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08th Nov 2017
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 12m who get it each week."

08 November 2017
         
 


 

Credit card crackdown: 0% lengths shrinking - if you've debts, sort them NOW 


Last week's base rate rise was the death knell for record balance transfer cards. Six months ago you could shift debt from a credit or store card to 0% for up to 43mths. A week ago it was 39mths, and only yesterday this dropped to 38mths.

Meanwhile, millions who pay interest will pay even more as card giants including Barclaycard, Lloyds and Halifax are increasing APRs following the base rate rise.

So everyone with existing debts on credit cards should try to cut costs NOW, while the current deals last. Here's how...

  1. A balance transfer cuts the costs of existing card debt. You get a new card that pays off existing store/credit card debt, so you owe it instead but at 0%, making you debt-free quicker, as repayments cover debt, not interest. So unless you've a special deal on your card, you'll almost certainly be able to save.  

  2. Check which cards YOU'LL get. For most with ongoing debt, the challenge is being accepted for a new card. Our Balance Transfer 0% Eligibility Calculator lets you home in on the right one, by showing which 0% deals you're most likely to get.

    As Kelly told us: "Legend. Used the eligibility calc, got 35mths 0% and shifted £11,000 from 29.9%. Shocked by the savings." 

  3. The best-buy balance transfers. Here are today's chart toppers...

TOP 0% NEW-CARDHOLDER BALANCE TRANSFERS
CARD
0% LENGTH (APR AFTER 0% ENDS)
TRANSFER FEE (1) + CASHBACK
Longest 0% balance transfers
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest 0%
Up to 38mths (19.9%)
1.4% (2)
Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) - Top non-'up to'
38mths (20.9%)
1.5%
Long low-fee cards
Lloyds (eligibility calc / apply*) -Long low fee + cashback 
Up to 33mths (18.9%)
0.57% + £20 on £100+ shifts (2) (3)
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Not an 'up to' 
33mths (18.9%)
0.59% (2)
M&S Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Non-'up to' + cashback 
32mths (18.9%)
0.99% (min £5) + £20 on £100+ shifts
 Cards with NO FEE
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest NO FEE
28mths (18.9%)
None (2)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Backup long NO FEE 
Up to 26mths (19.9%)
None (3)
(1) % of debt shifted. (2) You pay a higher fee and are refunded to this level. (3) You could get a deal where you pay a higher fee if you've a poorer credit score. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).


Top tips for picking the right card


- Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most charge a one-off fee on the amount of debt transferred (so 1.4% is £14 per £1,000). Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

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

- Transferring less than £3,500? Lloyds may win over no-fee cards. Even though it has a fee, the £20 cashback will cancel it out and put you in profit.  

  1. Should I apply with just a 60% eligibility calculator chance? It's a common query, and 60% is decent odds as over half get accepted. A story may help...

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

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

    Equally, even a 95% score means 1 in 20 gets rejected.

  2. You can shift store card debts to 0% as well. These are just credit cards you can only use in one store (or group of stores), but with far costlier interest. Eg, New Look's is 28.9% rep APR, the Argos card is 29.9%. But you can also balance-transfer store card debt, so follow the tips above.

  3. You can sometimes use existing cards to move debt where it's cheapest. This is the Credit Card Shuffle. In a nutshell, if you've two or more cards, check their rates, then aim to move debt to where it's cheapest. Eg, if card A is 18.9% and B is 34.9%, ask if you've any credit limit left on card A, then ask to shift debt to it from B, up to the limit. If you ask, some providers (eg, Barclaycard and MBNA) may offer existing cardholders special cheap rates to do this.

  4. The Balance Transfer GOLDEN RULES. Getting the right card's only half the job...

    a) Clear the card or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay the high APR.
    b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
    d) You must usually do the transfer within 60/90 days. 

  5. Common balance transfer questions (& the answers too, obvs)...
    - How does the balance transfer happen? Put your old card details on the application form and the new card provider does the rest.
    - Can it clear multiple cards? Yes, if the new credit limit's big enough.
    - How big will the credit limit be? That's a toughie: so far we've no way to know what the limit will be for each card, and it can vary.
    - My credit limit is not big enough. What should I do? Balance-transfer as much of the most expensive debt you can. When done, apply for another card for the rest; fingers crossed you're accepted. Note, each subsequent application can get more difficult as each marks your credit file.
    - Can I transfer the whole credit limit? 
    Usually not. Most let you do 90%-95%, as they want to leave room for you to spend (avoid that).
    - Should I use savings to clear the debt instead? If it's costly debt this is usually the best plan. See our Repay Debt With Savings? guide.

