Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

03 April 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Tax calc 2019/20, Brit Gas £300 off, urgent ISAs, 5p off petrol, 0% debt shift alert, Kindle hacks, b’band shake-up, £15 airport lounge, £1.50 lipstick

This info may be out of date.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.


Warning. Got existing credit or store card debt? Shift it to 0% NOW

The longest 0% balance transfer length has dropped BELOW 30mths for the first time since 2013, and they're likely to keep dropping

Balance transfers are where you get a new card to clear debt on an existing card or cards, so you owe the new one instead, but at 0%. For years, we reported that these 0% deals were getting longer, but now that bandwagon has turned around - instead, they keep getting shorter. 

So this is a clarion call to anyone with existing credit or store card debt. Do not dilly-dally if you pay interest - sort it now while deals are still reasonable or you may miss the boat (though as we've no crystal ball, there are no certainties). Here's what you need to know...

  1. Find your PERSONAL balance transfer best buys, ie, the cards most likely to accept you. For those with ongoing debt, the challenge is usually being accepted for a new card.

    So use our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator. For most top cards it shows which you've the best chances of being accepted for - letting you home in on the right one, thus minimising applications, which protects your credit score.

    A balance transfer can really slash your interest, as Alicia discovered: "Thank you @MoneySavingExp. Went on your site, applied and got accepted for 0% interest on balance transfers for 27 months. Can now pay off my existing 29% interest cards." 

  2. How to pick the right card for you. Even once you get your personal best-buy table, it isn't always a simple case of going for the longest 0%. You need to factor in a mix of length and balance transfer fee (a one-off amount based on how much debt you shift).  

    Now imagine you had a good chance of getting all the top cards on the market - here they are below. Once you've scanned the table, we'll show you how to pick your winner...
FEE (1)
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Joint-longest but it's an 'up to'
Up to 29mths (19.9%)
3% (min £3)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Joint-longest but it's an 'up to'
Up to 29mths (19.9%) 3%
M&S Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Long 0% and low fee 28mths (19.9%) 0.99% (min £5)
Santander (apply) - Longest no-fee (2)
27mths (18.9%) None
(1) % of debt shifted. (2) Unfortunately, we can't eligibility score this card. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Here's how to pick your winner...

a) Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most charge a one-off fee of the amount of debt transferred (so 3% is £30 per £1,000). Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

b) Some are 'up to' cards, so you may get a shorter deal than advertised. That's why we include the best non 'up to' deals. Unless you've a great credit score, it is best to avoid 'up to' cards, especially if the eligibility calc shows you've high chances on other cards.

  1. The Balance Transfer GOLDEN RULES. Getting the right card is only half the job...

    a) Clear the debt or transfer again before the 0% ends or pay the high APR.
    b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
    d) You must usually transfer the debt within 60/90 days. 

  2. You can sometimes use existing cards to move debt where it's cheapest. If you've more than one credit card, ensure the debt is on the cheapest. For example, if one is 18% and it isn't up to the credit limit, but your 30% card is, you may be able to shift debt from the 30% to the 18% card, saving you cash without impacting your creditworthiness. Some cards even offer this at special cheap rates - see the credit card shuffle.

  3. My credit limit is not big enough to do the whole shift. What should I do? Balance-transfer as much of the expensive debt as you can. When done, apply for another card for the rest - fingers crossed you're accepted. Note, each subsequent application can get more difficult as each marks your credit file. Also note, most cards only let you use up 90-95% of your credit limit with debt from another card.

  4. Should I apply with just a 60% eligibility chance? It's a common concern, yet by definition, over half get accepted with 60% odds. Equally, even a 95% score means 1 in 20 get rejected. This may help...

    Martin sat with a MoneySaver who had large, costly card debt and a poor credit history. The eligibility calc showed zero chance of all balance transfers except a 20% chance with Halifax. She asked: "Is there any point?"

    He explained as it was the only credit she needed, it didn't matter that a rejection could mark her file and make other applications harder - a 20% chance was better than nowt and the worst that could happen was she wouldn't get it. She applied and got a 26mth 0% card with a £1,500 limit.

  5. Can't sleep because of debt? This isn't for you. Get free, one-on-one debt counselling from CAP, Citizens Advice, National Debtline or StepChange. They're there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Help.


