Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

13 March 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... FAST b’band £19/mth, 1.5% ISA, Brit Gas £250off, Amazon trix, M&S 50%off, 2 specs £16, new top service bank, buy clothes by the kilo

This info may be out of date.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.

As rules change so you finally get a minimum speed promise...
Ends Sun. Mega-CHEAP '£19/mth' for mega-FAST 100+Mb Virgin broadband & line

It drives people up the wall. You sign up for broadband, but your speed ain't close to what's advertised, and you're then locked in to a contract. Last year the rules changed so 50% of people had to get the advertised speed, and last week they got even better.

Now all big firms (and some small ones) have agreed to a code of practice that says they'll give you a personalised minimum speed before sign-up, and if they don't deliver, you have the right to leave penalty-free. We've checked some min speed promises and while they can sometimes be a lot less than the advertised speed, you can do a speed test to compare it to what you've got.

So it's a good week to check if you can slash costs, especially as there is a host of hot deals, including the return of Virgin's gobsmackingly cheap rate if you've a need for lightning speed.

  • It's worth comparing Virgin's '£19/mth' to what you pay now. Here are typical out-of-contract prices with the biggies - which you could well be paying if you've not switched or haggled in years. And they're HUGE...

    - BT standard: £45.49/mth (£546/yr), fibre: £52.49/mth (£630/yr)
    - Sky standard: £31/mth (£372/yr), fibre: £45.99/mth (£552/yr)
    - TalkTalk standard: £27/mth (£324/yr), fibre: £33.50/mth (£402/yr)
    - Virgin: £42/mth (£504/yr) - it only does fibre

  • New. Hot short-lived deals - incl '£19/mth' for 108Mb speed. Like most cheap deals, the current crop are for new customers only and are short-lived. As broadband is postcode-dependent - eg, only 50% can get Virgin - links below go to our Broadband Unbundled tool to check your eligibility. If you can't get 'em, it'll suggest alternatives.
Cheapest superfast broadband - MSE Blagged 
Virgin Media  
(avail to 50% of UK)
Superfast fibre

Ends Sun. '£18.75/mth' over 1yr contract. Via this special link ONLY, you pay £25/mth but get £75 bill credit, so you pay nothing for the first 3mths. Over the year you pay £225 (without calls), equivalent to £18.75/mth.
Cheapest standard broadband - if you don't need such fast speeds 
(avail to 90% of UK)
Ends Thu. '£12/mth' over 1yr contract. You pay £17/mth, or £204 over the year without calls. But claim a £60 Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster voucher, spend it & it's an equiv £12/mth. Note: TalkTalk was worst of the biggies for customer service in our latest poll.
Cheapest fibre broadband if you can't get Virgin Media
(avail to 90% of UK)
Ends Mon. '£18.16/mth' over 18mth contract. You pay £5/mth for b'band & £18.99/mth for line rent - but it's cheaper to pay 1yr's line upfront for £197.88. Do it that way & it's £402 over the 18mths without calls. But you can claim a £75 prepaid Mastercard, making it an equiv £18.16/mth.
(avail to 90% of UK)
Fast fibre
Ends Thu. '£19.12/mth' over 18mth contract. You pay £22.45/mth, making it £405 over 18mths without calls. But you can claim a £60 Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster voucher. Spend it & it's an equiv £19.12/mth. Note: TalkTalk was worst of the biggies for customer service in our latest poll.
(1) Usually this means customers who currently don't have that firm's broadband and/or line or haven't in a year - see exact rules via the links. (2) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash or vouchers & averaging it over the contract.

  • What exactly is the new minimum speed code? Big firms already gave estimated average speeds, but since the start of March, all the biggies (and many others) now show the minimum speed before you sign up to any package. However, speed varies by postcode.

    If your provider fails to deliver on that promise, and you tell it, it has 30 days from notification to meet the minimum or you can leave penalty-free. What's more, if you signed up to a phone and TV package at the same time as the broadband, you can leave the entire contract penalty-free. See new minimum speed rules

  • What broadband speed do you actually need? Standard avg 10/11Mb speed is usually fine for browsing or light streaming. Fibre - the term for fast broadband due to the fibre cables that deliver high speeds - is best for streamers, gamers or if many use it at once in your home. Yet even with fibre there are speed differences, and the faster you go, the more of a luxury it is. 

  • Can I get broadband without a phone line? Virgin is the only biggie to offer it but it's far more expensive than the deals above with broadband AND line. If you won't use a phone, just don't plug one in.

  • Don't want to switch? Haggle. Switching gives the best savings, but big broadband firms are some of the easiest to haggle with. In our last haggling poll, 84% of Sky customers who replied said they had success, Virgin Media 75%. Full help in Broadband Haggling.

