Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

13 November 2019

Over 50 ways to save incl... Tesco must-read, 2.8% loan, Deals Predictor 2019, 'Brit Gas £438 saving', Lapland tricks

This info may be out of date.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.


Urgent. FREE £175 in time for Christmas

Banks are willing to bribe you (legally) to switch. It's your last chance to pocket their money just in time for the big day

Fancy extra cash for Christmas? This is a perfect opportunity to grab it and likely get a better bank account, as four banks currently pay you to switch.

Switching only takes seven working days, and with most, you can get the bonus within a month of that. That's about 40 days, meaning it's still possible to bag the cash before 25 Dec, though even if you don't quite make that date, you'll have it to ease the Jan squeeze - when the gap between paydays is long.

MAX WAIT FOR UPFRONT BONUS (1)(min pay-in for all perks)
HSBC Advance*

- FREE £175
- 2.75% regular saver
40 days
(Min pay-in £1,750/mth - equiv £25,900/yr salary)
M&S Bank*
- Extra £80 gift card after 1yr
- Good service (68% great)
- 5% regular saver
40 days
(NO min pay-in for the £100, but £1,250/mth for the £80 - equiv £17,000/yr salary)
First Direct*

- FREE £50
- Top service (85% great)
- £250 0% overdraft (2)
- 2.75% regular saver
40 days
(No min pay-in needed, but must pay in £1k within 3mths for bonus)
NatWest / RBS Reward (3)  
- FREE £150
- £2/mth fee
- 2% cashback on bills paid by direct debit (but we've heard this changes in Feb)
Comes in Feb
(Min pay-in £1,500/mth - equiv £21,500/yr salary)
Full info: Best Bank Accounts. (1) Clock starts when you begin switch. (2) Many get the overdraft, but it is dependent on credit score. (3) You also get £150 switching to fee-free NatWest/RBS Select accounts, but no cashback.

All above credit check you, though it's not usually that harsh. To qualify for the perks, you must to use their official switching services. They'll automatically move all your direct debits and standing orders, close your old account, and auto-forward payments made to your old bank for at least three years. A couple require a set number of direct debits to be moved over too: HSBC (2+) & M&S Bank (4+).

You may also need to go paperless & register for (and log into) online banking, so check. For lots more info and help, see Best Bank Accounts, which includes top deals if you don't want to switch bank.

Bank Switching Q&A

Q. What if I'm in my overdraft? Should I get the deals above? If you're only just in your overdraft, use the free cash to clear it, but if you often go into the red, focus on cutting overdraft costs instead. The First Direct* deal above gives many a £250 0% overdraft as well as the £50 - a useful buffer if you slip over (you pay interest at 15.9% EAR variable above £250).

Alternatively, Nationwide's FlexDirect* gives a year's 0% overdraft - there's no set limit, it depends on a credit check. If you get it, use the year to clear the overdraft, as after that you're charged a shocking 39.9% EAR variable interest with no buffer. Get more help in our Top Overdrafts section.

Q. I can't meet the minimum pay-in, is there a way to game it? These accounts are designed so you pay in your salary or pension to use it as your main account, but for most there's a workaround. As you need to pay in a set amount from elsewhere, say there's a £1,000/mth minimum, but you've only £500, pay in the £500, withdraw or transfer it to somewhere external, then pay it back in - and BINGO, you're fine.

Q. What if something goes wrong with the switch? If so, you'd be protected from interest or charges. Plus if a payment goes to or from the old account in error, the bots behind the scenes automatically ensure it's shifted to the new account for at least three years.

Q. I don't qualify for one of these accounts, what can I do? While you need to pass a credit check for those above, basic bank accounts are easier to get as they don't do such checks (but most credit check for ID), as you get a no-frills, no-overdraft service. See Basic Bank Accounts.


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. The MSE Christmas Deals Predictor 2019 - we predict this year's big deals, discounts & vouchers so you can pounce. Last year: 93% accurate.

Now in its seventh year, today we're delighted to launch the Christmas Deals Predictor 2019. In it, we estimate when and where you'll get deals from the likes of Amazon, Asos, Boots and M&S. This year, we've broadened the range a touch with a few flight sales and broadband deal predictions too.

  • It lets you plan when to pounce. The aim's to let you home in on the cheapest deals, so you can schedule your festive shopping and be ready to act when what you need to buy is at its very cheapest. By enabling you to organise yourself better, we hope you can avoid being sucked in by retailers' hype and just buy what you need and can afford. PS: Do use Martin's Money Mantras before you spend.

