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
04th Jan 2017
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 This info may be out of date.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."

04 January 2017
Credit card debt-cutting masterclass
New. Get £200 to switch bank
Slash mobile insurance costs
Save £££s losing pounds at the gym
2,017 free 1yr Tastecards
Martin's Brexit 2017 analysis
New. Cheapest-ever £7.5-£15k loan
Two pairs of specs £15 code
Do you have a right to free tap water?
Cheapest Fitbit trackers
'£9.50' Sun holidays are back
10% off railcards code
Free tool to stop impulse buys online
Martin's New Year Live Q&A
Jan sales boost, incl Asos up to 70%
2 months' free OK, GQ + more mags

A credit card debt-cutting masterclass

- A host of new cards and offers to help you slash debt
- LONGEST-EVER 0% on balance transfers at 43mths
- Get PAID to shift CREDIT and STORE CARDS to 0%

I want to take advantage of you. There's a fervour to save in January and while lots are buying in the sales, I want to skew that passion to make you sort out the big money jobs of the year. So this month's emails will unashamedly go back to basics to save you large. And the easy, big win right now is for those who have built up debt on credit cards.

The key rules are 1) stop borrowing more and 2) cut the interest rate. This means your repayments clear the actual debt rather than just profit the lender. The main weapon is a balance transfer, where you get a new card(s) that repays debts on existing cards for you, so you owe it, but at a far lower cost, for a small fee.

Right now the competition among lenders to do this is white hot. Just look at all the red 'new' headlines below; each a new best-buy. So I've asked the team to put together this masterclass with everything you need to know. Don't delay. SORT IT NOW AND YOU START SAVING NOW.

And if you won't listen to me, listen to Marc: "We took your tip on taking a balance transfer card and you have helped us to save £9,400 over the next 40 months. You guys are amazing."


The best-buy balance transfer cards. Before we get onto the best cards, there are three things you need to know.

- Get a personal best-buy table. Lenders credit-score you differently; so where one accepts, others reject. So use our free Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc which shows your acceptance odds for most top cards. The higher the percentage, the more likely you are to get it. Plus for some cards the calc shows if you're 'pre-approved', meaning you've a 100% chance of getting the headline rate (subject to ID checks).

- Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most cards charge a one-off fee on the amount of debt transferred (so 3% is £30 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 timeframe. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

- Some cards are 'up to' so you may get a shorter deal. That's why we include the best non 'up-to' options - where you know for sure what you get if accepted (our eligibility calc shows if you've good odds).

We've put the types of cards into three categories to make this easier.

Super-long 0% transfers (includes longest ever)
Best if you have a lot of debt or not sure how long it'll take to repay.

- New. Barclaycard up to 42mths 0% for a 2.99% fee, and you get £20 cashback. This new Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) is the lowest-fee long card, plus transfer £500+ and you'll get £20 cashback to partly cover the fee. For most, if you can get it at the full 0% period it's the winning long card. Pre-approval? Yes. Rep APR after: 18.9%.

- New. MBNA up to 43mths 0% but with higher 3.29% fee + £20 cashback. This new MBNA card (eligibility calc / apply*) is the longest 0% card we've seen, yet with a higher fee than Barclaycard's and you need to shift £1,000 to get cashback. But if you've a better chance of getting it, or you're pre-approved, it can win. Pre-approval? Yes. Rep APR after: 20.9%.

- New. Sainsbury's 42mths 0% for a 3.5% fee (min £3), plus you get 3,000 Nectar points (worth £15) with a min £1,000 transfer. The key to this Sainsbury's card (eligibility calc / apply*) is if you're accepted, you definitely get the full 42mths 0%, and that certainty is important. So if the eligibility calc shows you're not pre-approved for the first two, if you want a long card and have a decent chance of getting this, it wins. Rep APR after: 18.9%.


Mid-length cards with lower fee
A good compromise if hoping to pay off debt quicker.

- New. Barclaycard up to 38mths 0% for a low-ish 1.45% fee, and you get £20 cashback. This Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) has a low fee to shift your debt and you'll also get £20 cashback if you transfer £500+. Pre-approval? Yes. Rep APR after: 18.9%.

- AA up to 37mths 0% with higher 2.5% fee, but you get £50 cashback (£35 from 5pm Wed). This AA card (eligibility calc / apply*) has a higher fee than the Barclaycard above, but as it gives £50 cashback until 5pm on Wed when you transfer a min £1,500, it can beat that if you're quick and are shifting between £1,500 and £2,800. Rep APR after: 19.9%.

