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Weekly Email
This email was sent
07th Feb 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 This info may be out of date.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."

07 February 2018


ENDS 10PM THU. MSE Big Energy Switch Event 9 

- MSE Winner 1: Octopus - top-service cheap 1 year fix. 15,000 left
MSE Winner 2: EDF - cheapest big-name TWO-winter fix. 10,000 left

Our collective switch is where we ask energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs that slash your bills. 20,000 have switched so far, but the clock is ticking.

Being straight, the days of us beating the market's very cheapest are over, as we won't put our stamp on new tiddler suppliers with no track record and an inability to cope with big switch volumes (though of course we show you them when you compare).

The two MSE winners in a nutshell...

We've two FIXED tariffs, where your rate's locked, so you won't be hit by price rises. Around 60% of people are on a Big 6 standard tariff, paying on avg £1,130/yr (with typical use and on direct debit) - we use the same usage as a basis for all savings below. Our winners (full info later) are...

1) Winner: Top service with MSE backing. With typical use £861/yr, so £270 cheaper. Our Octopus 14mth collective fix is a top cheap fix with 90% 'great' customer service, plus enhanced service commitments.  

2) Winner: Big-name TWO-winter fix: With typical use £928/yr, so £400 cheaper over the two years. Our EDF two-winter collective fix lets you lock in the rate until March 2020 - great if you're worried about future price rises or don't want to switch every year.

The links take you to our Cheap Energy Club (use the same email address you use for this email to be eligible for them), and use our filters there to show similar tariffs (eg, top service / big name only) - do play with them.

Whatever you do, even if it's not with one of our deals, take some action - it's worth it. As Jess tweeted: "@MartinSLewis I think I love you. Your MoneySaving email on the Big Switch just saved me £30/mth [£360/yr]. I could kiss you." Though there's no need for the kiss, we feel a warm glow just at the savings.

How to pick the right deal for YOU

The explosion of new energy firms has made picking a new deal daunting. We want to help you through that. In practical terms switching isn't a biggie. No one visits your home. It's the same gas, same electricity, even the same safety - the only change is price and service.

This doesn't apply if you're on prepay or in N Ireland. For that see below...

  • The cheapest deals are from small firms with limited or poor feedback, but pay a bit more and you get extra peace of mind.
    - Cost with a small firm for typical usage: £807/yr
    - Find YOUR cheapest of these: 
    Your winner depends on location and usage. Do an Energy Club comparison of the whole market.

    You've told us your biggest energy switching turn-off was small firms you've not heard of. And sadly we've seen why. Firms launch with low prices, people pile in and they can't cope.

    Yet use our special 'Superb service' comparison, which filters out firms with less than a c. 70% 'great' rating (min 50 votes) in our latest service poll. There you're likely to see...

    - Tonik 1yr fix: £835/yr and scored 86% 'great' (154 votes)
    - Avro 1yr fix: £840/yr and scored 73% 'great' (176 votes)
    - Plus our winner below...

MSE Big Switch Winner 1: 
Octopus 14mth fix, 90% 'great' service' + MSE enhanced service. No early exit fees, typical cost £861/yr
 Only 15,000 switches left

The MSE Collective Octopus 14M Fixed tariff costs a typical £861/yr including £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback. Plus the rate (what you pay changes with usage though) is fixed for a little longer than its equivalents, 14mths rather than a year.

In our Nov poll its service rated a huge 90% 'great' (177 votes) and it's a very high 9.6/10 on review website Trustpilot. Plus it's agreed to our MSE bolstered customer service commitments incl dedicated contact details and special service briefings on this deal.

- It's available for dual fuel & elec-only, incl Economy 7.
- You get £25 dual-fuel (£12.50 elec-only) MSE cashback.
- You need to pay by monthly direct debit + get paperless billing.
- It IS PORTABLE - ie, it can move home with you.
- There are no early exit fees.
- You CAN'T get the Warm Home Discount.

  • Cheapest BIG-NAME tariffs - want a firm you've heard of?
    - Cost for typical usage: £861/yr (including MSE cashback)
    - Find YOUR cheapest of these: 
    Your winner depends on location and usage. Do an Energy Club 'Big Name' comparison.

    For those who want a name they know, the cheapest are currently Ovo Energy, which is £861/yr for typical use (incl MSE cashback), and First Utility, at £878/yr (incl cashback, only avail via us or MoneySupermarket).
  • Lock in LONGER to combat future price hikes and so you don't have to switch again.  
    - Cost for typical usage: £928/yr (including MSE cashback)
    - Find YOUR cheapest of these: 
    Your winner depends on location and usage. Do an Energy Club comparison BUT THEN select the tariff type filter for 18mths or longer fixes, though to find the cheapest two-winter fixes you'll need to scroll a little.

