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Weekly Email
This email was sent
02nd Dec 2015
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 This info may be out of date.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."

02 December 2015
Martin's Briefing: New Help to Buy ISAs - up to 3,000 free cash
3.4% cheapest loan - but rates to rise?
5 fast cash-for-Xmas tips
19/YR winter sports travel ins
FREE parcel delivery code
ENDS WED 11.59PM: Hidden British Gas tariff that's 270 a year cheaper
Free Amazon 7?
Govt disgracefully retrospectively hiking student loan costs for millions
Buy now to beat Jan/Feb rail fare rise
3.50 photo mug, 6.50 calendar
Virgin Wines 12 bottles 56
Free Santa letters and videos
New 40mth 0% debt shift - 2.99% fee
Spotify Premium 3mths 99p
140 Zyliss knife block 41 code
Morphy Rich extra 20% off sale code

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

New. Help to Buy ISAs - free cash

- Up to 3,000 added to your deposit for first-time buyers
- Earn 4% interest with top paying Help to Buy ISA savings
- A raft of tips for those considering buying their first home

In a Govt push to help first-time buyers, this week Help to Buy (H2B) ISA savings launched. Those 16+ can earn interest of up to 4% and then get 25% added on top when they use it for a mortgage deposit. Nothing else comes close. Parents - it's a great way to save for your kids' future.

The worry is that if there are more first-time buyers, this will up demand, and ramp up property prices. That could make this self-defeating, as even bigger deposits would then be needed. Yet for individuals it's a no-brainer, as if you're the only one not doing it, you miss out...

1. Help to Buy ISAs - what you need to know. Here are the basics...

- You can save 1,200 in your first month, then 200 each month after. When you use it for a deposit, a 25% bonus is added on top.
- The min you need saved to get a bonus is 1,600 (which'd be 400). You could do that by 1 Feb (1,200 now, 200 in Jan, 200 on 1 Feb).
- The biggest bonus possible is 3,000 - which needs 12,000 saved.
- If you're buying with someone who's owned before you can get one, they can't. If two first-time buyers buy together, you can both get one.
- You need to use it on a property costing 250,000 or less, or 450,000 or less within the London boroughs.
- You don't have to use it for a deposit. You can make partial (or full) withdrawals. You'd still get the interest just not the bonus.

I suspect you've lots of questions. Don't worry, I think I've answered them all in my FULL Help to Buy ISA guide, if not then do feedback (but PLEASE read the guide first).
2. Cheap mortgagesThe top paying Help to Buy ISAs. 14 providers have launched deals, but as anyone can open (ie, you don't need to bank with it to get one), it's a straight fight and only two are worth considering.

The top payer:
For most, it's best to just choose the one with the highest tax-free interest and by a mile that's the Halifax Help to Buy ISA at 4%.

The top if you also want a cash ISA:
You're not meant to have a cash ISA and H2B ISA from the same tax year. Yet five firms offer 'split ISAs' that manipulate the rules so you can (max combined savings 15,240/yr); great for those who've already opened a cash ISA this tax year, as you can transfer it in and use some for Help to Buy. Nationwide is our top pick split, as it has the joint top H2B ISA rate of those at 2%, but the best cash ISA rates.

Most of the providers have now launched, and I think it's unlikely (no surety) other deals will launch soon that'll beat them. Full Top Help to Buy ISA rundown.
3. Don't think your Help to Buy ISA dictates your mortgage. H2B ISAs can be used with ANY residential mortgage (normal mortgage, new build, shared ownership, Help to Buy), just not buy-to-let.

And don't think if you get Halifax's Help to Buy ISA, for example, you must get its mortgage. You're free to get a mortgage from anyone (though it probably hopes you won't, hence why its Help to Buy ISA rate is so high) and should ALWAYS check across the market.
4. Where to save for your deposit if you've filled your Help to Buy ISA. If you've a lump sum, or you're saving 200+/mth (400/mth if two first timers buying together), you'll need to save elsewhere too.

You want to put your cash in the account paying the highest after-tax interest. From 6 April, the new personal savings allowance means basic-rate taxpayers can earn 1,000 interest a year without tax, higher rate 500, so for most tax won't be an issue from then.

- Earn 3% on up to 20,000. Switch bank to Santander 123* and you get 3% AER on balances of 3,000 to 20,000. It does charge a 2/mth fee (5/mth from Jan) but this is usually covered by the up to 3% cashback you get if you pay bills via it. For smaller amounts, other banks pay more. SeeTop Interest-Paying Bank Accounts.

