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This email was sent
14th Jan 2009
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email
14 January 2009
         
Sent: Wednesday 14 Jan 09
Highlights below include ...
New Top 4.65% Savings Free 0870 calls on BT
£1 European Flights Bargain out-of-date food
BK & Strada 2for1, Jongleurs £1, Ferry & wine £19

"With interest rates at 1.5%, should I ditch my mortgage fix?"

Last week UK base rates were slashed to 1.5%, a historic low. Those on variable rates where the whole cut's passed on will see repayments cut by £40ish per month per £100,000 of mortgage.

Ditch my mortgage fix? This question's jammed my mail-bag, as those on fixed rates see friends on super-cheap trackers. Yet most people are UNLIKELY to save by dropping a fix.

While existing trackers have plummeted, the top new customer deals are more expensive at 3.5-4%ish, usually cost a fee, and ditching involves a penalty anyway. Here's a checklist of some variables...

  • Loan-to-values (LTV). Only those borrowing LESS than 75% of a home’s current value are likely to get competitive deals.
  • Interest rate. The lower your fixed rate, the less you're likely to save. If you're at around 5% it's unlikely.
  • The penalty. Most fixed-rate deals have big penalties if you leave early. Yet a £1,000+ penalty could be worth paying, for a big cut.
  • The go-to rate. It's possible the standard variable rate the mortgage'll drop to when the fix ends is cheaper than new deals and anyway won't cost a fee. Check.
  • When it ends. If your deal ends within a few months, it's unlikely to be worth paying a penalty. Yet ditching & switching's more attractive if you've longer.

How to do the sums. In the rare event it looks possible you can ditch, switch & save, contact a whole of market mortgage broker to do the numbers properly, including switching fees. Most reputable brokers won’t charge unless you actually end up getting a new deal through them. More info: Free Remortgage Guide, Finding a broker

TOP 5 MOST READ GUIDES

Week of Tue 5 - Mon 12 Jan '09

1. Top Savings (1)
2. Premium Bonds Calc (5)
3. Best Cash ISAs (3)
4. Freebies Freebies Freebies (4)
5. Cheap Car Insurance (10)
6. Budget Planning (8)
7. Best Balance Transfers (2)
8. Fixed Rate Savings (New)
9. Cheap Train Tickets (9)
10. Reclaim Bank Charges (7)

Rumours of the demise of 'top savings' at the top of the charts were exaggerated. Last Thursday's 0.5% base rate cut means again it was the top player.

And the top new entry was savings too, with fixed rate savings jumping up, with people locking in before rates drop further.


The above excludes daily deals notes

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The Ones Not To Miss
MSE

New Top Savings. 3.6% Instant Access or lock cash away for a year at 4.65%.
With base rates in freefall, accounts slow to follow rate cuts top the best buy tables; but the difficult real aim’s to find the highest payers, factoring in who's cut & who hasn't yet. Our best guess is two no-notice accounts do just that, though neither’s perfect. Top Rate: Alliance & Leicester's* 3.6% AER, tho' withdraw ANY money & you lose interest on ALL savings that month. So use it to store cash you'll hardly touch. Alternative: ICICI's* 3.55% AER no-strings, but while it's fully UK registered, so the govt. guarantees up to £50k per person, be aware there've been concerns over its Indian parent's stability. Fix: You can lock your cash away, without access, for a year with West Brom BS at 4.65% AER fixed. More options & info in the Updated Articles: Top Savings, Safe Savings, Cash ISAs

New 2for1s. Burger King, GBK. Strada & M&S in-store 2 dine for £10. More easy click n print vouchers, plus DimT, Pizza Express and more in the Daily Deals List: Restaurant Vouchers

Don't DIY summer holidays. Packages are back! Undercut cheapest by 10%-15%.
Want 7, 10 or 14 days away in a traditional holiday destination, then often a package holiday undercuts a web bought flight & hotel combo. Many holiday companies have sales on with 2for1 weeks and more; yet it's possible to slash this further. Understand the market: Tour operators make holidays, travel agents sell them, so identical packages are on sale in many agents. Haggle: Once you know what package you want, call around to see who'll give you the lowest price, you could get a further 10%-15% off the lowest advertised price. Full details & sales deals in the Updated Guide: Package Holiday Haggling Related Guides: Cheap Flights, Cheap Travel Money, Cheap Travel Insurance

