Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide


Share on:


Weekly Email
This email was sent
01st Aug 2012
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 This info may be out of date.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 August 2012
Martin's Quick Briefing

Boost your credit score
Pump up your financial health with 10 need-to-know tricks

Need a mortgage, credit card, insurance, energy or mobile contract? Since the crunch, credit worthiness has become a huge factor dictating acceptability AND rate. Yet it's a myth everyone has a credit rating. Each lender has its own bespoke, unpublished scoring system to assess if you're a profitable customer (it's not just about risk). So even those with decent credit histories can be rejected.

1. Boosting your credit score's like going on the pull. As each lender's different, there's no fixed route to credit attractiveness. Instead, it's about using a series of tricks to make you more fanciable. These include...

a) Time applications. Too many in a short space of time looks desperate.
b) Stability's good. Put your landline, not your mobile, on applications.
c) Prioritise. Get key ones first, eg, a mortgage before a mobile contract.
d) Get on the electoral roll. If you're not, getting credit's tough. Do it here.
e) Issues wipe after six years. If you've past problems and are close, wait.
For lots more help, see the full Credit Boosting Tips.
2. credit score boostGet paid to check your credit file. Errors can kibosh applications. So check files annually and before big applications. Worse, get rejected then keep applying without checking and even if the error's fixed, lots of applications become a problem.

You've a legal right to see your file for £2 at Equifax, Experian or Callcredit. Or, while it's a bit fiddlier, you can check files free and earn up to £10 cashback.
3. Earn £100 cashback and (re)build your credit score. Cashback credit cards pay you to spend on them. Aqua Reward* pays a big 3% cashback (max £100/yr, so just £300/mth gets the full whack). Uniquely, it's aimed at poorer credit scorers, so even some with CCJs/defaults (if over a year old) can get it.

Plus as credit scoring is about using past behaviour to predict the future, a key to (re)building credit worthiness is to behave well by getting a credit card and never missing a repayment. Aqua's perfect for this, though it's a horrid 34.9% rep APR. Ensure you FULLY repay each month by direct debit to avoid interest (and never withdraw cash). See Cashback Cards.
4. Credit (re)build cards for serious past issues. If you can't get Aqua, Capital One's Classic* accepts some with recent CCJs and defaults, or made bankrupt over 12 mths ago. Use it for a small amount each month and FULLY repay, as it's a nasty 34.9% rep APR. After 6-18mths, your score should've improved.

Otherwise, the 'if all else fails' options require you to shell out, so it's touch & go if it's worth it. Capital One's Secured Card* needs a £49 or £200 deposit for a £200 credit limit. It's 34.9% rep APR, so always FULLY repay. Once your credit's improved, close the card, and your deposit's returned.

Or pay the Cashplus Creditbuilder* prepaid card monthly (total £65/yr) and it reports payments to credit reference agents. After a year, it counts as a fully paid loan agreement. Full help in Rebuild Credit Cards and Official APR Rates.
5. Marriage doesn't hurt, but joint finances do. If people are credit-linked, one person's file can affect the other's application. This ain't about marriage, co-habiting or holding hands. Linkage comes from having a joint mortgage or bank account, but not credit cards as they're '2nd cardholders'.

So avoid joint products if you're in a relationship with someone who has credit issues. If you separate from a partner and are no longer linked, write to the credit reference agencies and ask for a 'notice of disassociation'.
6. Don't shell out to find your 'credit score'. I often hear "my credit score's 900 but I got rejected". Yet 'scores' flogged by credit agencies are only lightly indicative. In reality, each lender scores you based on its own secret, unpublished algorithm assessing not just your file, but any past dealings with you as well as your application form. So buying a score just based on your files is not that relevant. If you get it free, great - but I wouldn't pay for it.
7. New: Shift debts to 21mth 0% for a 1.3% fee. Cutting existing debt costs means repayments clear more actual debt, instead of just covering interest - helping your score. Yet again we've another new top balance transfer (debt-shifting), new cardholder best buy, though it needs a decent score.

