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Weekly Email
This email was sent
15th Feb 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 This info may be out of date.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."

15 February 2017
For heaven's sake, energy hikes now mean you could be burning £350 - sort it
Owe sub-£600? Shift to 0% & cashback cuts debt
New. Year's BT fast fibre b'band & line '£264'
Booked hols? Get insurance NOW
Warning to ALL with piggybank/coin jar
100-day Kids Pass £1 & more
26 Amsterdam MoneySaving tips
New. Longest 0% spending card
Premium Bond cut - are they worth it?
20% off M&S for some custs?
Norwich & Peterborough account help
Sim-ply the best: £10/mth hot Sim
Airport parking warning
Extra 10% off clearance groceries code
425 summer bulbs £10 all-in
£110 Nails Inc set £25

For heaven's sake, energy hikes now mean you could be burning £350/yr unnecessarily - just sort it

- Scot Power follows Npower & EDF spring hikes. SSE & E.on yet to say
- Brit Gas freezes prices - but you could still save an average £200/yr
- In Scot, Wales & parts of NW Eng? We've a cheap collective

Energy price hikes are coming thick and fast, so we wanted to update you with the situation right now. Remember - this is the time your usage is at its highest, so check now to see if you can save £100s.

Switching to a cheap fixed tariff is easy. It takes just 5 mins, plus you get £30 cashback (£15 per fuel) if we can do it for you. You can either:

- Do a full market comparison via MSE's Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save after factoring in the price rises,
- OR if you're confused by the array of deals, our top-picks comparison includes reviews of a few select tariffs and help on which to choose.

Average annual standard variable tariff bills

Use our Cheap Energy Club for a bespoke comparison

Firm Current price/YR SPRING hike info
British Gas £1,044 Frozen till Aug
Npower £1,077 £1,187 from 16 March
EDF £1,069 £1,082 from 1 March
E.on £1,047 No news yet
Scottish Power £1,081 £1,167 from 31 March
SSE £1,068 No news yet
Compare those to what you could be paying if you act...
Cheapest 1yr fixes now £834 - £880/yr Price 'frozen' for a year as they're fixes

Based on regulator Ofgem's typical use, dual fuel, monthly direct debit.

Put bluntly, if you're with Npower you'll be paying a whopping £350/yr more than you need to for exactly the same gas and elec. So here are our top 10 tips to help you switch and save...

1. New. We've launched a tool so you can check you're on your supplier's cheapest tariff. If you're on a supplier's standard rate, you're not on its cheapest. That's why we've added a new 'My Current Supplier' filter to Cheap Energy Club. Just check your Energy Club details are up to date so we know which your current supplier is.

Savings can be massive. From March, a typical Npower user on its standard dual fuel tariff could save £230+/yr by moving to its cheapest. A British Gas customer can switch to Sainsbury's Energy (which British Gas operates) and pay the same, plus get a £100 Sainsbury's gift card. Both switches give you £30 cashback. See Switching without switching for full help.
2. Worried about small providers? See only deals from big names. There are about 50 energy suppliers, all offering multiple tariffs, so it can be dizzying choosing the right one. So now you can filter our Cheap Energy Club results to show only tariffs, incl the cheapest, from the Big 6 plus Co-op, First Utility and Ovo.
3. Urgent. If you're in Wales, Scot or parts of NW Eng ACT NOW to see if you should get our cheap collective fixed deal. We've negotiated a cheap deal with EDF for at least 15,000 dual fuel switches (30,000 single), incl Economy 7.

This isn't a blockbuster like some of our previous collective switches. However it's with a big-name company, we'll be supporting it, and on average, incl cashback, at the time of its launch it was the cheapest fix on the market after Iresa (whose price raises concerns over sustainability).

Whether it's a good deal for you or not depends on where you live and your usage, which is why we do it as part of a whole-of-market comparison in Cheap Energy Club, so you can see how it stacks up against others. 

As long as you were signed up for this email or were registered for the club before 8pm last Friday, it'll show up in your results and our top picks if still available.

