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 This info may be out of date.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

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"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 March 2017
Urgent. Car insurance to rocket - sort yours NOW
New. Longest-ever 0% NO-FEE debt shift
Energy price hikes start TODAY - how to beat 'em
Get PAID to pay your bills
'Posh' bedding code, eg, £9 double duvet
How to get your FREE Experian Credit Report
Can you get a Hotpoint refund?
10 kids' books £10 delivered
2% for a year's fixed savings
Hurry. 18 days off for the price of 9
£10 off £60 Amazon code
50% off Legoland tix
John Lewis 'sale-matching' Debenhams
£22 Sanctuary Spa gift set
Free £24 of wine with Channel ferry

Urgent. Car insurance costs could rocket - check NOW if you can LOCK IN cheaply

Act quick - new Govt rules mean prices may rise at any time
You can save £100s, even if not at renewal

Car insuranceInsurers have issued dire warnings that car insurance is going to soar, with some estimates of an average up to £75/yr jump. If true it'll create a double whammy for drivers with prices already 12% up over 2016, according to the AA.

It's all because the Government's announced changes to the way compensation is calculated for people hit by life-changing injuries. They'll get more from insurers who say they'll pass the costs onto motorists, which could happen at any moment. While the Govt last night said it will listen to protests, insurers told us price rises are still likely to go ahead in the short term at least.

Regardless, costs were expected to rise anyway, so this is an urgent warning to sort your insurance NOW and avoid any hikes.

1. Ensure you're on TODAY'S cheapest deal - then if the rises happen, you're protected. If insurers are correct, today's rates will soon look cheap. But even if you're midway through your policy, you don't need to sit and wait. You can normally change to a cheaper deal at any time. Here's what to do, depending on how close you are to renewal...


It's easy. As you're there, skip the rest of this and jump to point 2 to bag the cheapest possible cover. Crucially, NEVER automatically accept your renewal quote - it's almost always a rip-off.


Some firms such as Aviva*, LV* & Nationwide give quotes valid for 60 days (see full list of 20 long-quote insurers). So get one now, then check it against quotes at renewal time.


You can switch insurer at any stage. Check below how to get the cheapest and, if it's worth it, for a £50ish admin fee (factor that in), you can usually cancel your existing policy and get the rest of the year refunded, provided you've not claimed. You won't earn the year's no-claims bonus, but if it means you save now and protect against future hikes for longer, it can be a winner. Full help in Switching mid-policy.

2. Combine comparison sites to speedily find your cheapest deal before any hikes hit. There's no one cheapest insurer, as prices are different for everyone. Comparison sites check as many quotes as possible, quickly and easily, yet they don't all cover the same insurers or even give the same price for the same insurer, so use more than one.

Our current order's*, Gocompare* then MoneySup* (see how we rank them). If you can, use all three.

As Catherine emailed: "Renewal quote was £712. I used a comparison site and found equivalent insurance for £315 - almost a £400 saving. Thanks MSE."
3. Then check the biggies comparisons miss. Direct Line* & Aviva* won't appear on comparison sites, and can be competitive. SamDude told us: "I've always used comparison sites to get a good deal but this yr direct insurers were much, much cheaper - £1,020 down to £580. The moral is: don't ignore 'em."
4. Hidden hot deals comparison sites miss, eg, £55 Amazon vch. There are sometimes special promo deals, some of which aren't listed on comparison sites - some are blagged by MSE. We collate them in our Hot car insurance deals section so you can compare against comparison sites' best. Current highlights for switchers include...

- £55 Amazon vch: If you get a policy via this Age UK* link, the voucher will be sent within 120 days.

- £50 Co-op food vch: For new custs who buy a Co-op* policy - the voucher's posted within 90 days.
5. Beat the young drivers' penalty and slash costs, eg, 'I saved my daughter £1,600+'. Our Young Drivers' Insurance guide has top tips for you or your kids to drop prices down a gear, with the key trick being a 'black box'.

This device is the tech (officially called 'telematics') insurers put inside your car to monitor how you drive and when. Essentially, the better your driving and the less you drive, the less you pay. Cheap telematics policies.

Sandra emailed: "My daughter's insurer wanted £2,200. But after reading your guide, Direct Line with a black box came in at £540. We can't believe the difference. Thanks."
6. Check multi-car policies if you've more than one car. A few insurers offer discounts. It's always worth trial & error to compare these against standalone deals.

Sadly comparison sites can't do this, so do it by insurer. Admiral MultiCar* gives discounts of up to 25% depending on how many cars you insure. Plus, you'll get an £80 Amazon voucher. Also, Churchill*, Direct Line* & Privilege sometimes give discounts on a new policy if you or someone in your household or family already has one with them.
7. Adding your aunty (or hubby, gran etc) to your policy could save you. Plus more counter-logical savings. It's all about how likely the insurer thinks you are to have an accident or make a claim. These can lead to bizarre ways to save.

