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Weekly Email
This email was sent
11th Feb 2015
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 This info may be out of date.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."

11 February 2015

This week

Last chance: Cheaper than the cheapest energy
Hot BT fibre b'band, phone & TV
Boost savings to 6%
'I've won £50k of prizes in 5 years'
Hot home ins: £80 Amazon/M&S vch
Ends Fri: £125 First Direct switch
Tesco Wine 1,000 Clubcard pts code
Warning: Don't bin Sentinel letters
The 'Will you get a 0% card?' test
Beware emoticons in texts
Valentine's: 12 red roses £3 in store, £20 couriered, free card & more
£10,000 cancer donation for free
£50 Ciaté nail polish set £20
Half-term: free £5 craft set & more
M&S Outlet Extra 20% off code
Codes: Body Shop 40%, Gap 25%
'I got £2,000 compo from bank'
Free 1yr £70 Gourmet Society cards
Tesco Clubcard sale - any good?
Orange/EE Wednesdays to end
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs
Help with your energy bills

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

Ends Thu 10pm The Big Winter Switch Event II
Last chance: cheaper than the cheapest energy

"Signed my dad up to Energy Club, saving £463. Took 10 mins."

So far 48,023 have switched since we launched our second collective energy switch, saving a total estimated £10m+/yr. The quote from @db10s above is one of scores of examples we've had. Yet the clock's ticking - the deals END 10PM THU 12 FEB.

A collective switch is where a 'trusted intermediary' (such as a council or us) runs an auction for energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs. Our huge scale (10m email recipients; 1.5m Cheap Energy Club members) means our winners smash the best buys for most (here's my 3min video explainer).

How to grab one of these tariffs: Collective switch rules mean you need to go via our Cheap Energy Club and fill in your details (not for NI sadly). It's better if you've got bills to hand - if not, it can estimate - then it'll...

- Show your exact price, saving & compare it to ALL market tariffs. While our collective tariffs usually win, there are regional & usage variations.

- Give £30 dual fuel cashback (£15 elec only). Any time we can switch you (collective switch or not) we give this, though it takes 60-90 days.

- Monitor that it stays cheap. You set a 'trigger saving', eg, £75/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again - perfect for fixed deals where cheap rates only last a short time. This takes the hassle out of energy tarting, where you constantly switch to get the cheapest rate.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event II: The CHEAPEST tariff. The winner and for most by far the cheapest deal is the Sainsbury's Energy Discount Fixed Feb 2016 tariff (run by British Gas). The rate will NOT rise for a year.

- Plus... get £30 cashback
from the Cheap Energy Club.
- Plus... get up to 1,560 Nectar points a year. Get 600pts automatically and 960 by giving quarterly meter readings. Worth £7.80 in Sains, up to £15.60 at theme parks.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Sainsbury's Energy fix till 29 Feb 16: £901/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Next cheapest firm: Extra Energy fix till 31 Jan 16: £913/yr; £25/fuel exit fee
Typical cost: Big six standard tariff AFTER announced price cuts: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You want the lowest price and don't mind switching again as it's only definitely cheap for a year. 2) You're moving home - as you can take it with you. 3) You want to switch quickly as it's part of the new 17-day faster switching scheme. 4) You get the Warm Home Discount.

- Not for you if: 1) You only need electricity. 2) You want a cheap deal you can forget about for the longer term.

The customer service feedback we have is decent - 43% great, 34% OK - though this is from a relatively small sample of 76 people. Yet to be sure, it has agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event II: The cheapest THREE-WINTER fix. The winner's the Green Star MSE collective 36mth fix for dual fuel or elec-only. Many on standard tariffs can save £150/yr with no price hikes for THREE winters. Plus you get £30 Cheap Energy Club cashback.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Green Star fix till Feb 2018: £1,013/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Next cheapest: First Utility fix till 31 Mar 18: £1,082/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Typical cost: On a big six energy firm standard tariff: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You want a good deal, then to forget about it. 2) You want the certainty of no price hikes for a long time. 3) You want elec-only.

- Not for you if: 1) You're moving soon (it's not portable). 2) You want a tariff meeting Ofgem's green criteria. 3) You get the Warm Home Discount.

