Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

20 February 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Cheap energy ends, workers pay warning, beat Sky hikes, free £175, secret shoes, birthday freebies, Brexit hols alert, 5p/L off fuel, sell your story

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.


Ending. The MSE Big Winter Energy Switch

Last chance to grab our Big Switch energy deals - plus a new cheapest (& top service) fix

As British Gas & others announce price hikes, many can save £270/yr

The MSE Big Winter Energy Switch, our 13th collective, is ending. This is where we leverage our huge user base (10m+ email recipients and 3.8m Cheap Energy Club members) to get firms to provide super-cheap special tariffs. But move quickly - it ends this week and two of the tariffs are already down to the last few thousand.

When we launched the Big Switch, all three deals were cheaper than the market's cheapest. Since then, our cheap 1yr fix has been undercut - so we thought we'd get in on the action and have bagged a NEW cheapest fix.

There couldn't be a better time to switch, with bill hikes looming. The regulator Ofgem's increasing the energy price cap by 10% on average from 1 Apr - 5 of the Big 6 (incl British Gas & Scottish Power on Tue) have now announced typical £100+/yr price rises, and we expect others to follow.

Don't wait for the hikes to hit - act now. It can mean BIG savings, as Fiona tweeted: "Switched to Green Network Energy - did my research on the company as I had never heard of them. I am now saving over £300/yr."

New. Cheapest fix with 'great' customer service

Here's the new cheap deal - it's likely to go fast.

  • Only 10,000 available. Exclusive MSE Octopus deal: Cheapest 1yr fix - top service and 100% renewable elec. Octopus Energy - £959/yr for typical usage, incl MSE cashback.

    This Exclusive Octopus 12M Fixed February 2019 v3 tariff is the new cheapest 12mth fix on the market on typical use, factoring in £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback - on average, over £270/yr less than a Big 6 standard tariff (see the savings point below). Octopus Energy is a mid-sized firm with 500,000 customers and one of the best for service, scoring 85% 'great' (from 289 votes) in our latest poll. We've worked with it in previous Big Switches and it's done well.

    It's 100% renewable electricity and either dual or single fuel (incl Eco 7). It's a monthly direct debit tariff, for new customers on paperless billing. You can take it with you if you move home.
Avg price for a typical dual-fuel direct debit user incl any MSE cashback

- MSE exclusive:  Octopus   12mth fix  -   £959/yr no early exit fee
-  Next cheapest fix:   Utility Point  - £960/yr, 1yr fix, £60 exit fee
- Avg Big 6 standard tariff:  £1,235/yr  (see savings point below)
Which is your cheapest varies with region & usage so... Get YOUR EXACT PRICE and do a full market comparison

It's the cheapest fix of any length on the market right now and beaten only by a variable tariff at a typical £930/yr from tiddler Utility Point, on which we've no feedback - as that deal's a variable, prices can change at any time with 30 days' notice.

The MSE Big Winter Energy Switch winners

We have Big Switch deals in three categories. The collective runs until Fri - but some will likely run out sooner.

IMPORTANT: Collective switch rules mean you must go via our Cheap Energy Club comparison (all links do) and have been a member of either our Cheap Energy Club or this email list (on the same address) by noon on 5 Feb.

1. Only 4,000ish left. MSE Big Winter Switch Winner: Cheapest Big 6 fix & it's for 16mths. EDF Energy £999/yr on typical usage, incl MSE cashback - existing EDF customers can get it too.

The special MSE EDF Simply Fixed Jun20v2 tariff is good for anyone wanting a name they know. It's the cheapest Big 6 deal on the market and the rate is locked in until 30 Jun 2020 - giving you longer certainty on the rate (not the price, that varies with your usage).

It's available dual fuel, elec-only, incl Eco 7, for new and existing customers (so it's a no-brainer for anyone on an EDF standard tariff) and you can pay monthly by direct debit or via cheque/cash (though that's costlier). You can take it with you if you move home.

Avg price for a typical dual-fuel direct debit user incl any MSE cashback

Big Switch winner:  EDF 16mth fix - £999/yr, £35/fuel early exit fee
- Next cheapest: Scot Power 14mth fix - £1,009/yr, £30/fuel early exit fee
- Avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,235/yr (see savings point below)
Which is your cheapest varies with region & usage so...  
Get YOUR EXACT PRICE and compare to other big names

EDF is the highest-rated Big 6 customer service provider from our polls, although it's still only 42% 'great'. There are 8,000 'fuels' available, but as most switches are dual fuel we estimate that's only about 4,000 switches left.

