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13th Jul 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 This info may be out of date.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 July 2016
Martin's Briefing: 12 holiday tips to stop weak pound adding £100s
2yr 0% FEE-FREE price war
Do your tax credit renewal NOW
The insurance charge to pay more
Cheapest-ever 10-YR mortgage fix
75% off sales - biggest in years?
Urgent: Fight student loan U-turn
£19 for 2 specs, 90 lenses £27
£19bn Mastercard claim - are you due a share?
Top student bank accounts 2016/17
Free £7 Sky Sports 1-day pass
£25 beauty box code (worth £110+)
2,000 FREE family Countryfile Live tix
Tesco Direct up to 60% off, incl toys
'£9.50 Sun hols' are back

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

12 holiday tips to stop weak pound adding £100s

Off abroad? Use my checklist to mitigate price hikes & avoid bill shock

Brexit fear means the pound's at a 30-year low against the dollar, and is down sharply against the euro. Last week I analysed if you should buy holiday cash now. Yet unless sterling recovers, even things you book here for an overseas holiday may be 20% more than last summer when the pound was at a high.

Of course if you booked an all-inclusive a long time ago, the impact will be minimal. But if you're sorting your own food, want excursions or will be out on the razz, expect it to feel expensive. Our 50+ Overseas Travel Tips guide helps keep your costs down, and for speed here's my checklist of the key 12 tips...

1. EHICOver 5m EHIC cards are invalid - is yours? The European Health Insurance Card gives access to local GPs or state-run hospitals at the same cost as locals; so if it's free for them, it's free for you. Here are the need-to-knows...

- Over 5m are invalid as they're out of date. Check yours (see image) and renew if it is.
- Every family member, including children, needs their own.
- Never pay to get or renew one. Beware on search engines of con artists making you pay admin charges for 'helping you' or 'fast tracks'. To avoid this, see get and renew EHICs for FREE.

And don't let Brexit put you off; the EHIC scheme still works, and should do for at least two years, until we leave the EU (and may yet continue beyond). PS don’t see an EHIC as a replacement for travel insurance. You need both, see point 9.
2. Slash the cost of car hire - it can be £9/day. What can be £9/day booked a month ahead can cost £40+/day if you book once there (that's if any cars are left in high season). Full help in cheap holiday car hire, but at speed...

- Use comparisons: Skyscanner*, Kayak*, TravelSup* and Carrentals* - try as many as you've time for. Once booked, double-check details with the car firm.

- Beware stealth fuel charges. Some make you pay for a full tank & return it empty - that can add about £80 if you don't drive far. Most sites let you filter by fuel policy. See fuel charges help.
3. Buy car-hire excess insurance BEFORE you go and save up to 80%+. Pick up your hire car, and while basic insurance is almost always included, you'll often hear the scare tactic: "Hey señor, you need excess insurance too - if not and there's a problem, you pay €1,000." I can't tell you how often I've hired a car and wanted to intervene when I hear this happening next to me.

This insurance can cost €20 a day, that's often more than the hire itself. Far cheaper is just get standalone excess insurance before you go, as Glyn did: "Thanks @MartinSLewis, I followed your guide & got a week's car hire excess insurance for £13. Rental company wanted £12 per day."

To do it, use Moneymaxim* comparison site, then compare against:

- Leisure Guard* with 20% off code MSE20.
- Reduce My Excess* with 20% code MSE03.
- Questor* with 20% code MSE2097.
- Direct Car Excess Insurance* with 15% code MSE2101.

Even with this, hire firms will often say "you'll still need to pay us". This is true, as they require a deposit of €600 - €1,350 on a credit (not debit) card, from which they'll take the cost of any incidents. Yet with standalone policies you then reclaim that cash. See more on card deposit issues.
4. Easy way to get near-perfect rates everywhere, every time, with extra protection. Most debit and credit card firms get a near-perfect exchange rate from Mastercard or Visa, then add a 3%-ish 'non-sterling exchange fee' to what they charge us, so £100 of euros costs you £103.

But a specialist overseas credit card has no exchange fee, and you get the same near-perfect rate on the day it's processed. So pocket one, only for use abroad, and ensure you repay IN FULL each month to minimise interest. It can take 1-2 weeks to arrive; my top picks are:

- Long-term winner:
Halifax Clarity (eligibility calc / apply*) has good feedback and a) it's a Mastercard, which usually wins on the underlying exchange rate - see rates compared. b) It has low fees for cash withdrawals.

