Jul
03
2019

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

03 July 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Wipe student loans?, Burger King hacks, beat Virgin hikes, Martin's 0% borrowing recipe, Next sale, Barclays £10/mth bribe, 'text-to-switch'

This info may be out of date.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.
                                                           
 


 

There's a NEW top way to spend abroad (gives £20 free too), so here are our 11 travel money summer must-knows to avoid rip offs

The pound is weak, as Brexit uncertainty is strong, and there's little sign anything will improve soon. So £500 today gets just €560 versus €590 back in March. Against the dollar it gets $630 compared to $670 in March, and it's a similar story against many other currencies.

That's going to push the price up when you're abroad. Therefore it's important not to pay a penny more than you need to, to, well, er, pay when abroad. Just look at the impact with this example looking at what €1,000 costs,excluding any special cashback (5 x €100 at ATMs, the rest in 20 transactions):

Top specialist credit/debit card repaid in full: £898  
Best cash rates via cheapest bureau (London only): £900  
- Cash from M&S on the high st (non-cardholders): £910  
Top prepaid card£936  
- Using a debit card from hell: £958  
- Changing cash at airport: 
£1,000

So here are our must-knows...

1. New. Top pick overseas spending card (plus £20 cashback). The easiest and cheapest way to spend abroad is on the right plastic, and many pocket them in an overseas wallet so they're not tempted to use them at home. But cards can take a couple of weeks to arrive, so early planning is essential.

The new top pick is the Halifax Clarity (eligibility calculator / apply*) credit card. Unlike most cards, which add a 'non-sterling exchange fee' of 3%-ish, meaning £100 of euros costs £103, this doesn't. So £100 of euros costs just £100, as it's got near-perfect exchange rates on spending worldwide. Though always repay it IN FULL each month to avoid interest on spending or it's not worth it.

Plus, apply by 29 Aug and it gives £20 cashback on your first spend within 90 days. It's slightly more expensive for cash, as you'll pay 19.9% rep APR interest even if you clear it in full (roughly costing up to £1.50 per £100/mth), but even that's usually better than bureaux de change.

The prior top card was Barclaycard, but new customers now get charged abroad. Halifax has been cheap overseas for years with good feedback.

- An alternative credit card is app-only Tandem (apply). It gives near-perfect exchange rates on spending worldwide, plus 0.5% cashback on spending in the UK and abroad. So if you want to trouser just one card to use worldwide, this is a good option. Ensure you pay it off IN FULL to avoid the 18.9% rep APR, though like Halifax there is a bit of interest on cash even if paid in full.

2. Top pick overseas debit card (and you don't need to change bank). Like Halifax Clarity, the debit card from app-only Starling Bank (apply*) has no overseas fees on spending and withdrawals (max £300/day cash), but with no interest to pay on the cash. In fact you earn 0.5% AER interest on up to £2k, 0.25% AER interest up to £85k.

It's easier to get than Halifax as the credit scoring process is far less harsh as long as you don't apply for an overdraft. While technically it's a current account, as you can just put cash into it then spend overseas, you can easily just use it for going abroad.

3. Which is the best card - Halifax or Starling? It's a tough call. We probably just hedge for Halifax for three reasons:

- The £20 cashback.
- It's been a top pick for years. Starling is new-ish, and we've seen similar debit cards, which were cheap for a while to lure people in, before costs were raised.
- With Halifax you get Section 75 protection, meaning if you buy things that cost £100+ the card firm's legally liable. So if you bring it home, and it breaks, you can ask your card firm to sort it rather than taking it back.

Then again, it's a fine call, and Starling is easier to get, has got a great app, pays a tiny bit of interest when you're in credit, and is not a credit card, which some don't trust themselves with. Either is a good call.

PS: Both these cards are a Mastercard - which tends to just beat Visa on rateFor a full rundown of all the top cards and more help, see Top Travel Credit and Debit Cards.

4. If you've already got a 'specialist' overseas debit or credit card, there's no need to switch. The deals above are the best for new cardholders. Yet there are a raft of others which are either no longer available or are only a tad more expensive. If you have one, we don't think there's a need to change it.

