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20th Jun 2012
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 This info may be out of date.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."

20 June 2012
Martin's Quick Briefing

The 10 must-knows if you're going abroad
Smash the cost of going on holiday with clever tips

If you're planning a trip away, act now to avoid pain in Spain, getting hustled in Brussels, or breaking the banka in Sri Lanka. Wait till you go, and it'll be too late.

1. Slash car hire costs | Urgent £25 off code. 1. Don't leave it till you're there. Use Car Rentals* & Kayak* comparisons to find the cheapest - under £10/day's possible in some locations. 2. Until Thu, the code MSEHAEX25 at Holiday Autos* gets £25 off 7-day car hire till 30 Sep, check that too. 3. At pick-up, hire firms will try to flog extra "excess insurance". You can get it for less than half of the cost from Money Maxim*. Full help: Cheap Car Hire.
2. UNBEATABLE rates via the best plastic. Apply ASAP. By far the cheapest way to spend abroad is with a specialist overseas credit card. Most plastic adds a 3% load, so spend £100 of euros and it costs £103. The top cards smash bureaux de change with near-perfect rates as there's no load worldwide: Halifax Clarity, Post Office*, Saga* (over 50s) & for Nationwide FlexAccount holders ONLY, its Select* card.

If you've a decent credit score and aren't going immediately, apply now. ALWAYS set up a monthly direct debit to fully repay to avoid interest, or the gain's lost by 11.9-16.9% representative APRs. See: Top Cards, APR Examples.
3. travel tipsUrgently check if your EHIC card's valid. EHICs give access to EU state-run hospitals/GPs like a local (if they pay nothing, nor do you). Yet beware: a) 4m expire this year. Check your card & renew. b) Don't leave it at home. It's only valid if you show it. c) Don't Google it, you'll get scam sites charging £15. Use our EHIC Help for how to get/renew at no cost.
4. A year's travel insurance from £16. Get insurance ASAP after you book, or you're not covered for cancellation. Go away 2+ times a year and annual policies win, otherwise single trip's cheaper. Read the FULL pros, cons & best buys (incl over 55s) in Cheap Travel Insurance. But, if not, for speed...

Annual travel ins from £16.
For 18-40s in Europe, Travel Guard* is £16-£20. For Europe & worldwide, Protect Your Bubble's* £25-£40 for singles; £34-£56 couples/families. Virgin and can be cheaper via a full MoneySup* comparison.

Cheapest single trip policies: There's no one cheapest, it depends where & when. Compare at MoneySup* and*.
5. Flights booking's cheaper early, packages late. With flights, early booking is usually cheaper - leave it late and you compete with biz folks willing to pay big bucks. Use comparison sites such as Skyscanner*, TravelSup* & Kayak* to hone down prices ASAP. With packages, late (eight weeks or less) is hot bargain time, provided you're flexible. See Cheap Flights & Cheap Packages.
6. Find the cheapest travel cash in seconds. Don't leave it till the airport. They know you're a captive customer, so give a shocking deal (even pre-order and pick up at the airport gets better deals). Instead, do a full travel money comparison for every country via our TravelMoneyMax tool.
7. Don't pay to pay for budget airlines. Hideous: budget airlines charge up to £12 PER PERSON return to pay for their flights. They get away with this by often having one no-cost niche payment system, so all others are 'added extras'. So tool up to avoid these. For Ryanair, outrageously, the only option's its prepaid Mastercard. With BMI Baby & Jet2 you need a Visa Electron. Full help & baggage charges in Budget Airline Fee Fighting.
8. Going to the USA? You need an ESTA. Most UK citizens holidaying in the US must pay $14 for an ESTA before they go. They last two years or until your passport expires, so you don't need one if you've been recently, though double-check your status. See ESTA Help. Beware applying via spam sites, you'll be charged more.
9. Posh hotel rooms at colossal discounts. Start with comparisons TravelSup* & Trivago. Try for bigger discounts uncovering top secret hotels by playing detective with anonymous 3-5 star rooms. For lower costs, try holiday spare rooms and check out cheap hostels. Most are clean, with double rooms available. Full help: Slash Hotel & Hostel Costs.
10. Always pre-book airport parking. If you need to drive (public transport's often cheaper), cut costs by booking early and using comparison sites. Try these special links: SkyParkSecure 11% off*, APH 10% off* FHR 12% off*. Full help, incl hidden local deals, in Cheap Airport Parking.

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Use the Money Mantras If you're skint, ask - do I need it, can I afford it If you aren't, ask Will I use it, Is it worth it?

The Ones Not To Miss

Wed 20 Jun 2012
Best EVER easy to get 3% cashback card - earn £100
Even for poorer credit scorers | Get paid when you spend (not excuse for spending more)

Spend on cashback credit cards and THEY PAY YOU a bit of what you spend back. Normally aimed at those with top credit scores, a corking deal's now available to far more. Full info in Top Cashback Cards (also APR Examples), here's a summary...

