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13th Dec 2017
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

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

13 December 2017
MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email


The cost of many bills has soared in 2017, but the cost of mobile use has dived. Last year you'd pay £15/mth for unlimited calls, texts and a decent 6GB of data - now it's £7-£10/mth. 

So if paying more, you should question why. Acceptable answers are "I use masses of data" or "I'm paying off my handset". Otherwise you're likely wasting cash. While £25 a month doesn't sound much, it's £300 a year.

  • Slash your bill to under £10/mth with a cheap Sim. 
    Who's it best for? Those out of contract and happy with their phone or who can afford a new handset to pair with a Sim.

    Your Sim is the little chip you put in your phone that dictates your calls and data allowance. If you bought a phone with airtime 2yrs+ ago or a Sim 1yr+ ago, you're likely out of contract. If so, you're free to leave penalty-free and you'll likely save with our top picks - all below have 4G data & unltd texts on 1yr contracts, unless stated...

    - Best for low users: This Sim from iD Mobile* (uses the Three network) costs £5/mth for 2.25GB of data, 250 mins & 5,000 texts on a 30-day contract. Anyone not on an iD contract qualifies. Big name alternative: We've blagged anyone not in contract with Virgin Mobile* (EE network) 2GB & 1,500 mins for £6/mth.

    Ends Thu. Best for medium & high users - if you've BT b'band: New customers on BT Mobile*, which uses EE, can get 6GB & unltd mins for £12/mth (high users* 15GB for £18 - scroll to find it) but claim a £60 prepaid Mastercard (high users £75) and if you use it, the cost is equiv to £7/mth (high users £11.75). BT WON'T remind you so you must claim the Mastercard within 1-3mths of sign-up. It's £5/mth more if you don't have, or stop using, BT b'band.

    - Best for medium users not with BT b'band: Anyone not in contract with Virgin Mobile* (EE network) can get 6GB & 2,500 mins for £10/mth.

    - Best for high users not with BT b'band: New Three* custs can get 12GB & unltd mins for £13/mth. 

    - Ensure your phone's unlocked if changing network: Many providers stop you using other firms' Sims, but if you're locked to one network, you can usually get your phone unlocked for free if out of contract. Full help and more deals in Top Sims.

  • Want a new handset? Samsung S8 £140 off, iPhone 7 & 8 £40 off. 
    Who's it best for? If you can afford to, buying a handset outright is usually the cheapest way to get a new phone, then pair with a Sim. 

    These aren't MoneySaving but if you'll buy one, get it as cheaply as possible. But consider if you really need features such as wireless charging on the iPhone 8 when many love the 7. Here are the best prices we've seen on these unlocked phones (where you can use any Sim), which should come in time for Xmas if you order this week.

    - iPhone 8: 64GB for £659 from Giffgaff* (norm £699).
    - iPhone 7: 32GB £509 from Giffgaff* (norm £549).
    - Samsung S8: MSE Blagged. £549 from Unshackled* (norm £689).
    - Samsung Galaxy Note 8: £819 from Unshackled* (norm £869).
    - iPhone X: No special deals - £999 at Apple* for the 64GB but stock's lower.
    - Want another phone? Check out our Cheap Mobiles guide to help you find the cheapest prices.

    Normally we'd suggest using refurbished mobile deals too but prices aren't special now, and while prices may drop in future, there's no certainty.

    - If too pricey, you may be able to spread costs: Many can't afford to pay in one go - though there are ways to buy interest-free. You can use Apple iPhone Payments for some iPhones or a 0% credit card. You may think it strange we suggest you borrow (indeed we prefer you save up instead). But many who can't afford to pay upfront get a contract, which is in effect a loan too that goes on your credit file, yet is usually pricier.

  • Hot iPhone & Samsung handset + airtime contracts win for some, incl £150 off iPhone X deal. 
    Who's it best for? Normally pricier than phone + Sim pairings  - but these deals we've blagged win for some, and you can spread costs.

    As we warn above, contracts are usually pricier but we've blagged some hot deals which win if you're after a certain combo of phone and allowance. They're via and when there, press 'buy now', then enter one of the special codes below. So it registers, don't just hit your return key, press the 'add' button. All the deals below have 4G data & unltd texts on 2yr contracts, and should come in time for Xmas if you order this week...

