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Weekly Email
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19th Dec 2018
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 12m who get it each week."

19 December 2018
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.


 The MoneySaving guide to doing good this Christmas

12 clever ways, incl charity gift catalogues, feed the hungry for free and donating loyalty points. No bah humbug intended

Christmas isn't a retail festival and while many still love to give presents, this year we've felt a sentiment shift, with growing numbers wanting it to be more about giving time and thought. For instance, Martin's ban unnecessary Xmas presents video has had 14m+ Facebook views and 200,000+ shares. So in that spirit, we want to start our last email before the big day with how you can do good, and hopefully feel good, without breaking the bank.

  1. Fund lifesaving jabs for kids, buy a goat to help a family, or a safety pack for women escaping domestic violence - all via charity gift catalogues. If you don't know what to buy family and friends, why not agree to give to good causes in each other's name? Our Charity Gift guide is packed with ideas.

  2. Help feed the hungry for free with just one click. Via a special site, with sponsors donating on your behalf. See how to give with a click.

  3. Pledge to do something nice with our free Xmas gift cheques. This is not about giving to charity, instead it's a way to give time to a loved one, eg, breakfast in bed or an offer to baby-sit. Use our Christmas gift cheques.

  4. Give free hot drinks to someone who's homeless. Lots of shops, incl Greggs and Caffè Nero, give free tea & coffee via loyalty schemes. It's a clever ploy to get you through the doors, but why not offer yours to warm someone sleeping rough in the cold?

  5. New. Donate spare loyalty points. If you've points doing nothing, a few schemes let you donate their cash value to charity, eg, Nectar & Amex Membership Rewards. How to donate loyalty points

  6. Give your time to help elderly relatives save £100s/yr on energy, broadband, phones etc - the MoneySaving gift. Many people aren't online or don't know where to start when it comes to saving on bills. So if you're a MoneySaver, spend time giving them a hand - whether showing them how it works or doing it for them. We've tools to help, incl Cheap Energy Club | Compare Broadband Deals | Cheap Sims | Check Council Tax BandsCheap Car Insurance

  7. Help out at a homeless centre. Many charities are looking for volunteers. You don't always need specific skills to be accepted though people with certain skills are especially wanted - eg, chefs, beauty therapists, tutors and counsellors. See how to help the homeless.

  8. What will charity shops accept? They're a great way to give, so consider doing a personal stocktake and donate anything you haven't used in a year. First, check what charity shops will take.

  9. Be there for elderly neighbours. Many small acts of kindness can help neighbours who may feel lonely, or need a hand with quick tasks. It's simple stuff, from having a chat to offering to pick up shopping. Also see Good Morning Britain's help end loneliness campaign.

  10. Donate to your local foodbank. December is the month when foodbank demand is highest. We've lots of ways to help - with links to find your nearest, and ways to give even if you're not flush with cash. See foodbank help.

  11. How to check if a charity's legit. These days there are plenty of 'funding opportunities' but many are not for registered charities - which means there's less governance and your donations don't attract the tax benefits. Before donating, search the charity register in Eng/Wales, the Scottish charity register, or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

  12. Tick the Gift Aid box if you're a UK taxpayer - plus how to give extra if you pay higher-rate tax. Via Gift Aid, when you donate, the charity gets an extra 25% from your tax relief. So £100 becomes £125. But for the 4.3 million higher-rate payers, when you tick, only the basic-rate tax is given and you're entitled to claim the rest. You can keep the extra or pledge to donate it. Full info in Gift Aid help.

PS: To wish you a Merry Christmas, and in keeping with the tips above, we've paid for health checks for 800 Syrian children on your behalf.

PPS: Next week's email will come a little later than normal, on Thursday 27 December, given the festive schedule.


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.



New. Special energy deal: £50 credit, no exit fees, 'great' service - save £250/yr and sort before the bitter cold hits

The energy market is awash with news of price hikes, and horror service from some minnows - a few of which have gone bust. So to help, we've a deal with a rare combo of excellent price and strong supplier service record. So if you've been treated poorly (eg, Outfox the Market has hiked winter direct debits by an avg 40%, causing hardship for many) or you simply overpay, check this out...