- Cards no longer available to new customers: Post Office Platinum and Barclaycard Platinum Cashback Plus (new customers can get it, but they get a worse deal than existing customers).

- Very cheap, but not quite best buys: B credit card, Creation Everyday, Monzo's debit card, Santander ZeroVirgin Money Travel and Metro Bank's current account (Europe only, switch it if you go further afield).

5. Have you got a DEBIT CARD FROM HELL? Some debit cards not only add 3%-ish to the exchange rate, and charge ATM fees, they also add charges every time you use them overseas - so a £5 glass of wine could cost £6.40 a time. Here are the spending fees:

- Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland: 50p per transaction.
- Santander: £1.25 per transaction.

A few others do it a different way, they just charge a minimum exchange fee, so they're just as bad on smaller transactions, although are less of an issue on bigger ones (but they still charge an exchange fee, unlike specialist cards):

- NatWest/RBS: min £1 per spend.
- Clydesdale/Yorkshire: min £1.50 per spend.

ANY other card from a major bank, including a credit card (if repaid IN FULL), is cheaper to spend on than these. See full Beware the debit cards from hell info.

6. When using ANY plastic abroad, if you're asked 'do you want to pay in pounds or euros?', what do you say? Euros. For why, see Martin's Pay in euros? blog. Though as many people struggle to remember, on the back of Martin's This Morning appearance on Monday, @FndPtsd's tweet sums it up: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

7. Want cash? TravelMoneyMax compares 30+ bureaux in seconds. What currency you want and how much dictates which is cheapest, and changes by the hour. So our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool tells you as it quickly compares 30+ bureaux every half-hour to find the best rate for delivery or collection.

8. I'm not going away till later in the summer. With all the Brexit stuff still going on, should I buy my euros/dollars etc now? With Brexit delayed until the end of October and the current UK political uncertainty causing currency fluctuations, many ask what to do. That answer's complicated, so read Martin's Buy holiday money now? blog.

9. Top prepaid card - if you want one. We used to go big on prepaid travel cards as they don't require a credit check. But now Starling doesn't require a hard check, and as its rates are hot it's more attractive for most than prepaid cards, but they can be worth it for some. See Cheap Prepaid Travel Cards for full info and top picks. 

10. Don't buy cash or load a prepaid card with a credit card. Most credit card providers count buying foreign currency as a cash withdrawal - and they usually charge a fee for that, plus interest even if you repay in full. Some do the same when loading up prepaid cards. So it's better to pay on a debit card, as they can't charge fees for it. See Don't buy travel cash with a credit card.

11. Will withdrawing cash abroad on a credit card hurt my credit file? On the right card it's cheap, but there's a possible minor impact on your creditworthiness. Full info in Credit card ATM withdrawals abroad.

 
 

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. Mobile 'text-to-switch' rules make switching far simpler. If you're one of 10m wasting £100s/yr on crappy contracts - read this NOW...

On Monday, a mini-mobile revolution took place. Rules were brought in to make switching far easier and with so many of you leaking cash by overpaying this should make a difference. And don't worry - you can KEEP YOUR EXISTING NUMBER. So let's get on with it. 

  • The new 'text-to-switch' rules. Regulator Ofcom found many people were put off switching because they knew when they phoned their old provider to begin the process, they'd be given the hard sell to stay. So you can now simply text 'PAC' for free to 65075 on any network and you'll...
     
    - Be sent your 'porting authorisation code' (PAC) immediately via text. Give that to your new provider and it'll move your number across and cancel your old contract - within one working day. But if you don't want to keep your old number, you can instead text 'STAC' to 75075.
    - Be told of any early exit fee if you're still in contract via the same text, so you can decide if it pays to switch. Plus, now Ofcom has also changed rules so if you're out of your minimum contract period, you can't be charged for the rest of your notice period after switching (providers did charge for up to 30 days).

  • Happy to keep your handset? It's far cheaper just to change your Sim - the chip that dictates how much you pay for calls, texts and data. Billmonitor* can look at your bill and match you with something suitable (it doesn't work for all networks, is best on desktop and emails the answer). However, there are some short-lived promos below that it may miss, all on 12mth contracts for new customers - see below. The real difference is how much data you get and the underlying network (see who uses which network). More options in Top Sims.

