Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

30 October 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... FAST b'band £18/mth, new Clubcard, £250 M&S beauty £40, Help to Buy alert, McDonald’s £3 off £10

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Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.


From debt desperation to happy homeowner in 8 years: a must-read financial life story 

A note from Martin to start: I've long said that no matter how dire your money situation, there is always hope.

Yet the unsolicited email below, that we were recently sent by Jay, says it better than I ever have. It tells an 8yr tale, that shows, if you accept there's a problem, then act on it, life can improve. (I may be slightly allergic to his writing though, as my eyes watered after I read it.)

As it's almost my dream case study, I asked his permission to share it, and he was happy to. So here are Jay's words, totally unedited (though I've added some key links in, so those who are inspired can take action). Of course, while he graciously thanks me, much of the work is the MSE team's, and the real credit for his success is due to Jay himself...

From: Jay
To: successes@moneysavingexpert.com
Subject: A Thankyou Letter for M.Lewis

Dear Martin,

I just wanted to take the time to personally thank you for all advice and guidance you have given me through your website and TV show over the years and let you know just how much you have helped.

About 8 years ago I was in a terrible financial state (all my own doing). I had 3 maxed out credit cards, a loan I could not afford to pay back and an enormous overdraft, of which the fees kept me in an inescapable cycle of working all month just to pay charges and interest and more debt (not an uncommon story I know). The stress this brought and the affect it had on my life was massive.

It was at this point I decided to get my act together and a friend pointed me toward your website.

The first challenge was to stop the extortionate overdraft fees which were costing me up to £300 a month. So, armed with your reclaim guide and template letters, I went about putting a stop to the charges and eventually got a cheque from Lloyds to tune of £3500.

This is solely down to your guidance as I would've settled way before I got my eventual offer, with a court date nearing all the time, but your advice was to hold on and that they would blink first (they finally caved three days before we were due in court).

This was enough to get me out of the overdraft fees cycle, but I still needed to stop the missed payments for my loan and credit cards. For this your advice was to contact StepChange (CCCS at the time) who would go on to contact all my lenders, freeze all interest and set up one affordable payment for me, all for no charge.

With this in place, over the next two years I was able to pay back all my debt until a point where I was finally debt free.

I was now able to build my credit rating, and over the past 6 years, again with your guidance, I have managed to see my rating change from 'very poor' to 'excellent' with my last Experian score a healthy 970/999.

I did this by, firstly, getting a credit card for people with bad credit, buying all my petrol with it, then paying it off IN FULL at the end of every month. I was then able to graduate to a 0% balance transfer card to carry on the work. Alongside this, I budgeted like a madman and had an Excel spreadsheet for every financial eventuality.

After a few years of doing this, I became so attuned to spending less than I earned, I now even have savings. Because of this, I am now in the position to buy my own house. This is once again down to the fact I have been following your advice.

But that's not all you have done. In the past few years, you have also helped me and my partner claim back over £2500 in PPI charges [they've ended now but see my 13 other reclaims - ML] and over £1000 in packaged bank account fees. You have even helped me claim back £7 a month from the taxman for uniform cleaning.

So thank you Martin, for helping me take control of my finances and my life. I now live comfortably with my family in my own home with a new car and a 2020 summer holiday I've already paid off.

None of this would be possible without your website, built on the back of all your own personal hard work. In crazy times such as these, it's comforting to know there's someone looking out for us.

Yours Gratefully,


P.S. You couldn't take a stab at Brexit next could you?

Inspired? There's a lot more help...
Why not give yourself a money makeover or take a look in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum for many more stories of people pulling themselves out of debt by their bootstraps. Or if you're further along the journey, there's Mortgage-Free Wannabe.
If you've had mental health issues too there's our Mental Health & Debt Help Guide 2019 and also my Money & Mental Health Policy Institute charity (MMHPI) has the MMHPI Community so you can engage.
And if you fancy commenting on Jay's story, then you can do that in the Debt depression to happy homeowner blog.


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.



9 days only. Virgin 108Mb MEGA fast fibre broadband ONLY '£18/mth'

Want fast b'band? This is the CHEAPEST EVER NO LINE FAST FIBRE deal we've seen, but only 50% qualify

One of the biggest complaints we hear from people is: "I just want broadband, why must I pay for a landline?" Cheap broadband-only deals are rare, so we're excited about this one. It needs to be said though, Virgin's done similar deals in the past, including a landline, for only a quid or so more. Yet if you're one of the 9m out of contract, and want no-phone FAST broadband, this is hot. As there are no other competitive 'no-line' deals, below we compare it to the cheapest with lines (you could always just not plug a phone in).