EDF scored a decent 60% 'great' in our latest customer service poll. More info on the tariffs, including a full review and FAQs, in our 6th MSE Collective guide.
4. Switching's easy. It's the same gas, same electricity. You won't be cut off, and they don't send engineers round to tinker with your meter. Just fill in your details, give a meter reading & the companies do the rest.
5. You can still switch and save if you have a prepay meter. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay, and the Big 6 (and some smaller suppliers) have stopped charging to swap you to one, though most people require a credit check. On typical use, switching to the cheapest fix can save £295/yr. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide for full info.

If you don't want to or can't change meters, do a Cheap Energy Club prepay comparison anyway, because you could still save - though if you're in debt with your supplier you may not be able to move.
6. If you're on elec or gas only you can still move. Though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the 'Edit details' section.
7. It's cheaper to pay by direct debit. Suppliers charge about 7% less if you pay this way. Always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills. If you estimate, you could end up with overly inflated monthly payments or face a bill shock if you've not paid enough.
8. If you don't think you'll bother to keep switching, look for a longer fix. It won't be the cheapest deal you can get, but it protects against price rises for longer. Do a full market comparison and fix until 2019 to cover you for the next two winters.
9. You can get 'unlimited' energy for a fixed price. If you're worried about your direct debit shooting up as quickly as temperatures drop, Green Star's Unlimited tariff* lets you pay a fixed amount every month regardless of how much energy you use - good for someone freezing at home and fearful of putting the heating on.

All prices are personalised. You need to give it past bills to calculate a flat monthly rate, fixed for 12 months. The tariff cost is similar to a Big 6 standard tariff, but there are £30/fuel exit fees. For medium users, it's about £1,068/yr, or £89/mth. Yet even if your usage rockets, Green Star says it'll honour the deal - useful if you just want peace of mind. See Is Green Star any good?
10. If you're thinking of moving home, make sure you can take your deal with you. Not all suppliers let you transfer fixed deals to a new property. So it's best to check with your supplier to see if it's possible. If you do need to leave early, most suppliers charge exit fees, typically £30/fuel, though the odd firm doesn't at all and some waive them if you move home. It's best to check before applying so you're in the know.

For more options and info including what to do if you're a renter, on Economy 7, think you're eligible for free insulation, or want to complain about bad service, see our Cheap Gas and Electricity guide.

In Northern Ireland?

You've fewer options than the rest of the UK, but can still switch electricity. We're working on a comparison tool and will soon be able to let you compare the best electricity tariffs.


The Martin Lewis Money Show

Mon 20 Feb, 8pm, ITV: The new Lifetime ISA - a possible free £32,000. This April the new Lifetime ISA starts for those saving for a first-time home or retirement. I'll take you through who it's good for, how to maximise it and alternative savings. Plus, how spending a penny can save you £20,000. Do watch or set the Betamax.

Did you miss the 'cut mobile costs & 25% childcare boost' show? Another stonking 3.4m rating. My aim was to show how to slash costs for anyone paying £10+/mth for their mobile, and to explain the new 'Tax-Free Childcare' scheme. If you missed it, watch the mobile & childcare show online. Read more in 30+ tips to cut mobile costs and childcare vouchers vs Tax-Free Childcare guides.


Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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New. Under £600 on a credit card? CUT what you owe & get 0%

Now cashback on some top 0% deals means after you've shifted debt, you owe less than you started with

If you've debt hanging about on a credit or store card, a new range of deals can cut what you owe. They're all balance transfers, where you get a new card that pays off existing debts for you, so you owe it instead, but now it's interest-free. Yet these also pay cashback when you shift the debt, and crucially they do that even if you only shift small amounts. In many cases that means some pay more cashback than the one-off fee for doing this, so your debt's actually cut...

Imagine Ivor Littleowing has £200 on a typical 20% APR credit card, so it costs him £40ish interest a year. If he shifts it to a Halifax up to 32mth 0% (eligibility calc / apply*) there's a one-off £1.40 fee (0.7% of the amount shifted) but it gives £20 back a couple of months later. So by shifting the debt he only has to repay £181.40 and it's now at 0%.