Green Star is owned by big Canadian energy firm Just Energy. It's newish to the UK, so feedback's limited, but it was the 'green tariff' winner in our last collective switch and we've had very few reported problems. It has also agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event II: The cheapest GREEN tariff. The winner's this Green Star MSE collective 12mth fix tariff, for dual fuel or elec-only, and it fits Ofgem's proposed green criteria incl carbon offsetting, renewable generation, etc. Plus you get £30 Cheap Energy Club cashback.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Green Star 12mth fix: £967/yr; £30/fuel exit penalty
Next cheapest: Ecotricity: £1,232/yr; no exit fees
Typical cost: On a big six energy firm standard tariff: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You believe in green, but don't want to pay that much more. 2) You're willing to move again, as it's only definitely cheap for a year.

- Not for you if: 1) You just want the cheapest deal. 2) You plan to move home as you can't take it with you. 3) You get the Warm Home Discount.

Again, Green Star is owned by big Canadian energy firm Just Energy. It's newish to the UK, so feedback's limited, but it was our 'green tariff' winner in our last collective switch and we've had few reported problems. It has also agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Suppliers pay about £60 per dual fuel switch (£30/single fuel) to comparisons & collective schemes. We give £30 back to you as cashback (£15/single fuel), to encourage switching.

Much of the rest pays our suppliers: (part of the same parent group as MSE), which provides the underlying data & switch process; and Allfiled, the technology database platform. We expect to be left with about £11 per dual fuel switch - far less than we give in cashback. That'll pay the team who work on this, and hopefully leave some profit too.

As always, we only ever write based on editorial independence in the consumer interest, as enforced by our legally binding editorial code.

The MSE Big Winter Switch Event FAQ

We've collated the most common questions we've had since the launch.

Q. If prices are dropping, shouldn't I wait? A. All big six firms have now announced gas-only (not elec) price cuts, but only of up to 5% (and it's these cheaper tariffs we compare our collective switch to). They'd need to slash rates a huge 22% more before our winner wasn't cheapest (never mind cashback).

It's possible even-cheaper fixes will launch. Yet our deals have a decent lead over the next best and we're in the high use time, so waiting is risky, as the extra you pay now will likely outweigh future savings.
Q. Is there a collective switch for key/card prepaid meter users or heating oil? A. We tried for a prepaid collective, but no suppliers' bids were market-leading (last time one was), so instead use our Energy Club Prepayment Comparison to find the market's cheapest - some can save £150+/yr. To see if you can switch to a standard meter, read Prepaid Gas & Electricity.

As for heating oil and LPG, the key is local collective bargaining power. We've not taken this on yet, but there's help in our Heating Oil guide.
Q. I don't use gas - can I use the collective switch for electricity-only? A. You can with the 3yr and green tariffs, but not the 1yr deal. Yet big savings are still possible. Do an electricity-only comparison to find your cheapest.
Q. I'm already with one of these providers (eg, Sainsbury's). Can I still use its collective switch? A. Yes, plus Sainsbury's & Green Star say there are no exit fees if you do.
Q. I'm already locked into a fix - should I switch? A. Check your exit penalties (though they don't apply if you're within 49 days of the tariff ending). If your comparison shows you'll save more than that, it may be worth it. Though if your current fix is longer than the one you're moving to, think carefully if you want to trade in long-term surety for a short-term gain.
Q. Who's responsible for these tariffs, MSE or the energy firm? A. The energy firm is responsible for supplying you, and you pay it. Yet we take our bit seriously too and ask all providers to set up special customer help teams with max 48hr response times. And if something goes wrong, and it won't help, let us know and we'll try. For how, see the Switch Event help page.
Q. I was in credit with my previous supplier. Will I get the cash? A. Yes. Most people's last bill was an autumn one, so if you pay by monthly direct debit you may still be in credit now - it could be by £100s. Ensure you ask the firm you're leaving for it (if not, some mightn't cough up), though do put it aside to pay for the winter bill. See Reclaim Energy Credit.
Q. Where can I see the standing charge & kWh collective switch costs? A. They vary by region, so we display your exact cost in the Cheap Energy Club comparison result - just click the 'Feedback & Full Info' link.
Q. I hear paying by monthly direct debit is cheapest. True? A. Yes. It typically saves £70-£90/yr compared to other methods - do regular meter readings so it's accurate.
Q. I fixed on a cheap deal, so why has my direct debit risen? A. It's the rate that's fixed, ie, the price per unit, but what you pay depends on your usage.

