Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

17 July 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Free McD’s, cinema tricks, Martin’s Facebook scams win, cheap No7, ‘I got £11k tax back’, 2.02% savings

This info may be out of date.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.


The route to cheap broadband is simple - POUNCE when it's available, as all the best deals tend to be short-lived. Virgin is at the forefront of this, and yet again it's turned on another variant of its many cheap superfast deals, but this one is only for nine days.

Previously we've seen versions with or without TV, and with or without a phone line. This time it's straightforward - you get Virgin's 108Mb broadband & line for the equivalent of £19/mth (£225 over a year).

Given many pay £500+/yr for standard broadband & line, it's a great price, letting you slash your bill AND boost your speed. Here are full details and many more options...

  • If you've had your broadband longer than a year, you're likely OVERPAYING by £100s. Here are typical out-of-contract prices with the biggies - which you could well be paying if you've not switched or haggled in over 12mths. And they're HUGE:

    - BT standard: £45/mth (£540/yr), fibre: £52/mth (£624/yr)
    - Sky standard: £30/mth (£360/yr), fibre: £37/mth (£444/yr)
    - TalkTalk standard: £30/mth (£360/yr), fibre: £36/mth (£432/yr)
    - Virgin: £44/mth (£528/yr) - it only does fibre

  • Today's broadband best buys & promos. As is usual, most of these deals are for new customers only and are short-lived. As availability is postcode-dependent, the links go to our Broadband Unbundled tool to check your eligibility. If you can't get 'em, it'll suggest alternatives.
New. Virgin Media
MSE Blagged (available to 50% of UK)
superfast fibre
Ends Thu 25 Jul. '£18.75/mth' over 1yr contract. Apply via our special link ONLY and it's £25/mth. You get £75 bill credit so you pay nothing for 3mths, meaning it's £225 over the year without calls, equiv to £18.75/mth. IMPORTANT: Don't go direct or you'll pay £206/yr more.

- Can't get Virgin in your area & want cheap & very fast? There's a Vodafone '£22/mth' 63Mb broadband & line deal ending FRIDAY (19 Jul).
(avail to 90% of UK)
Ends Wed 31 Jul. '£17.39/mth' over 18mth contract. Via our link it's £9.99 upfront then £21/mth, but you can claim a £75 Amazon, Currys PC World, John Lewis or M&S voucher. Factor that in as a price reduction and it's equiv to £17.39/mth over the 18mth deal. (3)
(avail to 90% of UK)
'£11.74/mth' over 1yr contract. This costs £15.90/mth, but if you claim and spend a £50 Amazon vch it's equiv to £11.74/mth over the year.
(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 and averaging it over the contract. (3) You can also claim an Amazon Echo Plus speaker.

  • 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. 

  • Will I get the advertised speed? The 'average' speed quoted is what at least 50% of customers get at peak times. Most big providers will also tell you the min speed you'll get before you sign up. With some (incl Virgin Media from those above), if you don't get that speed and it's not fixed within 30 days, you've the right to cancel penalty-free. See how to check your speed.

  • Can I get broadband without a phone line? Virgin is the only biggie to offer it but it's currently 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, haggle, 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 - for Virgin Media it was 76%, BT 73% & TalkTalk 69%. Full help in Broadband Haggling.

  • Could providers hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do. 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.



'You gave me the confidence to check my tax code - I got £11,500 back in 10 days. Thank you from the bottom of my heart' 

MoneySaver Tina emailed us last week: "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You recently stressed the importance of checking your tax code. I'd never done it before, but you gave me the confidence.

"After I was recently made redundant, I got my P45 and phoned HMRC. I said: 'Look, can you just check this for me?' They checked a couple of things and asked: 'Can you stay on the line?', before saying: 'We owe you £11,486 - how would you like it paid?' The cheque arrived 10 days later. [Quick tip: It's not just for those who are made redundant. Everyone should check their tax code - millions could be wrong.]