2. Ends 22 Feb. MSE Big Winter Switch Winner: Cheapest two-year fix and it's a Big 6. E.on £1,037/yr on typical usage, incl MSE cashback - existing E.on custs can get it too.

The E.on Fix 2 Year MSE Collective Feb 2019 tariff is the cheapest longer fix on the market, giving you certainty on the rate (not the price, that varies with your usage) for two winters, ie, until roughly the end of Feb 2021 - useful for anyone who doesn't want to switch too often.

It's available dual fuel, elec only and Eco 7, for new and existing customers. Existing E.on customers who switch to it won't be charged early exit penalties. You can pay by direct debit or via cheque/cash (though that's costlier). You can take it with you if you move home.

Avg price for a typical dual-fuel direct debit user incl any MSE cashback

Big Switch winner:  E.on 2yr fix - £1,037/yr, £30/fuel early exit fee
-   Next cheapest:  Engie 31mth fix - £1,051/yr, £30/fuel early exit fee 
-  Avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,235/yr (see savings point below)
Which is your cheapest varies with region & usage so... Get YOUR EXACT PRICE and compare to all 18mth+ fixes  (some are shorter than 2yrs and are slightly cheaper)

E.on's customer service is the third best of the Big 6 - but that's only 35% 'great', according to our polls.

3. Only 4,000ish leftMSE Big Winter Switch Winner: Cheap 1yr fix (and 100% renewable elec). Green Network Energy - £967/yr for typical usage, incl MSE cashback + enhanced MSE service.

This GNE MSE Exclusive Green 12mth Fix v2 tariff was the cheapest 1yr fix out there when we launched. And while others, including Octopus above, are now cheaper on average, it may still win for some as your price depends on region and usage - do a fixed-deal comparison to check.

As it's a fix, the rate's locked in for a year. It's a dual fuel (incl Eco 7), 100% renewable elec, monthly direct debit tariff, for new customers on paperless billing. You can't take it with you if you move home.

GNE is a mid-sized company owned by a large Italian energy firm, with 240,000 UK custs. We've run deals with it before and they've gone well. Its customer service rating was a healthy 69% 'great' in our last poll (though from only 52 votes). It's also agreed to enhanced MSE customer service, basically meaning if it doesn't sort an issue for you, we can get involved.

How the price cap affects your estimated savings

Since 1 Jan, there's been a price cap in place for all standard tariffs. It varies by region, but was set at an average £1,137/yr for someone on typical use (more if you use more, less if you use less).

But that only lasts until 31 Mar. On 1 Apr, it's going up 10% to a typical £1,254/yr - and 5 of the Big 6 have already confirmed they're increasing the price of their standard tariff to the max allowed.

While we've factored that in to the calculations above (hence our £1,235/yr price, which takes the current and future price cap into consideration), we are not allowed to use that figure in our Cheap Energy Club comparisons. Instead, where we've details of a price rise, we've used that figure in CEC to give a more accurate comparison - where we don't know, savings will still be underestimated.

Common energy switching questions

Here's a quick Q&A - for many more, see the full Cheap Energy Club FAQs.

Q. I live in Northern Ireland - can I get these deals? Unfortunately not, these are for Eng, Scot & Wales only. No UK-wide comparison sites include NI, but see Cheap NI Electricity or the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland's tool.

Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Like all energy comparison sites, we're paid each time you switch through us, yet we give you about half (that's £25 dual-fuel, £12.50 single-fuel cashback).

This is money you wouldn't get if you went direct (not that the fixes above can be got directly anyway). Thus it's a win-win. The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

Q. What info do I need to switch? It's best if you have a bill and input kilowatt hours (kWh) into Cheap Energy Club, rather than cost. But don't worry if you don't know your usage - the tool can guesstimate for you. While the answer won't be perfect, the sin of inaction is bigger than the sin of inaccuracy.

We've lots more help in our Cheap Energy Club FAQs, incl...

Switching with smart meters | Why's the price risen when I'm fixed? | Reclaim credit | Switching in debt help | Switching if I've solar panels | How direct debits are set | I've an independent gas transporter, can I switch? | Can I pick a switch date? | How do you compare my rates?


Last chance PPI - are you owed £1,000s?
Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm Mon

Over to Martin: "It's the last show of the series, and likely my last-ever show on PPI reclaiming, as the next series will be after this August's deadline. So if you've had a loan, overdraft, credit card, mortgage or catalogue debt in the last 30 years, then this is a must-watch, even if you failed to reclaim PPI before. Plus I'll also be covering the changes to millions of people's pensions.
"And if you missed last week's show on five hidden refunds that had a huge response, you can watch it on the ITV Hub."