- New. Barclaycard up to 32mths 0% for a 0.63% fee, and get £20 cashback with min £500 transfer. This Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) has a much lower fee than those above, so it's a good option if you can clear your debt quicker. Pre-approval? Yes. Rep APR after: 18.9%.


Shorter cards with NO FEE
If you know you'll clear debt in two years, these are the cheapest.

- New. Sainsbury's Bank 25mths 0%, NO fee. This Sainsbury's Bank card (eligibility calc / apply*) offers the joint longest-ever 0% period with no fee to shift your debt, and if you're accepted you definitely get the full 25mths 0%. Rep APR after: 18.9%.

- Halifax up to 25mths 0%, NO fee. This Halifax card (eligibility calc / apply*) offers the same 0% period as the Sainsbury's card above, though it's possible you'll be offered fewer interest-free months. Rep APR after: 18.9%.

- Virgin Money 24mths 0%, NO fee. This Virgin Money card (eligibility calc / apply*) offers two interest-free years with no transfer fee, plus our eligibility calc can tell you if you're pre-approved. Pre-approval? Yes. Rep APR after: 19.9%.

2. Should I apply with just a 60% chance? We're often asked stuff like this. Actually 60% is pretty decent odds. It means over half those in your position get accepted. A story may help...

Martin sat with a MoneySaver who had large, costly credit card debts & a poor credit history. The eligibility calc showed zero chance of all balance transfers, except 20% chance with Halifax. She asked: "Is there any point?"

He explained as it was the only thing she needed credit for, 20% chance was better than nowt and the worst that could happen was she wouldn't get it. She applied and got a 26mth 0% card - £1,500 limit.

Equally, even a 95% score means 1 in 20 gets rejected.
3. Shift store card debts to 0% as well. These are just credit cards you only spend with in one store (or group of stores), but with far costlier interest. Eg, New Look's is 28.9% APR, Argos is 29.9%. But you can also balance-transfer store card debt, so follow the tips above.
4 Can you use a 0% card to pay off debt? We're often asked if you can shift loan, overdraft or other debt onto 0% credit cards. You can, but only via a specialist 0% 'money transfer' deal. This opens a wide door for cutting loan, overdraft and other debt costs - let us brief you first.

What is a money transfer? It's a credit card deal letting you pay a lump sum into your bank account, to use as you like, so you owe the card, for a small fee. Full help in Top Money Transfers (do follow the Golden Rules below).

What are the top deals?
Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) offers new cardholders 32mths' 0% money transfers for a one-off 1.99% fee (min £3). For longer, this other Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) card's 36mths 0% for a 2.69% fee (min £3). The Money Transfer Eligibility Calc shows your acceptance odds. After the 0% ends these jump to 19.9% and 20.9% rep APR (APR Examples).
5. Join our FREE Credit Club to interrogate what lenders really think of you. Your credit history's a huge part of whether you'll be accepted for any type of credit. Our revolutionary, totally free MSE Credit Club tries to demystify the acceptance process and uncover the true picture of your overall financial appeal, for all manner of products.

It includes a free Experian Credit Score. But lenders don't stop there - and we wanted to mimic what they do more closely, so we don't stop there either. It also includes your unique Affordability Score, a Credit Hit Rate, which tells what proportion of products you've a good chance of getting, and tips on how to boost your score.
6. The Balance & Money Transfer GOLDEN RULES. Getting the right card's only half the job...
a) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose special rates.
b) Always clear the card/shift again before the 0% ends, or rates jump.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them, it's rarely at the cheap rate.
d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool.
e) Check if you can use existing credit first. See Credit Card Shuffle.
7. Balance transfer common questions (& the answers too, obvs)...
- How does the balance transfer happen? Put your old card details on the application form and the new card provider does the rest.
- Can it clear multiple cards? Yes, if the new credit limit's big enough.
- How big will the credit limit be? That's a toughy; so far we've no way to know what the limit will be for each card, and it can vary.
- My credit limit is not big enough. What should I do? Balance-transfer as much of the most expensive debt you can. When done, apply for another card for the rest, fingers crossed you're accepted. Note, each subsequent application can get more difficult.
- Can I transfer the whole credit limit?
Usually not. Most let you do 90%-95%, as they want to leave room for you to spend (avoid that).
- Should I use savings to clear the debt instead? If it's costly debt this is usually the best plan. See our Repay Debt With Savings? guide.
- I also want to do new borrowing cheaply, can I? If you've already got debt, you should be very careful about getting more. But if you must, you want a top 0% spending card. If you need to shift debts too, see top 0% balance transfer & spending all-rounder cards.
- My credit score is poor, what can I do?
There are lots of things that can help over the long term; read 37 Credit Score Boosting Tips.
PS: Can't sleep because of your debts? This isn't for you. Forget the above and get free, one-on-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, CAP, StepChange or National Debtline. They are there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep". Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Crisis Help.

