Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

02 October 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Canine cost-cutters, 2.8% loan, Nectar relaunch, Martin: ‘student loans decoded’, ‘£5’ Odeon tix

This info may be out of date.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.


Winter is coming... our 12-point checklist to save £100s and turn up the MoneySaving heat before the big chill strikes

All the leaves are turning brown and the sky is getting grey, and if you're going for a walk, it's beginning to feel more like a winter's day (not least after recent downpours). Yes, summer is over and as colder weather can be costly, sort yourself NOW before it gets really grim. So here's our annual winter checklist to help you protect your home and your wallet...

  1. Is it REALLY cheaper to leave the heating on low all day? Find out the truth behind this and 16 other common energy conundrums (eg, should you paint radiators black?) in Energy Mythbusters.

  2. Warm your cockles with free cuppas from supermarkets & high street chains incl Waitrose, Greggs & Caffe Nero. How to play the stores' games to bag free tea & coffeeAnother idea is to bag the freebie and give it to someone sleeping rough.

  3. Beat the energy rip-off (and don't fall for this week's paltry price cut) - save £280+/yr. Colder weather and darker nights mean you use more energy, so get on a good deal before the high-use period.

    And don't fall for energy firms crowing they've cut the cost of their standard tariffs this week - they only did it to fall in line with an industry-wide price cap, which dropped by a typical £75/yr yesterday. In any case, the 11m on standard tariffs typically pay way too much even after the cut. There are better deals to be had.

    Do a whole-of-market comparison and you'll likely find a firm called Green is cheapest, but it's very new and we've barely any feedback on it. As we know many prefer a bigger name or firms with decent service track records, here are our current top picks. To show the size of the savings, compare the avg £1,178/yr standard tariff from the Big 6 based on typical use to those below...
TOP energy dealS
Incl savings vs avg Big 6 standard tariffs
Pure Planet - variable. Special MSE tariff incl £25 cashback & £47 credit | green | top service  | new custs, dual-fuel & online only  £890/yr £288/yr
Avro - 1yr fix. Cheapest fix | new & existing custs | dual-fuel only. NOTE: It has a decent service record, but it's been in trouble with the regulator recently £891/yr £287/yr
E.on - 1yr fix. Cheapest Big 6 | incl £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback | green | new custs only | dual-fuel & elec-only £915/yr £263/yr
Brit Gas - 1yr fixNew & existing custs | i ncl £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback | green | dual-fuel only    £918/yr £260/yr
- As they're top picks, links to Pure, E.on & BG take you to full info, and you can then do a comparison. Avro takes you straight to a comparison.
- Prices are avg dual-fuel costs, based on typical use.
- Note that the cost of variable deals can rise or fall.

  1. FREE winter car check - oil, battery, wipers etc. Before any long journey on icy roads, it's a wheely good idea to check your motor is winter-ready. Halfords' winter car check examines oil levels, battery, bulbs and wipers, and includes a screenwash top-up.

  2. Slash the cost of boiler cover by £100s. Don't feel you need cover from your energy provider, as they're not linked. In fact, you may not want it at all as most new boilers are reliable, and self-insuring (putting cash aside each month) can work. See our Cheap Boiler Cover guide for full help.

    If boiler cover is right for you, check you're on the best deal by doing a quick comparison. Our top pick comparison site is uSwitch* - you can add MoneySupermarket* & Gocompare for a wider spread.
  3. £4.99 cold & flu medicine for £2.99. Drug firms are geniuses - not just in making medicines, but also in persuading us there's hidden magic in expensive brands. Yet cheaper, generic cures can contain EXACTLY the same ingredients.

    On Tue at a Boots store, we found a 16-pack of £2.99 Boots' own Max Strength Cold & Flu (Day & Night) tablets, which were exactly the same medicine as Sudafed's £4.99 Mucus Relief (Day & Night) - they had the same PL number, which is the licence number for each drug. Full info and lots more tips, including who can get a free flu jab, in our Cheap Medicines guide.

