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Weekly Email
This email was sent
13th Jan 2016
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 This info may be out of date.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."

13 January 2016
Martin's Briefing: Slash ALL debt costs - loans, cards, overdrafts down to 0%
Do you pay £18+/mth for yr mobile?
Blockbuster bank switch: Free £100, £5/mth cashback, 2 x 5% savings
Top 5 holiday-booking need-to-knows
Soap&Glory set £18: Boots 70% sale
Bank with Barclays? Free £55/year
Big chance to haggle £100s off Sky
£10 off £30 Amazon trick
£14 Hi-Tec trainers, £19 boots
New. 31 New York MoneySaving tips
Ditch Santander 123 now fee £5/mth?
Watch out for AI Scheme claim letters
Carluccio's & Prezzo 2for1-ish etc
Two specs £19 code

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

A masterclass to cut the cost of ALL debts

- Shift LOANS to just 3.3% or even interest-free if they're small
Get rid of PAYDAY LOAN and CATALOGUE debts

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling debt. Yet they all have one thing in common: less interest means more of your repayments clear the actual debt, so you are debt-free quicker. Let me tackle each debt type one at a time.

1. Cut credit card costs - get 23mth 0% (or 39mth 0% for a 3% fee). This is easy as there's fierce competition to cut your interest. It's all about balance transfer deals, where you get a new card that repays debts on old cards for you, so you owe it instead. Yet don't just apply, that marks your credit file - use our Eligibility Calc to find your acceptance odds first.

The top new cardholder 0% balance transfers

Go for the LOWEST FEE, if you're sure you can repay in that time

Halifax* - longest no-fee 0% card Up to 23mths 0% (18.9%) NONE
AA* - no-fee card where 0% length isn't an 'up to' 22mths 0% (19.9%) NONE
Barclaycard* - good midway card
Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 1.13%
MBNA* - longest 0% Up to 39mths 0% (20.9%) 2.98%
Tesco* - longest 0% where length isn't an 'up to' 38mths 0% (20.6%) 2.7%

As Michelle emailed us: "Thank you. I was paying through the nose for £1,700 on Capital One, it'd have taken YEARS to pay it off. I tried your eligibility checker, got 36mths 0% and will now pay it off within that timeframe." That's an approx saving of £980 in interest. Yet follow the golden rules...

a) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose special rates.
b) Always clear the card/shift again before the 0% ends, or rates jump.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them, it's rarely at the cheap rate.
d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool. Full help in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
2. Shift store card debts to 0%. These are just credit cards you only spend with in one store (or group of stores), but with far costlier interest. Eg, Debenhams' is 24.9% APR, Homebase's is 29.9%. But just like with credit cards, you can balance transfer store card debt, so follow the best buys and tips in point 1 above.

Before you read on - you need to understand 0% money transfers

I'm oft asked if you can shift loans, overdrafts or other debt onto 0% credit cards. You can, but only via a specialist 0% 'money transfer' deal, yet this opens a wide door for cutting loan, overdraft and other debt costs - so let me brief you before you carry on.

What is a money transfer? It's a credit card deal letting you pay a lump sum into your bank account, to use as you like, so you owe the card for it. Full help in Top Money Transfers (do follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules above).

What are the top deals?
Virgin Money* offers new cardholders 32mths 0% money transfers for a one-off 1.69% (min £3). For longer, this other Virgin Money* card's 36mths 0% for a 2.39% fee (min £3). The Money Transfer Eligibility Calc shows your acceptance odds. After the 0% ends these jump to 20.9% rep APR (APR Examples).

3. Cut big personal loans to 3.3% or small ones to 0%. The big question is: "Can you get a new loan to clear your current one and save?" The problem is you could be charged up to 2mths' interest to pay your loan early. So...

STEP 1: Call your current lender and ask it three things: a) What your 'settlement amount' is, ie, how much it'd cost to pay off your loan today b) How many monthly repayments you have left c) The exact amount of your repayments.

STEP 2: Work out what you will pay if you stick with your current loan, by multiplying the remaining months by the repayment amount.

STEP 3: See what rate you could get on borrowing the settlement amount elsewhere. Use our Loans Eligibility Calculator to see your chance of getting a cheap deal.