  • Could providers hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do though if that happens and you weren't warned before sign-up you can leave penalty-free. But first check if there's a better deal.

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.



Martin: 'I'm doing a U-turn. All savers - grab the NEW 1.5% cash ISA'

For a few years, there's been little point in most savers considering cash ISAs. Now they're back on the table 

Until April 2016, my constant refrain was "your money is nisa in a cash ISA" - as a cash ISA is just a savings account you can (now) put £20,000 a year in, and the interest is tax-free. Then the personal savings allowance launched, meaning 95% of people no longer pay tax on savings interest anyway. And as the top cash ISAs started paying significantly less than the equivalent normal savings, that meant most people shouldn't bother with them. Until now...  

  • Before I explain the change, it's important you understand if you pay tax on savings interest. The personal savings allowance sets an annual amount of interest that taxpayers can earn tax-free on all non-ISA savings.

    - Basic 20% rate taxpayers can earn £1,000/yr tax-free (equiv to interest on £66,000 at the top easy-access rate).
    - Higher 40% rate taxpayers can earn £500/yr tax-free (equiv to interest on £33,000 at the top easy-access rate).
    - Top 45% rate taxpayers (ie, those earning £150,000+/yr) don't get a PSA.

    Cash ISAs therefore only have an impact for the few who still pay tax on interest, as they're tax-free and DON'T count towards your PSA. As you can put £20k in each tax year, over time you can protect ever larger amounts from current and future tax.

  • New. Coventry Building Society's 1.5% cash ISA. Finally, a cash ISA launches with a rate the same as the top comparable normal savings. As it's easy access you can withdraw when you want, and it's flexible, so if you do withdraw, you can return the money in the same tax year with no impact on your £20,000 ISA allowance. Even if you don't pay savings interest tax now, in case something changes in future, you may as well grab it if you want easy access, as the rate is the same as an equivalent non-ISA. Yet don't with fixed cash ISAs, as their rates are still lower.
Easy access
Marcus - 1.5% 
Family BS - 1.51% (min £15k & limited pay-in period)
New. Coventry BS - 1.5%
1-year fix
Access Bank UK - 1.95% OakNorth - 1.78%
2-year fix
Union Bank of India UK - 2.28% Wesleyan Bank - 1.96%

  • Unless you pay tax on savings, don't stick with Coventry if the rate drops. Like all easy-access accounts, it's a variable rate, so it may drop in future. If it does or normal savings get significantly better, you can just move your money. Though if you're close to maxing your PSA, you may want to keep some in a cash ISA, in case interest rates rise generally, when you'll then gain from protection from taxes. 

  • Potential first-time buyer? Get a 25% savings boost. This is a no-brainer for anyone who may one day want to buy their first home. With the Lifetime ISA or Help to Buy ISA, the state will add £250 per £1,000 saved, useable towards a mortgage deposit. It can mean £1,000s free - read more via the links above. 


It's back. Cheap British Gas tariff, £250/yr cheaper (for existing custs too - if you know how). It's cheapest of the Big 6 firms, and many also get a year's basic boiler insurance. This deal's a no-brainer for those loyal to BG, but you can't call and ask for it. It's only available via comparison sites, incl via our British Gas Energy Plus Boiler Cover March 2020 link where you also get £25 dual-fuel cashback. Click for full info and how it compares.

Which bank has knocked First Direct off the top of the bank customer service table? It's the first time in 9yrs FD hasn't led the way, even though its score actually improved. To find the winner, and how your provider ranks, see our latest bank service table.

TWO pairs of prescription specs for £16. MSE Blagged. Incl frames, lenses and free delivery. You specsy thing

Martin: 'Are you owed £100s by your energy firm?' His new blog shows how to check and get the cash back.

New. Buy vintage clothes by the kilo - 'I paid £14.50 for a dress and 3 blouses'. At pop-up events across Eng, Scot & Wal, pay £1.50-£3 entry, then browse through tons of retro clothes which cost £15/kg. MSE Laura H says: "I bagged a gorgeous dress and 3 blouses for just £14.50 all-in. And they're unique." Kilo clothes sales 

M&S up to 50% off sale. Incl women's, men's and kids' clothing + home & beauty. In stores and online. M&S sale 


 Amazin' Amazon manipulators 

Tricks to play the e-giant or make money to spend there, eg, free delivery, earn £450 snapping job ads and more 

Amazon is the ultimate personal hypocrisy company. Many rage about its low tax payments, especially compared with struggling UK high street shops, which it takes business from. Yet most tut and carry on, as new research shows 90% in the UK used it in the past year. It's your choice whether to shop there. If you do, our job is to show you how to slash costs, and we've 24 Amazon tricks - here are seven to whet your appetite.

