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Weekly Email
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07th Dec 2016
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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07 December 2016
Urgent. Lock in £185/yr cheaper energy for 2 winters
Ending. Free £100 TSB switch bribe
'Free' 500 Tesco pts & more tricks
Pay over £10/mth for a mobile? STOP
It's here - £30 Soap & Glory gift set
Ending. Free Euro travel insurance with Nationwide current account
Cheap Easyjet seats released on Thu
Warning: Got a big lump sum from savings or a house sale?
Topman flash 31% off EVERYTHING
Hot Diamonds EXTRA 40% off code
Designer sunnies code - £52 Ray-Bans
£10-£40 West End theatre tix sale
Ends Thu: Free Santa letters
Return goods for free with PayPal
£25 for 80-pg A4-ish photo book
Amex £5 back with small shops

Urgent. Lock in £185/yr cheaper energy for TWO winters with a no price hike promise (only 10,000 available)

- Sort your energy NOW - we've blagged a deal that protects from price rises not just for this winter, but the next too
- Don't fall for British Gas's and others' standard tariff price freeze hype
- Freezes only last to spring & they're still £200/yr MORE than cheapest

British Gas, E.on, SSE and some smaller suppliers have announced energy price freezes till the end of winter. Yet if you're one of the 66% on one of their standard tariffs they're typically freezing you at £200/yr MORE than the cheapest.

And while these freezes are just for a few months, the best fixes last at least a year, or even longer. So take control, and at a much cheaper rate - which protects you from standard price rises we expect next spring. And if they happen, the savings will be even greater.

While the savings above are based on typical use, some save MUCH more, eg, Emily, who tweeted: "Thank you @MartinSLewis & @MoneySavingExp. Just switched my parents' gas bill through your site - saved them £780/yr."

Urgent. Cheap fix for two winters + £30 cashback - 10,000 available. Let's be straight, prices are on the up. In the last two months alone, the cheapest deal has gone from £744/yr to £858/yr, and it's predicted to continue rising.

But we've blagged a dual-fuel tariff from Flow Energy that most will see if you do a Cheap Energy Club comparison ASAP. It's £877/yr on typical use, only £19/yr more expensive than the best 1yr fix. You do, however, get to lock in for two winters, not just one; and you get £30 cashback via our Cheap Energy Club.

This isn't a collective switch (where a trusted intermediary such as a council or us negotiates a special deal for users) but we think it's the next best thing, and as there are only 10,000 available, they'll likely go quick. The key facts:

- It's available for new customers only.
- You get £30 dual-fuel cashback from Cheap Energy Club.
- As it's a fix, the rate (not cost, that depends on use) is fixed until 31 March, 2018.
- It's available for dual-fuel only (ie, gas & elec together) incl Eco 7.
- You must pay by monthly direct debit.
- Leave early and there's a £20/fuel exit fee.
- The switch of your supply will happen at some point from 1 Jan.
- You can't take it with you if you move home but there are no exit fees if you do relocate.
- It's also on MoneySup (we're part of the same group) but nowhere else, yet there you don't get the cashback.

How it compares for someone with typical usage
Avg price on Ofgem typical dual-fuel direct-debit use (varies by region)

Typical cost: Current avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,063/yr
MSE Special: Flow Energy March 2018 fix: £877yr + £30 cashback, £20/fuel exit fee
Cheapest open-market 1yr fix: So Energy: £858/yr - no cashback, £5/fuel exit fee
Cheapest bigger provider with good service: First Utility 1yr fix: £929/yr - £30 cashback, £30/fuel exit fee
Cheapest 2yr fix: First Utility: £999/yr - £30 cashback, £50/fuel exit fee

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

Who is Flow? It's a small provider, but not a tiddler; it works with Shell, and its cust feedback was 77% 'great' in our last survey.
Check NOW to see if you're on one of these standard tariffs. They're MASSIVELY expensive, so check your bill now, and if you are - ACT.