- Adding extra drivers can cut your cost.
If they're a lower risk than you, it sometimes brings the price down. As forumite Bouncybubbles told us: "Was quoted £900, up from £500 previous year. By comparing then adding my husband I got it down to £298." It can even work if you're a young driver adding a responsible older driver. For the rules see Adding a responsible driver (do check, as doing it wrong can be fraudulent).

- Comprehensive may be cheaper than third party. Merely selecting comprehensive means some insurers see you as a lower risk. So if you want the cheapest cover, check if comprehensive's cheaper. It's more trial and error than cast-iron certainty.
8. A secretary can pay less than a PA, an illustrator less than an artist - legitimately tweak your job title. You can't claim to be Prime Minister if you're a pole dancer (or vice versa). But clever savings are possible, as demonstrated by @fabsternation's tweet: "I did this too thanks to @MartinSLewis from creative director to marketing manager - saved £300+. Crazy world, isn't it?" Our fun Job Picker tool may help (it's old, though we plan to update it).
9. Avoid 'pay monthly' - it's a hugely expensive up to 95% APR loan. Insurers may call it paying monthly, but actually they loan you the year's cost and charge often hideous interest. Kwik Fit Insurance is the worst offender we've found, with a disgraceful more than 95% APR from our tests in January (but we've seen it over 100% before).

So pay upfront if you can as many insurers charge over 20% (check your insurer's APR). If needed, use one of the many year-long-plus 0% on spending credit cards. Just ensure you pay it off over the year, then there's no extra cost (see our 0% Cards Eligibility Calc to see whether you'll be accepted).
10. Don't want to switch insurer? Haggle, haggle, haggle. This works best at renewal. Simply find the best price you can at speed, then ask your existing provider to beat or match it. Often it will. Bryan emailed: "Received my car renewal for £499, up from £377 the year before, so phoned insurance company. I haggled them to £352 - exactly the same fully comp insurance." See our Haggling guide for top tips.

PS: Don't be surprised if your existing insurer offers you a far cheaper price as a new customer via comparisons than in its renewal quote.

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New. Longest-ever 0% debt shift with NO FEE

Most balance transfer cards charge to take on debt, yet you can now get 28mths at zero interest for FREE

If you've existing debt on credit/store cards, a balance transfer card pays them off for you, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. All repayments clear the actual debt, not just cover interest, helping you get debt-free quicker. But while most cards charge a one-off fee, some do it for free - and the amount of time they give you to pay it off is getting longer.

Will you be accepted? Our Balance Transfer Quick Eligibility Calc shows which cards you've best odds of getting, or join our FULL Credit Club, where you also get a free Credit Report, Hit Rate and Credit & Affordability Scores. Both do a 'soft' credit search, so there's no impact on your creditworthiness. And for some cards the calcs show which providers 'pre-approve' you, where you'll definitely get it, subject to an ID check.

Card TRANSFER FEE (1) + PERK 0% length (APR AFTER 0% ENDS)
New. Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest NO-FEE 0% NO fee (2) 28mths 0% (18.9%)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Next-longest NO-FEE, but it's an 'up to' NO fee Up to 26mths 0% (18.9%)
Virgin Money (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Long low-fee 0.55% 30mths 0% (19.9%)
Barclaycard (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Long low-fee, but an 'up to' 0.6% + £20 cashback on £500+ transfers Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%)
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Second-longest, higher fee 2.3% (min £3) 42mths 0% (18.9%)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Joint-longest, even higher fee and an 'up to' 2.98% Up to 43mths 0% (18.9%)
(1) % of debt shifted. (2) You pay a 1.5% fee on transfer, but it's refunded within 60 days. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

  • Tip 1: Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Calculate how long you need to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe and go long, even with a fee.

  • Tip 2: Some have an 'up to' 0% length, so you may get a shorter deal even if accepted. That's why we include the best options where you know the deal for sure if accepted (our eligibility calc says if you've good odds).

  • Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help, get cashback & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you could lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
    b) Clear the card or balance-transfer again before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the higher APR.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on these. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
    d) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days to get the 0%.


'Posh' bedding code, eg, £9 double duvet, £6 for 2 pillows. MSE Blagged. Min £3 del, ltd stock. This hugely popular deal is back. Dept store supplier sells excess stock at up to 75% off high street prices and our code takes a further 25% off. You snooze, you lose

Get your Experian Credit Report for free via MSE's Credit Club. It's your financial CV - and you need to see what it says about you. If wrong it can kill applications for cheap mortgages, cards, mobiles, car insurance & more. Plus, as it's updated every 30 days, you can keep checking for changes. Free credit report and score

Can you get a Hotpoint refund? Our top tips after it warns 1m+ not to use its tumble dryers. See Hotpoint refund help.