  4. Full service car brrr...eakdown cover - £60/yr. There's always a spike in breakdowns when the cold weather hits and the consequences are worse, as you (and the kids) don't want to be stuck on a motorway when it's freezing. Here's how to get covered...

    - Our top pick: £59.99/yr. AutoAid* covers any car you and your spouse (or civil/common law partner) drives. Crucially, unlike basic policies, it includes home breakdowns and onward travel if stuck elsewhere. Equiv AA cover is £100+ for couples.

    Full info on this and all cheap deals, including European cover, price beater offers and how to get extra cashback on new AA & RAC policies in our Cheap Breakdown Cover guide.

    - Don't want to switch? HAGGLE. Breakdown firms are among the easiest to haggle with. Some 88% of AA and 85% of RAC customers who tried got lower rates in our most recent poll. See Breakdown Cover Haggling. Chris emailed: "I haggled the AA from £135/yr to £45/yr, all in a 10-min call. Thanks for your tips."

  5. Free loft and cavity wall insulation... for some. The days of free insulation for all have gone, but if you're on certain benefits (eg, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance) and your home is deemed suitable, some big energy firms offer insulation for free. Whether you pay for insulation or not, it can cut bills by £100s/yr and keep you warm, yet it's not right for all. See insulation help + pros & cons. 

  6. Stay toasty with a DIY sausage dog. Sometimes low-tech is best. Thrifty tips include making a sausage dog draft excluder, lining your curtains with fleece or blocking draughts with a chimney sheep - see thrifty heat-saving tips. Plus, on the MSE Forum there's the Winter Prep thread, where MoneySavers share ideas.

  7. Do you fumble for your stopcock? Every household should know where their mains water off-switch is (in case you don't know what a stopcock is). Winter is a crucial time, as if your pipes freeze and burst, you need to turn the water off to prevent huge damage, costing thousands to repair. See how to find your stopcock.

  8. Over 64 or on benefits? Are you eligible for winter cash from the Govt? Winter can be tough, but there's help available...
    a) Winter Fuel Payments. If you were born on or before 5 April 1954, regardless of income you're eligible for the up-to-£300 one-off payment. If you get certain benefits, eg, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance, you'll usually get it automatically if you're old enough, otherwise you may have to claim. See Winter Fuel Payments.

    b) Warm Home Discount. Most people who were receiving pension credit on 7 Jul 2019, get an automatic one-off £140 rebate on their elec bill between Sep and Mar, but there are exclusions. Other low-income families may qualify too - see Warm Home Discount eligibility.
    c) Cold Weather Payments. If you get pension credit or support for mortgage interest, you automatically get £25 for every seven straight days it's zero degrees or below from Nov to Mar. If you're on certain other benefits, eg, universal credit or income support, it depends on your circumstances. See Cold Weather Payments.

  9. Are you forced to choose between heating and eating this winter? It's a disgraceful choice, but sadly many face it. If you do, check if you're eligible for help, via special free advice services.

    - In Eng & Wales, see Simple Energy Advice or call 0800 444 202.
    - In Scot, contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.
    - In NI, contact Energy Saving Trust or call 0800 142 2865.
    - Also, see our Housing & Energy Grants & Debt Help guides.

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: MSE TV. 'Martin Lewis: Student Loans Decoded' - everything pupils, parents and students need to know (schools, pls show this too)

This week, we've something we've never done before - MSE TV.  A full 45-min programme (+ optional 15-min Q&A), aimed at those in years 11-13 (and their parents), filmed in front of a lively group of 100 pupils at Queens Park Community School, north-west London (ta to them). You can watch it at home, but we're also relinquishing copyright for non-commercial use, so if you're a teacher in a school or college (or you're a uni lecturer) please show it too - it's designed to fit within one lesson.

We hope it'll be a valuable resource, and complement the free financial education textbook.