URGENT! £1(ish) European flights. Ends Mon 19 Jan. Ryanair has a million £1 (inc. most taxes & charges) flights from 16 UK airports for Jan-March travel. See the Updated Guide: £1 Ryanair Flights Related Guides: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels

Half-price Direct Line contents insurance. Lock the price in, it lasts 90 days.
Already one of the cheaper insurers, Direct Line*, which bars comparison sites from including it, has launched a 50% off contents insurance sale. As the quote lasts 90 days, grab it now, to lock in the low price, even if you won't activate it yet. Don't assume it's cheapest: For many it will be the cheapest for contents cover, but not buildings and contents. Yet you might slam much more off by checking its price & cover against the top three comparison sites, Confused*, CompareTM* and MoneySP* and then searching for hidden cashback. Full info in the Updated Guide: Cheap Home Insurance Related Guides: Cheap Car Insurance, Cheap Travel Insurance

Return Dover-Calais ferry + 6 bottles of wine, £19. Cheapest ever price; the wine's worth over £25! Inc. car & up to 9 passengers. Deals Note: Ferry Special

HELP YOUR FRIENDS SAVE IN 2009! TELL THEM ABOUT THIS EMAIL

Jongleurs comedy tickets for £1 (usually c. £15) with a code. This joins free cinema & TV audience tickets, family holidays, 2for1s at England attractions, and more in the Daily Deals List: Cheap Days Out

SayNoTo0870 partial victory. BT to include 0870/0845s in FREE minutes.
In a shock move, from Fri. 16 Jan, BT will include most numbers starting 0870 or 0845 in its free calls e.g., if you’ve got free ‘weekend’ calls, 0870s will be free on a weekend. The problem with 0870s: While called 'National Rate' numbers, you can be charged up to 10p/min to call them, and the company called may get a cut, e.g. call a utility firm to complain and it's earning while you're on hold. Non-BT customer loophole. Those who get a BT line rental bill, but use another company (e.g. Primus) for calls, may be able to route them via BT by first dialling 1280; BT's basic package includes free weekend calls, so this can get you 0870s free. Full info in the Updated Guide: Saynoto0870, Home Phones

Five energy saving lightbulbs for 40p. In store at Tesco until 27 Jan, five bulbs for 40p. See the Forum Note: Cheap Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Got credit card debts? Save £100s WITHOUT new credit. New Video Guide
There's a way to use existing cards more efficiently, protecting your credit score and a lifeline for those who've been rejected. The credit card shuffle is about taking advantage of hidden "don't ask, don't get" existing customer deals' Typical Deal: Barclaycard lets many current cardholders shift debts to it at 6.9% for life with a 2.5% one-off fee. How much can you save? If you've room on your credit limit, it can often halve your costs or more. As it's a complex technique, I've a new video guide to accompany the step-by-step Updated Guide: Credit Card Shuffle Related Guides: Balance Transfers, Cheap Loans, Credit Rating

Credit Card Shuffle

Rumoured. Boots 75% off sale. Unconfirmed, no details, just a heads up. Updates in the Daily Deals Note: Sales Diary

Student loan interest rate cut to 2.5% for all post-1998 loans. The latest base rate drop means most loans now only cost 2.5%. Full explanation in the Updated Guide: Should I Repay My Student Loan? Related Guides: Student Loans, Student MoneySaving

Boiler Cover for £6/month. Do a quick comparison to check. Updated Article
With some boiler cover down to £6/mth & full heating cover £7/mth; there's a real scrap on to win energy heating cover business. And remember, it's an open market, you needn't stick with your energy company's policy. Quick Check: The price depends on cover levels and your system, so use a comparison site, top pick is uSwitch* but Energyhelpline* is worth a secondary gander. Belt n Braces: Direct Line* isn't in the comparisons and as it's currently offering 15% off its policy it's worth a quick look. For much more info read the Updated Guide: Cheapest Boiler Cover Other Winter MoneySaving: Home Insurance, Grant Grabbing, Gas & Elec

