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WEEKLY EMAIL

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This email was sent
04th Feb 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 This info may be out of date.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."

04 February 2015
         

This week

Secret to bagging top 0% cards
Eight days left to grab cheaper than the cheapest energy
Mobile insurance £65/year
Time limit for PPI reclaims? Act now
FREE Ideal Home Show £14 tix
Sky TV 40% off & £100 credit codes
£10 specs code
Trick. £27.50 Sanctuary Spa for £10
Valentine's: 18 roses £19 delivered, 99p photo card, £14.50 pearl set
Post Office flash euro & dollar sale
Should I change euros now for the summer? Read Martin's answer
Codes: Gap 30%, Habitat 20%
Domino's 50% off pizza code
'Free' Benefit mascara in £4 mag
'I beat £70 Aldi parking fine'
Warning: Avios changes
MSE needs a sub-headitor
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs
Disabled & missing out on deals?

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

The secret to bagging a top 0% card
"Legend - used the eligibility calc and was able to shift £11,000 from a 29.9% card to get 35mths 0%. I'm in shock thinking of the money saved"

It's said banks will lend you an umbrella when the sun shines and ask for it back when the rain starts. Sadly, those with costly debt tend to struggle to get cheap credit to cut the cost - even just trying can hit your credit score.

I've given evidence to Parliament on this 'anti-shopping around' system - little's been done. Two years ago to fight back we built our first free credit card eligibility calculator to help you home in on the perfect card.

Kelly emailed: "YOU'RE A LEGEND. Used the eligibility calculator and got a 35mth 0% balance transfer. I was able to shift £11,000 from a 29.9%. I'm in shock thinking of the money I've saved." I've calculated if she clears the debt in 35mths she'll be £4,610 better off. Yet many tell us they don't quite get it, so...

eligibility scoreHow do the eligibility calculators work? Normally the only way to know if you'll get a loan or card is to apply. That involves a 'hard search' that leaves a footprint on your credit file. Too many of those, especially in a short space of time, hit your credit worthiness and can hurt future applications.

The eligibility calculators use a 'soft search' which we then map against lenders' wishlists (via specialist firm HD Decisions) to give you your odds of acceptance for each top card. As it's a soft search, while it's on your file, ONLY YOU SEE IT, lenders don't, so there's no credit score impact.

Therefore, you can see in advance where you're most likely to be accepted - thus homing in on the right card, and without any credit score cost. PS. Not every card is in the calculators - but the majority of the top ones are.
 
The '0% Balance Transfer' Eligibility Calc... incl 35mth 0%. A balance transfer card is where you get a new card that repays debts on the old card(s) for you, so you owe it instead, but at a lower rate.

The 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc shows which top cards you've the best chances of getting, like those in the table below. Go for the one with the lowest fee provided you're CERTAIN you can clear it within the 0% period.

Top pick 'new cardholder' 0% balance transfer deals
Find the card you're most likely to get with our ELIGIBILITY CALC
Card 0% intro offer One-off fee (1) Rep APR after
Barclaycard* longest-ever 0% 35mth (2) 2.49% (3) 18.9%
Halifax* longest if shifting from Barclaycard 34mth (2) 2.8% (3) 18.9%
Barclaycard* long 0%, lower fee 24mth (2) 1.25% (3) 18.9%
Santander* longest NO FEE 0% 15mth None 18.9%
Halifax* 2nd longest no fee 0% 13mth (2) None 18.9%
Capital One* poor credit 0% 6mth 3% 34.9%
1) % of amount transferred. 2) Some get a shorter 0%. 3) You pay a higher fee initially & it regards the difference so you pay the lower fee.
MORE OPTIONS & FULL INFO: Best Balance Transfers, (APR examples)

Yet always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules...
a) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose 0% rates.
b) Always clear the card or shift again before 0% ends, or rates jump.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them. That's not usually at the cheap rate.
d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool.
New. The 'Loans' Eligibility Calc... incl 3.6% APR. For the first time, as well as cards, we've created a Loans Eligibility Calculator to show your odds of getting the cheapest loans (a few don't let us give data so we can't give odds, but we still list them - though we cap the max APR we'll allow).

If your aim's to cut the cost of your current loan see our loan switching guide for things to watch. For new borrowing, be careful, only borrow if needed and planned for, eg, a new car or kitchen, and you've budgeted to ensure repayments are affordable. Full help: Cheap Loans, in short...

