Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

05 June 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Cheap Brit Gas, Netflix tips, free £125 ends, hot BT fibre, ‘free’ theatre tix, Martin’s first-time buyer alert, Amazon Echo hacks, tuition fee cuts?

This info may be out of date.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.


British Gas launches its cheapest deal in over a year (existing customers can get it too), and other giants have fought back

Since January, the price of the cheapest energy deals has dropped by £100+/yr based on typical use. There was a time only small players cut prices, but now the giants have entered the fray.

In April and early May, BOOM, British Gas cut the cost of its cheapest deal five times. Then, POW, two weeks ago E.on hit back cutting costs. Last Friday, KAZAM, BG cut its price again, and yesterday, ZAP, E.on responded. Plus EDF now has a cheap 2yr fix. Yet YOU MUST CHOOSE THE CHEAP DEALS, THEY'RE NOT AUTOMATIC.

Most customers with a biggie have prices 'capped' as they're on a standard tariff, but these still typically cost £340/yr more than a cheap deal. So we've listed the latest offers below (not for prepay or in NI, sadly). The links take you to a comparison to check they're right for you as prices vary by use and region - and via us, all give £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback. Compare these to the £1,254/yr standard price on the same use.

  • British Gas 1yr fix (and it's green). Avg £916/yr on typical use, save £340/yr. This is very cheap for BG, and as its Energy Plus Protection Green Jun 2020 tariff is fixed, the rate won't change for a year. Plus existing customers qualify. Yet it's a DON'T ASK, DON'T GET deal, only via comparison sites.

    It also has 100% renewable electricity and 100% offset gas, so it's green. Plus most get a year's heating cover for free (it charges after, so cancel then if you don't want it).

  • E.on's 1yr fix is cheaper for some. Avg £912/yr on typical use, save £340/yr.E.on's cut on its Fix Online Exclusive v3 tariff makes it marginally cheaper than BG based on typical use, but it's only for new customers.  Like BG, it's only available via comparison sites.

  • Lock in for TWO YEARS with EDF. Avg £987/yr on typical usage, save £270/yr. EDF has also joined the energy price war. Its Easy Online Exclusive Jul21 deal, which launched last week, is the cheapest 2yr fix - in fact, there hasn't been any such deal cheaper in 7mths.

    You get the surety of no price hikes for at least 2yrs - good if you don't want to switch often - but you won't benefit if rates drop elsewhere. It's for new AND existing customers, but only via the MoneySupermarket Group (which we're part of).

  • Bulb - the greenest of the cheap deals (there are cheaper and there are greener, but this is the best combo). Avg £945/yr on typical use, save £300/yr. The Bulb Vari-Fair tariff has 100% renewable electricity, 10% of its gas is from renewable sources, and it pays to offset the rest. It also has a good service record - receiving a 76% 'great' rating in our service poll.

    The deal is variable, so the price could rise or fall (Bulb's last two moves have been cuts) yet if it rises, you can leave penalty-free. Also see our new Green Energy Guide for what these 'green' terms mean.

  • You can beat these prices a little if you go for names you may not know. Many of you tell us you want to avoid smaller suppliers, especially as nine have gone bust in the past year, and you instead look for big firms or those with a good service record. But if you're simply determined to get the cheapest, find your winner via an Energy Club comparison.

PS: Switching energy is easy. No one visits your home (unless it's to install a smart meter), and it's the same gas, same electricity, even the same safety. The only things that change are price and service. See our Switching FAQs for more 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.



Ending. FREE £125 to switch to 'great' service bank First Direct

Its switching bribe is about to drop to £100 - so if good service is key for you, you may as well grab it now

As we always say, switching bank is easy. It takes just seven working days and the new bank moves all payments, incl direct debits & standing orders for you. And until Monday, First Direct will pay you £125 to switch. While others give more free cash, its customer service rating is much stronger, so if you value that, this is the top all-round package. (All accounts require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check & use the official switching service...)