Long 0%: Barclaycard* 22mths 0%, with a 1.45% fee then 17.9% rep APR.
New low fee 0%: Barclaycard* 21mth 0%, 1.3% fee then 17.9% rep APR.
Lock in 5.9%: Shift debts to MBNA* at 5.9% APR until debt repaid, 1.5% fee.
Alternative 0%: NatWest* / RBS* 22mth 0%, 3.2% fee then 17.9% rep APR.

With all these: a) Repay at least the minimum each month, or you can lose the special deal. b) Spending isn't usually at a cheap rate, so avoid it. c) You'll usually need to shift the balance within 2mths to get the rate. Full info in the Best Balance Transfers guide and see Official APR Rates.
8. Repay by direct debit, even if the amount varies. To protect your credit score, never miss repayments on anything - it hurts your score. With cards, if you can't fully repay, for safety set up a direct debit to cover the monthly min, then manually repay more on top. See Danger: Min repayments.
9. Small address errors can mean big problems. When checking through your credit file, ensure all active accounts and bills are for your current address (or close them). I once heard of an old non-cancelled mobile bill listed at the wrong address scuppering a lady's mortgage application.
10. Close unused credit cards, unless... Too much available credit adds to the risk and lenders don't like it, so cancel unused cards. Yet if you've other card debts, first call and ask if it'll let you shift debts to it cheaply - protecting your score by avoiding new applications. Full help in Existing Customer Balance Transfers.

More in Boost Your Credit Score and if you're struggling, Problem Debt Help.

Have you saved? Tell your mates

If this site or email has ever helped you, please forward this email to friends and
suggest they get it themselves via

Use the Money Mantras If you're skint, ask - do I need it, can I afford it If you aren't, ask Will I use it, Is it worth it?

The Ones Not To Miss

Wed 1 Aug 2012
School's out for summer! Here are 100 ideas
Entertaining the lil' darlings/monsters needn't be costly | Freebies, vouchers & inspiration

It's enough to make you cheer/groan (delete as appropriate). Having the kids to yourself for six weeks is fantastic/hell, yet rain/shine there's no debate on cost. To help, we've 100 free & cheap things to do with kids this summer. Here's a taster...

Back to top ^

Free personalised postcards to anywhere worldwide. Send as many as you like, totally free, even postage is included (normally costs £1.49) See Touchnote Deals

Forum Hottie

Urgent. 6 Boots sun creams (RRP £35) for £7 glitch. Combine 2 in-store offers, works in some stores, doesn't in others. Forumites are raving, could end any time. Soltan Deals

Totally free Dwell £15. No-min spend vouch, just print & use (if you did it before, it's no go). Dwell Deals

STOP PRESS. Top 3.3% cash ISA ends Thurs. We've just heard Santander's* top-paying easy access variable ISA drops from 3.3% to 3% on Thurs. Yet open it now to get 3.3%. It's top for new money & transfers, but includes a year-long bonus so ditch & transfer then. Full best buys in Top Cash ISAs. It has full UK £85,000 savings safety.

Are you wasting £100s on home insurance?
Many wrongly overinsure & overpay | Code for £50 John Lewis vouchers on top

Home insurance isn't just about picking a provider. Crucial for buildings or contents is getting the 'sum insured' right - the total amount that's covered. Full help in Cheap Home Insurance, here's the latest info...

  • home insuranceDon't get buildings insurance for 'what your home's worth'. Many hugely overpay by covering a home's market value, instead of the correct and usually far lower rebuild value. Use the ABI's calc to see if yours is right. Related: Flood Claim Tips news.
  • Under-insure contents and you mightn't get full payout. Many think "my stuff may be worth £40k, but I'll never claim that, £20k will do". Yet then claim for, say, a £1,000 TV, and you may only be given £500 due to under-covering. Use this contents calc.
  • Find the cheapest insurance in minutes. Comparison sites don't cover all the market. Yet by correctly combining them, you'll get a far wider spread of quotes for just a little extra time, hopefully improving the deal. Here's our analysis of the right sites.
    Made past claims: Use Confused* & CompareTM*, then add the two biggies they miss: Aviva* & Direct Line*.
    One-bed homes: Try Gocompare* & Confused*, then add Aviva* & Direct Line*.
    Other homes: Combine Confused* & CompareTM*, then add Aviva* & Direct Line*.
  • Code gets up to £50 of free John Lewis vouchers: Now get a quote from John Lewis* insurance to see how it compares. Use the code HOME8 as it gives £30 of vouchers for a basic policy (buildings, contents or joint) or £50 for the Classic Home policy.
Back to top ^

Get £50 of designer sunnies for £18. Eg, £49 Ray Bans and £36 Oakleys. See Cheap Glasses

Top graduate accounts 2012: £2,000 0% overdraft. If you're graduating, don't stick with your student account. Move to boost your overdraft, or grab a free £100. Full help in new Top Graduate Accounts 2012.