Here, firms estimate usage - so even if your rate drops, the debit can rise if your new provider overestimates, the old one underestimated or your usage changes. If you think it's too high, you can ask for it to be lowered.
Q. You're normally against exit penalties - why do these have them? A. I prefer fee-free, as it leaves you free to leave if things change. Unfortunately, there aren't any cheap no-exit fee tariffs. But the saving you'd make meanwhile should easily outweigh the cost of penalties if you need to leave.

Plus Ofgem rules mean you're free to leave 49 days before the tariff ends penalty-free, so the 1yr is only really locked in for 10 and a half months.
Q. I'm in debt with my supplier. Can I switch? A. It varies depending on your supplier - some make you pay it off or get it under a certain balance. For prepaid tariffs you can always switch unless your debt's £500+.
Q. Was I wrong to get the first collective switch if this is cheaper? A. No. Our last collective switch's cheapest tariff was £950/yr on typical use, plus you got reward points worth £15ish. While the new one is cheaper, we're now several months into the cold weather, and the saving you've made meanwhile will likely easily outweigh the price difference.
Q. Can I switch if I've got a solar panels FIT tariff and/or a smart meter? A. Yes. Your FIT payer and your energy supplier are separate. When you switch energy firm, the firm that pays you for generating electricity doesn't automatically switch too, though you could switch it for ease. Not all firms support FIT payments - Sainsbury's does, Green Star doesn't.

Providers can't refuse a switch because you've got a smart meter. However, with Sainsbury's and Green Star some smart meter functionality is lost by switching - it doesn't stop you using them, but you will need to manually submit smart meter readings.
Q. I'm supplied by an Independent Gas Transporter (IGT) - can I switch? A. Yes, with both Sainsbury's & Green Star (IGTs are often used in new-build properties - people are supplied by them instead of the National Grid).
Q. I've just switched elsewhere. Can I cancel & collective switch instead? A. With most suppliers you've a 14-day cooling off period to cancel - so you can. Be sure it's worth it, factoring in the extra time to switch over.
Q. Why when I compare does it give me an average rate for the year, when my fix ends sooner? A. This is what's known as your 'personal projection'. We don't think this makes sense either - after all, you want to see whether you're saving compared to your current fix, then compared to the go-to rate after. Yet the Ofgem comparison code rules say it has to be this way. We're working/lobbying on a way round it.
Q. When you quote 'typical usage', what does it mean? A. We use regulator Ofgem's typical usage figure of 13,500 kWh of gas and 3,200 kWh of elec a year and the price we give is an average across all regions, as it varies. Your price could be different, which is why we encourage you to compare.

Know someone who's overpaying? Spread the word to help cut energy bills.

Hi folks, as my TV series has just ended (watch the last show - holiday & relationship tips) - I’m taking a few days off for a breather. So this email is in the more-than-capable hands of the MSE team. 

Blagged for MoneySavers

Did you miss?

Get constantly cheap energy
Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: Shoppers lose millions on 'free trials' of beauty products
Consumers pay triple high street prices for rent-to-own goods
Green Deal voucher redemption deadline extended
Virgin Money launches new current account - is it any good?
BT to buy EE, but no change for customers yet
Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.
If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via
Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Wed 11 Feb 2015
1wk only BT fibre b'band, line rent & TV £126/yr off + £30 + £100 Sains vch
BT isn't normally a by-word for cheap, but with this deal the big boy takes on the cheapest players on the market

A special link lets you cut the cost of BT's fibre b'band and its linked TV service which it's taking Sky on with. It's one of the cheapest fibre deals, and many of you tell us you want to stick with BT - plus the TV element gives it extra spark.

  • BroadbandTest your current broadband speed first. Fibre optic broadband typically gives far greater speeds than traditional copper wires, but you pay more. It's best for gamers, heavy downloaders, streamers & homes where many people use it at once. So here's Broadbandchoices' Free Speed Test* and after see your neighbour's speeds* to check if it's worth upgrading. Full help in our Boost Broadband Speed guide.
  • Ends Wed 18 Feb. BT phone line, fibre b'band & TV deal £126/yr discount + cashback & Sains voucher. MSE Blagged. Until 11.59pm on Wed 18 Feb, anyone who doesn't already have BT broadband (if you just have a BT phone line you DO qualify), using this specific BT link, gets Unlimited Infinity 1 + TV Entertainment* on a 12-month contract (prices rise after) as follows...