If you're borrowing under £3,000 then the cheapest route is likely to be doing a 'money transfer' (see above). Above that, a cheap loan wins. For £3,000-£4,999, Zopa* is 4.6%-6.9% rep APR. For £5,000-£7,499, Sainsbury's* is 4.2% rep APR with a Nectar card (4.3% without). For £7,500-£15,000, M&S Bank* is 3.3% rep APR. Full info: Cheap Loans.

STEP 4: See if using the new borrowing to clear your current loan is cheaper than just continuing to repay. Our Cut Existing Loan Costs Calc can help.

As Becki emailed: "A big thank you. I took out a loan at a terrible rate - £7,500 interest on £15,000. I applied for a cheaper loan thanks to your email. Interest is around £1,000, so I used it to pay off the previous one saving £6,500."
4. Shift your overdraft to 0%. Debit cards can be debt cards too - if you're in your overdraft it's often more costly than credit cards, especially if you bust your limit. With both ways to get out of this, you'll need pass a credit check...

a) Switch to a 0% overdraft: First Direct* offers £150 to join it and a £250 0% overdraft (you must pay in income of £1,000/mth) so if your overdraft's under £400, this pays some off & the rest is interest-free.

Alternatively, Nationwide's* 0% overdraft can be bigger depending on your credit score, but it only lasts a year (50p/day after), so see it as an opportunity to slash it during that time. See 0% overdrafts.

b) Use a 0% money transfer credit card. In some ways it's just simpler to pay it off with a money transfer card (see above) - especially for larger amounts.
5. Payday loans. These loans are typically only supposed to last up to a month, for a max £1,000, but many get stung by huge interest rates. The best thing to do is avoid them (see Payday Loan Help for full info), but if you've got one or more there are a few things to try:

a) Credit score OK? Repay with a 0% money transfer (see above).
b) The Aqua card*†gives 4mths 0% on spending (hideous 34.9%†rep APR after) and accepts some with poor credit scores (use the Eligibility Calc to check). The aim here is to use it temporarily so your income can be used to clear the payday loan. Step-by-step help in Repay payday loans via Aqua.
c) See if you're eligible for a Govt-backed 0% loan.
d) Can your local credit union offer a cheaper alternative?
e) Can you get, or extend, an overdraft? See Full overdraft help.
6. Catalogue loans. These are a way of buying goods by post, internet or phone & spreading the cost. Yet check interest charges, they can be scarily high. If so, use similar techniques to payday loans above.

Debt FAQs

Q. What about student loans? In many cases here you're better to save than clear it. See my Should I pay off my student loan? guide.

Q. What about mortgages?
I've focused on unsecured debt but if you want to cut mortgage costs, see my Free Remortgage Booklet and the Should I overpay my mortgage? guide.

Q. Can I shift loans onto my mortgage?
While rates may be lower, as you're spreading repayments over a much longer period it'll likely cost more. If you're going to do it, at least increase your mortgage repayments by what you were paying on the loan. See Shift debts to your mortgage?

Q. I've multiple debts. Which should I focus on?
The one with the highest APR, as it's growing most quickly. Focus all spare cash to clear it. Full pros and cons in Which card to repay first.

Q. I'm not getting great deals - how do I improve my credit rating?
Big question, so see my 35 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score guide.

Q. I've got savings - should I use them to repay my debts?
In general, yes. See my Repay Debts or Save? guide for full help.

Q. I can't sleep at night due to my debts. Help... A very common emotion, especially at this time of year. Do any of these apply to you?

- You can't even meet just minimum monthly payments.
- You have non-mortgage debts bigger than a year's salary.
- You have sleepless nights or depression/anxiety over debt.

If so, then forget my solutions 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 I hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and also see my Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Crisis Help.

The Martin Lewis Money Show
Does your bank owe you £1,000s? Fri 8pm ITV (repeat Sat 4.30pm)

Last week my show was 'can you save £1,000?' If you missed it, you can watch online. This week it's whether your bank owes you £1,000s, in bank account fees, bank charges or card protection cash and more. Do watch, or set the Betamax.

Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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Do you pay more than £18/mth for your mobile - why?

6 tips to slash the cost of mobile phones - incl tools to analyse your bill & same signal, lower price

Multiply your monthly mobile cost by 12 and it can be £100s or even £1,000s a year. Yet huge savings are possible. Our 30+ Mobile Tips show you how to slash costs. Here we ring up the big 6...