  • New. Cheap energy & 'great' service from Bulb - save £250/yr. Our Bulb Vari-Fair deal costs an avg £970/yr on typical use - after the usual £25 Cheap Energy Club dual-fuel cashback and an extra £25 dual-fuel bill credit we've specially arranged. This compares with the avg £1,220 that a Big 6 standard tariff on typical use is expected to cost over the next year. The link above goes via our Cheap Energy Club to compare the deal against the rest of the market. 

    The tariff is nearly the market's cheapest, only beaten by a few minnows on which we have little feedback. In contrast, 76% of the 600 Bulb customers who voted in our recent customer service poll rated it 'great'. As it's a variable rate, prices can change, but there are no exit fees to ditch if they rise. Other key points are:

    - It's for dual fuel & elec-only, incl Economy 7 (on elec-only, cashback is £12.50, bill credit is £12.50 - so £25 in total).
    - Bulb pays any exit fees from your current supplier, up to £60 per fuel.
    - You can't take it with you if you move home.
    - 100% of electricity & 10% of gas is from renewable energy sources.
    - You need to pay by monthly direct debit & get paperless billing to qualify.
    - Prepay cust? It costs a typical £1,011/yr on dual-fuel with this deal.
    - It's available till 9 Jan, but not in Northern Ireland.

  • Know someone with Bulb? You could save even more. It has a long-running refer-a-friend scheme, where the referrer and newbie each get £50 if you switch to this tariff via Bulb. Our deal pays the newbie the same but you don't need to know an existing customer.

    Yet some who have been with Bulb for 1yr+ may get a boosted offer of £100 for both them and a newbie for the same scheme. The offer will come via email in the coming days but only 3% of its 850,000 customers are due to receive it - and you must get the email to qualify. So if you know someone who's been with Bulb for 1yr+ you may want to wait just in case.

  • Prefer to switch to an energy giant? Many are put off by firms they've never heard of. So we've a special Big Name Supplier Filter in our Cheap Energy Club, or a My Supplier's Cheapest Deal filter if you want to stay put. If you're a member of our club those links take you to the filter. If not, register via those links, then in your comparison look for the filters.

Easy-access savings rates fall to a miserly 0.63% average - smash 'em with the 1.5% best buy. Figures this week from data analysts Moneyfacts show many put up with pathetic rates - but you must get active to end the rip-off. Our top easy-access pick is Marcus Bank*, a UK arm of US giant Goldman Sachs, at 1.5% AER (min £1) - incl a fixed 1yr 0.15% bonus. More info, incl the popular Post Office 1.45% deal, plus fixed-rate options, in Top Savings.

£54ish of Max Factor for £17, incl mascara & lip gloss. See how to get it in the Max Factor trick.

'Boxing Day' sales now on, incl Gap, Kurt Geiger & Miss Selfridge. These days they often start early - good for last-min Xmas prezzies. Full updates as they launch throughout the week in Boxing Day sales.  

Ends Thu. Plusnet fast b'band & line '£17.67/mth'. Newbies to BT-owned Plusnet can bag that price for avg 35Mb speeds if they pay 1yr's line upfront. Anything sub-£20/mth is good for fast b'band (known as fibre) so this is a Christmas cracker. For lots more options, see our Broadband Unbundled tool.

Burger King Whopper 'buy one, get one free'. Buy in Dec, claim freebie in Jan. See how in 2for1 Whoppers

Airport lounge access from £17. Blagged code gets 20-40% off lounges. Eg, Birmingham £17-£28, Edinburgh £19-£21, Gatwick £18-£32 and Heathrow £24-£36. Book by Sun, use by end of 2019. See Cheap Airport Lounges.


The Great Perfume Smell-alike Test 2018 (where Primark beat Jo Malone)

Forget Strictly, this is the pre-Christmas contest that matters - and it may help stop you paying through the nose 

Many turn to fragrances to treat loved ones, and as perfumes are a classic late Christmas gift, we've a host of MoneySaving tips that are not to be sniffed at. Full help in our 19 Cheap Perfume Tricks, here's just a taste whiff...

  • The top 'smell-alike' perfumes - at a fraction of the cost. Shops such as M&S, Next and Primark sell own-brand perfumes that mimic designer brands. We wanted to see if cut-price versions really do smell similar, or just cause a stink. So for a bit of fun, we recruited 20 of the finest noses from our team to run a non-scientific, blind experiment.