- British Gas Standard
- EDF Standard (Variable)
- E.on Energy Plan
- Npower Standard
- Scot Power Standard
- SSE Standard Energy

If you've never switched or haven't done so in the last year, chances are (unless you did and opted for a longer fix) you're on one of the above, paying far too much. Do a full market comparison via MSE's free Cheap Energy Club now to see how much you could save, and even if you don't want to swap provider, some can still save big by switching to their current provider's cheapest fix.
Save £280/yr if you have prepay. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay, and the Big 6 have stopped charging to swap you to one - though most require a credit check. Some small suppliers also offer this for free (though not all). If you're on a standard prepay tariff with the Big 6, with typical use, you're paying £1,137/yr. So switching to the cheapest standard meter fix can save £279/yr on average use. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec help for full info.
Switching's quick, easy and can save £100s/yr. Many wrongly think switching's a hassle, yet it's the same electricity, same gas and same safety - only service, billing and price change. For most, it takes just 5-10 mins to fill out their details on our Cheap Energy Club.

Just grab a recent bill for your annual usage (if you don't have one, we can estimate), enter your details and we give a full market comparison. Select a tariff, fill in the switching form and you're done - your energy supply should switch in 3-4 weeks - they do the work behind the scenes. Pete did it: "Saving £160 a year, took 5 mins max."

- Elec or gas only? Don't worry, you can still switch, though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the 'Edit details' section.

Energy switching FAQs

Last week, we asked you to send in your energy queries. We've had loads, and here are some of the big ones:

Q. Is it safe to switch to a smaller supplier? Some of the cheapest deals are with smaller suppliers, including the Flow Energy one above, and after small supplier GB Energy went bust, there's a chance we'll see more smaller firms fail. Don't let that put you off, as if you go to a small firm and the worst happens, Ofgem rules now mean there's little risk (as we saw with GB Energy). Your credit is protected and your energy stays on as you're transferred to another supplier - you may just need to find a new cheap tariff.

Q. Why should I move to a long fix, when a 1yr is cheaper? This is all about your choice and appetite for risk. Go with a 1yr fix, and you're risking that prices will have risen by the time it comes to an end, meaning you'll have to fix again at a higher rate. Lengthier fixes are normally more expensive, yet you protect yourself for longer. Ultimately it's your choice, and as we always say, we can't predict the future.

Q. Does your Cheap Energy Club ALWAYS shows the whole market? Yes. Some comparison sites show you tariffs you can switch to via them (ie, where they're paid commission) by default. This filters out some results - Cheap Energy Club shows you ALL available tariffs by default.

Q. Can I expect another MSE collective switch soon? We'll try. We're aiming to run another MSE Big Switch - where we get energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs - early next year, but we can't promise anything.

We tried running one last month and opened two bidding windows for suppliers to beat the market's cheapest. But even with our power, no firm would commit - and as we've always said, if it isn't cheapest, we don't put our name to it.

Q. What happens if I want to move home? Not all suppliers let you transfer fixed deals to a new property. So it's best to check with your supplier to see if it's possible.

Q. Is it cheaper to pay by direct debit? Suppliers charge around 6% less if you pay this way. Always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills. If you estimate, you could end up with overly inflated monthly payments or face a bill shock if you've not paid enough. Think it's too high? You've a right to challenge it - see Fight Unfair Energy Direct Debits.

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Ending. Free TSB £100 plus £5/mth cashback and 3% interest

Free bank switch cash incentives are key to getting a better deal but one of the most popular is being pulled

Bank switching's easy & hassle-free say 76% in a Twitter poll of those who have used seven-working-day switching since its 2013 launch. Banks close your old account, move direct debits & standing orders & auto-forward payments. So unless your bank treats you like a king, start switching. Here are the top free cash offers (all require a credit check)...

  • BankingEnds 11.59pm Sun. Free £100, £5/mth cashback & 3% interest (5% until Jan). Switchers to TSB's Classic Plus* who apply by Sunday get £100 via that link (not direct) a month or two after the switch. Whether you apply before or after that cut-off, you'll still get 5% cashback on up to £100/mth contactless debit card spending (ie, max £5/mth) till Sep 2017 and 3% interest on up to £1.5k (5% on £2k until Jan).