  6. Can't sleep because of your debts? This isn't for you. Forget the above and get free, one-on-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, CAP, StepChange or National Debtline. They are there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Help.

 
 

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If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via moneysavingexpert.com/tips

 

 
 

Savers, you're still being screwed - shift to earn up to 2%

The base rate rose last week but most savings rates have moved about as much as Santa on Boxing Day

Be warned. Last week's base rate rise - from 0.25% to 0.5% - doesn't mean YOUR savings rate will follow. In fact, only seven of the 31 banks and building societies we've contacted have confirmed they will up rates, and even then most are from pitifully low levels. Yet there are still decent deals to be had. So if you've a pants account paying less than 1%, ditch it. Here are the current top deals... All accounts below have £85,000 per person UK savings protection.

  • post officeGet 1.3% easy access. The top payer is Lloyds-owned Birmingham Midshires at 1.3% AER variable for deposits from £1. It hasn't gone up yet, but if it does you'll still benefit, and because it's easy access, if better rates come along you can shift to them. It only lasts a year though, so diarise to switch. 

  • New. Get 1.95% fixed if you lock your cash away for a year. The top 1yr fixed rates have moved since the base rate rise. App-only Atom Bank now pays 1.95% (min £50), up from 1.8% last week. If you don't want to use an app, Paragon Bank pays 1.86% (min £1k).

    You can get more in a sharia-compliant account. As Islam bars interest you get an 'expected profit rate'. BLME (Bank of London and the Middle East) gives 2% for 1yr (min £25k). This 'expected profit rate' has always been paid out by the banks we feature, though by definition isn't certain, and don't worry, BLME has the full UK savings protection.  

    PS: You can get more fixing for longer. But if rates rise again you'd be locked in, and wouldn't benefit. See 2yr+ fixes

  • Get up to 5% easy access on smaller sums. Some current accounts offer high interest on lower amounts, though there may be strict criteria to qualify. Nationwide FlexDirect offers 5% AER fixed for 1yr on up to £2,500. Tesco Bank is 3% AER variable on up to £3k until at least Apr 2019. 

There are other options. If you can save small amounts regularly you can get up to 5% in a regular savings account. And if you pay tax on savings (eg, you're a basic-rate taxpayer earning over £1k/yr interest, £500 if higher rate), consider cash ISAs. If saving for a first home, see Help to Buy and Lifetime ISAs.

 

Stop press. BT hikes prices for 10m - how to beat it. Incl broadband, BT Sport and calls. BT hikes

M&S beauty advent calendar (worth £250) for £35, incl Ren & Eyeko. It's a knock-down price but only if you spend £35 on clothing and homeware too. Not just any advent calendar

British Gas customers - there's a hidden way to cut £130 off your bill. All customers of the energy giant should read Martin's new British Gas saving blog.

TWO pairs of specs for £15 code. MSE Blagged. Incl lenses and delivery. Ends Sun. Spec-tacular

Cheapest iPhone XNot MoneySaving, and early adopters often pay more, but if you're going to do it (do you really need to?), here's the cheapest way. iPhone X

Warning: Will Lloyds/Halifax overdraft changes cost you £100s? Banking giant Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, just changed its charges. We analyse winners and losers and what you should do to keep your costs down. Lloyds overdraft changes

 
 

4 ways to cut your overdraft costs to 0% (and earn £125 doing it)

Many banks are hiking overdraft fees for some, so see it as a debt and like all debts, cut costs and clear it

There are many bad or indifferent overdrafts (Lloyds/Halifax customers see above). Some charge a fortune, for instance, a constant £200 overdraft could cost you £365 A YEAR, and if you bust the limit they can be worse than payday loans. Yet there are some goodies, which let you borrow at 0%, and even give free cash which can help to clear the debt. Full info in Cut Overdraft Costs but here are the best options... All accounts below require a credit check and the new overdraft limit isn't guaranteed.

  • Option 1: Overdraft under £375? Get PAID £125 towards clearing it at 0%. New switchers applying via this First Direct* link can get an ongoing £250 0% overdraft (15.9% EAR above that) + a FREE £125 (£100 if you apply direct). Use the cash to reduce your existing overdraft and then pay the rest down at 0%.
    How to get it: Pay in £1,000/mth - equiv to £13k/yr salary - or there's a £10/mth fee. In our last poll, 90% of people rated First Direct 'great'.