Mobile phones1. Why pay more than £18/mth? Our benchmark is O2's* Sim-only 12mth contract, with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and a decent 4GB of 4G data. If you pay more, why? There are some excuses: i) Your contract includes handset costs; ii) Your credit score stops you getting a contract (if so, try cheap PAYG deals); iii) You roam; iv) You need more data.

2. Buy the handset outright and get a cheap Sim-only deal. We believe contracts that include handsets should show an APR, as effectively you're signing up to a loan to pay off the handset with up to 40% interest added - see Hidden mobile phone APRs. Usually (there are exceptions) it's cheaper to just buy the handset, even using a 0% credit card if you must, and get a cheap Sim-only deal, as Danielle tweeted: "@martinslewis, just saved £446 by switching to a Sim-only deal with Vodafone."

3. Free tool to analyse your bills. Two sites will log in to your online account and analyse your bills to find your cheapest tariff: Billmonitor* has a little more detail, MobilePhoneChecker* covers more networks. See Mobile Matchmaking. Forumite dalleDF tried it: "Did Billmonitor check - switching to Sim-only, saving £21/mth".

4. Can you find your cheapest tariff, cheaper? It may be possible via a reseller such as Carphone Warehouse. MoneySup* gives a quick search, MobilePhoneChecker* a detailed one. See our 'before you buy' checklist.

5. Pay less without switching signal. Many people tell us, "I can't switch, as there's only one network that gives me coverage at home/work." But there are only really 4 UK networks, all the rest use their signals, eg, Asda is EE, Giffgaff's O2, iD Mobile's Three, Talk Mobile's Vodafone. So you've still a choice - see our full Mobile Piggybacking List.

6. Haggle. If you're near your contract's end, try haggling a new handset and/or far cheaper deal. For those who do, success rates in our poll are strong: Vodafone 77%, EE 63%, Three 62%, O2 57%. See Mobile Haggling Tips. As forumite Phillw says: "Productive call with O2, I was offered a £10/mth discount PLUS £150 bill credit."

Forum Hottie: Boots sale boosted to up to 70%, eg, £18 Soap & Glory set. Ltd stock. Full info in Boots sale boost. Plus other stores are boosting sales too - House of Fraser has gone to 70%. See full High street sales boosts list.

Bank with Barclays? Get free £55/yr min. Co-op? £48/yr. Not best buys, but if you're sticking get free money.

Got Sky line rent? Huge opportunity to slash costs. Due to the regulator's intervention after its price hike, Sky's extended the period in which its line rent customers can leave contracts penalty-free, opening up a great window to haggle. The type of savings people get include this from Brian: "Rang Sky & asked it to match Virginís Big Kahuna movies & sport - now £50/mth, down from £100/mth." Full help in Beat Sky price hikes.

£10 off £30 Amazon trick for parts of Eng, eg, in & around Manc, Birm, Ldn, Newcastle. See Amzn £10 off.

£14 Hi-Tec trainers, £19 waterproof boots. MSE Blagged. Via 60% off footwear code for 10 styles. Hi-Tec

31 New York MoneySaving tips. Planning a trip to the Big Apple? Take a bite out of it with our new 31 NYC trip tips.


- Ocado 25% off £60 & free delivery pass Ends Mon 15 Feb

- Hi-Tec 60% off selected footwear code Ends Wed 20 Jan

- Two pairs of prescription specs £19 Ends Wed 20 Jan

- Kurt Geiger extra 20% off outlet code Ends Sun


- Santander 123 fees hiked - should you ditch it?

- 15% off the four big railcards

- 21 New Year's resolutions to save £1,000s

- Six tips to slash gym costs

New. Blockbuster bank switch: FREE £100, £5/mth cashback, 2x5% savings

Last week we said there was a bank price war with 3 hot new deals - now 2 more have fired salvos

We're swamped with your complaints about banks, but STOP BITCHING, START SWITCHING. 7-day switching means they close your old account, move all direct debits & standing orders, and auto-forward payments to the old account for 3 years. 82% of you say it's easy & hassle-free. To get the bonuses you usually need to use their switching service, pass a credit check and have/switch a couple of direct debits. Full info in Best Bank Accounts - here are the main contenders...