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. FREE £175 for switching bank - biggest upfront bonus since 2017

HSBC's launched a new top switching offer. If your bank's a bad 'un (or you just want to get the cash), why wait?

If you're fed up with your current bank, this deal from HSBC's a cracker. You can get £175 if you switch to it and, unlike its recent offers, you get ALL the cash within 30 days of switching (so you're free to ditch it as soon as it's paid into your account). Switching via the official switch service is easy and takes just seven working days, and the new bank moves all payments for you. Here's the full info... (All accounts below require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check.)

  • New. Free £175 + access to 5% reg saverSwitch to the HSBC Advance* account via our link and you can get £175 (£150 direct) - the highest upfront bonus we've seen in 15mths. Plus you get access to a 5% fixed regular saver, where you can put in up to £250/mth.

    Note: A glitch on the HSBC website means a few may see an earlier £150 offer. HSBC says anyone applying via our link WILL qualify for the £175 bonus regardless.

    How do I qualify? Pay in a min £1,750/mth (equates to £25,900/yr salary), switch 2+ direct debits/standing orders and start a full switch within 30 days of applying. You can't have had an HSBC current account since 1 Jan 2016.

  • Best of the rest, incl £150 freebie + 2% bills cashback. Most deals require you to move 2-4 direct debits and keep them active, plus register for online or mobile banking and/or go paperless, so check. Here are two more top picks...

    - Free £150 + 2% back on billsThe RBS Reward* account pays £150 - request a switch by 8 Mar, log in to online banking by 12 Apr & pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv £21,500/yr salary) to get it. There's a £2/mth fee, but you get 2% cashback on most direct debit bills, eg, council tax, energy. Our analysis shows for avg bills you'd earn £66/yr after the fee.
    - Top service + free £125. First Direct* has won every customer service poll we've done and new switchers get £125 via our link (£100 direct). You can also access its 5% regular saver and most get a £250 0% overdraft. Pay in £1,000+/mth (equiv £12,700/yr salary) to qualify for the £125 bonus & avoid a £10/mth fee after 6mths.

For full eligibility info and details about when exactly the bonuses come, plus more options, see Best Bank Accounts.


Martin's warning to all UK workers age 22+: 'You're likely due a hidden pay rise, but it'll cost you.' For full info on these 6 Apr changes, read Martin's warning blog.

Psssst. 'Secret' shoes outlet 20% EXTRA off via code, eg, £26 Nike trainers (norm £70). MSE Blagged. High street chain Office flogs slightly scuffed & ex-display footwear online at huge discounts via its little-known outlet, and we've blagged you an extra 20% off those prices. Stock's always limited though. Ends Fri. Walk this way

Beat Sky TV & broadband price hikes of up to £96/yr. Millions will see bills rise. Beat Sky hikes

50+ FREEBIES for your birthday, eg, free £5 at Body Shop and Ikea, doughnuts, prosecco etc. It's MSE's sweet 16 on Fri - to celebrate, we've updated our guide of goodies you can claim on your birthday. 50+ birthday freebies (And with the prosecco, please be Drinkaware)

New. Sell your story for £150+, eg, if you're a couple with a height difference or spend a fortune on kids' dancing. Papers & magazines offer cash daily for you to talk about your real-life experiences. We list the top Facebook groups for requests, plus eight mags which pay up to £50 for letters & photos. Read all about it

Is your package holiday 'Brexit-proof' - or could you be charged MORE after booking? Our investigation's found at least 7 firms could add a surcharge of up to 8% if Brexit increases costs a lot. Full info & your rights in Brexit hols.


Millions pay BT a hefty £20/mth for line rent alone, and up to £45/mth when you add in broadband costs - even more for fibre. Yet the market's cheapest deals are £100s/yr less. This week, via the below links, Vodafone has added a £70 voucher to bring its 35Mb average speed fibre broadband & line price down to an equivalent £17.12/mth.

Here's our rundown of the top deals right now, listed by speed. All end at 11.59pm on Thu, so if you're out of contract and free to switch, act fast. All are postcode-dependent - use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best in your area (links in the table go there).