Free 15ml Oral-B toothpaste. Travel-size sample - sign up online but be quick. See Oral-B Deals

Cheap holiday villa rentals. New guide
Big discounts on quality rentals here & overseas can massively undercut equivalent hotel costs

Whether a villa in Vendée, a cottage in Cornwall or an apartment in Amsterdam, bargains are possible on private holiday properties. Here's a taster of our big new Cheap Holiday Rentals guide.

  • villa rentals Is villa rental for you? You usually must do your own cleaning & washing up. But if you want space, privacy, a full kitchen, washing machine and more, it can be a winner. For big families and groups, it can halve costs compared to similar quality hotels.
  • Find top value rental properties. Search rental sites HomeAway*, Villarenters* & TripAdvisor Rentals* (more in the guide). Plus we're in the summer 'lates' market when un-rented property prices drop sharply, eg, one 3-bed villa with pool in southern France is £350/wk (was £700), so £58/wk per person if six share. Check sites' offer pages and don't be afraid to haggle with owners.
  • What to watch for. You book directly with an owner, so there's less protection. Also think how you pay. Full dos & don'ts, key questions to ask and how to check it's not a fake villa in Cheap Holiday Rentals. Plus more travel savings in Cheap Spending Overseas, Hotel Booking Tricks, Cheap Travel Insurance and Cheap Flights.
Back to top ^

House of Fraser Outlet now 80% off, eg, £17 Levi's. Its online outlet's discounts are boosted to 80% on some items, eg, £17 Levi's (were £85). Limited stock though. Also M&S and Schuh in Online Outlet Discounts

£4 four-piece school uniform. Cheapest we've found. Starts Thurs, stock ltd. Cheap School Uniforms

New top 3.2% easy-access savings. A host of rate changes leaves Santander's* 3.2% AER eSaver as top unlimited access, or West Brom's* 3.22% (you need a min £10,000 & it only allows 4 free withdrawals/yr). Both incl year-long bonuses, so diarise to ditch & switch then. Full info in Top Savings. Both have full UK £85,000 savings safety.

Going abroad? The 'don't miss' savings
Click titles for full info & all top picks
Travel money Travel insurance Cheap flights

For unbelievable rates, special load-free
credit cards beat bureaux de change (always
repay in full though or it's 12.9-34.9% rep. APR):

Halifax Clarity*,
Post Office*,
Aqua* &
Select* (Nationwide custs ONLY).

For best cash see (and APR Examples)

Examples - for all prices see
cheapest travel ins.

£16-£20 for indivs in Europe
Protect Your Bubble*
£44 for families worldwide
'Top value' (good feedback and payouts)

WHEN to get budget flights in Europe:

For specific dates, worldwide:
Skyscanner*, TravelSup*, Kayak*

Flight and Hotel Combined:
Expedia*, Travelocity, Opodo*

2for1 Kew Gardens voucher (saves £16). Click, print & fill in your details. See Kew Gardens Deals

Warning. Don't get too trollied on holiday. Losing something or having an accident post drinking - sometimes even just being merry - can kibosh travel insurance. Don't take valuables out & be careful. See Cheap Travel Ins

Code gets £6 off £10 at 1,000 takeaways. Via an online takeaway directory. Deals

Tell friends about us. They can get this free every week.

Free broadband on the go? Wi-fi not
New. Free broadband for laptops & tablets - but you need to watch ads | Or pay £7.50/GB

If you want to access the web on your tablet or laptop when out and about there are two choices. 3G, where you surf via a mobile connection (incl dongle), or wi-fi, where you wirelessly hitch up to a local broadband connection.