    - Compulsory line rent: It's £16.99/mth, but we suggest you opt to pay the year upfront for £169.90, saving £34.
    - Unlimited up to 38Mb b'band (avail to 75% of UK): Normally £18/mth - via link above it's £10/mth for the year.
    - TV box & ents package: Normally £5/mth, it's £2.50/mth via the link above. This includes a box to live pause & rewind, Freeview channels + BT Sport, MTV, Fox, NatGeog etc. Plus you can pay extra to get Sky Sports & Movies.
    - Call costs: Weekend calls (up to 60 mins per call) to landlines included whether you pay upfront or monthly, other call costs are BT standard rates.
    - You pay a £49 activation fee + £6.95 'p&p' for free router. Unavoidable with BT fibre (line installation is free).
    - £30 cashback.
    Via the link above you'll get a £30 cheque within 30 days of installation. PS. If you use ad or cookie-blocking software, please turn it off or it may not track the cashback - see full BT cashback info.
    - £100 Sainsbury's in-store voucher BUT you must claim it. A standard offer for BT online (ie, not blagged by us). You get £100 Sains if you register after activation (bookmark the link). You've 2mths to do it, it'll arrive in 30 days.

    Cost analysis - so all in, how good is it? It's strong. Add up a year's line rent paid upfront, b'band, activation fee, router & TV and it's £375.85 over 12mths excl call costs (pay line rent monthly and it's £34 more). PLUS you can claim a £100 Sains voucher AND get £30 cashback. Factor those in, assuming you'd spend that at Sainsbury's anyway, and it's effectively £245.85 for the year, equiv to just £20.49/mth (paid monthly equiv to £23.32/mth). For alternative cheap fibre deals - though with some you’ll need a longer contract - see Cheap Fibre Broadband.
  • Cheapest STANDARD b'band & line rent: pay £259 for 18mths and get £110 Argos/Boots etc vch. If you don't need superfast, see this hot TalkTalk deal. For many more options, see the Cheap Broadband guide.

Ends Fri. FREE £125 for switching to no.1 bank. First Direct's* won every customer service poll we've ever done (92% rate it great). Accepted customers switching by Friday get a boosted free £125. It also has a £250 0% overdraft and linked 6% regular savings. You need to pay in £1,000/mth. Full info & for other sign-up bonuses, see Top Bank Accounts.

Tesco Wine 1,000 Clubcard points code (worth up to £40), incl on 50% off sale. We've blagged 6,000 codes for new & existing Tesco Wine* custs on a min £60 spend. Enter XXHGJK by Sun (earlier if codes run out), incl on ongoing 50% off sale. Points worth £10 in store or up to £40 via Tesco Boost. Full info: Wine Deals. Pls be Drinkaware.

Warning. Don't bin letters from AI Scheme (Sentinel). 2m+ are entitled to redress, but many say they've chucked letters thinking they’re spam. Full help + a copy of the letter in AI Scheme (Sentinel) card protection help.

The 'Will you get a 0% card?' test. Last week we told you about our free credit card eligibility calc which shows which 0% debt shifting card you've the best chances of getting. We've been swamped with successes so plonked in a reminder. Read more in Secrets to getting a 0% card.

Do your savings pay less than 1%? Check... you could be getting 6%
Just because the rate was decent when you got it, don't assume it is now. Rates have dived, and you can do better

Savings providers have been slashing rates left, right & centre. The big five banks pay less than 1% in easy-access accounts, so everyone should check their rates now. Don't assume all accounts are the same - get clever & big boosts are possible.

  • earn 6% on your savings5% easy access via 'bank account' savings. Several banks now pay big interest to encourage you to switch to them. Santander 123* pays 3% AER variable on £3k-£20k (there's a £2/mth fee but it's usually covered by bills cashback). For lesser amounts TSB Classic Plus* pays 5% AER variable on up to £2k. Full list in 5% Savings Loophole.
  • News. 65+? 4% Pensioner Bonds extended till May. £7.5bn of the original £10bn may've gone, but there's no longer a financial limit, instead there's a deadline of 15 May. See Pensioner Bonds - are they worth it?
  • 6% if you save every month. New customers to no.1 customer service bank First Direct* get £125 to switch to it (till Fri, after it's £100), and all customers get access to a linked 6% fixed-rate regular saver in which you can save £25-£300/mth for a year. M&S is similar (it gives new M&S Bank Account* switchers a £100 M&S gift card). If you don't want to switch, then anyone can save £50-£250/mth via Leeds BS's 3.05% fixed till Oct. Full info on how these work in Top Regular Savings.
  • Top flexible cash ISA - 2.25% tax-free. An ISA's just a savings account where you don't pay tax on the interest. You can put up to £15k in every tax year, which ends soon on 5 April. Once in, cash is tax-free year after year. If you need ready access to it the Post Office is 1.5% AER (incl bonus). If you can lock money away for a year, Virgin is 1.7%, for 2yrs and 3yrs Post Office is 1.95% & 2.1%. All accept new money and old ISA transfers.