MSE Big Switch Winner 2: 
 EDF March 2020 fix, market's cheapest big-name TWO-WINTER fix   
Only 10,000 switches left 

The EDF Simply Fixed Mar20 is the cheapest big-name two-winter fix on the market and existing customers can get it too. Its average-use price is £928/yr including MSE cashback - the next cheapest big-name two-winter fix is £998/yr, incl MSE cashback. Our original number of switches has nearly gone, but we've managed to blag another 10,000.

It lets you lock in a cheap rate (what you pay changes with usage though) and forget about it till 31 March 2020 - great if you don't switch that often.

- Available for dual fuel & elec-only, incl Eco 7.
- You get £25 dual-fuel (£12.50 elec-only) MSE cashback.
- Pay by monthly direct debit or quarterly cash/cheque/DD.
- It IS PORTABLE - if you move home you can take it with you.
- Leave early & there are £70 dual-fuel exit fees (£35 single fuel).
- The core Warm Home Discount is available (ie, if you get it automatically).

PS: Small provider Engie has since launched a slightly cheaper 2yr fix - it'll show in your results when you do a comparison. 

  • Don't want to switch firm? Find YOUR PROVIDER'S cheapest. 
    - Cost for Big 6 typical usage: £883/yr - £1,017/yr (incl cashback)
    - How to find YOUR cheapest of these: 
    Use our Cheap Energy Club 'My Current Supplier' comparison which filters out all but your existing provider's best tariffs.

    EVERY Big 6 firm and many other providers have a cheaper deal than their standard tariff (EDF customers should look at the deal above). So while you SHOULD be switching suppliers for the best deals, if you won't, at least switch tariff with your current provider.

Want prepay, green tariffs or live in Northern Ireland? 

As usual, we tried to get deals for prepay and renewable tariffs and as usual no suppliers would give us (a decent) one.

- Prepay customers can still switch and save: Try our prepay comparison. Savings are smaller, typically £55/yr, but it could still be worth doing. For bigger savings see if you can switch to a credit meter. Full help in cut the cost of prepay energy.

- Want a green tariff? We didn't get any cheap green bidders this time. Yet do an Energy Club comparison and from the results, click '100% renewable' in the filters.

- Northern Ireland: No UK comparisons include NI, but see Cheap NI Electricity or the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland's tool.

Key energy switching info... 

For more, see the full Cheap Energy Club FAQs

Q. What info do I need to switch? It's best if you have a bill, and input kilowatt hours (kWh) into Cheap Energy Club, rather than cost. But DON'T WORRY if you don't know your usage; the tool can guesstimate for you. While the answer won't be perfect, it's usually far better than doing nowt.

Q. How does Cheap Energy Club work? It does 3 things:
1) We compare ALL market tariffs to show your price and saving.
2) You get £25 dual-fuel cashback (£12.50 single fuel) if we can switch you. It's paid roughly 90 days later.
3) We check for better deals. You set a 'trigger saving', eg, £150/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again.

Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Like all energy comparison sites, we're paid each time you switch through us, and we give you about half in cashback (money you don't get if you go direct). The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

Q. What happens if my supplier goes bust? New rules mean any credit is protected and your energy stays on as you'll be transferred to another supplier. However, you could lose any cheap deal you're on.

Your most common queries answered...

Q. Can I switch if I've a smart meter? Yes, but you may lose functionality. See Smart switch.
Q. How come it's put my price up when I'm fixed? 
The rate's fixed, but your bill depends on usage. See Unfair direct debits.
Q. How do I find the standing charge and kWh cost? 
They vary by region, so we display yours in the comparison result.
Q. Can I pick a date for the switch? 
No. Providers don't allow this.
Q. I'm in credit. 
You will get your credit back. See Reclaim credit.
Q. I'm in energy debt. You can usually switch while in energy debt.
Q. I've solar panels. You can still switch. See Solar info.
Q. Is monthly direct debit cheapest?
Yes, but do regular meter readings.
Q. Why do you show a different cost to my bill? Enter kWh and we show the avg each month, yet your direct debit's an estimate so can differ. Direct debit help.
Q. I have an independent gas transporter. 
You can still switch. See IGT help.

Aargh - 6.1% student loans. Plus, are you owed money back? 

Over to Martin: "Another stonking rating - 3.7m of you watched my 'PPI and £2 for a week's shopping' show on Monday (watch again online or the Sun morning ITV repeat) - thank you. Next Mon: 1) Should you panic or pay off 6.1% student loan interest? 2) Are you owed a student loan refund (even if you paid it off years ago)? 3) How to halve your broadband costs. Do watch or set your Betamax."


