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02nd Nov 2016
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 This info may be out of date.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."

02 November 2016
Warning: Car insurance up 16% & rising - LOCK IN even if not at renewal
Free £100+ in time for Xmas
Check Vodafone bills for errors NOW
40 eBay buying secrets
Easyjet SUMMER seats release
New. Ditch Santander 123? Martin's analysis as rate halved
Free £35 M&S for buying a banana
2 Spode Christmas mugs £8
Should you leave the heating on low?
Big Bounts changes: Does it still pay to walk?
Gap 40% off code
Huge Ciaté nail polish saving
Ending: HSBC £50 loans cashback
How much does ice in drinks cost?
M&S, Argos 3for2 on Xmas decs

Warning: Car insurance up 16% with more to come. Check NOW if you can LOCK IN cheaply
And that's even if you're not at renewal

Car insurance prices are rising rapidly. The AA's latest index just out shows a 16% jump in the last year, adding almost £82 to a typical policy. Crucially the motoring giant added it "can't see an immediate end" to the rises. So the sooner you act, the more you're likely to save - even if you're not close to renewal.

EbayAs @mubzymalone tweeted: "Just HALVED my car insurance saving £543 by changing mid-policy. HUGE thanks to @MartinSLewis for the tip." Not only is he saving now, he's locked in the price for a year, stalling any rises. Full help in our Cheap Car Insurance & Young Drivers' Insurance guides, yet here are the key drivers...

1. Ensure you're on TODAY'S cheapest deal - then if prices rise, you're protected. If the predictions are correct and prices keep rising, today's rates will soon look cheap. Many are also overpaying already, especially those who just auto-renewed. Here's what to do, depending on how close you are to renewal...


It's easy. As you're at renewal, 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. As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: "Renewal £521. Quote a month ago, honoured, of £319. Thanks."


Many wrongly think you can only switch at renewal, but you can do it 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 prevent future hikes it can be a winner. Full help in Switching mid-policy.
2. Combine comparison sites to speedily find your cheapest deal. 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 Sue emailed: "Last year I paid £258. The renewal quote was £608. I then paid £199 using your comparison site process. Thanks."
3. Then check the biggies comparisons miss. Direct Line* & Aviva* won't appear on comparison sites, and can be competitive. As @Princess_Becca_ tweeted: "Went to an insurer that wasn't on a comparison site... saved £200. Cheers."
4. Hidden hot deals comparison sites miss, eg, £55 Amazon voucher. There are sometimes special promo deals around, 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 by Wed 30 Nov, the voucher will be sent within 120 days.
- £50 Co-op food vch: For new custs who buy a Co-op* policy by Fri 18 Nov - the voucher's posted within 90 days.
5. Check multi-car policies if you've more than one car per household. A few insurers offer discounts. It's always worth trial & error to compare these against standalone deals.

Sadly comparison sites' tech doesn't allow this, so do it by insurer. Admiral MultiCar* gives discounts of up to 25% depending on how many cars you insure. 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.

When it wins, the savings can be huge, as forumite foolsgold01 found: "We were paying £876/yr jointly for our insurance. We checked the multi-car policy deal and saved £449 a year."
6. Don't always use common sense... comprehensive can undercut 3rd party & insuring more people can cost less. It's all about risk averages & 'actuarial' tables. These can lead to bizarre ways to save.

- 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.

- Adding extra drivers can cut your cost.
If they're a lower risk than you, it sometimes brings the average down. As forumite Bouncybubbles told us: "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 older driver (do check, as doing it wrong can be fraudulent).
7. 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 @RPJ_Webster93's tweet: "Thanks to your 'reword job title' tip my car insurance quote reduced by £500." He legitimately changed his job title from 'council worker' to 'civil servant - cleric'. Our fun Job Picker tool may help (it's old, though we plan to update it).
8. 'Paying monthly' doesn't exist - instead it's an up-to-100%ish 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 up-to-93% APR yesterday from our tests (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 cost (see our 0% Cards Eligibility Calc to see whether you'll be accepted).
9. 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. Sue emailed: "Received my renewal for car insurance at £437, comparison sites had it for £290 with the same company. Rang company and got it for £297." See our Haggling guide for more help.

