Switch Event 6... it's on, but not for all

Everyone check NOW if you can save up to £230/yr on energy

- Our aim's to negotiate special super-cheap gas & elec tariffs or show you the best of rest if not
- We've almost certainly done it for Scot & Wales, sadly not England, but there's still a route

Energy price hikes are coming. EDF has already announced it'll raise electricity prices by 8.4% in March. Many other big names have frozen prices till April, but it's highly likely we'll see rises when those promises come to an end.

Via our collectives we try to get cheaper than the cheapest deals for you, but because prices are so volatile right now, the companies aren't playing ball. In fact we think we've only managed to get a deal that we were prepared to put our name to for Scotland and Wales, and even that's not 100% signed. So if you live elsewhere this is a massive call to ACT NOW and lock in a cheap deal before the hikes hit.

In Scotland or Wales? We've negotiated a collective switch.

We're at the final negotiation for a deal for a super-cheap direct debit tariff which should launch in 2 weeks, although it's not 100% signed yet, so there's always a chance it may not happen. Anyone who gets this email, or is registered for our Cheap Energy Club will be eligible, (if not register here) and we'll confirm details next week.

In England? Here's what you need to do NOW

1. Slash £230/yr off your bills by locking in to a cheap fix. Over 60% of you are massively overpaying for your energy by languishing on standard tariffs - mostly with the Big 6 firms at an average cost of £1,065/yr on typical direct debit usage. Yet you can get the same thing elsewhere for £834/yr.

To find your best deal (and get a possible £30 cashback if you switch) use our Cheap Energy Club

If you are unsure about how to pick, we have pared down the choice to best-in-breed tariffs with more detailed explanations on our top picks comparison. Here are 5 key options. Prices are based on typical usage (always compare to find your rate).

- The cheapest tariff, but there are questions. Iresa is an outlier, with its 1yr fix (so the rate is locked in) at £834/yr, that's over £40 cheaper than any other firm. It's a new company that says its systems help it make substantial savings; but we do have questions over the sustainability of this model, and what little feedback we've had hasn't been great overall.

- Next cheapest (if you factor in cashback). iSupply costs £902/yr, though factor in our £30 dual fuel cashback for switching and it undercuts any other tariff on typical use (do compare to get your price). The firm has been running 5 years, customer service was 38% 'great' in our last poll.

- Cheapest big name suppliers (all have £30 dual fuel cashback via cheap energy club). Co-op has a fix till April 2018 at £949/yr, but its customer service rating isn't great, after that there's First Utility which is strong on service at '60% great; at £958/yr. E.on is cheapest of the big 6 with decent customer service at £962/yr.

- Cheapest TWO year fix. New supplier Engie has a fix till June 2019, protecting you from price rises for the next 2 winters after this, at a typical £969/yr and £30 dual fuel cashback via Cheap Energy Club. As it's a newbie there's no feedback, but it is a big player in France. If prices continue to rise rapidly this could look a very good deal with hindsight.

- Top for customer sevice. Ovo Energy's 1yr fix costs £997/yr and again there's £30 dual fuel cashback via Cheap Energy Club. In our last survey a huge 86% rated it 'great'. Though as noted above First Utility is slightly cheaper and still has a decent rating.

2. Worried about switching? Don't be. Many wrongly think it's a hassle, yet it's the same electricity, same gas and same safety - only service, billing and price change.

We've timed it (check out our fun video) and it can take less than 5 mins to fill out your details and switch to a better deal via Cheap Energy Club.

Just grab a recent bill for your annual usage (if you don't have one, we can estimate), enter your details and we give a full market comparison. Select a tariff, and you're done - your new energy supplier should switch you in 3-4 weeks, they do the work behind the scenes. Dawn did it: "Compared using your tips, will save £220/yr - took 5 mins."

- Elec or gas only? You can still switch, though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the 'Edit details' section.

On British Gas standard tariff, if you want to stay there, you can gain £130. Millions more are with the UK's largest energy supplier, and for some reason many are unwilling to move. If so it's worth knowing Sainsbury's Energy is British Gas with a different name. It's the same gas/elec, service & safety. It's got a separate call centre, but that's still run by BG, and some of its smart meters are compatible.

And Sainsbury's Energy's Fix & Reward dual fuel 1yr fix is £1,044 but you get a £100 Sainsbury's voucher, plus £30 cashback if you switch via Cheap Energy Club. If you'll use the voucher it reduces its cost to an equiv. £914/yr. See BG vs Sainsbury's for full info.