- Slightly cheaper at ATMs:
The Creation Everyday (apply*) is similar, but cash withdrawals are a touch cheaper, but we've little feedback (let us know).

- Easy-to-get card, but bad for ATMs:
The Aqua card (eligibility calc / apply*) has no exchange fee, pays 0.5% cashback on spending and accepts some with past CCJs/defaults. But ATM withdrawals have high fees & high interest.

These aren't the only specialist cards - see the full list. If you have one, it isn't worth shifting. Check the two overseas debit cards too.

The Golden Rules. Full info: Top Overseas Cards (APR Examples).
1) Pay on the card - it's cheaper than withdrawing cash.
2) Clear IN FULL or these cards are 18.9%, 12.9% & 34.9% rep APR.
3) You usually pay interest on ATM withdrawals (not spending) even if you clear in full. Even so, Halifax and Creation still beat most bureaux.

Can't get or don't want a credit card? Anyone can get the Supercard. It has similar exchange rates to the cards above, but charges 2.99% for ATM use. Or try a prepaid travel card, here you load up cash in advance (and get that day's rate) - you can currently get £60 worth of foreign currency for £50.
5. Find best holiday money rates from 40 bureaux in seconds. Tell our TravelMoneyMax comparison how many euros, dollars, ringgits etc you want and it compares 40 bureaux, including fees, to find your winner. Or use the new TMM iPhone app or TMM Android app, which do the same and have added functions such as storing your plastic, so when you're away they show your cheapest way to pay. To show the impact on a €1,000 mixed spend...

- Top specialist credit card repaid in full (see point 4): £857
- Cash, via TMM's cheapest bureau (must pick up in London): £862
- Cash from M&S on the high st (non-M&S cardholders): £876
- Change at airport (not pre-ordered): £964
6. Always turn old sun cream bottles around to save cash. For why, see our sun cream saving tips. Plus for new sun cream, see £1 sun cream deals.
7. Slash airport parking costs from £80 to £40. Early booking tends to win. The easy way is to use our discounted links to comparison sites. Try a few...

APH 20% off* (London airports, Manc, Birm) | Holiday Extras 10-30%* | SkyParkSecure 13-30%* | FHR 12-25%* | Airparks 12%-25%*

As Poppy tweeted: "Booked 2 weeks' airport parking at Luton for £38 using a discount code on @MoneySavingExp. Half what we usually pay. Result." Full help and more tips in Cheap Airport Parking.
8. Turn your smartphone into a free sat-nav. If it's got GPS, convert it into a free sat-nav for the UK and 182 other countries. If you're going overseas, download maps before you go to avoid pricey data costs.

9. £9 A YEAR travel insurance (if you've booked, you need it NOW). Depressingly at this time of year my feed fills with tweets saying things like: "Just found I've a breast lump & need treatment, my airline won't refund my ticket, no insurance, what can I do?" The answer, sadly, is usually 'nothing', as that's what travel insurance is for. Yet many wait to get it until before they go - defeating half its purpose.

So get travel insurance the moment you book. If you don't, and you or a family member get ill or need to cancel, you've no recourse.

Cheapest annual policies (under-65s): Go away 2+ times a year and annual policies usually win. A year's Europe cover for a 32-yr-old costs just £9; for a couple worldwide aged 45 it's £44. The cheapest no-frills cover is usually Holidaysafe Lite*, but also check Coverwise* and Leisure Guard Lite*, as they beat it in some combinations. Full help in Cheap Annual Travel Insurance.

Travel insurance for over-65s and more
Cheap one-off trip insurance | Over-65s Travel Insurance | Pre-existing Medical Conditions | Cheap annual with winter sport

10. Bag cheap attraction tickets before you go. Paying on the door can be costly, especially for popular attractions such as theme parks, water parks or historical sites. See our cheap Disney and other attraction tickets guide.
11. Got your flight but nowhere to stay? Our Cheap Hotels and UK Hotels guides show how to get last-minute rooms at cheap prices. Tips include...

- The same hotel room can be sold at vastly different prices.
Use Trivago* (or TravelSup* & TripAdvisor*) to see who's selling it cheapest. For example, last week one 5-star Las Vegas hotel room in Sept had prices ranging from £232 to £394/night. Plus you can then call the hotel to see if it'll beat the price.