  • Free 'Amazon delivery trick' tool. Delivery's free if you spend £20+, but if just under, instead of spending up to £4.50 on standard delivery, a handy tool finds cheap items (eg, for 30p) to take you over, so it's free. Free Amazon delivery tool

  • Amazon's 'Take a pic, find the price' button. Spot a product, whether at a friend's home or another store, and Amazon's app allows you to take a pic of it or its barcode. It then finds the item and tells you how much Amazon charges. It doesn't always find identical stuff, but it's a neat tool for benchmarking price and availability. See Amazon photo tool.

  • Easy free £5 to spend at Amazon, or £15 with a bit of work. There are lots of ways to grab credit - eg, get £5 free for downloading a banking app or £15 free for doing quick online surveys

  • 'I made £450+ in Amazon vouchers just by snapping pics of job ads'. MSE Sarah's had big success with a site that pays you for spotting ads, grabbing nearly £500 in the last year doing it. See job spotter pocket booster.

  • New. Never pay full price for audiobooks on Amazon's Audible. It tries to push you to subscribe. If you don't, buying one-off books can be costly, sometimes £30+. Yet it's often cheaper simply to buy the Kindle book and then opt for the audiobook as an addition. Eg, on Tue Captain Corelli's Mandolin was £4.98 (for kindle and audiobook) vs £21 buying one-off from Audible. Audiobook tricks

  • Free tool checks Amazon's price history - is it really cheaper now? Discounted items don't always mean a bargain. A clever site lets you instantly snoop on a product's Amazon history.

  • You're entitled to reclaim music going back 20 years. If you've bought CDs/vinyl since 1999 from Amazon, you can get 'em as downloads for free. Amazon Music reclaim

Halfords hack: Trade in any old helmet for up to £700 off a new bicycle. Give 'em a helmet, scooter or bike and get 20% off any new helmet, scooter or bike. Wheely good deal 

Unlock pub & restaurant savings just by popping down the road, eg, Wetherspoon 38% less, Harvester 14% less. Our Coupon Kid reveals some chains charge less for the same grub at different outlets. Hidden food savings

New. Cheap Samsung Galaxy S10 with '3GB/mth' data. The latest smartphone is never MoneySaving, but if you'll get one, at least do it cheapest... like this. Most use sub-3GB/mth so we've blagged a deal to match. Newbies to iD Mobile (uses Three's network) can get a 128GB S10 with 1GB/mth data* + unltd mins & texts for £139.99 upfront, then £29.99/mth, using code IDMOFF10 at checkout. You also get 50GB extra to use at any point over the 2yr contract, so it's an equiv 3GB-ish/mth - and we can't find anything cheaper for this phone at that level. For more help and deals, see Cheap Samsungs.

Hot Diamonds 30% EXTRA off outlet code, eg, £40 bracelet for £14. MSE Blagged. £5 del. Hot Diamonds

ANY personalised A5 card £1.49 delivered, incl Mother's Day (31 Mar). MSE Blagged. See Card Factory.

Martin: 'Regulator must intervene to aid 130,000 Spark Energy customers chased by debt collectors'. That's even though many have kept up with payments. See Spark Energy help.


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Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused*
  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: M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-3 yrs) 

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £12/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £18.16/mth

Free £175 to switch: HSBC Advance  
Great for service + free £100 to switch: First Direct


Cheep pet insurance: Tell me-ow to get it

10m+ pets are uninsured. But could you afford £100s or £1,000s if your little (or big) one is paw-ly?

Whether to get pet insurance is all about your attitude to pet health - if you'd make 'em better at all costs, it's the key safety net, as there's no pet NHS. Insurance for a young, healthy dog can cost £200+/yr, yet without cover, treatment could be in the £1,000s. An X-ray can cost £200+, while chemotherapy can hit £5,000. We've full help to keep costs down in Cheap Pet Insurance - here's a litter of quick tips:

  • Got a cat or dog? Find the cheapest prices in seconds by combining comparison sites. Here's what to do for the purr-fect result...

    - Got one cat or dog? Combine Confused*, MoneySupermarket*, Compare The Market* & Gocompare* for a range of quotes. They don't all cover the same insurers so try as many as you've time for.
    - Got multiple cats & dogs? Confused* & MoneySupermarket* include multi-pet policies.

    Also check the big insurers and deals comparison sites don't list, eg, Aviva* (currently gives 10% off) & Direct Line* (12mths for price of 9). See more deals comparisons miss.

  • Got other pets, such as a horse, parrot, rabbit or reptile? There are no comparisons for them, so do it manually. But ensure you read what each covers as they won't be identical...