    - iPhone X: O2 newbies can get a 
    64GB iPhone X* with 12GB of data & unltd mins for £460 upfront if they use code MSEIPHX. It's then £29/mth, making it £1,156 over 2yrs, £155 less than the cheapest equivalent handset + Sim combo we found. It's only available in space grey, as stock's gone on silver.

    - iPhone 8: Vodafone newbies can get a 
    64GB iPhone 8* with 4GB of data & unltd mins & texts for £250 upfront if they use code MSEIPH8. It's then £23/mth, making it £802 over 2yrs, £73 less than the cheapest equivalent handset + Sim combo we found. We've been told stock is decent on this.

    - iPhone 7: EE newbies can get a 
    32GB iPhone 7* with 5GB of data & unltd mins for £75 upfront if they use code MSEIPH7. It's then £27.99/mth, making it £747 over 2yrs, £2 less than the cheapest equivalent handset + Sim combo we found. However, stock's limited.

    - Samsung S8: Vodafone newbies can get a 
    Samsung S8* with 4GB of data & unltd mins for £125 upfront if they use code MSEGLXYS8. It's then £23/mth, making it £677 over 2yrs, £88 less than the cheapest equivalent handset + Sim combo we found. We've been told stock is decent on this. 

    For more deals, see our 
    Cheap Contract Tips guide.

    Mobile phone need-to-knows

  • Switching's quick and you can keep your number. Just request a PAC code from your current network and give it to the new one, and your number's switched the working day after. See how to keep your number.

  • Avoid overpaying by knowing your usage. Buy too low an allowance and you pay over the odds for the extra. Go too high and you overpay for the contract. So check old bills, or if unsure, try a free tool such as Billmonitor* which tells you your past use (but you need to give it your mobile account login).

  • Get £100s for old handsets. While you normally get more via eBay, it's usually easier via mobile reselling sites such as Sell My Mobile*, Compare My Mobile* and Compare And Recycle. To show what you can get, we found one site paying £332 for a 32GB iPhone 7. For how it all works, see Sell Old Mobiles.

  • Cover ALL the family's phones from £13/mth - but do you need insurance? Many don't - it's about whether you're a loser. See our Mobile Insurance guide to help decide and find top picks from £6/mth per person which beat networks' policies.

  • You're credit-checked getting a contract. If your history's poor, PAYG may be your only option. Bad credit means you may struggle to be approved for a phone or Sim contract. Pay-as-you-go deals aren't as cheap, but crucially you won't be credit-checked.

  • Contract up? Haggling can net a bargain. Mobile firms are among the easiest to haggle with - 80% of EE customers and 77% of Vodafone customers said they had success in our latest haggling poll. Suzanne did: "Inspired by your email, I cut my EE contract from £24/mth to £8/mth. Thanks."  See Mobile Haggling for more help.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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Earn whopping 3%+ interest via new automatic saving app

Smash the best buys via our code for robo-savings - the app works out what you can save & does it for you

This isn't about turning the Terminator into a bank (not yet anyway)... but Chip, an app that uses AI or machine learning to analyse your spending habits, works out what you can afford to save, and puts your spare cash aside for you. It's aimed at younger people, though anyone can use it. We've blagged a corking rate, so decided it was time to run through pros (easy saving) and cons (not covered by the usual savings safety protection). 

  • Chip app - get a min 3% interest for a year. Normally the Chip app's* savings interest starts at 0%, yet newbies who use our MSE3 code (10,000 avail) start on 3% interest for a year. It then rises by 1 percentage point for a year per person you recommend who starts saving through it, up to a max 5%.

    Interest accrues weekly, but is paid quarterly, and you can withdraw money whenever you want. On rate alone this more than DOUBLES the 1.36% top easy-access savings.

     -  How does Chip work? You need to give Chip 'read-only' access to your current account. It then analyses your income and spending then every 4-7 days calculates what you can afford to save, and uses a direct debit to move that to a separate 'savings' account, without you noticing. The average amount put aside is £25 five times a month, the max is £100 (so £500/mth). You can also manually move an additional max £100/day up to six times a month.