    We asked them to sample 12 brand-name perfumes, matched against their cheap alternative. In nine cases, the majority of our fragrant panel couldn't tell the difference, or actually preferred the cheap smell-alike. See the full results of MSE's Great Perfume Smell-alike Test 2018, but here are the top five based on the percentage of our testers who preferred the cheaper one or couldn't tell any difference:

    - Primark 'Pomegranate & Black Tea', 100ml, £8 (vs Jo Malone 'Pomegranate Noir', 100ml, £94). Score: 80% 
    - M&S 'New York', 100ml, £18 (vs Chanel 'Allure', 100ml, £110). Score: 75%
    - Zara 'Black Amber', 100ml, £10 (vs Dolce & Gabbana 'The One', 100ml, £78.95). Score: 65%
    - M&S 'Azure Breeze', 100ml, £16 (vs Dolce & Gabbana 'Light Blue', 100ml, £59.45). Score: 65%
    - Next 'Just Pink', 100ml, £14 (vs Ralph Lauren 'Romance', 100ml, £42.75). Score: 60%

    Often the posh brand name and look is part of the present, so choose who you give cheap versions to. And some have told us the smell-alikes can be a bit weaker, so you may need more squirts or the occasional top-up. Smell-alike aftershaves exist but are less common, hence the focus on perfumes.
  • Top codes and sales to cut costs + more cheap perfume and aftershave tips. It's not all about smell-alikes...
    -  Codes & sales. There's a 15% off The Fragrance Shop code, plus we've blagged a 10% off The Perfume Shop code. See the guide for ALL Perfume Sales & Codes.
    - Price trackers check if it's really a bargain. Special sites chart price changes to help you separate deals from duds. Eg, we saw a Jimmy Choo perfume for £78 at Amazon, 40% more than its average price across the year.
    - Lots more help in 19 Cheap Perfume Tricks.

Revealed: Shoppers given WRONG sale return rights info by 10 online stores, incl Accessorize & Oasis. See our full return rights investigation + what your real rights are.

Overdraft crackdown as fixed daily & monthly overdraft charges set to be banned. Get the lowdown and Martin's view in overdraft overhaul news.

Ends Wed. 4GB/mth Sim, unltd mins & texts, '£8.34/mth'. Newbies to Smarty* (uses Three's network) pay £10 upfront each month. Plus, activate a Sim in Dec and you get two months 'free'. There's no min term - if you keep it a year, it's an equiv £8.34/mth. Top Sims

Cheap Christmas decorations, incl £25 M&S tree, lights & baubles bundle (norm £35), John Lewis 30% off. See what's avail now + keep updated, as more tend to launch as the big day nears. Cheap Xmas decorations

Virgin Wines 6 bottles for £30 (norm £70ish). MSE Blagged. 1,000 boxes avail. Virgin Wines. Be Drinkaware.


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No-fee 0%: Santander* 27 months 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)
Longest 0%: Post Office - up to 32mths 0%, 2% fee (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  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: Cahoot* 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £13.16/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £17.67/mth 

Top service + choice of £130 Fitbit & more: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect


'I reclaimed £405 for a mis-sold payday loan thanks to MSE'

Check now if you were mis-sold a payday loan - we've a tool to help you reclaim £100s or even £1,000s

Payday loans are a nightmare for many. They're hideously expensive and for years have been mis-sold by pushy firms such as Wonga, which has since gone bust largely due to an avalanche of customers' mis-selling claims. These firms often failed to make the necessary checks before approving a loan, making it too easy for vulnerable people to borrow. The huge costs meant borrowers sometimes paid back the loan many times over.

So in Oct we launched our Payday Loan Mis-selling Tool & Guide to help you fight back - and it's already paying dividends. Here's Josie's story: "After reading your guide, I complained to QuickQuid about a 2013 loan and won. I've just received £405 and a promise the loan will be struck off my credit record. Thanks so much."  Here's the key info: 

  • How to check if you've been mis-sold. Payday loan firms should examine your finances to ensure you can afford the loan and the big fees. If this wasn't done properly and you shouldn't have been lent the money, or if it didn't make the costs or the repayment timetable clear, you were mis-sold. See the full mis-selling checklist.

  • What's the typical payout? It depends on your circumstances. Josie got £405 but we've heard of claims in the £1,000s. If mis-sold you usually get all fees and interest back, plus a further 8% interest on top - see payouts explained.