    A clever one (not for transfers) is Coventry BS's 2.25% AER fixed till 30 Nov 2018. You can withdraw (by closing the account) for a 120-day interest penalty. Do it after 1yr, and you'd have earnt equiv 1.51%, 2yrs 1.88%. See Cash ISAs & Cash ISA transfers.
  • Top 1.75% normal savings. If you can lock cash away, Bank of Baroda pays 1.75% fixed for a year (min £500) or Harrods Bank is 2.25% fixed for 2yrs (min £20k). For access, National Counties pays 1.41% AER. See Top Savings.
  • Got a mortgage? Use our overpay calculator. Expensive debt such as credit cards is almost always worth paying off with savings. If your mortgage rate's higher than the best after-tax rate you can get on savings, that's worth paying off too. Use the mortgage overpay calc to check it's worth it - provided there are no repayment penalties and you've an emergency fund. Full info in Overpay Mortgage or Save?


 Romance is great. Over-commercialised peer pressure ain't. So while we've listed our last minute 2015 Valentine's Deals, don't feel under pressure to spend.

Weds only: Valentine's 12 couriered roses £20 + 'free' £6 card. 10,000 available, see Valentine's Day roses.

Cheapest in-store roses £3 for 12. For a full round-up, see Valentine's Day roses.

Free £6ish WHSmith Valentine's card (O2 custs). OR 62p card for Apple & Android phone users. Go quick

£139 necklace £29 & £29 Thorntons chocs £17 (extremely limited). See all Valentine's gifts.

FREE Valentine's gift cheques. You don't need to spend. Give time instead. Use our Free Valentine's Gift Cheques to promise something nice (or naughty), eg, a 'massage', brekkie in bed or candle-lit bath.

£10 champagne. Louvel Fontaine champagne for £10. See all champagne deals. Pls be Drinkaware

Valentine's food deals: £20 M&S dine-in for 2 | Papa John's 2for1 pizza | GBK 2 burgers £10 | Fayre & Square £11 3 courses. See all food deals.

Beware emoticons in texts - it could cost you £100s. :(  We uncovered this problem in December, last week it was all over the news. Full info and how to avoid big bills in Emoticons help.

Help donate £10,000 to Breast Cancer Care for free. We want to use the power of our email for this worthy cause. Just name any person you admire and explain why in a message via the social media pages of the skincare firm Palmer's. It'll donate £10 per submission (max £50/person), up to £10,000. Palmer's

It's back - £50 Ciaté nail polish 'advent calendar' £20. Christmas is over but there's £100+ of nail polish (if bought separately) in this set - so it's still a good buy. 23 minis + 1 full-size polish. £15+ £5 p&p. 4,000 available

100+ tips for half-term family fun, incl free £5 craft box. See our guide for cheap or free things to keep the kids entertained. Half term

40 comping for cash tips - 'I've won £50k-worth of prizes in five years'
Turn the art of entering competitions into a cash-boosting hobby - how to automate your winning ways

So far this year, MoneySavers in our forum have won amazing prizes, incl a £9,000 dream holiday, an iPod and £500 to spend in Waitrose. But there are no certainties - see our 40 Comping Tips. Here's some winspiration...

  • comping 40 winning comping tips. Here are just five to show you some of the techniques:

    - Turbo-charge it. Auto form-fill, generate tie-breakers & find answers. Comp tools
    - Enter premium-rate TV comps FREE.
    Know the right websites for free TV contests.
    - Systemise it.
    Follow a structured system to find & enter max number in min time.
    - Dodge corporate spam. Set up a dedicated comping email address.
    - Join the MSE comping team. On the Competitions board you post contests, enter others' contests & cheer when fellow compers win, bringing the hobby to life.
  • BIG winners. Of course, many wins are small and are goodies not cash (then people tend to eBay them), but there are big winners too. As forumite HollySmith told us: "I've won £50,000-worth of prizes in five years from entering comps I spot on the MSE comping forum". Read her full story here.

