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Weekly Email
This email was sent
17th Jan 2018
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 This info may be out of date.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."

17 January 2018


Bank bribe bonanza - get FREE £200 to switch, or play it clever and earn a GRAND 

- HSBC's £200 & First Direct's £125 + top service are back
- New. NatWest £125 on top of 2% cashback on your bills

The battle to win your banking custom has reignited in Jan, with a host of players again willing to pay you to switch to them.

So with these bribes on offer ask yourself what your bank does for you - unless it gently tickles your back, mops your brow & makes you a lovely cup of tea before tucking you into bed, why not consider being paid to move elsewhere with such hot offers about right now? And if you feel like playing, there are ways to combine them all and gain some serious cash.

PART 1: Top FREE CASH accounts - the basics

Switching bank to get this cash is easy (according to 76% in our Twitter poll). Apply using the new bank's switching service - you'll be credit-checked, but not too harshly.

The new bank then does the work by closing your old account and moving all direct debits and standing orders. It also ensures payments going out or into it are redirected for at least 3yrs. And all this happens within 7 working days. So here are best buys... 

  • MAX UPFRONT FREE CASH: £200 + linked 5% savings. Switch to HSBC Advance* and you get £150 within 50 days of switching and £50 more if still with it after a year. Plus you get access to a linked 5% regular savings account you can put up to £250/mth in. Some also get a 6mth 0% overdraft.

    Am I eligible for the free cash? You need to switch 2+ direct debits or standing orders within 30 days of opening the account, and register for mobile or online banking within 60 days. The minimum pay-in is £1,750/mth - effectively a way of saying you need an annual salary of £26,100+ going in.
  • New. BEST FOR BILL ACCOUNTS: Free £125 + 2% bills cashback. For the first time since 2009, NatWest is paying a switch bonus (£125) on many of its current accounts to new and existing customers. The standout is NatWest Reward* which, for a £2/mth fee, gets you 2% bills cashback on council tax, energy, broadband etc that you pay from the account by direct debit.

    For average bills you'd earn £66/yr cashback after the fee, higher bills well over £100/yr. So for those with bigger bills it can beat HSBC in the first year alone (if you've a Santander mortgage, its 123 Lite account can beat NatWest on cashback).

    Am I eligible for the free cash? When applying at NatWest*, you get a long account list - ensure you pick the 'Reward Account'. To get the cash you'll need to switch and log in to online or mobile banking by 16 Mar. Min pay-in is £1,500/mth, effectively a way of saying you need a salary of £21,650+ going in.

    Existing NatWest cust? You can still get £125 if you switch another account into your qualifying NatWest one.

  • TOP FOR SERVICE: Free £125 + 5% savings + 0% overdraft. Apply via this link and First Direct* gives £125 (£100 if done direct) to new customers who switch to it. It's won every customer service poll we've done since 2011 - with 90% most recently rating it 'great'.

    You also get access to a 5% regular savings account you can put up to £300/mth in, and you may get a £250 0% overdraft.

    Am I eligible for the free cash? Min pay-in is £1,000/mth, effectively a way of saying you need a salary of £12,850+ going in - if not you're charged a £10/mth fee (avoid).

  • TOP FOR NO MIN PAY-IN / M&S SHOPPERS: Free £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth for a year + linked 5% savings. New switchers to M&S Bank* get a £125 M&S gift card within a month of switching and a 5% regular savings account they can put up to £250/mth in.

    Plus if you pay in £1,000/mth (equivalent to paying in a £12,850 salary), you also get £5/mth added to the gift card for the first year.

    Am I eligible for the free gift card? You need to switch at least two active direct debits. You get the initial £125 without a min pay-in, but for all the rest you do need to pay in £1,000/mth and keep 2+ direct debits active.

  • TOP WITHOUT SWITCHING: Up to £120 ongoing cash + 3% interest. Unlike the other accounts, new TSB Classic Plus* customers just need to open it. You don't need to use its switching service (but you can if you want).

