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18th Oct 2017
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18 October 2017


UK interest rates likely to rise in 2 weeks

- Shift costly credit card debt before 0% periods shorten
- Mortgage costs likely to rise, unless you beat it
- Good news for savers, but beware locking in

The Bank of England meets 8 times a year to decide what happens to UK interest rates. Next time, on Thu 2 Nov, it's likely to make financial history, if as is predicted, for the first time in over a decade, it votes to increase UK interest rates from 0.25% to probably 0.5%. And this is perhaps just the start.

After all, recently we've lived in non-normal times. Our interest rates are an anomaly, limboing way below historic norms. To put it in context, the last time rates went up, in July 2007, they increased from 5.5% to 5.75%.

The source of the prediction is unimpeachable - Bank of England governor Mark Carney himself, who said: "In the relatively near-term we can expect interest rates would increase somewhat... and increases, when and if they come, will be to a limited extent."

Yet nowt's certain. Its committee must vote and things can change rapidly. However, yesterday's inflation rise to 3%, well above the bank's 2% target, makes it more likely. Increasing interest rates discourages spending, and encourages saving, cooling the economy, which helps squash inflation.

So I wanted to give you enough time to take key actions now in case it happens (and even if it doesn't, most of this is good to do anyway)... 

1. MORTGAGE HOLDERS: Check immediately if you're on the best possible deal. If not, you may be able to save £1,000s.

Those on fixes won't see any change, unless their deal ends soon. Yet if you're on a variable or tracker mortgage and interest rates increase, your mortgage will get more expensive. A 0.25 percentage point rise is roughly £200 a year more per £100,000 of outstanding mortgage. Worse, many, especially those on lenders' standard variable rates, are already massively overpaying.

As @MatthewOgram tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Used your remortgage guide to swap products. 5.49% down to 2.10% 5yr fixed. £230-per-month saving. Thanks muchly." That's nearly £14,000 saved over the 5 years. 

The bigger picture is this could be the beginning of the end of very cheap mortgages. New fixes are already a tad costlier as the market's anticipated rate rises; yet for now deals are still incredibly cheap - with 2-year fixes starting from as little as 1.1%.

So everyone, check ASAP if you can save. There's full help in my Remortgage Guide, yet here's a quick action plan...

a) Dig out your current mortgage's details: 
Find the rate, if it's fixed or variable, when the intro deal ends, what the mortgage term is, if there are early exit penalties, and crucially work out your CURRENT Loan To Value - the proportion of your property's value you're borrowing.

b) Take 2 mins to benchmark the best possible deal: Our Mortgage Best-Buy Comparison includes all deals available to brokers, and direct-only deals. And we've designed a clever extra where it factors the fees into the overall cost to give a true comparison.

c) See your likely saving: 
Once you know prospective new deals, use our Ultimate Mortgage Calc which has lots of tools to show your saving.

d) Finding a cheap deal isn't enough - you need to get accepted:
 The days when lenders would fling out deals to all and sundry are long gone...

  • Is your credit score good enough? Your credit history is a huge part of whether you'll be accepted for any type of credit, including a mortgage. Our free Credit Club shows your score, gives you access to your credit report, and has tips on how to boost it.

  • Are the repayments affordable? Lenders won't just check if you can afford the monthly repayments at the current rate, but they'll also stress-test affordability if rates were 6% or 7%.

    The details of each lender's eligibility criteria aren't available to the public, but they are to mortgage brokers, so they can help match you to the top deal you'll be accepted for. See Top mortgage brokers for info.

2. SAVERS: Rate rises are good news, but consider giving yourself the flexibility to move - eg, Post Office 1.27% easy access. 

Low interest rates have punished savers, especially older people who'd worked and saved hard and planned to live off the interest. So a rate rise is positive. In fact, savings rates have already risen, as the market's taken note of the general direction of travel of interest rates. 

If you've savings, check now what rate you get. Less than 1%? It's a rip-off - move it. Full info including top current account saving rates in Top Savings. Here's a brief rundown of best-buy normal savings accounts...