Update 22 Feb: Vodafone told us its deals were ending on 21 Feb but has now said it is extending them until next Thu, 28 Feb. 

top broadband and line dealS FOR NEW CUSTOMERs (1)
Ends Thu. '£12.84/mth' over 1yr contract. You pay £17/mth but can claim a £50 vch for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster. Spend it & the price is equiv £12.84/mth. Though it's cheap, TalkTalk is consistently worst of the biggies on customer service in our polls.
Vodafone 35Mb (fibre) Ends Thu. '£17.12/mth' over 18mth contract. Via our link, you pay £21/mth but can claim a £70 Amazon, Currys PC World, M&S or Ticketmaster vch. Spend it & the price is equiv £17.12/mth.
Vodafone 63Mb (fibre)  Ends Thu. '£20.56/mth' over 18mth contract. Via our link, you pay £25/mth but can claim an £80 Amazon, Currys PC World, M&S or Ticketmaster vch. Spend it & the price is equiv £20.56/mth.
(1) Open to those who don't currently have b'band or line with each firm. Vodafone mobile custs can get the Vodafone deals. (2) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo vouchers & averaging it over the contract.

  • What speed do you need? Standard speeds of an avg 10Mb-ish are usually fine for browsing or light streaming. Fibre is best for streamers, gamers or if many use it all at once, and the faster you go, the more of a luxury it is. Big firms give estimated speeds before you sign up, and special tools can help you check your speed.

Get 5p/litre off Tesco petrol & diesel. Its on-off promo's back. Useful with prices still 18p/L up on 2016. Cheap fuel

Refurb iPhone XR up to £140 cheaper than new. The latest iPhone is never MoneySaving, but if you'll get one anyway, at least do it the cheapest way. O2 newbies* (via Mobiles.co.uk) can get 3GB data, 1,000 mins & unltd texts on a 64GB refurbished 'good as new' handset for £199 upfront, then £23/mth on a 24mth contract. It comes with a 12mth warranty (but not the original box or headphones). Over 2yrs, it's £140 cheaper than the cheapest brand-new model we found with a similar allowance. Stock and colours limited - for more, see Refurbished Mobiles.  

Free & cheap things to do this half-term, incl 170+ free museums, free kids' workshops, £2.50 cinema & more. With lots of schools off this week, see our round-up of half-term helpers.

Are you an O2 or Three pay monthly customer? Price rises are coming - your rights. Full info, incl can you leave your contract penalty-free? Mobile help

18 craft beers £20 delivered. MSE Blagged. Some past their best before, all drinkable. Beer52 (Pls be Drinkaware)

Zeek giftcard marketplace customers left out of pocket - what can you do? It's "paused" transactions while it looks for a buyer - some are chasing £100s. See full Zeek help.


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Longest 0%: HSBC* 32 months 0%, 1.4% fee (min £5) (21.9% rep APR) plus £25 cashback if you shift £300+
No-fee 0%: Santander 27 months 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket.com*
  2. Confused.com*
  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: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.8% rep APR (Nectar custs)

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £12.84/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £17.12/mth

Free £150 to switch + 2% bills cashback: RBS Reward
New. 175 to switch (£150 direct): HSBC Advance


Beat the water bills rise: 'We saved £480/yr with a meter'

Bills set to increase by up to 4% in some areas in April. Don't be a drip - sort it now and you could save £100s

On 1 Apr, water and sewerage bills in England & Wales are set to rise by an average of 2% - and in some places, up to 4%. (Scotland's are up by 1.6%, N Ireland's are included in domestic rates.) Water's often the forgotten utility, and because you can't switch water company, many think they've no choice but to soak up price rises - yet some simple steps can see the savings flow. We've full help in Cut your water bills, but in brief:

  • Does your home have the same number of bedrooms as people, or more? If the answer's yes and you live in Eng or Wal, it's likely possible to dilute costs by moving from bills to a free meter (they're pricey in Scot). You could save £100+/yr, more in some cases. As Jimmy tweeted: "Was paying £70 per month. Now down to £30 with a meter." That's a whopping £480/yr less. See Can I save with a water meter? 

  • Can't get a meter? Get an assessed bill instead. Water firms in Eng & Wal must fit meters for free on request unless it's impractical (eg, flats with shared pipes). If you're refused, you can ask for an 'assessed charge bill' based on likely usage, not the size of your home - which can be cheaper for couples or those who live on their own.

  • Are you due a sewerage rebate? The billing system assumes what goes in, must come out, ie, the volume of water used creates roughly the same volume of sewerage. But if you have a soakaway, pond, cesspit or even just a big garden, you may be able to claim a light sewerage rebate worth an average £35/yr.