    - An OK 2GB for £6/mth. Plus 1,000 mins & unltd texts from Virgin Mobile* (uses EE's network).
    - A big 8GB for £9/mth. Plus unltd mins & texts from Three*.
    - A HUGE 25GB for '£13.75/mth'. Plus unltd mins & texts from Vodafone*. Use that link and you'll pay £20/mth (via Mobiles.co.uk) but enter code VODAMSE at the basket stage and you'll be automatically sent a £75 cheque within 2mths. Factor that in and it's an equiv £13.75/mth.  

  • The cheapest new iPhone XR and Samsung S10e deals - save £100s. Snazzy new smartphones aren't MoneySaving, but if you'll get one anyway, at least do it cheap. It's usually best to buy a phone outright then get a Sim-only deal. But there are a couple of cracking all-in contract deals right now (via Mobiles.co.uk).

    - iPhone XR: Vodafone newbies can get a 64GB iPhone XR* with 5GB data, unltd texts & calls for £220 upfront then £26/mth. Plus use code XRMSE at the basket stage and you'll be sent a £15 cheque within 2mths, meaning you'll pay a total of £829 over the 2yr contract - £470 cheaper than an equiv deal straight from Vodafone. More help in Cheap iPhones.

    - Samsung S10e: Vodafone newbies can get a 128GB S10e* with 5GB data, unltd texts & calls for £99 upfront then £24/mth. Enter code S10MSE at the basket stage and you'll be sent a £15 cheque within 2mths, so it's £660 over the 2yr contract - £447 cheaper than an equiv deal direct from Vodafone. More help in Cheap Samsungs.

  • Happy where you are but paying too much? Haggle. The old system of calling to request a PAC did have one advantage: if firms knew you were leaving they'd try to keep you. Find out how to haggle down your mobile phone bill
 

Virgin Media customer? It's hiking b'band, line & TV bills by up to £54/yr - your rights. See Virgin help.

Some graduates can get 80% of their student loan debt wiped - but should you do it? Some are getting letters, for many it's NOT a good deal, but it works for some. See full student loan analysis.

Ending. 1.47% easy-access AA savings. Last week, we told you the AA* launched a 1.47% AER variable account at a tad less than market leader Marcus's 1.5% AER variable (both incl a fixed bonus for 1yr, so rates will drop after and both have £85k UK savings protection). The AA deal was mega-popular, like another top product which was pulled last week from sister brand the Post Office (both are provided by Bank of Ireland). So while we don't know, it may go quickly. Full info in Top Savings.

10 whopping Burger King hacks. Our crafty/hungry deals hunters have uncovered lots of BK savings. Please eat responsibly.

 Unconfirmed, but after our digging we're almost certain it starts Sat. Next sale updates

Now TWO MONTHS left to reclaim PPI - do it FREE. Hurry, see our free PPI reclaim tool & guide.

Sadly for lots of people with Hotmail, Live and Outlook addresses, last week's email went to their spam folders. So here's the online version in case you missed it: Financial abuse help, £2 Toy Story tix, Wallet Workout, beat Netflix hike & lots more.

 
 

Martin: 'My recipe to borrow INTEREST-FREE for 27mths (if you need to)'

Credit cards get a bad rap, but according to MSE's founder, use 'em carefully & you can borrow at no cost

I've just read new data that left me metaphorically holding my head in my hands (not literally or typing this'd be difficult) - trade body UK Finance suggests over HALF of credit cards with balances still incur interest. While some face no choice due to poor credit scores, many are throwing cash away unnecessarily. If that's you, check out a top 0% balance transfer. Yet it's just as important to understand that, done right, credit cards are the cheapest form of debt, far cheaper than loans. So if you need to borrow, I've concocted a recipe to help...

