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17th Oct 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 This info may be out of date.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 October 2018
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.
† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

We can't believe we're saying this, but... switch to British Gas (even if you're already a BG customer)

Update, 19 October. Sadly, British Gas has today pulled the deal below, presumably due to its huge popularity. We've left the write-up as it was for reference. But don't fear... you can still save a typical £200/yr+ on your energy with other deals via our Cheap Energy Club.

Yes, you read that right. We're not often fans of big energy firms, so there was a collective stunned silence at MSE Towers this week when we realised prices have risen so much that the new British Gas tariff is the cheapest fixed deal on the market (after cashback). Not only that, but it also throws in free boiler cover.

And when we say cheapest, that's not cheapest Big 6 fix, or cheapest big name - it's on average cheaper than even small suppliers' fixes. Martin says he can't remember the last time this happened (though that could just be his memory, he's getting on a bit). And a special message...

If you're already with British Gas on its standard tariff this is a no-brainer - yet don't expect it to switch you, you need to take action.

Now on to the specifics...

  • The new British Gas tariff, typical saving £220/year.†The new†BG Boiler Cover Oct 2019†tariff relaunched on Thu - it was last around about a month ago, but it's a better deal now as other prices have risen since. It's an online dual-fuel only deal (ie, you must get gas & elec) that you pay for by monthly or quarterly direct debit. It's only available via Cheap Energy Club and other comparison sites, not direct.

    The rate is fixed until 31 October 2019, so it won't change before then, though obviously the amount you pay can vary with usage. Most also get £60ish basic boiler cover thrown in for 'free'. As for what you'll pay, for someone on typical usage:

    - A Big 6 standard tariff averages†£1,220/yr
    - The British Gas standard tariff is an avg†£1,205/yr
    - This British Gas tariff is an avg†£995/yr†(incl £25 MSE cashback)

    There are currently no cheaper fixes.†But your exact savings depend on your location and usage - to find out exactly, and to get the cashback, do a Cheap Energy Club comparison.

    Of course, when the fix ends you'll be bumped up to a British Gas standard tariff, so you should look to switch again then.

  • You'll need to get a smart meter if you don't have one. We think it's likely BG is pushing this tariff out to help fulfil its obligations to install smart meters. A smart meter is just an automated meter, which means you needn't give meter readings in future. If you don't already have one, you'll need to agree to get one for gas, one for elec - they're free.

    If you already have a non-BG smart meter, it may lose some of its 'smart' features, but you can still get the deal.

    It's also worth noting that if you move home, this tariff (though not the boiler cover) can come with you. Renters can get the tariff, but not the boiler cover.

  • What does the boiler cover, er, cover?†It's basic cover, so will provide repairs to the boiler and controls, but not the central heating system. A £99 excess per claim applies and cover starts within 21 days of your switch completing. See it as an added extra rather than a core benefit, and some in certain circumstances may not be able to get it - if you can't and want to get your own separate cover, see our Cheap Boiler Cover guide.

    If you already have boiler cover with British Gas, you'll just get the tariff. If you've already got cover from another provider, you can choose to get just the BG tariff, but not the boiler cover - try to avoid having two policies at the same time as insurers may make you split any claim.

  • There are cheaper tariffs available... but they're variable.†For the last few years we've been used to the cheapest deals being fixed rate. Yet the opposite is true right now - a symptom of rapidly rising prices.

    The cheapest deals, as you'll likely see in your comparison results, are variable-rate deals from small providers but this means the price can move any time. These can be a further £75/yr cheaper for someone with typical bills, though some are only available in smaller areas. The risk is that the energy firm pumps prices up - then again they are cheaper now and you're not locked in. If you'd be willing to switch rapidly if prices rise, a variable-rate deal would certainly be a winner in the short term.

  • If you've already switched in the last year, it's unlikely to be a winner. In September the cheapest fix was £867/yr on typical use - this is £995/yr. That shows the rapid rise in prices of cheap switchers' tariffs - fuelled (so to speak) by rising oil prices.

    But if your fix is coming to an end, or you haven't switched before, this is a contender. It's also strong for those who are reluctant to switch other than to a big name.

    You could wait to see if cheaper prices come in, and the oil price rise has tailed off so that's possible. Yet it's unlikely there'll be any great savings, winter is coming and this is a decent package. †

    Alternatively you could go for a cheap two-winter fix to protect yourself from price hikes for longer.