10 kids' books for £10 delivered, incl Mr Men. MSE Blagged. Ends Thu. Choose from 200+. World Book Day

Get 2% interest on your savings fixed for a year. It's with app-only Atom Bank, but if you're happy to lock cash away, you can get 2% for 1 year or up to 2.4% for longer. Full UK protection up to £85,000. Full help & more best buys in fixed savings.

Hurry. 18 days off for the price of 9. Boost your time off with clever planning, but you don't have long. See how to max your 2017 annual leave.



- Boston Duvet & Pillow Co. 25% off Ends Mon 13 Mar

- 10 kids' books for £10 delivered Ends Thu


- Flog your rubbish for CASH, incl loo roll tubes, jars and corks

- Grab freebies for your birthday, eg, free £5 Body Shop

- Ends Tue: 11 totally FREE photo prints

- 'I won a £40k bundle, incl Sweden hol'


Warning. Energy price rises start TODAY - how to beat 'em

As EDF's hike hits, with more to follow, avoid wasting £350+/yr by locking in NOW

It's begun - today EDF raises standard electricity prices by 8.4%. Npower, Scot Power, Co-op and First Utility will jack up standard gas and elec prices over the next month too. And don't be smug if you're with E.on, SSE & British Gas. The first two are silent on plans after their price freezes end in April, and while BG may be freezing till Aug, its standard tariff is already expensive. So urgently check if you can save via our Cheap Energy Club, as bitter experience shows the best deals often disappear when prices rise.

  • EnergyCheck NOW if you're wasting £350+/year. Two-thirds of you are on a standard tariff and already massively overpaying. These dual fuel prices, based on typical use, tell the story:

    - Most expensive big name standard tariff (after hikes): £1,187/yr
    - Average big name standard tariff (after hikes): £1,108/yr
    - Cheapest big name 1yr fix: £945/yr
    - Cheapest 1yr fix: £834/yr (we're concerned if this rate's sustainable; next best is £842/yr)

    Switching to a cheap fix is easy. It takes just 5 mins to start the move, plus you get £30 cashback (£15 per fuel) if we can do it for you. Either:

    - Do a full market comparison via MSE's Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save after factoring in the price rises.
    - OR, if you're confused by the array of deals, our top-picks comparison includes reviews of a few select tariffs and help on which to choose.

  • Don't want to switch supplier? You can still save £100s/yr. We've added a new 'My Current Supplier' filter to Cheap Energy Club, so you just see its tariffs. Savings can be huge, eg, on typical use, an Npower customer on its standard dual fuel tariff could save £200+/yr moving to its cheapest. See Switch without switching for more help.

  • Worried about small firms? See only deals from big name suppliers. There are about 50 energy suppliers, all with multiple tariffs. If you're confused, or just want the security of a name you know, you can set your Cheap Energy Club filters to show only tariffs from the Big 6, plus Co-op, First Utility and Ovo.


£10 off £60 Amazon. For Amazon Prime Now newbies. £5 off £50 if you've used it before. Covers much of Eng and Scot, ends Sun. Amazon £10 off

50% off Legoland with £3ish McDonald's spend. For 2-5 people, saves up to £150ish. Legoland

John Lewis 'sale-matching' Debenhams' up to 25% off ALL departments. Debenhams has up to 25% off (some depts 10%, eg, beauty) and John Lewis is matching an, ahem, "unnamed competitor's" sale. Ends Sun. Sale wars

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I used MSE to complain to Barclays about being mis-sold a packaged bank account nearly 20 years ago. It accepted the claim and repaid over £3,000. Thank you."

£22 Sanctuary Spa 'With Love' set, £36ish separately. Incl candle, diffuser, body lotion/scrub/wash, hand cream and bath soak. Boots


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Wowzers: Get PAID to pay your bills

Some bank accounts give up to 3% cashback on council tax, broadband, utilities etc

Let's face it, paying bills is a wrench, but for a small monthly fee some banks give cashback every time you pay. These aren't always best as your main account, yet we know many - especially couples - have separate bills accounts, so why not make a profit? To open one, you don't need to switch, though you need to pass a credit check...

  • Pay billsEarn 3% on ALL main bills - top cashback rate. The NatWest Reward account* has a £3/mth fee but gives 3% cashback on council tax, gas & elec, water, mobile, landline, TV and broadband bills paid by direct debit. You need to spend £100 on bills each month to break even with the fee, though that's not a problem for most households. Eg, pay £300/mth on qualifying bills and you get £72/yr after fees.