4. Don't want to move firm, switch without switching to save up to £120/yr. If you think moving firm is a hassle (it's not), at least move to your provider's cheapest tariff. The biggest saving is for those with Scottish Power - someone with typical usage on its standard variable tariff could save a massive £118/yr by moving to its cheapest fix. David did it: "Just compared rates and managed to save £268/yr with the same supplier." See Switching without switching for full help.
5. Get 'Unlimited' energy for a fixed fee with this unique tariff. If you're worried about your direct debit shooting up as quickly as temperatures drop, Green Star's Unlimited tariff* lets you pay a fixed amount every month regardless of how much energy you use - good for someone freezing at home and fearful of putting the heating on.

All prices are personalised. You need to give it past bills to calculate a flat monthly rate, fixed for 12 months. The tariff cost's similar to a Big 6 standard tariff, but there are £30/fuel exit fees. For medium users, it's about £1,068/yr, or £89/mth. Yet even if your usage rockets, Green Star says it'll honour the deal - useful if you just want peace of mind. See Is Green Star any good?
6. On prepay? Switch and save up to £140/yr or change meter and save £290/yr. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay and the Big 6 have stopped charging to swap you to one, though most people require a credit check. Some small suppliers also offer this for free (though not all). On typical use, Big Six standard prepay tariffs average £1,127/yr so switching to the cheapest fix can save £290/yr. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide for full info.

If you don't want to or can't change meters, do a Cheap Energy Club prepay comparison anyway, because you could still save - though if you're in debt with your supplier you may not be able to move.

In Northern Ireland?

You've fewer options than the rest of the UK, but can still switch electricity. We're working on a comparison tool and will soon be able to let you compare the best electricity tariffs.

Energy switching FAQs

Q. I switched in last year's collective and it's now ending, what should I do? We've not been able to negotiate a new collective because of rising wholesale prices, except for people living in Scotland and Wales. So if your deal is ending do a comparison now and switch to a new tariff that will shield you against further rises. If you're in Scotland or Wales we hope to reveal details of the new collective switch next week.

Q. Is it safe to switch to a smaller supplier? Some of the cheapest deals are with smaller players, and after small supplier GB Energy went bust, there's a chance we'll see more smaller firms fail. Don't let that put you off too much, as if you go to a small firm and the worst happens, rules from regulator Ofgem now mean there's little risk (as we saw with GB Energy). Your credit is protected and your energy stays on as you're transferred to another supplier - you may just need to find a new cheap tariff.

Q. Why should I move to a long fix, when a 1yr is cheaper? This is all about your choice and appetite for risk. Go with a 1yr fix, and the risk is prices will have risen by the time it ends, meaning you'll have to fix again at a higher rate. Lengthier fixes are normally more expensive, yet you protect yourself for longer. Ultimately it's your choice, and as we always say, we can't predict the future.

Q. Does your Cheap Energy Club ALWAYS show the whole market? Yes. Some comparison sites by default show you tariffs you can switch to via them (ie, where they're paid commission). This filters out some results - Cheap Energy Club shows you ALL available tariffs by default.

Q. What happens if I want to move home? Not all suppliers let you transfer fixed deals to a new property. So it's best to check with your supplier to see if it's possible.

Q. What if I want to leave my deal early? Most suppliers charge exit fees, typically £30/fuel, though the odd firm doesn't at all. It's best to check before applying so you're in the know.

Q. Is it cheaper to pay by direct debit? Suppliers charge around 7% less if you pay this way. Always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills. If you estimate, you could end up with overly inflated monthly payments or face a bill shock if you've not paid enough. Think it's too high? You've a right to challenge it - see Fight Unfair Energy Direct Debits.

Q. What if I want to go green? If you're environmentally conscious, the cheapest deal is from little'un Tonik Energy at £880/yr on typical use - though it's so new we've little feedback on it. It's 100% renewable electricity and gives 3% interest on credit balances of up to £1,000. We do have positive feedback on Octopus Energy; it offers 100% renewable electricity on its green 1yr fix and on typical use it's £929/yr.

The Martin Lewis Money Show

Mon 6 Feb, 8pm, ITV - A unique experiment - get your wallet out. I want you to watch with your purse or wallet out, and through the programme I'll show you how you could save £100s just by looking at it. I pounced on people in the street as a trial of this (you'll see that too) and the biggest win was £800 saved in 3 minutes. So get it out. If you can't watch, at least set the Betamax...