  • Does MSE make money if I switch via Cheap Energy Club?†Yes. Like all energy comparison sites, we're paid each time you switch through us. Unlike most others though, we give everyone who switches via us about half (that's what the cashback is). †

    You still pay the same as if you went direct to the energy firm (though you can't go direct with this British Gas deal), so it's a win-win. The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

  • If you're on prepay or in Northern Ireland this isn't for you, but you can still save. Prepay customerscan try our prepay comparison - savings are smaller, typically £100/yr, but it could still be worth it. For bigger savings, see if you can switch to a credit meter. See Cut Prepay Energy Costs.

    If you're in Northern Ireland, this deal isn't available to you. Unfortunately Cheap Energy Club, like all UK comparison sites, doesn't currently include Northern Ireland, but you can do a comparison via the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland's tool - for more info, see our Cheap NI Electricity guide.

  • What does switching actually mean? In practical terms switching isn't a biggie. No one visits your home (unless it's to install a smart meter). It's the same gas, same electricity, even same safety - the only changes are price and service. See our Switching FAQs for more help.

Martin's hour-long documentary special:
10 Things Your Kids Need To Know, ITV, 9pm, Tue 23 Oct

ITV followed Martin's return to his childhood home in Cheshire, and he reveals some life lessons he's learned that he hopes will help parents. As he says...

"We live in one of the world's most competitive consumer economies, yet many children aren't prepared for it, and the playing field isn't level. There's a divide between those in the know and everyone else. I'm aware I'm one of the lucky ones - my professional success is beyond anything I could've ever dreamt of - but the path hasn't always been easy, I've had to manage failure too. There's a lot I wish someone had told me in my teens
." Do watch or set the Betamax... more on the show.

DON'T believe the fake ads on Facebook
Lots of scam ads that litter social media lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

Martin's tip: 'You can still get multi-car insurance if your motors have different renewal dates - it could save you £100s or £1,000s'

Multi-car insurance is financial Marmite. It's pointless for some, a big winner for others, as Clare told me on Facebook:†"Switched to multi-car and†saved £700 - couldn't believe it."†When I've talked about it before, many have told me they can't do it as their cars' renewals aren't at the same time (I did a Twitter poll on it last week and found 84% of you with 2+ cars in the household are in that boat). Yet that ISN'T a blocker - here's a quick briefing:

  • Is multi-car a winner? My rule of thumb...†What tends to happen is multi-car newbies get hot offers to suck 'em in, but that advantage can disappear at renewal. So my multi-car renewal rule of thumb is... if you've currently got a multi-car policy, check separate quotes for each vehicle first (see below for how)†- if you've separate policies, check multi-car first.

  • Getting multi-car if you've different renewal dates.†Three multi-car insurers - Admiral*, LV* and Aviva* - let you set up a policy at your 1st car's renewal, while the other car(s) stay with their existing insurer, until their renewal. Quotes will incl an 'annual equivalent price', as if all the vehicles were insured for a full year, to help you compare. An example'll help...

    Imagine your Smart car's renewal is 1 Nov, so you get the policy then, but your Thick car stays on its current policy until its renewal on 4 Jan. From then on, both cars have synchronised renewals at 1 Nov.†

    This works well for those with policies that renew within a few months. If renewals are further apart, comparing can be tricky, as for a long period only one car will be insured on the multi-car policy - so will it be sufficiently discounted to beat a standalone policy? The answer differs with each insurer - see multi-car split renewals for details. Yet if the savings are large, it can be worth multi-car insuring both cars straightaway and cancelling the 2nd car's existing policy - see switching not at renewal for how.

  • The top multi-car options.†Comparison sites don't do multi-car searches, so you have to check quotes manually by trial and error. Try the three more specialist multi-car insurers - Admiral*, LV* and Aviva* - first. †

    But some other insurers do simply give a reduction for each additional policy added, while keeping the policies separate. This can be an especially easy route if an insurer already covers one of your cars, so check the price when the 2nd car's up for renewal. The ones doing this are More Than* (15% off), Axa* (up to 15%), Esure* (10%), Privilege (varies) and Sheilas' Wheels* (10%). Plus Direct Line* and Churchill* offer multi-policy discounts - ie, for two car policies, or a home and car policy etc.