    Who can get these perks? You must go via the official switching service, switch two direct debits, pay in £500+/mth (starting within 28 days of switching), be registered for paperless statements and internet banking and log in at least once a year. See full TSB eligibility. Plus, ensure you allow cookies in your browser or the offer might not track.

  • More free £100 switch bribes, incl on top customer service account. TSB's isn't the only hot free cash offer in town, lots more in our Best bank accounts guide, here are the other scorchers (you must use all these banks' switching services to get the deals below)...

    - Free £100 + no.1 service. First Direct* gives you £100 about one month after paying in your first £1k. It's won every customer service poll we've done, plus you get a £250 0% overdraft and can put up to £300/mth in its 5% fixed regular saver. You must pay in £1,000/mth (equiv to £13,100 salary) or face a £10/mth fee.
    - Free £100 M&S gift card + £10/mth. M&S Bank* gives the gift card within a month of switching, plus each month you deposit £1,000, it adds £10/mth to the card for a year. The account comes with a £100 0% overdraft & 5% fixed regular savings on up to £250/mth. You must switch two direct debits and they must pay out at least once every 13 months to keep it all.
    - Free £100 + £3/mth. Halifax pays the £100 by the time the switch completes and gives you £3 each month you're in credit (£5 until Feb), as long as you pay in £750/mth & pay out two direct debits/mth. It may give a 6mth 0% overdraft, but beware its expensive £1-£3/day fees after that.

Soap & Glory 'The Whole Glam Lot' gift set £30 (norm £60) - from Fri. It's happening just when we said it would in our Xmas Deals Predictor. Incl lip gloss & body lotion. Soap & Glory

Ending. Free European travel insurance on Nationwide current account. Nationwide's axing this long-running perk, but you can still get it if you sign up by 11.59pm on Wed 14 Dec. Beat Nationwide insurance axe

Easyjet AUTUMN seats release from Thu - is this the cheapest time to book? Happens five times a year - and this is the booking time for Sep/Oct 2017, incl Oct half term. Easyjet tricks

Warning: Got a big lump sum from savings or a house sale? Many banks may refuse to let you take money out. See Martin's Savings Prisoners blog.

Topman flash 31% off EVERYTHING trick. Wed only. It's all about combining a code with an online sale. Topman

Hot Diamonds extra 40% off 'up to 50%' sale code, eg, £60 earrings £18. MSE Blagged. Big discounts on already reduced women's jewellery. Ltd stock. Free del. Ends Sun. Hot Diamonds

The Martin Lewis Money Show, 8pm Mon, ITV
Over to Martin... "A huge 3.8m watched Monday's married, kids & students show, thank you. Next Mon (12 Dec), how to make up to £1,000 by switching banks, a warning for Vodafone customers, a week's groceries for £2.90 and more. You can't afford to miss it, so do watch or set the Betamax."


- Hot Diamonds extra 40% off sale code Ends Sun

- Designer sunnies code, eg, £52 Ray-Bans Ends Sun

- £25 for 80-page A4-ish photo book Ends 31 Jan

- £6 all-in hardy perennial plants (norm £26ish) Ends Tue

- £25 all-in Nails Inc collection (norm £100ish) 1,400 avail


- Is your 50p worth £65? How to check

- Full breakdown cover: £43/yr for you & spouse

- 8,000 'free' Megabus tickets (50p booking fee)

- To protect mental health this email won't be sent 12-5am

- Buy £25 real Ikea Xmas tree, get £20 vch

'Free' 500 Tesco Clubcard pts & 4 more tricks

Plus find forgotten vouchers and make 'em last longer. Top tips if you're one of its 16m members

It's one of the most popular loyalty schemes in the UK, and as 'every little helps' we're always looking for new tricks to boost or max your points. There's a trolley-load of tips in our Boost Tesco Clubcard Points guide. Here are a few to whet your appetite...