Did you miss the 'even if you don't think you had PPI, you may be owed £1,000s' show last week? Everyone who's had a loan, credit card, overdraft or mortgage in the last 20 years should watch last week's PPI show now, plus there's the story of the couple who'd been engaged for 22 years but wanted my help to get 'em over the threshold (it's all about their credit score). For more help, see Reclaim PPI for Free.


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'Your credit score isn't enough - it's your CREDIT HIT RATE that really counts...'

Lenders aren't just interested in the risk credit scores illustrate, they want to know if you can afford to repay too

Hi it's Martin here, I wanted to write this note myself, as on my roadshows many people come up to me obsessed about their 'credit score' - the one credit reference agencies give you. These are a decent indication of whether lenders typically see you as a good or bad risk, but are far from the full picture. Many rightly get upset that "I've a perfect credit score but keep being rejected", now your Credit Hit Rate shows if you're in that boat. So let me take you through it...

Find out how you score on all the below for FREE by joining the MSE CREDIT CLUB

  • Credit clubCredit Score - are you a good risk? In Credit Club we give you a free credit score from Experian (the UK's biggest credit reference agency). It goes up to 999 and shows if a typical lender will see you as good or bad risk, factoring in your payment history, applications and the credit you already have, but DOESN'T include income.

  • Affordability Score - can you afford to repay 'em? This is a unique tool we built which mimics how lenders check if you can afford a product, by looking at your income, exposure to debt and estimated expenditure. After all, even with the best credit history, if you've no money coming in, you can't pay them back and will likely be rejected.

  • The Credit Hit Rate - combines both scores to show what happens in the real world. I invented the Credit Hit Rate, so I may be a bit biased. My idea was to measure what really counts - will you be accepted for the cheapest deals? So it shows the percentage of a basket of real-life top credit card & loan deals you've a good chance of getting.

    - What's startling is how the Hit Rate differs from credit scores. This is the first time we've been able to crunch a decent amount of data since launching the club. The results are fascinating. While the average Hit Rate for someone with a perfect 999 credit score is 83%, we've seen some 'perfect scorers' get a 0% Hit Rate, because of their low affordability score.

    Credit Hit Rates tend to drop far faster than credit scores. A score of 975 is still rated 'excellent' but by then the average Hit Rate's already dropped to 63%. For scores of 945, near the top of the 'good' range, the average Hit Rate is now only around 50%, ie, by then you don't have a good chance of getting half the top market deals.

  • What do I do if my Hit Rate is low? Try to improve both elements. To boost your credit score the MSE Credit Club shows your personal weaknesses and gives tips to improve it.

    Boosting affordability is tougher; there's little you can do about your income. And loans and credit cards generally don't examine your actual expenditure, they focus on typical expenditure for 'someone like you'. Yet with mortgages, expenditure assessments are personalised, so if affordability looks an issue, you know you need to go frugal in the few months before applying.


£10+ off gift cards incl John Lewis, Argos, M&S, eg, £25 vch for £13.60. MSE Blagged. Site sells discounted gift cards/e-vouchers. Our code gets a further £10 off. Min £1 spend, ltd avail. Newbies only. Gift card trick

New. Got sub-£600 debt to shift? Move it to 43mths 0% AND cut your debt. The card wars continue. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) already offered the longest ever 0% at up to 43mths with a 3.28% fee of the amount shifted, but it now gives £20 cashback on top. Crucially, that's paid on £100+ debt shifts, a far lower threshold than others, so it'll effectively reduce the debt if shifting up to £600. After the 0% ends, it's 18.9% rep APR. But what really counts is whether you're accepted so use our balance transfers eligibility calc to check your chances for this and all top deals. Full info: Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

How to beat Sky price hikes. Line rental, broadband & TV costs rising. Full info in beat Sky rises.

Dozen red roses couriered for Valentine's Day, £20-£22. If you're ready for some luurrve, we've the cheapest prices. See all Valentine's flowers.

What the rail fare changes mean. Passengers on selected routes will benefit from simpler options & lower prices - but Martin says the changes don't go far enough. Full info

Reclaim PPI for FREE before the deadline. Millions can still claim typically £3,000 for mis-selling, and our new tool makes it even simpler (sorry if it wasn't working Mon night, it was swamped after Martin's show). Yet a reclaiming deadline is being announced soon - the numbers generated by that will likely clog the system, so do it ASAP. Free PPI reclaiming help



- £20 off £199 & £50 off £399 codes Ends Tue

- £10+ off gift cards incl John Lewis Ends Mon

- £20 A1-ish photo canvas code (norm £78) Ends 14 Feb

- Holland & Barrett 20% off code Ends Fri


- How to beat BT's price hikes

- It's back - Ikea 'free prize with any purchase'

