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Weekly Email
This email was sent
03rd Jan 2018
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 This info may be out of date.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."

03 January 2018


Happy 2018. This month we'll be running through our back-to-basics big & easy ways to save. Here's the first...

 Martin's Masterclass: 
How to cut the cost of all your debts

CREDIT & STORE CARDS: How to cut interest to nothing  
LOANS: Shift them so you're paying as little as 2.9%
OVERDRAFTS: How to move them to 0%

The festive financial hangover is about to start for many. And debts are the worst bit, so don't wait till the bills fall through the letterbox - that'll just keep interest accruing for longer.

The most important thing to do is to reduce the interest rate you pay, so more of your repayments clear the actual debt rather than just profit the lender, getting you debt-free quicker. Yet before I go through it debt-by-debt, I've a few other key rules too...

a) Stop borrowing more. Or risk a debt spiral.
b) Prioritise repaying the costliest debt first. Ie, the one with the highest interest rate, as it'll grow the fastest. Use all spare cash to clear it and just pay the minimum on everything else. Once it's clear, focus on the next costliest - see which card to repay first. 
c) Boost your credit score. You'll be eligible for better debt cost-cutting deals in future. Join our free Credit Club for a personal prescription.
d) Use any savings to clear costly debts. See Repay Debts or Save?  

  1. Cut CREDIT CARD costs by getting up to 38mths 0%. This is all about balance transfer deals, where you get a new card that repays debts on old cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at 0% for a set period of time. As Donna discovered: "Have done a balance transfer like you recommended and have saved £1,500 in interest this year, thank you." 

    But I've an important WARNING. Don't just apply for cards willy-nilly. That adds a mark to your credit file, and if you get rejected and so need to apply for another card, it makes it more difficult. Instead use our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator which shows which of the top cards you're most likely to get first - so you can home in on them.
The top new-cardholder 0% balance transfers 
Go for the LOWEST FEE, if you're sure you can repay in that time
Barclaycard* - longest 0%
Up to 38mths (19.9%)
1.4% (1)
Sainsbury's Bank* - longest non-'up to' 0% (2)
36mths (18.9%)
2.89% (min £3)
MBNA* - £25 cashback on £1,000+ transfers 
Up to 32mths (21.9%)
M&S Bank* - £25 cashback on £100+ transfers (via this link)
32mths (18.9%)
0.99% (min £5)
Halifax* - longest NO FEE 0%
Up to 29mths (19.9%)
Sainsbury's Bank*- longest non-'up to' NO FEE 0%
28mths (18.9%)
NONE (3)
(1) Initially charges 3.5%, refunded to 1.4% within 2 working days.
(2) Needs a free Nectar card.
(3) Initially charges 1.5%, refunded within 60 days.

Which card is best for you? 

Obviously your chance of acceptance dictates your choice, but if you've good chances of all cards there are two things to point out...

- Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Many cards charge a one-off fee on the amount of debt transferred (so 1.4% is £14 per £1,000).

Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Where cashback is available, especially for smaller transfers, take that off the fee. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

- Some are 'up to', so you may get a shorter deal. So if the eligibility calc shows you have high chances of getting a non-'up to' card, it can be worth going for it, as you'll be certain of what you get.

Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules:

a) Clear the card or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay the APR.
b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
d) You must usually do the transfer within 60/90 days of taking out the card.

Full help and more info in Best Balance Transfers (see APR Examples).

  1. Shift STORE CARD debts to 0% as well. These are just credit cards you only use in one store chain, but with far costlier interest - eg, New Look's is 28.9% APR, Argos 29.9%. But you can balance-transfer store card debt too, so follow the help in point 1.

  2. Cut OVERDRAFT costs to 0% (and get paid to do it). Debit cards are debt cards too if you're overdrawn. So if you have an overdraft, don't ignore it. There are two options (both credit check you and new overdrafts aren't guaranteed)...

    a) Switch to a 0% overdraft. Currently via this link First Direct* offers £125 to switch to it (£100 if you go direct) and an ongoing £250 0% overdraft (you must pay in £1,000/mth). So if your overdraft's up to £375, this pays off some of what you owe and the rest is interest-free.