PS: Broadband deals are postcode dependent, so the links below go via our Broadband Unbundled tool, which lets you see if you're eligible and if not, what else is available. All deals below are MSE Blagged.

DEAL (2)
Cheapest superfast fibre BROADBAND-ONLY - best if you've a real need for speed & don't need a line
New. Virgin Media
108Mb b'band
Apply via this special Virgin Media link by 7 Nov and you pay £24/mth for b'band ONLY over the 1yr contract, but you get an auto £75 bill credit, so there's nothing to pay for 3mths. That makes it £213 in total, equiv to £17.75/mth.
Cheapest fast fibre BROADBAND & LINE best for heavy streamers, gamers or if many use it at once in your home
63Mb  b'band

It's £26.99/mth for b'band & line over the 1yr Shell contract. As you get an automatic £75 bill credit in Jan, you pay £249 in total, equiv to £20.74/mth.
35Mb  b'band
It's £22.99/mth for b'band & line over the 1yr Shell contract. As you get an automatic £75 bill credit in Jan, you pay £201 in total, equiv to £16.74/mth.
Cheapest standard speed BROADBAND & LINE - usually fine for browsing or light streaming
11Mb b'band
It's £16.99/mth for b'band & line over the 1yr Shell contract. As you get an automatic £75 bill credit in Jan, you pay £129 in total, equiv to £10.74/mth.
(1) Rules differ by firm - see exact terms via the links. (2) Incl avg b'band speed. (3) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash or vouchers and averaging it over the contract.
  • Will I get the advertised speed? The 'average' speed quoted is what at least 50% of customers get at peak times. You'll also be told the minimum speed you'll get before you sign up by most big providers. With some (incl Virgin Media, but not Shell Energy), 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.

  • Diarise to switch when your deal ends. These promos only last for 1yr, after which prices soar.


This week, the M&S beauty Advent calendar is out - £250's worth for £40 incl Aveda, L'Occitane & Ren. Last week it was Boots, now M&S. It's a knockdown price, but only if you spend £25+ on clothing, homeware or beauty from Thu. Not just any Advent calendar

General Election coming in Dec? Here's how to register to vote. It's the most important consumer decision you can make and it may boost your credit rating too. How to register to vote

Tesco's £8/mth Clubcard Plus to launch next week - is it any good? See full Clubcard analysis

Ending. Hot Sim - 8GB, unltd mins & texts, '£8/mth'. With this 1yr contract, newbies to Plusnet* (uses EE's network) who apply by Tue 5 Nov pay £10/mth. But claim a £25 prepaid Mastercard - almost as good as cash - and it becomes an equiv £7.92/mth. While 3GB is enough for two-thirds of MoneySavers, this is cheaper than most 3GB deals. Full help and lots more deals in Top Sims.

McDonald's £3 off £10, or £5 off £20. Till Fri, but please eat responsibly. See this and more McDonald's hacks.

Trick to get a £9 or £11 Amazon Echo Dot (norm £50) - for some. This popped up late on Tue, so details are sketchy and it may not last. See Echo Dot trick.


Ending. Two top balance transfers. Shift debt & pay NO INTEREST for 26mths (1% fee) or 29mths (2.75% fee) AND get £20 cashback

A balance transfer is where you get a new credit card to pay off other credit or store cards, so you owe it instead but at 0% - in other words you don't pay interest. This helps you get debt-free quicker (as long as you don't borrow more) as all your repayments clear what you owe, rather than servicing the interest. Yet two top deals are ending, so if you're paying interest on your credit or store cards, sort it now. A few tips first, then best buys...

- Don't just apply. FIRST find which cards you're likely to be accepted for.  Our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator shows your acceptance odds, helping you minimise applications and protect your credit score.
- 'Up-to' cards may mean you get a shorter 0%. It depends on your creditworthiness - the other cards give more certainty.
- Go for the lowest fee (incl cashback) in the time you're sure you can repay in. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

Ends 10am Mon. MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*) Up to 29mths (20.9%) 2.75% - 3.49% depending on credit score, but you get £20 cashback if shifting £1k+ within 60 days, making it cheaper than similar cards, esp for £1k- £3k transfers
Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) 29mths (21.9%) 3%
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) Up to 28mths (19.9%) 1.75% (you're charged 3.5% but it refunds half after a couple of days)
Ends 10am Mon. MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*) Up to 26mths (20.9%) 1% - 3.49% depending on credit score, but you get £20 cashback if shifting £1k+ within 60 days, making it cheaper than similar cards, esp for £1k-£4k transfers
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*)
PS: RBS / NatWest customers can get a longer fee-free 0% 
Up to 20mths (20.9%) NONE
(1) Rep APR after 0% in brackets. (2) As percentage of debt shifted.  

Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full info in Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you could lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
b) Clear the card or balance-transfer again before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the higher APR.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and withdrawals hit your creditworthiness.
d) You must usually balance-transfer within 60 or 90 days to get the 0%.
e) You normally can't transfer a balance between two cards from the same bank (the case for all cards above).


Plusnet's hiking broadband & line prices - how to beat it. 100,000s will soon be hit - see how to beat Plusnet hikes. Vodafone's also hiking its HOME broadband package costs - see Vodafone broadband help.

Updated. When will your student loan be wiped? It depends on which part of the UK you're from, and when you started. There have been a few small changes over the last couple of years too, so see our quick reference guide to when student loans wipe.

Aldi 'special buy' wooden toys, eg, £30 kitchen, £17 train track. For its 5th annual 'special buy' toys event, it's built cheap lookalikes of many similar but pricier toys sold elsewhere. Online now, in stores from Thu. Aldi toys

Confirmed. Nectar 'double-up' at Sainsbury's starts today (Wed) - incl toys, clothes & electricals. We told you to keep hold of points last week in case a double-up happens - and it is indeed happening. See Nectar double-up.

£144ish of Ciate nail polish for £30. MSE Blagged. Incl 23 mostly mini polishes and a nail file. 2,000 avail. Ciate

Payday lender QuickQuid goes bust - your rights. If you've a loan or mis-selling claim, see QuickQuid help

FitFlop EXTRA 25% off code, eg, £32 trainers (were £85). MSE Blagged. Valid on almost everything. FitFlop


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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: Admiral* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: M&S Bank* 2.9% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £10.74/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


MARTIN: 1MTH WARNING TO ANYONE 16+ WHO'S NEVER OWNED A HOME. 'Help to Buy ISAs closing. Put £1+ in now or risk missing free £1,000s'

The easiest, simplest form of help for first-time buyers to build a deposit closes to new applicants on 30 Nov. First-time buyers saving in Help to Buy (H2B) ISAs get a 25% boost from the state, so each £1,000 saved becomes £1,250. If you may one day want to buy a home, consider opening one now with £1+, as then you can keep saving in it until 2029. The H2B ISA's replacement, the Lifetime ISA (LISA), also gives a 25% boost - but other terms differ, so choosing a winner is complex...

  • Can you get one? To open an H2B ISA you just need to be aged 16 (there's no upper limit). LISAs though can only be opened if you're 18-39. A first-time buyer is defined as someone who's never owned or part-owned a property anywhere worldwide. As ISAs are individual products, you can qualify even if you're buying with someone who's owned before. Both first-timers? You can have one each (and one can be H2B, one a LISA).

  • Help to Buy ISAs vs LISAs. You can open both, but ONLY get the 25% homebuyers' bonus on one. For full info, see our detailed H2B ISA or LISA guides, but for now, let's play Homeowner Help Top Trumps (catchy eh...).

    - The LISA bonus is potentially £1,000s bigger. You can save up to £4,000/tax year in a LISA. Yet with an H2B ISA you're limited to £1,200 in month one, then up to £200/mth after that. So max both out from today for around 18mths and you'd have £4,600 in H2B (generating a £1,150 bonus), but £12,000 in a LISA (generating a £3,000 bonus).
    - LISAs let you buy a property valued at up to £450,000. But with an H2B, the maximum property value is £250,000 (or £450,000 in London). With both, they can only be used with a residential mortgage (ie, not buy-to-let).
    - The H2B bonus is triggered faster. As quickly as 3mths after opening, but you can only use the bonus on the LISA if you have had it open for a year before you buy.  
    - H2B is no risk, as it lets you withdraw penalty-free whenever you want. Yet with LISAs, withdraw for anything other than a first home (or retirement when aged 60) and there's an effective 6.25% penalty.
    - The top H2B ISAs pay higher interest. See Top H2B ISAs and Top LISAs, though if a LISA is right for you, if you've enough savings to max or near max it out, its far bigger bonus makes up for the lower interest.