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.



A new broadband code of practice from regulator Ofcom launched on Mon. BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin & Zen have all signed up, so it covers 90% of users. It means you get an automatic £8/day compensation if your broadband stops for 2+ days, £5/day for installation delays and £25 for a missed engineer appointment. It's hoped it'll cost firms so much they fix faults faster. We've full broadband compensation info, while you can find your cheapest deal via our Broadband Unbundled tool.

  • You can save £400/yr with the cheapest providers, but won't get the protection yet. It is unsurprising none of the current cheapest deals are from providers that have signed up (though some say they will). We've compared prices below, but it opens the question of whether to go with a compensation scheme provider. Here's Martin's view...

    "There is a huge price difference between the very cheapest providers and what most people pay. Someone on an ongoing BT standard broadband contract can save £400/year switching to the cheapest. Provided that company has a decent service record, I wouldn't pay a big premium for the compensation - especially as I hope quite soon most competitive providers will join it. Yet if a compensation scheme member is cheap, then pounce on it."

  • The cheapest providers - and whether they've signed up to the compensation code. Below we quickly survey the scene, but it's better to use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best in your area, as all deals are postcode-dependent. In the results, we show which firms have signed up. (As usual, all top deals are for new customers.)

    - Cheapest standard broadband & line with avg 10-11Mb speed. The Post Office (39% 'great' service rating) is '£11.74/mth' over a 1yr contract if you claim and spend a £50 Amazon vch - but it has no plans to join the scheme.

    The cheapest provider which is a scheme member is TalkTalk at '£12.84/mth' over a 1yr contract if you claim and spend a £50 shopping voucher - though it's consistently worst of the biggies for service (rated just 22% 'great'). Next cheapest is Sky (with a better 35% 'great' service) but at a much higher '£18.56/mth' over the 18mth contract.

    - Cheapest fibre broadband & line with average 36Mb+ speeds. Until Thu, Plusnet (57% 'great' service) at 36Mb speed is '£19.83/mth' over the 18mth contract if you pay line rental upfront + claim and spend a £50 prepaid Mastercard. It says it is "committed" to joining the scheme, but hasn't yet given a date.

    The cheapest provider that's signed up to the code actually offers much faster average speeds. TalkTalk at 63Mb speed is '£22.23/mth' if you claim a £50 shopping voucher on an 18mth contract, but its service rating is poor. The next cheapest with decent service, but only till 11.59pm today (Wed), is Virgin Media (41% 'great' service) at 54Mb speed for '£24.92/mth' over a 1yr contract.

Cheap British Gas tariff NOW £300/yr cheaper (for existing custs too - if you know how). It was already the cheapest of the Big 6 firms and this week BG cut the price further, so it's typically £300/yr cheaper than its standard price, while many also get 1yr's basic boiler insurance. It's a no-brainer if you're loyal to BG, but you can't call and ask for it. It's only available on comparison sites, incl via our British Gas Energy Plus Boiler Cover April 2020 link where you get £25 dual-fuel cashback.

New. Income Tax Calculator 2019/20 - find your NEW take-home pay. The new tax year starts on Sat, meaning allowances change, so we've updated our Income Tax Calc to check what'll be in your April pay packet and beyond.

Car tax rising for most - what will you pay? Costs went up on Monday. New car tax rates

Airport lounge access for £15-£32. MSE Blagged. Our code gets 20-40% off at Heathrow (T3 & T4), Gatwick, Birmingham & Edinburgh (plus Melbourne & Sydney if you're heading to Oz). For travel till 30 Jun. Cheap Airport Lounges

£17 MAC lipstick vs £1.50 Primark - plus more cheap beauty lookalikes. Lots of stores sell own-brand items that mimic designer brands - often called beauty 'dupes'. See how much you can save by beauty downshifting, then decide if it's for you.

New. 10 cheap Kindle book hacks, eg, read the seven Harry Potters for free. See Kindle hacks


Until April 2016, we used to shout at this time of year to use your annual ISA allowance, as interest is tax-free. But at that point, the personal savings allowance launched and as a result 95% of people now no longer pay tax on savings interest anyway, so ISAs have lost much of their shine. What's more, other than for a brief period last month, over the past few years the top cash ISAs have consistently paid less than equivalent normal savings. This year's limit is £20,000 and you've till 5 April to use it, but with all that in mind, should you bother?