- Up to 1.3% easy access: Here you can withdraw cash whenever you want. After years of people complaining to me they've never heard of the top payers, there's a big name up there. The Post Office online acc (min £1) pays 1.27% AER variable; Bank of Cyprus UK (min £1) pays 1p more per £100 saved, at 1.28% AER variable.

You may have seen RCI Bank at 1.3% AER variable, but unlike the others this ISN'T UK-protected so you don't get the usual £85,000 UK savings safety protection - you're reliant on the French scheme.

- Top fixes up to 2.2%: If you are prepared to lock cash away without access you can earn more. App-based Atom Bank pays 1.8% for 1 year or 2.05% for 2 years or NS&I pays 2.2% for 3 years.

If your money's in a crap account now, get it sorted while it's on your mind. For regular savings switchers though, getting a fix today may be premature if rates rise in a fortnight. So it's worth considering staying easy access for short-term flexibility, then fixing in a few weeks. And even then be wary of locking in for too long (eg, 2+ years) , in case rates continue to rise after.

3. EXISTING CREDIT CARD DEBT: The top debt-shifting 0% deals are already worsening. If you pay interest, check NOW if you can cut it. 

I'd push anyone who pays interest on existing credit card debt to urgently check if they can shift it to a new card, with a cheaper interest rate. Of course for most with ongoing debt the challenge is being accepted.

So use our Balance Transfer 0% Eligibility Calc which shows which 0% deal you're most likely to get. As Kelly told us: "Legend. Used the eligibility calc, got 35mths 0% and shifted £11,000 from 29.9%. Shocked by the savings." 

Of course, with credit card APRs already often over 18%, even if they were to rise by 0.25 percentage points, it won't make much odds. Yet after years of ever better 'best ever' 0% deals, things are now moving the other way. The Bank of England has warned about irresponsible lending and a rate rise would add to that mood music.

Six months ago you could shift debt to 43mths at 0%. Now it's shorter, so if you're paying interest, I'd sort it ASAP, as it's possible deals will continue to get worse. Here are today's best buys - always go for the card with the lowest fee, in the time you're sure you can repay.

- Longest 0%:
MBNA* up to 39mths, 1.99% fee (20.9% rep APR after).
- Longest 'non up to' 0%: Virgin* 39mths, 2.4% fee (20.9% rep APR after).
- Longest NO FEE 0%: Halifax* up to 29mths (18.9% rep APR after).
- Longest 'non up to' NO FEE 0%: Sainsbury's Bank* 28mths 0%. It does charge a 1.5% fee, but then refunds it within 60 days (18.9% rep APR after).

If you do a balance transfer, as always follow the golden rules:

a) Clear the card or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay the APR.
b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
d) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days. 

4. PERSONAL LOANS: Rates very likely to rise, as currently at all-time lows.

If you've got an existing loan, it's almost certainly a fixed rate, meaning a UK rate rise won't impact it. Though for those hoping to get a loan, rates are very likely to rise from current all-time lows, both if there's an interest rate rise, and due to pressure on lenders to reduce the UK's personal borrowing.

So if you NEED to borrow it's sensible to do it quickly. Yet only do it if it's planned, budgeted for and affordable, otherwise the pain will likely outweigh the gain.

To find your cheapest loan, use our Top Loans Quick Eligibility Calc and it'll tell you which you've the best chance of getting, without hitting your creditworthiness. Here are v. quick best buys; full help and info in Cheap Loans...

- £7,500 to £15,000 loans: Sainsbury's Bank* is 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3yrs), Zopa* is 2.8% rep APR.
- £5,000 to £7,499 loans: Admiral* is 3.2% rep APR, Clydesdale* 3.3% rep APR.
- Under £5,000 loans: Zopa* is 5%-9.9% rep APR, Hitachi* 7.3%-7.9% rep APR. Yet for smaller amounts credit card 0% loans are often cheaper.