- Uncover secret hotels.
Secret hotels are a great way to stay in 4 or 5 star rooms at big discounts. The catch? You only find out the hotel once you've paid, yet we can show you how to uncover secret hotels in advance.

- Cheap holiday villas.
These can massively undercut similar quality hotels. A 3-bed villa in Malaga with pool is £358 for a week in mid-August, compared with £1,420 in a similar quality hotel. MSE Jenny says: "Last July for 14 of us we got an amazing villa in Tuscany with a huge pool and 2 separate cottages for £2,170/wk, so £22/night each. During the school hols too." Our Cheap Holiday Rentals guide shows you how to do it.

- Rent a room or home.
Alternatively, rent rooms in homes via Airbnb or Wimdu, eg, £55/nt for a room in Barcelona. Yet read our renting rooms info for more help and safety warnings if doing that.
12. Not booked anything but decided you need sun? The UK's beautiful, and we do get sun, but if you still want a trip abroad...

- Flights: Start by speedily doing a quick comparison. In general, use Kayak* (for gizmos), Skyscanner* (ease) & TravelSup* (range). Though if you're flying to a traditional package holiday destination, eg, Majorca, check Flights Direct* too, as it can be better for charter flights. This is the tip of the iceberg, see 28 Cheap Flight tricks.

- Package holidays: Here you usually get flights, hotels and transfers all-in. They can be cheapest, especially for 7, 10 or 14 days away in a traditional tourist spot. Better still, the 'lates' market (so within 8 weeks of travel) is where there can be some serious bargains. The key to really knocking down the price though is haggling - see our Cheap Package Holidays.

PS: Having been through the big stuff, today I'm off on a roadshow for my TV series, so the final touches are in the talented hands of the MSE team.

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If you pay credit card interest now make it TOTALLY FREE for two years

New. Price war hots up with two card launches. Now THREE cards give 24mths 0% FEE-FREE so there's no cost

If you've existing credit or store card debt, shift it to a 0% balance transfer card which repays it for you. This means all your repayments clear the actual debt, not just cover interest. Most cards charge a one-off fee (eg, 2.5% is £25 per £1,000 shifted), but now competition's ramping up among fee-free cards, so if you can repay in under two years, you do it at no cost.

Will you be accepted?
Our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc shows which of most top cards you've best odds of getting. And unlike applying it doesn't hit your credit file. The impact can be huge; Simon emailed: "Owed £2,555 paying £90/mth interest. Used your calc, got 37mths 0%. Saved a fortune." That's c. £3,300 saved over 37mths. Here are our top picks:

TOP 0% Balance transfer cards 0% deal (REP APR AFTER 0% ENDS) ONE-OFF FEE
New. Tesco (apply*) - joint-longest NO-FEE 0% 24mths 0% (20.6%) NONE
AA (eligibility calc / apply*) - joint-longest NO-FEE 0% 24mths 0% (i) (19.9%) NONE
New. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - joint-longest NO-FEE 0% Up to 24mths 0% (18.9%) NONE
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - long 0% low-fee Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.72%
Virgin (eligibility calc / apply*) - long 0% low-fee that isn't an 'up to' 32mths 0% (19.9%) 0.99% (min £3)
Sainsbury's (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest 0% with the lowest fee 40mths 0% (18.9%) 2.48% (min £3) (ii)
(i) Must transfer at least £500, otherwise you get 22mths 0% (if accepted). (ii) Must have a Nectar card or you pay a 2.89% fee.

  • Tip 1: Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. 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. So if under two years it'll be fee-free. Unsure? Play safe, go long, even with a fee.

  • Tip 2: Some are 'up to' 0%, so you may get a shorter deal. That's why we include the best non 'up-to' deals. If the eligibility calc suggests good odds of getting these, unlike the 'up tos', you know exactly what you'll get.

  • Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help, get cashback & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you can lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
    b) Clear the card or balance-transfer again before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the higher APR.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on these. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.


New. Cheapest-ever 10-YEAR mortgage fix - should you grab it? Read Martin's 10yr fix analysis.

75% off summer sales - biggest in years? Plus rumoured Next 50% sale. This week's papers have reported that a wet spring & Brexit have led to the strongest-ever summer sales. We think that's overblown, but certainly stores such as H&M, Topshop, Urban Outfitters & more have upped discounts to a max 75% off; see Top Summer sales. Plus there's a Next 50% sale rumour.