    Alternatively, Nationwide FlexDirect's 0% overdraft can be far bigger depending on your credit score, but as it only lasts a year (50p/day after), aim to clear it before then. If you've a friend who already has a Nationwide account, you both get £100 if you switch, via its recommend a friend scheme.

    More help on both in 0% Overdrafts.

    b) Use a 0% money transfer credit card. A few specialist cards also allow 'money transfers'. This is where the card pays cash directly into your bank account, thus clearing your overdraft, so you owe it instead, at up to 37mths 0% - very useful for larger overdrafts. For full help and best buys see our Money Transfers guide.

  3. Cut big PERSONAL LOANS to 2.9%. The big question is "Can you get a new loan to clear your current one and save?" As Marian emailed, savings can be huge: "Thanks. Got a 3% loan to pay off a 15.9% one, saving me over £3,000. I recommend you to all my friends as I have had some really good deals." 

    Yet as there's up to 2mths' interest added if you repay a loan early, it's not just about comparing APRs. Here's what to do...

    STEP 1: Ask your current lender for a settlement figure. This is how much it'll cost to repay your loan in full now incl early repayment costs (ie, the amount you'd need a new loan for to pay off your old one).

    STEP 2: Work out how much it'll cost you to stay where you are. 
    Check what your monthly repayments are and how many you have left (ask the lender if you don't know). Then multiply the two to see how much it'll cost you if you stick.

    STEP 3: Find the cheapest new loan for the settlement figure. 
    For borrowing under £3,000, the cheapest route is likely to be doing a money transfer (see above). Above that, a cheap loan wins.

    - For £3,000-£4,999, Zopa* is 5%-6.9% rep APR.
    - For £5,000-£7,499, Zopa* is 3.4% rep APR.
    - For £7,500-£15,000, TSB* (from 10am Wed) and Sainsbury's Bank* (1-3yrs, needs a Nectar card) are 2.9% rep APR. Full info: Cheap Loans (APR Examples).

    Use our free Loans Eligibility Calc to see your likely cheapest deal. Yet remember, with loans, only 51% of accepted customers need get the advertised rate.

    STEP 4: Find out which is cheaper. 
    Use the MSE Loan Switching Calculator to see whether you should stick or not.

  4. Payday loans/other high-cost credit. If you've other types of expensive credit, it's important to deal with them as quickly as possible - the exact options depend on your circumstances, so see our Payday Loan Help guide for what to try.

  5. Should I try to clear my student loan? In many cases, while it's counter-intuitive, you're actually better off just to leave it. However, it depends on which type of loan you have, which depends on when you started. We've full guides to help though.

    - Started in or after 2012 (and you're from Eng or Wales)? See my Student loan interest is 6.1% - panic or pay it off? guide.

    - Started before 2012 (or after and from Scot or NI)? See our
    Should I repay my student loan? guide.

  6. Why no mention of mortgages? Today I've focused on unsecured debt. Mortgages are obviously a big subject, and we'll be covering them in detail later. If you're hot to trot now though, see our Free Remortgage Booklet, Best-buy Mortgage Comparison and our Should I overpay my mortgage? guide.

  7. Are you in debt crisis? The options above are designed to help people who can handle their debt and get out of it. But if things are tough, that may not be the right solution. Do any of these apply?

    - You can't even meet minimum monthly payments.
    - You have non-mortgage debts bigger than a year's salary.
    - You have sleepless nights or depression/anxiety over debt.

    If so, forget the solutions above and get free, one-on-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, StepChange or National Debtline. And if you need emotional support too, try CAP.

    They are there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and also see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Crisis Help.

New: The Martin Lewis Money Show bill-busting special, on ITV

An hour-long LIVE 'ask me anything' programme - 8pm Tue 9 Jan 

If you're looking to slash your debt, broadband, insurance, water, energy bills or owt else, my 7th series continues, kicking off with an ask-me-anything seat-of-the pants live special (yes, you can get in touch during the show). Who knows what'll happen? So do watch, or set the Betamax.


Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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 BT customer trick... on Sunday it hikes broadband & call costs again. Yet there's a way to stick with it, but pay £350/yr LESS

This Sun (7 Jan), BT hikes prices for millions of customers. Eg, its unlimited standard broadband will be £43/mth including compulsory basic line rental, and £50/mth for unlimited fibre - far more expensive than the market's cheapest. So if you're out of contract, why not ditch and switch, and if you're loyal there's a way to save too.  

  • Stick with BT (in disguise) for broadband & line for equiv £13/mth - saving just over £350/yr. While it has a different name, Plusnet* is owned by the BT Group. Its customer service rating is far higher than BT's though, with 54% saying it was 'great' in our last poll, compared with BT's 25%. And currently its 12mth standard unlimited broadband & line deal - avail until 11.59pm Tue - is the cheapest on the market. So you can stick with BT Group but save large.

    - Who can get it? Anyone not already with Plusnet (or who left in the last month). It's available to 90% of the country - to check if you can get it, use our Broadband Unbundled tool which only shows deals available to you.
    - Pay line rent upfront: Equiv to £16.49/mth over 1yr (it's £18.99/mth if you pay monthly). See call charges. If you need a new line installed it's an extra £49.99.  
    - Broadband's £1/mth: Jumping to £9.99/mth after 1yr.
    - You must claim £50 cashback: You'll get an email after activation explaining how, and you must do it within 2mths. It should then arrive within 30 days.
    Cost analysis: Pay line rent upfront and it's £209.88/yr before calls or new line costs, equiv to £17.49/mth. But factor in the cashback and it's equiv to £13.33/mth (£15.83/mth if line rent is paid monthly).

  • Fast fibre broadband & line rental £20/mth (£24/mth superfast). Fibre is generally faster and useful for those who do lots of downloading, streaming or gaming, or for multiple users. The current top deal is for Vodafone Broadband* newbies and it's available to 83% of UK postcodes. Use our Broadband Unbundled tool which only shows deals available to you (make sure you select a fast speed filter).

    On an 18mth contract you get broadband for £20/mth for up-to-38Mb fast fibre (2x standard speed) or £24/mth for up-to-76Mb superfast fibre (4x standard) - with line rent included. You'll pay more once the contract ends though, so remember to check the price then. If you're switching from cable or need a new line installed it'll cost £60. See Cheap Broadband for full info.

PS: Prices for Plusnet and Vodafone aren't fixed, but you can leave penalty-free if they do rise. You can sometimes get broadband cashback via top cashback sites - but prices and contract lengths vary, so check.


Jan sales BOOSTS, incl Asos, Debenhams & River Island up to 70% off. Discounts are getting bigger for unsold stock and new lines added. Jan sales

Apple admits its software updates HAVE slowed down iPhones. How to find out if you're affected and what to do if you are, in iPhone battery replacements.

35% EXTRA off bedding code, eg, £9 king-size duvet, £5 for 2 pillows. MSE Blagged. Already up to 75% cheaper than in shops - our code takes a further 35% off. Stock's limited, as it's a clearance. Ends Sun. Boston Duvet

Doing 'Dry January'? Do you have a RIGHT to free tap water in restaurants? Know your tap water rights.

TWO pairs of specs for £15. MSE Blagged. Until Mon. Cheapest we've seen. Spec-tacular


NewFREE £200 for switching bank, or £125 + top service

Banks have reintroduced their incentives as they battle for your custom, and some pay within a month of switching

Money's often tight at the start of the New Year. Yet there's a straightforward way to make quick cash - by switching bank. Switching's easy, and with two popular bribes coming back, now's a great time to do it. It takes just seven working days, the new bank closes your old account and moves all direct debits, standing orders and payments, plus the free cash can be paid within a month of switching. All credit-check when you apply.

  • New. Free £200 + linked 5% savings. Anyone who hasn't had an HSBC bank account since 1 Jan 2015 can get £150 within 50 days of switching to the HSBC Advance* account, and £50 more if still with it after a year. Plus you get access to a linked 5% regular savings account where you can put up to £250/mth for one year. Some also get a 6mth 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? You need to switch incl 2+ direct debits/standing orders within 30 days of account opening, register for mobile or online banking within 60 days and pay in £1,750+/mth.

