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04th Jul 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 This info may be out of date.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."

04 July 2018
         
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.
                                                           
 


 

Martin's masterclass on how to...
Halve private medical insurance costs
 
'Was paying £175/mth – got it to £96/mth' - £950/yr cheaper


We should be proud of the NHS. It's one of our nation's jewels. And like millions over its 70yr life, I'm very thankful to its wonderful staff, for looking after me and my family during horrid moments. The medical care given to all, regardless of means, is the very definition of life-saving.

Many people, though, make a legitimate choice to pay for private medical insurance (PMI) - a luxury/convenience product that gives sometimes speedier, more flexible private treatments in hotel-style comfort. In my Twitter poll of c. 6,000 people, 23% had PMI.

It works best for planned consultations and treatments - be it hip replacements, cataracts or ear conditions. Yet in emergencies, in my view, the NHS is unbeatable, as its large hospitals tend to be better staffed around the clock.

Whether you've been considering it or want to test how your current policy stacks up, there's full help in our Cheap PMI guide. Here's my summary:

1. Quickly compare to benchmark prices. PMI isn't cheap. The cost can be up there with energy bills, especially as you get older. So getting it right can mean substantial savings, eg, 'was paying £175/mth – got it down to £96/mth by comparing and got a similar level of cover' - that's £950/yr cheaper.

To see the lie of the land, compare via Assured Futures* and CompareTM. They include all the big players but if you're aged 50+, try Saga*. If you've more time, check MoneySupermarket* and Gocompare too, in case they've offers.

2. Existing policy? Huge savings may be possible, but be careful. PMI prices usually rise each year, both because as you age, you're a higher risk, and due to the usual insurance 'apathy charge' - in other words, if you don't change, your provider knows it can get away with pumping costs up.

If a comparison indicates you're paying over the odds, take that price to your existing provider and haggle to see if it'll match it. It may even switch you to another of its own brands at a much lower cost (do let us know if that happens). If not, consider leaving, and politely tell it so, as that may then prompt it to match your price.
   
However, if you've had treatment via your policy in the last 5-7 years, while your existing insurer will usually cover you for reoccurrences, your new one is likely to exclude it as a pre-existing condition if it reoccurs (within 2-7 years depending on what it is). If that's a concern, sadly you may effectively be locked in to your current provider. 

3. Does your employer offer cheap PMI as a staff perk? This is great and may be far cheaper than owt else.

The only concern, though, is if you need treatment, claim, and then later decide to leave the firm, will you be able to continue with the same policy once you've left? If not, you may then be stuck without being able to get a new insurer to cover that pre-existing condition. Do check. 

4. Pick the right PMI cover. There are a lot of choices. The comparison sites should give an overview. Read more on this in picking a PMI policy, but key things to consider are...
 
- Which hospitals can you use? 
A more extensive choice costs more, so once you home in on a policy, check its hospital list and options.
- What treatments do you want to cover? Options can include improved levels of cover for, say, cancer and mental health. Consider what you'd be happy to use the NHS for. Read the cover limits carefully.
- Consultant limits. If you have a specific consultant you like to see, if they're not on the approved list they may not be covered. With pricey consultants over the normal limit, you may need to pay the difference.
- Full medical underwriting (FMU) vs moratorium cover. With FMU you disclose your full medical history at sign-up (you may need a check-up). Moratorium doesn't need that, but if you claim for a condition within the first 2 years, you'll often need to prove you haven't suffered from it before, which can slow things down. (It may be longer than 2 years for some conditions and providers.) 

5. The excess matters. The amount you'll pay towards any claim has a big impact on policy costs. A 40-year-old's policy that's £1,520/yr with no excess dropped to £1,080 with a £500/yr excess. And note whether the excess is per claim or per year (per year's better for you but usually costs more).


6. Can you self-insure to cut costs? Instead of paying an insurer a monthly amount, you put that cash in top savings to use if you want some private treatments, or spend if not needed. Alternatively, get a very high-excess policy (eg, £1,000 per claim) so there's cover for a serious issue, but self-insure with the saving for lesser treatments. 

7. For full help and guidance, use a broker. If you're confused, need help, or have conditions that make things difficult, you can get assistance from a broker via the snappily titled Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries.

It can answer questions about cover, particular insurers' records, rules and more, which can help. Most brokers are free to you, because they take commission from the insurers if you get a policy. Do check how and if they'll charge before you get the advice.

8. Healthcare cash plans are cheaper than PMI and cover NHS treatments too. Cash plans are very different policies from PMI and cost as little as £8/mth. If you have one, and then shell out for NHS or private treatment, you then send them your receipts and they give you the cash back up to an annual limit (the more you pay, the bigger the limit), eg, £150 on dental treatments.