Sadly all loans these days are 'rep APR' which means only 51% of accepted applicants need be given the advertised rate. 

Of course, we'll keep you up to date with what you should be doing. And if rates do go up, expect a special email on the day with help.


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Mobile price war: Unltd mins, texts & huge 20GB data, equiv £7.50ish/mth

Hot Sim-ONLY deals. If you're out of contract or want a new handset, BT & Three's battle could save you £300+/yr

They're the little chips you put in your phone to make calls, send texts & surf the web. And right now the price of Sims is diving. A year ago 6GB of data cost £15/mth, now 20GB is the equivalent of just over £7.50 a month. Yet many waste cash languishing on an old deal. So if you're out of contract and happy with your handset, switch. Even if you want a snazzy new handset it's usually cheapest to buy it outright (if you can afford to) and get a hot Sim-only deal, such as one of these...

  • Hot simEnds Thu. Got BT broadband? Get 6GB for equiv £4.50/mth or a HUGE 20GB for equiv £7.50ish/mth. The best deals are for existing BT b'band custs, as it's trying to lock you into all its services. Via this link, custs who add BT Mobile* (which uses EE's network) can get the following deals on a 12mth contract till 11.59pm Thu.

    - 6GB data + unlimited mins & texts. You pay £12/mth and can claim a £90 Amazon/iTunes vch. If you'd have spent that anyway, factor it in and the total cost is equiv to £4.50/mth.
    - 20GB data + unlimited mins & texts: You pay £16/mth and claim a £100 Amazon/iTunes vch. Factor it in and the total cost is equiv to £7.67/mth.

    Important: You MUST claim the vch after 2wks but within 3mths of getting the Sim (BT won't remind you so remember to use this claim form). Once claimed it can take 45 days to come. Cancel BT b'band and you'll pay £5/mth more.

  • New. Not got BT broadband? Get 4GB for equiv £8/mth. If the deals above don't work for you, Three's got two cheap 12mth-contract deals...  

    - 4GB data + unlimited mins & texts. MSE Blagged. Via this link, this Three* deal for new customers costs £13/mth. But you're automatically sent a £60 Amazon vch within 90 days. If you'd have spent that anyway, factor it in and the total cost is equivalent to £8/mth.
    - 12GB data + unlimited mins & texts. Via this different link, Three* charges a straight £12/mth for new customers or those who need a second line.

  • You can keep your number. It's easy to transfer and normally done the next working day - see number porting.

Note: Some of these deals are only hot because of the vouchers. So when your contract ends, check if you can beat it. For more options and help, including how to unlock your phone, see Cheap Sim-only Deals.


ALL toys up to 50% off at Sainsbury's - incl Barbie, Disney & Peppa Pig. One of the pre-Xmas biggies. In store only. Full analysis in Sainsbury's toy sale.

An important warning to every UK worker... Read Martin's warning blog.

New York for £69 one-way - was it worth it?  We sent one of our team to test the new(ish) budget transatlantic airline.

'Free' £6 Amazon code. When you spend £30+ on a giftcard. See if you can get it

Cheap wills - book an appointment NOW. Nov's Will Aid month, letting anyone get a solicitor-drafted will for a suggested £95 charity donation (cheaper than most solicitors, which often charge about £150). But places go fast, so book now. Full Will Aid info. Plus we've blagged codes for half-price Which? wills, which let you draft a will online and have it checked by a specialist. Over 55? Get a will drafted for free as part of the separate Free Wills Month till Tue 31 Oct.


Three ways to make £100 on Christmas shopping

Some specialist reward cards pay BIG cash or vouchers IF you use 'em the right way

If you're debt-free, have a good credit history and are a disciplined spender, there are cracking freebies to be had on many top credit and charge cards. You usually need to hit a trigger spend, so to get there, shift ALL normal and Xmas spending to one, replacing cash, other cards etc. And remember - DON'T overspend and repay IN FULL to avoid interest and/or penalty charges. Here are our top picks...