"I had just trusted the amount of money HMRC had taken off my redundancy pay - my instinct kicked in after your warnings. This success has allowed us to clear our debts and plan for the future. I am so grateful. I just want one person who reads this to pick up the phone to HMRC and have the belief to do it."

  • Millions of tax codes are likely wrong each year - check yours now. If you're on a payroll or get a pension, you'll have a tax code. These characters (1250L, BR, K497 etc) dictate what tax your employer/firm should take via PAYE - see where to find yours. Errors are common though, so don't assume you're on the right code. Many are wrong, meaning you can be over or underpaying tax. If you have paid too little, you may have a horrid bill coming. If you've overpaid, you could be due cash back. Full help in our Tax Code Calculator guide.
  • Use our free tool to check your current & past tax codes are right. Enter your code for a specific year into our Tax Code Calculator and it'll help explain whether it's likely correct for your earnings, age and situation. If your tax code doesn't look right, it probably isn't. If you've overpaid, or underpaid, find out what to do.

Martin: 'I sued Facebook for defamation over scam ads & settled in return for 2 things...' These anti-scam initiatives both launched yesterday: a) New Citizens Advice Scams Action project (paid for by Facebook's £3m), giving 1-on-1 help for scam victims; b) New Facebook scam-ad reporting tool & dedicated team (unique to UK). Full info in Martin's Facebook scams victory.

New. 15 MoneySaving cinema tips & tricks, incl 2for1 & 'free' Sunday tix (just in time for Lion King). Plus which cinemas let you take your own snacks & can you get a refund if the film's rubbish? Cinema tricks 

FREE McDonald's cheeseburger. See how to get it in our 18 McDonald's hacks.

No7 beauty box £30 (with £85 of products). Incl mascara, lipstick & primer. In stores & online while stock lasts. No7 

HSBC free £175 bank switch ends Mon. The HSBC Advance account currently gives switchers £175 upfront, best for pure cash. Or First Direct gives £100 & a 0% overdraft & has a far, far higher customer service rating. Full info in Best Bank Accounts.

£30 Ted Baker specs via code (norm £140). MSE Blagged. Or choose £20 Levi glasses. Specs appeal

Cash left in your ParentPay account? How to get it back after term ends. 5m use the site to pay for school meals, days out etc. If you've lots left unspent, we show how to get your cash back. School's out


Cheapest travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition 

Help ensure the nightmare of a past or ongoing illness isn't made worse by hideous knock-on travel costs 

Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority this week revealed proposals to help those with pre-existing medical conditions get travel insurance. It's consulting about forcing firms to point you to alternative cover if they reject you due to a condition or if they add extra costs or stop policies halfway through because of one. Change is far off, so our Cheap Travel InsuranceCheap Over-65s' Travel Insurance and especially our Cheap Pre-Existing Conditions guides can help now. With pre-existing conditions especially, there's no easy route - it's mainly TRIAL AND ERROR. Here's a synopsis... 

  • Always declare conditions for everyone covered. It's easy to think the way to get an economical policy is to be economical with the truth. It isn't. Lie and your policy may be invalid and you could be accused of fraud. They tend to ask about conditions you've seen a doctor or had ongoing treatment for. How far back you must go varies with each insurer.

  • Start by using normal, then specialist, comparison sites. Depending on your condition, normal policies may still cover you, or the price may only marginally rise.

    - Check normal comparison sites, incl MoneySup*, CompareTM* and Confused.com*. If nothing else this'll give you a benchmark price to beat. If it is cheap though, do check if the insurer requires extra information.
    - If you're not happy with the outcome, try specialist medical comparison sites. These include Staysure*, Medical Travel Compared and AllClear Travel, which include insurers that standard sites may miss.

    This 'trying everything' solution can really work, as Dolores emailed: "I can't thank you enough. Got a quote for me and my husband (brain tumour cancer survivor) down from around £4,000 to £450 for yearly top-level European cover." If you have a success story to share, let us know.