  • The cash ISA advantage is there's no tax - but 95% pay no tax anyway. The personal savings allowance lets basic-rate taxpayers earn £1,000 of interest per year tax-free. For higher-rate payers it's £500, while top-rate payers get no allowance. Basic-rate payers need £66,700 in savings (£33,300 for higher) before paying tax at current top easy-access rates.

    So the tax advantage of cash ISAs only matters for big earners and those with large savings, as they're the few who still pay tax. If ISAs are for you, over time you can protect ever-larger amounts from current and future tax.

  • Top cash ISAs v normal savings. Unless you pay tax on savings (or would do with only a small rise in interest rates), there's little point in cash ISAs, so you should move all your money to where the interest rate is highest - whether it's a cash ISA or not. And as this table shows, normal savings currently pay more...
Easy access (variable rate)
Marcus 1.5% (min £1)
New. Leeds BS 1.46% (min £1k)
Santander 1.5% ONLY for certain Santander custs (min £500)
1-year fixed rate
Shawbrook Bank 1.97% (min £1k)
New. OakNorth 1.78% (min £1k)
2-year fixed rate Union Bank of India UK 2.28% (min £5k)
Charter Savings Bank 1.95% (min £5k)
All links go via our savings guides. Note that as rates are very fluid the ones above may have changed when you click through. 

  • 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 adds £250 per £1,000 saved, useable towards a mortgage deposit. It can mean £1,000s free - read more via the links above.

£1.50 for 5kg box of 'edible but not perfect' Lidl fruit and veg. See £1.50 fruit and veg for what you'll get.

Free eye test at Optical Express (norm £20). MSE Blagged. A sight for sore eyes. Free eye test

Get 5p/litre off Morrisons petrol & diesel. Just by doing normal grocery shopping. See 5p off fuel.

BT landline customers - check if it'll hike your bill by up to £9/mth. BT's automatically adding call packages for 100,000s who regularly make chargeable calls. While worth it for some, you must opt out if you don't want it. See BT billing help.

The great MSE Easter Egg Taste Test 2019 (where Aldi beat M&S). For a bit of fun, our office guinea pigs taste-tested posh vs cheap chocs to see which was best. If you're planning to buy, see our Easter Egg Taste Test results to help you decide.

Free & cheap gym passes, incl free passes at DW Fitness First, Anytime Fitness & Nuffield Health. See more cheap gym deals.


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Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Zopa* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.8% rep APR (1-3 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Post Office equiv £11.74/mth
Ends Thu. Fibre b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £19.83/mth

Free £100 + great service: First Direct
Free £100 M&S gift card + £80 after 1yr: 
M&S Bank


Haggling is live and kicking in the UK, but surprisingly the powerhouse place to do it is with call centres, especially when you're near or at the end of your contract. As many of these service providers are hiking prices at the moment, eg, Sky bills rose by up to £96/yr on Mon, now's the perfect time.

David did it: "After reading your tips I called Sky. Got £30/mth off my bill - a £360/yr saving from a 10min call." So did Tony: "Read MSE's tips - thought it worth a try with Virgin. I got a £40/mth reduction and £50 rebate, so £530/yr saved. Thanks Martin." Full help in our Haggle with Call Centres guide.

1. AA 88% 6. Sky Mobile 76%
2. RAC 85% 7. EE 76%
3. Sky 84% 8. Virgin Media 76%
4. Admiral 81% 9. Plusnet 75%
5. Three 78% 10. BT 73%
Poll in Feb-Mar 2019 - shows % who tried to haggle & had success. Based on 6,542 votes - see full results. Only firms with 100+ votes included. AA result for breakdown, EE result for mobile. BT, Plusnet, Sky & Virgin results for broadband & TV.

  • Top haggling tips. It's more art than science, but our 12 haggling tips can help, incl:

    - Benchmark the best buys. Then quote 'em & ask for a price match. See Broadband Unbundled, Cheap Sims etc.
    - Be polite & charming. Don't get stroppy. Think of it as financial flirting - dazzle your way to the discount you want.
    - Reach disconnection departments. Say you'll leave & that's where the real discounting power is.
    - Don't fill the silence. A classic sales technique is staying quiet so you'll accept an offer to avoid the awkwardness.
    - If it doesn't work first time, try again. MoneySavers have been refused one day, then had a good offer the next.