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

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

    If you're ready to start saving, and want an H2B ISA, if you can max it out with the £1,200 in the first month do so, as you only get that extra allowance for one month. Also, you can't contribute to a cash ISA and H2B ISA in the same tax year, yet if you've already paid into a cash ISA, see this workaround.

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

£10 off £15 code for Buckley London jewellery. MSE Blagged. Incl sale and 3for2 bracelets. Bling it on

Ends Thu. 7,000 bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles with fee-free credit card. For new customers who spend £1k within 90 days. Full analysis and more options in Airline Credit Cards.

 "Me and my partner both got £10 credit off Three after the signal outage - we followed your helpful advice."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Peer-to-peer lender Funding Secure goes into administration. See Funding Secure news. 



TEACHERS: Have you been teaching financial education? Last year, Martin teamed up with the charity Young Money (formerly PFEG) to produce the first-ever financial education textbook - Your Money Matters. 100 copies were sent to every state-funded secondary school in England and a free PDF of the textbook is available to download. If you're a teacher, whether you've been using the textbook or not, Young Money wants to hear your thoughts about teaching financial education via this short survey.



Take our life skills test... For this week's poll, we thought it would be interesting to see how many of these 21st century life skills you can actually do, pitting the younger generation against the older generation. So which do you feel you could do to a competent level?

The majority of MoneySavers who voted for Brexit want to leave the EU without a deal, while remainers are split between having a second referendum and simply remaining. Last week, we asked what you think should happen with Brexit and a whopping 18,000+ people voted. See full Brexit poll results.



Should I tip if other diners don't? I usually tip 10% when out for a meal, but recently I was eating with a group who don't tip at all and felt it would have been silly to leave such a small tip just for my share, so I didn't leave anything. Should I have done it anyway? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tip if other diners don't? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: How many budgeting spreadsheets do you have?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a Google Home Mini
- Old-Style board thread of the week: The Preparing for Winter Thread
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Couples - how do you budget for Christmas?
- Discussion of the week: MoneySaving tips for gluten-free eaters


M&S - £40 Advent calendar with contents worth £250+
McDonald's - £3 off £10 spend, or £5 off £20, via app
Aldi - 'Special buy' toy event, incl £30 play kitchen
Ciate - £144ish of nail polish for £30 (2,000 avail)
FitFlop - Extra 25% off code, valid on sale items

Wilko - Half-price pick & mix sweets (ends Thu)
M&S - 20% off homeware, up to 40% off furniture (ends Thu)
Buckley London - £10 off £15 jewellery spend
MoneySaving Halloween tricks - Eg, how to make fake blood
Pizza Hut - £7 unlimited lunch buffet

Legoland - 30% off annual pass
Odeon - Five tickets for £20
Bonfire Night - Free firework displays
Kids Pass - £5 for one month, no subscription
Homebuilding & Renovating show - 3,000 free tix

Quick Forum Tips

Free Cif spray 'eco refill' via coupon. Clean up
Aldi £50 wine Advent calendar. Wine not?
Lidl weekend offers. Save a Lidl cash



Thu 31 Oct Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Mon 4 Nov 
This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 4 Nov 
BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm. Listen again


Wed 30 Oct - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, Jordon Cox
Fri 1 Nov 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 4 Nov 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Oli Townsend
Tue 5 Nov 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: I'm going to London for three days in January by train. Should I buy tickets now, or just before I go? Anne, via email.

MSE Kelvin's AGenerally, the earlier you book, the cheaper train tickets are. This is because train firms release their cheapest advance tickets about 12 weeks ahead, so it's worth checking now to see if any for your journey are already on sale. 

If not, you can sign up for a free alert to let you know when they have been released - so you can get in fast before they sell out. See our Cheap Trains guide for loads more cost-cutting tips. 

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... how do you keep white trainers pearly white? The MSE Forum is a treasure trove of information, and not just on saving money. It also helps solve age-old dilemmas as MSE Guy found when searching for ways to ditch the dirt on his trainers (putting them on a cold wash wrapped in towels worked for him). It proved a hot topic again last week in our forum, so we asked for your tips. We were inundated, from simply using baby wipes to the more extreme scrubbing them with toothpaste. Share your method on our Making trainers sparkle Facebook post. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team