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.
10. Cover still too costly? Consider a 'black box'. This device is the tech (officially called 'telematics') insurers put inside your car to monitor how you drive and when. It's especially useful for younger drivers facing hefty premiums, though if your mileage is limited and you don't drive at peak times or late at night, it can work well too.

Forumite used one to save over £400: "Via telematics I paid £980 in my first year, vs comparison sites' cheapest of £1,400".

With Co-op*and Direct Line DrivePlus*, you can earn 22.5% and 25% discounts respectively. More info in Cheap telematics policies.
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Free £100+ in time for Christmas - ho ho kerching

Switch bank to take advantage of the cash bribes on offer and top up your festive coffers

With Christmas coming there's a surprising way to put money in your pocket, as now five banks pay £100-£150 upfront to switch current account. What's more, some dishing out the dosh also offer some of the best customer service. Full info in Top Bank Accounts, but without further ado, here are the top deals ranked by how quickly the cash should arrive...


All credit-score you. To get the bonus you need to use their 'switching services' and may need to move direct debits & standing orders.

Account Intro Bonus + other rewards & min pay-ins Estimated time to get free bonus after applying (1)
Halifax Reward

Free £100 bonus + £5/mth (£3/mth from Feb) - if in credit. No min pay-in for bonus but £750/mth for reward.

10 days - the day your switch goes through

M&S Bank*

Free £100 gift card + £10/mth (in yr 1). Also £100 0% o'draft & 5% regular saver. No min pay-in for gift card but £1,000/mth to get £10/mth.

40 days

First Direct*

Free £100 bonus + top cust service. Also £250 0% o'draft & 5% reg saver. Min £1,000 pay-in for bonus + £1,000/mth to avoid £10/mth account fee.

38-65 days - 28 working days after first pay-in (2)

New. TSB*

Free £100 bonus + up to £5/mth contactless cashback till Sep 2017. Also 5% interest on up to £2k (3% on up to £1.5k from Jan). Min £500 pay-in for bonus + £500/mth for interest.

38-65 days - 28 working days after first pay-in (2)

Co-op Bank

Free £150 bonus + £4/mth (3). No min pay-in for bonus, but min £800/mth plus other hurdles for rewards. See Co-op rewards.

55 days

(1) Time assumes 10 days for switch to go through & is based on timings in banks' T&Cs, though it may come earlier. (2) If money paid in before the switch (the account can be opened before), it's 28 working days after the switch. (3) Another £1.50/mth is possible but only if you jump even more hurdles - see Co-op rewards.

  • Switching's easy & takes just seven working days. Of those who responded in our snap Twitter poll, a whopping 76% who've used 7-day switching since its 2013 launch told us it was hassle-free, eg, Kimberley: "No problems. Switched to First Direct - best decision." They close your old account, move direct debits & standing orders and auto-forward payments.

Easyjet SUMMER seats released from Thursday - is it the cheapest time to book? This is the BIG release with millions available. Easyjet tricks

Martin's new analysis. Time to ditch Santander 123? Yesterday the bank savings giant halved its interest to 1.5%. Yet other top deals are dropping too, so how does it now rate? See Martin's Ditch Santander 123? blog.

Free £35 in M&S vchs for buying a banana. This credit card trick is back - now with an extra £5. See how to get a free £35 at M&S.

2 Spode 'Christmas tree' mugs £8 incl del (norm £26). MSE Blagged. Or 2 larger 'peppermint handle' mugs for £12.50 delivered. Only 3,700 sets. Massively popular so go quick. Cuppa

Should you leave the heating on low? Plus 13 more energy savers. As winter's coming, see energy help.

Big Bounts changes: Does it still pay you to walk? Can Premium+ members get a refund? There's been a huge and mostly disappointing overhaul from the 'get paid to walk' app. We explain it, and your rights if you went premium, in Bounts help.


- 2 Spode 'Christmas tree' mugs £8 del (norm £26) Ltd stock

- £110ish Ciaté nail polish set for £36 trick 5,000 avail


- Married or in a civil partnership? You could be due £432

- £600 of travel, breakdown and mobile insurance for £120

- £30 autumn meat hamper (£60+ at supermarkets)

- Hold on to your Nectar points... the double-up is coming

Check Vodafone bills for errors NOW - are you owed £100s?