    Our biggest-ever single win was forumite Isla last year: "Just found out I won £20,000 and my rent paid for two years. How long would the cheque take? I was so shocked I forgot to ask." Or read the full story of Pinkteegan's win from April last year: "Just won a £10k wedding, incl a honeymoon in Dubai & platinum rings. Woohoo."

M&S Outlet EXTRA 20% off code. MSE Blagged. 24hr code starts 9am Wed. For items already up to 50% off. M&S

CODES: Body Shop 40% off, H&M 25% off one item, Asos extra 10% off sale etc
Body Shop 40% off | H&M 25% off one item | Asos extra 10% off up to 75% off sale (starts Thu)
Gap 25% off excl kids | Debenhams 10% off £40 (ends Wed) | See ALL codes & vouchers

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
35mths 0%, 2.49% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

No fee 0%: Santander*
15mths 0%, no fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Clydesdale* (£5k - £7.5k)
4.7% rep APR

M&S Bank* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.6% rep APR

Post Office 1.5% AER
Min £100, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed

Coventry BS 2.25% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I read your email about packaged bank account reclaiming and wrote to my bank as I was mis-sold my account. Within 10 days, it transferred over £2,000 as compensation and interest. Big thanks."

Free 1-YEAR Gourmet Society card (norm £70), 2,500 avail. MSE Blagged. Ends Tue 17 Feb. Discount card via ballot gets 2for1ish in 6,500 restaurants (eg, La Tasca, Strada & independents). Those who miss out get 2mths. Gourmet

Home insurance deals comparisons miss - incl £80 Amazon & M&S vch
The hot home insurance deals you WON'T find on comparison sites + full system to slash your costs to the bone

There's no single cheapest home insurer and although comparison sites are great for a wide range of quotes, the spread isn't universal - we aim to catch the deals they miss. Full help in Cheap Home Insurance, but in brief...

  • Home InsuranceGet the right cover - don't over- or under-insure. There are two elements...

    Buildings - normally for freeholders. You don't need to cover your home's market value, just the lower cost of rebuilding it if it's knocked down. Rebuild calc.

    - for all. Many under-insure thinking "I'd never claim £10,000". Yet cover £20k of stuff for £10k, then claim for a £2k sofa, and you may only get £1k. Contents calc.
  • Never auto-renew - combine comparisons at speed. Many people just auto-renew, which lets insurers subtly boost prices. Instead, grab as many quotes as possible by combining comparisons (they don't cover the same insurers). Our current order is*, then Compare TM & GoCompare*. (See full info on how to use comparison sites).
  • Then home in on the HOT deals comparisons miss. Two big firms, Direct Line* and Aviva*, aren't on comparison sites, so check 'em. Plus even some insurers listed have promo deals that aren't - check these too.

    The following MSE Blagged deals are for new combined buildings and contents policies (vouchers arrive within 90 days). PS. If you use ad or cookie-blocking software, turn them off or you may not get the voucher.

    - LG speaker bar or £80 Amazon voucher with Policy Expert. MSE Blagged. Use this Policy Expert* link for the Amazon voucher and this Policy Expert* link for the LG Sound Bar (RRP £75) by Mon 16 Feb.
    - £80 M&S voucher (£40 with contents only) with Age UK. MSE Blagged. Via this Age UK* link by Mon 23 Feb.

Tesco Clubcard sale – is it any good? Over the coming days it'll announce various flash sales. Tesco sale evaluation

Orange/EE Wednesdays 2for1 cinema ends 25 Feb. If going, go quick. See Last chance Orange/EE Wednesdays.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines

Compare, get £30 dual fuel cashback & alerts if your deal's no longer cheap. Go via the free MSE Cheap Energy Club Top Pick Fixes Comparison.

Someone with typical dual fuel usage on a big 6 standard tariff pays £1,158/yr (incl price cuts). The cheapest deal's £901/yr via our collective switch - a huge £250+ difference.

First Direct*
£125 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...*
Compare The Market
Direct Line*

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£11/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Post Office*
with weekend calls
£12/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
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Having trouble coping with your energy bills? Help is available

Charity Turn2us says more people than ever are struggling with energy costs, with more than three-quarters of low-income families unable to heat their homes enough. If you're having difficulty (or know someone who is), help is available. Take a look at the Cut Out The Cold campaign for ideas (also see our Cheap Energy Club to cut the cost of your tariff).