- Top cash ISAs. You can still have past years' cash ISAs with a Help to Buy ISA (see Top ISA Transfers to max the rate). Yet for new money you'll need to use a split ISA like Nationwide's Help to Buy to be able to get a cash ISA too.

- Get up to 6% with a regular saver - some bank accounts also offer customers access to linked regular saver accounts where you can put up to 300/mth in with top rates. See Top Regular Savers.
5. What about Help to Buy mortgages? They're separate from the ISA; you can use them together but don't need to. There are two types:

- Help to Buy guarantee. This is the most well known. It's a scheme for lenders where the Govt covers some lenders' losses if someone doesn't pay up, which lets them offer more mortgages with just 5% deposits. It worked. Yet whether a mortgage is H2B or not is irrelevant to your mortgage choice.

- Help to Buy new-build equity loan . You put down a 5% deposit and the state gives you an interest-free loan for 20-40% depending on the scheme. Full info in Help to Buy & Other Mortgage Schemes.
6. Every 5% bigger deposit slashes your mortgage cost. The min deposit needed to get a mortgage is 5%. Yet rates on these are pants. Many have more saved, eg, 8% or 9%, but it makes no difference until you hit 10%.

Imagine you want a 150,000 home and have a 14,000 deposit - that's 9.3% so still within the 5% deposit band. The cheapest five-yr fix is 4.49%. Yet save just 1,000 more, and you've a 10% deposit - where the top five-yr fix is 2.99%, cutting mortgage payments by 1,400/yr - and you've borrowed less.

So if you're close, try to push to the next boundary. Increasing from 5% to 10% is the big change, but then each further 5% cuts rates, especially at 20% and 40% (after that there's little change). Play with our mortgage best buys comparison to see how it works for you.
7. FREE 60-page First-Time Buyers' Booklet. A mortgage is most people's biggest expenditure, so make sure you know what you're doing. My PDF guide takes you through step-by-step. Katie tweeted: "Just read the First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide from start to end. Martin Lewis knows his stuff."

It includes credit scoring, affordability checks, how to choose the right mortgage, what to do about fees, should you get a fixed deal, using and choosing good mortgage brokers and more (though we haven't added Help to Buy ISAs in yet)...

- First-Timers' Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
- Remortgage Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
- Buy-To-Let Booklet 2015: Download instant PDF | Order printed
8. Interrogate your options with eight calculators. Use our mortgage calculators to compare deals, find monthly payments, see how much you can borrow & more...

Mortgage Best Buy Comparison Tool
First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Best Buy Comparison Tool
(or alternatively, our Remortgage or Moving Home tools)

Ultimate Mortgage Calculator

Eight tools to home in on the right answer for you, incl...
Basic Mortgage Calc | Compare Two Mortgages | How Much Can I Borrow? | Compare Fixed Mortgages | Saving For A Deposit

The Martin Lewis Money Show - Help to Buy ISAs & slash energy costs

My show on Monday night (ITV) was on Help to Buy ISAs, if you prefer to watch than read (watch online). Next Mon 8pm on ITV Im talking about how to avoid 300/yr energy bill rip offs, get cheap Easyjet tickets and make money from keeping your savings safe.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via

Warning: Cheapest loan 3.4% - but are rates about to rocket?

Loans are at all-time lows, but the Bank of Eng says not for long. So if you NEED to borrow, do it now

The Bank of England's just warned MPs that personal borrowing is worryingly 'picking up' and its Financial Policy Committee may effectively force personal loan & buy-to-let lending (not credit card) rates higher. There's no timescale, but if you're planning to get a loan, go ASAP. Yet only do it if 1) you need it for planned spending, eg, car/kitchen 2) you've budgeted and can afford the repayments 3) You're borrowing as little as possible, repaying as quickly as you can.

  • Cheapest loans are 3.4%. You need to understand, sadly, all loans are 'representative rate', meaning ONLY 51% of accepted applicants get that, the rest can pay more. Don't apply in hope, it hits your credit file. Find acceptance odds via our Eligibility Calc.