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Earn a HUGE 3%+ interest via auto-saving app

We tested Chip before Xmas, you like it, and our code smashes the top standard savings deals

Chip is an app we first featured in Dec that analyses your spending to put spare money away for you automatically. We asked for feedback, and most gave it a huge thumbs-up, eg, forumite pollypaws: "Love Chip. It takes £10 a week, no issues, no effort, thrilled by how much I've saved." So here are the pros (easy saving) and cons (not the usual savings protection), to help you decide whether to take advantage of our blagged rate. 

  • Chip app - get 3-5% interest for a year. Newbies who use our MSE3 code (6,800 avail) via the Chip app* get a min 3% interest on savings for a year (otherwise it's 0%). It then adds 1 percentage point for a year for every person you recommend who starts saving through it, up to a max 5%.
    Interest accrues weekly, is paid quarterly, and you can withdraw when you want. On rate alone it more than DOUBLES the 1.35% top easy-access savings.

     - How does Chip work? You give Chip 'read-only' access to your current account. It analyses your income and spending, then every 4-7 days calculates what you can afford to save, and moves that to a separate 'savings' account via direct debit. The average is £25 five times a month (max £100 a time, so £500/mth), but you can use its chatbot interface to move up to an extra £100/day manually, up to six times a month.

    - What if it makes me overdrawn? It says it shouldn't, but if it does it'll cover fees and pay £10 compensation - though you can choose to allow it to take you overdrawn (for example if you had a 0% overdraft).

    - Is it worth it? The rate's good, though it won't be right for all. While many like it, help us learn via more feedback.

  • Is my money safe? Chip's not a bank, and works with 'e-money provider' Prepaid Financial Services (PFS); both are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Your money is held in a ring-fenced Barclays account. If Chip or PFS went bust your money remains in Barclays together with any interest, though you may pay (likely v small) insolvency fees. In the unlikely event Barclays went bust, your money ISN'T protected so you'd lose it. 

    The high interest comes from its marketing budget, so we question how long it'll last. It hopes to gain market share then make money offering access to other services, such as overdrafts and credit cards. We've done checks, but there are risks with any new concept, so consider how much you want to save.

    Also, Chip's still waiting to be authorised by the FCA under new Open Banking rules. Until then, if money's taken from your main account fraudulently, banks could say you're liable. See our App-based banking guide for more.

  • Other options incl 5% regular savings. There are other auto-savers, including Plum which lets you invest your cash with peer-to-peer lender Ratesetter, or Moneybox, which invests in funds, but neither offer certain returns.
    Not for you? See our Top Savings and Regular Savings guides to earn up to 5% via conventional savings. 

New. Signed up for a Power of Attorney since 2013? ONE MILLION are owed a REFUND. If you paid to register one in Eng or Wales from Apr 2013-Mar 2017 you're due up to £54 back. See how to claim your refund. Related: How to get a Power of Attorney.

20,000+ FREE Ideal Home Show London tix, norm £16-£22 (& Martin's there too). Sat 17 Mar - Mon 2 Apr. How to bag free Ideal Home Show tix.

Stop press. Bank switch war intensifies - NEW £125 bonus, or bag up to £200. Yesterday Halifax upped its switch bonus from £75 to £125 and it pays an ongoing £3/mth. It's one of plenty of bank switch freebies to choose from incl... HSBC up to £200 |  Natwest £125 + 2% bills cashback | First Direct £125 + top service | M&S £125 gift card + £5/mth. Full switching help and eligibility criteria in Best Bank Accounts.

'I won £250 of prizes from my hospital bed.' As MSE's Jordon Cox takes an enforced break from couponing due to Crohn's Disease, he shares his top comping tips after his success. Related: 41 Comping Tips.

New. FREE & cheap sanitary products, incl tampons. Via samples, comparison sites and more. See our new guide on how to get cheap tampons etc.

10% off, incl 2.5L Fairy liquid for 90p (£5ish at supermarkets) and 400g Nutella 90p (£2 elsewhere). MSE Blagged. Our code makes everything 90p instead of, er, £1. Delivery's £5, so best for bulk buys. Ends Mon. 10% off


'£900 off my home insurance' - prices up 5%, how to beat the hikes

Costs continue to rise yet our tried and tested steps can help you slash premiums 

We love to share giant savings successes, and Charlotte's is pertinent with home insurance prices up: "I was paying £89/mth for buildings and contents, used your home insurance section and found a better policy for £14/mth. Incredible saving [that's £900/yr]. Thanks." So if you've auto-renewed (tut) or blindly accepted your bank or mortgage firm's deal (doh) you're likely overpaying. Our Cheap Home Insurance guide has full deets, here are the foundations... 

