Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

27 November 2019

Over 50 ways to save, incl...£22 Echo Dot, cheapest energy on market, Black Friday analysis, 2for1 Frozen II, cheapest-ever Sim ends

This info may be out of date.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.


Help to Buy ISAs end forever this Sat.
'If you're 16+, have never owned a home, but one day dream of it - open one now, even with £1, or you could be throwing £1,000s away.'

Whether you're 16 or 116, the most straightforward form of help for first-time buyers is a Help to Buy (H2B) ISA. Save in it and the state adds a 25% bonus towards a mortgage deposit, so each £1,000 becomes £1,250.

Yet it CLOSES ON SAT. But open one by then, even with just £1, and you can keep saving until 2029 and still be eligible for the added bonus until 2030. The H2B ISA's replacement, the Lifetime ISA (LISA), also offers the 25% boost - but it's available to fewer people, and while better for some, is worse for others.

If you've got teenage children who are eligible and they don't know about it, talk to them ASAP. Let me run you through the basics...

  • Under 18 or over 39 - H2B ISAs are your ONLY option. Any first-time buyer aged 16 or over can open an H2B ISA, while LISAs can only be opened if you're 18-39. So especially for those 40+, open one ASAP.

  • You can never have owned a property before (but your partner can). To use a H2B or LISA you must be a first-time buyer - defined as someone who's never owned or part-owned a property anywhere worldwide.

    You also need to be buying with a residential mortgage. And provided you're a first timer, you can get one even if you're buying with someone who has owned before, as these are about the individual, not the property. If two first timers buy together, you can each get one (or one could have a H2B, the other a LISA).

  • Don't leave it till Sat - how to beat the Help to Buy ISA deadline. While the official deadline is 11.59pm on Sat, as some providers require you to make in-branch appointments, the practical last chance dates are earlier. This may be a moving feast, so for our up-to-the-minute rundown of rates & deadlines see our Top Help to Buy ISAs guide, or see Top LISAs for the best of those.

    You can't contribute to a cash ISA and H2B ISA in the same tax year (you can contribute to a LISA and one of the other two), but if you've already opened a cash ISA and want a H2B there is a workaround.

    Once you open one of these ISAs, if you later spot a higher rate elsewhere you have a right to transfer it across (though it is dependent on the new provider offering that).

    Help to Buy ISAs vs LISAs... FIGHTTTTTTT

While you can open both, you will ONLY get the 25% homebuyers' bonus on one. Of course some people won't be eligible for a LISA, so then it's an easy choice. But if you can get both, each has different strengths - so let's put them in the ring. Full info in our detailed H2B ISA or LISA guides, or watch my Help to Buy ISA special on the ITV Hub. In brief...

  • The LISA bonus is potentially £1,000s bigger. You can save up to £4,000/tax year in a LISA. Yet with H2B you're limited to £1,200 in month one, then up to £200/mth after. So if you could max both for the next 18mths, you'd have £4,600 in H2B (generating a £1,150 bonus). But as that period spreads across three tax years, you'd have £12,000 in a LISA (generating a £3,000 bonus).

    The maximum Help to Buy bonus is £3,000, the maximum theoretical LISA bonus is £33,000 (but you'd need to max it out every year from age 18 to 50 to do that).

  • H2B is a no-brainer 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, so they need more thought.

  • LISAs let you buy a property valued at up to £450,000. But with H2B, the maximum qualifying property value is just £250,000 (or £450,000 in London). Both can only be used with a residential mortgage (ie, not buy-to-let).

  • The H2B bonus can be triggered just 3mths after opening (if you max it out). But you can only use the LISA cash & bonus if you've had it open for a year before you buy.

  • LISA bonuses can help with home deposits. As well as reducing the mortgage, the LISA bonus comes early enough to be used towards the deposit you need to secure the property with the seller. The H2B bonus is only paid when you complete on a property, so it only helps reduce the mortgage.

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 a qualifying home or any home at all, a H2B ISA is safer.

Not sure? Put £1 in (possibly both) now just in case. 

If you're ready to start saving and a H2B is right for you, as the first calendar month's allowance is bigger (£1,200), max it out if you can.

If you think you'll need a H2B but aren't sure, just put £1 in one now to get it open - you can always take it back later.

And while LISAs don't have an end date, they do have the 'it must have been open a year to use the bonus' rule, so £1 now starts that clock too - though of course do that and you risk a 6p penalty if you later want to access the cash - I think it's worth it though ;).

If both are open, you can decide later which is best.


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 exclusive energy deal 

We've got you cheaper than the market's cheapest - save £330+/yr AND top service... but only 15,000 switches available

Winter is coming but we've found you a scorcher. We wanted to do a Big Energy Switch event with lots of different deals everyone can access, and while we didn't quite manage that, we've landed an exclusive deal that undercuts ALL the competition and it's from a firm with excellent service feedback. You can only get it via our link, but there are only 15,000 tariffs available, meaning it may not last the week. So let's get on with it...