Should I pay for broken glasses?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... When I was boarding a plane recently the girl next to me had spread her belongings all over my seat. As I arrived she hurriedly moved her items and must have knocked her sunglasses onto the floor. I stood on them and broke them beyond repair. Should I have offered to pay for a replacement or should she have been more careful? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay for broken glasses? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

Cheap ways to learn a new language
Around the start of every year many of us resolve to learn a new language in time for our next summer holiday. We want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on the best ways to become multilingual on the cheap. Have you found great websites or other resources that have had you conversing with locals in no time? Share yours/read others': Cheap ways to learn a new language Past topics: View all

Airline: Monarch* Offer: City break sale - 6,000 seats at £32.99 Ends: midday Fri 13 Feb
Our pick this week is Monarch's* offer on selected flights between 2 Mar and 30 June 2015. The sale ends midday Fri 13 Feb and includes taxes and most charges, though credit card fees apply. There is no code to enter - the price appears automatically. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

Restaurant staff spill the beans on tips and service charges

We asked waiting staff to tell us if they keep tips. Practices varied, but owners of restaurants that add service charges sometimes just pocket the cash, forumites said. There were also gripes about voluntary tips paid by card.
It seems cash is most likely to stay in waiters' pockets, but there are still different ways of divvying it out, with some giving it directly to the recipient, while others put it in a pot to share.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

12 February
Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.40am
Deals of the Week
13 February
This Morning, time tbc
Martin's 90-Second Savers
16 February
This Morning, time tbc
Subject tbc

Radio 5 Live, 12 noon
Consumer Panel
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MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

Aren't bicycles great?

Switching from four wheels to two is a MoneySaving and health-conscious resolution we're sure many have made. If you're in need of some motivation to stick with it, see what cycle-related plans our forumites are making for 2015 in the Aren't bicycles great? discussion.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 133.46 120.11
US Flag $ 150.65 135.59
Turkish Flag TL 363.20 320.25
Rates correct at 3pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Is it OK to use a 2for1 voucher on a first date?

Valentine's Day will be here this Saturday, but has using vouchers finally broken through the last taboo? Is it acceptable to use 2for1 restaurant vouchers on a first date? We ask this each year - let's see if it's changed...

Imagine Nick asks Lucy to dinner on a first date, saying he'll pay. When the bill comes, he pulls out a 2for1 voucher - what would you tell Lucy?

Poll results

Are you going to vote in this year's General Election?
92% of those polled claimed they'd be voting in this year's General Election. This is far higher than the 65% of the population who actually voted in 2010's election - perhaps indicating that the type of person who'd take the time to vote in a poll such as this, is likely to be someone who'd vote in real life. It's not too late to register to vote, which you can do here.

14,380 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q: I'm a member of the Avios frequent flyer scheme and I got an email to say the system is changing. I mainly use my points to fly short-haul on BA. Will I be better or worse off using them? Rachel, via email.

MSE Sally’s A: If you're an economy flyer from London, and are flexible about when you go, you'll either be better off or nothing will change if you make a booking after the changes come in on 28 April. If you start your journey from a non-London airport though, you'll be worse off from then.

From London, if you're flying during peak times (most of the summer, Christmas, Easter and half-term holidays - though NOT any Tuesdays or Wednesdays) there's no change to the points needed in economy. But BA/Avios is introducing off-peak times where the number needed will fall. For example, to Madrid it'll cost 13,000 Avios (+ taxes and charges) for an off-peak return - less than the current rate (and new peak) of 15,000 points.

If you're starting from a non-London airport you need to transit via London if using points, with the transit flight free at present. However, for bookings to Europe made from 28 April, you will have to pay for the transit flight, often doubling the points and taxes and charges required. See the full Avios changes winners and losers.

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

 Nick's free game of the week: Ball Trap

How does your life fit into history?

That's it for this week, but before we go, do you know exactly when famous events occurred in your lifetime? The BBC has created a handy tool to show you some of the most important historical happenings since the day you were born.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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Martin set up and runs MSE, and still writes this email each week (unless it says so). He's an ultra-focused money-saving journalist and consumer campaigner with his own ITV prime-time show The Martin Lewis Money Show and weekly slots on Radio 5 Live, This Morning and Good Morning Britain, among others. He’s a columnist for publications including the Telegraph and Woman magazine. More info: See Martin Lewis' biography

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