  • Ends Mon. First Direct - free £125 + 'great' service + 0% overdraft + 5% regular saver. Via our special link, until Monday new switchers to First Direct* get £125 in around 40 days (it's only £100 if you apply direct & after Mon). Here's what else you get:

    - First Direct has a superb service rating. In our most recent bank service poll, a huge 90% of its customers that voted rated it 'great'. It was only pipped to top spot by app-based Monzo, which has no switching bonus, although it was the first time in nine years that First Direct hasn't won.
    - Access to a 5% fixed regular saver. Here, you can save up to £300/mth for a year.
    - Most can get a £250 0% overdraft (15.9% EAR above that). So if your overdraft is £375 or less, the free cash pays some of it off and the rest is interest-free. Even if your overdraft is a little bigger (say, up to £500), it is still likely to be the best overdraft package due to the free cash.

    To qualify, just ensure you pay in £1k+/mth (equiv to a £12,500/yr salary paid in) for the bonus and to avoid a £10/mth fee.

  • Earn more free cash with its competitors. Though their customer service ratings are lower...

    - Free £175 + 2% bills cashback. With NatWest Reward or RBS Reward you get £125 in Aug and £50 more in June 2020. There's a £2/mth charge but the average gain from cashback is £60/yr after the fee, while some get much more.
    - Free £175 + 5% reg saver. This is via HSBC's Advance account and it's the highest upfront bonus available.
    - Free £100 M&S vch with NO min pay in + £80 more after 1yr if you pay in £1,250/mth + 5% regular saver. Unlike most deals, with an M&S Bank account you get the £100 without having to pay anything in, but for the rest you need to jump through some hoops.

For more information and other options, see Best Bank Accounts.


New. 20 Netflix tips - to beat its up to £2/mth price hike and more. Many overpay on the wrong package, others can do it cheaper via their TV deal. Cut costs and make the most of your subscription with our 20 Netflix tips.

Beauty lookalikes, eg, Urban Decay eyeshadow palette £29 vs Aldi's own £6. Many stores sell own-brand items that mimic designer brands - often called 'dupes'. See what you could save with beauty dupes.

Ends Thu. BT 50Mb fast fibre broadband & line - just '£20.55/mth'. This 18mth deal's a doozy if you've a need for speed. It's ONLY via this specific BT link - but to qualify you can't have had BT b'band for 1yr. It's equivalent to £20.55/mth if you pay £220 upfront, then claim and spend a £50 Amazon vch and £110 prepaid Mastercard. You can get 36Mb a tad cheaper or standard speed from '£10.34/mth'. To compare it all, use our Broadband Unbundled tool.

Martin: 'Why proposed student finance changes mean i) the end of student 'loans', ii) tuition fee cuts that only benefit top earning grads, and iii) most will pay more, and for longer.' Last week, the Govt-backed Augar report proposed sweeping student finance changes. Read Martin's analysis and video guide.

Kurt Geiger shoes from £11ish via 25% off code. MSE Blagged. Valid on ALL brands in the Shoeaholics outlet, incl Adidas, Ted Baker & Steve Madden. Step this way

Free West End theatre tickets for kids with paying grown-up (eg, Lion King, Matilda). The annual Kids Week sale on 30+ shows is back. Last year 100k+ tickets went in the first 24hrs, so be quick. Full info, incl when they're on sale, in 'Free' kids' theatre.


Martin's first-time buyer WARNING: 'Help to Buy ISAs, which give £1,000s of free cash, close in 6mths. Even if you've no savings yet, put £1 in'


Wannabe first-time buyers who save in a Help to Buy (H2B) ISA get 25% added by the state, so each £1,000 becomes £1,250. Yet no new applications can be made after 30 Nov - so open one to get your foot in the door, and then it keeps working for 10 years. The H2B ISA's replacement, the Lifetime ISA (LISA), also offers the 25% boost - but the rest of the terms differ, so choosing your winner is complex...

  • Are you eligible? To count as a first-time buyer you must have never owned or part-owned anywhere worldwide. ISAs are individual products, so you can qualify even if you're buying with someone who's owned before. If you're both first timers, you can have one each (and one can be H2B, one a LISA). To open a H2B you need to be age 16+, but LISAs can only be opened if you're 18-39 (so if you're near that 40th birthday, open one now).

  • Help to Buy v LISA? You can open both, but you only get the 25% homebuyer's bonus on one. For full info, click the guides linked to above. Yet for now, there's only one way to decide - FIGHT...