Will you be accepted? Our Balance Transfer Quick Eligibility Calc shows which cards you've best odds of getting, or join our FULL Credit Club, where you also get free Credit & Affordability Scores to give a fuller picture.

Card & reward (1) 0% length (APR AFTER 0% ENDS) Fee (2)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*): £20 back on £100+ transfers Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.7%
Lloyds (eligibility calc / apply*): £20 back on £100+ transfers 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.8%
HSBC (eligibility calc / apply*): £25 back on £50+ transfers 32mths 0% (18.9%) 1.4% (min £5)
Ends Mon. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*): £20 back on £100+ transfers Up to 43mths 0% (18.9%) 3.28%
M&S Bank (eligibility calc / apply*): £30 M&S VOUCHER on £100+ transfers 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.99% (min £5)
(1) Shift debt within 2-3 months to get the 0% & reward. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples). (2) % of debt shifted.

  • Tip 1: Ensure you can repay within the 0% time. The shortest card above is 32mths 0%, and that should be plenty of time to clear debts under £600. If not, go for the card with the lowest fee in the time you'll need to clear it. Though it's worth noting: where we write 'up to' you may get a shorter deal; anecdotally, the higher your eligibility calc odds, the more chance of getting the advertised 0% length.

    Tip 2: If you've multiple cards with small debts... that's a big debt. This info's aimed at those with just one small debt. If you've more, you need a card right for you to shift them all to. See Best Balance Transfers for help.

    Tip 3: M&S gives a voucher - only go for it if you're careful. While the amount's bigger, it has to be spent at M&S, and can't clear your debt. So if you go for it, use it to pay for normal shopping, and then use the £30 cash saved to help clear your card debt.

  • Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you could 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.
    d) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days to get the 0% & voucher/cashback.


A warning to EVERYONE with a piggybank or coin jar. You soon won't be able to spend the £1s. See £1 warning.

100-day Kids Pass for £1, gets free kids' meals, 40% off cinema tix & more. Norm £7.50/mth but we've blagged a cheap Kids Pass trial which'll cover half-term & Easter. Also see 100+ cheap or free half-term fun fests.

26 Dam good Amsterdam MoneySaving tips. Incl free ferries, cheap footie tix & bargain bikes. Amsterdam tips

New. Longest 0% interest credit card for spending. Accepted new cardholders can now pay zero interest for up to 30mths on new borrowing from Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*). Alternatively, the AA (eligibility calc / apply*) is up to 28mths 0% & new cardholders get £35 cashback when they spend £500+ within 60 days. For more options, incl free £35 M&S vchs, see Top 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples). Will you get 'em? Find which is most likely to accept you with our 0% Eligibility Calculator. Warning: Only borrow if it's planned & budgeted, never miss a min repayment & clear before the 0% ends or they're 18.9% rep APR.

Premium Bond prizes to be slashed in May. We've updated our analysis. Are they worth it?

Stop press. M&S 20% off codes for some custs (& their friends)? We've just discovered some Sparks card holders have been sent 20% off codes for clothing, beauty & homeware from Thu - and their friends & family can use it too. Awaiting full info on who exactly qualifies. See full M&S updates



- 100-day Kids Pass £1 Ends Sun 30 Apr

- 4GB data, unltd mins, texts: £10/mth Ends Tue 28 Feb

- Extra 10% off clearance groceries Ends Wed 22 Feb

- 425 summer bulbs £10 all-in Ends Mon 20 Feb

- £110ish Nails Inc set £25 all-in 1,200 avail


- A warning if you were at uni from 1998-2012

- Are you owed £1,000s in packaged bank account fees?

- Mortgage price war: 5yr fix now 1.78%

- FREE coffee, tea or hot choc EVERY day


New. A YEAR's BT fast fibre broadband & line '£264'

The key to slashing costs is pouncing on hot, short-lived deals & this is less than half non-promo prices

You usually pay more for faster fibre - best for gamers, streamers or multiple users - but this cracker is far cheaper than out-of-contract prices, even for standard speeds. For example, BT normally charges about £490/yr for standard broadband and line, and £565/yr for its faster fibre equivalent. Here are the need-to-knows...