Watch in full or watch the key sections: 

Why we've done this? 
Over to Martin: "For nearly 30 years we've educated our youth into what we call debt when they go to university, but never educated them about debt. The political spittle over student finance compounds that, leaving the subject widely and horrendously misunderstood. While some people rightly choose not to go to university based on finances, many choose not to go based on financial myths. That's tragic.

"We want to help people assess the practical impact of uni on their pockets. Too many are put off by the overall 'debt' figure they're left with, which bears little resemblance to what they repay. Too few consider the greater practical challenge of how to afford to live while studying, and then there's the hidden parental contribution the state doesn't like to tell people about. Hopefully, this programme will mean fewer people write off university for the wrong reasons."


New. MoneySaving for dog owners - incl how to buy/adopt and how to save on food, vets' bills etc. Having a dog is as much about love as anything else, but it's still important not to end up with your financial tail between your legs. So we've been like a dog with a bone to compile a host of tips to lead you onto the right MoneySaving path. This is the first incarnation, so have a read and please give us feedback too. Get some paw-some savings.

Revamped Nectar scheme launches - as MSE predicted last week. Full details in Nectar revamp.

'£5ish' Odeon tickets + 15 more cinema hacks. The Odeon deal works if you buy two or five tix though you'll need to use them in the next week. But whenever you go to the flicks, our MoneySaving movies guide is a must-see. Cinema hacks

Got a Marcus savings account? Your rate may drop, but we've a trick to boost it. See Marcus trick

How to get 'free' £4 Kellogg's granola. In supermarkets, while stocks last. 'Free' Kellogg's

Get £40 cashback for investing £400. MSE Blagged. If you plan to 'robo-invest' - where investments are selected for you based on your attitude to risk - then after fees, this Wealthify deal is equiv to a 9.5% head start if you took the money after 6mths (the earliest you can). 1,500 avail, see Robo-investing cashback.


New. Cheapest loan for £7,500-£15,000 - 2.8%

It's a cheap time to borrow, but we're not suggesting everyone rushes in - only do it if you really NEED to

If you've a major purchase planned (eg, your car's a wreck), now's a good time to borrow with rates close to all-time lows. But don't dive in just because they're cheap. Only do it for a planned, budgeted for and affordable buy. If you're struggling with debt, more borrowing won't help - see our Debt Help guide instead. Here's what you need to know...

  • Will you get a loan? It's best to use our Loans Eligibility Calc first. It shows which loans you're likely to get, without hitting your creditworthiness. But acceptance is also about being able to afford repayments. The bigger the loan, the more income you need. So a top credit score with avg income may give you a good chance at £3k, but not at £10k.

    Sadly, rates are 'representative', so ONLY 51% of those accepted need to get the advertised rate - others can pay more. But you're usually only told your actual rate after application, so once accepted ALWAYS check the rate. This applies even if you use our eligibility calc, although we're working with lenders to get them to show real rates before you apply.

  • Lowest rates from £3,000-£15,000. As we say above, it's best to use the Loans Eligibility Calc first, but here are the top picks. ALL below are 'representative APR'. Most are for 1-5 years, but some differ:

    - £7,500-£15,000: 2.8% 
    Zopa* (new). Or 2.9% from M&S Bank*, John Lewis*, Tesco Bank*Sainsbury's Bank - if you've a Nectar card
    - £5,000-£7,499: 3.3% from 
    Zopa*, 3.4% from Admiral*
    - £3,000-£4,999: 8.2% from Admiral*, 8.5% from Hitachi*

  • Lowest rates below £3,000. It's likely to be cheaper to do a money transfer, where you get a credit card to pay cash into your bank account, so you owe it instead but at 0% (you pay a 3%-4% fee of the amount shifted). But if a loan is right for you (eg, you need longer to pay), check the Loans Eligibility Calc or our Loans guide for the top deals.