    - The LISA bonus can be £1,000s bigger. You can save up to £4,000/tax year in LISAs, but with H2B ISAs it's just up to £1,200 in month one, then up to £200/mth after that. So max both out for two years and you'd have £5,800 in H2B (a £1,450 bonus), but £12,000 in a LISA (a £3,000 bonus).
    - LISAs lets you buy a property up to £450,000. They can be used with any residential mortgage on any property. With a H2B, it's a max £250,000 or £450,000 in London.
    - The H2B bonus is triggered faster. After just 3mths of max savings, but you must have had a LISA open for a year.
    - Only H2B lets you withdraw penalty-free. So they're a no-brainer, as there's no downside. Yet with LISAs, withdraw for anything other than a first home (or retirement when aged 60) and there's an effective 6.25% penalty.
    - The top H2B ISAs pay far higher interest. See Top H2B ISAs and Top LISAs, though if a LISA is right for you, if you've enough savings to max or near max it out, its far bigger bonus makes up for the lower interest.

    In summary, if you're 18-39, will definitely buy a qualifying home and won't buy within a year, go for a LISA for the bigger bonus. If you're older, need to buy quickly or aren't 100% sure you'll buy at all, a H2B ISA is safer.

  • Consider putting £1 in (possibly both) now just in case. If you think you'll need these but aren't sure, just open them. You need £1 in a H2B ISA by 30 Nov or you lose the opportunity. LISAs don't have an end date, but have the 'it must have been open a year to get the bonus' rule, so £1 in now gets that clock ticking. If both are open, you can decide later which is best.

    However if you're ready to start saving, and want a H2B ISA, then as you can save up to £1,200 in a H2B in the first month, and only £200/mth after, it's best to wait until you've the max amount to open it, as long as it's before 30 Nov.

  • They're a great way to save for older children. If your kids are 16+ for a H2B ISA or 18+ for a LISA, the bonus means these are a great place to give them money to save in, if you have it.

One in 10 chance of getting all your money back at Boots, M&S, Tui & more. MSE Blagged. It's a little complex, but quite fun and can really pay off. Read how Boom25's lucky dip offer works.

Letting fees banned on new contracts in England - your new rights. See letting fee rights.

Any personalised A5 card (incl FATHER'S DAY) £1.59 deliv. MSE Blagged. See Card Factory deal.

£15 shaving or beard care set (norm £33-£47). MSE Blagged. Incl razor, blade, moisturiser etc - 2,000 available. Gruum grooming sets

Barclaycard sent out tens of thousands of credit cards that didn't work. See Barclaycard gaffe.

Peer-to-peer lending crackdown - know the risks before you jump in. The regulator is concerned that many don't understand the risks of putting money into firms such as Funding Circle, Ratesetter and Zopa, which offer peer-to-peer lending - a hybrid between saving and investing. So it's just introduced new rules from Dec to limit what novices can put in. Our peer-to-peer lending guide includes the key risks, but we'll update it in the coming days with more on what the Financial Conduct Authority is changing.


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Longest 0%: Sainsbury's Bank* up to 29mths 0%, 1.5% fee (min £3) (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: NatWest* / RBS* 23mths 0% - existing custs only but there's a trick for others (19.9% rep APR)

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* 2.9% rep APR (1-7 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £10.34/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £18.99/mth

£175 to switch and stay + 2% bills cashback: NatWest / RBS
Ending. Free £125 to switch + great service: First Direct


Amazon Echo hacks - incl how to get a 99p Echo Dot

It's the super-popular smart speaker voice assistant known as Alexa - we've hacked it (the price, not the device)

You're meant to be able to ask Alexa anything - but that's a little far fetched. When we asked it "what's the cheapest way to get Alexa?", it said "hmm, I don't know that one". Don't worry though, we do. We published a quick note about it last week and were gobsmacked by its popularity, so we thought we'd bring you more...

  • Trick to get an Echo Dot for £16 (or 99p if you've an Amazon Music family plan). This is about manipulating a deal from the music-streaming service for the device, which usually costs £30-£50. How to get an Echo Dot for 99p

  • Save £70+ on the biggest screen Alexa via a tablet trick. At £219, the Echo Show with its 10-inch screen is the most expensive of Amazon's Echo devices - the screen means you can ask it to play videos, news bulletins, show pictures and more. Yet Amazon's Fire HD 10 tablet also has a 10-inch screen, and you can set it up to work just like an Alexa, ie, it's always on and you can ask it questions. It costs £149 now, but sometimes costs less. For pros & cons, see our Echo Show/Fire HD 10 comparison.