    There's no upfront cash, but for 2018 it'll pay you £5/mth cashback if you've 2+ monthly direct debits paying out, plus £5/mth more when you make 20+ debit card payments per calendar month. So you can net £120, though it may be tight for January's payment. You also get 3% AER variable interest on up to £1,500.

    Am I eligible for the free cash? Min pay-in is £500/mth, effectively a way of saying you need a salary of £6,000+ going in. You also need to go paperless, register for internet banking + log in at least yearly.

PART 2: Become a bank tart - if you're willing to play, combine accounts to make £1,000+ over time

Many MoneySavers make hefty sums grabbing every offer they can then switching to the next. Forumite SconeyJ is one: "This'll be my 9th switch, taking earnings to £1,330."  Our current MSE Towers champion is MSE Sarah M who's made £925. Let us know how you've done.

It's called bank tarting, as you disloyally move from one to another. So if you want to put the time, effort and financial discipline in to be tartier than a Bakewell, here are the basic need-to-knows...

  • Consider setting up a 2nd account as a switching mule. You could just keep switching your main account, yet that can be annoying. A mule account is a 2nd account you set up just so you can switch it. Just open it without the switching service, so it doesn't close down your existing account.

    For the first mule account, best to avoid any accounts that may offer you free switching cash, so you don't disqualify yourself from using them. Then just open your bonus account by switching this mule account.

  • There are other good tarting accounts. As well as the accounts above, if tarting you may want to consider the fee-free NatWest Select* which pays a free £125 if you pay in £1,500 and log in to online mobile banking by 16 Mar. Then switch it elsewhere once your switching cash arrives.

    There's also Halifax Reward which gives new switchers £75 and £3 every month they pay in £750, stay in credit and pay out at least 2 direct debits.

  • How to hit the minimum pay-in. Most accounts require you to pay in a set amount each month, in an attempt to get you to pay your income in. But there's nothing stopping you just moving cash (manually or via standing order) into an account to hit it.  

    Eg, you get paid £1,500/mth, and have two accounts with £1,000 min pay-ins. Get your salary paid into one, then a couple of days later use a standing order to move it to the other, then another standing order to move it back. If you don't earn enough to hit the pay-in just move a lesser amount in twice.

  • You need direct debits. You'll usually need direct debits to be switched - you could simply set up £1/mth direct debits to charity to do this (and give a little back too).
  • Keep an eye on this email for more bonuses. Different banks switch 'em on and off at other times. We report them here.
  • Beware of your credit score. Switching bank regularly can impact your creditworthiness, due to lots of applications on your file, and lack of stability. Done sensibly it's not usually a big deal, but if you've an important need for credit (like a new mortgage), hold off for 6 months beforehand.

  • You can be reset as a newbie. Some banks (not all) will let you get a switch bonus even if you've been a customer before. For example, HSBC counts newbies as those who haven't had a current account with it since 1 Jan 2015, so if you had one before then you can still benefit.

Overdrawn? Got savings? Other top accounts...

We've concentrated on free cash above, but if you're a saver, overdrawn or needs lots of insurance, there are other top accounts... 

- Top accounts for savers: See Top Bank Account Savings.
- Top accounts if you're overdrawn: Our Cut Overdraft Costs guide has details, plus 10 clever ways to save.
- Top accounts if you need insurance: See Packaged Bank Accounts.
- The accounts if you can't get an account: See Basic Bank Accounts for full info.

Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm Mon: Boost Your Credit Score
How to avoid rejection, check, boost & manage your credit history

Over to Martin: "Thanks to the staggering 4m people who watched this week's savings programme (watch again online or via the Sun morning ITV repeat). Next week it's all about how to boost your credit score including why, even with a perfect credit score, you can be rejected, and dealing with defaults. Watch or set your VideoPlus."


Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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The CHEAPEST way to borrow - 0% interest for 31mths

 If you NEED to borrow in 2018, try to ensure you don't pay for it. Here's how to keep costs to 0%

If you've planned, budgeted, affordable borrowing that you need to do (think carefully if you need to), surprisingly, 0% cards used right are the cheapest way. Plus some also give rewards such as points when you spend. That's not a reason to borrow but if you're going to use 'em anyway it's an added bonus, but NEVER use cards willy-nilly just to fill income gaps. Before applying use our 0% Eligibility Calculator to find which you've best chances of getting, without hitting your credit score.