    - What if it makes me overdrawn? It'll cover your fees and pay £10 compensation - though you can choose to allow it to take you overdrawn (for example if you had a 0% overdraft).

    - Is the whole thing worth bothering with? Some rave about robo-savings, but our feedback is limited, and part of doing this is to help us learn so please feed back. The rate is definitely good though.

  • Is my money safe in Chip savings? Chip isn't a bank, it's an agent of 'e-money provider' Prepaid Financial Services (PFS), which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Your money is held in a ring-fenced Barclays account. Under e-money regs if Chip or PFS went bust your money remains in Barclays together with any interest already paid to you, though you may end up paying insolvency fees (likely small). In the unlikely event Barclays went bust, your money ISN'T protected by the usual £85,000 savings safety limit, so you'd lose it.  

    This app currently has no way of making money - the interest comes from its marketing fund. Its aim is to gain market share then make money offering users access to other services in future, such as overdrafts and credit cards. Of course it may change its savings offering in future too. We've done all the checks we can, but you need to accept there are always unknowns with a new concept like this, so you might want to consider how much you keep in there.

    It's also worth noting that, until 13 Jan 2018, some banks say you're liable for fraud on your account if you've shared your details with apps like Chip - see our App-based banking guide for more.

  • Or earn up to 5% via switching your current account. For fully protected savings, you can switch to Nationwide's FlexDirect current account, which pays 5% for a year on up to £2,500. Or many current accounts have linked 5% savings where you can put up to £200-£300/mth. These include First Direct, M&S Bank (both pay you £100-£125 to switch), HSBC and Nationwide.

    PS: There are other robo-savings apps with different interest models. See our App-based Banking guide for more. 

BT warning. Price hikes hit in 3 weeks - NOW's the time to switch and save £300/yr. BT's broadband, call and sport prices are rising up to £36/yr in Jan, hitting millions - many of whom already overpay. Eg, BT's fibre b'band & line rental can cost £50/mth, yet the cheapest elsewhere is £25/mth. Our Broadband Unbundled tool finds the cheapest deals in your area. In contract? Give notice within 30 days of receiving BT's price hike email and you can leave penalty-free.

Year's 2for1 cinema tix for £1.50ish, incl Star Wars. A reminder of the Meerkat Movies trick for Tue/Wed at Odeon, Vue, Cineworld etc. Even works on Boxing Day. Cinema trick

Get up to 50% off Xmas decorations, wrapping & gifts. Some BIG names are already cutting prices. Find out who in our full Xmas decorations sale.

£43 car brrr-eakdown cover for 15mths (ie, two winters) incl home start & onward travel. MSE Blagged. Breakdowns are more likely in winter, especially with the recent freeze, so we've blagged 15mths of AutoAid* cover for the price of 12, for £43.31. It covers you, your spouse or civil partner, in any car. The firm's got good feedback and changed its claim service so you no longer need to pay upfront, then reclaim. Similar AA/RAC cover can cost £100+. Full info in Cheap Breakdown Cover.

£144 of No7 for £39 incl hot cloth cleanser, mascara, lip gloss. Boots 'Star Gift' available from Fri. No7

'O2 charged me 100x more than it said for roaming.' Has it happened to you? The mobile phone giant wrongly told some they'd pay 0.99p not 99p per min. But one MoneySaver's won a refund


Get PAID to pay your bills

Some top bank accounts give up to 3% cashback on household bills - and you don't need to switch to get 'em

We often say switching is the best way to make money from your bank. Yet we know many of you, especially couples, have a second account for bills, and there's a way to make these work better. For a small fee they give cashback on bills such as energy and council tax, often adding up to £100+/yr. Plus you don't need to use their switching services and close your old account - though you need to pass a credit check.

  • Earn 1-3% cashback on bills (including some mortgages). Santander 123 Lite* has a £1/mth fee yet pays 3% on phone, broadband, mobile and TV bills, 2% on energy, and 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgages (max £10/mth on mortgages, not on buy-to-let). You must pay 'em by direct debit (at least two must be active), pay in £500+/mth and log on to online/mobile banking every 3mths.