  • The cheapest standalone (ie, separate) policies.†Just use a comparison site for each vehicle. Yet as comparison sites don't search identical insurers, and can have different prices for the same firm, it's best to check a few for a wider spread. Our current order's MoneySupermarket*,*, Gocompare* and CTM*. (Why? See comparison order.) If you've more time, also check our list of hot deals comparison sites miss.

For further help and many more cost-cutting tricks, see our Cheap Car Insurance and Under-25s' Car Insurance guides.

It's back. £177 of No7 beauty products in £42 Advent calendar. Mega-popular Boots beauty calendar returns, incl lipstick, serum, day/night cream, mascara etc. No7 calendar

How to get 10p/litre off Tesco petrol & diesel. Useful with prices still among highest in over 4yrs. See Cheap Petrol.

FREE Walkers Baked crisps 6-pack, FREE vegan Magnum ice-creams 3-pack.Both totally free in-store via coupons - see our†100+ supermarket coupons.

New.2.03% savings fixed for 1yr.For the last couple of weeks we've been telling you about the new easy-access†Marcus account*†(min £1 deposit) paying 1.5% AER variable (incl a fixed 0.15% bonus for 12mths) - the best rate for years. This week there's a new top 1yr fix account from†Shawbrook Bank†(min £1k) paying 2.03% AER, just pipping the previous winner - though if you're saving over £10,000 it can be beaten by†this Raisin deal. Full info in†Top Savings.

Nectar 'double-up' promo coming - hold on to your points.At Sainsbury's - for full info see†Nectar boost.

Over 75 - or know someone who is? Reclaim £100s in TV licence fees.We've found £14m+ was refunded last year. While some over-75s choose to keep paying, if you didn't mean to, you can reclaim back to 2000. TV licence refund

Two easy†ways to make £100 on your Xmas shopping

Play your (credit) cards right and your points can make, er, cash... and this is the perfect time to do it†

Two of the highest-paying reward credit cards give a lucrative boost in the first three months you have 'em. That makes right now the sweet spot for applications, as your boosted rewards will be earned over the high-spend Christmas and New Year period. Of course, this isn't about debt. This is about using credit cards for your normal spending, then paying offIN FULLeach month, so there's no interest - if you do need to borrow, this isn't for you. See full info in Credit Card Rewards, in brief:†

  1. £100 Amazon/M&S vch & airport lounge passes, poss in time for Xmas.†Accepted applicants for the Amex Rewards Gold card†(eligibility calc / apply*) who spend £2,000 on it in the first 3mths earn 20,000 Membership Reward points. These can be swapped for a £100 voucher to spend at Amazon/M&S/Ikea etc. You also get two free airport lounge passes and at least 1pt per £1 spent. But fail to repay fully and it's 22.9% APR interest.

    While £2,000 sounds a lot, it's equivalent to £667 a month, which for many families is do-able (use it for all spending, but not as an excuse to overspend). Amex promises the bonus points within a month of hitting the spending trigger (as long as it's within 3mths) but most usually get them in a day or two.

    Important: The card has no fee in the first year, but it's £140 a year after that, so cancel before then to avoid it.

  2. Up to £100 in cash, ongoing up to 1% cashback - but it's paid after a year.†The fee-free Amex Platinum Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) gives 5% cashback on all spending within the first 3mths (up to a max £100 cashback). You then earn up to 1% afterwards (you get a bigger % the more you spend). Fail to repay in full and you'll pay 22.9% rep APR. The cashback is paid in the month after the anniversary of you getting the card, as long as you spend £3,000+ on it in a year.
  • Which card is best? If you want the money quickly and will definitely hit £2,000 in the first 3mths, the Gold card wins. If not, as long as you'll spend over £3,000 in a year, go for the Platinum card. The Platinum card also wins if you're going to spend substantial amounts over a longer period, as it still gives you cashback after the first 3mths (rather than points with the Gold card) and has no annual fee. †

    Of course, these are American Express cards, and so aren't as universally accepted in the UK as Visa/Mastercard, but they should work for most major retailers. For alternatives, plus options if you won't hit the £2,000 spending trigger, see our Credit Card Rewards guide.