0% DEAL (1)
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest 0% 
2 Nectar pts per £1 spend at Sainsbury's (2) + up to £50 bonus pts (3)
Post Office (eligibility calc / apply*) - next longest 0% 
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - 100% pre-approval available on this card via eligibility calc
Up to 30mths
Tesco (apply) - long 0% card
Up to 29mths
1 Clubcard pt per £4 spend at Tesco (4)
M&S Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - much shorter 0%
Up to £55 in M&S vchs (5)
(1) ALL 18.9% rep APR after (2) 1pt per £5 elsewhere. (3) 1,000 bonus Nectar points worth £5 each time you spend £40+ on the card in Sainsbury's in first 2mths (max £50) and as this is everyday spending, ensure you pay this extra each month. (4) 1pt per £8 elsewhere. (5) £20 in pts when you first use the card + £30 vch when you spend £100 anywhere by 31 Mar + vch for £5 in pts when you spend at M&S - see guide for more info.

  • Tip 1 - Some cards are 'up to' so you may get a shorter deal even if accepted. If it's not an 'up to' you'll get the full deal if accepted (our eligibility calc shows if you've good odds).

  • Tip 2 - Fix payments to clear within the 0% time to avoid interest. Divide what you owe by the number of 0% months and repay by direct debit or standing order. Eg, spend £3k and over 30mths it's £100/mth to clear.

  • Tip 3 - Paying by credit card gives extra protection. As well as potentially being cheaper, if something costs £100+ and you put just 1p of the cost on your card you get important Section 75 protection.

  • Tip 4 - Cards don't always win. £3k-£5k credit limits are typical (dependent on income, credit score etc). If you need more, see Cheap loans from 2.8%. If you can't pay on a credit card, see top 0% Money Transfer Cards

  • Obey the 0% Card Golden Rules. Full info in 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples), but in brief...
    a) Always pay at least the set monthly minimum and stick within the limit or you can lose the 0%.
    b) Plan to clear the card (or balance-transfer away) before the 0% ends or rates jump to the rep APR.
    c) These cards are usually ONLY cheap for spending, so avoid cash withdrawals or shifting debt to them.


New. Grrrrr. Tesco has slashed Clubcard Rewards without notice - are you a loser? Many are furious, and Martin's called for Tesco to postpone the changes. How Clubcard overhaul affects you

Boots up to 70% clearance expected any day. Unconfirmed but we've seen hints in-store. Keep an eye on our Boots sale boost

New. 1.32% easy-access savings. This AA Savings rate (min £100) is the new top deal, if you want access to your cash any time. It just pips the Post Office's 1.3% (min £1). Full info in Top Savings

Ryanair slashes free hand luggage allowance - here's what you can do. It's handbags at dawn (kind of) as it's reduced what you can take into the cabin without paying. Our new video and infographic guide you through Monday's big change: Ryanair bags policy overhaul.

13 ways to cut plastic AND save cash. Incl when it's cheaper to buy unpackaged food - it's the hot topic right now. How to live with less plastic 

Cheapest popular Fitbit and Garmin fitness trackers & watches. Incl £80 Garmin Vivosmart 3, £239 Fitbit Ionic. Step to our fitness tracker round-up.

Alert. MSE Big Energy Switch starts next week - are you eligible? We hope to have some cheap deals with enhanced customer service, but rules mean we can only offer them to 'members'. Check if you're eligible, and if not, simply sign up to this newsletter or join our Cheap Energy Club by 11.59pm on Sunday - and please spread the word to friends and family.


Booked a 2018 holiday? 5 'sort nows' to save when you go

Save £££s nailing car hire, airport parking, visas, insurance, cheap spending & more

Jan's the biggest booking month but if you've already bagged a cheap 2018 getaway - or are about to - don't rest on your laurels. There's plenty you still need to do to keep costs down or protect yourself if the worst happens. For instance travel insurance covers from the moment you take it out, so if you can't travel because of subsequent illness you're still protected. Our 61 Overseas Travel Tips guide has lots of ways to avoid financial turbulence, here are the key five...