    - 7,500-15,000: Sainsbury's* (needs Nectar card) is 3.4% rep APR over 1-3yrs and 3.5% rep APR over 4-5 yrs*. While M&S Bank* is slightly more at 3.5% rep APR, apply by Friday and if accepted you get a 40 M&S gift card - factor that in as cash and it can win.
    - 5,000-7,499: Again Sainsbury's* is 4.2% rep APR over 1-3yrs (with a Nectar card), 4.3% rep APR over 4-5yrs*. Peer-to-peer lender Zopa* is 4.2%-4.4% rep APR.
    - 1,000-4,999: The winner is Zopa* with rates as low as 4.6% rep APR for over 3,000, up to 7.9% rep APR under 2,000. It's followed by Hitachi* at 7.4% rep APR over 3,000 up to 12.3% for less than 1,999.
    - Nationwide customer? It'll beat non peer-to-peer rates by 0.5% points, so 3.4% becomes 2.9%. See Nationwide loan trick.

  • 0% 'loans' for a 1.69% fee. For under about 3k, check out a 0% money transfer card that let you pay cash into your bank, so you owe it at 0% instead. Virgin* (eligibility calc) is 32mths 0% for a one-off 1.69% fee, or, for longer, another Virgin* card (eligibility calc) is 36mths 0% for a 2.39% fee. Never miss a repayment & ALWAYS clear before the 0% ends or they jump to 20.9% rep APR. See: Credit card loans (APR Examples)

Free UK parcel delivery and cheap world delivery via 5 off code. MSE Blagged. 100k newbies' 5 off codes (no min spend) at Parcel2Go for deliv via Parcelforce, UPS & more. As many small UK parcels are sub 5, it's free.

Ends today. Hidden British Gas tariff saves 270/yr. Ends 11.59pm Wed. This is a BG 12mth dual fuel fix you CAN'T get direct as it's a collective switch via MoneySupermarket. Typical savings are 270/yr, many save more, eg, Alex tweeted: "Ta, got my stepdad to switch British Gas to British Gas - saved 517 and is buying me a beer." Stacey: "Switched from Npower, saving 290/yr. Never switched before, easy." How to get it? You need use this cheap British Gas link to the MSE Cheap Energy Club, it compares and switchers get an extra 30 cashback. Full info: BG switch

ENDS SAT: Check your Amazon account for a 'free' 7. Selected customers get 7 code. Amazon Deals

Govt RETROSPECTIVELY hiking cost of student loans for millions. Though he mentioned students in his Autumn Statement the Chancellor didn't have the balls to admit he was retrospectively hiking loan costs for millions. It was snuck into the small print. See our student loan hike explainer & video, updated student loans mythbuster and how much will it cost? calc.

Booking Jan/Feb train tickets? Act NOW to beat the sneaky fare hike. See beat fare hike.

Photo-personalised 3.50 mug (norm 10.50), 6.50 A4 calendar (18) codes. MSE Blagged. See Photos.


- Parcel2Go 5 off Ends: Thu 31 Dec

- 3.50 personalised photo mug Ends: Wed 9 Dec

- Earn 15 M&S/Amazon vchs doing quick online surveys Ends: Sun 31 Jan

- 6.50 A4 personalised photo calendar Ends: Sun 31 Jan

- FREE 700 insulation plus 25 J Lewis/Argos vch Ends: Mon

- Virgin Wines 12-btl case 56 (norm 113) Ends: Thu 31 Dec

- Extra 20% off kitchenware outlet Ends: Sun 13 Dec

- Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale code Ends: Thu


- Has your Experian credit score suddenly dropped?

- Is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

- 6% kids' savings - great Xmas gift

- 19 for 100-page photo book (next cheapest 52)

- Urgent: Buy solar panels now - delay could cost 400/yr

5 ways to make fast cash for Christmas

There's time to bring in 100s extra to boost the Christmas kitty - far better than borrowing

A typical UK family spends 800 on Christmas, far too much for December's income alone. Of course, you can cut back, but if you don't want to, then don't borrow - at least see what extra income you can generate. Our 64 Boost Your Income Tips include lots of ways to do that, but here we've plucked out five that are quick or new.

  • Do a personal stocktake. Look at your possessions and ask "have I used them since last Xmas?" Consider flogging any you haven't - you could get the cash in a few days. See 40+ eBay Sellers' Tricks, 27 Facebook Selling Tips & Sell old games, CDs, DVDs and books.

  • Free 100 in time for Xmas. Switch to the Halifax Reward bank account and it'll pay you 100 within about 12 days, then 5 each month you're in credit (don't do it if overdrawn). Other banks pay switchers free cash, but it's the quickest. Full options, eligibility criteria and FAQs in Best Bank Accounts.

