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Weekly Email
This email was sent
19th Nov 2014
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 This info may be out of date.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."

19 November 2014

This week

Broadband & line rent bundles price war, eg, pay £168/yr get £100 Amzn
Free Xmas £100 (or £150 if you wait)
Use 24mth 0% card to PAY CASH in your bank for record low fee
Earn 6% on kids' savings
I helped my neighbours get £5k each in council tax refunds
Trick: game a 20% off gift card deal
Personalised photo deals: £5 calendar, £8 canvas, £19 photobook
£20 Nectar pts = £40 for ONE WEEK
1,000 FREE £15 radiator reflectors
It's back: Christmas Deals Predictor
Free 1D 2015 calendar
More £1 Disney Frozen items
PM writes for MSE on pensions
30% off Hotpoint clearance code
Sanctuary Spa gift sets 2for1 code
£39 ingredient box £13 (3 meals x 2)
CODES: Shoetique 20% off brands, Nike extra 20% off clearance, etc
£10 champagne at 3 supermarkets
3 audiobooks £3, eg, Fault in Stars
'Mortgage change saved us £260'
24hr Post Office flash currency sale
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs
Are you in a mobile 'notspot?'

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

The big broadband battle - PRICE WAR
Many can save £200+ a year. Sky, BT, EE and more are slugging it out with hidden promo deals for standard and superfast fibre optic

BroadbandGetting cheap broadband is all about switching to the right deal with the right supplier. Yet most of the hottest deals are short-lived promos not available direct - instead they're just targeted at price-conscious consumers (hence why we get some). So with a host of new offers, we're putting them all in the ring.

Cheapest standard broadband & line rental bundles

If you're on a standard package with BT you typically pay £340/yr, TalkTalk £240/yr, Sky £290/yr, Virgin £380/yr. Yet new customer deals can smash these. None allow you to get broadband alone so you must get phone line rental from them too - the speed is 'up to' 17Mb and varies hugely depending on where you are.

We've ordered on price, factoring vouchers as cash, but if you wouldn't spend the voucher anyway, look down for other options that may be cheaper for you.

1. EE: Pay £168 for a YEAR's bband & line rental and get £100 Amazon vch. MSE Blagged. Super-cheap if you'd be spending at Amazon anyway.

Until 31 Dec, new EE broadband customers going via this specific EE deal* link, entering code EEHBB10, on a 1-yr contract get...

- Line rent: You pay £132 for the year upfront (you must opt for this at sign-up); equiv to £11/mth. If not, you pay £15.75 monthly.
- Unlimited broadband (avail to 95% of UK): You pay £2.50/mth, so £30 for 1yr. The price'll likely rise after the contract ends.
- Call costs: Weekend calls to landlines included, other costs are mostly on par with BT currently. See full charges.
- You're sent a £100 Amazon voucher after 3mths. It's emailed automatically as long as you use the link and code above.
- Need line installation? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few cases, Sky custs) it's £30 - you'll know before you commit.
- Compulsory 'free' wi-fi router. Yet you pay a one-off £6 to cover p&p.
- Feedback's mixed. In our June survey 45% said it's 'great', 29% 'poor'.

Analysis: Pay line rent upfront, bband monthly & router p&p (excl calls), and the year's cost's £168 (pay line rent monthly it's £225) and you get the £100 Amazon voucher. If you'd spend that at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £68 for the year, equiv to just £5.67/mth (paid monthly £125, equiv £10.42/mth).
2. Urgent. Sky: Pay £204 over a YEAR for line rent & bband and get £100 M&S vch. MSE Blagged. Great for pay monthly - decent customer service.

Ends 11:59pm Thu 20 Nov: This has stronger customer service feedback and is the 'cheapest' paid monthly deal (if you factor in vouchers). Anyone who hasn't had Sky broadband in the last year (so if you've got Sky TV but not broadband you can get it), going via this specific Sky deal* link, on a 1-yr contract gets....