  • poor creditHuge 3% cashback even for poorer credit scorers. The new Aqua* Reward credit card pays 3% on all spending, up to £100 cashback per year, so spending on average £300/mth gets the full whack. It's aimed at those with poorer credit history, including CCJs or defaults (unless in the past year), so has a hideous 34.9% representative APR. But that's irrelevant if you use it right...
  • ALWAYS repay in full each month. Only get this if you can repay IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit. Then you neuter its ability to charge interest, turning it into something close to a debit card (avoid cash withdrawals, as then you pay). Then use it for all normal spending, instead of other cards/cash, as you'll get paid.
  • Good credit scorers get 5% cashback. Capital One's Aspire World* gives new cardholders 5%, up to £100, for 3 months, then up to 1.25%. Alternatively, Amex Platinum's* cashback's similar but has a £25 annual fee. Both require min £20k income - fail to fully repay and they're 19.9% & 14% representative APR respectively.
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£15 Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. Down from £50 at a sports store. Men's and women's styles available. Stock limited so if you're after a pair, go quick. See Abercrombie & Fitch Deals

Big TODAY ONLY (Wed) deals.
750 Boots pts per £30 | 2for1 Costa iced coffee | M&S 10% code, Wed/Thur

New top 3.2% AER easy-access savings. The new Santander* 3.2% AER account & Post Office* 3.17% allow unlimited withdrawals. West Brom's* 3.19% (min £10k), but only allows 4 free withdrawals/yr. Rates on all drop in a year, so diarise to ditch & switch. Full help: Top Savings. All have full £85,000 savings protection.

50% off already 40-70% off Boss, Diesel etc goods. At an outlet, Incl jewellery & watches. See Hot Bargains

Urgent. A year's broadband AND line rental for £105
ENDS THU | Equivalent to £8.60/mth, compared to £14.60 for BT paid-monthly line rent

Just having a phone line now costs around £14/mth with the big players. Yet two hot promo deals let you get it, plus broadband, for a little over half the cost. Full info in Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides. Here's a summary:

  • broadbandENDS THU: B'band, calls & line rental for £105/yr all-in. If you've got the cash, pay £114 upfront for a year's TalkTalk Essentials* line rental (if not, it's £14.50/mth) and then £3.25/mth for eve & wknd landline calls and broadband (avail to 85% of UK). Within 28 days of it going live, you get a £50 Tesco voucher. Factor that as cash, and it's just £103 for the year, or £8.60/mth all-in. Though in our recent poll, its customer service rating wasn't that hot at 45% good, 28% OK, 27% poor.
  • Get the same for £125/yr with top customer service provider. Alternatively, pay Plusnet* £114 upfront for line rental then get its £6.49/mth calls & broadband package (avail to 77% of UK) half price for 5mths and you get £50 cashback 30 days after activation. Factor all that in, and it's £126/yr, equiv to £10.50/mth. In our customer service poll it did well, with 82% good, 14% OK, 4% poor.
  • Cheapest line rental only - £6.29/mth. Primus's Line Rental Saver* is £6.29/mth with no calls or its Home Saver* is £7.99 including evening and weekend calls (only via these links). To stick with BT, its BT Line Rental Saver* is £129 for a year upfront, far cheaper than paying monthly.
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Code gets £119 specs with lenses for £21 delivered. Full info: Glasses Deals & Free Eye Tests

Ocado £15 off | Tesco/Sains £10 | Waitrose up to £25. Big discounts for newbies (£50-£75 spends) at online supermarkets. If you already shop at one, try a different one to bag the reduction: Discount Vouchers

New. The Downshift Challenge Test. Save £1,000s at supermarkets? Downshift Challenge Test.

Ultimate Mortgage Calc - how long will it take to save a deposit?
How many £1,000s can you save overpaying? | Does offsetting pay? | Should you ditch fix?

It's most people's biggest single outlay, so small changes can have a massive effect. We designed our Ultimate Mortgage Calculator to answer a host of questions for you. Here's a taster, including a new section added this week.

  • mortgage calculator New. How long to save my deposit? 12% fewer 1st timer mortgages are being granted this year than last. Our new Mortgage Deposit Calculator asks questions to determine when you'll have the dough for a decent deposit (use Top Savings for max interest). As for deposit size, you're unlikely to find any deals unless you've got 10%. They're far more competitive at 15%, and the cheapest rates need 25%.
  • Save £10,000s overpaying. Our Mortgage Overpayment Calc shows its mammoth impact. On a £100,000 mortgage at 4%, overpay £100 a month and you'd clear the mortgage 6 years quicker, saving £15,600 interest. See Should I Overpay? for more.
  • Should I ditch my fix? The Ditch Fix? Calc sees if you can save switching from a costly fix, even with fees.