  • Earn 100s flogging old mobiles. If you've just upgraded, old mobiles can be a treasure trove. Our MobileValuer compares mobile-buying sites and shows which pay most, eg, iPhone 5 16GB, best 112, worst 75. You should get the cash within three working days after the site receives the phone.

  • Flog old wedding gowns - for 500. If that frock's just gathering dust, dig it out of the loft - a host of wedding dress selling sites promise to help turn it into 100s. Fees vary, so we lift the veil on how to get max price. Forumite fran-o says: "I put my dress on Preloved, and someone who'd tried it on in a shop came and bought it for 550. Very happy."

  • Switched energy in the last 5yrs? Many suppliers only gave you your credit back if you asked, but you can still ask them now, see Get old energy credit back. It only takes a minute or two. After reading the guide, forumite Honeybee said: "Thanks, I checked after leaving Co-op Energy and got 101 returned within seven days."

Virgin Wines 12 bottles 56 (norm 113). MSE Blagged. 5 whites, 6 reds, 1 cava. Virgin newbies. Be Drinkaware.

Last chance: Free Santa letters (and free personalised videos). Santa's gone hi-tech and now sends free personalised videos. If you'd rather he wrote the old-fashioned way, Royal Mail & RNIB elves can help. Santa Letters

New. Huge 40mth 0% debt shift (2.99% fee). Apply by 16 Dec and accepted new cardholders can balance transfer debt from existing cards to Virgin Money's* 40mth 0% card for a one-off 2.99% fee. The next longest deal is Barclaycard's* up to 37mths 0% with a lower 2.55% fee, if you can repay quicker. If you can repay much quicker the AA* is 22mths 0% NO FEE. Will you get 'em? Find which is most likely to accept you with our eligibility calc. Warning: Never miss a min repayment & clear these before the 0% ends or they jump to 18.9% rep APR (AA 19.9% rep APR). Full Info:Top Balance Transfers(APR Examples).

Spotify PREMIUM 3mths 99p (norm 30) or FREE 6mths' Deezer Premium+ trick (norm 60). For newbies to the ad-free versions (if you already get the free version you qualify). See Spotify for 99p. Or free Deezer trick.

Extra 20% off code on up to 75% off RRP branded kitchenware, eg, 140 Zyliss knife block 41 delivered. MSE Blagged. Via official outlet for Jamie Oliver, Ken Hom & Zyliss. Keller Cookshop code

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Till Thu: Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale code, eg, 100 espresso maker 52. MSE Blagged. Morphy

Free upgrades for ALL TalkTalk custs. A reward for staying or joining after the hack. See TalkTalk upgrade news.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Thanks to your amazing site I've managed to get 50% off our Sky, saving 340/yr. I also complained about packaged bank account mis-selling with services I cannot use and got over 1,200 back. Thank you so much for all of your help. Time to change my elec provider now."

Forum Hottie. 50 Ted Baker gift set for 25. From Fri. Forumites have been waiting for this. Boots deals

Earn 15 M&S/Amzn vouchers doing quick online surveys. MSE Blagged. Popular MSEers' site where you fill in surveys & search online to earn. We've a link for newbies to accrue 5 & get a bonus 10. Swagbucks

Cheap winter sports travel insurance 14/week or 19/year

If you're hitting the slopes (or preferably skiing on 'em) it's possible to get decent cover without costs snowballing

If you've booked a snowboarding or skiing trip, sort cover ASAP. If not, if you or a family member gets ill, or other problems mean you can't jet off, you're uncovered. Full info in Cheap Travel Insurance, but here's a (don't) crash course...

  • What does basic winter sports cover? On top of normal travel insurance, it usually lets you ski /snowboard and covers lost or damaged gear, cancelled piste passes and medical costs from accidents. It normally excludes off-piste or extreme sports, eg, ski mountaineering, snowmobiling, tobogganing. Specialists BMC & Snowcard do these, but aren't cheap.

  • Go away more than once a year (even if you only ski once)? Get an annual policy. These cover a year's holidays (going away the whole year is different) and opting to include basic winter sports only costs marginally more, so it's an effective way to get cover. For under-65s Holidaysafe Lite* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually cheapest - exact prices depend on age, eg, 19 for a 30yr-old solo traveller in Europe, 80 for family worldwide including someone aged 65. Full best buys in annual policies.