- Line rent: You pay £16.40/mth for 12 months - so £196.80 over the year.
- Unlimited broadband (avail to 90% of UK): This comes 'free' with line rent for 12mths. After that you're free to leave or pay £7.50/mth.
- Call costs: Wknd calls to landlines included, others to UK phones match BT. See charges. Rack up £100/mth charges & till it's paid you can't make more.
- Warning: Sadly, you have to CLAIM the M&S voucher, it's not automatic. Provided you go via the link above, as soon as your service is live, go to the Sky Claim page and put your details in, or go to your own account. You've 90 days after activation to claim. We don't like the fact it's not paid automatically, but we decided this was better than nothing.
- Need line installation? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few cases other lines) it's £20 - you'll know before you commit.
- Compulsory 'free' wi-fi router. Yet you pay a one-off £6.95 to cover p&p.
- Feedback's decent. In our June survey 59% said it's 'great', 14% 'poor'.

Analysis: Pay line rent + router p&p (excl calls) and it's £203.75 over the year. You can then claim £100 in M&S vouchers. If you'd spend that at M&S anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £103.75 a year, equiv to just £8.65/mth.
3. Plusnet: Pay £192 for a YEAR's line rent & bband and get £70 cashback.
Extremely good customer service rating and cheapest in pure cash terms.

Ends Tue 25 Nov: For those who don't like vouchers and just want cash gains. New Plusnet customers (or those who haven't been one for 12mths), going via this specific Plusnet link* on a 1-yr contract, get...

- Line rent: You pay £155.88 for the year upfront (you must opt for this in sign-up); equiv to £13/mth. If not, you can pay £15.95 monthly.
- Unlimited broadband (avail to 90% of the UK): It's £2.50/mth - so a total of £30 for the year. This rises to £9.99/mth when the contract ends.
- Call costs: No calls are included (unless you pay monthly when weekend calls to landlines are). Other prices to UK phones match BT. See full charges. Rack up £75/mth charges & you can't make more until you've paid off 10%.
- Warning: Sadly, you have to CLAIM the £70 cashback, it's not automatic. Provided you go via the link above, you will receive an email within 10 working days of the service being activated (check spam folders) which has a link in it to click to claim. It'll be sent within 30 days.
- Need line installation? If you don't have one (or for those with cable or, in a few cases, Sky custs) it's £49.99 - you'll know before committing.
- Optional 'free' wi-fi router. Yet you pay a one-off £5.99 to cover p&p.
- Feedback's great. In June our survey 81% say it's 'great', 5% 'poor'.

Analysis: Pay line rent upfront and bband monthly (excl calls), and the year's cost's £191.87 (pay line rent monthly it's £227.39) minus £70 cashback so that's £121.87 over the year, equiv to just £10.16/mth (paid monthly £157.39 a year, so equiv to £13.12/mth).

Cheapest fibre broadband and line rent bundles

Fibre optic broadband typically gives far greater speeds than traditional copper wire technology, but you pay a premium. It's best for gamers, heavy downloaders, streamers & homes where many people use it at once.

1. Virgin: Pay £261 for a YEAR's bband & line rent. New Virgin customers (or those who've not been with it for 12mths) going via this uSwitch link (not us this one) on a 1-yr contract get...

- Line rent: You pay £144 for the year upfront (sadly you need to call after installation's set to do this); equiv £12/mth. If not, you pay £15.99 monthly.
- Unlimited up to 50Mb fibre-optic broadband (avail to 50% of UK): You pay £4/mth for 6mths, then £15.50/mth for the next 6mths.
- Call costs: Weekend calls (up to 60 mins per call) to landlines and all calls to 0870 nos included, other costs are usually more than BT. See full charges.
- Need line installation?
If you need a new line, it's free with this deal.
- 'Free' wi-fi router.
It's sent to you free (so no p&p to pay).
- Feedback's good.
In our survey 66% say its 'great', 11% 'poor'.

