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15th Jun 2016
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15 June 2016
Martin's Briefing: 10 tricks to slash the cost of spending abroad
Cheapest-ever 40mth 0% debt shift
'2,080 packaged bank fees reclaimed in 24hrs' - using our free tool
Speedily find cheep pet insurance
Free 30 M&S for spending a penny
No spin. Martin's EU In or Out guide
Selfridges rare up-to-50% off sale
'I escaped mortgage & saved 3,600 thanks to MSE'
Mulberry up to 50% off sale
5 TomTato and Egg&Chips plants combo
Sky b'band & line 61/yr last chance
Father's Day personalised card 75p
5 Odeon cinema tix 20 or Vue trick
20% off iTunes, New Look gift cards
Kids go 'free' to West End shows

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

10 tricks to slash the cost of spending abroad

- New TravelMoneyMax APP finds your cheapest rate however you pay
- The Supercard's back, letting you use existing plastic cheaply
- Should you buy euros before the EU vote?

EU referendum uncertainty has seen the pound drop again to just 1.26 and $1.41, increasing the potential cost for many holidaymakers. So it's never been more important to ensure you get the most buck for your bang.

Most people pay to pay when away - with hidden charges that can add 100s over a holiday. So I've a broad range of tips to slash these costs.

1. TMMNew. Try our free TravelMoneyMax app. Building on the TMM website's success, our new app's now fully up and running for summer. It shows YOUR cheapest way to spend abroad - just download the free TMM iPhone app or TMM Android app. It will...

- Compare 40 bureaux for the cheapest travel cash. Tell it how many euros, dollars, ringgits etc & it finds who's cheapest, incl fees. Plus select 'collection' & you can limit it to those within a set distance.

- Uniquely, when away, it shows YOUR best way to pay. It's also a personalised currency calc where you can store the plastic you already have, and what you paid for your holiday cash. Then whenever you buy something it'll tell you how much it really costs, and what's the cheapest way to pay.

PS: We first tested the apps last Oct - ta for the plain-speaking feedback. Our new version THIS WEEK has fixed those glitches, but do feed back to us on what you think and how well it works.
2. Save over 100 per 1,000 spend. Whatever the rate of the currency you're using, don't throw more money away by paying the wrong way. I'll run through each top option below, but first, to show the scale of possible savings:

The cost of 1,000 (5 x 100 at ATMs, rest spent in 20 transactions)

- Top specialist credit card repaid in full: 796
- Cash, via TMM's cheapest bureau (must pick-up in London): 800
- Cash from M&S on the high st (non-cardholders): 815
- Using a debit card from hell (Halifax in this case): 849 (see point 8)
- Change at airport (not pre-ordered): 905
3. The EASY solution: Near-perfect rates in every country, every time, and extra protection. Most debit and credit card firms get a near-perfect exchange rate from Mastercard or Visa, but then add a 3%-ish 'non-sterling exchange fee' to what they charge us, so 100 of euros costs you 103.

Yet a few specialist credit cards have no exchange fee, so we get the same near-perfect rate the banks get, converted on the day you spend. Pocket one of these, only for use abroad, ensuring you repay IN FULL each month to minimise interest. My top picks are...

- Long-term winner:
Halifax Clarity (eligibility calc / apply*) has good feedback and a) It's a Mastercard, which tends to win 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. We've little feedback though (let us know).

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

The Golden Rules.
Full info: Top Overseas Cards (APR Examples).
1) Pay on the card - it's cheaper than withdrawing cash to spend.
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. Factor that in and still Halifax and Creation will beat most bureaux.

Extra protection:
With credit cards (not debit, prepay or cash) you get Section 75 protection on all spending over 100, incl abroad, so if problems occur with what you bought, the card firm must sort it.
4. New. The Supercard's back - if you can't get/don't want a credit card. The Travelex Supercard* is a hybrid card ANYONE can get, as there's no credit check (they do ID-check you though). Full info in Supercard analysis, but in brief...

1) Via its app, link it to your existing debit or credit cards (not Amex).
2) Spend on it abroad.
3) It charges your plastic in pounds, at that day's Mastercard exchange rate with no added fee, making it far cheaper than spending direct on most cards.