The Martin Lewis Money Show, 8pm Mon 9 Jan, on ITV
How to save £1,000s on your mortgage. And a warning about energy direct debits

Back over to Martin... "My series kick-starts for the New Year on Monday. I'm starting with mortgages as I think 2017 is likely the year we'll see an end to cheap deals, so you need to act fast. Plus how to beat an energy direct debit nightmare and lots more. Do watch or set the Betamax."

Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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


New. Now you can get £200 to switch bank

The battle for your cash has taken off again to coincide with the New Year fervour to sort your finances

Many of you bitch about your bank, but STOP - instead, switch. Even if happy, check whether you can profit from a new deal. Switching only takes seven working days; plus the new bank closes your old account and moves direct debits, standing orders and payments. In fact, 76% of you tell us it's hassle-free. Here are the top free cash deals...

  • Bank switchNew. Free £200 (£150 upfront, £50 if you stay). Switchers to the HSBC Advance* account get £150. And, if you're with it after a year, you get another £50. The account also gives access to a 5% fixed regular saver.
    - How to get the perks. You must switch 2+ direct debits or standing orders for the £150. For the £50, you must register for online/mobile banking within 60 days and pay in at least £1,750/mth.

  • New. Free £125 & No.1 for service. If applying via this First Direct* link, switchers get £125. The bank's won every service poll we've done - 91% rate it 'great' - and it has a £250 0% overdraft and you get access to its 5% fixed regular savings account.
    - How to get the perk. Use the link above - the bribe drops to £100 if applying direct. Min £1,000 pay-in for bonus + £1,000/mth to avoid its £10/mth account fee.

  • Free £100 M&S gift card + £10/mth. M&S Bank* gives switchers a £100 M&S gift card, plus for the first year, it'll add £10/mth to the card if you pay in at least £1,000/mth. Yet it warns set-up may be delayed as it's been swamped with applications. It also offers a £100 0% overdraft and 5% fixed regular savings account.
    - How to get the perks. You need to switch 2+ active direct debits to get the initial gift card, and keep them active for the £10/mth, as well as meeting the min pay-in. See full M&S info for what an 'active' direct debit means.

  • New. Free £110 + up to £5.50/mth (max £66/yr). Switchers to Co-op Bank get £110. Sign up to its Everyday Rewards scheme for a further £4/mth; plus get 5p per debit card use, up to £1.50/mth.
    - How to get the perks. You must switch four or more active direct debits for the free £110. To get Everyday Rewards, you must pay in £800/mth, get paperless statements, log in to online/mobile banking each mth, pay out 4+ direct debits/mth and stay within your overdraft limit.

  • Free £100 + £3/mth. Halifax pays switchers a £100 sign-up bonus. Plus you get £3/mth if you meet certain conditions.
    - How to get the perks. No min pay-in for bonus but you need to pay in min £750/mth, stay in credit & pay out two direct debits for the monthly reward.

IMPORTANT: All credit-check you & you usually need to be a new customer using the banks' official switching services to get the perks. More options and eligibility info in Best Bank Accounts.


Free 1-year Tastecard (£80 full price), 2,017 available. MSE Blagged. Gets 2for1-ish in 6,500+ eateries (eg, Pizza Exp, Strada & independents). Via ballot - others get one free mth. Ends Sun. Tastecard

What Brexit means for your mortgages, savings, debt, house prices and more in 2017. Read Martin's Brexit 2017 analysis update.

New. Cheapest-EVER £7.5-£15k loan, 2.8% APR. If you've planned, budgeted borrowing, Sainsbury's* is giving a rock-bottom 2.8% rep APR on loans over 1-3yrs, if you've a Nectar card. If not, Sainsbury's* & TSB* are both 2.9% rep APR over 1-5yrs. All providers credit-check you, so use our free Loans Eligibility Calc before you apply to find which you've the best chance of getting. Full help & more best buys (incl for smaller loans) in Cheap Loans (APR Examples).