Analysis: Pay line rent upfront (excl calls) and bband monthly, and the year's cost's £261, equivalent to £21.75/mth (pay line rent monthly it's £308.88, equiv £25.74/mth). More options in Cheap Fibre-Optic Broadband.
2. BT Infinity: Pay £407 for a YEAR's bband & line rent and get £100 Sains vch. MSE Blagged. Faster broadband (at headline speed) than Virgin & free BT Sport

Until 11.59pm Mon 24 Nov, we've blagged a special 1-yr contract (normally 18mths) and a cheaper price for BT's fastest fibre-optic package. New BT broadband customers - so if you've only its phone service you still qualify - going via this specific BT deal* link you can get....

- Line rent: You pay £159.84 for the year upfront, equiv to £13.32/mth (you can usually opt for it during the sign up process, but if it doesn't work, call customer services after). Or you can pay £16.99 monthly (it's listed as £15.99/mth but the price rises on 1 Dec).
- Unlimited up to 76Mb broadband (avail to 70% of UK): This is its fastest package, and via this link you just pay £20/mth for the year.
- Call costs: Weekend calls (up to 60 mins per call) to landlines included, as are calls to 0845 and 0870. See full BT charges.
- Warning: Sadly, you have to CLAIM the £100 Sainsbury's voucher. The Sains offer is BT standard, not something we blagged - you need to register for it via an online form after activation. It's posted within 30 days.
- 'Free' BT Sport via an app or online player. You get the BT Sport channel free via an app/online streaming (why not connect that to your TV?). If you have Infinity and either 1) pay more for BT TV or 2) have Sky TV, you get it through your set for free.
- Need line installation? If you don't already have a BT line, it's free.
- Compulsory 'free' BT router:
Yet you have to pay a one-off £6.95 p&p.
- Feedback's decent. In our survey 47% say it's 'great', 24% 'poor'.

Analysis: Pay line rent upfront, bband monthly & router p&p (excl calls), and the year's cost's £406.79 (pay line rent monthly it's £450.83) plus the £100 Sainsbury's voucher. If you'd spend that at Sainsbury's anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £306.79 for the year, equiv to £25.57/mth (paid monthly £350.83, equiv £29.24/mth).

Commonly asked questions

(and answers obviously, or it'd be pointless)

Q. When it says 'avail to 90% of UK', what does that mean? A. It usually means the cheap prices aren't available to every household, as to do cheap prices the firm needs have its own systems in your local BT telephone exchange. Or for fibre broadband, you simply can't get it in some places.
Q. I'm happy where I am. Can I still cut costs? A. Yes, haggle. Ask for your 'Migration Authorisation Code' or MAC which you need when switching - you'll be amazed what they offer if they think you're leaving, eg...

Giddyup said: "Just had a pleasant 5-min call with Sky. Said I would leave to TalkTalk and was instantly given FREE broadband for 12 months, saving £90 for a year." For company-by-company stats & tips, see Haggle broadband.
Q. It says the speed is 'up to' - how fast will it really be? A. Sadly, to say 'up to', broadband providers only need 10% of users to get that speed. This rule needs changing - but fibre-optic speeds tend to be a little more reliable.

Yet until the regulator changes the rules, test your current speed* then compare to the speed others near you get from different firms in Streetstats*. Also see our 12 Broadband Speed Boosters.
Q. I don't use my landline, can I just get cheap broadband? A. In a word, no. Lots of people don't use a home phone now - 51% in our poll - yet we're held hostage with our need to get it just for broadband.

The cheapest no-phone-line-needed broadband deal we can find is central London-only at £20/mth - far more than you'd usually pay even incorporating line rent above - and it uses its own 4G wireless network so reliability is a question. Of course you could just use a cheap dongle.