  • The Credit Card Reward Golden Rules.†
    a) Do all your normal spending on the card to maximise the gain (but it's not an excuse to overspend).
    b) Always repay IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit, to avoid interest that will dwarf the gain.
    c) Never withdraw cash. You pay interest on it even if repaying in full, and it hits your credit score.
    d) Never go over the credit limit, or you can be fined.

20%-50% off ALL toys at Sainsbury's, incl Barbie, Disney, Marvel.†One of the biggies MoneySavers wait for each year. Full info on deals and†dates in†Toy sale.

30% extra off Hot Diamonds outlet code, eg, £70 bracelet for £25.†MSE Blagged. Free delivery. Off already reduced items - eg, get £40 earrings (norm £80) reduced to £28. Hot Diamonds

Blue Peter turns 60 - how kids can earn a badge to bag FREE entry to theme parks & zoos.†Full info in this guide†we made earlier.

New.Hot pay-as-you-go Sim - only pay for data you actually use.Newbies to Smarty* (uses Three's network) can get unltd mins & texts + 2GB data for £7.50/mth - plus crucially you're refunded†£1.25/GB†for any data you don't use, applied as a credit against your next bill. You're not tied into a contract so can leave anytime, but if you stay you'll get the 2nd mth free, and a £10 Amazon vch emailed to you after 3mths. Full help in†PAYG Sims.

35% off posh Christy towels, bedding etc.MSE Blagged.Incl sale, eg, £25 bath sheet for £5.Ends Sun

New automatic energy-switching service launches.It'll switch you if you can save £50+. See†how Weflip works.

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Longest 0%:†Lloyds up to 34mths 0%, 3% fee†(19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%:Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)†

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss:†
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499:†Admiral* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k:†Sainsbury's Bank* 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs)†

Standard b'band & line rent:†TalkTalk equiv £13.37/mth†
Fibre b'band & line rent:†
TalkTalk equiv £18.34/mth

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

Virgin, Sky, AA - which are the top 10 firms to haggle with?

With a bit of chutzpah, existing customers can save £100s/yr - and if you're with Virgin, beat its price hikes

It's not market stalls but big mature companies with call centres that tend to be best to haggle with. The perfect time is when you're near the end of your contract or cover and they're desperate to keep your business. We've put it to the test and found which firms are likely to offer you a better deal on mobiles, TV, broadband, insurance and more.†See full help in our†Haggle with Call Centres†guide - but here are the need-to-knows to open negotiations...

PS for Virgin customers:It's hiking broadband, phone and TV prices this month or next. You'll have got a letter or email if affected - even if you're mid-contract, you've 30 days to leave, which means it's perfect haggle time, as John on Twitter found:†"Renegotiated. Got immediate credit of £50 & £45/mth reduction for next 12mths."†For full help, seeHaggle with Virgin.

  • Revealed - the top 10 firms to haggle with. In our recent poll, MoneySavers told us which service firms they've tried haggling with in the past year - and whether they had success. Here's the top 10:
top 10 service firms to haggle with
1. RAC 90%†(87%) 6. BT 80% (72%)
2. Admiral 89% (82%) 7. TalkTalk 80% (73%)
3. AA 88% (90%) 8. Plusnet 78% (77%)
4. Sky 85% (86%) 9. EE 77% (80%)
5. Virgin Media 82% (78%) 10. Vodafone 76% (77%)
Poll carried out Sep 2018. Based on 5,921 votes - see full results. AA result for breakdown cover. BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Sky & Virgin results for broadband, home phone & TV. EE & Vodafone results for mobile.†

  • Top haggling tips for EVERY provider. It's more art than science, but if you don't ask, you don't get. Try these...

    - Benchmark the best buys. Then quote 'em & ask for a price match. See Broadband Unbundled, Cheap Sims etc.
    - Be polite & charming. Don't get stroppy. Think of it as financial flirting - dazzle your way to the discount you want.
    - Get put through to retentions. Say you'll leave & get put through to the 'disconnections' department, which is really 'retentions'. Its job is to keep you and it has more discounting power.
    - Don't fill the silence. A classic sales technique is staying quiet so you'll accept an offer to fill the silence - don't.
    - If it doesn't work first time, try again. MoneySavers have been refused one day, then had a good offer the next.