Some of you will have had a Supercard as part of a limited trial last year. If so, you need to reapply for the new card. The big difference is it now has a 2.99% fee for cash withdrawals, so while the exchange rate's the same as the top specialist credit cards, it's costlier for cash.

Plus you don't get the added Section 75 protection with Supercard, even if you link it to a credit card. However if you link it to a card that pays you cashback or rewards, you will get those.
5. 60 of euros for 50 on top PREPAID cards (anyone can get one). With prepaid cards, you load cash, use 'em like a debit card - and there's no credit check. The rates can be very good, but unlike the options above, you get them on the day you load, not spend, so for good or ill you're at the mercy of currency fluctuations.

- Top pick for dollars, euros and a few others:
The first 3,000 signing up via this WeSwap* link get an extra 10 when loading 50+. Plus it'll give you the perfect interbank exchange rate for a year, provided you wait a week for the conversion to happen (normally there's a 1% fee for this). There's no ATM fee if you withdraw over equiv of 200 but there is for less. Full analysis: WeSwap.

- Top pick for other currencies:
The Revolut card* gives the perfect interbank rate for more currencies, with no fees on spending or ATM withdrawals (up to 500/mth, 2% above that). Sign up and use the code MSE for an extra 5 when loading 500+. Full analysis: Revolut.

For more help and to see how prepaid cards stack up against the top credit cards, see Cheap Prepaid Cards.
6. Should I buy euros before the EU vote? And other key questions...

Q. Should I buy euros before the EU referendum? Ah, now there's a pickle, so it needs a full answer - see my Buy euros before the EU vote? analysis.

Q. When they ask 'do you want to pay in pounds or euros', what do I say? In a nutshell you pay in euros. Full help in my Pay in euros? blog.

Q. Will withdrawing cash abroad hurt my credit file? On the right card it's cheap, but there's a possible impact - see Withdrawing abroad.

Q. Why've I been charged extra at a bureau de change?
Pay on a credit card & it counts as a cash withdrawal - full help in Paying at bureaux.
7. If you're thinking 'I thought I had a top specialist card?' My two top-pick credit cards aren't the only decent ones, just the very best. Other specialist cards aren't Mastercards &/or have higher ATM costs. If you already have one of these, it's still cheap & not worth swapping...

MBNA Everyday Plus | Nationwide Select | Post Office | Saga | Santander Zero (no longer avail) | Full comparison in Top Overseas Credit Cards.

Also, the Norwich & Peterborough Gold Classic current account has a load-free worldwide Visa debit card with no ATM fees - possibly beating even the credit cards. But it's more hassle - you need to pay in 500+/mth (or keep 5,000 in there) to avoid a 5/mth fee. More info in Top overseas debit cards.
8. Is your bank card an overseas DEBIT CARD FROM HELL? Not only do they add around 3% to the exchange rate & an ATM fee, they also charge up to 1.50 every time you use the card to spend overseas.

Bank of Scotland | Halifax | Lloyds | Santander
TSB | NatWest/RBS (hell for small spends) | Clydesdale/Yorkshire

ANY other card, including a credit card (if repaid IN FULL), is cheaper to spend on than these. See full Beware the debit cards from hell info.

And to find what all your plastic charges, use the TMM iPhone app, TMM Android app or our How good is your current plastic? checker.
9. Just want cheap cash? DON'T leave it till the airport. Airport and ferry-port rates are usually atrocious, as they know you're a captive customer. Use TravelMoneyMax to find a cheaper deal, or, if you've left it too late, at least pre-order in advance online for airport pick-up to get a better rate.
10. Take a peek inside my overseas wallet. Are you part of the 'overseas wallet or purse' club? I most certainly am. After all, there are some things you only need when abroad. The first is a specialist credit card - these tend to be pretty poor for UK use, so mine lives in the wallet till I go away. To find out what else is in there, take a peek inside my overseas travel wallet.

