Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

25 September 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... £5 M&S/Next clothes, Thomas Cook help, 1.21% mortgage, FAST b’band, top LISA, Nectar revamp, Wonga warning

This info may be out of date.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.


Martin's WARNING:
'Time to face facts, paying in cash isn't safe. For better protection, pay on plastic and get 'em to PAY YOU to do it'

Thomas Cook collapsed this week - tragic for staff and worrisome for customers (see Thomas Cook help). During interview Q&As, when I was asked about those without ATOL or ABTA cover, I could explain protections for debit & credit card payers, but had to tell some: 'If you paid by cash, cheque or BACS, sadly you're UNLIKELY to get any money back.' Cash just isn't a safe way to pay.

This isn't a militant call to ditch paper and coins. Cash can be convenient, help impulse control and work as a budgeting aid. And it needs supporting to help many older people who won't/can't change. Yet most people should now use plastic for all significant purchases.

Trish's Thomas Cook email shows this: "Thanks. I had no ATOL protection on flights, no insurance and paid by debit card. Went to Barclays and it's already refunded the full amount. Will definitely follow MSE's advice from now on." 

Plus, with cards you can be PAID to spend and make £100s.

Surprise: credit cards beat debit cards...

Everyone knows credit cards are dangerous, don't they? Except, well, I do all my spending on them, as DONE RIGHT, ie, repaid IN FULL each month so there's no interest (more on that later), credit cards rule...

  • They've stronger protection. With credit, debit and prepaid cards you get Visa, Mastercard or Amex chargeback protection, meaning if you don't get what you paid for, you can ask the card provider to give your money back.

    Yet for items costing £100-£30,000, credit cards also usually have Section 75 legal protection. This means the card firm is JOINTLY liable with the retailer - and that's powerful - eg, if you go to Brazil and bulk buy your wax, then bring it home and find it's faulty, you don't need to return it, you can simply ask the card firm to sort out a refund.

  • Section 75 protects the WHOLE transaction, eg, pay 1p for a £10,000 car and it's ALL protected. Pay even a penny on a credit card, and the card firm's liable for the entire amount - read this £200 paid on credit card, got £23k back for a kitchen story. Yet with a debit card, you'd only get back the amount paid on the card.

  • Crucially, credit cards PAY YOU to spend on them. Many offer rewards each time you spend on them, and it can be worthwhile, as Matthew's tweet attests: "@MartinSLewis I usually get £140-£150 per year with my Amex Plat card (less the £25 fee), with the intro bonus I got almost £400." Many suggested similar amounts.

    Or, as I've earned myself, even biz class transatlantic returns for TWO, paying only taxes & charges (roughly the price of an economy seat).

    Here are five top picks for new cardholders, including links for most to the eligibility calc which shows which cards are most likely to accept you. 
Always repay IN FULL or the interest dwarves rewards
Earn 5% cashback on spending. Amex Plat Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*)
Fail to fully repay, 22.9% rep APR

Full info & more options in Top cashback cards.

Get 5% cashback on all spending in the first 3mths (max £100), then up to 1% after. You'll need to use it to spend £3,000+/yr to get any cashback. If you'll spend more than £10,000/yr though, the Amex Plat cashback card, with a £25 fee, is more lucrative.
Free £25 at M&S just for buying a banana. M&S Mastercard credit card (eligibility calc / apply*)
Fail to fully repay, 19.9% rep APR

Full info & more options in Top store credit card rewards. 
New cardholders get 2,000 bonus M&S pts - worth £20 - if you spend on the card (no minimum) within the first 90 days. Plus there's a 500 bonus point vch for M&S spending. So buy a banana in M&S and you've made £25.

There's also an ongoing 1pt (worth 1p) per £1 spent in M&S (2pts per £1 in yr1), but only 1pt per £5 spent elsewhere (so equiv 0.2% return).
Top card for home & abroad. Tandem Mastercard (apply)
Fail to fully repay, 18.9% rep APR

Full info & more options in Top cards for spending overseas.

Tandem pays 0.5% cashback on all spending (UK & abroad). Plus it is a specialist cheap overseas cards, meaning it doesn't add the usual 3%-ish exchange rate fee, so you get the same near-perfect exchange rates the banks do when you spend on it overseas.

While it is beatable for cashback (see above) and marginally beatable for spending abroad (by a debit card for lower ATM fees), as a one-card spending solution, it wins. Aqua Reward is similar, but has a higher APR.