Free gym trials & cheap membership. A full list of all one day to a month free trials available and other cost cuttings in the Updated Guide: Free Gym Trials

New online 'Best Before' date food seller. E.g. 300ml Diet Coke 8 for £1.
Health rules dictate you should always throw food beyond its USE-BY date if it has one. Yet BEST-BEFORE only signals it's of optimum quality before then, it's not a safety rule. So don't unnecessarily throw best befores out. Buy Beyond Best Befores: The UK's dotted with independent retailers and market stalls selling super cheap clearance, short-dated and out-of-date items. Now there's one online selling 24x300ml Diet Coke for £2 (8p each) or 400ml jars of mayonnaise for 30p. Yet you need to bulk buy as there's a £5.25 delivery. To stop its site crashing from massive traffic, the links in the Updated Guide: Supermarket Shopping Discuss: Would you buy Beyond Best Befores?

Free Americano Coffee? "Yes we can"! To celebrate Obama's inauguration, until Fri 16 Jan go into any Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, say "Yes we can" and you'll get a free coffee. See the Deals Note: Krispy Dream!

New Forum Board: Redundancy & Redundancy Planning
Week after week we hear new jobless figures, to help there's now a new Redundancy forum board for sharing MoneySaving info, and support for those who've been made redundant or those worried it may happen. Discussions Include: What to Do in the Event of a Redundancy & £2.5k Welsh grant. Related Guides: Recession-proof your Finances, Debt Problems, Free Budget Planner

Reminder. Free £100, a year's 0% overdraft, & free travel insurance. The new Alliance & Leicester* Premier account is fighting to win new business. See the Top Bank Accounts guide

Reminder. Best Balance Transfers. Longest 0%: Virgin* 0% for 16mths with a 2.98% fee. Fees free: Abbey Zero (branch only) 0% for 6 mth. Long Term: Barclaycard Plat 6.5% for life plus 2% fee. Full details, pros & cons in the Best Balance Transfers guide

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NEW YEAR SORT IT CHECKLIST


More MoneySaving
MSE

Great 'What's Hot at Aldi, Lidl & Netto' Hunt Revisited. RATE YOUR FAVOURITES
We want to collate a guide to the best food at Aldi, Lidl and Netto and need more of your feedback. Please Add your ideas/read others: The Great 'What's Hot at Aldi Lidl & Netto' Hunt. Also see the Daily Deals Lists: Grocery Coupons, Shopping Vouchers Related Guide: Supermarket Shopping

MoneySavingExpert.com job opportunity. Full-time London based Editorial Assistant wanted, must be highly numerate.

Reminder. Did you get the News of the World last Sunday? If so, don't forget the voucher on page 54 for your free MoneySaving DVD.

Reminder. Not done the US's online ESTA? You'll be sent back
From last Monday, anyone going to the US must complete its Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least three days before hand. If not you'll be turned away. That even includes flight stopovers, yet someone entering the US over land from Canada or Mexico won't need it. Why do it now? The ESTA lasts two years, and only takes five mins, so after that you’re covered in case you forget, plus the three day rule could be a problem for emergency travel. Full how to in the Forum Note: USA ESTA Related Guides: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels

West Coast Mainline Commuter delayed last week? Both rail operators on that line, Virgin and London Midland, offer compensation. Make sure you claim it. More details including full how-to in the Forum Note: Check your entitlement

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Should Roman Rockafella leave his money to his kids?
Roman Rockafella’s had it tough as a kid, but he’s worked hard, been brilliant and a bit lucky, and at 40 is worth £500 million. Now Mrs. Rockafella is pregnant with their first child and his lawyers have told him he needs a will. He’s worried if he leaves all his money to his kids, they’ll have no work ethic and make nothing of themselves. On the other hand, he wants to give them the best. So like all MoneySavvy folk, he’s come here to ask your advice. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should Roman Rockafella leave it all to his kids? Previous MMDs: Would you pay Brian the Builder in cash? and Would you keep a mistaken double refund?


QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q. The taxman accepts credit cards, can you earn cashback?

A. This 31 Jan tax deadline is the first you can pay by credit card. And it does count as a ‘purchase’ not ‘cash withdrawal’ so it's eligible for cashback or rewards. The bad news is there’s a fee of 0.91% if you pay by phone, 1.25% online, which eats away the gain for most people.

Sadly the top cashback card, the Amex Platinum* which pays a mammoth 5% intro cashback for 3 months on up to £4,000 spending, isn’t yet accepted by the revenue, though apparently it's being worked on. After that happens there’ll be a loophole allowing you to make £200 simply by paying that way, provided you clear your card in full to avoid interest.

See the Cashback Cards guide.

Discuss: Tax Payment Cashback
Suggest: A question of the week



Quick Forum Tips
Warning! Bargains listed here tend to sell out quickly

Great 'Credit Crunch Lunch' Hunt Result
Last week I asked for your top credit crunch work lunch ideas, whether you make and pack your lunch at home, or you just pick it up at the supermarket. There were some great suggestions, including Frozen feasts, Sell by date bargains and Grill it! Past Great Hunts: Recycle & Reuse Xmas Things, Instructions to Take with a Pinch of Salt

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Go-Cat Indoors, Elizabeth Arden Intervene, 2009 Calendars,
Motorbike Riding DVD, Brain Training



Odds and Ends
MSE

MoneySavingExpert on the box/wireless
If you like to watch as well as read about MoneySaving, I'll be appearing on the following programmes over the next week or so.

This week's Martin's Blog: I'm marrying a.... (deleted due to spam filters)
"I've given up trying to fight "the credit crunch"" and "Downshift Nation". Read m'blogs (or RSS users access)

Can you spot the EU oddity? This week's poll. Vote and Odd Country discussion

Is it time to join the euro? Not yet... Last Week’s Vote. Asked whether it's time to ditch the pound, the 61% majority (over 10,000 voters) said no. 31% voted in favour of joining the euro, 5% were undecided, and 2% couldn't care less. See full Euro? poll results.

Archna's Free Game of the Week! Draw a line to eliminate the blocks. Cross Block

Bizarre tales from the other side. While this site is all about Consumer Revenge, you do occasionally have to feel a wee bit sorry for those on the other side

I hope you save some money

Martin

Explanation of * Links

FSA NOTE: Referring people to insurers or insurance intermediaries can in some circumstances require FSA authorisation. For this reason, Martin Lewis of Shepherd's Studios, Rockley Road, Shepherd's Bush, London W14 0DA is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

How this site is financed. Any links with a * by them are affiliated. That means go via this link and a contribution may be made to MoneySavingExpert.com, which helps it stay ad-free and free to use. You shouldn't notice any difference, the links don't impact the product at all and the editorial line (the things I write) is NEVER impacted by it. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it's still included in exactly the same way. As I believe transparency is important, I'm including the following 'un-affiliated' web-addresses for the same things: alliance-leicester.co.uk, icicibank.co.uk, directline.com, confused.com, comparethemarket.com, moneysupermarket.com, uswitch.com, energyhelpline.co.uk, uk.virginmoney.com, tiscali.co.uk, americanexpress.co.uk, love2recycle.com, envirofone.com, mopay.com Read more about this in how this site is financed.

MoneySavingExpert.com is the free to use Consumer Revenge website focused on how to save you cash. It’s owned, and run by ultra-specialised journalist and bestselling author Martin Lewis. On TV amongst other things Martin is GMTV’s Money SavingExpert and presents money programmes for ITV1 Tonight. On Radio Martin has regular slots on Radio 2 Vine and Radio 1 Whiley. He’s also a columnist for the News of The World, Moneywise and the Sunday Post. Find out more: About the site and its funding.

Disclaimer: This e-mail is based on journalistic research. It does not constitute financial advice. Any information should be considered in regard to your own specific circumstances. All tips are followed at your own risk and should be followed up with your own research Full Terms & Conditions.

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