To prove the irony, Virgin Media's no-line fibre-optic deal is £31/mth compared to the Virgin deal above which is far cheaper including line.
Q. Can I cut call costs from my landline? A. No-frills override providers (where you dial a prefix to re-route a call) can slash costs without changing line. Eg, you can call a landline peak time for just 0.5p/min + connection, while BT's 9p/min. To find your cheapest use the UK Callchecker & International Callchecker tools. Plus Say No To 0870 to cut costly numbers.
Q. How long do my 'inclusive calls' last? A. It depends on the provider but with BT, Sky, EE, Virgin and Plusnet it's 60 mins. After that you pay, so just put the phone down and redial before you get to that time.
Q. Is it better to go wired or wi-fi? A. Wi-fi is easier, and more convenient, but if you're doing a big download and want speed & reliability use a cable.
Q. Does it make sense to add a TV package too? A. If you want more than just Freeview, it's usually cheapest to bundle it with broadband & line rent. Until Thu there's a cheap TalkTalk TV, line & bband deal that gives you a YouView and a £100 Love2Shop voucher. It gives basic TV but you can add packages, eg, Sky Sports or Movies, on top. Full info and many more options in Top Digital TV Bundle Deals.

Blagged for MoneySavers

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MSE News

Top story: Ovo Energy IT bug means 13,000 customer bills were wrong
Wonga keeps 18,000 customers waiting for compensation
First Utility faces customer backlash as complaints double
TalkTalk slashes early payment discount
Ofgem orders Scottish Power to shape up or stop selling
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Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Wed 19 Nov 2014

A favour from Martin: At 8pm Tue we had 9,997,607 email addresses for this weekly email. Unbelievable. Yet 10,000,000 is a much nicer number. Pls suggest to friends & family they get this free email. Read the history of this email.

Free £100 in time for Christmas (or new £150 deal if you can wait)
A record-breaking FIVE top bank accounts now pay you £100+ to switch; some in time to boost your Xmas kitty

Quite simply, some banks now pay you to switch to them. Better still, many of these are best-buys anyway so it's a win-win, so why not give yourself a Christmas treat? Full account info in Best Bank Accounts, at a glance...

  • Free cash to switch bank. Three deals we'd headline... Top Service: First Direct £125* (only via this specific link, or it's £100) has won every customer service poll we've ever done, 92% rate it great. Plus it has a £250 0% overdraft and linked 6% regular saver. New big bonus: The Clydesdale Current Account Direct £150* (ensure you pick the right one) also gives 2% in-credit interest on up to £3k. Get paid monthly too: Halifax £100* also pays you £5 every month you stay in credit.
All accounts credit score you. To qualify for the bonus you need to use the bank's switching service (takes circa 7 days)
Bank Switching bribe Cash comes in... (a) Perks/Overdraft To qualify, min pay-in (b)
Service Rating
Halifax Reward* £100 3 working days Earn £5 each mth in credit. Costly o'draft £750/mth (c) 62% great
First Direct* £125 (via this link) 28 days (d) 6% reg saver, £250 0% o'draft £1,000/mth (e) 92% great
M&S Bank* £100 M&S gift card
1 month (f) Points for M&S spend. £100 0% o'draft No min N/A (g)
Co-op Bank* £100 +£25 to charity 45 days (f) O'draft 18.9% EAR + fee if over £200 £800/mth (c) (h) 71% great
New. Clydesdale* £150 60 days Earn 2% up to £3k. 9.9% EAR overdraft £1,000/mth (h) N/A (g)
a) Days after switching. b) For most, this just means pay your monthly income in. c) Also requires direct debits to be switched/set up (usually min 2) d) As long as your first £1,000+/mth has been paid in. e) £10/mth fee if you don't meet this f) Must call/visit branch within 6mths (M&S) or 14 days (Co-op) to complete. (g) Not enough respondents in our survey. h) Must be within 31 days of switching to get the bonus. FULL info: Best Bank Accounts

Will I get it in time for Christmas? Should do with Halifax. With First Direct, as long as you pay in your first £1,000/mth soon, then it's likely, with M&S it's possible if you're quick, but with the others, it's unlikely.