  • Bank switchNew. Free £100, £5/mth cashback, 5% interest & 5% linked savings. Till 8 Feb, via this link, TSB* gives switchers to its Classic Plus account £100 (you get nowt direct). The account gives 5% cashback on the first £100 a month of contactless debit card spending till Dec 2016 - so a possible free fiver, 5% interest on balances up to £2,000 and you can put up to £250/mth in a 5% linked regular savings account. Customer service rating: 58% 'great'. Min pay-in £500/mth.

  • New. Free £150 plus 2% interest. Clydesdale*/Yorkshire* banks have relaunched their £150 switching bonus, and go for the Current Account Direct and you can get 2% interest on up to £3,000. Customer service: 43% 'great'. Min pay-in £1,000/mth.

  • Free £100 M&S tax-free plus £10/mth. The usual M&S Bank* boon is it's the only one that doesn't require you to deposit a set amount each month to get its switchers' £100 M&S gift card, £100 0% overdraft & 6% linked regular savings account. That's still true, so it's good for those with irregular incomes. Yet if you can pay in £1,000/mth, then switch now & it'll add £10 to the gift card each month for a year. Customer service: 67% 'great'.

  • Free £150 tax-free cash & no.1 for service. First Direct's* won every service poll we've ever done and if you go via this special link, you get £150 (£125 direct). It also has a £250 0% overdraft and gives access to its 6% regular savings account. Customer service: 92% 'great'. Min pay-in £1,000/mth.

  • Free £100 tax-free plus £5/mth. Halifax's* gives switchers £100, then £5 cash every month you don't slip into the overdraft (avoid that, as it's expensive). Customer service: 66% 'great'. Min pay-in £750/mth.

  • Got savings? 3% interest may be better. Santander 123* pays 3% AER on balances of £3,000 to £20,000, plus up to 3% cashback on bills, which usually wipes out its £5/mth fee. Customer service: 81% 'great'. For full info & options, incl up to 5% for smaller amounts, see Top Interest-Paying Bank Accounts.

Santander 123 fee now £5/mth - should you scrap it? New ditch-or-keep graphic in Martin's updated 123 analysis.

Success of the Week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
Watch your post to see if you're one of 2 million getting AI Scheme reminder claim letters
"£300+ reimbursed all thanks to your AI Scheme (Sentinel) reclaim reply templates. Then contacted RBS and a further refund of £160 arrived for the earlier years, prior to 2003."

Carluccio's & Prezzo 2for1-ish, Pizza Express 40% off. Restaurants want January diners. 35+ restaurant vouchers

2 pairs of prescription specs £19 code. MSE Blagged. £36 off works on 2for1 offer. Spec-tacular. Glasses Direct

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Kurt Geiger shoes £12-ish all-in, via 20% off outlet code. MSE Blagged. Ltd stock. Ends Sun. Kurt Geiger outlet

FREE Covent Garden Soup (norm £2-ish). It's £1 off, and there's a £1 voucher. Free soup

Big online grocery savings: Ocado triple code incl 25% off £60 & 6mths' free delivery. MSE Blagged. Newbies to Ocado (even if your partner already shops there) can cut the cost of the weekly shop. See Ocado triple code.

The 5 holiday-booking need-to-knows

Dreaming of sun & sea? Don't let travel-lust destroy your wallet. Pay the min for flights, hotels & packages

It's cold and dark, so it's no surprise January is the year's biggest holiday-booking month. We're going to bring you a full holiday booking guide soon, but here are 5 quick need-to-knows to tide you over...

Holidays1. Slash flight costs using the RIGHT comparison site. Use the right tool for the job. a) Kayak* and Skyscanner* are the most powerful. b) But if you're going to a traditional package holiday destination, eg, Majorca, use TravelSupermarket* & Flights Direct* as they also include many charter flights. c) If you want to know when to book, use Momondo's* flight insight tool - typically best prices come if you book 53 days in advance. See 28 Cheap Flight Tricks.

2. Find the cheapest rate for the hotel you want. If you know which hotel you want, try Trivago* and TravelSup* comparisons to track down the cheapest. Full step-by-step: Cheap Hotels.

