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15th Oct 2014
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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"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 October 2014

This week

The Winter MoneySaving Checklist
"I paid £200 on credit card and got £23k after kitchen firm went bust"
Free £100 in time for Christmas
Book Xmas trains now & cut costs
40 eBay buying secrets
LA £330 return. Can you find one?
FREE £2 New Covent Garden soup
£10 off £25 make-up incl Benefit
Shift credit card debt to 0% NO FEE
Cheap wills - book now
Replace spec lenses for £10 code
BLOG: Don't shorten your mortgage term if you can overpay
CODES: 30% off Body Shop, 40% off Brantano
New top 1.6% easy access NISA
£75 e.l.f make-up bundle for £26
6 Primrose plants for £8
£29 baby goodies for £9 code
Flu season is near - free/cheap jabs
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs
Your wishes for the mini Budget

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

The Winter MoneySaving Checklist
The top 10 essentials to insulate you and your wallet

Brrrr... The mercury has started to tumble, indicating summer is well and truly over. As it'll only get colder, now's the time to ensure you're set up for winter to keep the cost down and the heat up. Here are our top 10 things to do.

1. Find out where your stop 'male chicken' is. (If I used the correct term, this'd be in your spam box). Everyone should know where their stop-thingy (rhymes with lock - the mains water off switch) is. Frozen pipe bursts create an average £7,000 of damage, made worse if you can't find the off switch as your home floods. Be prepared. Find out How To Turn Your Water Off.

As Angie wrote on Facebook: "I know where mine is but only due to a burst pipe and collapsed floor a few years ago. Took us & the council 2hrs to find."
2. Switch now and you could get £100s back. This is a great time to switch energy supplier if you pay by direct debit, as it's likely you're in credit after the low use summer months. Therefore switch now, and you'll likely be given cash too (switch after winter and you may be in debt).

Now I'm not saying spend this cash, just put it toward future bills, BUT it means that switching won't cause any cash flow issues.

John tweeted us to say just how easy it is: "Just switched from Scottish Power to First Utility - in credit to the tune of £151. Cheque sent within days of my contract ending."

IMPORTANT: Ask for credit back or they may not give it. Plus if you've switched in the past five years, your old supplier may still owe you. Our Reclaim Energy Bill Credit guide shows you how to get it. Forumite Skaterdude says: "I switched from Npower in Dec. One phone call later I had £215 back. Thanks MSE."
3. 'Save £226 in 5min 10 second energy switch'. It can take two months to change to a new supplier, so do it ASAP so you've the cheaper price in time for the cold spell.

Yet while the switch-over takes time, the work to compare and activate a switch doesn't. For fun, we put a stopwatch on four MSE Towers team newbies trying the Cheap Energy Club - the quickest took 202s, the longest 376s. The avg was 310s with a £226 saving. Not bad, why not try it?

Switching isn't a big deal, it's the same pipes, gas, meter & safety scheme - the only difference is price and customer service. You can do it even if you're on a prepayment meter/ elec only/ Eco 7. For full help and more cashback options see our Cheap Gas & Elec guide.

Cheap fixes can cut your costs and mean no price hikes

All the current cheapest tariffs are fixes, locking you in on a rate for a set time (what you pay still depends on what you use). Plug your details into our Top Pick Fixes Comparison to find your cheapest and see if you can save. It includes pros & cons for each tariff to make choosing easier.

Top picks for typical usage - varies by region
Find YOUR bespoke actual price via our Cheap Fixes Comparison
Fix till Exit fee Cost/yr
Avg big 6 standard tariff for comparison - - £1,190
Top Pick: EDF Price Promise* Cheap for TWO winters. No early exit fee and 48% 'great' service rating Mar 16 None £1,040
Cheapest: Extra Energy But new provider so little feedback Nov 15 £25/fuel £984
Vying to be cheapest: First Utility* 40% rate service great Nov 15 £30/fuel £992
Top for Service: Ovo Energy 82% rate it great Oct 15 £30/fuel £998
Cheapest v long fix: EDF Price Freeeeze* And no exit fees May 18 None £1,210
Source: MoneySupermarket. All monthly direct debit, dual fuel, unless stated.
4. Paying energy by monthly direct debit is cheaper. It discounts your bill by up to 6%. Firms then estimate your annual usage and divide it by 12 so you're likely to build up credit after summer and be a little in debt after winter.