  • Last year we got it 93% right. Our Deals elves (OK, a few of the team have big ears - but don't stare) have tracked and analysed retailers' deals over the last nine years. Last year, 72% of deals were exactly as predicted, and with a bit of wriggle room (by a day or two) our success rate was 93%.

    Though of course remember, while we do diligent research, this is a predictor. Sometimes firms vary their marketing plans from prior years and so we get it wrong. Some of you are still upset you didn't get our predicted £10 1L bottle of Baileys in 2016. So view this with a proverbial pinch of salt.

  • When is Soap & Glory etc coming this year? That's how it works. It's like a calendar of deals with 70+ predictions. The biggies include: Half-price Soap & Glory | Cheapest Amazon devices | Selfridges 20% off code | £10 Baileys | '£9' Ikea Christmas trees | Pre-Christmas reduced decorations | British Airways 'Jan' sale | Plusnet '£10/mth' broadband

New. MSE Leaders' Debate 2019: YOU DECIDE what we ask the party leaders. Please vote in the MSE Leaders' Debate poll to select the most important consumer finance issues for us to put to the main party leaders.

Urgent. 'I moved from Brit Gas to Brit Gas and SAVED £438/yr' - E.on, EDF & Scot Power custs can do similar. Last week, we told you about hidden 'don't ask, don't get' price cuts from big 6 energy firms (not for NI or prepay), all available for EXISTING custs but only via comparison sites. JoJo's tweet is one of many similar we've seen: "@MartinSLewis, just switched to British Gas from British Gas. £438/yr saving. Thanks. How brave was I?" Prices have changed slightly, but savings are still huge, though we don't know how long they'll last, so go quick. Cheap existing customer deals: Brit Gas 1yr fix | E.on 1yr | EDF 1yrScot Power 1yr.

Tesco shopper? MUST READ - is the new £8/mth Clubcard Plus any good? The supermarket giant's scheme to lock you into loyalty is now open, but is it worth it? Must read for Tesco shoppers

15 MORE tips to be tight (in a good way), incl use bath water to flush the loo. Last week, we published our 30 tips to be tight, eg, the bulldog clip toothpaste trick. Now you've suggested even more... 45 household hacks.

30% off Converse, Kurt Geiger, Ugg boots & more shoes. MSE Blagged. Code also works on other designer brands at the Shoeaholics online outlet, till Thu.

15 cheap Lapland holiday tricks. It's the winter trip of a lifetime for many, but how do you make it affordable? We've tried our best to help, incl booking hacks, 40% off husky rides, see Santa for free and more. Sleigh prices with our Lapland tricks blog.


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

It's a cheap time to borrow, but don't dive in just because rates are low. Only do it if you really NEED to

Lenders continue to slice away at the cheapest loan rates. This week's new loan from Santander-owned Cahoot takes a smidgeon off the cheapest rate for bigger borrowing. If you got this rate on £15,000 over five years, it's about £40 cheaper than the previous best, and more than £1,000 cheaper than some high street banks' loans. Here's all you need to know:

  • Should I get a loan? Always err on the side of caution. Don't rush in just because they're cheap, only go for something you NEED (eg, your car's a wreck) that is budgeted for and affordable. Always try to minimise the borrowing and repay as quickly as is affordable to cut the cost. If in doubt, don't. If already struggling with debt, don't borrow more, instead read our Debt Help guide.

  • Lowest rates for £3,000-£15,000. It's best to ALWAYS use a Loans Eligibility Calc first, which shows which loans you can likely get without hitting your creditworthiness. Here are the current top rates. For 1-5yrs, unless stated:

    - £7,500-£15,000: 
    new 2.8% rep APR from Cahoot (eligibility calc / apply*) or 2.9% rep APR incl from John Lewis (eligibility calc / apply*), Tesco Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) & Zopa (eligibility calc / apply*)
    - £5,000-£7,499: 
    3.4% rep APR from Admiral (eligibility calc / apply*) & Zopa (eligibility calc / apply*)
    - £3,000-£4,999: 
    8.2% rep APR from Admiral 
    (eligibility calc / apply*) or 8.5% rep APR from Hitachi  (eligibility calc / apply*) (2-5 years) 

  • Be warned - all personal loan rates are 'representative APR'. This means ONLY 51% of those accepted need to get the advertised rate - others may be charged more. Yet you're usually only told the rate after application, so once accepted, ALWAYS check it. Even our eligibility calc currently has to work with rep APRs (though we hope to change that soon), so a high acceptance chance doesn't always mean a cheap rate.