MSE New Mortgage Booklet: Download Instant PDF, Order Printed Remortgage Booklet: Instant PDF, Order Printed

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Free £12.50 3mth National Art pass trial. Entry to 200+ pay-for museums, incl Kensington Palace, Cardiff Castle and Lyme Park. Costs £50 a year normally, so worth £12.50. See National Art Pass deals

John Lewis up to 50% off sale starts TODAY, Adidas Thur. A heads up that they join Ikea, Debenhams and Dorothy Perkins all up to 50% off. See Sales Diary

500x £1 Hoxton posh hotel nights. Join web scrum for Jul-Sep rooms (incl Olympics). Hotel Sales

Quick. Nando's loyalty cards expiring. Don't wing it - act by 30 Jun. Keep a-breast of the changes

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
22 mths 0%, 2.9% fee

(17.9% rep APR)

22 mths 0%, 3.2% fee

(17.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k)
7.6% rep APR
(Need Nectar card)

Sainsbury's* (£7.5 - £15k)
5.9% rep APR

(Need Nectar card)

Cheshire BS 3.35% AER
Min £1,000. Incl 2.35% bonus

Santander* 3.3% AER
Min £2,500. Incl bonus.
Top for transfers
See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

2for1 National Trust entry (£2 paper). Over 200 venues to choose in England & Wales, such as Stourhead in Wiltshire, which normally costs £12.50. Have a field day. See National Trust Deals

Sales codes: EXTRA Warehouse and Body Shop discounts. See Discount Vouchers

Tell friends about us. They can get this free every week.

Retiring? Urgent. Male annuities could plummet. Free MSE booklet
Rates at record lows & could get worse | Act now to avoid losing £1,000s EVERY year

Converting a private pension into an annuity is life's biggest financial decision as it's a one-shot affair - get it wrong, and you can miss out on £10,000s. Big changes are afoot - here's a summary. Full help in our Annuities Guide.

  • annuities guideWhat's an annuity? It's the product most people use to convert their pension fund into a regular income until death. For example, a 65-year-old man can convert £100,000 into £6,100 a year. Though sadly, rates are at record lows.
  • Why are men's rates dropping? Last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that by 21 Dec 2012, firms must give men and women equal rates. As men die younger, their annuities needn't pay as long, so they currently get better rates. Equalisation means it's predicted by some that men will get £200 a year less per £100,000.
  • How to boost your rate. While there's no certainty men's rates will worsen or that women's rates could rise, annuity advisers say men should strongly consider locking in now. Yet NEVER just take your pension firm's annuity. Always do a cross-market comparison. It could boost your income by £1,000 a year per £100,000. For full help & how to get advice, see our Annuity Help Booklet: Instant PDF, Order Printed Version
Back to top ^

Free Walkers crisps? Play Facebook game for a bag, 40p-off or 20p-off coupon. Walkers Deals

Restaurant FREEBIES,
Vouchers & Codes

Free Greggs

2for1 for £2.50

Yo! Sushi
All plates £2.12

Pitcher & Piano
Free cocktail/cider

Toby Carvery
'Free' ice cream

Via newspaper
Ends 24 Jun
Register 'n' print
Ends 23 Jul
In 12 locations
Ends 29 Jun
Register 'n' print
Ends 30 Jun
Print voucher
Ends 30 Jun

See All Restaurant Vouchers

£5 Nat Express coaches. Selected journeys incl B'ham-Lon, Bristol-So'ton. See Coach & Train Deals

Switched energy? Don't confuse direct debits with cost
Many can save £250+/yr switching, but confusion may make you think you haven't saved

The energy industry is so frustrating. Switching can save people serious cash, but bill confusion leaves many thinking they've not gained. So it's time to clear it up...

  • switched energyDirect debit (DD) is cheaper: If you can, pay by monthly DD as it's up to 10% cheaper, though always do regular meter readings to keep it accurate.
  • Don't confuse DD with cost. DDs are an ESTIMATE of annual usage divided by 12. So it's possible to switch to a cheaper energy company, only to find your DD's risen as they've estimated wrongly. You will later get money back, so will still save.
  • Fight unfair DDs. Suppliers' licences say they must ensure DD levels are reasonable. If yours isn't, call and tell 'em. Here's what one MoneySaver said: "We were paying £120/mth, double last supplier. Called and it refunded £500 credit, and slashed our DD by £70/mth." Full help in Unfair Energy Direct Debits.
  • Switch NOW, you could save £250+/yr in 5 mins. Plug your details in a comparison site (+ get cashback after 3mths via these special links) Top Pick: Energyhelpline* pays £15 cashback per switch. Dual Fuel: MoneySupermarket* £30 cash. Crate of wine: uSwitch* gives 8 bottles of wine. Full info in Cheap Energy & Cashback & Fight Energy DDs
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Game of Thrones or Fifty Shades books 2 for £6. See Sainsbury's Deals

Kids 'free' with grown-ups to London theatres. 35 shows incl Wizard of Oz, Wicked. Kids Week

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Compare, switch & get cashback

£15 per switch

£30 dual fuel

8 bottles of wine

First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

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

Direct Line*
Get quotes in this order...