  • free broadband'Free' mobile broadband for laptops / tablets? Samba's* new 3G service (via Three's network) promises free on-the-go internet for laptops & tablets. Each ad watched earns 3.5MB credit, so it's only for light use, not downloading/streaming. To top it up without ads, it's a reasonable (not best) £3.49 for 250MB. A Sim costs £3 with the code MSE2, a dongle £23 (so if possible, put the Sim in an old unlocked dongle).

    Samba's brand new. It's good in theory, but could be a dud in practice. So this is an 'interesting new idea' not a 'wow, this is great, do it'. If you try it, please give us Samba feedback.
  • Cheapest mobile broadband. For heavy users T-Mobile's Wireless Pointer* gives 10GB for £15/mth on 18-mth contract or Three* gives 1GB per month for £8.99. For PAYG, if you've an unlocked dongle, put a Giffgaff* Sim in & £7.50 gets 1GB lasting a month. To get a PAYG dongle, Three's* £30 incl 1GB of data, then £3 buys 500MB lasting 2 days. Full info in Cheap Mobile Broadband.
  • Find free wi-fi hotspots. If you're out with your mobile or laptop, use fast wi-fi to avoid using your 3G data. McDonald's, Starbucks, Wetherspoons & offer it free, or use Free Hotspot or JiWire to find them. See Free Wi-fi.
Back to top ^

10,000 FREE £12 National Home Improvement Show tix. In London, Sept. Days Out

Code gets 2 weekend comedy tix & burgers £10. Incl London, Brum, Leeds. Highlight Deals

Tesco DOUBLE exchange is back incl frozen food
Reclaim £100s of lost Tesco vouchers | Then bag DOUBLE or even QUADRUPLE their value

16m people stash points on Tesco's Clubcard reward scheme. Many wait for its 'double points' promo, and now it's back...

  • tescoStep 1: Find £100s of lost Tesco vouchers. There's a way to check 'n' reclaim unused or lost vouchers online at speed, see the step-by-step help in Reclaim Tesco Vouchers. Many have found £100+, eg, "Found we had £353.50! Bought a new hoover as ours had just broken. Perfect timing". Report your successes.
  • Step 2: Check if you can QUADRUPLE rewards. Before doubling in-store, check Tesco's Rewards brochure, as you can get 3x or 4x points value (so £5 becomes £20) on days out, restaurants, jewellery & more. To help, we've analysed their true value in our Top 10 Tesco Rewards.
  • Step 3: New. Double vouchers IN-STORE (incl frozen food). Tesco's launched its Summer Exchange that lets you swap each £5 voucher for £10 to spend in-store or online on selected departments. For the first time this includes all frozen food. There's also clothing, stationery, small appliances & electricals, baby & toddler, skincare, cosmetics & perfume, home, furniture, pet food, phones & accessories and opticians. See full Tesco Exchange info.
Back to top ^

20% off Toni & Guy voucher. Or 20% off Essensuals. Cuts &/or colours. Register & print. Haircut Deals

Cheap Pimm's. Get 1 litre branded for £12 or 70cl own brand £6. Pimms Deals. Please be Drinkaware.

We NEVER call about PPI. Don't believe imposters. If a PPI claims firm says Martin or MSE recommend them, they're LYING. If you get a call, please note details & email MSE Imposters. Always Reclaim PPI For Free

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
22 mths 0%, 1.45% fee

(17.9% rep APR)

0% BT's & Spend: Barclaycard*
14 mths 0%, 1.45% fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k)
7.5% rep APR
(Need Nectar card)

Sainsbury's* (£7.5 - £15k)
5.8% rep APR

(Need Nectar card)

Santander* 3.3% AER
Min £2,500. Incl bonus.
Top for transfers

M&S 3% AER
Min £100. No bonus.
Transfers allowed

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

the moneysaving community

spill beans

Spill the beans... on free ways to keep the kids entertained
Whether it's spending a day in reverse (dinner at breakfast, etc) or treasure hunts around the house - what ideas have you got for keeping the kids entertained? Share your top tips. Spill 'em: Cheap ways to entertain your kids Past topics: View all

MSE Charity community grant applications. The next funding round for charities/groups involved with financial & consumer education projects opens in a month. Only the first 40 applications that meet the criteria are considered, so prepare your case now. Full info at The MSE Charity. Related: MSE's Charity Fund, How This Site's Financed

Campaign of the week

Tell Citizens Advice your views on claims companies
Whether it's for an accident, benefits, bank charges or of course, PPI (see the Reclaim For Free guide), a Citizens Advice survey is after your views on claims management companies. How were they for you?
Spotted a campaign? This space is for MSE to support the work being done by other charities, community groups and campaigners. Send us a Campaign of the Week suggestion.