  • Step 1. Think carefully if you can swallow the repayments. Debt is never tasty. Only borrow if you NEED to, for one-off planned purchases (eg, replacing a broken fridge). Always minimise the amount, and ensure repayments are budgeted for. Never get a credit card just to fill gaps in your income - it just means the gaps grow and so will the debt.

  • Step 2. Ensure you've the right ingredients - the finest is 27mths 0%. For new borrowing you want a 0% 'purchases' credit card, ie, pay with it and there's no interest charged for a set time. ALWAYS use a 0% purchases eligibility calc first to see which of most top cards will likely accept you, minimising applications (which mark your credit file). Here are the top current cards (you can't usually apply if you already have one from the same brand)...

    Joint longest are Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) and MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*at up to 27mths 0%, though with MBNA, unusually the 0% is only on purchases within the first 60 days (Barclaycard is on all purchases within the 0% period). Still, that's not an issue if you're doing a one-off purchase. The longest non up-to card is Yorkshire Bank at 26mths 0% (apply), meaning if it accepts you, you'll definitely get the full 0% length. Once the 0% ends, these cards jump to 18.9% - 20.9% rep APRs. Full info in 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples).

  • Step 3. Need cash or a larger amount? The recipe is different. Purchases cards are only right if you can pay for what you need on a credit card. If not, use a 0% money transfer card, which moves 0% cash into your bank account for a small fee. Plus, while having a decent credit score helps acceptance, credit card credit limits depend more on income, and getting more than £5k is a struggle for most. So if you need a bigger amount, also see our Cheap Loans guide.

  • Step 4. Now you've the ingredients, here's how to put it all together. Once you've borrowed, always pay at least the set monthly minimum or you can lose the 0% - best practice is to pay this via direct debit, then call each month to pay more when you can. And don't breach the credit limit, or again you can lose the 0%.

    You should budget to clear the card before the 0% ends, when the interest rate jumps. So diarise a month before then to ensure it's sorted. If something happens so you can't clear it by then, at that point, apply for a 0% balance transfer to shift the debt to. Plus, once you've made your planned purchase on the card, it's good personal management NOT to put the card in your purse/wallet - leave it somewhere out of the way at home, so you won't be tempted by unplanned use.

 

Barclays now pays switchers £10/mth for a year. It's decent but beatable - eg, HSBC pays £175 upfront and First Direct £100 upfront with great service. Full info in our Best Bank Accounts guide.

Sports holiday clubs for 5-15 year-olds, £7.50/day or with 1,500 Nectar pts. From 15 July-4 Sept, Sainsbury's holiday clubs are on in Eng & Wales - incl football, tennis etc, but spaces go quick.

£22 Sanctuary Spa beach bag & towel set (norm £45). Incl body scrub, moisturiser & heel balm. Sanctuary Spa

Paying for childcare this summer? You may be eligible for help towards the cost. 1.6m families are eligible for tax-free childcare, worth up to £2,000/yr, but only 315,000 claim it. And it's available even if you only pay in the summer, including for many clubs and activities. For how it works, see if you're eligible for tax-free childcare.

New. Cheapest 2yr energy fix by a distance - many can save nearly £300. This new Green Network Energy fix for new customers costs an average £967/yr on typical use, almost £30/yr less than the next best 2yr fix. Switching to it also saves a typical £280/yr compared to staying on a typical big six standard tariff. Long fixes are great if you want longer price surety or you're unlikely to switch often. However, you can get cheaper with a shorter fix or variable deal - you can do a full comparison via our Cheap Energy Club (which includes filters to find the type of deal you want).

Crabtree & Evelyn extra 15% off code for 60% site-wide clearance. MSE Blagged. See Crabtree & Evelyn.

PS: Whether you want to know the top credit card, what broadband speed you need etc, this summer we'll run a 'Your big money questions answered' series. So tell us your key queries on your major outlays or cutting big bills to help us help you.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: Virgin Money* 29mths 0%, 3% fee (21.9% 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. Confused.com*
  2. MoneySupermarket*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Yorkshire* Clydesdale Bank* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.9% rep APR (1-7 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Post Office equiv £11.74/mth
Ends Thu. Fibre b'band & line rent: Vodafone equiv £16.45/mth

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

 

New. The top cash LISA now pays 1.4%. If you dream of owning your first home, use this to gain £1,000s of FREE cash to help you towards it.