Borrow £3,000 - £4,999, Hitachi* is cheapest at 7.8% representative APR
Borrow £5,000 - £7,499, Clydesdale* is cheapest at 4.7% representative APR
Borrow £7,500 - £15,000, M&S* is cheapest at 3.6% representative APR

However, it's important to note that while we can tell you your odds of acceptance, sadly the fact they're 'representative APR' means only 51% of those accepted need to get the headline rate, others may pay more.
The '0% Money Transfer' Eligibility Calc - shift overdrafts/cheap credit card loans. Money transfer credit cards are rare. As well as allowing balance transfers they also let you pay cash into your bank account, so you can shift an overdraft on to the card, or use as a 0% loan (best for under £3k). Our free 0% Money Transfer Eligibility Calc shows your chances.

The current top pick is MBNA* with 24mths 0% money transfers for a one-off 1.94% fee, or for longer, Fluid* at 29mths 0% but for a bigger 4% fee.

The Money Transfer Golden Rules: It can be tricky, so newbies, read our full Money Transfers (APR examples) for detailed step-by-steps. In short:

a) Never withdraw the cash, specifically ask to do a 'money transfer'.
b) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose 0% rates.
c) Clear the card before 0% ends, or rates jump to 22.9% rep APR for both.
d) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them. That's not usually at the cheap rate.
"Is it worth risking if my odds are only 60%?" I'm often asked this. Actually 60% is still pretty decent as odds go - in other words more than half the people in your position get accepted, not bad at all.

All you're risking by applying is a footprint on your credit file - that'd only have a minor effect (it's multiple applications that hurt, which the eligibility calc helps eliminate). So ask yourself how important the product is to you. If it's to cut debt costs, that's significant. I've a story that should help...

I recently sat with a MoneySaver, who had large costly credit card debts & a poor credit history. The Eligibility Calc showed all balance transfer cards gave her zero chance except Halifax at 20%. She asked: "Is there any point?"

I replied: "If this is the only thing you need credit for, 20% chance is better than nowt & the worst that can happen is you don't get it". She applied and got a 26mth 0% card - £1,500 limit.
The rest of the eligibility calc family. Above I've highlighted those best used for cutting existing debt costs. Yet we have many more than that, for specific purposes (read the guides for full help)...

- Credit rebuild card calc - to help build your credit score (guide)
- 0% spending card calc - interest-free spending (guide)
- 0% all-rounder card calc - balance transfers & spending (guide)
- Cheap travel money card calc - great rates when overseas (guide)
- Cashback credit card calc - pays you when you spend (guide)
- Airline rewards credit card calc - get air miles while you spend (guide)
10 ways to boost your credit score. The eligibility calculators are designed to make best use of your current credit score. Yet polishing up your creditworthiness may enable you to get better deals in future. Our 35 credit score boosting secrets go through it all, here are 10 to get going.

1) Getting accepted for credit is like going on the pull. Like people, different lenders find different things attractive. There's no universal fix, but some small cosmetic changes generally work for most.
2) Get on the electoral roll. Check if on it. If not, apply via About My Vote.
3) Stability's good. If possible, put a landline, not mobile, on applications.
4) Time it right. Problems stay on your file for six years, applications for one. So if you can wait until they've lapsed to apply, it should boost your score.
5) Never miss or be late with payments. Use a direct debit to help if needed.
6) Don't withdraw cash on credit cards. It's expensive & evidence of poor money management - avoid. (Special rules if withdrawing cash abroad).
7) Don't let 'paid-for credit scores' overly worry you. Credit agencies flog 'em, but they're blunt tools. See Is Buying My Credit Score Worth It?
8) Payday loans can kill mortgage applications. Some mortgage providers simply won't lend to anyone with payday loans. See our Free First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide for full help on mortgage acceptance.
9) Deal with unfair defaults. Ask the firm that put them there to remove. If not, put a notice on your file & go to the ombudsman. See Defaults Help.
10) Check for address errors. Even an old, active but unused mobile phone registered to your old address could cause a mortgage rejection.
In debt crisis? If you can't meet your minimum repayments or aren't sleeping due to worry, then read my Debt Crisis Help guide or get one-on-one non-profit debt counselling from Citizens Advice, StepChange, National Debtline, or, if you're struggling emotionally too, CAP.