TWO pairs of specs £15 code - cheapest we've seen. MSE Blagged. Incl lenses & delivery. Spec-tacular

Do you have a right to get free water in restaurants? Doing Dry Jan? Know your tap water rights.

Cheapest fitness trackers, eg, £70 Fitbit Flex 2. Step to it. Top fitness tracker deals. Plus more gym deals below.



- Free 1-year Tastecard (£80 full price) 2,017 avail

- 2 months' free Heat, GQ & 1,800 other mags Ends 16 Jan

- 2 pairs of specs £15 - cheapest we've seen Ends 12 Jan


- Can you find cheap post-Xmas chocs?

- Try our 'How Tight Are You?' quiz

- Return unwanted prezzies, if you can

- Switch your gran


Is your mobile insured? Are you overpaying by £100+?

If you've a new Xmas handset or it's been your loyal pal for longer, standalone cover smashes the big networks

If your handset has a propensity to go walkabout, or you drop it more often than the England goalie, mobile insurance may be a useful protector. But cover isn't right for everyone, especially if you're super careful or you've an older phone. Our Cheap Mobile Insurance guide explains the pros and cons, and how to get the cheapest. Here are the key digits...

  • Mobile phonesImportant mobile phone questions before you start:
    1. Are you a loser? If you're unlikely to lose or damage it, self-insuring can win.
    2. Already covered on your home insurance? See what home insurance covers.
    3. Need a speedy replacement? Then networks' cover is often fastest, but pricey.
    4. How old's yours? Many insurers only cover 6-18mth-old phones. And some networks only sell insurance if you buy it within 28 days of the phone. See age restrictions.

  • Slash networks' prices - cheap insurance from £35-£70/yr. EE and Vodafone charge up to £144/yr. Yet our top picks below smash these on price (with decent feedback)...

    - All iPhones (incl 7 Plus). Via this Insurance2Go* link (with code MSEIPHONE) it's £50/yr or £70/yr with accidental damage cover. £50 excess.
    - All Samsungs (incl S7 / Edge) + other pricey smartphones (incl Pixel). Via this Insurance2Go* link (with code MSE5) it's £50/yr or £70/yr with accidental damage cover. £50 excess.
    - All other phones. Gadget Cover* is from £35/yr (£45/yr incl loss) for up to £250 cover. There is a £25 excess.

  • FAMILY phone insurance (+ travel and breakdown cover) for £120/yr. If you've two or more phones in your family home, this is a cracker that can undercut those above - but it involves getting a new current account. The £10/mth Nationwide FlexPlus* account covers ALL family phones up to a huge £1,000 each. You also get worldwide family travel insurance and European car breakdown cover for the account holder(s). See £600 of insurance for £120 for full info.

PS: If you're considering insuring other gadgets such as laptops or consoles, you need special gadget insurance. As with mobile cover, it's not for everyone. See pros, cons & best buys in our Cheap Gadget Insurance guide.


'£9.50' Sun holidays are back. Though really min £44 for four people at 300+ UK and Europe parks. See our full '£9.50' Holidays guide for how they work. Also Daily Mail '£15' hols have launched - though also really min £44 for four at 150+ UK parks. See '£15' Daily Mail Hols.

10% off railcards code. 1yr cards incl 16-25, Family & Friends, Two Together & Senior for £27. Railcards

Free tool to stop impulse buys online. Shopper Stopper blocks online stores at key times, eg; at night, when many are vulnerable. Shopper Stopper

Martin's New Year Live MoneySaving Q&A... Got a question? Ask it. Today (Wed) at 3.45pm he'll be doing a 30-minute Q&A on his Facebook page. 'Like' it now if you want to watch or ask.

Jan sales BOOST, incl Asos up to 70% off & M&S up to 60% off. Discounts getting bigger for unsold stock. Jan sales

2 months' free Heat, GQ, InStyle & 1,800+ other mags. MSE Blagged. Via app that lets you read mags offline. Norm £8/mth. Newbies only. Read all about it


Tell your friends about us

They can get this email free every week


Six tips to slash gym costs

Free gym passes, pay-as-you-go visits, £10/month membership, haggle a better contract & more

Some gym regulars refer to January joiners as 'turkeys', because they don't last long beyond Christmas. So if your New Year's resolution is to shed some pounds, don't shell out on a pricey gym membership straightaway. One MoneySaver tweeted: "Paid £270 for a year but only went once. Most expensive swim ever." Full help in Free & Cheap Gyms - but here's a quick warm-up...