  • Step 1. NEVER auto-renew. Combine comparison sites to get 100s of quotes in minutes. They zip your details to dozens of insurers and brokers at once. Yet they don't all search the same firms and can even have different prices for the same insurer. So it's best to combine a few for a wider range. Our current order's MoneySupermarket*, Compare The Market*, Gocompare* and* (see full order and why).

  • Step 2. Check insurers NOT on comparison sites. Two biggies, Direct Line* and Aviva*, won't appear on them. They're worth checking as they can be competitive - while as you can see below Direct Line has a decent freebie.

  • Step 3. Then find the HOT deals price comparisons miss, eg, £60 Amazon vch. We list deals you won't find on comparison sites for combined buildings and contents cover. We're not saying they win every time but are worth checking. It worked out nicely for Ian: "Just received £50 Co-op vouchers after taking out home insurance. Thanks MSE."  Vouchers normally take 3-4 mths to arrive. Full info in our promos not on comparisons list.

    - £60 Amazon voucher. MSE Blagged. When you get an Insure4Retirement* policy via this link.
    - £50 Co-op food voucher. When you get a Co-op* policy via this link.
    - £40 Amazon voucher. MSE Blagged. When you get a Direct Line* policy via this link.

  • Ensure you get the right type of cover...
    - BUILDINGS cover (usually only needed by freeholders). Many overinsure by covering their home's market value. Instead the rebuild cost counts (ie, how much to rebuild if it were knocked down). Use a rebuild calculator to check.
    - CONTENTS insurance (everyone). Don't underinsure - if you cover £10k of possessions but have £20k, if you later try to claim for a £1,000 TV, you may only get £500. Use a contents calculator to check you're properly covered.
Romance is great, but over-commercialised pressure to show your love ain't. Yet if you want to spend, THIS WEEK is usually the time deals are on - discounts run low in Valentine's week. But don't overspend - and try our Valentine's gift cheques to give without spending.

Cheap dozen roses: £5 in stores, £20 couriered. See our Valentine's roses round-up.
Cheap food: Dine in for two from £15 at Asda etc + restaurant deals, incl Pizza Express. See our Valentine's dine-in and restaurant deals.
Cheap cinemas: £1.50ish gets 2for1 tix FOR A YEAR, incl on Valentine's Day. See our cinema trick.
Lots more, incl cheap gifts, booze & cards. We'll update our Valentine's 2018 deals guide as deals roll in.

15% off Travelodge. Book by Fri for up to 5-night stays from Thu 15 Feb - Wed 4 Apr. Some exclusions. Travelodge code

Naked Wines £35 for 7 bottles incl prosecco + 2 glasses. MSE Blagged. Usually £78 for the plonk alone. 1,000 cases avail for new custs. Naked Wines. Pls be Drinkaware.


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Longest 0%: Barclaycard* up to 37mths 0%, 1.85% 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. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-7yrs)

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


 Take Martin's 2-minute direct debit challenge. Can you save £1,000s? 

Are you committing the 'I know I'll never use it but...' or worse the 'I'd no clue I was still paying for that' sin?

They're easy, hassle-free, convenient and somewhat dangerous. Direct debits, standing orders and little-known recurring payments let cash slip from your account, without you doing owt, so it's important to keep on top of them. Take my 2-min direct debit challenge to see if you're wasting cash. And let us know what you find. There are two main sins...

  • Type I: 'I know I'll never use it but...' Many people sign up for things they don't use, but keep 'em just in case. Don't think of the monthly cost, think of it annually - it could be Netflix, mag subscriptions, dating sites or anything. The big one is gyms, as Sarah emailed: "I was paying £30/mth for a gym I never used. Cancelled it, saving £360/yr. Happy days." You don't get fit just paying for a gym, only by going. So if you don't go, gain pounds (financially) by cancelling.

  • Type II: 'I'd no clue I was still paying for that...' Worse is paying for pointless things. I mentioned this while rehearsing my live TV show recently - one of the cameramen then checked and admitted: "Aargh... I'm still paying £1,000s in council tax on my OLD house." I've heard of insurance products for old mobile phones, or white goods long since dumped, still being paid for too. A terrible waste.

  • How to do the checks. Go through all your regular payments and ask yourself: "Do I need it, is it worth it, could I pay less for it?" If not, provided you're out of contract, cancel it (see how to check if you can cancel). If you find firms you haven't heard of, Google is your friend, and if it can't help, call your bank. Here's how to locate payments:

    - Bank accounts list direct debits & standing orders. It's easy if you bank online - there'll be a page that lists all standing orders and direct debits. If not just ask for a printout in your branch.