Always do regular meter readings for accuracy, as your bill is estimated. And if they try to push your direct debit up unfairly (eg, you're heavily in credit) you've a right for it to be fair, just call and ask for it to be lowered, see our Direct Debit Rights guide.
5. Full service car breakdown cover £40. Breakdown is more likely at winter, and the consequences more severe.  Yet policies can be very cheap.

For breakdown, home start and onward travel AutoAid is £40 a year, though it’s a ‘pay and claim’ policy so here it sends a local pick-up truck that you have to pay, then you can reclaim the cash later. Feedback & call out times are good, though you need to remember to claim.

If you want normal 'send a man with a van’ the cheapest full service is Kwik Fit* that includes European cover for £59/year (cars must be less than 11 years old).

Alternatively, if you want basic insurance, newbies can get AA cover for £28/year plus £15 back from a cashback site making it £13/year. A similar deal is available with the RAC. See AA and RAC new customer deals.

And finally if you’ve got cover and are at renewal, then HAGGLE - 90% of AA customers and 78% with the RAC lowered their rates by bartering. Full info in Cheap Breakdown Cover.

Extra Tip: Preventing breakdown is better than being rescued. Remember to check your tyres, buy anti-freeze and get a screen scraper as part of your winter car prep.
6. Can you save £450/year on water bills? Live in Eng or Wales? Ask yourself: 'Does my home have more or the same no of bedrooms as people?" If yes, then it's likely you'll save fitting a water meter.

Our water savings guide has full help including calculators, tips, what to do if you're not allowed a meter and more. It's worth checking though as for a lucky few the savings on this forgotten utility can be huge. As AJ Edwards tweeted us: "I swapped to a water meter, bill went from £57 a month to £19 a month". That's £450/yr saved.

Free loft/cavity wall insulation, open-to-all. Energy firms get fined if they don't meet Eco quotas, so some give free insulation. British Gas's Free Insulation allows ANYONE in England, Scotland or Wales with a suitable home to get it (ie, you don't have to be its customer or on a low income).

The savings can be huge; the Energy Saving Trust estimates you'll see a reduction in bills of £290/yr compared with a typical uninsulated home. On average it takes 3-4 weeks to book a survey and a further two weeks for insulation to be fitted (though it can be more).

As Den tweeted me last week: "British Gas here and putting in my free cavity wall and loft insulation - just in time for winter. Thanks Martin."

8. Cut boiler costs by £100s - you don't need your energy firm's cover. Many energy firms use our fear of losing heating to charge hefty insurance costs. They also want us to think there's some link between our energy provider and our boiler cover. There isn't - you're not locked in.

Full help in our detailed Cheap Boiler Cover guide, at super-speed though:

a) Renters usually don't need it, as their landlord's likely responsible. Check.
b) Ensure you know what cover you need, choose between boiler-only, or central heating cover. For more info, see what boiler cover do I need?.
c) To find the cheapest compare via uSwitch* and if you have more time add Energyhelpline* & MoneySup* for a wider comparison.
9. Are you entitled to any extra winter help? Winter is a tough time for many as the cold sets in. Therefore there are some funds which may help...

a) Winter fuel payments.
If anyone in your house was born on or before 6 Jul 1952 and gets a state pension, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance you automatically get the up to £300 winter fuel payment (providing you met this qualifying criteria by 21 Sept 2014). Some on other benefits may be eligible too, but will need to claim if new to it. See Winter Fuel Payment.

b) Cold weather payments. Anyone on specific income support/jobseeker's allowance/pension credit gets £25 for every 7 days it's sub-zero. It's paid automatically from 1 Nov this year. Full details: Cold Weather Payments.

c) Choosing between heating and eating? If you're seriously behind, or in general financial hardship, you may be eligible for special tariffs/help. Try the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 and also our Housing & Energy Grants & Debt Help guides.
10. It's NOT cheaper to leave the heating on all day - that's a myth, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It says only pump heat into your home when you need it. There's also little point painting radiators black, it adds. See more Energy Saving Mythbusters.

And while we're at it, if you're feeling chilly don't instantly turn up the heat. Shut the windows, and grab your cosiest clothes to avoid unnecessarily high bills. Check out the Energy Saving Trust and these forum discussions

- Winter Prep: Swap tips with forum Old-Stylers on getting ready thriftily.
- Thrifty Ways To Keep Homes Warm: Eg, DIY sausage dog draft excluders.
- Energy Saving Hunt: Read our forumites' top energy saving tips.