  • 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.


News. NatWest/RBS Reward accounts to scrap bills cashback. We've had a tip off: NatWest/RBS news.

Are you being paid the new REAL living wage? No, not the Govt 'living wage', but the original (and higher one) from the Living Wage Foundation (former chancellor George Osborne nicked the name to make his rebrand of the min wage look better). The new rate has just been announced. See Do you get the real living wage? Related: Income tax calc.

48 craft beers for £48 delivered. MSE Blagged. 2,000 one-off boxes, incl Fourpure and Wild Beer Co. Flavourly deal. Please be Drinkaware.

Last chance. Nectar 'double-up' at Sainsbury's - incl toys, clothes & electricals. It's often the best way to use Nectar points, and what collectors wait for. Double Nectar 

£130 of nail polish for £25 delivered. MSE Blagged. Nine full-size polishes incl glitter & shimmer effects. 1,900 avail. Nails Inc

Could you manage 15 days a month without spending? MSE Molly tried. See her No-Spend Diary.


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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*
  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: Cahoot* 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £10.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk equiv £18.07/mth

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


Martin: 'How much have you invested in peer-to-peer lending? The FCA is warning it should be a max 10% of your assets & even that's high for some.'

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending looks like savings (but with higher interest, eg, 5%), acts like savings, but smells like investing. It ISN'T covered by the UK savings safety net, which protects bank, building society and credit union savings up to £85k per person, per institution if they went bust. Two lesser-known P2P platforms, Lendy and Funding Secure, recently collapsed, and big player Funding Circle faces criticism over the time taken to release funds. As the regulator's clamping down, here are the need-to-knows:

  • What is peer-to-peer lending? Platforms such as Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle (and these days a rash of others too) use tech to let those with spare cash lend it out to individuals or businesses. In simple terms, your money is often split and lent to 100s (who in turn are borrowing from 100s) to spread the risk. As banks are cut out, borrowers may get slightly cheaper rates, and investors higher rates than savings. The platforms do all the credit-scoring and repayment-chasing. See full how Peer-to-Peer Lending works info.

  • New. Regulator to limit people to a MAX 10% in peer-to-peer. The Financial Conduct Authority is concerned about people's attitudes to P2P, and that some marketing makes it seem like savings. It's ruled that from 9 Dec firms won't be allowed to let those who haven't had independent financial advice put more than 10% of their investible assets (ie, excluding their home) into P2P. This is among other tighter new rules.

  • How much do you have in peer-to-peer? While the rule is only for new investors, if you already have money in there, use it as a spur to check your P2P exposure. Those saving regularly may have more in than they think. As with all investments, my view is NEVER HAVE MORE MONEY IN THAN YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE.

  • Is this a coded message to say don't do peer-to-peer? No. I'm not anti P2P, I do it myself. Yet I meet more and more people who see it as akin to savings. It isn't. It's investing. Investing can be great, you do it to get higher returns than savings, but the cost is the risk of losing money. It's important to accept that risk, not just when putting money in, but then continually reviewing whether you want the exposure. That's especially important in uncertain times, such as right now. For those comfortable with the risk, P2P can be a great option (and has been for me).

  • Understanding the prime peer-to-peer risks. See our detailed Peer-to-Peer Risks analysis, but in brief...
    1) There's NO savings safety back-up if firms go bust, unlike with normal savings.
    2) Individual borrowers may be unable to repay, so how big your lending chunk is to each individual matters.
    3) Getting money out quickly can be difficult, especially if others are trying to 'sell' their loans on at the same time.
    4) Legally the loan is usually between you and the borrower, so if a platform goes bust, you're still owed. They should have policies to keep collections going after they go bust, but it's mostly untested. Investors in collapsed firm Lendy are still waiting to see if they'll get back their share of the £150m invested.
    5) Those are the known unknowns, but as it's a new industry, I've always warned, and still do, of potential unknown unknowns, ie, risks that no one has thought of yet.

November is Will Aid month - if you need a will, go quick, as it sells out. The gold standard is getting a will drafted by a solicitor, and the Will Aid scheme offers everyone that. Instead of paying, you're asked for a donation to charity. The recommendation for a single will is £100, for a couple it's £180 - less than the usual cost, but if you can't afford it you can give less.