PS: If you've travel money questions, MSE Sally & Rosie are doing a TwitterQ&A at 1-1.30pm on Thu. Send questions to @MoneySavingExp.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via

Paying credit card interest? STOP - move to new cheapest-ever 40mth 0%

Cut 100s or even 1,000s off the cost of existing debts by shifting to 40mths for a 2.53% fee or 24mths NO FEE

Many are paying interest unnecessarily. A balance transfer card pays off existing credit and store cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. That means repayments clear the actual debt rather than just paying interest, so you're debt-free quicker. And two new table topping deals have just launched, matching the longest 0% deal, but with lower fees.

Yet will you be accepted? Applying marks your credit file. To avoid this, our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc shows which you've the best odds of, incl pre-approval for some, letting you minimise applications. 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.

TOP 0% Balance transfer cards 0% deal (REP APR AFTER 0% ENDS) ONE-OFF FEE
New. Virgin (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest, lowest fee 40mths 0% (20.9%) 2.53% (min 3)
New. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - joint longest, next-lowest fee Up to 40mths 0% (18.9%) 2.54%
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - long lower-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)
AA (eligibility calc / apply* ) - longest NO-FEE 0% 24mths 0% (i) (19.9%) NONE
(i) Must transfer at least 500, otherwise you get 22mths 0% (if accepted)

  • Tip 1: Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most 0% cards charge a fee to transfer your balance, eg, 2.5% is 25 per 1,000 shifted. So 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. Unsure? Play safe and go long, even with a bigger fee.

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

Ends Mon. Free 30 M&S vch for spending a penny. We've flushed out a cracking deal... Free 30 M&S vch.

No spin. Martin's EU In or Out guide (and NO he didn't approve that leaflet). If you're still undecided, read Martin's How to Vote in the EU Referendum guide. And if you've had a leaflet with his pic, read the truth about the leaflet.

Selfridges rare up-to-50% off sale starts today online & in stores. Limited stock. Full info in Selfridges.

'I was a mortgage prisoner but escaped and saved 3,600 thanks to MSE.' Annette's husband got turned down for a cheaper mortgage. Then she read about Martin's meeting with the Chancellor, after which George Osborne wrote to mortgage lenders - she showed this letter to her lender, and it changed its mind. Help & how it worked in Mortgage Prisoner Success.

Mulberry up to 50% off handbags sale. Not MoneySaving, but if you'll buy anyway, cut the cost. Launched first thing Wed, incl 1,100 Alexa handbag 770. Mulberry sale.

Up to 75% off plant sale, eg, 5 for weird TomTato AND Egg&Chips plant combo, 2 fuchsias. MSE Blagged. Plus 5 delivery. Ends Fri. Lots of plants on sale, but a TomTato (tomato above ground, potato below) and Egg&Chips (aubergine, potato) bundle is a fun highlight. Thompson & Morgan


- 75p personalised Father's Day card via free app Ends Thu

- Sky b'band & line rent 61 for a year Ends Thu, 10k avail

- Up to 75% off plant sale, incl 5 TomTato Ends Fri


- Vodafone warning - check bills NOW

- 1 sun cream - factors 15-45

- Euro 2016 deals, cheapest shirts, 60 sausages 10

- Last chance: Contact lenses 40% off, eg, 90 lenses 27

- 22 Sanctuary Spa summer gift set (45 indiv)

'2,080 packaged bank fees reclaimed in 24hrs' - using our free tool

Are you one of 100,000s mis-sold bank accounts which charged a monthly fee for invalid 'extra' insurance?

If you've got or had a packaged bank account, eg, Barclays Additions, Lloyds Platinum or NatWest Select, where you paid 10-20/mth for extras incl travel insurance, you may be owed 1,000s. Some choose them for the right reasons (see Top Packaged Bank Accounts) but many were hard-sold them by incentivised sales staff, when they weren't suitable. There's full help in our Reclaim Packaged Accounts guide, incl our free tool. Here's your brief...

  • packaged accountsWhat counts as mis-selling? If it's bad value, cancel it. To get money back though, it has to have been mis-sold. See our full Mis-selling checklist incl 1) The cover wasn't valid for you, eg, you were offered travel insurance but were over the age limit / had pre-existing conditions. 2) You were wrongly told you needed the account to get a loan, mortgage or overdraft. 3) You were upgraded without your permission, or without being given fee-free options.