  • Get FREE water-saving gadgets - 250,000 up for grabs. Many water firms in Eng & Wal offer totally free gadgets (incl delivery) to cut your water use, eg, shower heads that regulate usage (worth £20), tap inserts (£5) and Save-A-Flush bags (£3). See Water-saving freebies.

  • If it's yellow, let it mellow... and other top water-saving tips. Saving water saves money, even if you're not on a meter (eg, less heated water means lower energy bills). To help, we've 30+ WaterSaving Tips, from old favourite: 'If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down', to the most water-efficient way to wash your hair.

£40 off driving lessons code. MSE Blagged. Makes at least one lesson free when you book 10+ hours. Midrive

" Used your  PPI reclaim guide  after watching you mention the deadline on your show. Had no account numbers etc, only my old address - glad to say I got a refund of £1,099. Many thanks ." 
( Send us yours  on this or any topic.)

Flybmi goes into administration - your rights. Latest info & full help, incl what to try to get a refund. Flybmi



Got 5 mins? Please help us by filling in a quick survey about MSE. We're keen to find out how MoneySavingExpert is seen by the people whose opinions matter most - our millions of users. It's anonymous, and your responses will only be used internally by the MSE team. So if you've time, please give us your feedback.



How do you rate your broadband provider? We can tell you which are the cheapest broadband providers, but to keep our customer service ratings updated, we need your help. How do you rate your broadband provider?

Younger MoneySavers are more likely to approve of using a 2for1 voucher on a first date. Last week's poll found 51% of under-25s see using a voucher on a first date as a positive, compared to just 25% of over-65s. Younger women were more likely to approve than younger men - but among the over-50s, vouchers were looked on more favourably by men than women. See full poll results.



Should we contribute to our neighbour's fence? They asked if we minded them replacing the very old wire fence between our gardens with a wooden fence. We said no - and my husband even offered to help put the new fence up. They then said they'd like us to contribute £100 (it apparently cost £350). Shouldn't they have told us this upfront? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we contribute to our neighbour's fence? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What small DFW things will you do w/c 18 Feb?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win £50,000
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Deep-frying chocolate
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: World Book Day fancy dress ideas
- Discussion of the week: 2019 Keep Moving Challenge


Topshop - 20% extra off sale code
Ideal Home Show - 2 for £10 tickets
Wilko - £1 off pick & mix sweets
Miss Selfridge - 20% off everything
Moss Bros - 30% off suits code

Frankie & Benny's - Kids eat 'free'
Toby Carvery - Kids eat for £1 (Mon-Sat)
Harvester - Kids eat for £1
Prezzo - Kids eat for £1 (Sun-Fri)
Yo Sushi - Kids eat 'free'

National Rail - 2for1 on attractions
Odeon - Kids' screenings for £2.50
Dobbies - Free gardening workshop for kids
Tennis for Free - Free kids' tennis coaching
National Gallery - Free art and drawing sessions for kids

Quick Forum Tips

Superdrug half-price Venus razors, gel etc. MoneyShaving
Free printable colouring pages, incl Disney. Drawsome
Lidl weekend offers, incl £3.50 white wine. Corking



Mon 25 Feb - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 25 Feb - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon.
Mon 25 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. See previous


Wed 20 Feb - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, saving plastic and cash
Fri 22 Feb - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, saving plastic and cash
Mon 25 Feb - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 25 Feb - BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 26 Feb - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I currently have cable broadband with Virgin Media - does that stop me switching to another provider? Linda M, by email.

MSE Steve B's A: No, this shouldn't prevent you from switching. But all other firms use different wiring to Virgin Media, so it's a little more complicated.

If your home already has the necessary wiring - eg, because there used to be a non-Virgin phone line there - you may not need an engineer to visit. If you don't have the necessary line, the firm you're switching to will need to send someone round to install it. Either way, you may face an additional charge for 'new line installation' - though it depends on the provider and whether it has an offer on.

To find the best switching deals available in your area, use our Broadband Unbundled tool - you can adjust the filters to include any new line installation costs.

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



That's it for this week, but before we go... the PM Theresa May found herself in a sticky situation last week. No, not another pickle over Brexit, but her jarring confession that she prolongs the life of old jam by scraping any mould away. We asked MoneySavers what they thought - debate was fierce (and the language often fruity). One was adamant: "It's fine to just cut the bad bits off... no one knows", another said: "Urgggh. No, no, no - in the bin it goes", while a third argued: "You scrape it back, you put the freshness back." Let us know what you do in our Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team