Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

01 August 2018

Over 50 ways to save incl... Lock in ‘7%’ savings, Clubcard shake-up, NEW car ins trick, MSE busts PPI scam, £15 airport lounge, £380 Virgin TV save, ‘free’ cinema, London hacks

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


Revealed: Our investigation shows getting car insurance 21 days ahead can save £550+/yr - don't be a last-minute loser

With car insurance, like comedy, it seems timing is everything. We've analysed 18m+ quotes from Jan to May (after requesting data from Compare The Market, Confused & MoneySupermarket) and were shocked to discover huge price variances depending on when you get a policy.

The optimum time is 21 days before the new policy starts (which will be at renewal for most). Too early or too late and the price shoots up, as this graph shows. In fact, a typical policy would cost an avg £1,156 on renewal day, but £589 three weeks earlier.

When we challenged insurers about it, some thankfully were open. LV told us: "One factor is the gap between the date the quote is requested and the renewal date. Our historic claims data shows riskier drivers renew their policies nearer to renewal."

For more, see the full price investigation. MSE founder Martin Lewis says:

 Car insurance pricing is based on a mix of 'actuarial risk' and which section of the market is targeted. To find the risk they look for patterns, and we've uncovered that one of those is how early you get a quote before renewal. To avoid being a last-minute loser, everyone with car insurance should, at the very least, put a note in their diary 25 days before renewal to sort it within a week. 

The full timetable to get the perfect price...
NEVER auto-renew - instead follow these key steps 

  • Nowhere near renewal but unhappy with your price? You don't have to be at renewal to switch. As long as you haven't claimed, you can usually cancel your policy for a £50ish admin fee (factor that in) and get the rest of the year refunded.

    You will miss out on a year's no-claims bonus, but if it means big savings it can be a winner, as Iain tweeted: "I just saved £375 by changing car insurance MID-POLICY - thanks @MartinSLewis."

    Yet the key is to set your new policy to start 21 days after you get the quote to get the best price. Full help in switching mid-policy.

  • Renewal 30-60 days away? Lock in a price in case they rise. While 21 days ahead is best, if car insurance prices in general rise, earlier can be cheaper. Some firms such as Aviva* Quotemehappy let you lock in a price up to 2mths ahead (see list of long-quote insurers). So get one now, then check it against quotes from about 21 days before renewal - and go for the best.

  • Renewal less than 30 days away? Aim for a sweet-spot quote of 20-23 days before renewal, by following the below...
How to bag the cheapest price

  • Combine comparison sites to speedily find your cheapest. There's no single cheapest insurer, as prices differ for all. So plonk your details into comparison sites and in seconds they check dozens of quotes each. But they don't all cover the same insurers or even give the same price per insurer, so use as many as you've time for. 

    Our current order's Confused*MoneySupermarket*Compare The Market* & Gocompare* (see how we rank them). John emailed: "Renewal was £778 but remembered Martin saying on TV loyalty doesn't pay, so found the same cover via MoneySup for £337, saving £441." 

  • Also check hot deals comparisons miss, incl free £40 Amazon voucher. Some deals aren't on comparisons, eg, a Co-op* £50 food vch, or a £40 Amazon vch from Direct Line* or Churchill* till next Tue. Plus you won't find big insurer Aviva* on comparison sites. See hot deals comparisons miss.

  • Check multi-car policies if you've more than one in your home. Comparison sites don't do multi-car searches, and some insurers offer discounts - so compare these against standard quotes, see multi-car discounts.

  • Beat the young drivers' penalty. Our Young Drivers' Insurance guide has top tips for you and your kids, with the main one being a 'black box' - a device insurers put in your car to monitor how you drive and when. The better your driving and the less you drive, the less you pay. See cheap 'telematics' policies.

    Counter-logical car insurance cost-cutting
    It's about how insurers gauge risk - which can mean bizarre savings

  • Comprehensive may be cheaper than third party. As some insurers see you as a lower risk. Check if comprehensive's cheaper.

  • Adding extra drivers can cut costs. If they're a lower risk than you, it sometimes brings the average down. This is especially strong if you're a young driver adding a responsible older driver. t0mking tweeted: "Your car insurance tips on adding a named driver made my best quote cheaper by £700. I'm gobsmacked and very grateful."  See adding a responsible driver rules. (But never lie and say they're the main driver if they're not - that's fraud.)

  • Legitimately tweak your job title. You can't claim to be the boss of Barclays if you're a 'butler in the buff' (or vice versa), but some jobs are considered higher risks than others. Joe emailed: "Changed my job description from 'manager' to 'butchery manager' and the quote dropped by £25." Our fun Job Picker tool is old but can help.

  • Don't want to switch insurer? Haggle. This works best at renewal. Simply find the best deal using the tips above and ask your provider to beat it. Julie emailed: "My renewal with Hastings was £420 - up 40%. I found the same policy with Hastings for £228 via a comparison, so I phoned it and it honoured it. Result." See our haggling tips.


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.