These agencies are there to help, not judge. The most common thing I hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and also my Mental Health & Debt guide.

 

PS. New. The Martin Lewis Money Roadshow, ITV1, Fri 8pm. My 3 tips for a happy relationship (seriously), should you buy euros now & cheap holiday tips. It's the last in this series, so do watch if you can. Last week's should I overpay my mortgage programme is online if you missed it - someone saved £36,000.

Blagged for MoneySavers

Did you miss?

Get constantly cheap energy
Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: Water bills to fall 2% over the next year in England and Wales
Warm Home Discount to be extended to low-income families
Waitrose to scrap free hot drinks offer in its cafes
Used a dodgy claims handler? Now the Legal Ombudsman can help
Sky to launch its own O2-powered mobile network
Spread the (MoneySaving) love
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Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss WED 4 FEB 2015
Only 8 days left! MSE Big Switch Event II: Cheaper than the cheapest energy
Many can save OVER £250 a year even after the big six price cuts. Unique tariffs take on energy rip-offs - go quick

The big 6 firms may've announced gas only (not elec) up to 5.1% cuts, but they're still massively overcharging. To take 'em on, last week we launched our new collective switch (sadly not in NI); a Govt scheme allowing trusted intermediaries, eg, us or a local council, to get firms to bid to give special tariffs. All our winners beat the market's cheapest (this can vary by region but we compare ALL other tariffs). Plus, we give £30 dual fuel cashback to encourage switching.

Big Winter Switch Event II
To apply for these: Do a comparison via Cheap Energy Club to find YOUR actual price
Prices based on Ofgem TYPICAL USE (varies by region) (1) Fixed Avg cost Saving over big 6 (2) Next cheapest firm Early Exit fees (per fuel)

WINNER - CHEAPEST: Sainsbury's Energy Discount Fix Feb 2016. For most this dual fuel deal (provided by British Gas) is easily the market's cheapest PLUS get £30 cashback PLUS up to 1,560 Nectar points

12 mths £901/yr £257/yr £913/yr £30

WINNER - CHEAPEST LONG FIX: Green Star MSE collective 36mth fix. This dual fuel & elec-only deal's rate is guaranteed not to be hiked for THREE WINTERS plus £30 dual fuel cashback/£15 elec-only (doesn't meet Ofgem green criteria).

36 mths £1,013/yr £145/yr £1,054/yr £30

WINNER - CHEAPEST GREEN TARIFF: Green Star MSE collective 12mth fix. This dual fuel & elec-only tariff is for those who want cheap but eco-friendly. It meets Ofgem's green criteria, eg, renewable generation. PLUS get £30 dual fuel/£15 single cashback.

12 mths £967/yr £191/yr £1,232/yr £30
1) Monthly direct debit, dual fuel, unless stated. Typical usage = 13,500 kWh gas and 3,200 kWh elec over a year. 2) Over big six standard tariff AFTER the price cut (they average £1,158). Source: MoneySup.

  • Savings can be huge. It depends on your region & usage. Lauren on Facebook: "Thanks Martin, just saved £816 a year." Full help in our Collective Switch FAQ though some key points below.
  • What's customer service like?Sainsbury's has decent feedback - 43% great, 34% OK - but that's based on a sample of only 76 people. Green Star is a newish firm - it's owned by big Canadian firm Just Energy. Feedback's limited but it was our 'green tariff winner' in our Oct collective switch, and we've had few reporting problems. Plus we take our bit seriously too and ask all providers to set up special customer service help teams.
  • If prices are dropping, shouldn't I wait? It's possible new cheaper fixes will launch at some point, yet these have a decent lead over the next best and we're in the high use time, so waiting on the off chance it'll get cheaper is risky, as the extra you pay meanwhile will likely outweigh that.
  • Does MSE make money from this?Yes. Suppliers pay £60/dual fuel switch (£30 single fuel) to comparisons & collective schemes; we give £30 to you as cashback (£15 single fuel). Much of the rest pays our data & switch suppliers, leaving us with hopefully £11ish per dual fuel switch. That pays the team who work on this, and hopefully leaves some profit. As always, we only ever write based on our legally binding editorial independence.

20,000 FREE Ideal Home Show London £14 ticket codes. For Fri 20 Mar - Mon 6 Apr at Olympia London. Tix norm £14-£16. Plus see Martin do his speech thang. For his times and FREE tickets, see Ideal Home Show tix.