  1. Grab an overseas credit card to bag near-perfect rates + £20 cashback. Some specialist cards charge no fees for overseas spending, such as Halifax Clarity (eligibility calc / apply*), which also has low ATM costs. And if you apply by 28 Feb and spend in a foreign currency by 31 Mar (incl online, eg, hotel bookings), you get £20 cashback. Repay IN FULL to minimise the 18.9% rep APR. Full info and other options in Travel Credit Cards (APR Examples).

  2. Check your documents are still valid now. Use this checklist:
    - Check your passport expiry NOW. You may need 6+ months' validity and renewing takes weeks. Passport help 
    - Check if you need a visa. It's easiest and safest to check with the Foreign Office. See how to find visa help.
    - Travelling to the US? You'll almost certainly need an 'ESTA' to get in. See how to avoid shyster ESTA sites.
    - Travelling in the EU? How to check your free EHIC is still valid (gives free/discounted medical treatment in EU + some other countries).
    - Driving abroad? Check your licence is in date, and whether you need an International Driving Permit.

  3. Slash car hire costs by booking early... Walk in during the summer hols, and we've heard of £40+/day prices (that's assuming they've any cars left). But book now for mid-Aug and we've found £8/day for Tenerife, £16/day for Malaga. It paid for Dave: "Booked four months ahead, 10 days for £296, could have been £900 just before I went. So glad." Cheap Holiday Car Hire

  4. ... and go early on airport parking. The earlier the better, but even booking a few hours ahead can avoid grand theft related to your auto. When we checked on Tue, if you drive up to the Heathrow Terminal 2 long stay, it's £163 for a week. Book two hours ahead though, and it's £112, or book now for a week in August and it's £73. Suzanne emailed: "Saved £151 for August at Gatwick. Where would we be without MSE?" Cheap Airport Parking

  5. Get travel insurance ASAB (As Soon As you've Booked) - from £5/trip or £9/yr. As we ALWAYS say, get it immediately so you're covered if you have to cancel any time BEFORE your holiday begins, eg, if you or a relative falls ill. For the best buys see Cheap Travel Insurance.

Not booked but plan to? Lots of cost-cutters in our Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels & Cheap Package Holidays guides.


£139 of Ciaté nail polish for £17. MSE Blagged. Incl 22 mostly mini polishes, nail glitter and nail file. 1,500 avail. Ciaté

Some councils & firms STILL charging credit card fees after ban - how to challenge 'em. Full info in card transaction fees ban, incl how to let us know of any more offenders. 

Do you know what to do in a medical emergency? St John Ambulance has a free first-aid app that teaches you CPR, how to help someone who's choking, how to deal with allergic reactions and more. First-aid app

Yankee Candle 50% off, incl £12 large jar candle (norm £24). While stock lasts at card and gift store Clintons.

MSE calls on the Govt to give people in debt crisis real breathing space. Read why we're calling for more breathing space. Struggling now? See our Debt Help guide.


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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 38mths 0%, 1.44% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Halifax* up to 29mths 0%, no fee (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. CompareTheMarket*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-7yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £13.95/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone £20/mth

£150 to switch + £50 if you stay a year: HSBC
5% interest fixed for a year:
Nationwide FlexDirect


'I got £12k of PPI back - even though I'd used the PPI'

Karen's story is an inspiration to anyone who knowingly had PPI - you're now likely owed, due to overcharging

We've said all along you can reclaim PPI for mis-selling but MoneySaver Karen claimed under the new 'Plevin' rule, where you're due cash - even if not mis-sold - if too much of the cost was commission. Rules state if commission made up a hideous 50%+ of the policy cost it should've been declared. Banks rarely did and it averaged 67%, so ANYONE with PPI is likely owed. Our Reclaim PPI for FREE guide and tool shows how to do it yourself - here's Karen...

"We had a mortgage going back 15 years, and were advised to take out PPI on it. We claimed on this insurance as my husband was made redundant so when PPI reclaiming was in the news I ignored it as I had no idea I could claim anything given I'd used the insurance.