Things commonly covered include dental (eg, fillings), optical (eg, new glasses), chiropody and visits to consultants. Yet it can even be as far out as acupuncture, osteopathy and massages. Don't bother though if you're the type of person who'll forget to send the receipts in.

For many people, especially those who wear glasses and contacts, you can reclaim far more than you pay out each year, in some cases, the gain can be £100s. For more help, see best-buy healthcare cash plans.

More Health MoneySaving: Cheap Prescriptions & Meds | Dental Insurance | Mental Health & Debt Help | Cheap Hay Fever TabletsStop Smoking  

 
 

DON'T believe the fake ads on Facebook
Lots of scam ads that litter social media lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

A savings mini-revival - 1.33% easy access or 2.05% fixed for 1yr

Well, knock me down with a feather, finally a savings silver lining... so ditch paltry 0.1% rates NOW

Don't crack open the bubbly just yet, as rates are still historically low. But some of the best buys have risen to highs not seen in years. Don't hang about, though - there's no certainty these corkers will be around for long. And there's little harm in plumping for easy access now, as if rates do rise, you can simply move your money again to up the return. All accounts below have £85,000 per person savings protection.

  • Best easy-access savings since Feb - add and withdraw money at will. Top of the pile is Post Office's Online Saver* which pays 1.33% AER variable from £1+. While it is variable, it includes a 1.08% fixed bonus for 1yr. That means it can't go lower for 12mths but remember to ditch in a year as it'll dive then.

    And after a flurry of new deals this week, six providers now pay only a slightly lower 1.3% variable, incl AA (members only), Coventry BS, Sainsbury's, Shawbrook, Tesco and Virgin Money. Full info in top easy-access savings.

  • Best 1yr fixed savings since 2015 - if you can lock cash away for a year. App-only Atom Bank pays 2.05% (min £50), but if you prefer a big name, the Post Office* is 1.7% (min £500) - though you'd sacrifice 0.35 percentage points. You can go higher fixing for 2-5yrs but that's a long time locked in at lowish rates. Full help and more options in fixed savings.

  • What's best? A fix or easy access? If you'll need to access your cash go easy access. Though as rates are variable, they could go up or down, so it's important to keep a close eye on them. Fixes pay more but you won't reap the rewards if rates rise, and you can't withdraw your money during the term.

    But with a 0.72 percentage-point difference between the easy access and 1yr fixed best buys, the easy-access rate would need to jump by more than that, and soon, to win. And that's unlikely. Of course, you could do both by splitting your pot.

  • Get up to 5% on smaller sums, and a 25% boost for some. Here are more ways to spice up your savings:

    - Earn 5% on regular savings. Save up to £300/mth via special bank accounts - and get up to £185 in vchs to switch.
    - Earn 5% on smaller savings. Some current accounts give 5% on up to £2,500, though there are strict criteria.
    - Top cash ISAs - 1.3% easy access (with restrictions). If you pay savings tax (most don't), you can shield yourself from the taxman via a cash ISA. Yet rates aren't quite as high as standard savings.
    - Saving for a first home? Get a 25% savings boost from the state. See Help to Buy and Lifetime ISAs.
 

Last chance. FREE £10 to spend at M&S, John Lewis, Toby Carvery etc - if you've a Mastercard. MSE Blagged. Sign up to new loyalty scheme Ice, which also gives up to 12% back at 1,000s of shops and pubs. N-Ice saving

Water-saving FREEBIES, eg, water-regulating shower head (norm £20). Plus lots more gadgets and help - and if we all reduce use, there may be fewer hosepipe bans. Save water, save money 

Ends Mon. RBS free £100 + 2% bills cashback to switch bank. Apply to switch to the RBS Reward* account by Mon 9 Jul for a free £100. And for a £2/mth fee you also get 2% cashback on council tax, energy, broadband etc bills paid by direct debit - some can net £200+ in the first year. To get it all, pay in £1,500+/mth and log in to online or mobile banking by 24 Aug. Full info and more options in Best Bank Accounts, incl a free £100 from RBS fee-free, but no cashback.

Two big sale rumours...  and M&S 50% off. Neither confirmed but our spies say they start later this week - click the links for the latest.

Little-known ways to bank at the post office - whoever your bank is. See post office banking functions

And Martin's got a favour to ask... Ever saved by watching Martin on TV? If so he'd be chuffed if, by Fri, you vote for his show in the TV Choice Awards (click to 'Best Lifestyle Show' and keep clicking 'Next' till the end so it counts). PS: Got deja vu? 1mth ago he asked you to vote on the long list, and you did, which means this is the short list. 

 
 

If you're a BT customer, expect a letter or email any moment (if it's not already arrived) telling you in Sep it's raising prices for the 2nd time in 2018. This is crucial, as within 30 days of receipt you've the right to tell it you're ditching your contract penalty-free. So this is a great time to check if you can save - by leaving for the cheapest price elsewhere, or using those deals as a benchmark to haggle. With some BT standard broadband prices at £45/mth, or £540/yr, many can save about £400/yr.

