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10th Apr 2019
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 This info may be out of date.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."

10 April 2019
         
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.
                                                           
 


 

Booked your holiday? 10 things to sort NOW to save when you go (incl Brexit help)

Currency, insurance, passports, visas, airport lounge access etc

If you're going away over Easter or anytime this year we have a planeload of ways to save, as being frugal is not just about getting the cheapest flight and accommodation. So to avoid getting burned by more than just the sun, see our 67 Overseas Tipshere are the key points.

  1. Martin's 8 urgent post-Brexit travel need-to-knows. It's the elephant in the plane right now, so to find out what you need to do to Brexit-proof your holiday (eg, flights, passports, EHICs, driving permits & more) read Martin's updated 8 Brexit travel need-to-knows blog.

  2. Ending. Get airport lounge access for £15-£32. Our blagged code gets 20-40% off at Heathrow (T3 & T4), Gatwick, Birmingham & Edinburgh (plus Melbourne & Sydney if you're heading to Oz). Book by Sun, for travel till 30 Jun. Cheap Airport Lounges

  3. How to get permanently cheap overseas spending. Top specialist credit or debit cards are the cheapest way to spend abroad. Normally, on most cards, you're charged a 3%-ish exchange fee, so £100 of euros costs £103. Plus you're hit with cash withdrawal fees. Specialist cards don't do that - meaning you get near-perfect exchange rates. However, they can take two weeks to come so may be too late for Easter.

    - Top credit card. The Barclaycard Platinum Cashback Plus (apply) has no exchange fees on purchases or withdrawals till Aug 2023. Plus, it gives 0.25% cashback on all spending until then, and £15 if you spend £1,500 in the first 3mths (but that's not an excuse to overspend). You'll need to pass a credit check but you won't qualify if you've had a Barclaycard in the last 6mths. Repay IN FULL to avoid 21.9% rep APR interest on spending and 27.9% on cash.

    - Top debit card & easier to get. Starling Bank's card (apply*) has no overseas fees on spending and withdrawals (max £300/day cash). Plus you earn 0.5% AER interest on up to £2k, 0.25% AER interest up to £85k. What's more, there's no hard credit check if you don't apply for an overdraft.

    See Top Overseas Spending Cards for more options. And if asked, never pay in pounds on plastic overseas. For why, see our rip-off currency alert.  

  4. Find the best holiday cash rates in seconds.  Firstly, NEVER buy it at the airport, where rates are a rip-off. Instead, speedily compare 30+ bureaux with our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool to find the cheapest travel cash near you. 

  5. Free travel apps, incl how to navigate like a local in 39 cities. Loads can save money or time - here are our favourites:

    - Master public transport in 39 cities with the free Citymapper app. 
    - Turn your phone into a free worldwide sat-nav.
    - Learn how to talk like a local for free. 

  6. Slash airport parking costs by booking early. The easiest way is to use our discounted links for airport parking comparison sites incl Holiday Extras* (5-35% off), Looking4Parking* (20-35% off), SkyParkSecure* (6-35% off) and FHR* (5-30% off). Sam tweeted: "Thanks @MoneySavingExp for the airport parking link. Saved over £45."

    However, if you've time to play, there are ways to slash costs even further. For full help see our Cheap Airport Parking guide.

  7. Travel insurance from £6 (if you've booked, you need it NOW). Travel insurance doesn't just cover you when you're away. Grab it when you book, then if you or a family member get ill beforehand and need to cancel, you're covered.  We focus on the cheapest deals that meet our minimum criteria for levels of cover. For full info and help, see our guides...

    Cheap annual travel insurance
    - Cheap over-65s' travel insurance
    - Cheap travel insurance if you've a pre-existing medical condition

    Of course, knowing how your insurer will respond to a claim is tough, so remember, if you're unhappy you can always go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

  8. Don't pay for water at the airport. You're allowed to take an empty bottle/container through security, and we've an airport-by-airport guide to finding free water fountains after security. (PS: You can take your own food through security, no problems.)

  9. ESTA and other entry requirements are YOUR responsibility and can take time to sort. If heading Stateside, even in transit, you must get an ESTA at least 72 hours ahead - see our ESTA guide. Elsewhere you may need a visa (eg, India) which can take weeks, and some countries require at least 6mths left on your passport. See the Government's foreign travel advice.   
     