  • How to claim - NEVER pay a claims company, our tool does it for FREE. Now people are having success - 60%+ of those who take their claim all the way to the Financial Ombudsman Service win - claims-company vultures are circling. Yet they often take £100s from any payout. Ignore 'em and use our new FREE Payday Loan Reclaiming Tool.

    It's been developed with complaints site Resolver, which we've been working with for 3yrs+. We've merged our template letters and experience with its technology. Enter your details and it helps draft, send and keep track of your complaint, and makes it easy to escalate to the ombudsman if necessary.

  • Some common payday loan mis-selling questions. Lots more in our Payday Loan Reclaim Tool & Guide.
    - Can I claim if I've paid back my loan? Yes, though it usually needs to be less than 6yrs since you took it out.
    - Can I claim if my payday lender has gone bust (eg, Wonga)? The answer's not clear-cut - see gone bust help.
    - Will the record of a mis-sold loan and missed payments be taken off my credit file? Usually, but only if you ask for it.

Track Santa as he delivers prezzies worldwide. Fun way to watch his progress on Christmas Eve. Track Santa

"Thank you for your articles on incorrect council tax bandings. I put in my claim and was refunded £4,800. Very pleased."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Feeling the pressure of paying for Christmas? If you're worried about debt this festive season, help and support is available. Contact a free debt advice charity such as National Debtline, StepChange or Christians Against Poverty, or check out the MSE Forum to chat to other people working on their finances. And remember, no debt problem is unsolvable - there's always a way forward.



What's your favourite Christmas film? As it's Christmas, for this week's poll we're forgetting money and going for a bit of fun. We've selected some festive films - which is your favourite?

Two-thirds of you have switched energy provider this year. In last week's poll, we asked what you've switched in 2018. Encouragingly, 66% of MoneySavers switched energy supplier - suggesting our message about checking you're on the best tariff is getting across. On the flip-side though, roughly two-thirds of you stuck with your broadband provider all year, and just 23% gave their bank the boot. See full switching poll results.



How can I get my friend to pay me back? A very close friend borrowed £100 (a large amount to me), promising to pay it back shortly. It's now been six months and they haven't, despite several reminders. I don't want to lose the friendship, but need the money. Enter the Money Moral Maze: How can I get my friend to pay me back? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Debt-Free Roll of Honour
- Competitions thread of the week: £50,000 - ends 21/12 so hurry
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Luxury pudding on the cheap
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: How old is your Christmas tree?
- Discussion of the week: Christmas Eve boxes - yay or nay?


Body Shop - 35% off most full-price items online
Official London Theatre - £10-£40 West End tix for Jan/Feb
Hamleys - £5 off £50 spend, £10 off £100
Vodafone - two Odeon tix for £7 any day via app
Boom25 - 1 in 10 chance of 100% cashback at Boots & more

Beefeater - 33% off food (ends Thu)
Pizza Hut - £7ish unlimited lunch buffet (Mon-Fri)
Brewers Fayre - 33% off food (ends Thu)
KFC - free wings, fries, popcorn chicken and more via app
Subway - 'Savers' menu, incl pizza, nachos

Gap - up to 60% off 
Miss Selfridge - up to 50% off
Oasis - up to 50% off
Dorothy Perkins - up to 50% off
Kurt Geiger - up to 50% off 

Quick Forum Tips

Sainsbury's Tu half-price sale. Suits Tu
Boots 17 make-up products 80% off. Not made up
River Island up to 60% off. Sale away



Wed 19 Dec - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, payday loan mis-selling
Fri 21 Dec - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, best saves of 2018
Mon 24 Dec - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Boxing Day sales
Mon 24 Dec - BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm



Q: I've got some spare cash and I'm looking for a safe place to save it. If I put it in a bank, what happens if it goes bust? Will I lose everything? Simon, by email.

MSE Karl's A: Fortunately, there is protection. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme ensures deposits in current accounts and savings accounts of up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution are protected should a UK-regulated bank, building society or credit union go bust. For full help, see our Savings Safety 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... last week on Twitter we held a knockout challenge to find your favourite Christmas song. From 8,500+ votes it came down to a final four of (drum roll please)... Fairytale of New York, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Do They Know It's Christmas? ('84 version) and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. Find out which won and let us know if you disagree in our 'Have we found the best Xmas song?' forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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