  • Option 2: Can you clear in 6mths? Get PAID £150 and a (potentially) larger 0% overdraft. Switchers to HSBC Advance* can get a 0% overdraft for 6mths (17.9% EAR after) + a FREE £150 (+ another £50 if still with it after a year). There's no set limit to the overdraft as it depends on your credit score, but HSBC says the standard minimum offer is £1,000. Just use the free cash to reduce your overdraft.
    How to get it: Apply online, then call or go to a branch within 30 days to start the switch. You must pay in £1,750+/mth (equiv £26,100 salary), switch 2+ direct debits/standing orders and register for online banking within 60 days.

  • Option 3: Need longer? Get a 0% overdraft for 12mths. New customers to Nationwide's FlexDirect get a 0% overdraft for a year (50p/day after). There's no set limit as it depends on your credit score. Plus if you've a friend who's already got a Nationwide account, you both get £100 if you switch via Nationwide's recommend a friend scheme.

  • Option 4: SHIFT your overdraft to a special 0% money transfer card. A money transfer card works like a balance transfer, but instead of paying off another card it puts money into your bank, so the overdraft debt is cleared, and you owe the money transfer card instead. They're useful for big overdrafts, but come with a fee.

    Our overall top pick is this Virgin Money card (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) which gives accepted customers 36mths 0% for a one-off fee of 2.9% of the amount shifted. Never use for spending or cash withdrawals and clear by the end of the 0% period or it's 20.9% rep APR. There are other cards, so use our Money Transfer Eligibility Calc to see what's best for you. Full info and golden rules in Money Transfer Cards.

Can't get a better deal or struggling? Ask for help. Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority says firms must ensure customers are treated fairly. So if you've a big overdraft and can't switch, try calling your bank. Full info in Cut Overdraft Costs.

 

Urgent. Check NOW if you're entitled to benefits - the system's changing & you may get MUCH less if you wait. See our Universal Credit help.

Asda Xmas shopping trick - get an up-to-4% spending boost. Top up Asda's savings card by 5pm on Sun and on Mon you'll get up to an extra £6. Iceland and Co-op have schemes too - see Supermarket Xmas Savings Schemes.

Harvey Nichols rare up-to-25% off. Not MoneySaving but if you'll buy anyway, get it when cheaper. Valid Wed-Fri (only Thu in store). Harvey Nicks

Ends Fri. 4GB Sim, unltd mins & texts for '£8/mth'. MSE Blagged. This 12mth Three* Sim for new customers costs £13/mth and you're sent a £60 Amazon vch automatically within 90 days. If you'd have spent that anyway, factor it in and the cost is equiv to £8/mth. You also get 'free' roaming in places such as the US and Oz, and Europe. Full info and more options in Top Sims.

Starbucks 2for1 'festive' drinks. Thu-Sun but only for a few hours each day. See Starbucks 2for1.

£45 Ted Baker beauty set £22.50. Boots 'Star Gift' from Friday, incl lipstick, nail polish, eyeshadow. Ted Baker

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket.com*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. CompareTheMarket*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva*

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

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £13.33/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
EE equiv £22.06/mth

£130 to switch + £10/mth until Jun 18 + 3% interest: TSB
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect

 

Renters' rights boost, FREE furniture & 54 more tips for tenants

Incl save 60%+ on rent 'baby-sitting' properties, free app to split bills, save £100s switching energy & more

Letting agents in England and Wales CAN currently charge fees but the Government's proposing to ban 'em in England - which could save you £100s if you rent. It could still take months to come into force though - see the latest on the possible lettings fees ban. Plus we've 56 Tips for Renters to help you rent cheaply and safely. Here are five to get you started...

  1. Furnish your home for FREE - sofas, TVs, coffee machines & more. Online community giveaway sites can help you furnish your pad for nowt, with top-quality goodies available. Forumite EdwardB says: "Today I got a brand-new espresso machine from Freecycle. It goes well with the juicer and bread maker I got." For sites to use and full help, see our how to use giveaway sites tips. Alternatively, get items cheap on eBay with our 40 eBay buying tips.

  2. Check your deposit's protected. More than a third of private renters in England and Wales don't know about the tenancy deposit protection scheme or don't know if their deposit is protected, according to housing charity Shelter. If this is you, check NOW.

  3. Got housemates? Use a free app to track & split bills. Keeping track of bills and who's not paying their share in a house of four or five can be a nightmare. Fortunately, a free app makes it less stressful - working for utility bills, council tax and even helping you split the cost of household items (eg, toilet paper). See split bills help

  4. Save 60%+ on rent by becoming a property guardian. For those who can be flexible, in exchange for cheap rent, you can baby-sit empty properties to deter squatters - these can be private homes, fire stations, churches or schools. For inspiration, check out forumite MissFox1973's story: "My boyfriend and I were guardians for a huge country estate for eight months. Cheap rent and incredible location, but limited security."  Full info in Property guardians.