  • Hot sim'Free' £100 Amazon/Boots/M&S etc vch + airport lounge passes. Spend £2k in 3mths, get £100 vch up to 2wks later. New Amex Rewards Gold cardholders (eligibility calc / apply*) who spend £2k+ in the first 3mths get 20k 'Membership Rewards' points. You can then swap 'em for a £100 vch for many big stores (exact ones can change) or 20k Avios pts, or other perks. You also get two free airport lounge passes and ongoing points for spending.

    Important: The fee's waived in yr 1, £140/yr after, so remember to cancel if you don't want it. It's a charge card, so there's no interest but you MUST fully repay each month or there's a £12/mth fee and a credit report black mark each time. Full info: Amex Gold.

    Alternatively, the similar Amex Rewards (eligibility calc / apply*) credit card is has no annual fee and gives 10k pts if you spend £1k+ within 3mths, so that's a £50 vch or 10k pts etc, with continuing rewards (22.9% rep APR). Full info: Amex Rewards.

  • 'Free' and simple up-to-£100 cashback. Get 5% back for 3mths, paid in a year. The Amex Plat Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) cashback credit card gives 5% cashback for the first 3mths (max £100), up to 1% after. It's added as a credit to your card after a year, though you need to spend at least £3,000/yr to get any cashback. Repay in full each month to avoid the 22.9% rep APR. More info and options in Cashback cards.

  • 'Free' £100 to spend at Sainsbury's. Spend £2k in 3mths, get £100 of pts up to 1mth after. The Amex Nectar (apply) card gives 20k Nectar pts (worth £100 at Sainsbury's) when you spend £2k+ within 3mths. There's a £25/yr fee, waived in yr 1, plus ongoing rewards (28.2% rep APR, incl fee).

  • The Credit Card Reward Golden Rules. Full help and options in Top Credit Card Rewards (APR Examples).
    a) Don't just apply in hope - that marks your credit file. First, use our eligibility calculator to find your best chance.
    b) Always repay IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit, to avoid interest which'll dwarf the gain.
    c) Never withdraw cash. You pay interest on it even if repaying in full and it hits your credit score.

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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 39mths 0%, 1.99% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Halifax* up to 29mths 0%, no fee (18.9% 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* 3.2% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury’s Bank* 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £12.33/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk £26.50/mth

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


Get paid to watch telly or be Santa - 70 ways to boost your income 

There are loads of quick or quirky ways to make extra cash in the run-up to Christmas. We've rounded 'em up 

A little more money's handy at any time of year, but especially with Xmas around the corner. So we've added some new earners to our ever-popular Boost Your Income guide. There are 70 pointers in there - here are a few to get you started...

  • Hot simGet paid to watch telly. TV companies want feedback. Get up to £70 for a 2-hr focus group, or £2 a survey, and you may even get a sneak preview of new shows. Couch potato cash 
  • New. Make money being Santa. The real one can't be everywhere at once, so if you're good with kids and pass background checks, earn £10/hr+ working shifts as Santa, a helper or a grotto manager. Ker-jingle bells

  • New. Sell Lego by the KILO. Have your kids (or you) outgrown their Lego collection? If you've incomplete sets or a mountain of unmatched bricks you can sell 'em online for up to £7/kg. Le-go of it

  • Get cash for clutter. We've all got stuff we never use, so walk round your home doing a personal stocktake. If you've not used something since last Christmas, consider flogging it. See our 40+ eBay Selling Tricks and 28 Facebook Selling Tips. Plus you can even flog your rubbish - eg, loo roll tubes for up to 35p, jam jars for up to £1.35.

  • Get paid to be gobby. Make a few extra quid each month by giving feedback on everything from bubble bath and Beyoncé to what you get up to in bed. Some earn £100s, eg, forumite mikep22: "I reckon I make somewhere between £40 and £50 per month from survey sites." See Top Online Survey Sites.

Virgin Wines 12-bottle mixed case incl prosecco for £56 (norm £136). MSE Blagged. Newbies only. Virgin Wines. Pls be Drinkaware.

