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Weekly Email
This email was sent
20th Dec 2017
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 This info may be out of date.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 December 2017


 CHEAP petrol, £12 airport lounge pass, motorway service trick, top €/$ rates and more Xmas travel cost-cutters 

It's Chrissstmasss... Whether you're heading home via plane, train or automobile, or off on your very own Christmas Vacation, we've A Wonderful List of 11 top tips to cut your travel costs this winter and help you avoid a Nightmare Before Christmas, all topped off with a sprinkling of festive song and film...

  1. Driving home for Christmas? Save pounds on PETROL. It's been a year of price hikes with unleaded up by 6p/litre since July. Put the brakes on hefty spending with a nifty tool that finds the cheapest forecourt near you. Eg, in central Manchester we found unleaded 14p/litre cheaper than other garages nearby. See Petrol & diesel help to find your cheapest and loads more fuel efficiency tips.

  2. Simply having a wonderful Christmas time... in a £12 AIRPORT LOUNGE. Start your trip like royalty without paying a king's ransom. Our blagged code works at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh, B'ham and East Mids and lasts for a year. See Airport lounges.

  3. All we want for Christmas is... for you to use our motorway SERVICE STATION trick to beat horror prices. They can be exorbitant, eg, £1.32/litre for unleaded compared with the £1.20 UK average. But there's a clever site that shows 5,000+ places to eat and refuel within a few mins of junctions, incl supermarkets, cafés and petrol stations. See Avoid service station rip-offs.

  4. This year, to save you from tears, we're giving you something special... help to slash AIRPORT PARKING costs, of course. Prices can be eye-watering, but booking early - even a few days ahead - can put a big dent in costs. Turn up at Gatwick and the long-stay car park costs £145 for a week, but when we looked on Tuesday you could get a week starting this Saturday from £60ish. 

    Use our discounted links for airport parking comparison sites incl Holiday Extras* (10-30% off its standard price), Looking4Parking* (20-31% off), SkyParkSecure* (13-31% off) and FHR* (12-30% off). See Cheap Airport Parking for more sites plus full help.

  5. Avoid the Nightmare Before Christmas CURRENCY rip-off - bag the best rates before you go. The hellish scenario is buying at the airport where rates are hideous. Our Travel Money Max tool compares 30+ travel bureaux so you can get the most bang for your buck, lira or dong. On Tue, £100 got you €112.25 via our tool compared with a pathetic €93.10 at Birmingham Airport.

  6. Oh, the weather outside is frightful... but this BREAKDOWN COVER deal is so delightful... £43 for full cover for two Christmases. In the cold, car troubles are more likely so we've blagged 15mths' cover for the price of 12 from top-pick AutoAid*, for £43.31. It's full cover (ie, home start and onward travel) and covers you or your spouse/civil partner in any car. Similar AA/RAC cover can cost £100+.

    If you prefer a basic policy, you can get RAC cover from £21 and AA from £27. See Cheap Breakdown Cover incl how haggling can help.

  7. Worried about your car's 'Elf? Get a FREE winter CAR CHECK. Before you set off, get an expert to check your car's, er, health. See Free winter car check for how.

  8. Oh what fun it is to ride on a... CHEAP TRAIN ticket - and it's not too late to bag one for Xmas. It's best to book ASAP - from 12 weeks before travel - but you can still grab a super saver if quick. We found London to Portsmouth singles yesterday for £9 on Christmas Eve - compared with £30 at the station. You can even sometimes buy advances 10 mins before travel. See Book early, late for the lowdown.

  9. Going for your Fairytale of New York... or Rome, Berlin etc? Get TRAVEL INSURANCE now - from £5. We won't lie, we say this all the time - though with good reason. Get insured as soon as you've booked so you're covered if you need to cancel (eg, if you or a relative gets ill) - whether going away this Christmas or later.

    - Cheapest annual policies (under-65s): If you'll go away 2+ times a year, incl weekends, it's usually cheaper to get an annual policy, eg, a year's Europe cover for a 25-yr-old costs from £9, a family worldwide (where eldest is 45) from £39. The exact winner depends on age and number travelling. For minimum basic cover Holidaysafe Lite* often wins, but Coverwise Bronze* and Leisure Guard Lite* can beat it in some combinations. Full help and options in Cheap annual travel insurance.