  • Loan Golden Rules. Full info & options in Cheap Personal Loans (APR Examples).
    a) Minimise the amount you borrow and repay as quickly as possible.
    b) Pay on time (preferably by direct debit) or you may get a charge and a missed payment on your credit report.
    c) If you're getting a loan to pay off credit cards, a balance transfer may be cheaper.


25% off Adidas, Converse, Hunter wellies, Ugg boots & more shoes via code. MSE Blagged. Also works on Kurt Geiger & other designer brands online at the Shoeaholics outlet, till Sun.

October is 'free wills month' for those aged 55+ (but some areas excluded). You can get a solicitor-drafted will, but don't dally as appointments go fast. The scheme's run by charities in the hope you leave them something in your will. It's not UK-wide as London, Scotland and some other areas are excluded. Free Wills Month

B&M '2 for £16' toy sale, eg, Toy Story game, Harry Potter figures (norm £13 each). In stores till Sun. B&M sale

Thomas Cook latest: most ATOL refunds may not come till Dec. For full info and lots more help on refunds, repatriation flights, direct debit bookings and more, see Thomas Cook collapse help.

22% off Clinique, Too Faced, YSL make-up & more via code. MSE Blagged. Ends Fri. Lookfantastic

Ends Fri. 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


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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*
  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: 
Zopa* 2.8% rep APR

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

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


Baby freebies galore - incl free clothes, toys and 'sleeping boxes'

Make big savings on your little ones' costs if you've recently had - or are expecting - a new arrival

The most popular birthday period is the end of Sep and early Oct (go back nine months to work out why). So now's the perfect time to tell you about our 50+ Baby or Toddler MoneySaving Tips - great if you're snuggled up with a new bundle, they're a boisterous toddler or you're expecting one shortly. Here are six tips for starters...

  • New. Free clothes, cots, etc via 'baby banks' if you're struggling. You may have heard of food banks, but there are also 100+ 'baby banks' across the UK. If you're raising kids on a low income, they provide quality baby clothes and equipment, donated by local families. See baby banks.

  • Free toys, wipes, baby 'sleeping boxes' and more. We've found lots of freebies out there - firms offer everything from free wipes to a free toy cow if you join 'clubs'. Plus in Scotland, the Scottish Govt gives parents of newborns a heavy-duty cardboard crib filled with bedding and baby-gros. Full info and lots more in our baby freebies rundown.

  • Tricks to breastfeed in clothes you already own. There's no need to spend lots on specialist outfits you'll only wear for a limited time. We've top tips from an MSE mum for feeding in flattering normal clothes, plus high street bargains on standard clothes you can still feed in. See Can I breastfeed in it?

  • Tinder-style friends app - find parent-pals for free. It's a way to meet mums and dads of similar-age kids for support and playdates. A free parent-meeter app matches you up.

  • Free prescriptions and dental work. If you're expecting or have had a baby in the last year, you get NHS prescriptions and dental work at no cost, so it's well worth booking check-ups within that period.

  • Mum-to-be? Can you get a free first class train upgrade? Many rail firms have ways to help expectant mums get a seat - via free 'baby on board' badges or 'priority seating' cards you can flash to encourage others to give up a seat. But some firms may even bump you up to first class if there are no standard seats available. Full info in train freebies.


Peer-to-peer lenders given final warning by regulator. It's concerned about risky practices, firms' financial resources and more. See P2P warning.

"Thanks for your info on the marriage tax allowance. We got cheque for £923 within a week of applying."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

FREE drink in 400+ pubs incl Slug & Lettuce, Walkabout & Yates. Valid on booze OR soft drinks from Thu via app. Free drink (pls be Drinkaware).



Got a question for the Guv'nor? Want answers on interest rates, bank notes, inflation or even the future of the UK economy? The Treasury Committee (an influential group of MPs) will be grilling Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, next month - and wants your input on what it should ask. Tweet your queries to @CommonsTreasury using #AskTheGovernor, or email TSC@parliament.uk by 5pm next Tue (8 Oct), with your name and where you're from.