  • Will a packaged bank account help? With these you pay a monthly fee and get a range of insurance included. Our general top picks are Nationwide FlexPlus* at £13/mth and Halifax Ultimate Reward at £15/mth - both include annual family travel insurance. Older travellers and some with pre-existing conditions can often still be covered at no extra cost or for an additional fee. As Margaret emailed: "My husband and I are 70+. We've various health issues and are covered worldwide with our £10.50/mth account." See Packaged Bank Accounts

  • Still not found anything? A few more to try. OK, at this point, more elbow grease is required. Try adding specialists in this field: Avanti*MIA OnlineOrbis and Global Travel Insurance*. Alternatively, find a broker from the British Insurance Brokers' Association. And if you have a condition that is supported by a charity (eg, Diabetes UK), see if it has links to any specialist insurers for your issue and get quotes.

  • ALWAYS carry a free EHIC. European Health Insurance Cards let you use EU state-run hospitals and GPs at the same cost as a local. Over 5m expire this year, so check and use our Free EHIC guide to get one or renew (NEVER PAY). Plus look at insurer Europe Plus and its specialised policy for covering treatment costs when EHICs are used.

  • What level of cover is needed? See our min suggested cover levels. But the bigger issue is - will it cover you whatever happens? It's difficult as insurance protects against unexpected eventualities which is tough to check in advance. Make sure insurers are FCA-regulated and if they unfairly reject a claim, take them to the free Financial Ombudsman.

Make 'em PAY YOU to show your boarding pass at airport shops. You don't need to show your boarding pass at airport shops (except duty-free where the law says you must), but can you make 'em pay you to show it? See Martin's Do I need to show my boarding pass? video. 

New. Top 1yr fixed savings. If you're happy to lock cash away for a year, Shawbrook Bank now pays a fixed 2.02% AER, a smidgeon better than the previous best buy. You can open online with £1,000+. For more options, see Top Fixed Savings.

10p/L off Sainsbury's petrol & diesel. With £60 spend from Thu-Tue - its on-off promo's back. Cheap fuel 

The Sun holidays from '£9.50' are back... but are they ever REALLY £9.50? See our full Sun hols guide.

FREE pint or G&T at 2,000 pubs in Eng & Wales. See how to claim a free drink (from Fri). Pls be Drinkaware.

20% extra off 100+ eBay outlets, incl KitchenAid & JD Williams. Valid on £25+ spends. Ends Fri. eBay code


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

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

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 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £17.39/mth 

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

Top easy access: Marcus 1.5%, min £1 
New. Top one-year fix: Shawbrook Bank 2.02%, min £1,000


100+ FREE or cheap things to do with kids this summer - incl free tennis coaching, 50% off Alton Towers, free festivals & get a letter from a royal

Summer's here. Half the country are jetting off abroad. Half are staying at home. And another half are doing both. The final half need maths lessons. Last week we did our overseas holiday checklist, so now we've help for those staycationing or just looking for days out to keep the kids entertained. We've a giant list of 100+ free or cheap things to do (esp with kids) - here are some of our favourites to whet the appetite:

  1. 50% off Alton Towers, Sea Life & Warwick Castle. Find a voucher on £1ish hand soap. See theme park deal.
  2. New. 18 FREE (or very cheap) ways to create a magical summer for little'uns. MSE Jenny's new blog has tons of unusual ideas to wow kids, from free tours of massive Amazon warehouses to hugely popular 'painted rocks' treasure hunts and even writing to the royals - and you may just get a reply. Summer magic
  3. Free tennis sessions, incl coaching. At 350 venues across Britain this weekend (20-21 Jul). Free tennis
  4. 40+ London MoneySaving tips. Incl £3.50 'flight' over the Thames and £5 Shakespeare tix. Cheap London days out
  5. Get 3x Clubcard vouchers' value on days out, incl the Eden Project & Eureka. Also at restaurants. Tesco boost
  6. 45+ free festivals this summer - see Liberty X & The Coral. Rock up to a free festival near you.
  7. Kids go 'free' to West End August shows. With paying grown-ups to Wicked, The Gruffalo, Horrible Histories etc. Cheap theatre
  8. Grab a gold bar at the Bank of England (at its museum, so you have to give it back...) - one of 180+ free UK museums & galleries. An educational day out can be worth its weight in gold. Free museums and galleries
  9. Free Lego, Hobbycraft & Pets at Home workshops for kids. Check for a store near you. Free workshops