- £10-£40 West End theatre tickets

- Designer sunnies 25% off code, eg, Ray-Bans £58 delivered


Last chance. Earn £40 for (re)building your credit

If you've a poor credit history, specialist cards let you prove you're a good credit citizen to boost your score

When you apply for credit, lenders try to predict your future repayment behaviour based on your past. If you've a poor history or no history, it'll hurt your acceptance chances. We're not trying to get you to borrow, but perversely a credit card can help (re)build your credit record. Just do affordable, normal spending; never withdraw cash, miss a payment or bust your limit - and pay off IN FULL each month to avoid horrid interest. Within a year your score will likely improve, and some cards even PAY you...

  • Credit rebuild Ends Mon. Earn £40 cashback to rebuild your credit. Accepted new Barclaycard Initial (eligibility calc / apply*) cardholders get £10 every 3mths for a year (max £40), if they use it at least once a month, don't bust their credit limit and make at least the min repayment on time every month (though you should make every effort to repay IN FULL or you're charged a HUGE 34.9% APR interest). We've not seen higher cashback on rebuild cards in recent times.

    There's a 3mth 0% spending period, but don't use it unless you need to (first read full Barclaycard Initial help).

  • Barclaycard isn't the only payer - check which you're most likely to get before applying. Our free Credit Rebuild Quick Eligibility Calc shows your chances of getting a card. Unlike applying, it doesn't leave a footprint that lenders can see on your file, so you can home in on the right card and minimise applications. Here's what else there is...

    - £20 Amazon voucher: Apply for the Aqua Advance (eligibility calc / apply*) via this link and get a £20 Amazon vch after 2mths if you use the card, pay on time & don't bust your limit. Repay IN FULL each month otherwise the APR is a horrid 34.9%. Yet it drops by 5 percentage points a year if you manage your account well.
    - 0.5% cashback: New Aqua Reward (eligibility calc / apply*) cardholders get 0.5% cashback on all spending. Again - and we don't tire of saying this - always repay in full each month to avoid the massive 39.9% rep APR.

    Full help on these and more in Credit Cards for Bad Credit (APR Examples). £20 & £50 off codes, good for washing machines, fridges, ovens etc. MSE Blagged. Valid on white goods till Tue. AO - let's go...

£5 off £20 Amazon trick for much of Eng & Scot. Via Amazon Prime Now app. Do you qualify? Amazon £5 off

Holland & Barrett 20% off everything code. MSE Blagged. Works on sale, ends Fri. Holland & Barrett

Family & Friends Railcard 20% off code. £24 for one year, norm £30. Family & Friends

New. £35 Amazon/iTunes vch with 3GB (4G), 500mins & unltd texts BT Sim for £8/mth. From Wed. Over a year newbies can pay £96 and get £35 in vouchers on this 12mth BT Sim deal* IF they've BT broadband (click on 'Got BT broadband at home?' when applying). For all others, or if you were to switch b'band provider, it's £13/mth* for the same. Annoyingly, you must claim the £35 vch within 3mths, so use this voucher link from 2wks after activation. It should then come within 45 days.

£20 A1-ish photo canvas via code (norm £78). MSE Blagged. 80cm x 60cm personalised print. Picanova


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£600 of insurance, incl travel, mobile & breakdown for just £120

And get 3% interest too via our top-pick packaged bank account - but check it's right for you

If you and your family like a holiday, have more than one mobile and drive a lot, a packaged bank account could save you £100s on insurance. As they've been widely mis-sold we've a love-hate relationship with them, but used right they're mega MoneySaving. As some features are only for account holders, add your partner as a joint holder so they're covered even if they don't use the account. Full deets in Packaged Bank Accounts, in brief...

  • Packaged AccountsNationwide FlexPlus. £600/yr of insurance for £120/yr. The star packaged account for us is Nationwide's FlexPlus*. For a £10/mth fee, you get:

    - Mobile cover for all the family's smartphones: For an iPhone, even the cheapest top-pick mobile insurance is £70/yr. That's £280 for four people.
    - World family travel insurance. Includes business, winter sports & golf cover (incl fees) and covers up to age 74. The cheapest comparable policies we found elsewhere are £60-£180 for an under-65, much more if older. See Cheap Travel Insurance.
    - European breakdown cover. Covers all account holders in any car. The cheapest similar breakdown cover we've found is £60-£70.
    - 3% AER variable interest on up to £2,500. Worth up to £74/yr, close to the top interest-paying bank account.