  10. Do you need to show your boarding pass at airport shops? The quick answer for most shops, such as WHSmith or Boots, is no (apart from duty-free where you must) but by doing so you may be able to save cash - see Martin's duty-free blog.
 
 

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.

 

 
 

New. Free £175 to switch bank AND 2% cashback on bills 

NatWest has launched the biggest cash combo for almost 18mths - and we rate its Reward account for bill-payers

Just as a number of switching bribes were disappearing, NatWest has re-entered the free cash bonus switch war with a bang, possibly as it's a good time to stand out from the crowd. Remember, switching's easy - it takes just seven working days and the new bank moves all your payments (eg, direct debits). Here are full details and alternatives... (All require you pass a not-too-harsh credit check.)

  • New. NatWest: Free £175 + 2% bills cashback (worth £60/yr extra for many). NatWest pays new switchers to most of its accounts £125, and £50 if you're still with it in June 2020. Its customer service rating is a middling 43% 'great'.

    - Top account if you're a bill-payer (or have joint bill accounts). The standout is NatWest Reward* which, for a £2/mth fee, gives 2% cashback on most bills (incl energy, council tax, broadband) paid by direct debit. On average it's worth £60/yr after the fee - though some can earn £100+/yr. So all-in with the free cash you could bag £250+.

    - Top if you don't want to pay a fee. If you don't pay bills, don't bother paying £2/mth. Instead you can still get the £175 (but no cashback) by switching to the fee-free NatWest Select* account.

    - How to qualify. For the £175 cash on either account, request a switch by 7 Jun, pay in £1,500+ & log in online by 12 Jul, then use your debit card at least once per month. For the cashback, pay £1,500+ every month (that's just a way of making you pay your salary in, as long as it's £21,500+/yr - if less there's still a way round it). See full NatWest help.

  • First Direct: Free £100, 90% 'great' service + 5% linked savings. New First Direct* customers get the cash plus access to a 5% regular savings account where you can save up to £300/mth in it for 1yr. Many also get a £250 0% overdraft. Note that you must pay in £1k+/mth (equiv £12,500/yr salary) for the bonus and to avoid a £10/mth fee.

  • M&S: Free £100 M&S voucher with NO min pay-in (+ £80 vch after 1yr if you pay in £1,250/mth). Newbies who open an M&S Bank* account get the initial £100 and access to its 5% regular saver if within 3mths of opening they switch incl 4+ active direct debits and register for online banking & statements. For the £80, as well as meeting the min pay-in, you must keep the direct debits active. If you've an M&S credit card, you get a £120 vch after 1yr.

  • Halifax: Free £50 before the switch completes + £85 after 6mths + £2/mth. Halifax pays newbies all this if they pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv £21,500/yr salary), use their debit card at least once in the first 6mths, pay out 2+ direct debits each month, go paperless and remain in credit.

For full eligibility info, incl exactly when the bonuses come, see Best Bank Accounts.

 

Ending. Extra £65 credit if you switch to top-service energy firm Bulb - which was already £255/yr cheaper for most. It's by far the cheapest firm with good feedback, and until 5pm Thu, get this special Bulb deal via our energy club comparison and you get £40 bill credit, plus our usual £25 dual-fuel cashback. 

Super-cheap Easyjet flights for Oct-Mar, incl Christmas. But you'll need to be quick. Cheap Easyjet

New. Martin: 'Did you get a PPI payout? If so, it's likely you're owed tax back.' Tax was automatically taken off many PPI payouts - many can reclaim it. See Martin's PPI tax reclaim blog.

Free McDonald's Cheesy Bacon Flatbread when you buy a coffee/tea. Get full info & see 20+ McDonald's hacks (but please be 'eat-aware').

Check your 2019/20 tax code - MILLIONS are wrong, and it could cost you big. A new tax year means new tax codes which affect your take-home pay. If wrong, it can mean nasty surprises. Check with our Tax Code Calc.

Debenhams administration - your rights & Martin's view. Help on gift cards, orders & returns. Debenhams

£12 beauty boxes - choice of six (one with up to £110 of Nails Inc, Smashbox etc items). MSE Blagged. Via 70% off code, limited stock. Choose one of six Powder boxes.