    - Cheapest single policies: The cheapest that meets our min cover level is Leisure Guard Lite* (from £5 for 1wk in Europe) but also try Holidaysafe Lite*. Full info in Cheap single-trip policies.

    - Over 65? Pre-existing conditions? See our specialist Cheap Over-65s' Travel Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions guides to keep higher prices in check.

  10. It won't be the most wonderful time of the year... if you're stuck in TRAFFIC. Use your phone to beat jams for free. Even if you know the way, see how to turn your phone into a free sat-nav with traffic alerts to dodge snarl-ups so you can be with friends or family rather than frustrated on the motorway.

  11. I'm dreaming of my rights over Christmas... TRAIN RIGHTS, that is. Delays, damn delays. Over 250 sets of rail engineering works are to take place over Xmas, plus there'll no doubt be other problems. But confusingly, each train firm has its own rules. See your Xmas train delay and cancellation rights.

    PS: Because of how the days fall over Christmas, next week's email will come a little later - we'll start sending it on the evening of Wed 27 Dec, so some will get it then, others on Thu morning.

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Ends Thu. Hot BT Sim: 6GB, unlimited mins & texts '£5/mth'

The price of Sims - the little chips you put in your phone to make calls, send texts and go online - just keeps falling. A year ago 6GB of data cost £12.50/mth, last week it was equivalent to £7, now it's equiv a fiver. So if you're happy with your handset and out of contract, or need a Sim to stick in a new phone, you could make a nice little pre-Christmas saver.

  • Ends 11.59pm Thu. 6GB Sim + unltd mins & texts for '£5.34/mth'. It's a smashing deal for BT broadband customers. If you're new to BT Mobile* (uses EE's network), you can get 6GB of data + unltd mins & texts for £12/mth on a 1yr contract. Claim and use the £80 prepaid Mastercard and the equiv cost is £5.34/mth. You MUST claim after 30 days but within 3mths of activation - BT won't remind you, so use this claim form. It takes 60 days to arrive.

    If you leave BT b'band or don't have it, it's an extra £5/mth, which still makes it ultra-cheap but beatable - see below.

  • Not with BT b'band or need a different allowance? More Sims from £5/mth. Here are our top picks...  

    - Low users: Go via this link and iD Mobile* (uses Three's network) will charge you £5/mth for 2.25GB of data + 250 mins & 5,000 texts on a 30-day contract - as long as you're not currently an iD customer.
    - Medium users: Ends 11.59pm today (Wed). Anyone not in contract with Virgin Mobile* (EE network) can get 6GB, 2,500 mins & unltd texts for £10/mth.
    - High users: Via this link, new Three* customers or those who need a second line can get 12GB + unltd mins & texts for £13/mth. More deals and help in Cheap Sim only Deals.

  • Switching Sim is easy. You can keep your number. Just request a PAC code from your current network and give it to the new one, and your number's switched the working day after. See how to keep your number. You'll also need to make sure your phone is unlocked. You can usually unlock it for free if out of contract. PS: There are new plans to let you switch by text by July 2019.

New. 1.3% Post Office easy-access savings. This new Post Office deal is the best right now if you want to access your cash at any time, paying 1.3% variable (incl a fixed 1.05% bonus for 12mths) on £1+. See Top Savings for more.

Boxing Day sales starting EARLY, incl Ugg up to 50% off on NOW. Full updates as they launch throughout the week in Early Boxing Day sales

Cheap Christmas food, incl 28p for 2.5kg potatoes & 19p for 1kg carrots. Plus chocs and fizz. Cheap Xmas food

A Christmas request from Martin - do you have experience of mental health issues? If so, we need you. "Two years ago I set up the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity. Its purpose is to investigate and lobby to change policy, firms' behaviour and regulation, in order to break the hideous connection between debt and mental illness. Our community now has 4,000+ people (including carers) who make a huge impact, confidentially sharing their stories and telling us what would help - but we need more (especially men). If you can, please join the community."

Heads up. 30% off Travelodge on 1m+ rooms. Biggest we've seen in a few years. Starts Boxing Day for 1 or 2-night stays from Jan-Apr, with some exclusions. Travelodge code

Two months' Now TV for price of one. Cinema, Entertainment or Kids packages for £2.99+. Newbies only. Now TV deals


'I CUT my home insurance by over £500.' 