    There's also extended warranty on new-ish electrical goods & ID theft insurance (though we're dubious how worthwhile the latter is).

  • NatWest Rewards can beat it if you've large bills. NatWest's Reward Platinum* costs £18/mth (£216/yr) and includes worldwide family travel insurance (only up to age 69), plus smartphone insurance & UK breakdown cover for the account holder(s). Yet it pays 3% cashback on most bills including council tax, energy and broadband paid by direct debit, so if you've big bills, it can win.

  • Already got one and not happy with it? Check now if you were mis-sold - many reclaim £1,000s. If you were sold a packaged bank account check if it's worth it. If it is - great (or are the above better?). If not, cancel, and also see our Packaged Bank Account Reclaim Tool info to see if you were mis-sold. Dan used it: "Massive thanks - read on your site about reclaiming packaged account fees. Received £1,500 from Lloyds, £3,600 from Barclays."


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Just helped my parents claim £2,400 council tax back, as Dad has Parkinson's, with help from your council tax & mental impairment reclaiming tips."

Does your charity want an MSE Charity grant? It's awarding not-for-profit organisations up to £5k to get their financial/consumer education or empowerment idea - focused on children, young people and families - off the ground. Go quick: the round's open till 3 Mar but closes early if 40 applications are received. MSE Charity



Students - need help with your cash? The National Association of Student Money Advisers is running 'Student Money Week' from Monday. If you're a student with money questions or just need some financial help, you can get in touch with an adviser. Also see our 20+ student mythbusters.


Who pays on a first date? With Valentine's Day coming up, we wanted to see how 21st century FIRST-DATE etiquette works.

Click here to vote for who you think should pay

Sweet dreams are made of this... We asked you to rate major hotel brands you've stayed with in the past three years, based on cleanliness, value and whether they live up to their promises. It turns out that while some are the stuff of dreams, others are a living nightmare. Premier Inn came top with 70% saying it's 'great', while propping up the (bedside) table was Britannia Hotels, with just 3% rating it 'great' (and 71% 'poor'). See full hotel poll results.



- Top story: Energy firms STILL wrongly telling those with fixes ending they face exit fees to switch

- Norwich & Peterborough current accounts to be closed as banking brand is scrapped - what happens next?

- Bereavement changes leave future widowed parents with less support

- TalkTalk cuts the price of broadband for new AND existing customers - but most can save more elsewhere

- Football fan ends up with 56 separate train tickets following search for cheapest split-ticket returns

- Ofgem launches trials to help prevent energy customers from overpaying



Should we pay for the dodgy dryer? We agreed to buy a tumble dryer from the previous owners of our new house. We hadn't seen it before, but it's in bad condition (and worse still they left the house in a tip). Now they want the £50 even though we've said they can collect it. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we pay for the dodgy dryer? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: New job, new focus... still a good life
- Competitions thread of the week: Win an epic holiday to the Greek island of Rhodes
- Old-style board thread of the week: High tea - does such a thing still exist?
- Discussion of the week: Should I let my 16-year-old go to a festival?


- How many steps did you do in 2016? I did 8,170,127 - fitness tracking works



Thu 2 Feb - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 3 Feb - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 6 Feb - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 6 Feb - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 6 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. View previous


Wed 1 Feb - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 1 Feb - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 2 Feb - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 3 Feb
- BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 7 Feb - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: I bought a jacket over a year ago that I've worn seven or eight times and now the padding is coming through. I was told the store couldn't repair it, and because of the time that's passed I would only get a £25 refund. Is this right? Donald, by email.

Megan FrenchMSE Megan's A: Unfortunately, you've few rights here as it's been so long.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, goods need to last a 'reasonable length of time'. Had you complained within six months it may have been easier because the onus is on the store to prove it wasn't faulty.

And if faulty, you'd have been entitled to a repair, or a full refund if it had been beyond repair.

After six months, the onus is on you to prove it was faulty. If the shop accepts the goods were not fit for purpose to start with, and if it can't repair them, it must offer a partial refund - which is what has happened.

You could of course complain further up the store's management chain or via social media - see our Consumer Rights guide for more info and help.

Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).


If you could afford it, would you pay £159 for a stranger's train ticket?

That's it for this week, but before we go, have you heard about the Good Samaritan who paid £159 at the station to replace a train ticket for a crying student nurse after she'd realised she'd lost hers? See what our forumites would do and have your say in the Would YOU pay £159 for a stranger's train ticket? forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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