Cheap gym1. Free passes at gyms. Before you commit, grab a free pass to make sure it's a place you're comfortable going to. Freebies right now include three days' Fitness First, one day at Nuffield Health & more. See Free Gym Passes.

2. Work out all year at free outdoor boot-camps and classes. Muscle in on free group-fitness classes in local parks, incl yoga, Pilates & more. Plus we've blagged a free seven-day British Military Fitness trial. Free Classes

3. Pay-as-you-go passes for top gyms. Avoid a contract by going via PayAsUGym - it lets you buy one-off passes for different gyms (and says it's 10% cheaper than buying direct). One-off Gym Passes

4. No-frills gyms £10/mth & no contract. If you can live without pools, saunas & jacuzzis, find a no-frills gym near you.

5. If you do sign up for a contract... HAGGLE, HAGGLE, HAGGLE. Premium gyms give deals right now to get people to sign up while they're keen. Yet don't accept even the 'promo' prices - negotiate hard (but politely). Also see what to watch out for in contracts & know your gym cancellation rights.

6. Do you really need a gym? DIY workouts. You can run, cycle, do weights, yoga & a lot more without gym membership, but be careful. Why not download free online workouts and see if there's a free outdoor gym near you?


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

'Free' 3mth Weight Watchers online (norm £49). Newbies only, via cashback. 2,000 avail. Free Weight Watchers

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Just switched energy after your tip - our monthly direct debit was £215, now it's £87, saving a whopping £1,540/yr. Can't thank you enough - now I can take the wife on holiday."

Pay £2 for 40% off National Express. Buy code from daily deals site for 40% off standard-price UK coach journeys from Jan-Mar. National Express



Do you have credit cards and how do you use them? It's the New Year, and the time when most debt problems are at their worst. This week we want to focus on plastic, meaning credit (and store) cards, and are interested to know how you use them, eg, do you pay them off in full each month?

Click here to vote for which is closest to your situation

Poor old Brussels sprouts. For last week's poll we wanted to know your least favourite part of Christmas dinner. The least loved component was the humble sprout, with 17% of the 11,585 who voted wishing they could bin 'em. Bread sauce was next at 14%. Full breakdown in the Christmas dinner poll results.



- Top story: Green Energy launches 'time-of-day' tariff - electricity savings available but gas remains pricey

- SavviBuy customers stunned as firm fails to deliver Christmas presents, then tells them: 'Ask your bank for a refund'

- Airbnb enforces 90-day annual limit on London hosts

- England's NHS hospitals earn record £120m in car park charges - but you can beat unfair fines

- Energy customers owed £97m by their ex-suppliers - check if you're due a refund



Should I 'fess up about my hotel payment? I recently booked a hotel. At checkout, it said no money was due as I'd paid online. At the time I'd assumed it was right, but after checking I can see I was meant to pay at the hotel. Should I keep schtum or not? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I 'fess up about my hotel payment? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Do you regret retiring too early with not enough money?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a VIP experience for four at the Art Antiques Interiors Fair
- Old-style board thread of the week: How long can you refrigerate food for?
- Discussion of the week: Do you leave your router on at all times?


- What Brexit means for your finances in 2017


- Smart meter stopped working? It's probably because you switched



Thu 5 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 6 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 9 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 9 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 9 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm


Wed 4 Jan - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 4 Jan - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 5 Jan - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 6 Jan
- BBC South West stations, early breakfast (pre-6am)
Tue 10 Jan - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: Can I switch energy companies but ask them to delay the switch to avoid exit fees? Simon, via Twitter.

Andrew CapstickMSE Andrew's A: Unfortunately you can't, but you may not have to pay exit fees anyway.

That's because you can switch penalty-free from a fixed tariff as long as you apply for the new deal no more than 49 days before your current deal ends.

Suppliers should notify you when you're in this period - they're required by regulator Ofgem to send you notice between 42 and 49 days before the end of your fixed tariff. Use our Cheap Energy Club to do a full market comparison and to find the best deal for you.

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


'My Christmas present was a dustpan and brush - without the brush.'

That's it for this week, but before we go, our forum users are reporting some abysmal Christmas presents this year. Gifts include 'one of those embroidered spare loo-roll dolls' and a 'video of their sewers'. Have a read of the thread and add your horrors: What is the worst present you received this Christmas?

We hope you save some money,
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