"Thank you for your great advice on letting the election boost your coffers. I applied to our council and have been accepted as a poll clerk - £150, plus £10 travel and £15 for a one-hour training course."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

6 bottles of wine & 2 glasses £30 delivered. MSE Blagged. 1,500 avail. Newbies subscription via Virgin Wines. Be Drinkaware.

PS: A few people who switched to British Gas over the past year are locked out of their Cheap Energy Club account and unable to switch again. If you're affected, please read our locked out help.



Help fight food poverty in the UK this Christmas. Next week, you can volunteer to help with food donations at your local Tesco store. The charity FareShare is organising food collections on Thu 21 Nov, Fri 22 Nov and Sat 23 Nov at Tesco stores across the UK. In a three-hour shift, you could collect enough food for up to 600 meals. For more info and how to sign up, see the FareShare website.



MSE Leaders' Debate 2019: What should we quiz the party leaders on? Each general election, we run the MSE Leaders' Debate - where we put key consumer finance questions to party leaders. This time we hope to get Jonathan Bartley/Sian Berry (Green), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Nigel Farage (Brexit), Boris Johnson (Conservative), Adam Price (Plaid Cymru), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) and Jo Swinson (Lib Dems). Help us narrow down what we should ask them

Most MoneySavers say the 40% tax band should start at £50,000 (as it does everywhere bar Scot). More than 16,000 of you replied to last week's question about moving the higher rate tax band, with the most common answer across all income groups being that it should stay at the same level. Interestingly, the majority of those earning over £50,000 think it should be increased to £60,000. See full results.



Is it OK to spend my baby's vouchers on myself? We were given loads of M&S vouchers for my baby's first birthday. She genuinely has everything she needs, so I'm thinking of buying myself new pyjamas. Would that be wrong? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK to spend my baby's vouchers on myself? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: November's Lunches to Work challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Win £1,000 to spend at Tesco
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Life without supermarkets - is it possible?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Looking for some advice on selling my wedding dress
- Discussion of the week: Share your best thrifty Elf on the Shelf ideas


Shoeaholics - 30% off code, incl Converse, Kurt Geiger
Flavourly - 48 craft beers for £48 delivered
Nails Inc - £130 of nail polish for £25 delivered
Virgin Wines - 6 bottles of wine & 2 glasses £30 delivered
ShopDisney - 24% off selected toys & costumes code

Bella Italia - 40% off mains with voucher code
Greggs - Free festive bake via Vodafone app
Sizzling Pubs - Kids eat for £1 with paying grown-up
Olio - Free/discounted leftovers from Pret etc
Pizza Express - 30% off food & drink for students

Apple TV+ - Free year with recent Apple purchase
Deezer - 3mth free Premium membership
Ascot - £1 for up to 4 tickets for Fri 22 Nov
Eden Project - £26 for annual membership
Nintendo - Free Mario Kart Tour game app

Quick Forum Tips

1p Snack a Jacks in Sainsbury's? Hit the road Jack
Benefit make-up free with mag. It's just a little blush
25% off Tu clothing. Tu good Tu be true?



Thu 14 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 15 Nov - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 18 Nov - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 18 Nov 
- BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm. Listen again


Wed 13 Nov - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, Oli Townsend
Fri 15 Nov 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 18 Nov 
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 19 Nov 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: My 20-year-old daughter has a student loan of around £12,500 to pay back. As she didn't borrow a huge amount, is it worth her paying it off early? Christie, via email.

MSE Amalia's A: While it might seem tempting to clear the debt quickly, early repayment is often not the best use of spare money, especially as many will never repay their student loan in full anyway. There are lots of factors to consider - for example, how much your daughter expects to earn in the coming years is just as important as the size of the loan when weighing it up.

For full info on the pros and cons, see Martin's Should I pay off my Plan 2 student loan? guide if you're from Eng or Wales and started uni in 2012 or later. If you started uni between 1998 and 2011, or since 1998 if you're from Scot or NI, see Should I repay my Plan 1 student loan?

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... it's that time of the year when Advent calendars are filling the shelves, but the days of a daily chocolate being the norm seem to have gone, as we have told you for many years. Now there's everything from cheese to make-up to gin to Lego lurking behind those doors on the countdown to Christmas. It got us thinking - what's the best 'non-traditional' Advent calendar you've seen this year? Let us know in our Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team