  • New. Free £125 + no.1 service + linked 5% savings. This boosted switch offer is back this week too. Apply via this specific link and First Direct* gives £125 to new customers who switch to it (only £100 if you go direct). It's won all our customer service polls for seven years running - with 90% recently rating it 'great' - plus you get access to its 5% fixed regular saver, and some get a £250 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? Once you've switched, pay in £1,000/mth to get the cash and keep the account free - if not, it's £10/mth. You'll get the cash within 28 working days of your first pay-in.

  • Free £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth for a year + linked 5% savings. M&S Bank* gives new switchers a £125 M&S gift card, and for the first year it'll add another £5/mth. It also offers a 5% fixed regular savings account and to some, a £100 0% overdraft.

    How do I get it all? You'll get the initial £125 within a month of switching incl at least two active direct debits. For the rest, you need to keep the direct debits active and pay in at least £1,000/mth.

For full info, eligibility and more options, incl Halifax which gives £75, see Best Bank Accounts.


Trick to get up to 50p off your coffee shop drink EVERY time. Now get even more off coffee, tea etc. Incl Pret, Costa and Starbucks. Coffee shop trick

FREE gym passes, eg, 14-day British Military Fitness, 3-day DW Fitness First. Plus more ways to save pounds as you lose pounds, incl pay-as-you-go visits and £10/mth membership, in our Cheap Gyms guide.

Merlin 1yr pass sale. Unlimited entry to Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park etc for £129. Norm £179. Restrictions on dates. Merlin passes

FREE winter car check. Incl oil levels, battery check and screen-wash top-up. Halfords


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Longest 0%: Barclaycard* up to 38mths 0%, 1.4% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Halifax* up to 29mths 0%, no fee (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. CompareTheMarket*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Zopa* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.9% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs) or 
TSB* 2.9% rep APR (from 10am Wed)

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £13.33/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone £20/mth

£150 to switch + £50 if you stay a year: HSBC
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect


Flight sales on NOW, eg, New York £245 rtn

How & where to find the cheapest flights & when package hols can win instead

When it comes to flights, booking earliest is usually cheapest (though there's no guarantee) - and right now, many airlines are heavily discounting in the Jan sales. So if you're planning to fly in 2018, now's likely a good time to book (though if going later in the year, check all carriers on your route have released tickets for then). See our Cheap Flights guide for full help - here are our top 5 need-to-knows to help your savings take off:

  1. DON'T go direct to an airline - use comparison sites to slash costs. Check at least two, as different ones search different firms - our top picks are Kayak* (allows you to filter based on card/baggage fees), Skyscanner* (particularly strong coverage of budget flights) and Momondo* (helpful insights such as cheapest airport to fly from/to).

  2. Long-haul sales on NOW, eg, £245 New York rtn. A number of big airlines are running 2018 sales, incl BA and Virgin Atlantic. The best bargains we've spotted though are on Norwegian - its sale covers flights from Feb to May, and includes a £245 Gatwick-New York JFK return and a £320 Gatwick-Orlando return. Long-haul sales

  3. Urgent. Budget airlines also running short-lived short-haul sales. Until 11.59pm today (Wed) Ryanair has 1m seats on sale from £14.99 for travel between Jan and May, while until 11 Jan Easyjet has up to 20% off flights between 31 Jan and 4 Jul. If you're flying from Nov onwards though, bear in mind Easyjet and Ryanair haven't released tickets yet. Short-haul sales

  4. Check if a package holiday's cheaper - even if you'll only use the flight. If you're going away for 7, 10 or 14 days to a popular destination, a package often beats separate flights and hotel. But sometimes it can actually be cheaper even if you DON'T want to use the hotel. Eg, we found flights for a 10-day trip to Florida in April for £564pp - a package hol was £486pp. It won't always work, but it's worth a try - see Cheap Package Holidays for tips.

  5. Want a seat on a specific flight/airline? Buy a seat via a partner airline for less. If you know the exact flight you want, 'codesharing' can be a way to get it cheaper. It's when airlines buddy up to sell seats on each other's flights, sometimes at a different price. Eg, we found a Delta London-Las Vegas rtn for £830 booking direct - but exactly the same flight booked via Delta's partner Virgin Atlantic was just £750. See Codeshare trick.