    - Horses & ponies: Try SEIB, Petplan Equine* & NFU Mutual.
    - Rabbits: Try Exotic Direct*, Quotezone* & Petplan*.
    - Others such as parrots, snakes, lizards, budgies & chinchillas: Try Exotic Direct* & British Pet Insurance.
  • And know the Pet Insurance Golden Rules...

    1) Pet insurance generally covers big issues such as broken bones & cancer, not check-ups. See what it covers.
    2) Need cover but can't afford it? If you're on benefits, charity PDSA may help with vets' bills.
    3) You're liable for your dog's behaviour, not your cat's. So check your policy has third-party cover. If not, Dogs Trust charges £25/yr for it (£12.50 if you're over 60).
    4) If your pet's had treatment, beware switching. Most insurers won't cover previous conditions. Past conditions help
    5) Could you self-insure by saving instead? See Should I self-insure my pet?
    6) Get routine jabs. If you don't, it could invalidate your insurance, and leave your pet vulnerable.
    7) What if it doesn't pay out when I believe it should? You have a right to take it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

£10 for two Ideal Home Show London tickets. Good if you missed last month's freebies. Ideal Home

"In 2014 we were delayed at Gatwick for 6hrs. I complained but didn't get a payout. Due to info on your site l reapplied a few weeks ago - it was easy and I received £1,050."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



At what age do you realistically hope to retire? Early retirement talk was once all the rage. Now, with the state pension age rising (to 67 by 2028), retirement expectations are changing rapidly. When do you hope to give up work completely?

Monzo wins our biannual banking customer service poll as First Direct is knocked off the top spot for the first time ever. Last week, we asked you to rate your bank - over 5,000 responded. Challenger bank Monzo claimed top spot with 93% of its customers rating its service 'great'. At the other end, TSB claimed the wooden spoon - perhaps unsurprising given last year's IT meltdown. See full banking service poll results



Should I tell my friend he's underpaid me? I often buy gig tickets for my friend and he pays me back, but not always the full amount. Eg, he gave me £25 for a £28 ticket. I wouldn't mind if it was a one-off, but it's happened a few times now. Should I say something? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tell my friend he's underpaid me? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Debt management plan mutual support
- Competitions thread of the week: Holiday to Provence
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Heating on or off?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Helping 31-year-old to be financially independent by 55
- Discussion of the week: Pothole caused missed flight


Glasses Direct - two pairs of prescription specs for £16
M&S - up to 50% off sale
Halfords - 20% off any bike, scooter etc via trade-in scheme
Hot Diamonds - 30% extra off outlet code
Card Factory - any personalised A5 card for £1.49 delivered

Cadbury Creme Eggs - 20p each when you buy 10
Baileys - £12 Original Irish Cream one-litre bottle (norm £20)
Guinness - £10 for 15 cans (440ml) for St Patrick's Day
Harvester - 'free' main on Mother's Day (31 Mar) after 6pm
Virgin Wines - 6 bottles of wine £30 delivered (norm £70ish)

Mothercare - up to 50% off sale
Rodial - 'Free' £10ish mascara with Red magazine
Habitat - 25% off code
H&M - up to 70% off sale
SpeckyFourEyes - £69 Ray-Bans, £25 Nike, Oasis glasses

Quick Forum Tips

50% off selected skincare at Boots.Bootiful
10 kids' books for £10 at The Works. Read all about it
Free food & household goods via Olio app.Peas of mind



Thu 14 Mar - Good Morning Britain - Deals of the Week, ITV, 7.40am
Fri 15 Mar - This Morning - Martin's Quick Deals, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 18 Mar - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 18 Mar - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again


Wed 13 Mar - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, unclaimed council tax
Fri 15 Mar - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 18 Mar - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 18 Mar - BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 19 Mar - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I bought some jeans in a sale, but I've changed my mind. Do I have a right to return them? Becca, via email.

MSE Sarah's A: It all depends where you bought them. If it was in a shop, you've no LEGAL right to return something just because you've changed your mind. Some stores' policies let you return items anyway - but sometimes they change their return rules during sales, eg, limiting you to an exchange only (not a refund). You'll need to check that retailer's policy.

If you bought them online, it's different. Under consumer law you have 14 days to cancel an order after receiving it and a further 14 days to send the item back, even if you've just changed your mind - and this applies whether it's a sale item or not. For full info, a few exceptions and what protection you have for faulty items, see Consumer Rights.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... we've been banging on about PPI reclaiming for years, and with good reason - an estimated £34 BILLION's been paid out so far. But while many have reclaimed £1,000s (the largest we've seen is a couple who got £153,000), it's not all about the big bucks - one MoneySaver's just received a payout for the princely sum of 34p. Read Sarah's story (and let us know if you've had a smaller payout) in our 34p PPI reclaim blog. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team