    Don't mistake this for Santander's main 123 account which charges £5/mth for the same cashback, plus gives 1.5% on savings up to £20k. See Martin's 'Time to ditch Santander 123?' blog for more. 

  • Earn fixed 2% cashback - but with a slightly higher fee. For £2/mth the NatWest Reward account* gives 2% cashback on council tax, energy, water, mobile, landline, TV and broadband bills paid by direct debit. To get it, you must log in to online/mobile banking every 3mths and pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv £21,650 salary). If your bills are less than the min pay-in, just transfer the remainder back out.

  • Which should you go for? If you've a Santander mortgage, 123 Lite's likely to be best. If you don't have one, it's tighter. With what we consider average bills, 123 Lite pays £72 after the fee, NatWest £66. With high bills, NatWest's £135, Santander £132. Your winner is likely to depend on how much you spend on broadband/TV vs council tax.

    PS: If getting a joint account, it can affect your credit score. You're creating a financial link between you. See Should you link?

  • Happy to change your main bank account? You could earn more. You can earn up to £125 in cash or vouchers, plus get ongoing rewards for a year, by switching account. Yet unlike those above, you have to do a FULL switch to get them, which includes closing your old account. Full info in Best Bank Accounts.


Warning. Shops' deadlines for free or cheap Christmas deliveries are fast approaching. See store-by-store cut-offs.

Going abroad this Xmas? Find top currency rates from 30+ bureaux via our comparison tool. Eg, on Tue, £1 got you €1.12 via our tool but just €1.03 at Gatwick Airport. See TravelMoneyMax.

New. Martin's 'How to teach your kids about debt' video. Recorded at the Young Money charity teachers' conference. Martin's 'Teach your kids about debt' video. Related: Martin's 'Four things you need to be successful' video.

£8 A3ish 2018 photo calendar (norm £22). MSE Blagged. Good Xmas gift. Photo calendar

Sainsbury's shopper? Get £50 Nectar bonus just for paying by plastic. Apply by Thu 28 Dec for this Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) credit card and get 1,000 bonus Nectar pts - worth £5 - each time you spend £35+ in Sainsbury's in the first 2mths (max 10,000 bonus, worth £50). You can even max the bonus by doing a big shop and splitting your shopping into chunks. Pay it off IN FULL each month if you can, although the card also gives 31mths 0% on spending. Clear the card before the 0% ends or it's 18.9% rep APR. Full info: Credit Card Rewards (APR Examples).

Body Shop code gets 40% off + £15 body butter gift when you spend £15. One of the best codes all year, online only, gift only until Sun. Body Shop


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Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. CompareTheMarket*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: 
Zopa* 2.9% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Sky equiv £17.50/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone £25/mth

£100 to switch + top service: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect


Getting travel insurance EARLY matters: '£2k back after cancer diagnosis'

ALWAYS buy as soon as you've booked, whether for this Xmas or later. We've full help to get it cheapest...

Travel insurance doesn't just cover when you're abroad, but from the moment you take it out. Rita's tale is a key reminder: "My husband got diagnosed with cancer so we cancelled three holidays - but got back £1,847 as I followed your tips and got insurance early. Thanks." So if you, a travelling companion or family member falls ill, or you need to cancel for many other reasons BEFORE you travel, you're covered.

We've put the cheapest no-frills policies that meet our minimum cover levels below. For full best buys including more wide-ranging cover, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.

  • Travel InsuranceHolidaying more than once a year? Annual policies from £9 usually win. They cover you for the year, and aren't much more than single-trip policies. A year in Europe for a 35-yr-old is from £9 (£17 for a family) or from £19/yr worldwide (£37 for a family). For under-65s, Holidaysafe Lite*, Coverwise Bronze* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually cheapest - exact prices depend on age. Full best buys in Annual policies.
  • Skiing or snowboarding? You NEED winter sports add-on for full cover. This pays out for medical costs from ski accidents, damaged gear and cancellations due to piste closure. Check if your current policy includes this - if not, get a quote to extend it, then see if you can beat it buying new cover that includes winter sports. Prices start at £14 for an under-36 in Europe to £91 for a family worldwide with someone aged 60. See Winter sports travel insurance.