  • Top alternatives - can win if you've a Santander mortgage and/or big savings. To get cashback from these two Santander accounts you must pay bills by direct debit (and at least two must be active) and pay in a min £500/mth.

    - 1%-3% cashback with lower fee. The Santander 123 Lite account has a £1/mth fee yet pays 3% on phone, broadband, mobile and TV bills; 2% on gas & elec; and 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgages (max £10/mth on mortgages). So if you've a Santander mortgage it may beat NatWest above.

    - 1%-3% cashback, 1.5% on savings, yet higher fee. The Santander 123* account pays the same cashback as its sister account above on a £5/mth fee. But it also pays 1.5% AER variable interest on savings up to £20k, so can win for those with big savings (when comparing, work out what you'd get putting savings in a top savings account instead).

  • Warning. Joining finances could harm your credit chances. If a couple or household has a joint account, this creates a financial link. If one of you is a bad credit risk, it could hurt the other's chances of getting credit in future. See Should you link? & Check your credit report free.

For full information & eligibility, plus how to make up to £200 to switch your main account, see Best Bank Accounts.


Free case of wine (norm £24) with P&O Dover-Calais car day-return. Crossings from £25, till Fri 17 Mar. See P&O. Pls be Drinkaware.

1,250 FREE pairs of National Wedding Show Birm & Manc tickets. Norm £12.50+ each. Free Wedding Show



Ask the Government to help carers build up their state pension. Carers can be eligible to claim national insurance (NI) credits to boost their state pension - essentially to replace the NI they miss out on by not working. But awareness of this credit is low, so many may retire on a lower state pension. Sign a petition to ask the Government to do more to help carers get the NI credits they're entitled to. Plus find out how to apply if you're a carer.


How do you do the majority of your banking? Every week it seems there are stories of banks closing branches across the country. But does this affect you? Whether it's in branch, online or by post, we want to know how you bank...

Click here to tell us how you do the majority of your banking

'Free school meals should be means-tested.' In last week's poll we asked you what you thought should be based on income or made available to all. A huge 72% of you thought free school meals should be means-tested but just 10% of you thought the same for free library access, 14% for free NHS access and 16% for the state pension. See our full means-testing poll results.



- Top story: BT landline-only customers could save £5 a month due to Ofcom price cut

- Barclays customers left unable to use cards and make payments after 'technical difficulties'

- First Utility hikes standard tariff prices by 9.7% - check NOW if you can save

- Southern Rail opens up lump sum compensation to all eligible commuters - can you claim £100s?

- Energy switching at six-year high - search for the cheapest deals



Should I claw back car expenses from my parents? When I was 17 my parents bought me a car, but I paid all running costs using my apprenticeship wage. They just bought a car for my brother, who's about to go to university, but will ALSO pay his expenses, as he has no job. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I reclaim car expenses from my parents? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: I want to retire early
- Competitions thread of the week: Win the ultimate family adventure to Tanzania
- Old-style board thread of the week: How many of you buy fresh-cut flowers?
- Discussion of the week: Can a girl ask a man out on a date?


- £69 flights to New York. Too good to be true?



Wed 1 Mar - Share Radio, 12.20pm
Wed 1 Mar - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 2 Mar - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 3 Mar
- BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 7 Mar - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: I'm booked to go away later this year and I always have an annual travel insurance policy, but I switched insurer recently. As I'm with a different company to the one I had when I booked, if I need to claim for cancellation, which company do I claim from? Arthur, by email.

BroadbandMSE Tony's A: Looking at your question, we assume you haven't needed to make any claim yet. If that's the case, it means your new insurer will be the one to contact in the event of a claim.

As a general rule, you need to contact the insurer you have at the time of any incident. Eg, if you fall ill, it would be the insurer at the time of diagnosis. Or if you lose your job, it's the insurer at the point you found out.

This highlights the importance of having insurance or buying it as soon as you've booked so you're covered for cancellation at any time before and during the trip - a tip you've followed, fortunately.

Also, when switching annual policy, make sure the new policy starts as soon as the old one ends - again, so you're always protected if you need to cancel. See our Cheap Travel Insurance guide for loads more tips.

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


What's your Oscars-esque faux pas?

That's it for this week, but before we go, this week's blunder at the Oscars, when La La Land was mistakenly announced as 'best picture' winner, was gaffe-tastic. Whether you're in front of hundreds of millions of viewers or your work colleagues or family, embarrassment can make you want the ground to swallow you up. It got us thinking... what's the worst public mess you've made? Have you hit 'reply all' on a sensitive email, got a wedding speech all wrong or made a fool of yourself at the work Christmas party? Let us know and read others' gaffes in our Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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