Pocket a nice Christmas bonus in just 5 mins by following our simple steps to cutting costs 

We love it when a plan comes together - like it did for MoneySaver Ish, who saved over £500 on home insurance. You should never just auto-renew, instead compare quotes at renewal to slash costs as Ish did: "Thanks to your website I saved £515 on my home insurance. Was shocked to be charged £695 - now I'm paying £180 for more cover." See how to get cheap home insurance, here are the main building blocks...

  • Step 1. NEVER just auto-renew. Combine comparison sites to get 100s of quotes in minutes. They zip your details to dozens of insurers and brokers at once. Yet as they don't cover the same insurers, and can even have different prices for the same firm, use a few. Our current order's MoneySupermarket*, Compare The Market*, Gocompare* and* (see full comparison order and why).

  • Step 2. Compare with the HOT deals comparison sites miss. Two biggies - Direct Line* and Aviva* - won't appear on comparisons, so are worth checking. We also list special home insurance promos, with the current crop for combined buildings and contents policies, incl: 

    - £70 Amazon gift card via this 
    Insure4Retirement* link. Ends Wed 3 Jan.
    - £50 Co-op food vouchers via this 
    Co-op Insurance* link.
      (Vouchers arrive within 120 days.)

  • How much you cover makes a big difference - don't overpay or underpay.
    - BUILDINGS cover - usually only needed by freeholders. Many overinsure by covering their home's market value. Instead it's the rebuild cost that counts (ie, how much to rebuild if it were knocked down). Use a rebuild calc to check.
    - CONTENTS insurance - for everyone. Don't underinsure - if you cover £10k of possessions but have £20k, if you later try to claim for a £1,000 TV, you may only get £500. Use a contents calc to check you're properly covered.

Last chance. Amazon £5 off £25 spend. Some app newbies may get £5 off a £25 spend when they sign in for the first time. Likely ends today (Wed), but Amazon won't confirm when. Check if you're eligible for £5 off at Amazon.

Christmas decorations sales now boosted, eg, up to 50% off John Lewis & M&S. Plus big discounts at House of Fraser, Debenhams & Wilko. Full info in Cheap decorations for some last-min additions. 

Toys R Us fears - what you need to know. The toy retailer is struggling, and while there's uncertainty for staff, if you have gift cards or are in its 'Take Time to Pay' scheme you may lose out if it goes bust. See Toys R Us alert. Also see our Gift voucher warning.

Get 20% off first month's payment on train season ticket scheme. MSE Blagged. CommuterClub buys your annual season ticket (incl London travelcard) for you upfront and you pay it back in 11 monthly instalments. It's cheaper than paying a train firm monthly, but costs more than if you pay in one go (incl via interest-free loans from work). CommuterClub

Charity gifts, incl £13 goat, £14.50 polio vaccines etc. If unsure what to give, don't give tat, give a gift you KNOW will be used. See charity gifts for inspiration. Plus we wanted to give a gift on your behalf, so we've given £2k for polio vaccines to protect kids.

Track Santa's location as he delivers presents on Christmas Eve. Free website to track Santa


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Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. Gocompare*
  4. CompareTheMarket*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Hitachi* 3.4% rep APR (2-5yrs)
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.9% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: EE equiv £16.50/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £24.58/mth

£100 to switch + top service: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: Nationwide FlexDirect


100,000s have OVERPAID student loans - are you owed money? 

Many start paying too early, when they aren't earning enough, or keep paying after the loan's cleared

Repaying student loans is a chore. Yet the way payments are calculated and then collected automatically via your employer means 100,000s of you who have taken out a loan since 1998 have been repaying when you didn't need to, and sometimes without even knowing. Some are now owed £1,000s - but the onus is usually on you to reclaim. We've full details in our new Student Loan Overpayments guide. It explains how you or your kids can get money back, here are the key lessons...

  • New. You could have started repaying your loan too early. You don't need to start repaying until the April after you left at the earliest. Yet a recent MSE investigation showed 100,000+ in the last three years alone starting repaying before then, essentially extending their repayment period. Getting money back is easy and the average reclaim is £333. Mekila told us: "I got £1,100 for early repayments, it took 5 mins." Hannah said: "Got a £500 refund - nice early Christmas present." See How to check and reclaim if you paid back early.