Urgent. Tell your MP to fight the retrospective student loan hike. The Commons will debate it on Mon. Everyone who cares - students, grads & parents - ask your MP to attend & oppose. Full info/templates: Martin's fight student U-turn blog.

£19 for 2 specs OR 90 contact lenses £27 via codes. MSE Blagged. Including delivery. Sites for sore eyes

'Are you due share of potential £19bn Mastercard refund?' Why you could be owed £100s each - by the man behind this class action lawsuit. Mastercard refunds?

New. Best-buy student bank accounts 2016/17. Incl free 4-year railcard. Student accounts 2016/17 best-buys



- 2 pairs of specs £19 all-in via code Ends 31 Jul

- £25 beauty box (worth £110+) via code 2,000 avail

- 90 contact lenses £27 del via 40% off code Ends 31 Jul


- What Brexit means for your pocket

- Ends Mon: 20% off ALL main 1 year railcards

- Huge Nurofen, Calpol and Boots hay fever rip-off

- Beware scam HMRC refund calls

- Bank with Barclays, Halifax or Co-op? You may owe tax


Do your tax credit renewal NOW - DON'T leave it till 31 July deadline

Around 5m have been sent a review form. Ignore it and you risk a money 'mare, so get your skates on

Over 5 million tax credit review forms have been sent out. If you get tax credits you should have already got yours (contact HMRC if not). You might not need to send it back, but don't ignore. If details are wrong, you could be forced to repay cash you've already spent. For full info see Tax Credit Help, here's the lowdown...

  • Tax creditsThe deadline's 8pm on 31 July, but do it NOW. Each year we run stories on how the official helpline can't cope with caller numbers as the deadline looms, and how hideous it is to get through. Thankfully you can now do it online but if you prefer, the phones will hopefully be better this year - yet don't bet on it. The sooner you call, the better.

  • Were you sent yours in a WHITE envelope? This is a 'declaration form', meaning you need to check it's correct. Then you MUST let the taxman know if it is or not. Either call 0345 300 3900, post it back or do it online.

  • Got a BROWN envelope? This is a 'renewal notice'. Here, check the info's correct; if so, do nothing. But if your circumstances have changed, call 0345 300 3900 or do it online.

  • Avoid overpayment hell - TELL 'EM IF ANYTHING CHANGES. Being overpaid sounds a dream - but it's a nightmare as you must pay back the cash, even if already spent. It often happens because people don't declare changes of circumstance (eg, moving in/out with partner, income falls, having kids, childcare costs). So if there are ever any changes, not just now but at any time of year, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM. Unsure? Call anyway. Feel money is being clawed back unfairly? See Fight unfair tax credit overpayments.

  • Are you missing out on tax credits? Depending on the number of children you have, some families earning up to around £73k may qualify, though the help drops quickly after £46k. Use our 10-Min Benefits Calc to check.


Go quick: Free £7 Sky Sports 1-day pass. To watch any time in next year, incl Premier League football. Now TV

£25 beauty box code (worth £110+), incl Benefit, Burt's Bees, L'Occitane. MSE Blagged. 2k avail. Beauty

2,000 FREE family tix to BBC Countryfile Live. 2 grown-ups, 2 kids. Norm £73. Oxfordshire, 4-7 Aug. Countryfile

Starts Thu. Tesco Direct up to 60% off toys, furniture & electricals. PLUS double Clubcard pts. Tesco sale

'£9.50 Sun hols' are back. Good, but never actually £9.50. For 260+ parks. Full analysis in Sun Holidays.


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Warning: some car insurance companies charge you to pay more

We've long warned auto-renewal usually means a massive overpay, yet some firms add an up to £50 EXTRA fee

Allow your car insurance to just renew and usually the price rockets, even though you often save £100s getting it elsewhere. But our new research reveals some insurance companies including Budget, Hastings, Saga and Swinton are outrageously charging renewal fees of up to £50 a year on top. With car cover already costing 20% more compared with a year ago, it's another stark reason to never just auto-renew - always see what's out there. Full info in our Cheap Car Insurance system, here are its highlights...

  • Car insuranceDon't use one comparison site - combine them. They cover different insurers, & even when they're the same, they can charge different prices. So get as wide a spread as possible. Today's order's Confused*, Gocomp*, CTM & MoneySup* (see comparison order).