Earn £15 M&S/Amazon vchs doing quick online surveys. MSE Blagged. Popular with MoneySavers - you fill in surveys and search online for points, which can be converted into vouchers. Our link gives a bonus worth £10 when you earn £5. Newbies only. Swagbucks

"Thanks for the information about marriage tax allowance. Five minutes on the phone and I've got a £400 tax refund for the past two years. Yippee." 
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£10-£40 West End theatre tix, incl The Gruffalo's Child, Aladdin, Lion King & Les Mis. Some tickets still available for Jan/Feb shows. London Theatre



Parcel delivery firms: which are the best and worst? Now the festive season's over, Santa finally has the chance to rest, yet for parcel delivery firms (which helped) it's business as usual. So it's time for our fifth annual poll to sort the good guys from the cowboys... Which are the best and worst parcel delivery firms?

Most MoneySavers ended 2017 better off than they started it. Last week, we asked how you fared financially in 2017. The majority of the 8,470 who responded said their finances were in 'better shape' compared with the beginning of the year, while only 18% said they were worse off. Interestingly, younger age groups were more likely to say their finances improved - see the full poll results



Should I force my friend to replace my £700 camera lens? Three years ago a friend collected a camera lens for me from a repair shop. When I went to pick it up, he'd lost it. He was apologetic but wouldn't let me put in an insurance claim, saying he'd pay for it (he never did). We haven't spoken for over a year now and he's 'unfriended' me on Facebook. Do I escalate it to something more serious? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I face my friend to replace my £700 camera lens? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Small MoneySaving things for New Year week
- Competitions thread of the week: A trip to Tokyo and Kyushu, Japan  
- Old-Style board thread of the week: New Year, new plans and hopes
- Discussion of the week: How do you afford a family holiday abroad?


Fitness trackers - cheapest popular Fitbit and Garmin models
Eurostar - £58 rtn to Paris, Lille, Calais or Brussels
Halfords - free £2 can of de-icer via O2 app
Ikea - up to 50% off + Ikea Family extra 10% off. Ends Sun
Disney Store - up to 50% off selected items

Ask Italian - 50% off main courses Sun-Fri
Harvester - 40% off main meals
Yo Sushi - 47 £2.80 plates Mon-Fri
Toby Carvery - 40% off main meals
Las Iguanas - 2for1 vegan mains Sun-Thu

Calpol - 50p off cold range
Johnson's - £1 off baby bedtime range
Sudafed - £1 off max strength
Aussie - 75p off shampoo or conditioner
Listerine - £1 off zero alcohol range

Quick Forum Tips

Fiorelli bags sale from £10. Bag a bargain
Card Factory up to 75% off sale. Card times
Hotel Chocolat sale. Don't be choco-late



Thu 4 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 5 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 8 Jan - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 8 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon
Tue 9 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, ITV, 8pm


Wed 3 Jan - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Thu 4 Jan - TalkRadio, Full Set Breakfast with Paul Ross, 6.45am
Fri 5 Jan - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Tue 9 Jan - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: My sister-in-law gave me a jumper for Christmas, but it's too small. Will the shop let me return it without a receipt? Sally, by email.

MSE Sarah M's A: Legally you've no automatic right to exchange or return items bought in stores, unless they're faulty - so if the jumper's too small, it depends on the shop's returns policy. Many do let you return items which don't fit and get a refund, exchange or credit note, but if so that's a voluntary goodwill gesture offered at the shop's discretion, not a legal right.

What's more, return rights (whether legally enforced or voluntary) usually only apply to the person who paid for the item, unless you have a gift receipt. So it's worth checking the store's returns policy to see if it will allow you to return the jumper, but you may need to ask your sister-in-law to return it for you. See Returning unwanted Xmas gifts for more info.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... fancy "Britain's ultimate part-time job"? It's a bit of a publicity stunt but National Rail's hiring a 'chief adventure officer' to travel around having, er... adventures. Suggestions include anything from going on the longest zip wire in Europe to a graffiti tour in Bristol. The catch? You have to be eligible for a 16-25 Railcard to apply. See our news story for full info.

We hope you save some money - and happy New Year.

The MSE team

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