Yet it's not just BT - Sky, TalkTalk & Virgin have all upped prices in the last year, and if on their standard deals, big savings are usually possible. So whoever you're with, below we've listed the top current deals, that all launched this week. As all are postcode-dependent, use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best in your area - links in the table go there. 

top broadband and line dealS FOR NEW CUSTOMERs
PROVIDER & LINK  AVG SPEED EQUIV COST OVER CONTRACT PERIOD (i)
TalkTalk
11Mb
'£12/mth' over 1yr contract. You pay £17/mth but can claim a £60 vch for Amazon, Tesco, Argos or John Lewis. And if you spend it, the price is an equiv £12/mth. BEWARE - in our polls TalkTalk's consistently worst of the biggies on customer service.
Plusnet 10Mb '£12.49/mth' over 1yr contract. You pay £1/mth for b'band & can pay £197.88 line rent upfront & claim £60 cashback. Do all that & it's equiv £12.49/mth. Pay line monthly & it's equiv £14.99/mth.
TalkTalk 35Mb (fibre) '£18.89/mth' over 18mth contract. You pay £9.95, then £22.50/mth but can claim a £75 vch for Amazon, Tesco, Argos or John Lewis. And if you spend it, the price is an equiv £18.89/mth. BEWARE - in our polls TalkTalk's consistently worst of the biggies on customer service.
Vodafone 35Mb (fibre) '£19.23/mth' over 18mth contract. You pay £22/mth but can claim a £50 Amazon vch. And if you spend the vch, it makes the price an equiv £19.23/mth.
Vodafone 63Mb (fibre)  '£24.23/mth' over 18mth contract. You pay £27/mth but can claim a £50 Amazon vch. And if you spend the vch, it makes it an equiv £24.23/mth.
(i) This factors in all costs, deducts the value of any reward, and divides by the number of months for a true comparison.


  • What speed do you need? Standard speeds of an avg 10Mb-ish are usually fine for browsing or light streaming. Fibre is best for streamers, gamers or if many use it all at once, and the faster you go, the more of a luxury it is. Big firms give estimated speeds before you sign up, and special tools can help you check your speed.

For a full breakdown of the BT hike, incl who's hit and by how much, see BT price rises.

 

4,000 switches left. Special SSE tariff, cheapest Big 6 energy deal - many can save £260+/yr. As they say, fix the roof while the sun shines. Use our Cheap Energy Club's 'big name' comparison to see if it wins for you, or do a full comparison if you just want the cheapest.

£100 for 2 pairs of prescription sunnies - incl one designer, eg, Ray-Bans. MSE Blagged. Voucher gets £30 off designer and free 2nd, non-branded pair if you buy Dior, Police etc prescription sunnies (some cost £200+). Not MoneySaving but if you're going to buy anyway, do it cheaply. Posh sunnies

Warning: 700,000 since March have missed out on cheapest passport rates. How to cut passport costs.

Extra 20% off Nike sale, eg, £32 sports bra £18, or £85 football boots £47. See Nike code.

30 craft beers for £30 delivered. MSE Blagged. 2,000 bundles available from Beer Hawk. Please be Drinkaware.

£1 kids' books, eg, Disney's Frozen learning book (norm £6), Lego Movie book (£5). £10 min spend, £3 delivery, so best if stacking up. Scholastic summer sale

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 36mths 0%, 1.99% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR) 

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket.com*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Hitachi* 3.3% rep APR (2-5 yrs)
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs) 

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £12/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £19.23/mth

Ends Mon. £100 to switch + 2% bills cashback: RBS
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect

 

Too late to bag a summer package holiday bargain? No, now's perfect 

Eg, Crete, 7nts, 3-star self-catering, £235pp; or Bodrum, 7nts, 3-star B&B, £284pp - all incl flights & transfers

They may seem 1970s for some, but if you want 7, 10 or 14 days in traditional resorts then package holidays - literally a package of flights, hotels etc under one booking - can be cheapest. And we're now in the summer 'lates' period, where there's less choice but heavy discounts as tour operators try to flog unsold flight seats and hotel rooms. There's full info in our Cheap Package Holidays guide, here are some quick tips to make the savings soar...

  • Step 1. Find the cheapest price for 1,000s of package holidays in seconds. Comparison sites let you punch in your details to speedily give a planeload of deals. Try TravelSupermarket* for range, then Ice Lolly* as it adds a few that TravelSup misses. Also check flash-deals sites such as Holiday Pirates for barrrgains (sorry).

    - Don't care where you go? All above let you search 'any destination' for the cheapest.
    - Also check deals comparisons miss. Not all last-min deals are on comparisons so it's worth trying biggies such as BA Holidays, Thomas Cook* and Tui.