 
 

Bravo Wales. It's telling those with Alzheimer's, dementia, strokes & more they may be due £1,000s in council tax rebates - 10,000s elsewhere are entitled, but left in the dark
  

In 2016 we launched a campaign to ensure the 10,000s of 'severely mentally impaired' (SMI) people across Britain entitled to an SMI council tax discount (and their carers) would hear about it, and that - as many missed out due to poor info - it should be backdated. Thanks to the MSE campaigns team's top work, this week the Welsh Govt will follow all our suggestions to improve how its councils deal with the SMI discount. I'm launching it in Cardiff today (Wed) with the Finance Minister...

  • The Severely Mentally Impaired discount can be worth £1,000s - here's how you get it. Like students and under-18s, in Eng, Scot and Wales (NI doesn't have council tax), those who have a severe mental impairment are 'disregarded' for council tax purposes. This means if they live alone they shouldn't pay any council tax, or more commonly, if they live with one other adult, often their carer, there should be a 25% discount (typically worth about £400/yr).  

    To qualify, someone must be medically certified as having a severe mental impairment (ie, one that severely and permanently affects their intellectual and social functioning), and be eligible for certain benefits. Eg, dementia, strokes and Parkinson's are all conditions that could result in someone having a severe mental impairment. Our How to claim SMI guide has full info.

    Some councils will backdate the payout. This can be huge - Tom tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Thank you. After seeing you talk about council tax exemption, I've claimed back £9,649.65 for my dad who suffered a stroke in 1999 and has lived alone since 2005. Thank you so much. This will make a big difference."

  • New. Wales launches easy SMI application & backdating - but elsewhere councils still aren't good enough. In 2017 we investigated the SMI discount - shockingly 69 of 100 tested councils gave incorrect info to our mystery callers, with some front-line staff even unaware of the discount's existence. Take-up rates varied hugely, with some areas over 50 times more likely to get it than elsewhere. So we came up with a series of recommendations...

    Wales has now delivered on them all. Last year the Welsh Govt launched clear literature and a dedicated Welsh SMI webpage. Today it's worked with all 22 Welsh councils so there's one common, simple application form (which we helped design), and crucially there's now consistent backdating. Anyone eligible will get a rebate back to the point of an SMI diagnosis - full info in our Welsh Govt SMI changes news story.

    What about Scotland & England? We've had encouraging noises from Scotland and are hopeful it'll soon follow Wales. There's a lot of work to be done in England, as we're reliant on the UK Govt. It would be easy to do though, as the law is identical to Wales - I just hope the Local Government Minister James Brokenshire is reading this.

 

Thorntons 2 personalised Easter eggs £11ish deliv (norm £18). MSE Blagged. Trick to get a cracking deal.

30+ free and cheap things to do with kids in the Easter hols. Incl egg hunts, free workshops, £2.50 cinema, kids eat for 'free/£1' & plenty more Easter holiday ideas.

20 'lucky dip' hanging basket plants £9 all-in. MSE Blagged. Eg, lobelia, fuchsia, petunia. Thompson & Morgan

New. Hot Sim: 4GB data + unltd mins & texts for '£6.67/mth' from BT-owned Plusnet. This is a cracker as you normally get 2GB for that price. Newbies to Plusnet* (uses EE's network) can get it for £10/mth on a 1yr contract. As you're automatically sent a £40 cheque, it's an equiv £6.67/mth. Full help & more deals in Best Sims. 

Kurt Geiger shoes from £12ish via 25% off code. MSE Blagged. Also valid on ALL brands in the Shoeaholics outlet, incl Adidas & Converse. But the best prices & choice are on Kurt Geiger's own stuff. Step this way 

Asos cracking down on 'wear and return' customers. It's tightening its rules if you deliberately buy clothes to wear, then use your online return rights to send 'em back, in effect to get a free rental. Asos crackdown

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

Then check insurers they miss: 
Aviva*
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Zopa* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: 
M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-3 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £10.24/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk equiv £18.06/mth

£175 to switch and stay + 2% bills cashback: NatWest
Free £100 + great service: First Direct

Top easy-access: Marcus 1.5%, min £1
NewTop one-year fix: Kent Reliance 2%, min £1,000

 

'We got our dream wedding for £2,000' - 53 MoneySaving wedding tips

      Getting hitched? Congratulations. How to say 'I do' to your betrothed, not to £1,000s of debt

With wedding season fast approaching, don't assume you need to spend like a Kardashian for one day. While the average bash costs £30,000+, it doesn't have to. Work out what you can AFFORD and use our 50+ Wedding Tips to help cut costs. Here's a taster (hopefully as delicious as the cake)... 