  • Easy, free reclaim tool now used by 63,000 people. Last Sep we launched our Packaged Bank Account Reclaim Tool; it's part of our collaboration with complaints site Resolver (see our Resolver guide), merging our template letters & experience with its technology. All you do is enter your details and it helps draft the complaint, sends it, keeps track & escalates it to the Ombudsman if necessary.

  • We're rammed with successes, many at speed... They come in daily. Just two examples - Vicky tweeted: "2,079 packaged bank fees refunded, thanks to you @MartinSLewis - within 24hrs of making the claim too." Mandy emailed: "Used your online tool Resolver and got 2,174 Barclays Premier account fees refunded. Thank you."

  • Reclaiming overdraft charges is possible too. If you've been charged for breaching your overdraft (on any account, not just fee-paying) and it's put you in financial hardship, you may be able to reclaim these too. See Bank Charge Reclaiming.

Ends Thu. Sky b'band & line rent 61 for a YEAR codes left. MSE Blagged. So popular we've 10,000 more codes. 1/2 price line, 'free' unltd up-to-17Mb b'band & 50 bill credit on a 1yr contract. You can't have had Sky TV, b'band or line in last year. Sky b'band

Father's Day personalised photo card 75p delivered code (norm 3). MSE Blagged. Needs iPhone / iPad. Ends Thu. Do it ASAP to ensure it arrives on time: 75p card. Plus see our Father's Day restaurant deals round-up.

5 Odeon tix 20 (or 2 for 10) or Vue trick. The Odeon tickets (norm up to 13 each) can be used on different trips. With Vue, until Sun you can buy a 20% off multi-use gift card and combine with Meerkat Movies. Cheap cinema tickets

20% off iTunes, New Look, Vue, Pizza Express & Hut GIFT CARDS. Ends Sun. See Gift card trick.

Kids go free to West End shows in Aug (incl Wicked & Les Mis) with paying grown-up. We gave you a heads up last wk. The deal's now live - 80,000+ of the 150,000 tix went in the first 24hrs, so go quick. See 25+ shows.

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Tell me-ow to get cheep pet insurance?

Speedily find your winner. Combine comparison sites, then add hot promos they miss, eg, 60 pet Vax, 45 M&S

If your four-legged friends aren't well, vet bills can be frightening. The average single claim's hit a whopping 720 - and 5 years' arthritis help can cost over 6,000. Much is about your attitude to pet health - if you'd 'make 'em better at all costs', pet insurance is the key safety net. As forumite RobertinHerts says: "Horrified at renewal quote of 254 for my cat. Went to MSE, new policy for 145." Full help in Cheap Pet Insurance - here's a litter of quick tips...

  • Step 2: HOT deals comparison sites miss, eg, 'free' 60 Vax pet vacuum. Now check the big insurers comparison sites don't list, esp Direct Line*, Aviva* and Leisure Guard, as they can be big winners. Then check special promo deals comparison sites don't include - we list them & of course some are MSE Blagged, like these (both end 30 Jun).

    - 60 Vax pet vacuum with Direct Line policy. Via this specific Direct Line* link - it arrives within 60 days.
    - 45 M&S vch with L&G policy. Use this L&G* link & the code PETMSE45 & you're sent the vch within 75 days.
    Becs got a pet vac via a previous Blagged deal: "Thanks @MartinSLewis - just saved, with a fab freebie too".

  • Pet Insurance Golden Rules. (Full info, incl policy types & extra cashback, in Cheap Pet Insurance.) Always make sure the policy is suitable beforehand. Let's trot though our quick golden rules.

    1) Need cover but can't afford it? If you're on benefits, the charity PDSA may help with vets' bills.
    2) You're liable for your dog's behaviour, not your cat's. Cats are legally 'free spirits', dogs aren't - if they injure people or damage property, you're liable. So check your policy has 3rd-party cover. If not, Dogs Trust is 25/yr.
    3) Could you self-insure? Put money into savings, enough to cover fees. See Should I insure my pet? for more.
    4) If your pet's had treatment, beware switching. Most insurers won't cover your pet for any illness they've already been treated for. See Pre-existing conditions for full help.
    5) Don't forget routine jabs. If you do, it could invalidate your insurance. See Annual injections for more.