Urgent. Open 2%+ fixed savings TODAY but don't put money in yet, giving a get-out-of-jail-free card before Thursday's base rate decision

The Bank of England will announce tomorrow (Thu) whether it's raising its official borrowing rate, the base rate. In one poll in July, 80% of City analysts expected it WOULD rise, from 0.5% to 0.75% - a potential 9yr high. Fixed savings rates have already risen partly due to those predictions. If base rate does rise, new savings rates may edge up - but if it doesn't, the current crop could be pulled. So we've devised a way to hedge your bets, so whatever happens you're sorted.

  • Get-out-of-jail-free trick to bag top fixed savings. With fixed savings, you lock your money away for a set time without access, for a rate that's fixed for the term. However, apply today and on the deals below you lock in the rate, BUT you don't need to pay into it for a week, so you can wait. If base rate rises and you find a better deal, simply close it. If not, put the money in and you've a winner. Note that if savings rates rise after a base rate jump they tend to take a few days - full updates in Top Savings.

  • Today's top standard 1YR FIXED RATES: £50 bonus on 1.95% (equiv 6.95% on £1k) or a straight 2.05%. 

    - £50 bonus on 1.95%. There's a trick to beat the standard top 1yr fix via 'savings marketplace' Raisin. It pays £50 to new customers who open an account through it. And of all the accounts it offers our top pick is ICICI Bank's 1.95% 1yr fix (min £1k). After cashback, if you only put in £1,000 it's an effective 6.95%, and it pays more over the year on up to £50,000 than the top straightforward 1yr fix below. You've five working days from opening to pay your money in to ensure you still get the full deal, and you'd be shielded even if its rate drops in the meantime. See full Raisin info.

    - 2.05% AER - top straightforward deal. This is from app-only Atom. It gives you a week to pay your money in and like Raisin the rate's locked in from the time you open the account. See more fixed savings lock-in options.

  • Today's top EASY-ACCESS savings - earn up to 1.4%. These are best if you need, er, access. And you could pay money in now and withdraw fee-free if rates elsewhere jumped, as they're flexible. Coventry BS pays 1.4% but you're only allowed three fee-free withdrawals/yr. For unlimited access, Birm Midshires* is 1.35%, though the first deposit must be by cheque. The top big-name and easiest-to-operate account is Tesco Bank* at 1.34%. All rates are AER variable, but all will dive or close in 1yr so remember to switch. You can open these with £1+.

PS: All above have full or shared £85,000 per person savings protection. For help, full info and more deals, see Top SavingsIf base rate rises on Thu, in next week's email we'll guide you through how to make all the right decisions on savings, mortgages and more.


As yet another bank cuts payouts, switch to get PAID £185 in M&S vouchers, 3% bills cashback or FREE £170 headphones

Halifax has announced its Reward account customers will see their monthly cashback drop from £3 to £2 from Oct (it was £5 last year). This follows many banks dropping their free-cash switching incentives. But don't let 'em take your custom for granted - unless you're delighted with the service, and/or happy with the financial boons, disloyalty pays. So ditch and switch... All below require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check.

  • First Direct - no.1 service + freebie incl £170 Bose headphones or £150 Expedia vch. First Direct* has topped every bank service poll we've done, and newbies can choose one freebie, incl the above & more, when switching. It also offers a 5% regular saver, while some get a £250 0% overdraft. To get it all, switch and pay in £1k+ within 3mths of opening - within 2wks of that you're emailed info on how to get the freebie. To avoid a £10/mth fee after 6mths, pay in £1k+/mth or have an avg £1k+ balance.

  • M&S Bank - free £185 M&S vchs. New switchers to M&S Bank* get a £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth added to it for 1yr. You also get access to its 5% regular saver, and many get a £100 0% overdraft. For the £125, you must fully switch, incl 2+ active direct debits (ones that have paid out in the last 13mths) within 3mths of opening. For the £5/mth, pay in £1k+/mth and keep the direct debits active.

  • Santander - best for average/small bills or Santander mortgage holders. Santander 123 Lite* has a £1/mth fee yet pays 3% cashback on phone, broadband, mobile and TV bills; 2% on energy; and 1% on water, council tax and Santander residential mortgages (max £10/mth on mortgages) when you pay by direct debit. To get the cashback you must pay in £500+/mth, log on to online/mobile banking every 3mths and have at least two active direct debits - but you don't have to switch to it, so it could be an extra bills account. Without a Santander mortgage, with what we consider average bills it pays £72/yr after the fee. With high bills, it's £132/yr.

  • NatWest - best for high bills. For £2/mth the NatWest Reward account* gives 2% cashback on council tax, energy, water, mobile, landline, TV and broadband bills paid by direct debit. With what we consider average bills it pays £66/yr after the fee - with high bills, it's £135/yr. To get the cashback, log in to online/mobile banking every 3mths and pay in £1,500+/mth - like Santander, you don't need to switch to it so it can be a 2nd bills account.

Switching's easy, takes 7 working days and the new bank moves all your payments across. Full info and more options in Best Bank Accounts.