Our investigation revealed mass billing blunders that affected 1,000s, but you can fight back

Vodafone was slapped with a £4.6m fine by regulator Ofcom last week - the largest levied on a telecoms firm. It let thousands buy pay-as-you-go credit they couldn't use, and handled complaints poorly. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. In June we told you we'd found evidence of potentially systemic billing errors affecting 1,000s since 2015. As Anna told us: "Thanks. I was overcharged so I contacted Vodafone and eventually got £575." So we want to ensure you've the message loud & clear - see our Am I owed by Vodafone? guide. Here's the key info...

  • EbayCheck your Vodafone bill NOW. Given the scale of the blunders, don't assume you've been charged correctly. We've seen 1,000s complain of errors.

    1. Your bill may be wrong - check: Issues include being overcharged or put on the wrong tariff. See what to check.
    2. Even if your bill's correct, check bank statements: Many have still had too much taken. See how to check bank statements.
    3. Found a problem? Check your credit score: Vodafone sometimes wrongly told credit agencies people missed payments when they hadn't, which can harm their future credit chances. See how to check credit files.

  • How to get YOUR money back. Gather evidence (eg, bills) and work out what you're due (eg, money back, credit file fixed). See putting things right for help. Then...

    1. Complain to Vodafone informally: Check if you can get money back or the problem sorted before making a formal complaint. See Complain to Vodafone.
    2. If that fails, make a formal complaint using our free online tool: Our Vodafone Resolver Tool helps escalate complaints up the management chain. As Michael emailed: "I had a year-long issue. It was sorted within two days using Resolver." See more successes.
    3. If it fobs you off, go to the Ombudsman: If you've reached deadlock, you can go to the independent Communications Ombudsman, which you can also do using our Vodafone Resolver Tool.

Gap 40% off code - biggest we've seen this year. Eg, £45 jeans £27. Full info: Gap 40% off.

£110ish of Ciaté nail polish for £36 trick. MSE Blagged. 23 polishes in advent calendar. 5,000 avail. Nice nails

Ends Mon. HSBC £50 loans cashback. Apply via this link by 7 Nov and HSBC* offers 3.3% rep APR with £50 cashback on a £7k-£15k loan. Factor in cashback & it beats the lowest rate, of 3.1% rep APR from Ikano* and Sainsbury's*, if borrowing for up to three years (both min £7.5k, Sains needs Nectar card). And don't just apply, use our Loans Eligibility Calc to find acceptance odds (not for Ikano yet). Full help & more options, including for smaller amounts, in Loan Best Buys. Only get a loan if it's planned, budgeted-for and affordable.

How much is ice in soft drinks costing you? See MSE Jordon's chilling video on Facebook.

M&S & Argos 3for2 on Christmas trees, lights & decorations. Great for stocking up early. Xmas decs

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eBay buying secrets - 'Got half-price NutriBullet as it was misspelt'

With Christmas coming, we show how to beat other bidders to bag 2nd-hand goods at a fraction of the price

Whether you want a Fitbit or an espresso machine, the online auction giant is first port of call for many. Most just bid, yet with some nous you can fill your house with bargains. See our 40 eBay Buying Secrets, here's our opening bid...

  • EbayeBay buying tricks.
    - Exploit speling mishtakes: Typos meanz fewer searches, so cheep prices. Use mistake spotters to trawl for erors, as @buttababes did: "Thanks, got a nearly new NutriBullet for £40. It was spelt Nutrabullet - £75 normally."
    - Be a sniper: Bidding early can up prices. Sniping tools auto-bid in the final 10 secs.
    - Snoop on sellers' history: A tool shows past bids they've accepted to give clues.
    - Bag hidden local eBay bargains:
    Sellers often specify items as 'collection only' - that puts people off, so prices are lower. We built the Local eBay Deals Mapper to find 'em because you can't search for them direct.