Money Moral Dilemma

Should I demand money back from housemates?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
I live in a shared house where we split the bills equally. Our water recently got cut off because my housemates hadn't paid their share (even though I'd paid mine) and we then got charged a £36 reconnection fee. This was both inconvenient and unfair on me, but I worry that raising the issue will cause tension in the house. Should I ask for my share of the £36 back or keep quiet (and the peace)? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Shall I demand money back from flatmates? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Compare, switch & get cashback

£15 per switch

£30 dual fuel

6 bottles of wine

First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Get quotes in this order...

Primus Line Rental Saver*

BT Line Rental Saver*
£10.75/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Free Budget Planner Free MSE car sticker £16 Travel Insurance
Cheap Flight Sales

Ryanair Price: From £12 each way Ends: Ongoing
Our pick this week is Ryanair's from £12 each way flights. It's on various routes for travel Mon 3 Sep-Wed 31 Oct 2012, and includes some taxes and charges. Flights include London to Majorca for about £65 return. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £80 return max search. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

Back to top ^

Financial support from parents. Spill the beans... revealed
A number of MoneySavers commented on how interesting last week's Spill the Beans topic was. That goes for the results too. Lots of you had help with property deposits, but many went without any financial help at all. The majority felt that it should be give and take and that the issue is far more complex than money alone.

Book Giveaway RESULT. Quick Cook Budget Meals. 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one

Cheap Travel Money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 127.30 115.97
US Flag $ 156.21 142.61
Turkish Flag TL 277.00 245.22
Rates correct at 4.30pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Would you buy cheap, child-sweatshop-made clothes?

If it was CONFIRMED a (hypothetical) fashion store sold cheap, child sweatshop-made clothes, which of these best reflects your attitude?

I wouldn't care

If it's cheap & I like it, it wouldn't stop me

They're all the same in reality

I'd avoid it, unless I couldn't find a viable alternative

I'd never shop there again

I source all my clothes from sustainable, fair trade organisations anyway

Poll Results

Would you press the 'cancel the Olympics' button?

26,000 voted and overall a whopping 10,331 (39%) would press 'cancel'. Folk in Scotland were most against - 42% - while the Northern Irish were the most on-the-fence.

Predictably Londoners were polarised, with 39% wanting to cancel, 35% mega-excited and the lowest level of ambivalence, just 26%. See Full Results

Question Of The Week

Q: My friend works temp jobs, and each time she takes new work or becomes unemployed she has to pay her car insurer £20 to change these details. This can be six times a year. Is there a way around this? Anon

MSE Dan's A: It won't be easy to avoid. Try to find an insurer that doesn't charge supplementary fees to alter details mid-way through the cover. Check the small print before taking a policy.

Sometimes the fee can vary depending on how you update the info. For example, Aviva won't charge if you make the alterations via its website, but it will over the phone.

Your friend should speak to insurers direct before taking a policy to see what they advise. One potential ray of light is that, while none of them currently list 'temp worker' in their occupations list, Direct Line has tipped us off that it plans to add this soon, which should help.

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

Board Of The Week

The Green & Ethical MoneySaving Board

Share advice and ideas on ways to save money and the environment. Discussions include Anyone tried the Eco Egg? , Mooncup and Your Solar PV Readings.

Back to top ^
Game Of The Week

Ninja Painter 2

Mars landing next Monday...

The Curiosity lander is due to hit Mars next Monday. If you can stand rising with the sun, check out live online coverage of the Mars landing from 5.30am on Mon 6 Aug 2012. Follow your Curiosity...

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

Get The Free Weekly Moneysaving Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out