Primus Line Rental Saver*
£6.29/mth (pay a yr upfront)

BT Line Rental Saver*
£10.75/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner Free MSE car sticker £14 Travel Insurance

the moneysaving community

Book Giveaway RESULT. Quick Cook Budget Meals. 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one.

Cheap Flight Sales

Ryanair Price: £12.99 each way Ends: Thu 21 Jun
Our pick this week is Ryanair's from £12.99 each way flights. It's on various routes for travel Mon-Thu, 3 Sep-27 Sep 2012, and includes some taxes and charges. Flights include Manchester to Tours, Loire Valley, for £12.99 each way. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £50 return max search. 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

spill beans

Spill the beans... on your holiday tricks
After shelling out a hefty sum to get there, how do you keep costs down when abroad? Our top 10 tips top this email, what are yours? Packed lunch to the beach, sharing childcare with families you meet on hols? Spill 'em: Holiday Tricks Past topics: View all

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Cheap airport parking. Spill the beans... revealed
Last week we asked for your tips on cheap airport parking at airports, including Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. Tips included hiring local residents' driveways and getting an overnight stay package. But keep in mind the risks involved when using off-site car parks. See Cheap Airport Parking.

Money Moral Dilemma

Should I ask her to buy curtains?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
We needed some new curtains and my mum offered to make some for nothing if we bought the material. For one of the windows, we wanted floor-length curtains (even though the window doesn't go to the floor). We explained this to mum and bought the right amount. However, instead of making what we asked, she made short curtains and used the left-over fabric to line other curtains that didn't need lining. Should I ask her to pay for replacement curtains? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I ask her to buy curtains? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

Campaign of the week

Are you a hidden carer? Get support during Carers Week
Over six million people care for family members, often giving up their own health and wealth in the process. If this is, or could be you, find out about the advice and support available at one of the events organised by eight national charities during Carers Week. Spotted a campaign? This space is for MSE to support the work being done by other charities, community groups and campaigners. Send us a Campaign of the Week suggestion.

Cheap Travel Money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 123.81 110.88
US Flag $ 155.76 140.22
Turkish Flag TL 276.00 239.54
Rates correct at 4pm Tues
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: What is child poverty in the UK?

Currently child poverty is defined as a household earning less than 60% of average income. Now the Government is considering making it more about a child's life.

Please select ALL you think count as poverty in this week's poll. Options include...

Family income below £13,000 a year (60% of median income)
A lack of food, shelter or clothing
A child sharing a room with someone of different gender
Parents who are drug addicts
No annual holiday
No laptop or internet access
A home with no heating at all
Kids with fewer than two pairs of shoes
A child who gets little/no time with parent/guardian

Poll Results

How do you rate your telecoms provider?

We got over 17,000 votes in last week's poll. Of the big players, network marketing company Utility Warehouse got 91% 'good' votes, Plusnet, Eclipse and Be 82%, while you voted AOL and Tiscali (now TalkTalk) poorest with 31% and 32% respectively. See Full Results.

Question Of The Week

Q: I'm told if I use my Lloyds TSB debit card to buy currency online, Lloyds will charge me a fee. Is this correct? Stephen, by email.

MSE Alana's A: Unfortunately it is. Although you won't be charged at a Lloyds TSB branch, though rates here are likely to be worse.

Many debit cards (see full list) charge for buying currency at a UK bureau de change as they equate it to a 'foreign cash withdrawal', which carries a fee. Credit cards are even worse, as they charge interest on cash withdrawals too, even if you repay in full.

The good news is these debit card charges will end by Jan 2013, following an agreement between banks and the OFT. For now, see if you've a card that doesn't charge. If not, it may be cheaper to withdraw cash on your debit card from a UK ATM and walk into a bureau to pay for the currency in cash to avoid the fee (see for best rates).

If you have four weeks or more until your holiday, you can apply for one of the Top Overseas Cards, which are the cheapest way to spend abroad.

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

Board Of The Week

The Flood & Storms Help & Information Board

Discussions include Flood Help useful links, I've just flooded our downstairs neighbour... and Gap between window frame and the opening bit.

Back to top ^
Game Of The Week

Bubble Spinner

Martin's champagne brain teaser

That's it for this week, but before we go, what's the next number in the sequence & why? 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114... First correct answer posted in the brain teaser forum link gets a bottle of champagne.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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