Sky TV newbies codes: 40% off + up to £100+ bill credit. MSE Blagged. 10,000 codes for those who haven't had Sky in the last 12mths. Get 40% off all packages (except HD upgrade) and up to £125 credit on your first bill. Sky Codes

£10 specs code (incl lenses & del). MSE Blagged. For designer glasses, incl £10 Berkeley. Ltd stock. Spec-tacular

Boots trick! £27.50 Sanctuary Spa products for £10. Combine multiple promos. See the Boots trick blog.

PLEASE BE MY (CHEAP) VALENTINE

 Romance is great. Over-commercialised peer pressure ain't. Don't feel forced into following the usual Valentine's schtick. Yet if you're going to, our aim is to ensure you get the best deals for less. Supply tends to be limited so sorting it this week rather than leaving it until next usually wins. See our full 2015 Valentine's Deals page, but for now...

Cheapest delivered red roses - £19 for 18. Update 4 Feb, 5pm - now sold out for Valentine's Day but other deals avail, see Valentine's Day roses.

99p personalised cards. Truprint photo card 99p | Scribbler 30% off. See all cards.

Freshwater pearl jewellery set £14.50 delivered. MSE Blagged. 5,000 avail. Necklace, 2 pairs of earrings & bracelet. John Greed says it's normally £100 - we've seen similar for £27ish, so £14.50 is still a decent deal. John Greed

Free Valentine's gift cheques. Allows you to promise something nice or naughty, eg, brekkie in bed, a candle-lit bath, a lie-in while you look after the kids or, er hmmm, a massage on demand. See Free Valentine's Gift Cheques.

£10 champagne. Louvel Fontaine champagne for £10. See all champagne deals. Pls be Drinkaware

£19 for £80 hardback photo book code. MSE Blagged. See Photo deals.

Knickers coming down (again...) Figleaves 20% off code. Boux Avenue 20% off code. See all Valentine's lingerie.

Pay less for perfume/aftershave. Incl Lacoste Pink £25 (was £50), Fragrance Shop 15% off code. Cheap Perfume

Post Office online FLASH euro & dollar sales. It'll temporarily boost web rates for euros, dollars & more Sat 8am - Tue 8am, Asda's similar from now till Fri 8am. Travelex'll boost dollars & more (not euros) Thu 11am-1pm. Use the Travel Money Max to compare rates & see how they stack up. Not going yet? Beat these with a Cheap Overseas Cards.

'Is it worth changing euros for the summer holidays now?' Many of you have been asking this as a result of the weakening euro. If you missed Martin's response last week, a quick reminder of his Should I change euros now? blog.

CODES/VOUCHERS: Gap 30%, Habitat 20%, Urban Outfitters 20%, Brantano 20%
Habitat 20% off code | Urban Outfitters 20% off code | Brantano (branded shoes) 20% off code | Gap 30% off via £2 mag
Body Shop £5 off £15 code/in stores | Jones Bootmaker 15% off code | BHS 20% off code | See ALL codes & vouchers.

Domino's 50% off £15+ pizza code (plus poss £10 cashback). There's a code to get you 50% off £15+ if you order online - that's lower than its normal threshold. Plus possible £10 cashback, making it free. See Domino's deals.


Mobile insurance £65 a year - halve your costs
Cover the latest smartphones - even the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5 - for less than half what most pay

Many people'd rather lose their wallet than their mobile, so the networks get away with charging big bucks for insurance. Eg, O2 and Vodafone charge c.£12.50/mth so that's £150/year. Plus they're often 'handset blind' - you pay the same for a thickphone as a smart one. Full help in Cheapest Mobile Insurance - in brief:

  • Mobile phone insuranceTop pick mobile insurance deals. These are the cheapest policies with decent feedback that include cover for accident, loss & theft (smartphone cover limits are £750). The Insurance2Go links contain an auto-filled MSE Blagged discount code which reduces the price (you'll need to pay yearly to get the discount).