  • bbandNew. Hot BT fibre broadband & line. Use this BT fibre link* and anyone who doesn't currently have BT broadband can get this line rent & up-to-52Mb speed unltd broadband deal on a 1yr contract (83% of the UK can get it - you're told when applying). It's about 3x normal speed & avail until 11.59pm on Thu 23 Feb. Here's how it works:

    1. Unlimited fibre broadband and line rent's discounted to £29.49/mth for 12mths. After, it jumps to the usual £47.49/mth.

    2. You pay £59.99 set-up costs. Includes activation and p&p for the 'free' router.

    3. CLAIM a £100 prepaid Mastercard & £50 cashback AFTER installation. This makes the deal really hot, but it's fiddly. Annoyingly, BT won't remind you, so diarise to use this Mastercard link and cashback link. You've up to 3mths after activation to claim - they then take up to 45 days to arrive.

    - Anything else? Weekend calls to UK landlines are included, for others see BT call costs. Regular cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but often on more expensive deals. Cashback can also change daily, so check.

    - Cost analysis: It's a steal. The total you pay over 1yr is £413.87 before calls. But claim the cashback & use the Mastercard (anywhere that takes Mastercard so it's almost as good as cash) & it's £263.87, equiv to £21.99/mth.

  • Already with BT? This Virgin Media deal gives you up-to-50Mb fibre and line rent for equiv £283 over 12 months. Alternatively, if near the end of your BT contract, it's easy to haggle with BT.

  • Don't need fibre? Get standard speed broadband and line rent for £190 for a year with newer provider Origin on a 1yr contract, though feedback's limited. Full options in Cheap Broadband.


Norwich & Peterborough current accounts being axed - find out which banks will pay you to switch. See N&P help.

425 summer bulbs £10 all-in (norm £25ish). MSE Blagged. Incl freesia & anemone. Plant now for summer. Ends Mon

Sim-ply the best. 4GB (4G) data, unltd mins & texts £10/mth. MSE Blagged. We've blagged this super-cheap Sim-only deal from BT-owned Plusnet* (which uses EE's network). It's currently the hottest we've seen at this usage level, and on a 30-day rolling contract for new & existing custs so you're not tied in for long. Full info & more options in Sim top picks.

Airport parking warning. Check if you've been charged for insurance without knowing. Millions possibly hit in the past year - see our full investigation and how to claim a refund.

EXTRA 10% off clearance groceries code, eg, 17p per Tassimo coffee pod, 36p per Lucozade. MSE Blagged. Online store sells discounted food close to or past 'best-before' dates, but still safe to eat. Our code makes it even cheaper. Min £17.50 spend & £6 delivery for up to 25kg, so best for bulk-buyers. Approved Food

£110ish Nails Inc nail polish collection £25 all-in. MSE Blagged. Incl glitter & latex effects. 1,200 avail


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Warning. If you've booked your holiday get travel insurance NOW

'I paid for family holiday, then found I've cancer. I've no insurance, so no refund, what can I do?'

The sad answer to the question above, which was sent to us, is very little. It shows just how vital it is to ALWAYS buy travel insurance WHEN YOU BOOK. You're not covered for things such as illness, bereavement & jury service that emerge before you get insured. Plus it doesn't cost more to book early. Our Cheap Travel Insurance guide has the top deals. Here are the highlights...

  • Travel InsuranceJet off more than once a year? An annual policy beats single. This covers a full year's holidays and can only cost a few pounds more than a single-trip policy, eg, a year's cover in Europe for a 35-yr-old is from around £9 (£19 for a family) or from around £19/yr worldwide (£42 for a family). For under-65s, Holidaysafe Lite* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually cheapest - exact prices depend on age. Full best buys in annual policies.