  • Over 65 or have a pre-existing condition? You often need to look beyond standard policies.
    - Over 65? Prices can rocket, yet there are competitive options from £17/yr. See Over-65s' Travel Insurance.
    - Have medical issues? Always declare them. If getting cover's tough, see Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Help.

  • Travelling in the EU? Carry a free EHIC. The European Health Insurance Card entitles you to emergency state-funded medical treatment at the price a local pays, so if free for them it's free for you. See our Free EHIC guide for how to get one, and check if yours is still valid, as 5m+ were due to expire this year.

FREE video message from Santa. He's gone digital and now sends personalised videos. Santa video

£39 beauty box, incl Nails Inc, Smashbox (£139 indiv). MSE Blagged. Tailored beauty box incl make-up and skincare products. 2,000 avail. Beauty-full

"After reading your Remortgaging Guide I contacted my mortgage provider to get a better deal. We went from a variable rate to a 5yr fixed rate, which saves us almost £4,000 a year. Amazing." 
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Virgin Wines 12-bottle mixed case, incl prosecco and two flutes for £56 (norm £138). MSE Blagged. Newbies only, via subscription. Virgin Wines. Pls be Drinkaware.



What have you switched in 2017? Sadly, the best deals rarely come to loyal customers. Moving company to a new, hot promotional deal is often (not always) the way to slash costs. So we wanted to know what you've switched over the past year to secure a better deal. What have you switched in 2017?

Older folk more likely to give older food a chance. Last week our poll asked whether you eat food past its 'best before' date. Over 14,000 responded, and it seems age matters - while 57% of men and 46% of women aged over 65 said they ignore best before dates altogether, that was true of just 29% of men and 31% of women under 25. Full breakdown in Best before date poll results



How can I stop my friend 'forgetting' to buy rounds? I'm going on a trip with friends to Germany this Christmas. When we buy rounds one person always forgets when it's their turn. I suggested starting a kitty for the trip, but another complained. What's the best way to keep things fair? Enter the Money Moral Maze: How can I stop my friend 'forgetting' to buy rounds? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Things you never thought you could sell
- Competitions thread of the week: £1,000 from Kiss radio
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Something different for Christmas Day starter?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Did you keep your January resolutions?
- Discussion of the week: What to put in homemade crackers?


Ciaté - £25 for £139 of nail polish
Thompson & Morgan - 2 'Christmas rose' plants £10 (norm £23)
Amazon - trick to watch 'The Grand Tour', 'Elf' & other films free
Photo gift - 80-page photo book for £25 (norm £71)

Yo Sushi - 20% off for armed forces, incl veterans, cadets
Strada - 30% off mains
Toby Carvery - £5 off food for new app users
Café Rouge - 30% off food

Iceland - 10% off for emergency services personnel
Ikea - '£5' real Christmas tree
American Express - £5 cashback off £10 local shop spend
Starbucks - pay £1, get 25p off most drinks every time

Quick Forum Tips

'Free' McCain roasting tray at Iceland - Tray-mendous
20p Xmas veg incl sprouts etc - Sprout, sprout, let it all out
Carmex lip balm set £2 at Superdrug - Mind your beeswax



Thu 14 Dec - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. See previous
Fri 15 Dec - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am 


Wed 13 Dec - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 15 Dec - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Christmas tips
Tue 19 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: An elderly relative had home insurance through her building society and was being charged an exorbitant £660/yr. I did a comparison to see how bad it was and found the same insurance for £137. Can I claim for overcharging? Paul, by email.

MSE Tony's A: Sadly, there's no recourse unless the building society said your relative must arrange her home insurance with it - that is a fib and mis-selling.

Sadly, lots of insurers, banks and building societies fleece existing customers with sky-high premiums - which is why we've been shouting for years that loyalty never pays. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should get alternative quotes at renewal to compare. It only takes a few minutes - see our Cheap Home Insurance guide for full info.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... ever wondered how the cost of Christmas has changed over the years? Pick any year from 1968 and a nifty tool shows the cost of Christmas dinner, that year's must-have toy and how much you'd have forked out for a tree. In 1968 it was £2.70 for the meal and £2.93 for a Hot Wheels race track. Pick your year and enjoy a blast from the past. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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