The MoneySavingExpert.com Annual Census. So who are MoneySavers? For the sixth year running, rather than data-mining, we reckon the politest way to find out is just to ask. Plus we think you may like to find out a little bit more about who else uses this site (or more accurately, who uses this site and answers the polls). So please fill in the sixth annual MSE census.

App-based banking seems to be taking off (particularly among younger MoneySavers). Last week, we asked how you access your bank most often - app, web or branch? The 10,000+ people who responded were by definition web users, which may have skewed the results, but app-based banking was the clear winner. It was the most popular option for every age group bar the over-65s, and chosen by 9 in 10 of those aged under 25. See the full bank access poll results.



Should I charge for countersigning my friends' passport photos? I recently became a police officer and was asked by a friend to countersign her passport photos, as I fall under their list of 'professionals' who can do this. Now other friends are asking the same, as their GPs charge up to £40 to do it. At first, I just thought of it as doing my friend a favour, but if it's something lots of people will ask, should I be paid for the time it takes to dig out my passport and fill out the form? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I charge for countersigning my friends' passport photos? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What small DFW things will you do w/c 30 September?
- Competitions thread of the week: Joint family memberships at English Heritage
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Tumble dryer vs heated airer
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: I want to help my son save up
- Discussion of the week: Winter 'wake & up save the pennies'


Cinema hacks - Incl '£5ish' Odeon tickets
Kellogg's granola - How to get 'free' cereal (norm £4)
Shoeaholics - 25% off code, incl Adidas, Converse & more
B&M - 'Two for £16' toy sale, incl Toy Story & Harry Potter
Lookfantastic - 22% off make-up, incl Clinique & Too Faced

Lego - FREE £5 Mini Build toy for kids (Thu only)
Grand Designs Live - 2for1 Birmingham tickets
Nintendo - FREE Mario Kart mobile game (iOS/Android)
West End theatre - £25 tickets incl Wicked, Matilda
Wilko - Half-price pick & mix sweets (ends Thu)

Asos - 'Up to 60% off'
Cath Kidston - 'Up to 50% off'
Matalan - 'Up to 50% off'
Nike - 'Up to 40% off'
Oasis - 'Up to 70% off'

Quick Forum Tips

Lidl weekend deals (now incl Fri). Save a Lidl cash
Pandora jewellery 3for2 sale (ends Wed). Bling it on 
Pretty Polly plus-size tights discount. No way, Hosiery



Thu 3 Oct - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 4 Oct - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 7 Oct - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 7 Oct 
- BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm


Wed 2 Oct - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, Helen Saxon
Fri 4 Oct 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 7 Oct 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Oli Townsend
Tue 8 Oct 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: If I load money onto a prepaid travel card and I don't spend the entire balance while I'm away, will the money left on the card be safe? Susanna, via email.

MSE Karl's A: If you've money left on a prepaid travel card, don't worry - it won't suddenly disappear. And if you're worried about the prepaid card company going bust, most prepaid card firms aren't actually banks, but the money is safely held in a separate ringfenced bank or building society account. 

The slight risk comes if the underlying bank or building society which holds your money were to go bust, in which case your cash wouldn't be protected. So for max safety, it's usually best to keep cash on a prepaid card for immediate spending only. (Also, not all prepaid cards are Financial Conduct Authority-regulated - so you may be reliant on another country's regulations to protect you.)

Finally, watch out for inactivity charges - eg, some prepaid cards charge £2/mth if you've not used a card for 12mths. For full help, see our Prepaid Travel Cards guide.

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



That's it for this week, but before we go... there was an embarrassing telly mishap last week, when a technical glitch saw Lorraine Kelly interrupted live on air by Martin Lewis - who was in another studio preparing to record a separate item - jokingly singing 'The Time Warp'. Watch Lorraine's stunned reaction (and find out just why Martin was singing) in our Martin sings 'The Time Warp' Facebook post. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team