  • Hot deals comparisons miss, incl free £55 Amazon voucher/£70 Vax. Big insurers Aviva* and Direct Line* are never listed on comparisons and can be cheaper, as Sparrow56 told us: "Got £162 off car ins from Direct Line, vs Saga renewal of £481. Thank you." Plus some insurers on comparison sites have deals that aren't, eg, Age UK* offers a £55 Amazon vch or Churchill* a £70 Vax pressure washer. See hot deals comparisons miss.

  • Three counter-logical savings. Check: 1) If adding a 2nd driver cuts costs, especially for younger drivers. 2) If tweaking your job title lowers prices. 3) Don't assume 3rd party always wins, check if comprehensive's cheapest.

  • Beware paying monthly. It's actually a loan to pay it upfront, with APRs as high as 103% (see Car insurers' 'monthly pay' APRs). It's better to use a 0% credit card - clear it in the year and don't borrow further.

  • Not at renewal? With prices rising, still check the cost. They're 20% up on 12 months ago - and predicted to keep rising - so it's worth checking if you can save money now, and lock in before prices get higher.

    If renewal's soon, some firms' quotes are valid for 60 days: so if prices rise they'll honour the initial deal. These include Aviva*, Nationwide & LV* (see 20 long quote insurers). As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: "Renewal £521. Quote a month ago, which was honoured, of £319. Thanks." If further away, follow the steps above, and see if you can get a cheaper policy. If so, and you haven't claimed, for a £50ish admin fee you can usually cancel and get the rest of the year refunded. See switching mid-policy info.


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Got a year's supply of nappies. Would've been £500 but used MSE's baby tips and got 2,240 for £200. Very happy, saving £300. Thanks MSE." Wonderful, though we're wondering where you store 'em all.

'Free' £10 Sunday cinema ticket when you buy £4.50 sweets. For Cineworld, Showcase & more. Cinema Deals



Avoid online job scams Q&A. Citizens Advice is running a live Facebook Q&A with employment-scam experts today (Wed) at noon. It's part of Scams Awareness Month in July, and this week is about online cons. These commonly include fraudsters charging for so-called training or security checks where there's no job at the end. Join in to ask a question about job hoaxes and find useful tips in our stop scams guide.


How much time does your personal admin take? How much time do you spend in a typical week on personal admin (excluding cleaning your home / gardening)?

Theresa May is your top pick Tory leader. Theresa May was the overwhelming favourite of the five leadership candidates of the 22,756 who voted in our next Prime Minister poll last week, with 58% of the votes. She was top pick for voters of all parties except UKIP, who preferred Andrea Leadsom.



- Top story: security warning after fake reviews - don't show your confirmation email

- Paying a deposit to hire a car? Beware - you could lose out from changes to exchange rates

- Vodafone gets three times as many Ofcom complaints as any other mobile provider

- Charges for unpaid council tax 'push people further into debt'



Is it OK to give a birthday present two months late? To save on gift postage costs for a relative's birthday in May, the family used a visit this month to bring them instead - that's two months later. Was it mean-spirited? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK to give a birthday present two months late? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: NST July
- Competitions thread of the week: Week-long skiing holiday
- Old-style board thread of the week: Waffles
- Discussion of the week: Teachers' gifts: yes or no, buy or make, group or individual?


Thu 14 Jul - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 15 Jul - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 18 Jul - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 18 Jul - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast


Wed 13 Jul - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 14 Jul - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.20pm
Tue 19 Jul - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: Nowadays, many payments are made by bank transfer, ie, Bacs. Is there any protection when you do this? Stuart, by email.

MSE Maeve's A: Not really no. If you use a bank transfer like Bacs or CHAPS, it's like a cash payment: once your money is in their account you can't get it back (without going to court).

If you need protection, the strongest form comes from paying by credit card - then Section 75 rules mean buy something between £100 and £30,000 and pay even 1p of it on the credit card, and the card provider is jointly liable with the retailer if anything goes wrong - very useful added safety.

If you pay on a debit card, there's no legal protection, but the Visa, Amex or Mastercard rules do all allow you to ask for a chargeback if things go wrong.

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


What our email chat sounds like in real life. LOL

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: Email in real life. Discuss and watch a comical video that tries to show what email would be like if it were done in real life. Hopefully you end up in the fits of laughter experienced by some at MSE Towers.

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

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