  • Step 2. Can you haggle? It's not what it was but it's worth a try. Getting on the phone to agents to haggle used to be a key weapon to slice prices. But we've found it isn't as effective now, though it's still worth a shot. See Holiday Haggling Tips for more help, and let us know your haggling successes in our forum.

  • Package holidays offer greater protection than doing it yourself - but when is a package not a package? If you book an official package that includes a flight you get full Govt-backed ATOL protection, so if a tour operator or hotel/flight etc provider goes bust or doesn't give what you paid for, you can get money back or a replacement.

    What's the definition of a package for protection purposes? For years, only holidays from agents sold as ready-made packages counted. But with the rise of the web, this has been gradually extended over the years. Now it's just been beefed up, so if you create a package by selecting elements separately on the same site and buy them in the same transaction, most bookings from last Sun are fully protected. Full info - incl limited DIY protection - in our Holiday Rights guide.

  • Also check if DIY wins. While we've explained where packages usually win, they don't always. So see our Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels and Cheap Car Hire guides for full help, whether booking a resort, city break & lots more. 
 
 HUGE £3,500 TRAVEL INSURANCE SAVING FOR CANCER SURVIVOR - SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: 

"I can't thank you enough. Using your info I've got reasonable travel insurance for me and my husband, a brain tumour survivor - £450, instead of £4k."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Karen Millen 20% off EVERYTHING code. MSE Blagged. Incl sale, ends Sun. Karen Millen

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How much of your shopping is done online? Since the turn of the year over 7,000 jobs have been lost following high street shop closures, and more are under threat as many switch to online shopping. How much do you shop online?

Giffgaff is a favourite among MoneySavers. Last week, we asked you to rate your mobile provider's customer service and coverage level. Over 7,500 responded and Giffgaff came top (of providers with 100+ votes), while TalkMobile claimed the wooden spoon. See full mobile network poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

My colleague is paid more to do the same job - what should I do? I just discovered my colleague is paid almost £5,000/yr more than me, yet we do exactly the same job and have similar levels of experience. Should I speak up? Enter the Money Moral Maze: My colleague is paid more - what should I do? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Wipe out savings paying off card?
- Competitions thread of the week: A trip for two to Lisbon & 32" Samsung full HD TV 
- Old-Style board thread of the week: How long could you go without buying clothes?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Small house & stay at home, or big house & keep working?
- Discussion of the week: What have you learned on your debt-free journey?

 

Thorntons - FREE ice cream via app
Tesco Direct - last chance up to 50% off clearance sale
Debenhams - up to 70% off 'Blue Cross' sale
Iceland - 10% off for emergency services personnel
Allergy & Free From Show - FREE tickets for this weekend

Burger King - meal deals via app, incl burger and fries £2
Pizza Express - 10%-25% off food
KFC - free side via app, incl hot wings, small popcorn chicken
Prezzo - 30% off food
Just Eat - 20%-30% off selected takeaways

England shirts - official replica shirts from £49
Takeaways & food - pizza deals, BBQ hampers and more
Free wall chart - printable in colour or black and white
Beer deals - cases of lager for £10 or less
Free cinema screenings - at 20+ Showcase venues

Quick Forum Tips

25% off 6 bottles of wine at Tesco. Grape news
Co-op £5 frozen meal deal. Chill out 
Free mojito at Slug & Lettuce in hot weather. Not a rum deal

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 4 JUL ONWARDS)

Thu 5 Jul - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 6 Jul - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 9 Jul - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 4 Jul - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Neil Smith, from 6pm
Fri 6 Jul 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 9 Jul - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 10 Jul - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: I'm on a fixed energy tariff but my supplier's just told me that my bill's going up £20/mth from now on. Do I have any rights? Nicky, via email.

MSE Steve B's A: This isn't the price going up - as rates don't change for the duration of a fixed tariff. It's likely to be the monthly direct debit rising. Suppliers usually estimate your annual use and divide equally across the year to work out monthly payments - so you pay the same in winter as in summer. Use more than predicted, though, and it may increase your direct debit to cover the higher bill.

You can ask your supplier not to increase payments, but if it's got it right, you may be hit later with a large bill. If it's got it wrong, however, it's definitely worth getting in touch. See our Energy Direct Debit guide for more help.

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

 

HAS THE BUBBLE BURST FOR YOUR SUMMER CELEBRATIONS?

That's all for this week, but before we go... a Europe-wide carbon-dioxide shortage has depleted UK beer, cider and fizzy pop supplies - in the middle of summer and the World Cup. Several producers of carbon dioxide - which puts the fizz into fizzy drinks and propels liquid in pub pumps - have closed for maintenance. So have you had no beer or bubbles during the World Cup or Wimbledon? Or is it all a froth over nothing? Let us know in our CO2 Crisis Facebook post. Remember to be Drinkaware.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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