Are you missing 35/wk extra state pension cash? This & 19 more over-50s MoneySaving tips. Incl 14/yr travel insurance, Boots pts boost and much more. Nifty Over-50s MoneySaving

Ends today (Wed). 'Free' Paris or Prague return flight (you pay 35 taxes) credit card deal. Sign up by 11.59pm and the BA Amex card (eligibility calc / apply*) gives 9,000 Avios points if you spend 1,000 in the first three months. That's enough for a return to Paris, Prague etc. So get one, do normal spending on it until you hit the trigger and repay IN FULL each month to avoid the 22.9% rep APR and you're quids in. Plus you get 1 Avios per 1 spend. For even more points, see Airline Cards.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Did what you said to beat the Virgin Mobile price hike - my bill went from 19/mth to 8/mth. Thanks."

Achoo... 90 hay fever tablets 4 deliv. 3mths' generic equivalents to Clarityn & Zirtek. Not to be sniffed at

Two free pints of Kozel beer (norm 9ish). Get mobile app for vch for various pubs & bars. Till Thu 23 Jun. Beer. (Pls be Drinkaware.)


Would 7-day switching make you ditch broadband, mortgage, phone or TV provider? The Government's thinking about introducing one-week switching across a wide range of sectors (it's already a max 7 days in banking, but it wants to extend this). Would this make you switch more often? And what's important to you when deciding whether to switch? Tell us your thoughts in the MSE Forum and we'll pass 'em on.


Should the contactless card spending limit be increased? Currently the limit's 30 per transaction - what would you like the limit to be?

MSE users prefer cheap drugs. Unsurprisingly for such a money-savvy polling sample, of the 19,268 who voted in our poll last week, 73% buy the cheapest medicine they can regardless of brand. Those most likely to buy branded items such as Nurofen were men under 30, with 9% of them doing so. See the cheap medicine poll.


- Top story: Devastating impact of mental health problems on personal finances revealed

- 1,000s of Argos store card holders due refund after late-payment overcharging

- Levy planned to provide 'safety net' for energy customers if firms go bust

- Halifax chalks a third off kids' savings interest rate

- On Tesco Mobile? You can now save 3/month by having ads on your phone

- Energy suppliers offer 10-point switching promise

- Government to fund appeal of term-time holidays High Court ruling


Should we pay for water damage caused by our machine? Our dishwasher malfunctioned and flooded the downstairs neighbour. Our insurance won't pay out as there was no negligence on our part. Should we pay out of our own pocket, pay her excess or leave it to her to sort out herself? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we pay for water damage caused by our machine? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: How many people know about your debts?
- Competitions thread of the week: Luxury Dubai holiday
- Old-style board thread of the week: Tracking your spends
- Discussion of the week: Bottom drawer for uni


- Citizens Advice has a (gulp) 'Martin Lewis Fund'

- The EU referendum's hit the pound. Should you buy euros and other holiday currency now for the summer?


- 20% off iTunes, New Look, Vue, Pizza Hut GIFT CARDS


Wed 15 Jun - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 16 Jun - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.20pm
Tue 21 Jun - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm


Q: I've used my Help to Buy ISA for a house. Can I now open a cash ISA this tax year, or do I have to wait until next?

MSE Rosie's A: Yes, you can open a cash ISA now, once you've closed your Help to Buy ISA.

Normally you can only pay new money in to one cash ISA per tax year (Help to Buy counts as a cash ISA), but a little-known exception to the rule is that you're allowed to pay in to a second (but no more), if you've fully closed the first, not just emptied it.

In your case, to get the bonus to buy a home you would have needed to close the Help to Buy ISA anyway. So you're free to open a new cash ISA this tax year.

For more information on how these new ISAs work, see Help to Buy ISAs.

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


That's it for this week, but before we go, are you a property site junkie (even if you've no intention of buying)? If so, you'll love the forum's Have a look at this thread, where compulsive Rightmove browsers share their top finds - from Playboy mansion-like pads to working toilets in wardrobes and mysterious presences under bedcovers...

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

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