    - Any Samsung. Via this link Insurance2Go* £60/yr. Excess: £25 (£50 for loss).
    - iPhone incl 6 & 6 Plus. Via this link Insurance2Go* £65/yr. Excess: £50 (£75 for loss).
    - Other smartphones. Via this link Insurance2Go* £60/yr. Excess: £25 (£50 loss).
    - Thick (non-smart) phones. Gadget Cover's* £27/yr (£16/yr for no-loss cover) for up to £150 cover. Excess £25. (£50 for loss)

  • Quality cover for a couple/family PLUS world travel insurance PLUS breakdown cover £120/yr. If one of you switches to the Nationwide FlexPlus* bank account, which has a £10/mth fee, then each family member's (must live in the same home) mobile is covered up to a huge £1,000 limit per phone (more than the policies above) and it also has car breakdown cover and worldwide family travel insurance. Full info: Best Packaged Accounts.
  • The mobile insurance three key questions. Before plumping for a policy ask yourself:
    1. Are you a loser? Do you really need a policy? If you're unlikely to lose your handset, self-insuring can win.
    2. Are you already covered? Check your home insurance or fee-paying bank account. See Am I covered?
    3. Need a super-quick replacement? If every minute counts, then the networks' cover is often fastest.
  • Mobile phone insurance isn't perfect. While generally it works, it can have more catches than a corset, eg, you can't claim in the first 21 days; you must tell the insurer within 24 hours; it won't pay for theft if pinched from an open bag. See the full list. Always check it pays for unauthorised calls (those above do up to set limits).

'Free' Benefit mascara in £4 mag. £7ish Benefit 'Roller Lash' mascara 3g sample on mag cover. Beauty deals

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Your template helped me avoid a £70 parking fine from Aldi . I won on the grounds that the charge was not commensurate with the cost to the landowner. Thanks a lot."
- see our Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets and Fight Unfair Council Parking Tickets guides for full help.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
35mths 0%, 2.49% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

No fee 0%: Santander*
15mths 0%, no fee

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

MoneySupermarket*
Confused*
Direct Line*
Aviva*
Admiral MultiCar*

Clydesdale* (£5k - £7.5k)
4.7% rep APR



M&S Bank* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.6% rep APR


Post Office 1.5% AER
Min £100, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed


Coventry BS 2.25% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018


See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples
PPI reclaims to be time limited? Act now to be safe
The regulator is reviewing how banks deal with PPI complaints, including looking at putting a time bar on it

City regulator the FCA's review includes introducing a time limit on claims (see PPI time limit news). This was raised two years ago - back then MSE & Which? together saw it off. Now it's back. We think it's unlikely to be enacted, but there's a chance (similar-ish happened with bank charges) so check our Reclaim PPI For Free guide asap. Here are the headlines...

  • reclaim ppi Have you had loans, credit cards, overdrafts, catalogues & even mortgages? PPI was most commonly sold on loans & credit cards, but it was mis-sold elsewhere too. Don't assume you didn't have it. Lisa emailed us saying: "I ignored PPI for 12 months as I thought I never agreed to it. After looking on your website and using your templates I got a letter two weeks later offering me £2,214. Thank you."
  • What counts as mis-selling? It was the lender's job to ensure it was right for you when it sold it. Common mis-selling includes: 1) It lied that it was compulsory or would get you lower interest; 2) It added it without asking; 3) It sold unemployment cover to the self-employed/students/retirees; 4) It didn't warn your pre-existing conditions were excluded. See full Mis-selling Checklist.
  • Reclaim for FREE. For most people it's as easy to do it yourself as it is to use a claims firm that'll take 30% of your cash - the forms are similar. We've had 5,744,000 free template letters downloaded and huge successes. You just complain to your bank in normal language, then crucially IF IT REJECTS YOU... you can go to the FREE Financial Ombudsman Service, which upholds 60% of PPI claims (ie, ones banks have turned down). See How To Reclaim.
  • Got questions? Don't worry we've got it covered. We've been doing this a long time so have built up an FAQ answering 60+ PPI questions incl: 1) I've no paperwork? 2) Can I claim if the debt's repaid? 3) Can I claim for a deceased relative? 4) Can the bank use my payout to clear my IVA? 5) Do I pay tax? And many more. Give it a try.

Avios changes - you may need to book ASAP. Full details in Avios changes: the winners & losers.

MSE job opprtunites. We're laoking for a full-time sub-editor basted in London. MSE Jobs

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines

Compare, get £30 dual fuel cashback & alerts if your deal's no longer cheap. Go via the free MSE Cheap Energy Club Top Pick Fixes Comparison.

Someone with typical dual fuel usage on a big 6 standard tariff pays £1,158/yr (inc price cuts). The cheapest deal's £901/yr via our collective switch - a huge £250+ difference.