"But then I became aware of 'Plevin' through MSE's PPI guide and tool last year, and I thought I'd give it a go. I didn't expect success, and I didn't know how much commission I'd been charged.

"I used the Resolver tool on your website to claim. There were no quibbles, I went straight through with little paperwork and got £12k back in a month. I've no idea what I'll spend it on as I couldn't believe it when I got the money last week after claiming at the end of last year."


50% off fresh food for Ocado newbies via code. MSE Blagged. Incl fruit, veg, meat, poultry and fish. Plus 1yr 'free' delivery pass. Min £60 spend (across entire shop, not just fresh stuff), max £25 discount. Ocado code

"Following Martin's show and a huge energy bill, I decided to switch energy provider for the first time, aged 72. I saved £615 in only 10 minutes. Thank you."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Urgent. Not filed your tax return? Sort it NOW. The deadline for self-assessment returns is Wed 31 Jan - but don't wait, as it can take 10 days to get a new password. Act now to avoid a £100 fine



How much are your essential outgoings each year? Martin often suggests you keep three to six months' worth of basic outgoings as an emergency cash fund if you're debt-free. So we want to find out how much this is for most people. How much are your basic essential outgoings each year?

MoneySavers still pay people cash in hand. Last week, we asked which services you typically pay for in cash. From over 10,000 responses, of the services we asked about, only au pairs/nannies were unlikely to be paid in cash - with 51% preferring to pay in a traceable way instead. For all other services, incl builders, cleaners and handymen, the vast majority of you prefer cash. See full cash-in-hand poll results.



Should we do 'tit for tat' with wedding gifts? When we got married, we made a spreadsheet of what people bought us so we could send thank you cards (including how much they gave). Now we're getting invited to these people's weddings - should we spend the corresponding amount on them, even if it was quite small and we can afford more? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we do 'tit for tat' with wedding gifts? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Debt Free Roll of Honour
- Competitions thread of the week: iPad Mini
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Sugar soap is fab
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: How much pocket money do you give?
- Discussion of the week: Work colleague block-booking holidays through 2018


Merlin - 1-yr theme park & attractions pass £129 (norm £179)
Free pint - beer, ale or cider at 1,500ish pubs in Eng/Wales
WHSmith - free breakfast meal deal via O2 app
Dogs Trust - free microchipping for dogs
National Express - £5 or less coach fares + £1 booking fee

Pizza Express - two mains for £10
Prezzo - 2for1 on mains
Las Iguanas - 2for1 on mains
Harvester - 40% off mains
Papa John's - 50% off a £15 spend online

M&S - up to 70% off sale
The Works - 10 kids' books £10 + site-wide free delivery code
Primark - £1 false nails, are they any good?
Fitness - incl free gym passes, bootcamps & outdoor classes
Morrisons - £3 wonky veg box incl carrots, potatoes etc.

Quick Forum Tips

Free Coca-Cola Zero Sugar at McDonald's. Coke, for zero
Extra 20% off Oasis sale code. What's the story?
Northern £10 1-day rail tix with newspaper tokens. All aboard



Thu 18 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 19 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. See previous
Mon 22 Jan - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 22 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.30pm. Listen again
Mon 22 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. See previous


Wed 17 Jan - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 19 Jan - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Tue 23 Jan - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I've got some old Premium Bonds going back many years. Are they still entered into the draw? Estelle, by email.

MSE Lauren's A: Yes, every bond going back to 1956 when the scheme first started is entered into the draw so it doesn't matter how old it is. And you're not alone in being unsure, as there are more than one million unclaimed prizes worth over £57.5m. 

To check if you've won, use NS&I's Premium Bond checker - you need your bond holder number which you can find in your online account, or by writing to NS&I. See our Premium Bonds guide for lots more info on how they work.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... you probably know the expression 'look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'. Well, one British Gas customer had the opportunity to put this to the test when she got a cheque for 1p from the energy firm. Even the postage would have cost more. See her story and tell us what you'd do with such a refund in our 1p cheque Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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