Get £120 of Nectar points. Amex Nectar (eligibility calc / apply*)
Fail to fully repay, 22.9% rep APR.

Full info & more options in Top store credit card rewards.

Spend £2,000 within 3mths, get 20,000 bonus Nectar points worth £100 at Sainsbury's, plus the regular 2pts per £1, so a total of £120 worth.

Warning: There's a £25/yr fee after year 1, so cancel before then to avoid it. Sainsbury's Nectar Mastercard gives fewer bonus points, but isn't an Amex.
Top flight rewards (Avios + companion vch). BA Amex (eligibility calc / apply*)
Fail to fully repay, 22.9% rep APR

Full explanation & options in Top airline credit cards.

BA Amex gives 5,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in the first 3 months, plus the regular 1 Avios per £1. Crucially, big spenders who put £20,000+/yr through it get a free companion vch where you get two tickets but only pay the Avios for one (both pay taxes & charges).

However, for those who'll def fly and want biz/premium economy, it often works better to get the BA Premium Plus Amex and pay the hefty £195 annual fee. That gets you 25,000 bonus Avios if you spend £3,000 within 3mths, and crucially you get the companion ticket for just £10,000 spending. 

Virgin flyers should also look at the Virgin Atlantic card.

How to ensure it pays to spend

Credit cards want you to spend on them, both in the hope you'll rack up large, profitable (for them) interest, and because even without that, they earn an 'interchange fee' from the retailer when you do.

Interchange fees help them pay for the rewards above - though in recent years, the law's changed to reduce the amount Visa, Mastercard and some Amex cards can charge retailers.

Yet for you, the most important thing to do is neuter your credit card's ability to charge you interest, and turn it into a pure transaction card. You do this by...

Paying off your card IN FULL ( audio ) every month

Preferably do it by direct debit, so you never forget to make repayments. Also, never withdraw cash. Do that and the card is free, and you're paid to spend. So...

- Do all monthly spending on the card. Don't use cash, cheques or debit cards, but do stick within the credit limit. And don't see this as an excuse for additional spending.

- Put work expenses on. If you shell out and reclaim later, then get paid to do it on a rewards card (check this is fine with your employer).

- Team up to double the gain. If you happily and trustingly have joint finances (if not, beware - see my financial abuse guide), one of you can get a card, making the other a second cardholder. Both can then do all spending on it to max rewards. Once the intro period is over, the other applies for a card to get the bonus again and you reverse the roles.

- Possibly have a backup non-Amex card. Amex is widely accepted by big shops and retailers, but many independents won't take it as it charges them more. So as Amex cards tend to pay the best rewards, I team mine up with a non-Amex reward card to use where it's not taken.

Don't trust yourself? Stick with debit cards

I've told you the strength of credit cards if DONE RIGHT, yet done wrong they can be a dangerous temptation. Of course while credit cards are often seen as debt cards, debit cards are debt cards too for those who are overdrawn.

Yet on balance, if you have impulse control issues or don't trust yourself, don't risk switching to a credit card - getting yourself into a steaming pile of unneeded debt is a bigger risk than a lack of protection. For help picking the top debit card, see the Best Bank Accounts guide. Some currently pay you up to £175 to switch.

PS. What does getting new cards do to your credit file? While using our eligibility calculator to see which cards you're most likely to be accepted for won't impact your credit worthiness, applications do. While one isn't a biggie, many in a short space of time can have a negative impact, so avoid it if you've an important credit application due soon, eg, a mortgage or balance transfer.


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.



Got a mortgage? Global economic woes mean fixed rates have been slashed. Now you can get 2yr fixes from 1.21%, 5yrs from 1.55%

They say every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the poor world economic outlook combined with UK uncertainty means the rates at which banks lend to each other have fallen in the last few months. It's partly these long-term rates that mortgage firms base their fixes on, so mortgage rates have fallen too. Of course they may well drop further, but as they're cheap right now, EVERYONE with a mortgage should check now if they can switch and save. Let's go through it.

  1. First check your mortgage details (and what your bank will give you). This info underpins all your decisions.
    a) What's the rate? Plus monthly payments & outstanding debt.
    b) What type is it? A fix, tracker or standard variable rate? See fixes vs variables.
    c) When's the intro deal over? Eg, when does the 2yr, 5yr fix end? And what rate will it go to?
    d) When must it all be repaid? Eg, in 10, 20, 25yrs?
    e) Will I be penalised to switch? Any early repayment/exit penalties?
    f) The proportion of a home's current value you borrow - the loan-to-value, eg, £180k on a £200k home is 90% LTV.