  • Got savings? Up to 5% interest may be better. Santander's 123 account pays 3% AER on balances of £3-£20k, and while it has a £2/mth fee, that's usually easily covered by the up to 3% cashback it pays on bills. If you've less, TSB pays 5% AER on up to £2k. See Top Interest Paying Bank Accounts.

Trick: Buy H&M, Monsoon, Pizz Exp & Accessorize gift cards 20% off now to use in Jan sales. Stores rarely reduce gift cards as people game them. These are reduced and we're gaming them. Buy for yourself, and either use in Jan sales or use with other discount codes right now. See the Deals Hunters blog.

Hot personalised photo codes incl £5 calendar, £8 canvas, £19 photobook - great for Xmas
£5 desk / kitchen calendar | £8 A4 wall calendar | £8 20cm x 20cm canvas | £19 100-page photobook
2015 photo diaries from £15 | 50% off mugs, cards & prints | More in Personalised photo deals

1 WEEK Nectar Sainsbury's double up - exchange points now. Double value on up to 4,000pts (so then you get £40, norm £20) on 7 categories incl toys, homeware, electricals and Taste the Difference wine. Wed to Tue. Nectar

1,000 FREE £15ish radiator heat reflector packs. MSE Blagged. Two-sheet packs for up to four radiators. Stick 'em behind your radiator to save energy & cash. See Radflek Deals.

IT'S BACK. This Thur, 1pm, we launch our Christmas Deals PREDICTOR. After a 72% success rate last year, we again studied retailers' marketing plans to predict when & what big discounts they'll launch, to help you nab major reductions. This Thur at 1pm our Deals Predictor launches, incl Selfridges 20% vch, Boots' Soap & Glory & Body Shop 50%.

New. Use 24mth 0% credit card to pay CASH into your bank for record low fee
Top money transfer card launches. Perfect for clearing overdrafts, or carefully used, can be super cheap loan
0% money transfer credit cards are rare. As well as letting you balance transfer (shift existing credit card debts to them) to cut costs, they also let you pay cash into your bank account, effectively shifting an overdraft on to the card, or giving you a loan at 0%. Do it right and the only cost is the one-off fee. Full help in top money transfer cards, here are the new deals:
  • Clear your overdraftNew. 24mth 0% money transfer for just 2.69% fee. Accepted new MBNA* (eligibility calc) cardholders can pay cash into their bank accounts, so owing the card for 24mths at 0% (22.9% rep APR after). It comes with a 2.69% fee, the lowest on a 0% money transfer card for years. It also lets you balance transfer credit card debt for 32mths 0% for a 2.69% fee (20.9% rep APR after). If you do both, repay both in 24mths or the interest gets complex.
  • Longer 29mth 0% money transfer but higher 4% fee. Accepted new Fluid* (eligibility calc) cardholders get 29mths 0% (22.9% rep APR after) with a 4% fee for money transfers and 2.9% for balance transfers from credit cards (20.9% rep APR after). While the fee's bigger, if you may need longer, play safe with this.
  • Long-term 6.5% money transfer, NO FEE. Accepted new MBNA low rate* (eligibility calc) card customers can spend, shift card debts or money transfer all for 6.5% rep APR with no fee (poorer credit scorers could pay 8.9% or 11.9% APR). While the rate's variable the rate jacking rules mean the bank can't raise it in year one, and after, if it tries, you can reject as long as you don't borrow more. So this is great if you may need much longer to repay.
  • The Money Transfer Golden Rules
    a) If you use it for new borrowing, ensure it's needed, & you've budgeted to ensure you can afford to repay.
    b) The Money Transfer Eligibility Calc shows cards you've the best odds of getting, protecting your credit score.
    c) Never just take cash from an ATM, always ask the card firm to "do a money transfer to my current account".
    d) Always ensure you clear the debt before the 0% ends or the rate rockets.
    e) Never miss the min monthly repayments, or the bank is allowed to hike the rate.
    f) Unless stated, the cheap rate doesn't apply for spending, so don't spend on these cards.
    g) The two cards with money transfer fees have a £3 min, so it can be costlier for amounts under £1,100.