  5. Switch & save on energy bills. If you rent, you could save £100s/yr by switching. You don't need to own the property to do it, so don't just stick with the previous tenant's gas or electricity firm - save £100s switching energy.

See the full guide with 50+ tips for renters.

 

Earn £15 M&S/Amazon vchs doing quick online surveys. MSE Blagged. Popular with MoneySavers - you fill in surveys and search online for pts. We've a link for you to earn £5 worth and get a bonus £10. Newbies only. Swagbucks

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I was a PPI cynic (I thought surely I hadn't been mis-sold), but thanks to your PPI guide I've just reclaimed £1,264 with no real difficulty."

Free managing money course for 16 to 18-year-olds. Martin's worked with the Open University on this course, which helps young people understand debt, savings, tax, budgeting and more. Financial education

 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Help stop hunger at Christmas. December is the busiest month for foodbanks, with 45% more referrals from Citizens Advice and other organisations. To help, the UK Money Bloggers organisation is urging people to take part in a 'reverse advent calendar' by donating to a foodbank every day in the run-up to Christmas. Find out what's needed and where your local food bank is and then share pics of what you've donated on social media using #foodbankadvent.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Do you use banking apps - and which are the best? There were 159 banking app logins per second last year. And now there are even app-only banks. So we want to know what you think of them, considering ease of use, customer service and range of features. Which banking apps are best?

Cheques aren't bouncing back... Last week we asked if you still use cheques. Despite the fact people wrote 275 million  in the UK last year, our poll showed that 47% of you use 'em about once a year or less, and 55% of under-25s have never paid with one. Though they're still popular with those 65+, with 77% using them a few times a year or more. See who still uses cheques.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I keep my free shoes? I ordered some shoes online, but realised they wouldn't arrive in time for my holiday. I decided to buy another pair in store and cancelled my online order - I got a refund but the delivery still turned up. Should I ask the company if it wants the shoes back? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I keep my free shoes? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Had my light bulb moment
- Competitions thread of the week: £1,000 cash
-
 Old-Style board thread of the week: Looking after jewellery and storing charms
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Childcare is bloody expensive
- Discussion of the week: Is a pension worth having?

 

Carnaby Street, London - 20% off shops, food & drinks (Thu)
Railcards - how to get a £10 railcard (norm £20-£30)
Foot Locker - 25% off online and in stores
Iceland - £4 off £40 student discount
Walkers - free £1.20ish 'Max' crisps at WHSmith via O2 app

Mystery dining - Carluccio's, Wagamama & more
KFC - free fries, no purchase necessary
Frankie & Benny's - 50% off mains, Sun-Fri
Prezzo - 40% off mains, Sun-Fri
Café Rouge - 40% off mains, Sun-Fri

Virgin Wines - £80 wine advent calendar + 'free' £10 fizz
Latest in Beauty - £186 of products for £50 incl Bare Minerals
Beer Hawk - 24 craft beers for £55 code incl Brew Dog
Aldi - £9 wooden advent calendars with LED lights
Peppa Pig - £25 at Asda, incl toy characters and accessories

Quick Forum Tips

Free printable colouring pages incl Disney. Take the Mickey
The Entertainer £20 kids' duvet sets £6 code. Cheap sleep
M&S £10 dine-in meal deal for two. What's the big meal?

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 8 NOV ONWARD)


Thu 9 NovGood Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. See previous
Fri 10 Nov
This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, time TBC
Mon 13 Nov
This Morning, ITV, time TBC
Mon 13 Nov
BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 8 Nov - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 10 Nov - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Tue 14 Nov - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: If I switch energy supplier and have a smart meter, will it still work with my new supplier? Terry, by email. 

MSE Andrew's A: It'll still work like an old-fashioned meter by recording your energy use but in most cases it'll go 'dumb' after switching, so it'll lose many of its smart benefits. These include sending meter readings to your supplier automatically and showing your use in pounds and pence.

There are plans to upgrade the software in these meters so in future when you switch you'll keep all the smart elements. But this is unlikely to happen until the end of next year at the earliest. See our Smart Meters guide for full info on how they work and the planned upgrade.

If saving money is your priority, don't let this put you off switching - as many can save about £300/yr via our Cheap Energy Club

 

HAVE YOU TURNED YOUR HEATING ON YET? 
That's it for this week, but before we go... there were gasps at MSE Towers when one of the team said he hadn't turned his heating on yet, but he's not alone, judging by your comments on social media. Let us know if the cold has got bitter enough to make you turn your heating on and what tips you have to cut your energy usage in our 'Is your heating ON or OFF?' Twitter discussion.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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