    If your rate's about to end, ask your existing lender what its best deals are. These can have low fees as you're not switching between lenders, so don't need to pay costly fees - and it can set a benchmark for what to beat.

  2. Not sure what you're doing? We've a FREE 66-page printed guide to help. Grab a free printed copy or download a PDF of our Remortgage Guide. First-time buyer? We haven't forgotten you - read the First-Time Buyers' Guide.

  3. Use our range of calculators to do the numbers for you. We've different mortgage calculators to help you work out most things you need, including...
  4. How to find these cheap mortgages. We've given you the headline cheapest fixed rates - 2yrs at 1.21% fix, 5yrs at 1.55% - but both have £1,000+ fees, and you need 40%+ equity. We're using them as a symbol of the fact rates are lower, rather than saying they're the best mortgages. To see what's out there for you, use our mortgage comparison.

    It doesn't stop there. The key is what you'll be accepted for - it's still dependent on your credit score and lenders' affordability checks, your property type and more. Some of these checks can be tough. That's why, after comparing deals, if it looks like you can save, many people should consider using a mortgage broker - they have access to info about what each lender looks for that's not available to the public. See how to find a mortgage broker.

Thomas Cook collapse: Detailed MSE help - whether you're abroad, or now not going. We've put huge resources into trying to answer all your questions, from biggies: "Will I get home for free?" and "Will I get my money back?" to the others like: "Should I cancel my direct debit?" or "Can I claim cash if I got a repatriation flight?" Successes are already coming in. See Thomas Cook consumer help. Thomas Cook staff? Tough week for you - see redundancy & pension help.

STOP PRESS. British Gas back as cheapest Big 6 energy firm - save £260/yr. Big 6 prices have been on a roller-coaster recently - first rising, then dropping in recent days, though not quite to early Sep levels. E.on cut rates on Fri to be the cheapest biggie but late on Tue BG's Energy Plus Protection deal for new AND existing dual fuel custs trumped it. It's only avail via comparisons such as ours, which gives £25 cashback (the link takes you there to compare against other big names).

Ends Sun. £4.75 for M&S, Next, River Island etc coats, shoes, dresses & more. MSE Blagged. Discounter sells de-tagged surplus stock from high street stores and we've a code to cut the cost. Everything5pounds

Revealed: The Sainsbury's Nectar revamp. See Nectar changes uncovered.

Ends Thu. Virgin 100Mb b'band & line '£19/mth'. MSE Blagged. Via this link, Virgin Media newbies pay £25/mth, but a £75 bill credit means it's £225 over the year, equiv to £18.75/mth - 50% of homes qualify, check eligibility via the link.

Top Lifetime ISA 1.4% plus 25% first-time buyers' boost. 18 to 39-year-olds can start saving in a LISA and then get a 25% boost when it's used to buy a first property (ie, £250 per £1,000 saved). Moneybox* pays 1.4% AER variable (min £1) on its cash LISA, but read our full LISA guide first so you know what you're doing. If you plan to buy within a year or aren't sure you'll definitely buy, a Help to Buy ISA (which also gives the 25% boost, but on a smaller amount) may be better - see H2B ISAs v LISAs.

Ends Mon. You've less than a week to reclaim mis-sold Wonga payday loans. See Wonga help.


'They wanted £2,350 for home insurance, I got it for £310 thanks to MSE'

You too could pocket a tidy saving in just 5 mins by following our simple cost-cutting steps

From time to time, you'll hear us shout from the rooftops how to save on your home insurance, especially if you are being price-walked. This is where insurers lure you in with a cheap price, then 'walk up' the cost slightly each year on renewal. Robin emailed us one of the biggest hikes we've seen (more sprinting than walking), but he beat 'em: "After my first year, my insurer tried to hike my insurance from £696 to £2,350. I followed your tips and got cover for £313. Not bad at all, thanks." Our Cheap Home Insurance guide has full info on how you can save too. Here are the foundations...