  • TescoNew. 500 'free' Clubcard points (worth up to £20) via new way to pay. A Tesco app lets you pay and collect points via a single scan of your mobile in 1,400 of its 2,600 stores. The first five times you do so you can grab a total of 500 points. Check how and where you can get the 'free' Clubcard boost.

  • Find £100s of lost Tesco vouchers. Speedily check if you can reclaim lost/unused Tesco pts. Anna V's is still one of the biggest successes we've seen: "WOW - I've got £413 of unspent vouchers... Ridiculously excited."

  • Quadruple your points' value. You can swap vouchers for up to 4x their value. So £10 becomes £40 at places incl Café Rouge, Pizza Express and London Zoo. For best value, see our Tesco Clubcard Boost top 10 rewards.

  • New. Vouchers due to expire? We've uncovered a crafty way to renew them. They usually last two years but if you're saving up for something or just aren't sure what to use them on yet, try the Tesco vch extension trick.

  • Max your points collecting. You can add to your stash by answering surveys and giving insurance renewal dates. Earn Tesco points without spending.

Designer sunnies 25% off code, eg, £52 Ray-Bans (norm £98). MSE Blagged. It's the best time to buy 'em, as they don't sell well in winter. Plus £47 Armani (norm £113). Ltd stock, ends Sun. Sunnies

£10-£40 West End theatre tix sale incl Les Mis & Wicked. Jan/Feb dates. 100,000 avail. London Theatre

Hurry: Free Santa letters. Send him a request by Thu latest to get there by Fri (stamp needed). Free letters from Santa

How to return goods for free with PayPal. It'll refund postage costs on up to 4 eligible returns till the end of the year. Max £15/rtn. See PayPal postage reclaim.

£25 for 80-page A4-ish photo book code (next cheapest £35). MSE Blagged. Act fast for Xmas. Photo deals

Amex cardholders get £5 cashback at 1,000s of local shops. Register & spend £10+ at selected local shops, restaurants etc before Sun 18 Dec and you'll get £5 credit (max once per retailer). See Amex Shop Small.

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Pay more than £10/mth for your mobile? STOP

If you're happy with your handset, we've some hot cost-cutting tips incl a scorching Sim

Many pay scarily high monthly sums for their mobile, often when paying off a handset. But you can often make HUGE savings after the contract ends, if it's nearly up, or if you're on a 30-day rolling plan, rather than accepting an expensive deal. Just keep your handset and switch to a cheap Sim-only deal. Full help in 30 Cheap Mobile Tips but in brief...

  • Use free tools to analyse your usage so you get the right tariff. Overestimate and you overpay for the contract; underestimate and you throw money down the drain in costly extras. Yet there are two web tools that analyse your bills to see how much you really use. They're Billmonitor* (detailed but doesn't do Giffgaff, Virgin or BT Mobile) and MobilePhoneChecker* (less detailed but incl more networks).

  • SimNew. £10/mth for unltd mins & texts, 4GB of 4G data. Our benchmark is a top new Sim-only deal we've blagged from BT-owned Plusnet Mobile*. It uses the EE network (see network piggybacking) and it's a 30-day rolling contract for new & existing Plusnet Mobile customers (though the latter group must call to get it). It's the cheapest standard deal right now we've seen for this usage level. Of course, you may need more data but 4GB's plenty for most. See full Sim top picks.

  • £10/mth PAYG deals - best if you've a poor credit score. You need good credit to get a contract - if not, pay-as-you-go can win. See top picks incl £10/mth for 300 mins, unltd texts and 2GB of 4G data in cheap PAYG.

  • Haggle, haggle, haggle... Out of contract or nearly so? You wield a powerful weapon - loyalty. Ask your network to match or beat the best deal you can find elsewhere & say you'll leave if it won't. Of those who tried to haggle, here are the success rates in our most recent poll: Vodafone 82%, EE 70%, Three 63%, O2 55%. Full tips in Mobile Haggling. As Julian tweeted: "10 minutes haggling [with Three] slashed £30/mth down to £16/mth."