Wannabe first-time buyers who save in a Lifetime ISA (LISA) get a 25% bonus from the state, so each £1,000 becomes £1,250. Yet few providers have offered the cash version of these accounts, with investment LISAs more prevalent. Banks are scared as they can also be used for retirement saving and they're rightly worried they may be accused of mis-selling them instead of pensions. However, this week the good news for first-time buyers is there's a new best-buy cash LISA at 1.4%, much higher than the previous best 1.1%. All have full £85,000 savings protection. Here's what you need to know:

  • Up to £1,000/yr of free cash is added to your LISA. They're a tax-free way to save that anyone aged 18-39 can open. You can put up to £4,000 per tax year in one - and the state adds 25% on top - until you turn 50. The Top LISAs guide has full info, but the main need-to-knows are...

    - It's usable by first-time buyers for mortgages on a UK residential property worth £450,000 or less.
    A first-time buyer is someone who's never owned (nor part-owned) a home. You also get the bonus if you wait until age 60 (ie, for retirement savings), but we're not focusing on that here as pensions beat it for most (see LISAs for retirement).
    - You have to wait a year after the LISA's opened to buy a home. If you're buying sooner, look at Help to Buy ISAs. If you want to save in the future, just open one now with £1 to get the clock ticking.
    - If a couple, both of you can save up to £4,000/yr. 
    LISAs are an individual product, so you can both have one. If you're buying with someone who isn't a first-time buyer, you can still get a LISA and bonus.
    - There's a 25% penalty if you withdraw for anything other than first-home buying or retirementIn practice, for every £1,000 you put in, as you'll have got the bonus, it's 25% of £1,250, so you only get £937.50 back.

  • New. Top cash LISA pays 1.4% for new money and transfers. App-only Moneybox has just partnered with OakNorth to launch a new top cash LISA (it already offered a stocks and shares version). It pays 1.4% AER variable, and as well as new money it accepts transfers in from other LISAs. So if you've already started saving elsewhere, you can move money across to up the rate. Just go to Moneybox and apply for a transfer (you can also move in existing Help to Buy ISA and cash ISA money up to this year's £4,000 limit).

  • Is a Lifetime ISA better than a Help to Buy ISA? Help to Buy ISAs are LISAs' predecessor and also give first-timers a 25% boost, as long as newbies apply by 30 Nov. You can't get the first-time buyers' bonus with both though, so you must choose. See LISA v Help to Buy ISA for details, but in short...

    - LISAs let you save more. 
    For example, max a LISA from today and you'd have £8,000 in a year with an extra  £2,000 free cash, compared to the max £3,400 you can put in a Help to Buy ISA in year one, with an extra £850 free.
    - Help to Buy ISAs are more flexible. 
    There's no age cap, anyone aged 16+ can open them. You could get the bonus after just three months, and crucially, if you choose not to buy a home, you can withdraw cash without a penalty.

 

School uniform set from £4.50 at Aldi. July is often a cheap time to buy, so see our round-up including the Aldi deal and others at Asda, M&S, Tesco etc. School uniform

Ending. 20-40% off airport lounge access, making 'em £15-£32. Works for Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow (T3 & T4) and Luton. For travel till 30 Sep. Cheap Airport Lounges

BANK FEES RECLAIM FROM AN INCREDIBLE 27 YEARS AGO - SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"I got £2,400 back from Lloyds for packaged account fees paid back to 1992 - thank you." It's so long ago John Major was Prime Minister, Whitney Houston was big in the charts and Manchester United hadn't been English champions in 25 years.
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

10 craft beers for £10 delivered (norm £31). MSE Blagged. One-off box incl Fourpure Session IPA, Citrus Pale Ale etc. 2,500 avail. Flavourly

Peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle declares profit warning. If you have money invested via it/a similar firm, or are considering it, see our 'P2P - know the risks' analysis.