Students - do you NEED contents insurance? And how to get it cheapest if you do. See our Cheap student contents insurance for the full rundown. 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Not heard of chargeback before reading your Monarch reclaim guide. Had four return flights, all paid on debit card, and was refunded £888 - result. I've passed the info to friends who thought they'd lost their money. Thank you."

£3 'Grow Your Own' seeds & book bundle (norm £10+). MSE Blagged. 6 packets of random seeds, eg, tomato & chilli. 2,500 avail



Should pension tax relief be halved to 20% for higher earners? Pensions are a powerful tax break - allowing and encouraging people to save for retirement from PRE-TAX salary - at a cost to the Treasury of an estimated £35bn/yr. Some argue this is fair as everyone simply saves on paying income tax, others say higher earners do better as their tax gain is at least double. Should pension tax relief be halved to 20% for higher earners?

Those who went to uni are more likely to believe it's earnings-enhancing and life-enhancing... In last week's poll we asked if getting a degree is worthwhile, and received 8,450 responses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who went to university were more likely to view the experience positively. The biggest advocates of those who attended were the over-65s. Find out how other groups rated the cost and value of university.



Should I stop paying rent while my flat is decorated? My friend owns our flat and I pay her cheap rent. It's being fully redecorated so we can't stay there and I've had to couch-surf, but I'm still being charged as it's not a normal landlord-tenant relationship. Is this fair? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I stop paying rent while my flat is decorated? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: The 1% challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: iPhone 8 Plus
- Old-Style board thread of the week: My in-laws are snobs
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Less than 12 weeks pregnant club
- Discussion of the week: Are you in your 30s? What are your financial plans?


£8 for 30-pack of Sharpies - norm £22, via Tesco Direct
£5 rtn coach - Ldn to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam via Supercard
Cornerstone - shaving set £14 all-in (norm £30)
Virgin Trains - 10% off West Coast family tickets in October
Top 10 Xmas toys - where to find them cheapest

Toby Carvery - 33% off £15 spend on food
Prezzo - 30% off food
Frankie & Benny's - 50% off burgers
Harvester - kids eat for '£1'
TGI Fridays - all-you-can-eat starters £10-£13

La Redoute - 40% off everything code, eg, £35 Converse
The Body Shop - 40% off incl sale code
River Island - up to 60% off
Habitat - up to 50% off
Hobbs - an extra 10% off sale

Quick Forum Tips

£15 for 6 x bottles of M&S Bucks Fizz. Making your mind up?
£45 for coffee machine, 3 x pods & holder. Espresso yourself
99p laundry gel & conditioner, £4 wine at Lidl. Good clean fun



Thu 19 Oct - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. See previous
Fri 20 Oct - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, time TBC


Wed 18 Oct - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 20 Oct - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Tue 24 Oct - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: It seems a lot of people who pay for their energy by monthly direct debit have their payments increased at the drop of a hat. I stay with British Gas to avoid this, but is it the only supplier that allows you to pay monthly without a direct debit? Sue, by email.

MSE Andrew's A: Most suppliers let you pay by different methods, but that deflects from the main issue - that paying by monthly direct debit is typically 7% cheaper and can slash up to £75/yr off average energy bills. 

Monthly direct debits are based on estimated annual use. You usually pay the same amount every month, and it evens out over the year. If your direct debit suddenly increases you've a right to challenge it, and claim overpayments back.

To help make sure your monthly costs reflect your usage, give regular meter readings too. See Energy Direct Debits for more, and use our Cheap Energy Club to ensure you're on the best deal - you may not be if you've stuck with British Gas for a long time.

That's it for this week, but before we go... it's the million pound question. While only a dream for most, we've put together a quick, fun video to show what properties you'd get in different UK cities if you had £1m. And if you live in London it might make you cringe, as that fancy swimming pool is just a pipe dream. Take a look and discuss it in our 'What £1m gets you' Facebook post. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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