  • Step 1. NEVER just auto-renew. Combine comparison sites to get 100s of quotes in minutes. They zip your details to dozens of insurers and brokers at once. Yet as they don't cover the same insurers, and can even have different prices for the same firm, use a few. Our current order's MoneySupermarket*,*, Compare The Market* & Gocompare* (see full comparison order and why).

  • Step 2. Compare with the HOT deals comparison sites miss. Here are the biggies on combined buildings and contents insurance. More info in the special home insurance promos section. Vchs can take up to 120 days to arrive:
    - £65 M&S gift card via this Age Co* link. Ends Mon.
    - £55 Amazon gift card via this 
    Intelligent Insurance* link.

  • Step 3. Check insurers NOT on comparison sites. Two biggies - Direct Line* and Aviva* - won't appear on them. They're worth checking, as they can be competitive for some.

  • Home insurance need-to-knows: Here are more ways to save...
    - Buildings insurance is usually only for freeholders, contents insurance is for all.
    - Many wrongly insure their home's value. Instead, use a rebuild cost calc to cover the rebuild cost if knocked down.
    - Don't underinsure contents, thinking you'll never claim it all - you may not get a full payout.
    - Comparison sites work best for those with standard circumstances - here's help if you're struggling to get insurance.
    - Once you've found your cheapest insurer, it's worth checking if you can get cashback on it.

Waiters/restaurant workers (esp in chains), please tell us what happens to your tips. Carluccio's has said it gives cash tips to waiting staff, but card tips are split between all staff, including managers, based on hours worked. We want to know how it works elsewhere, so customers who tip can understand where it goes. Please tip us off.

Burger King 'free' kids' meal when you recycle a plastic toy + more hacks for whopping savings. See all 12 BK hacks. Please eat responsibly.

New. 20%-40% off airport lounge access, making 'em £17-£32. Works for Heathrow (T3 & T4), Gatwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh and some in Oz. For travel till 31 Dec. Cheap Airport Lounges

Hot Diamonds 30% off EVERYTHING incl its outlet, eg, £80 ring for £17.50. MSE Blagged. We've a code valid on all of its jewellery, even its online sale/outlet where items already have up to 50% off. Hot Diamonds

'Free' £25 Amazon vch if you use a plumber, electrician or other handyperson from British Gas-backed site. MSE Blagged. We can't vouch for the quality of the work, but its Local Heroes site has 7,000 vetted & reviewed tradespeople, and we've blagged a bonus for 600 newbies. Local Heroes

UCAS backs down over debt ads - but not enough. The university admissions service is taking some action after Martin challenged it over ads for commercial loans in its emails, but he's calling on it to go further. UCAS latest


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Longest 0%: MBNA* up to 29mths 0%, 2.75%-3.49% fee + £20 cashback on £1k+ transfers (20.9% 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*
  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

Standard b'band & line rent: Post Office equiv £11.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £16.74/mth

Get £175 to switch: HSBC Advance
£150 to switch + 2% cashback: NatWest Reward


60+ student MoneySaving tips... incl get £100 to open a current account

Plus student loan mythbusters, and get a free PayPal £10, Amazon Prime membership, Microsoft Office & more

If you (or your kids) are heading off to uni this autumn, you'll likely be swamped with tales of cold baked beans and money misery. Yet we've loads of help, support & tricks in our 60+ Student MoneySaving Tips - here are a few...

  • 5 things EVERY student and their parents should know. Student finance myths 'n' misunderstandings are everywhere. Read our Student loans mythbusting guide.

  • Top student accounts, incl free £100 or 4yr railcard. First-year uni-goers who get an HSBC student account* score a free £100 and a £1,000 0% overdraft in year one. They can apply for an up-to £2k 0% overdraft in their second year and an up-to £3k in their third year. The Santander 123* student account gives full-time students in any year a 4yr 16-25 Railcard (worth £90ish) and a set £1,500 overdraft in years 1-3, if you pay in £500/term and register for online banking (if you're not in 1st yr, you need to switch an existing account). Both require you to pass a not-too-harsh credit check. For full help and more options, see Student Accounts.

  • Freebies and discounts galore, incl FREE £10 via PayPal, FREE 6mths' Amazon Prime, 50% off Spotify, 25% off Topshop, 20% off H&M & 10% off Macs and iPads. Not all stores shout about 'em, so we've these plus more hidden deals in our student discounts round-up.

  • Free Microsoft Office and 1TB free online storage. A must-have for many. See student software freebies.