  • Cheapest single trip under-65 policies with winter sports. Leisure Guard Lite* tends to win, eg, 1wk Europe is 14-25 for solos (age dependent) up to 68-99 for family worldwide. To check use the MoneySup* comparison.

  • Over-65s cover. Prices rocket but we found some decent options, eg, 49/yr including winter sports for a 67-yr-old in Europe. See Over-65s Travel Insurance. Related: Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Travel Insurance

  • Travelling in EU - get/renew a FREE EHIC. Every family member needs a VALID free EHIC for emergencies.

FREE insulation worth 700 plus 25 J Lewis/Argos voucher. MSE Blagged. Anyone in a suitable home (not NI) can get free loft & cavity wall insulation and a 25 J Lewis/Argos etc gift card. Ends Mon. Free Insulation

Warning: is NOWT to do with us. This appeared in some bank statements and they think it's us. We NEVER do that. For what to do if you think you've had money wrongly taken, see our warning.

Update: The Christmas Deals Predictor. Two weeks ago we launched our Christmas Deals Predictor, and it's doing well, eg, Ikea Xmas tree voucher, Selfridges 20% off, 10 champers. This week we predict beauty advent calendar discounts and 20% off Matalan. See MSE's Christmas Deals Predictor for when to pounce, eg, Soap & Glory.

5ish restaurant dinner for 2 trick.
If you've an Amex & get a free Tastecard, see our Cheap Meal out blog.

MSE job opps - writers, assistant editor and money product analyst. All based in London. See MSE Jobs.


Last chance to tell Govt how to make switching easier The Govt wants to simplify switching, whether bank accounts, energy, broadband or more. Do you switch to get the best deal? Take the Govt's online survey by Friday, then go to the MSE Forum to tell us what you think.


Would you cancel Christmas? If you had a big red CANCEL CHRISTMAS button that'd make the whole thing disappear (and just add the days to your holiday entitlement), would you press it?

Last week 30,734 voted on whether they thought the landline was dead. The differences in age were stark: only a third of those aged under 65 often use a home phone (if they have one at all). For those over 65, two thirds use it regularly.

Clearly (at least according to our voters) the landline IS dying unless you're over 65. See the full results.


- Top story: - Chancellor pledges measures to help boost switching

- Consultation launched on 2018 PPI reclaim deadline

- Cloud storage review launched amid price hikes and data loss concerns

- Autumn Statement 2015: What it means for you

- Planned tax credit cuts cancelled


Should I pay my parents interest? Some years ago my parents lent us 7,000 towards our dream house, for which we agreed to pay them 60 a month (at no time did they say they wanted interest back too). We recently sold the house, so I offered them the remainder less the total we paid. Now they're saying they want the full amount back in addition to what we already paid. It seems a high rate - should I pay? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay my parents interest? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: 7 year-old council tax bill
- Competitions thread of the week: Win four tickets to see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
- Old-style board thread of the week: Dairy-free goodies for Christmas
- Game of the week: Juggler
- Discussion of the week: What would you do if you had a 100,000 windfall?


- World Duty Free don't want to use my "you do need your boarding pass" posters


Thu 3 Dec - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 4 Dec - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 7 Dec - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 7 Dec - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 7 Dec - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.


Fri 4 Dec - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 8 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.30pm


Q: Is it true that doing your laundry after 10pm actually helps to reduce bills? Phoebe, via email.

MSE Fraser's A: For most, no. Only if you're on Economy 7 or Economy 10 will it reduce. If you don't know you're on one of these, you almost certainly aren't. With Economy 7, you get seven hours of cheap off-peak electricity rates, usually between midnight and 7am. On Economy 10, you get 10 hours split throughout the day and night. Ask your supplier for exact times.

So if you set your laundry to run during these hours, it'll be cheaper than if you did it in the day. However, to make these types of tariffs worthwhile overall, you'll need to use at least 30% in the off-peak hours. If you do, then being on Economy 7 can save money, but make sure you're on the cheapest deal by doing a full market comparison.

For full info see our Economy 7 guide, and check rates for your area at Cheap Energy Club.

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


That's it for this week, but before we go, don't chuck your 2015 calendar. As this ingenious thread from the forum explains, the year 2026 will be identical, so save it for 10 years and you'll be quids in. If you've other calendars knocking about, there's even a site to help you find matching years included in the thread.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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