 

Martin: 'Please help STOP THE DEBT THREATS - sign the petition.' The law requires language used in debt collection to be threatening - some even take their lives in fear. Martin's Mental Health & Debt Policy Institute charity is lobbying the Govt to change it, but they need your help. If you agree, please sign the 'stop the debt threat' petition.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Saw Martin Lewis this morning talking about switching energy tariffs. I thought I'd give it a go and I've just saved £418 per year. Awesome, thank you."

(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Three customer? Check if you're one of 550,000 who've had direct debits taken EARLY. It'll give a refund if you've been hit with charges, but you need to claim. See direct debits blunder.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Have you ever asked for a pay rise? The gender pay gap is in the news again. Normally in the consumer world if you're unhappy with something, you should politely complain. We wanted to test whether this applies in the world of work too. So disregarding any company-wide annual rises, have you ever asked for a pay rise?

Most have credit cards but pay them off in full. Last week, we asked whether you had a credit card and how you use it. Younger respondents were more likely to use their cards to borrow - but hearteningly, most with cards from all age groups avoided interest by either paying them off in full or at 0%. See full credit card poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I chase the loan I gave a friend? I lent money to a friend, who promised to pay it back ASAP. But she's since lost her job, and paying it back will be a struggle. It's not a huge amount for me, but it's my money and I worked hard for it. Should I say something, or wait to see if it comes - even if that never happens? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I chase the loan? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: The Debt-Free Roll Of Honour
- Competitions thread of the week: £1,000 & a trip to Nashville
- Old-Style board thread of the week: The Complete Menu Plans Collection
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Can I make my own will?
- Discussion of the week: My statement of affairs & situation realisation

 

McDonald's - Free breakfast flatbread with hot drink purchase
Thorntons - Two personalised eggs for £11ish delivered
Shoeaholics - 25% off everything at Kurt Geiger outlet
Powder - Beauty box for £12, incl Nails Inc, Smashbox
Thompson & Morgan - 20 hanging basket plants for £9

Amex - £5 cashback for £20 spend at Lidl
Tesco - Half price pick and mix
Thorntons - Free personalised Easter egg via O2 Priority
Fes-tea-val - 3,000 free tickets to National Tea Day festival
Sainsbury's - £5 cheese Easter egg

Amazon - Spring sale offers
Audible - Two free audiobooks
Dune - Extra 15% off sale code
Grand Designs Live - Two tickets for £17/£20
British Heart Foundation - Free glow in the dark poster

Quick Forum Tips

Lidl weekend offers, incl 74p chorizo. Lidl nibbles
25% off 6+ bottles of wine at Sainsbury's. Corking
£1.50 fruit and veg box. Bean me up, Scotty

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 10 APR ONWARDS)

Wed 10 Apr - BBC Breakfast, 8.20am
Wed 10 Apr - BBC Radio Wales, 8.40am 
Thu 11 Apr - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 12 Apr - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 15 Apr - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 15 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 10 Apr - BBC News Channel, 3.45pm 
Wed 10 Apr - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Thu 11 Apr - BBC Radio 4, You & Yours, from 12.15pm
Fri 12 Apr 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, travel tips
Mon 15 Apr 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 15 Apr 
- BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 16 Apr -
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Can I save money on my water bills by getting a meter? Dominic, via email.

MSE Nick's A: It depends. As a rule of thumb, if you live in England or Wales and there are more or the same number of bedrooms in your home than people, it might be worth looking at getting a meter.

To give you a better idea, the Consumer Council for Water has a free meter calculator which asks questions about your water use, then tells you your estimated costs with a meter. Most water companies will also let you trial a meter for up to two years and let you switch back if it doesn't end up saving you money. See Cut your water bills for more info. 

In Scotland, water meter installation isn't free (and can be pricey) so unless you live alone in a huge house, it's unlikely to cut bills, while in Northern Ireland there are no domestic water charges so you've no need for a meter.

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

 

'I KEEP A SPARE BOTTLE IN THE CAR IN CASE THEY DON'T HAVE HEINZ'  

That's all for this week, but before we go... We often challenge you to downshift to save money, but for some, certain brands are non-negotiable. We asked our users which brands they can't live without and were flooded with comments, such as "Heinz ketchup - can't stand any other, so much so I keep a spare bottle in the car", and "my son will only eat actual Cheerios". Check out more comments on our challenging downshifts Facebook page

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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