FREE '£15' summer car check. Battery, bulbs, oil level etc checked, plus free screenwash top-up. The wheel deal

"I  reclaimed PPI  for my late brother & got over £6,000. I've got another £10,000 reclaim on behalf of my late father & more claims outstanding. Many thanks."
( Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Have you been scammed & did you tell anyone? This week two major new anti-scam ad initiatives launched on the back of Martin's lawsuit against Facebook. Scams are getting more professional, from phone calls pretending to be from banks to scam ads online. Have you been a victim and if so did you declare it?

Families are most likely to be going on holiday this summer. In our poll last week we asked about your summer plans, and 7,793 responded. Seventy-nine per cent of those in a family with dependent kids said they'd be going on holiday, abroad or in the UK, compared with 67% of couples with no dependent kids and 51% of single people. See full summer hols poll results.



Best man seems to be overcharging for the stag do - should we pay up? A good friend is getting married, and the best man - someone we don't know well - has asked for £200 each. We're convinced the accommodation costs much less than he says. Should we risk spoiling the weekend by challenging this, or just pay up? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Best man seems to be overcharging for stag - should we pay up? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Can't stop spending
- Competitions thread of the week: Holiday for two in Melbourne & Victoria
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Jams, chutneys & other preserves - anybody still doing it?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Change of heart on keeping maiden name
- Discussion of the week: New Facebook report scam-ads tool & new Citizens Advice Scams Action project


Cinema hacks - 15 MoneySaving tips & tricks
McDonald's - FREE cheeseburger for new app users
Free beer or G&T - At 2,000 pubs in Eng & Wales via app
No7 - £30 beauty set, incl £85 of make-up & skincare
SpeckyFourEyes - £30 Ted Baker & £20 Levi specs

Bella Italia - Kids eat for '£1' Sun-Fri
Co-op - 2 pizzas & 4 beers for £5
Hussle - 30% off a flexible, no-contract gym pass
Matalan - 'Free' school uniform via Topcashback
The Book People - Farmyard Friends 20 books for £15 all-in

Asos - Up to 70% off
Cath Kidston - Up to 60% off
Office - Up to 70% off
Topman - Up to 70% off
Topshop - Up to 70% off

Quick Forum Tips

M&S up to 70% sale. Sale away
69p cookies at Lidl. How the cookie crumbles
Tu clothing up to 50% sale. Wear tu?



Thu 18 Jul - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 19 Jul - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 22 Jul - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 22 Jul - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm


Fri 19 Jul - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 22 Jul - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 23 Jul
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm 



Q: An elderly relation has a money jar which contains quite a lot of old £1 coins. Are they still able to pay them into their bank account? Danielle, via email.

MSE Callum's A: They almost certainly can. While specific arrangements vary from bank to bank, the vast majority still let customers deposit old 'round' £1 coins into their account, even though they went out of circulation and you haven't been able to spend them in shops since October 2017. What's more, the Post Office allows customers of all major banks to deposit old £1 coins into their accounts at its branches too.

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



That's it for this week, but before we go... we revealed on Monday that some smart meter owners have noticed a bizarre new glitch with their meter displays - they're unexpectedly operating in Welsh, even though they're nowhere near Wales. While it's unclear exactly what's caused the issue, for the benefit of non-Welsh speakers, "Defnydd heddiw" means "usage today". Let us know if your smart meter's started acting a little too smart for its own good in our Smart meter displays turn Welsh Facebook post. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team