 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

MSE calls on the Treasury to release mortgage prisoners from their 'hell'. We've campaigned for years on behalf of mortgage prisoners, who are trapped on expensive rates. With the help of all those who completed our recent survey, we've now submitted our response to the financial regulator on its proposed solution to the problem - including almost 1,000 powerful testimonies from those affected. The regulator's plans will only help some, so we've called on the Government to step in. See our Mortgage prisoners update.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Do you get job satisfaction? Is there a link, whether positive or negative, between how much you are paid and how much satisfaction your work gives you? Do you get job satisfaction from your work?

Most haven't tried to claim PPI because they don't think they had it. In last week's poll, we asked if you've tried to claim PPI, and if not, why not? Of the 2,664 who hadn't tried to reclaim, almost 60% said this was because they were either 100% sure they didn't have PPI or didn't think they had it. Of the same cohort, 12% said it's too long ago and they don't have the paperwork. See how to Reclaim PPI for free and the full poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should we start charging our friends for looking after their dog? Twice a week, my wife and I look after the dog of a couple we're friends with while they're at work. It started off as an occasional favour, but has become regular. They give us a small thank-you gift now and then, but a professional dog sitter would charge £20-£30 a day. Should we start charging them and, if so, how should we approach the subject? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we start charging our friends for looking after their dog? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: July's bring your lunch to work challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: A brand new laptop, wireless headphones and a Samsung Galaxy
- Old-Style board thread of the week: 2019 - a clutter free life
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Stop giving and receiving gifts
- Discussion of the week: No buying unnecessary toiletries July 2019

 

Burger King - 10 hacks, incl £6.50 Whopper meal for £4
Next - 50% off sale rumour
Crabtree & Evelyn - Extra 15% off code for 60% off clearance
Aldi - School uniform set from £4.50
Sanctuary Spa - £22 beach bag & towel set (norm £45)

Flavourly - 10 craft beers for £10 delivered
Latest In Beauty - £103 of beauty products for £25 delivered
Lego - Free £5 Lego on first Thursday of every month
The Allergy & Free From Show - Free tickets for this wknd
Topcashback - 'Free' £1.50 ice lollies or ice cream

Lawn Tennis Association - Free tennis sessions & coaching
Pimm's - £12 for 1L bottle at Tesco and Asda
Strawberries & cream - Round-up of cheapest places to buy
Tennis For Free - Free tennis court access
Tesco - 25% off six bottles of wine, prosecco & champers

Quick Forum Tips

Free TfL travel for armed forces. London's your Oyster
25% off six bottles of wine at Lidl. Grape stuff
Up to 50% off sale at M&S. Not just any sale

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 3 JULY ONWARDS)

Thu 4 Jul Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Thu 4 Jul 
Question Time, BBC One, 10.35pm
Fri 5 July - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 8 July - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 3 Jul BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Thu 4 Jul - FT Money Show podcast, available from 5am, mobile switching
Fri 5 Jul 
BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 8 Jul
TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 9 Jul 
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Six months ago I switched the balance of a credit card with a £12,000 limit to a 0% interest balance transfer card - would cancelling the old card help improve my credit rating? Sonja, via email.

MSE Karl's AImproving your credit score is an art, not a science, so sadly there's no definitive answer. All lenders are different, and there are various factors to consider.

For some, unused credit will be a complete turn-off - as they may worry you'll go out and spend it in one afternoon, and thus decrease your likelihood of being able to pay them back if they granted you a card. Yet closing long-held, well-managed credit cards could also have a negative impact on your credit score.

Many lenders will look at your credit 'utilisation' - a fancy term for how much of the credit available to you you're using. Lenders don't generally want you to be maxed out or use no credit at all. We usually say to aim for around 25% utilisation or less, ie, if you've £10,000 of available credit across your cards, 25% is a £2,500 balance across them all. See full help in our Should you cancel old cards? guide.

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

 

NEWS - MARTIN IS LAUNCHING A NEW £1-A-MONTH GYM CHAIN

That's it for this week, but before we go... Martin has a big announcement and he is the Money Saving Expert after all, so £1 a month is unbeatable. What's the catch? Well, it does have one unique feature - see Martin's new £1/mth gym.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team