3. Haggle down package holiday costs. Summer package holidays often win for 7, 10 or 14 days in a traditional tourist destination. The cheapest time to book is within 8wks of travel as prices plummet in the 'lates' market, yet there's limited choice and flexibility. Otherwise, book now while there are early-bird discounts on at Thomas Cook, First Choice, Thomson, Virgin etc. Better still, haggle to find which travel agent will sell it you for less. Forumite Yinster says: "I was looking to go to Vegas. I was originally quoted £1,400/pp, but after calling around got the same deal plus an extra night for £1,150/pp. Very happy." Full help in Cheap Package Holidays.

4. Uncover secret hotels & bag big discounts.* & others offer 3-5 star UK & world 'secret hotel' discounts. You only find out the hotel once you book - yet we can show how to uncover secret hotels before booking.

5. Booked your holiday? Get travel insurance NOW (it's just £13/year). Many book a holiday, then leave sorting the travel insurance until they go. This is bonkers - it defeats half of what you're paying for, as in the event of cancellation, injury, illness, or death in the family, you've no cover. So sort it as soon as you book - see Cheap Travel Insurance.

More HOLIDAY MoneySaving: Cheap Travel Money, Car Hire, Cheap Airport Parking, 50+ Overseas Travel Tips

Free £1.35-ish Krispy Kreme doughnut voucher. For an original glazed doughnut. Free doughnut

£15 for Now TV box and 2mth Sky Movies pass/2 days' Sky Sports. Norm £20 just for the movies. See Cheap movies streaming.

FREE £8-ish cocktail. Mojito available until Sun 31 Jan via Pitcher & Piano voucher. Please be Drinkaware.


When did you last check your credit file? A small error on your files at credit reference agencies Experian, Equifax or Callcredit can cause havoc, so checking your file is important.

When did you last check your credit file?

You feel better off than your parents: At least that's what the 19,174 who voted in our poll last week said. In every age category you felt more well-off than your parents had been at the same age. However, it was the older 50+ category that felt the most advantaged, with 79% feeling better off compared to just 54% of those aged under-25. See the full results.

- Top story: - MPs demand rethink of women's state pension changes

- Bank with Barclays or Co-op? Get at least £48/year free as banks boost rewards

- New chance to haggle a better Sky deal after Ofcom steps in over price hikes


Should I pay for my usher's suit? A few months ago I tried on a suit for a wedding I'm attending soon - I'll be an usher and the groom had told me that the wedding party would cover the hire cost. He's just got in touch to say they can no longer afford to cover it and that I'll need to pay £120 (on top of the stag do and wedding presents). Shall I cough up or cause a fuss? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay for my usher's suit? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: How much did we pay off in 2015?
- Competitions thread of the week: Holiday to Morocco
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Bookworm 2016
- Game of the week: 100 Percent Complete
- Discussion of the week: Paying for children at university


- Can a store charge more than its website? Plus other questions about pricing


- £10 off £30 Amazon trick

- FREE Covent Garden Soup (norm £2-ish)


Thu 14 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 15 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Fri 15 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. Watch previous
Mon 18 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 18 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast


Fri 15 Jan - BBC Radio Wiltshire, 12.30pm
Fri 15 Jan - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 19 Jan - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.30pm


Q: Does Section 75 legislation cover charge cards, such as Amex Gold? Nathaniel, via Twitter.

MSE Rosie's A: Spending on charge cards, along with debit cards, isn't considered a credit purchase, so they aren't covered under Section 75, as credit cards are. This means purchases between £100 and £30,000 on a charge card are not automatically protected.

However, there is still a way to try to get your money back if you don't receive the goods you bought, using a little-known scheme called 'chargeback'.

Similar to Section 75, though not enshrined in law, chargeback allows card providers to reverse a payment you've made to a retailer if they agree you've a legitimate complaint, for example a company going bust or goods being faulty. For more information see Chargeback and Section 75.

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

How do you know when you're getting old? as asked by a 30-year-old...

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread in the forum - a 30-year-old asking "When do you start feeling old?" Suggestions include picking Shredded Wheat over Frosties, saying "back in my day...", or this: "Two kids cycle towards me, one shouts 'mind the old man', I turn and look over my shoulder - and nobody's there." We'd love your views.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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