First Direct*
£125 bonus and top cust service


Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

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

Confused.com*
Compare The Market
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£11/mth (pay a yr upfront)



Post Office
with weekend calls
£12/mth (pay a yr upfront)


Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
Show Vouchers and Top Deals

Restaurant vouchers

Discount vouchers

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
Show Money Saving Community
The MoneySaving Community

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
Are you missing out on shopping deals because you are disabled?
As part of its Extra Costs Commission, disability charity Scope is looking into the shopping habits of disabled people and their families. Take its survey to tell it how you buy things, why you buy things and what extra help you need to keep costs down. Then let us know what you think in the MSE Forum thread.

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA
Two people didn't turn up to the stag do and I'm out £100

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... I recently arranged a friend's stag do, making arrangements, getting RSVPs and paying the venue. Two of the guys who said they'd come didn't show, so I'm £100 out of pocket. I emailed both but got no reply. Should I ask the friend who got married to get involved? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Two people didn't turn up to the stag do and I'm out £100 | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE GREAT HUNT
Waiters and restaurant staff: do you get to keep your tips?
We want to tap the collective knowledge of past and present waiters and restaurant staff. Does the restaurant add a service charge and do you get a share/all of it? If not, and customers give cash/card tips, how are they split between you and other staff? Does it help if they give cash? Share yours/read others': Do you get to keep tips? Past topics: View all

CHEAP FLIGHT SALES ALERT
Airline: Ryanair Price: Flights from £24.99 one-way Ends: Sun 15 Feb
Our pick this week is Ryanair's sale ending Sun 15 Feb, which includes all non-optional taxes & charges. It's for flights between Wed 1 Apr and Sun 31 May on selected routes. We've found flights for even less than £24.99, eg, London Stansted-Edinburgh for £17.99 on Wed 8 Apr. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

THE GREAT HUNT... REVEALED
How to do Valentine's Day on the cheap

We asked for your top tips on avoiding the great Valentine's Day rip-off. One forumite recommended going out for breakfast as most restaurants only hike prices later in the day,
while others favoured special dinners at home or picnics. Home-made chocs and cards were also popular with MoneySaving posters, with some detailed recipes for the former.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

5 February
Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.40am.
Deals of the Week

6 February
This Morning, ITV, time tbc.
Martin's 90-second Savers.

The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.
Cutting holiday prices.

PS. Missed The Martin Lewis Money Show? Watch past episodes.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

How are you different from your siblings?

Got a brother or sister who's nothing like you? Sometimes the same parents, the same home and the same upbringing can result in wildly different personalities, as the stories of our forumites show. Share your own experiences of being different from your siblings.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 131.30 117.72
US Flag $ 149.56 134.60
Turkish Flag TL 352.00 309.76
Rates correct at 3pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Are you going to vote in this year's General Election?

Thur 5 Feb is National Voter Registration Day (you can register here if you haven't already). We believe it's one of the biggest consumer decisions you get to make, but only 65% of people actually voted in the 2010 General Election.

Please select the one option most relevant to your intention:

Poll results

Should we renationalise energy, water, rail and more?
It seems the majority think rail services should be brought back under Govt control - but the same isn't true for aviation. Here's where opinions were strongest:

- 86% said yes to rail services
- 84% said yes to water services
- 62% said no to aviation
- 45% said no to phone/internet

10,745 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

I've missed the 31 January tax return deadline - will I get a fine? Paul, by email

MSE Sam's A: If you had to submit a self-assessment return for the 2013/14 tax year and you missed the 11.59pm deadline last Saturday, you'll be fined £100 unless you have what HMRC considers a "reasonable excuse". This can include a disability, a recent bereavement, a recent hospitalisation, a recent fire, a computer failure as you were sending the return, or if HMRC's online system failed when you tried to submit.

If any of these happened, you can appeal to HMRC - see Tax deadline help for how.

You'll be fined even if you don't owe tax. If you do owe money, ensure you pay it as soon as possible, as you're charged 3% annual interest on top of the fine for late payment, as you also needed to have paid by Saturday night.

If you can't afford to pay, contact HMRC urgently as you may be able to avoid interest by coming to an arrangement to spread payments.

 Nick's free game of the week: Base Jumping

How to keep your tortoise warm this winter

That's it for this week, but before we go, it's pretty darn cold out there so we've found some heart-warming pictures to cheer you up - tortoises in woolly jumpers.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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