  • You could have overpaid in a particular year. You only have to pay back your student loan if you earn over the earnings threshold in a tax year (currently £21,000/yr for most who started uni in or after 2012 - see full thresholds). However, this is calculated on each pay date (weekly or monthly for most). So if your annual earnings are below the threshold, but you have a lucrative week or month, eg, via a bonus or extra shifts, or you stopped working part-way through the year, you could end up repaying. It's unclear how many have done this - see How to check and reclaim if earnings were low.

  • You could still be paying even though you've already paid off your loan. A huge 86,000 overpaid this way in 2015/16 alone. This happens because the Student Loans Company only gets told how much you've paid once a year. As a result, people who've finished paying off their loans can still have money deducted up to a year later. See How to check and reclaim if you paid after clearing the debt.

Related: Should I repay my student loan? | Student loan interest rates are now 6.1% - should I panic or pay it off?


FREE e-books or audiobooks to keep (norm £30+), incl The Break by Marian Keyes. MSE Blagged. Nine books, can be read on Kindles, e-readers and mobiles. Free books

"Claiming marriage tax allowance took literally 5 mins. HMRC was very quick and a cheque for £431 is on its way to me. Thank you for your help. It was so easy."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Charity urges Govt to stop people with Parkinson's missing out on benefits. Parkinson's UK is campaigning for sufferers to get fairer assessments. You can get more info and sign its petition to show your support.



Which celebrity chef would you want to cook your Christmas dinner? Whether you plump for turkey, goose, ham or a good-old nut roast for your festive meal, which celebrity chef would you want to cook it?

Almost 70% of you have switched energy provider this year. In last week's poll, we asked what you've switched in 2017, with options including broadband provider, mortgage and home insurer. It seems our energy switching message is getting through, with 67% of women and 70% of men switching their gas and/or electricity this year. But you're not switchers across the board, as only about 30% of you switched your bank account, and only 3% switched partners. Find out what else you switched.



Should I share my discount with friends? I often book theatre tickets for myself and friends, who pay me back. However, I recently bought a £40 discount card that gets money off. Should I continue to charge my friends full-price until I've recovered the cost of the card, or just ask them to pay me the discounted price? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I share my discount with friends? | Suggest an MMD View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: 2018 Frugal Living Challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: £500 Guerlain goodies
- Old-Style board thread of the week: What's happened to Cheddar cheese?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Returning Christmas presents to sender
- Discussion of the week: Christmas party games


Wilko - 50% off pick & mix sweets
Halfords - free four-pack of AA or AAA batteries via O2 app
Bonusprint - 80-page photo book £25 all-in (norm £71ish)
Virgin Wines - 12 bottles of wine £56 delivered (norm £138)

Free food - Mystery dine at Wagamama, Giraffe and more
Just Eat - 20%-30% off selected takeaways
Domino's - 2for1 collection only
Free KFC - wings, fries, popcorn chicken and more via app

Supermarket coupons - 100+ coupons worth £100+
Fresh counters - save up to 40% off meat, fish, cheese etc
Hidden bargains - how you can save by looking low
World foods - up to 80% off herbs, spices, sauces & more

Quick Forum Tips

Free non-alcoholic Budweiser beer. Don't stop beer-lieving
Free printable 2018 year planner. Make a date
3for2 Disney x Cath Kidston collection. Take the Mickey



Wed 20 Dec - BBC Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 22 Dec - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Xmas travel tips



Q: Does a lump-sum payment made by a bank for switching my main account to it count towards the £1,000 tax-free savings allowance? Or is it entirely tax-free? John, by email.

MSE Karl's A: Free cash from switching bank accounts does not count as interest, is not taxable and therefore doesn't count towards your personal savings allowance (PSA) - which only covers savings interest.

Under the PSA, every basic-rate taxpayer can earn £1,000 interest without paying tax on it, while higher-rate taxpayers can earn £500. Additional rate taxpayers don't get a PSA. For more, see our Personal Savings Allowance guide. And if you're looking to switch bank accounts for an incentive of up to £125, see Best Bank Accounts.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go.. what's the oldest Christmas decoration you have? After a man hit the headlines for using the same Christmas lights since 1969, we were inundated with tales from MoneySavers who still use their ancient decorations each year, including a Santa from the 1930s, a 45-year-old snowflake and nativity figures from the 1960s. Let us know the festive favourites you still use in our Christmas decorations Facebook discussion

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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