  • Cheapest single trip from £5 Europe, £14 worldwide. Leisure Guard Lite* tends to win but also get quotes from Holidaysafe Lite* to compare, as they vary depending on age, location and number of travellers. See single-trip cover for more.

  • Over-65s' cover is pricier but we've dug out the gems. Eg, £25/yr for a 67-yr-old in Europe. See Over-65s' Travel Insurance. Related: Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Travel Insurance.

  • Travelling in the EU? Take a free EHIC. A whopping 5m+ expired in 2016 yet everyone should take a VALID European Health Insurance Card. It entitles you to emergency state-funded medical treatment for the price a local pays, so if free for them it's free for you. Warning: never pay for the card - see how to get/renew a EHIC for free.


Two 'free' Chessington tix via £6ish spend (norm up to £100ish a pair). Plus similar Legoland offer. Merlin deals

Free 500ml Coke Zero Sugar. Via Greggs app, 100,000 avail. Coke for Zero

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"My fully comp car insurance renewal was £499, up £100+ on last year. I complained and got it down to £352 for the same insurance. Thanks for your haggling tip."

Sainsbury's Tu 25% off EVERYTHING. In-store & online clothes discount, incl school uniform. Tu clothing



Have you been ticked off? Some tick boxes are to ensure you read T&Cs or to get your consent for marketing. But some can prove costly - sometimes pre-ticked, easily overlooked and opting you in to a financial add-on unless you opt out. We want to hear your tales. Have you found any confusing tick boxes, or are your experiences good? Email us at or head to the MSE Forum.


What have you already bought for next Christmas? We may only be a couple of months into the year, but some MoneySavers have already been piling January sales goods into the back cupboard ready for next Christmas. Where do you stand?

Click here to tell us what you've already bought if anything

First Direct takes the service crown again, with Barclays bringing up the rear. Last week was our biannual banking service poll. First Direct yet again came out on top with 90% saying its service was 'great', while the wooden spoon went to Barclays (41% 'great'), followed closely by HSBC (43% 'great'). See all the winners and losers in our full bank service poll results.



- Top story: Applications for 3% Tesco Bank account suspended after MoneySavers' stampede

- Co-op Bank puts itself up for sale - what it means for you

- Rail firms face calls to refund passengers who overpay

- Peer-to-peer ISA offering 4.7% interest is rolled out - but beware of the risks



Should I donate my cashback to charity? I buy a few bits on behalf of a charity I volunteer at, claiming back the money, but sometimes I go via a cashback site. Should I donate the cashback I earn? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I keep my cashback or donate it? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Has anyone been successfully 'treated' for compulsive spending?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a Fitbit Alta activity band
- Old-style board thread of the week: What is a healthy diet?
- Discussion of the week: Am I spoiling my kids?


Thu 16 Feb - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 17 Feb - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 20 Feb - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 20 Feb - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 20 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. View previous


Wed 15 Feb - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 15 Feb - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 16 Feb - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 17 Feb
- BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 21 Feb - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: If I rent out a room in my home, and work full time, do I still get the £7,500 tax-free allowance? It sounds too good to be true. Raymond, via email.

Sarah MonroMSE Sarah M's A: Yes, the good news is you qualify for the allowance regardless of what you earn.

The Government's Rent a Room scheme lets you earn up to £7,500 tax-free (up this tax year from £4,250) from renting out a furnished room in the home you live in.

If your rental income is below this threshold, you don't even need to tell the taxman about it. If higher, you need to tell the taxman and in most cases complete a tax return, state you're using the Rent a Room allowance and pay tax on the remaining amount.

For more ways to reduce the tax owed from renting out a room, see Rent a Room help.

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


Do you still play Snake on an old Nokia? Or is your tech even older?

That's it for this week, but before we go, what's the oldest piece of technology you have? Our users are chewing the fat on this, following a story about a soldier from Yorkshire who still uses his trusty 17-year-old Nokia 3310. One's still watching Star Wars on VHS, another has a 30-year-old microwave, while the soldier's drawn comments such as "I bet he's outstanding at Snake". Have your say: What old tech do YOU still have and use?

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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