    - Check for hidden recurring payments. Often used for payday loans, gaming subscriptions and 'blue' sites (the only term I can write that doesn't hit spam filters). Here instead of giving your bank details you gave a debit or credit card long number, and the firm set up a subscription. They're hard to spot as there's no list of them (see apps that can help).

    Years ago the rules used to be that you could only cancel recurring payments via the company you were paying, not via the bank/card. That changed in 2009, though some bank staff still quote it. If so, be assured you have a right to cancel with your bank. For full help, see how to STOP recurring payments.

How a tipple on holiday could cost you £100s. Seemingly innocuous stuff many of us do can mean travel insurance claims are rejected. See 8 travel insurance no-nos.

 "I haggled my mobile contract from £51/mth to £14/mth using MSE's tips - plus got 20% more 4G data."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£27 health & superfoods box (with £65ish worth of products). MSE Blagged. Via 25% off code for one-off Marie Claire box that's gluten-free and you can make it vegan. Health food box



Will you spend on Valentine's? If so, how much? Depending on your view... either love is in the air on Valentine's Day, or we're all victims of a commercial construct to push us to pay money to demonstrate our affection. So let's see how much you're planning to spend. Will you spend on Valentine's? If so, how much?

Most of you DON'T have a will. In last week's poll, we asked if you have a will and if not, why not. Of the 7,935 people who voted, only 38% have a will, and of those, almost a third aren't up to date. Perhaps unsurprisingly, having a will is more common among older groups with 67% of over-65s having one, compared with just 8% of under-25s. Interestingly, the two most popular reasons for being will-less were "not knowing where to start" and "not getting round to it". See full do you have a will? poll results.



Should I keep a refund for a ticket my employer paid for? My employer pays for my train tickets to travel to work as part of my benefits. I travel during my own time and recently made a successful claim for a delay. Should I keep this money or give it to my employer given it paid for the ticket? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I keep a refund for a ticket my employer paid for? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What helps you get out of debt?
- Competitions thread of the week: It's that hummingbird time again
- Old-Style board thread of the week: What are you making for dinner?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Have you dealt with a care home after a loved one's death?
- Discussion of the week: School uniform policy, is it going too far? 


Baileys - 1L bottle £12 (norm £20)
Lancome - £85 of make-up & skincare for £27ish
Iceland - free £4 of pancake ingredients with £5 pan
Active 10 - free NHS fitness app
Merlin - 1-yr theme parks pass £129 (norm £179)

Greggs - Valentine's Day £15 dine-in meal for two
Frankie & Benny's - 50% off mains (Wed only)
Carluccio's - main courses 2for1 for £1 (ends Thu)
Bella Italia - 50% off mains (ends Fri)
Free food - mystery dine at Wagamama, Giraffe and more

Nails Inc - £93ish of nail polish for £18 delivered
Thorntons - free personalised chocolate heart via O2
Cornerstone - shaving set £14 all-in (norm £36)
Cheap perfume - eg, £18 Vera Wang Princess
Valentine's cards - from 89p at Aldi

Quick Forum Tips

25% off Sainsbury's Tu. Suits Tu
FREE Gourmet Gold cat food. Me-wow
FREE tickets to Glasgow vegan show. Lettuce go



Thu 8 Feb - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 9 Feb - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. See previous
Mon 12 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. See previous


Wed 7 Feb - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 9 Feb
BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Valentine's deals
Mon 12 FebTalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.30am
Tue 13 Feb - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I have built up credit with my energy supplier. What happens if it folds? Is my money lost? Tony, via email.

MSE Steve B's A: Your credit is protected. Energy regulator Ofgem has a 'safety net' in place, meaning if your supplier fails it appoints a new supplier to take over your energy and the credit would transfer over to it. The new supplier would likely use the credit to reduce your future bills, but it could pay it back to you. If you decide to leave, any outstanding credit would be paid back once your final bill is settled.

This protection was triggered last month when 10,000 customers of Future Energy were taken on by Green Star Energy after the former ceased trading. See our Cheap Gas & Electricity guide for more info on the safety net.

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



So that's it for this week, but before we go... after a New York bar banned people from using the word 'literally', which word or phrase 'totally' drives you up the wall? 'To be honest', as you may have guessed from our newsletters, we're 'cool' with a variety of puns and phrases. But what words and expressions grate on you? Head on over to our Facebook 'annoying words' thread and, 'like', share your suggestions.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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