Full Help: Money Transfers Related: 34mth 0% balance transfers | 20mths 0% borrowing | Debt Help | Boost credit score

Free One Direction 2015 calendar and free Xmas card via O2 Priority Moments. Calendars (incl 1D, footy teams) available till Sun at WHSmith & cards till 30 Nov, both via app, but stock's likely to go fast. See WHSmith Deals.

£1 Disney Frozen items. Reports tell of a near stampede with the stock in a new pound shop last week, and we've had an exclusive heads up new stock of £1 Frozen posters, stickers & more is coming. Full info in the Deals Hunters blog.

David Cameron wants to tell you about pension reforms, so he asked to write for us. We said yes - why not? Read The Prime Minister's pension blog - we'll leave you to make up your own mind. Discuss it

Hotpoint/Indesit large appliance clearance code for EXTRA 30% off. MSE Blagged. 30% extra off its white goods online clearance store, incl cookers, fridges, washing machines (all come with a parts & labour 1-year warranty). Eg, fridge for £203 (was £292, next cheapest £290), tumble dryer for £211 (was £302, next cheapest £242). See Hotpoint.

Wed only. 2for1 code on Sanctuary Spa gift sets. MSE Blagged. 2for1 on 8 £7-£20 gift sets. Sanctuary Spa

Earn 6% on children's savings
It's the gift that keeps on giving - don't just give your kids cash, teach them how to get the best rates too

Plaudits to the Church of England for announcing plans to pilot savings clubs in its primary schools. Yet as well as teaching the savings habit, we also need to ensure they learn that there's competition too, and some banks reward their savers better than others. So with Xmas coming, why not give cash and challenge them to find the best rate? All accts below have UK £85k savings safety.

  • child savingsEarn 6%. Put between £10-£100/month for a year and the Halifax Kids Regular Saver pays a huge 6% AER, no withdrawals permitted. Or its Young Saver pays 3% AER on up to £20,000, unlimited withdrawals. More in: Top Kids Savings.
  • Kids pay tax just like grown-ups. And like everyone else, they can earn £10,000 a year tax-free, so unless they were in Harry Potter, that's unlikely. Thus with any savings, fill in an R85 form, to ensure the interest is paid tax-free (or it's taxed and you'd need reclaim later). Warning: Don't think this is a loophole to save tax-free in your kid's name. If parents give a child money (not grandma/uncle, etc) and it generates more than £100 interest per parent a year, it's taxed at the parent's rate.
  • Top Child Trust Funds/Junior ISAs. These let you save or invest up to £4,000 a year tax-free, locked away until they're 18. Then it's their money, so if you're saving for their first house deposit, they could spend it following 1D.

    - Top CTF, 3% for those born 1 Sep 02 - 2 Jan 11
    : If it's a savings (not investment) CTF, check the rate. You can earn up to 3% interest by transferring to Yorkshire BS. From Apr 15 they can be converted to Junior ISAs. See Top CTFs.
    - Top Junior ISA, 3.25% for all other under 18s: If yours is a savings version check the rate. The top payers for new Junior ISAs are Coventry BS and Nationwide at 3.25%, but only Coventry allows transfers too. See Top Junior ISAs.
  • If most kids don't pay tax why bother with a Junior ISA/CTF? Most needn't as top kids savings pay more, unless: 1) You want to lock cash away until they're 18. 2) A parent's giving enough money (c. £4,000) that they'll earn over the £100/yr interest allowed; then in a Junior ISA it's still tax-free 3) At 18 they'll have more than the £15,000 grown-up ISA limit, as all Junior ISAs/CTFs auto convert into normal ISAs, without using up your new ISA.

£13 Hello Fresh ingredient box code (norm £39) - makes 3 dinners for two. MSE Blagged. £26 off code gets £13 classic or £10 veggie box. It's a weekly subscription but you can cancel after just this deal. See Hello Fresh.