  • Company- and sector-specific guides:

Six 'posh' vegan ready meals for £25ish delivered (norm £36). MSE Blagged. Incl 'Chickn' katsu curry & piri piri jambalaya with tofu. Supermarket meals can cost less, but our taste testers reckon this vegan food doesn't taste like cardboard.

"On our golf trip, we were compensated €4,250 collectively for an eight-hour  flight delay  from Leeds to Dublin. It was easy and the compensation came really quickly."

(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Got a Nationwide current account? Last chance to open a linked 5% regular saver. The deadline's Fri, and you can save up to £250/mth in it for a year. Top regular savings



Do you have credit cards and how do you use them? Credit cards are like fire. Used right they are a useful tool, but get it wrong and they burn. So we want to test how you use them. How do you use your credit cards?

Leavers and remainers are split over how Brexit will affect their personal finances. Last week, we asked how you think Brexit will affect your finances - a repeat of the poll we did two months ago. From more than 7,000 votes, remainers were - perhaps unsurprisingly - much more pessimistic, with 75% believing they'll be worse off. Just 18% of leavers think they'll be worse off. See full Brexit poll results.



Should I negotiate cheaper rent with my parents? I recently moved back in with my parents to save money towards buying a flat. They've now asked for a monthly contribution towards food, utilities and petrol, as well as rent. Given my commute's longer too, this will make my expenses almost as much as when I lived on my own. I understand the need to contribute, but equally I want to save money. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I negotiate cheaper rent with my parents? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: April's Bring Your Lunch To Work Challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Holiday to Ibiza
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Weekly Flylady Thread 1st April
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: What happens to CS if your child starts an apprenticeship?
- Discussion of the week: Frump to Fab 2019 - Here We Go Again


Beauty downshift - £17 MAC lipstick vs £1.50 Primark & more
Lidl - £1.50 yellow-sticker fruit & veg box
Optical Express - Free eye test (norm £20)
Gyms - Free & cheap passes incl DW Fitness First
Vegan ready meals - £25ish delivered (norm £36)

No7 - £12 for £40ish beauty products
Google - Can you get a £49 Google Home Mini for £15?
eBay - 20% off selected outlets, eg, KitchenAid, Superdry
Ben & Jerry's - Free ice cream for one day, limited locations
Halfords - 20% off any bike via trade-in scheme (ends Wed)

Odeon - Two tickets for £7 any day for Vodafone customers
Theatre lotteries - £10-£25 tickets to West End shows
Free TV audience tickets - Incl Britain's Got Talent
PayAsUGym - 30% off monthly pass
Driving theory - Free mock test online

Quick Forum Tips

Lidl weekend offers, incl 84p muesli. Cerealously good
Two 'XL' chocolate Easter eggs for £8 at Tesco. Egg-cellent
Tu up to 50% off selected items. Tu good to miss



Thu 4 Apr - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 5 Apr - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 8 Apr - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 8 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again


Wed 3 Apr - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 5 Apr - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 8 Apr - 
TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 8 Apr - 
BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 9 Apr - 
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I'm owed money by my old energy supplier, but now it's gone out of business - will I still get it back? Jacqui, via email.

MSE Andrew's A: Yes, you should. Under energy regulator Ofgem's 'safety net' regulations, any credit you have with a supplier - whether you're still a customer or not - is protected. When a supplier fails, Ofgem appoints a new supplier to take over its customers. This supplier is also responsible for repaying any former customers that are still in credit with the provider that went bust.

This protection has been triggered a number of times recently, following a spate of supplier failures over the last year. See our Cheap Gas & Electricity guide for more info on the safety net.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... Monday was of course 1 April, and once again the world was awash with April fool's stories. MoneySavers have been sharing the best they spotted, from the AA launching a boat breakdown service to Phillip Schofield pranking Holly Willoughby live on air - see the full round-up on our April fool's Facebook post. And be honest, did you fall for the MSE 'news' story about rogue smart meters becoming 'too smart for their own good' and taking control of TVs?

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team