  • Students and council tax is... complex. Those in all-student homes don't pay, but if you're sharing with non-students, there's a cost. For how it works, what you're liable for & how to fairly split the bill, see student council tax discounts.

  • LAUNCHING IN NEXT WEEK'S EMAIL: We've created the first-ever MSE TV programme. It's Martin's full 60min guide to everything parents, students and prospective students need to know about student finance, filmed with a live school audience. We'll be releasing copyright for non-commercial use, so you can watch it at home and it can be shown in schools, colleges and unis.

Smyths toys £10 off each £50 spend, so £20 off £100 etc. Rare discount (good for Xmas) in-store till Sun. Smyths

"Thank you, Martin. After reading your article, I complained about a Lloyds packaged bank account - three days later, I had £4,500 credited to my account."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£35 for 7 bottles of wine & 2 glasses (norm £73). MSE Blagged. 1k avail for Naked Wines newbies. Please be Drinkaware.



Are you an app, web or a branch banker? Bank branches are closing and the digital revolution is taking over - not just online, but now with a host of app-based banks too. So we wanted to find out how you access your bank and whether it depends on your age. How do you access your bank most often?

Aldi is your most-loved store, Sports Direct your most-loathed. In last week's poll, we asked you to pick up to five retailers you love and up to five you loathe. Over 3,800 people voted and Aldi picked up the most 'love' votes, with 39% of those who responded picking it as one of their favourites. Meanwhile, 27% said they 'loathed' Sports Direct. See full love or loathe poll results.



Should I tell our hotel it made a mistake with the bill? I've just noticed our hotel bill only charged us for one £28.50 evening meal instead of two. Should I ring the hotel and offer to pay the rest? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tell our hotel it made a mistake with the bill? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Trying to make sense and find a way out of debt
- Competitions thread of the week: A holiday to the Red Sea
- Old-Style board thread of the week: It's never too early for a thrifty, gifty Christmas
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Advice please - inherited gift
- Discussion of the week: Most efficient way of organising a linen cupboard?


Everything5pounds - £4.75 for clothes from Next, M&S etc?
Burger King - 'Free' kids' meal if you recycle a plastic toy
Hot Diamonds - 30% off everything code, incl outlet
Local Heroes - 'Free' £25 Amazon vch for using tradespeople
Smyths Toys - £10 off each £50, so £20 off £100 etc

Gruum - Shampoo bar for £4 delivered (norm £12)
Hobbycraft - 20% off full-price items via code
Red magazine - 'Free' Nails Inc polish with £4.75 mag
The Book People - 52 Mr Men books for £23 (norm £35)
Homebuilding & Renovating Show - FREE tickets (norm £8+)

Get paid to recycle - Up to £1.50 per ink cartridge etc
Reusable cups - Up to 50p off Costa/Pret/Starbucks drinks
Use less plastic & save cash - Where to refill water bottles etc
Swap old clothes - Recycle textiles for a £5 vch at H&M
Recycle the unrecyclable - Contact lenses, crisp packets etc

Quick Forum Tips

'Le Creuset' lookalike kitchenware in Aldi. Pan-tastic
Lego Advent calendar £4 via cashback. Bricking it
Cathedral City £1.89 at Iceland. Cheesy does it



Thu 26 SepGood Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 27 Sep - 
This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am


Wed 25 Sep - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 27 Sep 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 30 Sep - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 1 Oct 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I am midway through a contract for my home broadband, but the provider is increasing the cost. Is it allowed to do this and can I terminate the contract without paying a penalty? Kareem, via email.

MSE Steve B's A: Unfortunately telecoms firms can – and often do – increase prices, but the good news is you can easily switch and save for free.

Regulator Ofcom states that if your firm raises prices without having warned you before you signed up, you are allowed to leave penalty-free as long as you tell your provider within 30 days of being notified. Of course, only leave if you can beat the new price, though unless you're on a promo deal it's likely you could save £100s/yr by switching. See our Broadband Unbundled tool for the top deals.

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



That's it for this week, but before we go... signing your name used to be an everyday occurrence - not least to pay by credit card or cheque - but is this still the case in 2019? We asked MoneySavers how often they use their signature, and there was a sharp divide. Half still use it regularly, often at work - one nurse told us: "I am forever signing". But the other half barely use it, with some saying an electronic signature is more use. So are signatures still a thing for you, or are they a thing of the past? Have your say on our Do you still use your signature? Twitter post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team