  • Got an old speaker? Turn it into an Alexa for just £19. If you've already got a Bluetooth speaker or one with a standard headphone jack, you can turn your 'dumb' speaker into a voice-activated smart device for £19.

  • Buying refurbished can save up to 50%. We're talking items someone has returned that Amazon resells after refurbishing and testing them - so they're almost as good as new and come with a 1yr warranty. Stock can be limited, but today we spotted an Echo Spot for £80 instead of the usual £120. See Refurbished Echo discounts.

  • When's the best time to buy an Amazon Echo? It often runs special discounts, eg, on Black Friday in November. See our Echo price analysis for when these deals tend to happen and what they've gone for when on offer.

"While editing last week's tip to ensure your EHIC is still valid, I checked mine and to my shock I realised it was set to expire. So I immediately renewed it for FREE. Thanks MSE Tony for the reminder."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Are you a 'mortgage prisoner'? Please take our survey. After years of MSE campaigning, the regulator has finally agreed to help the 100,000+ trapped on expensive rates, unable to switch to cheaper deals. But the fight's not over as the Financial Conduct Authority hasn't revealed its solution. Take our survey so we can build a picture of people's experiences that we can use when fighting to nail the final rules.



How do you rate your bank's app? More and more of us now access our current account by app, so we want you to rate yours. Tell us what you think of the features and usability. How do you rate your bank's app?

Books and cars are among the most popular items to buy second-hand. In last week's poll, we asked what you'd be happy to buy second-hand - over 6,500 people voted. The items you were most likely to give a second home to included books, cars, motorcycles, DVDs and video games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, few were keen on the idea of second-hand underwear. See the full second-hand poll results.



Should I switch to a greener bank? I'm concerned about climate change, and recently found out my savings are with a bank which invests in the fossil fuel industry. Should I pick a more environmentally-friendly bank, even if it means I earn less interest? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I switch to a greener bank? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: June Bring Your Lunch To Work
- Competitions thread of the week: Win £10,000
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Plastic free & OS ways to wrap meat for the freezer
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Financially worried about the future, how do other families manage?
- Discussion of the week: Starting a herb garden


Kids Week - 'Free' West End tickets for kids
Beauty downshifting - £42 Urban Decay vs £6 Aldi
Shoeaholics - 25% off Kurt Geiger's online outlet
Boom25 - One in 10 chance of getting your money back
Open Farm Sunday - Free events at 300+ farms

The Gym Group - Free 6-week membership for 16-18-yr-olds
Kindle - Free comic books
Oasis - 25% off full-price items
Krispy Kreme - Free doughnut on Friday
McDonald's - Free iced latte

Card Factory - Any personalised card £1.59 delivered
Gruum - Shave or beard set £15 delivered
Bella Italia - 'Free' pint for dads on Father's Day
Moonpig - 25% off large & giant cards
Kids' activities - Free & cheap things to do with the kids

Quick Forum Tips

49p cookies at Lidl. How the cookie crumbles
Free bottle of beer for you and a friend. Brew-tiful
Free gin recipe book. Keep your gin up



Thu 6 Jun - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 7 Jun - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 10 Jun - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 10 Jun - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon


Wed 5 Jun - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 7 Jun 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 10 Jun 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 10 Jun 
- BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 11 Jun 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I bought a pair of trainers for my son, but they don't fit. I bought them in a shop, but it won't let me return them - it's only offering an exchange. What are my rights? Yousef, by email.

MSE Sarah's A: Unfortunately, you have no LEGAL right to return or even exchange something you've bought from a shop, unless it's faulty. Some shops do offer a more generous returns policy than the law requires, but this varies by retailer - and their generosity is sometimes suspended for sales.

It's different when buying online though. There you can usually return items for any reason, even if you've just changed your mind, so long as you inform the store within 14 days. See Consumer Rights for more info.

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



That's it for this week, but before we go... last Wednesday was National Biscuit Day, so for a bit of fun we asked what your favourite biscuit says about your spending habits. One MoneySaver argued shortbread is the "rich person's biscuit", while several party ring aficionados confessed they've a hole in their bank account - and the thread also went off on a tangent as to whether Jaffa Cakes are biscuits at all. Join the biscuit banter on our biscuits vs spending habits Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team