  • It's not all about eBay.
    - Buy cheap stolen goods: It's all legal via police auctions, where forces in Eng & Wales sell lost property or goods seized from criminals when they can't find the rightful owners.
    - Pick up local goodies on Facebook: Community selling groups are hot on eBay's heels as the place to nab cheap second-hand gear. See Facebook Buying Tips.
    - FREE cars, sofas and more via giveaway websites: Instead of dumping unwanted stuff, many give it away. See 32 Freecycle & Freegle Tips.

£1 London to Edinburgh with National Express one-way coach tix. 24,000 tickets avail in total, between Ldn & other cities - also incl Birm, Manc, Leeds. For travel Mon-Thu till Thu 8 Dec. Wheels deal

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Your encouragement finally got me to do a PPI reclaim. First claim was rejected but I tried again and three weeks later I nearly fainted when I received £9,500."

FREE Ascot race day & Xmas market tickets (£1 booking fee). For Fri 18 Nov. 10,000 avail. Similar tickets norm £15+. Horsing Around


Petition against cold calls for pensions and investments. Many people lose £1,000s to mis-selling via cold calls, and now a petition is calling for them to be banned. If it gets 10,000 signatures, the Govt will respond - or if 100,000 people sign it, there's likely to be a parliamentary debate. Sign the petition and share it with friends. See our ban pensions and investment cold calling news story and our Stop Cold Callers guide for more info/help.


Has your energy firm's recent service been good? Winter's coming. We're all about slashing your energy bills (do a five-min comparison) but service counts too. So every six months we test recent customer service...

Please rate your current supplier's SERVICE (not price) IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS. If you've gas & elec with different firms, rate both.

British Gas | EDF | E.on | Npower | Scottish Power | SSE | First Utility | Ovo Energy | Other providers

Couples do it more than singles. Last week 19,371 of you told us how often you eat out. Singletons eat out less, as 58% do it at least once a month, compared with 70% of couples. See eat out or eat in poll results.


- Top story: 1,000s warned to check their insurance after Enterprise Insurance goes bust

- John Lewis credit card-holders struggle to resolve payment issues after website outage

- Co-op Energy to compensate 260,000 customers for complaints handling and billing problems

- Clampdown on 'misleading' broadband ads as new rules come into force


Suddenly Single. Financial and emotional help for women single through bereavement or divorce. Fifty copies blagged to give away to MoneySavers. Want one?


Should my housemates pay more for heating? They want to turn the heating on but I don't think it's cold enough. I've suggested they wrap up. If we do turn it on, shouldn't they pay more towards the bill? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should my housemates pay more for heating? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: 'Just say NOvember - batten down the hatches 2016'
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a two-night stay in a Best Loved Hotel and a signed cookbook
- Old-style board thread of the week: Low-cost homemade Christmas gifts
- Discussion of the week: How are you managing your Brexit grocery bill?


- Santander 123 rate’s dropping to 1.5% - should you ditch it?


- Designer retail outlets - are they worth the schlep?

- 'I returned a used toilet brush' - what's the most extreme thing you've taken back to the shop?


Thu 3 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 4 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 7 Nov - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 7 Nov - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast


Wed 2 Nov - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 3 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 8 Nov - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm


Q: We are pensioners and have some spare cash and are looking for a safe place to stash it. How can we save safely to protect against a bank going bust? Steve, by email.

MSE Karl's A: The key is knowing the rules about how your money is protected and spreading it about, if required.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) ensures deposits in current accounts and savings accounts of up to £75,000 (£150,000 for joint accounts) per financial institution are protected should a UK-regulated bank, building society or credit union go bust.

So if you've less than £75,000 in one place and you fulfill the criteria above, it is FSCS-protected. If you've more, it's best practice to spread it so you don't have more than £75,000 in one place.

It's important to note that FSCS protection limits apply to each banking institution, not necessarily each bank. In some cases, banks under the same parent company are technically still part of a single institution so you'd only get £75,000 protection between all of them. For a full rundown of banks and more information, see our Savings Safety guide.


That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this blog by MSE Megan: 'I returned a used toilet brush'. This got us thinking, what's the most extreme thing you've returned, and was it a royal flush or did they tell you to bog off?

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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