  • Want a new phone? Buy upfront + a cheap Sim usually wins. Full help, incl how to spread the cost interest-free, in buying a handset.

£6 all-in hardy perennial plants (norm £26ish). MSE Blagged. Varieties incl echinacea, lupin, nerine lily. Ends Tue, 10,000 avail. Thompson & Morgan

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"My father-in-law suffered from Parkinson's disease for 12 years prior to his passing - my mother-in-law has now been successful in getting £1,400 back in council tax. Thanks Martin and all at MSE."

£25 all-in Nails Inc nail polish set (norm £100ish). MSE Blagged. Incl snowflake & glitter effects. 1,400 avail


Are debt worries on your mind? If so, in the run-up to Christmas, National Debtline is urging you to get in touch. Its 'Feels Like Christmas' campaign aims to help ease your worries so you can enjoy the festivities. Its debt advice is free and you can talk to someone on the phone or via webchat.


If you could cancel Christmas, would you? It conjures a picture of family, fun and festive frivolity for some, and stress, debt and chores for others. So if you had a CANCEL CHRISTMAS button that'd make the whole thing disappear, would you press it?

Yes, cancel Christmas
No, bring it on

See a penny, pick it up? Last week, we asked what amount of money you'd bother to stop and pick up if you found it on the floor. A majority of you - 60% to be precise - are truly MoneySaving and would bend down for a penny, while 5% are more discerning (or lazy...) and would only pick up £1 or more. Full breakdown in the Pick up a penny? poll results.


- Top story: Labour peers fight 'grossly unfair' retrospective student loan hike

- Rail fares to rise by an average of 2.3% from January - act now to beat the hike

- Sky Mobile is coming - here's how it works and what it'll cost

- Shoppers to be able to split credit card payments at the till - but you may end up paying a packet

- Paid a hidden fee to a care home? The market watchdog wants to hear from you

- MBNA to slash credit card benefits next month - redeem your reward points by end of March

- MP campaigns for child funeral costs to be paid by Government

- Savers to get help finding top interest rates under new transparency rules


How do I tell my mum to stop spending? I lent my parents money to pay a large unexpected bill, to be repaid from an upcoming inheritance they'll receive, so I haven't got it back yet. Since then my mother has been constantly spending on 'little bits', plus some furniture costing a third of what they owe me. I feel it's disrespectful and taking advantage, as I've not been paid back yet - what should I tell her? Enter the Money Moral Maze: How do I tell my mum to stop spending? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: GirlupNorth commits to a fresh 'debt-free' diary for 2017
- Competitions thread of the week: Win an ice-hotel break in Sweden
- Old-style board thread of the week: What things are better to make than to buy?
- Discussion of the week: Should I give my cleaner a Christmas bonus when she is having a long holiday?


Thu 8 Dec - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 9 Dec - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 12 Dec - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 12 Dec - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 12 Dec - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. View previous


Wed 7 Dec - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 7 Dec - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 8 Dec - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 9 Dec - BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 13 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm


Q: I want to buy a dress as a Christmas present for my other half from a high street store but I'm worried I'll pick the wrong size. Will she be able to take it back if needed? Lenny, by email.

Megan FrenchMSE Megan's A: Not necessarily, as you have no LEGAL right to return something bought in a shop, unless it's faulty.

However, some shops will have a more generous returns policy, and some extend this further to cover the Christmas period (though often not for sale items). But this will vary by company so always check before buying - and remember it's NOT a legal right.

You have many more rights when buying online, when you can usually return stuff for whatever reason but only if you inform the store within 14 days. See Consumer Rights for more info.

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

How to spruce up the most ridiculed Christmas present of the lot

That's it for this week, but before we go... Many joke about their despair at yet again receiving socks on the big day. But our forumites have found a way to jazz up that old favourite, plus they've loads more tips to beat the lure of shops urging us to part with large chunks of cash in favour of low-cost alternatives. See them and share your ideas in the Low-Cost Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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