Blagged for MoneySavers

Did you miss?

Get constantly cheap energy
Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: The CPP redress scheme was a failure as £850m went unclaimed
Nectar points cut in half at Sainsbury's
Savers told to look elsewhere as Intelligent Finance cuts ISA rates
Scotland scraps stamp duty system in favour of proportional rates
What counts as a month? Check with your bank or face being penalised
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Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss WED 15 OCT 2014
'I paid £200 on a credit card & got £23,000 back after kitchen firm went bust'
Forget Batman and Superman... the Section 75 law can turn a credit card into your financial superhero. KAPOW

Credit cards, sometimes rightly, get a bad rap, but used right they can be heaven-sent. We oft nag you to use the Section 75 laws to protect yourself. And we've just heard that for one MoneySaving couple, it proved gobsmackingly powerful...

  • Super-hero credit card 'Keep fighting - I got £23,000 back.' Linda Marriott and her husband had bought a £22,400 kitchen, and by following our Section 75 guide paid just £200 of it on a credit card for extra protection. When the firm went bust, they asked, as they were due, for all the money back from the credit card company - but it said no.

    Linda says: "I kept going back on MSE to read about Section 75, thinking: 'Don’t give up, keep going, keep fighting." In the end they went to the Financial Ombudsman. It ordered the card firm to pay out the full whack with 8% statutory interest on top, plus £200 extra for 'inconvenience caused'. For inspiration see Linda's full I got £23k back story.
  • How does Section 75 work? Buy something, anywhere worldwide, costing between £100 and £30,000 and pay for any of it (even just 1p) on a credit card and the card company is jointly liable with the seller. So if it's faulty or you don't get the service, you can go to the card firm for your money back.

    Plus if retailers dispute your claim, you need go to court. With a card firm you can go to the free Ombudsman. It doesn't just look at the law, but also if you're 'being treated fairly'. Full info, templates & help in Section 75 rules.

  • Pay, get protection AND 5% cashback. This works with any credit card, but why not get paid to use one too? The Amex Everyday* (eligibility calc) card gives accepted new cardholders 5% (max £100) on the first 3mths' spending, up to 1.25% after. Ensure you repay IN FULL each month so there's no interest or the cashback is dwarfed by the 19.9% representative APR. Full info & more options in Top Cashback Credit Cards (APR Examples).
  • Debit card protection (and sub-£100 credit card transactions). There's a less well known chargeback protection on all Visa, Amex, & Mastercards. It's not as powerful as Section 75 - it isn't law, just a customer service promise - but can help.

LA return £330 incl taxes. Can you find one? Super-cheap direct transatlantic flights from Gatwick via Norwegian Air in Jan/Feb. You pay more if you want to check-in luggage. See in our Deals Hunter Blog: LA £330 can you find one?

FREE New Covent Garden soup (norm £2ish). Ends soon. Trick combining coupon & sprmkt deals. Free food

£10 off £25 make-up, eg, Touche Eclat, Benefit, Dior. MSE Blagged. Code for Feelunique, the make-up e-retailer. Eg, gets YSL Touche Eclat £15, or Benefit gift set £29 (norm £39, £60 if items sold singly). Feelunique code

Reminder. You can shift credit card debt to 0% NO FEE. Currently, accepted Tesco* credit card newbies can balance transfer debt to it for a YEAR interest free without any one-off fee. So clear it within that & it's totally free. Need longer? Lloyds 28mth 0%* has a 1.5% fee (eligibility calc), the longest, Barclaycard 34mth 0%*, a 2.99% fee (eligibility calc). Clear these cards before the 0% ends or they jump to 18.9% rep APR (Tesco's 20.6%). FULL help Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Free £100 for Christmas
Banks will pay you, and pay you quick, for switching account. So grab their bribes to boost your Xmas kitty

Four fee-free, in-credit bank accounts will pay you, in plenty of time for Christmas, to switch to them. We touched on this last week, and many liked it, so here's the full kit & caboodle run down... (more options in Best Bank Accounts).