DISCOUNT CODES: Nike extra 20% off clearance, Shoetique 20% off brands (Hunter, FitFlop etc)...
Nike extra 20% off clearance | Shoetique 20% incl brands (ends Wed 11.59pm) | BHS extra 10% off sale | Matalan 20%
I Want One Of Those £5 off £25 | FCUK 20% code/vch | Monsoon/Accessorize 25% code/vch in £2 mag | All Codes/Vchs

£10 champagne at Asda (was £24), Aldi (was £12) & Tesco (was £26). Christmas deals have started at Asda & Aldi. And if you buy 4+ bottles at Tesco, offer ends Tue. See all Bubbly Deals. Pls be Drinkaware.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
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*

Santander* (£5k - £7.5k)
5.3% rep APR

Sainsbury's* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.8% rep APR

BM Savings 1.55% AER
Min £1, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed

Coventry BS 2.4% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples
'I got my neighbours £5,000 council tax back each'
Up to 400,000 homes in Eng & Scotland could be in the wrong council tax bands. Use our free check & challenge

It only takes 10 mins to see if you're in too high a council tax band. If so, you can slash what you pay and get a rebate backdated to 1993. Over the years we've drowned in successes, with some turning community campaigners. The latest is Marjorie: "I lived in a four-bed townhouse with five other houses identical, two of us were on the same band so I emailed the other four explaining theirs was higher. All got refunds, two of £5,000 (I don't know what the others got)."

  • wrong bandWhy so many are wrong. Over 23 years ago, before council tax launched, bands were allocated at speed by '2nd-gear valuations' - literally someone driving down streets in 2nd gear. The system was flawed, it was meant to be a stop-gap, but in Eng & Scot it's never been redone (Wales has revalued). So up to 400,000 may be wrong.
  • Martin's 3 step check & challenge system: Follow these...

    1) The Neighbours check:
    Simply compare your band with neighbours in similar or identical properties. Don't worry, you don't need to ask them, the info is freely available online. See the Neighbours Check.

    2) The Valuation check:
    What counts is your home's value in 1991, as that dictates the band. So we need to calculate that. To help, we've a Valuation Check Calculator that does it for you.

    3) If your band's too high, challenge it.
    You can't ask for it to be lowered, just reviewed. So only do this if BOTH checks work, or they could put your band up (or worse, your neighbours'). Read Challenge Your Council Tax Band.
  • Can you get a council tax reduction? Those living alone, students and some on benefits are entitled to pay less council tax. To see if you qualify, read Council Tax Reductions & Exemptions help.

THREE Audiobooks £3, eg, Game of Thrones & The Fault in Our Stars. MSE Blagged. This is a 3-mth Audible newbies trial at 99p/mth. It's £8/mth after, but you can cancel and keep the books. Ends Sun. Audible

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Changed our mortgage last week from a standard variable of 4.99% to a two-year fix at 1.94%. Saving us £260 per month."
- see our Free Printed Remortgage Guide and Mortgage Best Buys Comparison to see if you can switch and save.

24hr FLASH Post Office online currency sale. The Post Office (starts Wed 8am) is boosting its web euro & US dollar rates, plus Sainsbury's is boosting all currencies till Thu 9.30am. To see if the rates stack up, use our Travel Money Comparison - which'll update with the sale rates. Not going yet? The Halifax Clarity* credit card (check if you'll get it) gives near-perfect spending rates worldwide, beating changing money. But pay off IN FULL each month, or it's 12.9% rep APR. See Cheap Overseas Cards (APR Examples).

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Compare, switch & get cashback

Cheap Energy Club
£30 dual fuel

£17 per switch

£30 dual fuel

£40 wine voucher

First Direct*
£125 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

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

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£9.95/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Post Office*
with weekend calls
£10/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

Are you in a mobile 'notspot'?
Do you struggle to make calls and texts where you live or work? The good news is that the Government wants to do something to eliminate poor mobile phone coverage. As part of a consultation, it is asking for your views and experiences of where you get poor signal, and whether some networks have better signal than others. See the MSE forum for more info and email your feedback by Wed 26 Nov.