40 London MoneySaving tips. Incl free Parliament tours, £5 Shakespeare tix & £20/night hotels. London calling

Boots summer clearance, incl £22 Sanctuary Spa set (norm £45). See our Boots sale round-up.

Energy supplier Iresa ceases trading - your rights. See full, updated Iresa help

Cashback site user? Free site could hugely boost cashback at Boots, M&S, Currys etc. MSE Blagged. We've arranged for a new site to give people all the money they spend back as cashback (ie, pay £100, get £100) on 1 in 7 (norm 1 in 25) transactions at 21 stores - but on the rest you'll get nowt. So if the cashback you get elsewhere is trivial, it can be worth it. See how Boom25 works.

20% off eBay outlets, incl Vax, Superdry & Co-op Electricals. Eg, gets £56 Vax upright vacuum cleaner. eBay code for 23 outlets


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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 36mths 0%, 2.49% fee  (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR) 

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  3. CompareTheMarket*
  4. Gocompare*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Sainsbury's Bank* 3.2% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs)  
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs)   

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £12.42/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk equiv £18.89/mth

Choice of £150 Expedia vch, tech gadget & more: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: Nationwide FlexDirect   


'I've won 30+ holidays in 10 years' - master the art of comping

Some win £1,000s through this potentially profitable hobby - so we've a compendium of corking comping tips  

Entering competitions can be rewarding - and while you shouldn't see it as a sure-fire way to make money, we see many big-cash, gadget or holiday wins, such as forumite Helga14's. She said: "I've won 30+ holidays since my first in 2008 to Panama via a radio competition, and then I was hooked. I've won trips to Rio, Hong Kong, Orlando, Valencia and three to the Bahamas (including my wedding). I've more later this year." So we've  42 comping tips - here are a few for starters:


Free first aid app from St John Ambulance. Covers CPR, how to stop someone choking, dealing with allergic reactions and more. First aid

"Thank you so much for your student loan reclaim guidance. My employment circumstances were up and down last year - two phone calls to the Student Loans Company and I'm due a £709 refund." 
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



How do you spend when abroad? It's peak summer, so time for a question we ask every year... if and when you travel abroad, how do you usually spend? If you use a combination of methods, pick the one you use most often. How do you spend abroad?

Amazon Prime users are less likely to 'shop around' when buying online. Last week, we asked whether you compare prices when shopping online or simply head to Amazon - over 9,000 responded. Tellingly, 70% of non-Amazon Prime members compare prices when shopping online, compared with just 46% of those with Amazon Prime. See full Amazon Prime poll results.



Should I pass train compensation on to my employer? I travel by train for work and my employer reimburses me. The trains are frequently late so I've started to claim Delay Repay compensation, but I haven't offered to reimburse my employer. Is this wrong? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pass on my train compensation? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What to do with unexpected money?
- Competitions thread of the week: Seven-night holiday for two adults to Majorca
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Dolmio sauces
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Advice needed - I like him but he's moving away
- Discussion of the week: Do you still rely on cash?


MeowneySaving - get 'free' cat treats in Whiskas, Sheba & more
Thorntons - four free ice creams via app
Starbucks - how to beat the new 5p cup charge & save money
Aldi - £4 Liz Earle-alike hot cloth cleanser
Ikea hacks - Incl store shortcuts and half-price delivery

Pizza Hut - 50% off pizzas when you spend £20
Burger King - meal deals incl £2 burger and fries
Free beer, ale or cider - 28,700 available across 1,380 pubs
Toby Carvery - two meals and two drinks for £15
Harvester - two chicken dishes and two drinks for £20

Lego - free small toy build
Pets at Home - free small animal workshops
National Gallery - free art workshops and drawing sessions
Hobbycraft - free craft workshops, incl slime making
Dobbies - free gardening workshops

Quick Forum Tips

Free online film rental + £1.50ish cashback. Watch this
Set of 30 Sharpies for £10 (norm £25). Marked down
Superdrug beauty offers incl free make-up brush. Brush up 



Wed 1 Aug - BBC Essex, Breakfast with Ben and Sonia, 8.10am
Fri 3 Aug - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 6 Aug - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 7 Aug - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: My 20-year-old son has never really borrowed so doesn't have a credit history, and he'd like to build one by applying for a credit card. How does he know which to apply for, without harming his credit score? Anon, via email.

MSE Naomi's A: Responsibly using a credit card is a good way for your son to build a credit history, and luckily there are plenty of cards available to help (our Credit Cards for Bad Credit guide runs through some of the best).

Before applying, it's worth him using our Credit Card Eligibility Calculator, which will tell him in advance which cards he has the best odds of being accepted for. It'll perform a 'soft search' of his credit file - this won't be visible to other lenders, so it won't hurt his credit score.  

If he's accepted, he should pay off any card IN FULL every month to avoid being hit with hefty interest charges. 

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... some prayers have been answered and the UK has cooled following the mega heatwave. But with temperatures set to rise again in some areas, are you a fan of the long, hot summer? MoneySavers have complained in our forum of sticky nights and lawns turning to dust - and many have welcomed the downpours. Whether you agree or think they're killjoys, join the debate in our heatwave forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team