  • Free £100 or £125 M&S gift card. Our top pick account is First Direct* due to its unbeatable customer service rating (it's won every poll we've done). It pays £100 to your account, gives a £250 0% overdraft and a 6% linked regular saver. Yet a bigger bonus is possible. Until 31 Oct via this M&S Bank* link, this new-ish account gives a £125 M&S gift card to switchers. Or over the longer term Halifax* pays £100 PLUS £5 each month you're in credit.
All accounts credit score you. To qualify for the bonus you need use their 'switching services' (takes circa 7 days).
Bank Bonus Cash comes in... (1) Perks / Overdraft Direct debit needed? (2) Min pay in (3)
Service Rating
First Direct* £100 28 days (4) £250 0% o'draft, 6% reg saver Yes £1,000/mth (or pay fee) 92% great,
2% poor
Halifax Reward* £100 3 working days Pays £5/mth in credit. Costly o'draft Yes, min 2 £750/mth 62% great,
3% poor
M&S Bank* £125 gift card
(via this link)
1 month (5) Reward pts on M&S spending. £100 0% o'draft No No min N/A (6)
Co-op Bank* £100
(+£25 to charity)
45 days (5) O'draft 18.9% EAR + fee if over £200 Yes, min 2 £800/mth (7) 71% great,
7% poor
(1) Days after switching. (2) If you need to switch direct debits you must switch them all. (3) For most, this just means it wants you to pay your monthly income in. (4) As long as you've paid first £1,000/mth in. (5) Web applicants must call/visit branch within 6mths (M&S) or 14 days (Co-op) to complete. (6) New so not enough respondents (7) You must credit £800 within 31 days of opening to get the £100 bonus. FULL info: Best Bank Accounts
  • Got savings? 3% interest may be better. The Santander 123* (81% 'great' service rating) pays 3% AER on balances of £3,000 to £20,000, plus up to 3% cashback on bills, which usually wipes out its £2/mth fee. If you've less, Club Lloyds* (48% great) pays 4% AER on £4k to £5k. Full info in Top Interest Paying Bank Accounts.

Cheap Wills - book now. The Will Aid charity scheme lets you get a cheap solicitor-drafted will in Nov. It suggests you donate £95 to one of 9 charities (half the typical cost). Places go fast. Full info and options in Free & Cheap Wills.

Replace your specs' lenses for £10 with code. MSE Blagged. Use a £10 off code. See Reglazemyglasses codes

1p Cadbury 'Screme' Eggs glitch - can you find 'em? Halloween-branded Creme eggs, at Morrisons. Chocs

New top 1.6% easy access cash NISA. BM Savings' new tax-free easy access NISA pays 1.6% AER variable on new money & lets you transfer in old NISAs too. The rate includes a bonus 1.1% for a year (diarise to ditch & transfer then). Or Coventry BS pays 2.6% fixed till Nov 2018 but you can withdraw early losing just 120 days' interest. See Top NISAs.

Book Xmas trains now - and cunning tricks to slash costs
If you want to slice the cost of train tickets then take the logic book and chuck it out of the window...

Don't derail your Christmas by overpaying for rail fares. Now's the perfect time to book. Full info in Cheap Train Tricks...

  • christmas trainsThe perfect time to book Christmas train tickets. Train firms must launch timetables at least 12 weeks ahead, and tickets within a couple of weeks of that. As they limit the number of super cheap tickets, buying early improves your chances of getting one. Now's a great time to check for Xmas & NY. Eg, 31 Dec peak Ldn-Manc singles £13 (£79 on the day). Full info: Slash Train Costs
  • New. Free split ticket app saves £££s. It's ridiculous, counter logical & unfair, but splitting tickets may save huge cash. An example will explain... we found a B'ham-Newquay single is £151,. Yet our tickety split advance & walk-on fares tool found that train stops in Cheltenham and a B'ham-C'ham single is £7, a C'ham-N'quay £50. Total £57, saving £94 - same train, same time, possibly the same seat.
  • Train tricks to cut your cost. Split tickets aren't the only illogical savings...

    - You can book advance tickets late.
    If they haven't sold out, four rail firms still let you buy on the day; the rest day before, see rail firms' 'last advance purchase times'. So never assume it's too late.
    -Grab hidden promos not on booking sites.
    Eg, Southern £5 tickets, TransPennine £19 returns for 55+. Train Deals.
    -Get cashback.
    The Santander 123 credit card pays 3% cashback on trains (pay in full or it's APR 16.5%).
    -Singles can beat returns. Lots of discounts are only available one way. Always check single discounts.
    - New railcard. The well-known 16-25, Senior, and Family & Friends railcards get 1/3 off travel for £30/yr. Now there's Two Together, good for partners/those you often travel with, eg, to footie - Is there a railcard for you?