Is it OK to buy things with a student discount and resell them?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... I used my student discount at the Apple store and got 15% off a new MacBook, plus a three-year warranty that usually you'd pay £199 for. I then sold it unopened on eBay and pocketed the profit. The way I see it, as soon as an item is my own I can do with it as I wish - the buyer will still be paying less and I make a little too. But some people I knew thought this was an abuse of the student discount - was it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK to buy things with a student discount and resell them? | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

What are your top Secret Santa suggestions?
We want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on the best Secret Santa gifts out there. How do you go about getting something good for a colleague or family member when you're given a tight budget? Which shops offer hidden gems for buying on a budget? What are the best and worst things to buy for people you don't know very well? Share yours/read others': What are your top Secret Santa suggestions? Past topics: View all

Airline: Thomson Price: £30 off return flights Ends: Ongoing
Our pick this week is Thomson's ongoing sale, which is £30 off the total price of return flights (including taxes & charges). It's for flights from 1 Dec 2014 till 31 Jan 2015 to 29 international destinations from 17 UK airports. There's no code to enter, the discount appears automatically. 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

Downshifting on beauty products

We asked for your top tips on getting good products without breaking the bank. You said Poundland is a great place to pick up bargain Rimmel, Revlon and Sally Hansen
goodies, that Aldi's Lacura concealer pen is a dead ringer for Touche Eclat, and that Superdrug's hot cloth cleansers are just as good as the pricier Liz Earle ones. There were also some rather unusual suggestions, for example, one poster said Lanacane (anti-chaffing gel) is a good swap for Smashbox primer.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

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

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

Things people do to annoy you at the supermarket

The weekly shopping would be easier without annoying people blocking the aisles having a chat, wouldn't it? What are your pet peeves when doing the weekly shop? Our forumites discuss all the things that make the grocery shop an arduous task in the Things that annoy you in supermarkets discussion. Join the forum and share your pet hates.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 124.01 111.60
US Flag $ 155.11 139.59
Turkish Flag TL 338.70 295.69
Rates correct at 4pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Have you haggled with Sky, BT, the AA and more this year? Did you succeed?

Call centre haggling can provide big savings - whether digital TV, broadband, credit cards, breakdown cover, insurance and more. Each year we try to gauge the success rates of those who've done it. So please let us know whether you gained cheaper prices, extra goods, better deals or reduced interest.

Which firms have you tried to haggle with IN THE LAST YEAR? (Select as many as you want from the product types below.)

Poll results

When your change is just a penny (or pennies) do you take it?
The general consensus across all ages was to take your change - or drop it in a charity jar if one's there. The mystery of the pennies that litter our streets remains unsolved as fewer than 1% of you say you chuck them on the floor.

Here's what you said:

- 55% take it
- 39% drop in a charity jar or take it
- 4% drop in a charity jar or leave it
- 2% leave it
- <1% take but chuck on the floor

8,681 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q: I've made a payment by phone and been given an authorisation code by the retailer, what does it mean, is it important and should I keep it? Grant, via email.

MSE Eesha’s A: Don't fret if you haven't got a pen and paper handy - the authorisation code is really for the retailer or supplier, not for you. It simply tells it that the account your card is linked to has enough funds for the purchase and that it hasn't been reported lost or stolen, and so effectively acts as an assurance that it'll be paid by you.

It's entirely up to you if you want to keep this as a form of 'receipt' in case the retailer claims it never received your money. But it's unnecessary as your bank statement will show if the payment has been made or not.

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

 Nick's free game of the week: 3 Pandas

Dogs in funny hats

That's it for this week, but before we go, who doesn't love a dog in a funny hat? (OK, some of you don't - but for the rest of you who want to smooch a pooch)... check out this collection of dogs donning entertaining headgear.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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