  • Lots more tips in our sector- and company-specific haggling guides.†See the following for detailed help:

Get paid to play Santa.The real one can't be everywhere at once, so if you're good with kids and pass background checks (obvs), earn £8+/hr working shifts as Father Christmas, a helper or a grotto manager.†Ker-jingle bells

Free speed boost for some Sky fibre broadband customers.†From 36Mb to 63Mb. See†Sky speed boost.

"Thanks Martin Lewis. Quick call to the Student Loans Company and my wife and I got back £290 altogether for†early student loan repayments."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£10 for two Ideal Home Show Christmas tickets.For 21-25 Nov in London. Norm £30ish. Ideal Ho-ho-home Show


How much do you spend on holidays in a year?There's a lot competing for our cash, yet many put holidays near the top of the pile. So we wanted to see how much of your income you spend on them. How much do you spend on holidays in a year?

Older MoneySavers are more likely to give food†past its best†a chance.Last week our poll asked whether you eat food past its best-before date. Over 13,000 responded, and it seems age matters - while 52% of men and 45% of women aged over 65 said they ignore best-before dates altogether unless it's obviously off, that was true of just 30% of men and women under 25, with younger MoneySavers more likely to just chuck it away. Full breakdown in†Best-before date poll results.†


Should my neighbour return my money? I live in a block of flats, all owner-occupied. My neighbour asked me to contribute £150 towards the cost of replacing carpets in the communal hallway, which I did. Several months later there are no new carpets - apparently the contractor has disappeared with the money.†Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should my neighbour return my money? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week:†Debt-free options
- Competitions thread of the week:†Hotel break for 2 and 3-course meal
- Old-Style board thread of the week:†Best buys from Lidl?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat:†Would you like a surprise party?
- Discussion of the week:†Surviving Christmas without breaking the bank

Tesco - 25% off 6 bottles or more of wine, champagne etc
Co-op - £5 frozen meal deal incl pizza & Cadbury ice cream
Gin advent calendar - £30 incl Bombay Sapphire, Gordon's
Homebuilding Show - free tickets incl Edinburgh 20-21 Oct
Gruum - shave & body scrub set £15 delivered (norm £38)

Prezzo - 2for1 on mains (Sun-Wed)
Pizza Express - 2for1 on mains (Mon-Wed)
KFC - free side, including wings, fries
Cafe Rouge - 40% off mains (Sun-Fri)
Pizza Hut†- 33% off dine-in food (Sun-Thu)

FitFlop - 25% off code, including 50% off sale
Travelodge - 20% off stays up to 5 nights from 25 Oct-24 Dec
Family & Friends Railcard - 20% off one-year card code
The Works - 10 kids' books for £10 plus free delivery code
Caffe Nero - free hot drink via its app

Quick Forum Tips

Lidl up to 50% off selected items this weekend. Save a Lidl
Heads up: Aldi wine advent calendar.†Wine not?
Over 50% off Boots Star Gift.Catch a falling (price) star


Thu 18 Oct - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 19 Oct - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Tue 23 Oct - Martin Lewis: 10 Things Your Kids Need To Know, ITV, 9pm


Wed 17 Oct - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, Tax-Free Childcare
Fri 19 Oct - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 22 Oct -†TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 23 Oct - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm†


Q: I've never had credit, so have no credit history. How do I check which cards I can be accepted for? Lori, via email.

MSE†Karl's†A: Having little or no credit history can make it difficult to get the best credit card deals, as lenders base lending decisions on your past. To check how likely you are to be approved, use our eligibility calculator. Checking this way won't harm your chances of being accepted, as it does what's known as a 'soft search'.

However, you may find that with no credit history your chances of getting many cards are low. One solution could be a 'bad credit' credit card, which you may be more likely to be accepted for. These cards usually charge hideous rates of interest (if not repaid each month IN FULL), but used correctly can help boost your credit score. See Credit Cards for Bad Credit.

Other ways to boost your credit score include making sure you're on the electoral roll and checking your credit file is up to date - for more tips, see our†Boost Your Credit Score†guide.†

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


That's all for this week, but before we go... according to a viral video this week, we've all been using cheese graters the wrong way - apparently you should hold them horizontally so the cheese collects inside. Get gouda here, you say... we could barely brie-lieve it either. It got us talking about other household objects we've been using wrong for years - MSE Jenny's just realised why baby vests have wide necks, while MSE Megan's started opening toothpaste in a whole new way. Share your gadget gaffes in our†Horizontal cheese grater?†forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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