Don't shorten your mortgage term if you can overpay. See Martin's latest mortgage tips blog.

6 x Primrose plants £8 (next cheapest £22). Or 5 Allium bulbs £13 (next cheapest £20). Garden deals

Winter boots deals... Incl £70 Uggs (norm £150), 20% off Timberland, 60% Hi-Tec boots
£70 Classic Short Uggs were £150 | 20% off Timberland MSE Blagged code | 60% off Hi-Tec incl snow boots
See ALL Winter boots deals

£75 Eyes.Lips.Face make-up bundle £26. 29 items incl nail varnish and lipstick. Only 800. e.l.f Deals

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash NISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
34mths 0%, 2.99% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

Low fee 0%: Lloyds*
28mths 0%, 1.5% fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k)
5.3% rep APR

M&S Bank* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.9% rep APR

BM Savings 1.6% AER
Min £1, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed

Coventry BS 2.6% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

£29 baby goodies £9 via code. MSE Blagged. Random selection of clothes, toys or bottles. Warning: You'll be signed up to a monthly subscription but cancel by 15 Nov to avoid future charges. Full info in Sassy Bloom.

Flu season is coming - free or cheap jabs. If you're 65+, pregnant or have certain medical conditions you can get it free from the NHS, though employers also may offer it free. If not, we've listed cheapest ways. See free or cheap flu jabs.

CODES & VCHS: R. Lauren 50%, Body Shop 30% off, Brantano 40% off etc...
Body Shop 30% off most items, code/in-store | Brantano 40% off code
D. Perkins 24% off £30 + free del | R. Lauren 50% off women's online sale from Fri | Discount Vchs

Extra 1,500 Clubcard pts (worth up to £60) newbies code on £60 spend. MSE Blagged.. The points are worth £15 in store, but can be converted into up to £60 of rewards. See Tesco boost.

40 eBay buying secrets - "I found a £40 buggy for £1"
With Christmas coming, know how to play the online auction goliath and it can be a bargain hunter's dream
Whether you want an abacus or zebra print shoes, the 'world's biggest online marketplace' may have it. Key techniques can help you get what you want at the best price. Use our 40 eBay buying tips guide. Here are our opening bids...

  • compingFree eBay local deals tool and apps. If you're after a sofa or golf clubs, sellers oft list bulky or heavy items as 'collection-only'. This limits the number of potential bidders, so serious bargains can be had. eBay doesn't let you search this so we built the free Local eBay Deals Mapper, iPhone App & Android App to locate 'em.

    As Jen_Jen 1985 says: "Had been looking for a double buggy, most sold for about £40. I found one via the local deals for £1.24."
  • eBay buying power-house tools. Technique matters when hunting for deals...

    - Be a sniper. Bid early and rival bidders force the price up. Sniping tools auto-bid for you in the last 10 secs.
    - Exploit speling mishtakes. Typos meanz fewer searches, so cheep prices. A host of mistake spotters trawl erors.
    - Snoop on sellers' history. A tool shows what past bids they've accepted so you can see what they may accept.
    - Bag 99p items. Often sellers start at 99p, wanting a bidding war. A 99p spotter tool finds no-bid deals.
    - Find auctions closing at 3am. Anti-social end times get fewer bids - a night-time bargain tool cruises for these.
    - Check rivals - It's not just eBay, there's eBid, CQout* & Preloved*. Or, check police auctions where you can buy legit stolen goods on the cheap.

FLASH 48hr currency sale. Asda's boosting its online euros, dollars & more rates from 8am Wed. To check how it compares use our TravelMoneyMax Travel Money Comparison which'll update with the rates. Not going for a bit? The Halifax Clarity* credit card (eligibility calc) gives near-perfect spending rates worldwide, beating changing money. But pay off IN FULL each month or it's 12.9% rep APR. Full info: Cheap Overseas Cards (APR Examples)

1,000 FREE pairs of Northern Homebuilding Show tix (norm £17.50 a pair). 7-9 Nov, Harrogate. Free tix

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Get constantly cheap energy.

Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.

Join free: Cheap Energy Club

Up to £30 cashback for dual fuel, £15 for single switches.

First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...*
Compare The Market*
Direct Line*

Post Office*
with weekend calls
£10/mth (pay a yr upfront)

TalkTalk Value Line Rental*
£14.35/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
Show Vouchers and Top Deals

Restaurant vouchers

Discount vouchers

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
Show Money Saving Community
The MoneySaving Community

RIP Pink. It's with sadness we must report one of our fantastic board guides and long-term forumites Pink (used to be Pink Winged) has passed away. Pink had been with us 10 years and was a stalwart, helping many in the forum. We mourn her passing and send love to her family & friends (incl virtual ones). Add your tribute: RIP Pink

Have your say on the Autumn Statement

Do you want to see more or less public spending? The Government wants your views on what you would like to see in the Autumn Statement (a mini version of the Budget), which takes place on Wed 3 Dec. You can suggest policy changes via email by Fri 17 Oct and discuss in the MSE forum.

Should employer pay for personal computer damaged at work?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... My partner is doing a PGCE at a secondary school. While he was teaching, a technician who works there knocked over his brand new MacBook Pro and cracked the screen. The salary for a PGCE isn't exactly large, and surely the school should have an insurance policy in place for events such as this. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should employer pay for personal equipment damaged at work? | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

Have you wriggled your way out of insurance admin fees?
Insurers cheekily charge up to £30 a time for tiny tweaks to policies such as a name or address, that take seconds to alter. But we've heard of many wriggling out of these, so we want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on what lines you used if successful, which insurers played ball and how much you got 'em to waive. Share yours/read others': Have you got out of insurance admin fees? Past topics: View all

Airline: Jet2 Offer: 20% off all flights Ends: Tue 21 Oct
Our pick this week is Jet2's* 20% off all flights sale, which ends Tue 21 Oct. Each passenger gets 20% off the cost of any flight (includes taxes, but excludes some charges and extras) until 15 Nov 2015. It flies from eight UK airports to more than 60 European destinations. There is no code to enter, the discount appears automatically. Excludes group bookings (10+ people). Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

UK weekends away on the cheap

We asked for your tips on trips away that don't break the bank. You said Nottingham is a great city on a budget, while Blackpool is reasonable if you get a combined resort pass. Several forumites also listed nifty tricks for doing London cheaply, including buying train tickets that give access to discount admissions and taking advantage of free museums.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the Week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

16 Oct
Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.40am.
Deals of the Week.
17 Oct
This Morning, time TBC.
Martin's 90 Second Savers.
20 Oct
This Morning, live, time TBC.
Subject TBC.
20 Oct
Radio 5 Live, 12pm-1pm.
Consumer Panel.
Subscribe to podcast.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

Holidays for 'special occasions' - how do you decide where to go?

What would your ideal holiday destination to mark a significant occasion be? Join the discussion and share your ideas with forumite gettingtheresometime in the Holidays for special occasions chat.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 126.52 112.59
US Flag $ 159.38 142.74
Turkish Flag TL 350.10 309.72
Rates correct at 4pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: When do you chuck away best-before foods?

Are you a chucker or a keeper when it comes to food that’s past its ‘best-before’ date?

Which of these is closest to your USUAL stance (be honest!)?

Poll results

Would you vote for less tax or more spend?
Cuts to public spending are something 51% of you would be willing to put up with in exchange for paying less tax, while 36% of you would opt for increased public spending even if it meant a higher tax bill.
Here's how you voted:

- 51% say cut tax and spending
- 13% say keep it the same
- 36% say tax and spend more
7,977 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q. My sister-in-law and I flew from New York to Heathrow four years ago, then connecting to Newcastle at 10am that day, but the latter flight was cancelled. The airline blamed the wind, but other flights took off. We finally flew at 6.30pm. Can we claim anything for this? Sandra, via email.

MSE Helen K's A: Sadly, it sounds like you can't as, assuming the airline is telling the truth, bad weather is not a ground for claiming compensation. However, the airline should have paid for your food and drink at Heathrow while you waited (if not, and you've still got receipts, you should make a claim for reimbursement).

Under EU rules, passengers can claim between €250 (£200) and €600 (£480) for flights delayed by at least three hours but only if it is their fault, such as a technical problem - bad weather does not count as their fault. It also needs to be since 2005 on an EU flight, which counts as one on an EU airline, or one departed from an EU airport, regardless of airline. For full help, including free template letters, see our Flight Delays and Cancellations Compensation guide.

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

Free game of the week: 3d Logic

Does Jabba the Hut look like a pug?

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out these dog look-alikes. Enjoy.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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