Links take you via our Cheap Energy Club to see how that deal and the cheapest prepay tariff that we've also secured compare - crucial, as your winner depends on location and use.

  • MSE Exclusive: 15,000 avail. Cheaper than the cheapest + top service - Igloo variable tariff, save £333/yr. Igloo Energy is a medium-sized firm that's been going since April 2017 with 75,000 customers. The Igloo Pioneer tariff - its only tariff - is already cheap, but via that link we've arranged an extra £62 bill credit, and with the £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback on top, it brings the price down to an avg £845/yr based on typical dual-fuel use. That's MUCH lower than the avg £1,178/yr Big 6 standard tariff cost, and on avg it beats tiddlers with poor service we often warn against.

    While it is a variable tariff (so rates could change), it has been consistently cheap and you can switch penalty-free at any time if they rise. Igloo already has top service feedback, but we've got it to provide enhanced service, so we can escalate any issues to a dedicated team on your behalf. Here's more key info...

    MSE customer service score: 97% 'great' (309 votes) + enhanced service for this deal.
    Renewable? No.
    Dual-fuel only? Yes, you must get both gas & electricity.
    Key exclusions: New customers only, not for prepay, and not in the Scottish Hydro region (North Scotland) and NI.
    Payment: Monthly direct debit only. Like many small/medium firms (eg, Bulb), it takes your first payment on the day your switch completes. Like other smaller firms, Igloo also makes you pay a little more each winter month (when you likely use more), and as long as your account isn't in the red, debits are lower in summer (when you use less). But however firms spread them, it doesn't change the overall amount you pay.
    Smart meters: Not required, but if you want 'em, Igloo may install meters free.

  • MSE Prepay Exclusive: Ends Fri 13 Dec. Cheapest prepay + top service + 100% renewable elec - Bulb variable tariff - save £223/yr. This Bulb Vari-Fair Prepay is its normal tariff, but we've arranged an extra £25 cashback from Bulb (£12.50 elec-only) on top of the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback (£12.50 elec-only). All in, on avg it's £994/yr based on typical dual-fuel use, compared to £1,217/yr for someone on a Big 6 standard prepay tariff - and it's rare to get such a deep reduction. As it's variable the rate can change, though there are no early exit fees to switch. Here's more key info...

    MSE customer service score: 88% 'great' (732 votes).
    Renewable? 100% renewable electricity, 10% renewable gas, 90% carbon offset gas.
    Dual-fuel only? No, you can get both gas & electricity and elec-only.
    Key exclusions: New customers only, not in NI.
    Payment: Prepayment.
    Smart meters: If you already have smart meters, unfortunately you can't get this deal.

PS: If you're nervous about switching to a smaller firm, there are plenty of cheap fixes from the Big 6 for just a little more  - do a big name comparison, but we're not sure how long these cheap deals will last, so hurry. If you just won't switch, at the very least get the best rates from your current supplier - see our 'my current supplier' comparison.


Amazon Echo Dot £22 - cheapest ever price for its latest version. One of the best Black Friday deals we've spotted so far. Check where to find a £22 Echo Dot.

Black Friday sales on NOW, incl Argos, Boots, Currys, John Lewis & more. Many shops already tout cross-store discounts even though Black Friday is still a few days away. Our constantly-updated analysis shows what's hot and what's not - see Black Friday analysis for live deals, plus our predictions of what's still to come.

Ending. Shift debt and pay NO INTEREST for 25mths (1% fee) & get £20 cashback. New cardholders who are accepted by 10am on Wed 4 Dec for this Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) credit card can move credit or store card debt to it at 0% for 25mths (19.9% rep APR after) for a 1% fee of the sum transferred. Plus if you shift £1k+ within 90 days, you get £20. Full info, incl what you get if your credit score's not good enough, in Balance Transfer Cards (APR examples).

No7 trick - £56 of beauty products for £10. Incl mascara, nail polishes, day cream and eye pencil. It's had lots of offers recently, but this is the hottest of 'em - if you follow a trick we've unearthed to stack two deals. No7 bundle

Ending. Cheapest ever 8GB Sim at '£8/mth'. MSE Blagged. With this 1yr contract, newbies to Plusnet* (uses EE's network) who apply by Tue 3 Dec pay £10/mth and get 8GB/mth data + unlimited calls and texts. As you're sent a £25 prepaid Mastercard - almost as good as cash - it's equiv to £7.92/mth. Full help and lots more deals in Top Sims.

Martin's 'Student loans decoded - unmissable explainer'. If you or your kids are considering applying to uni, Martin's unique 45min explainer is quite simply a must-watch. Failing to do so could cost you large. Student loans


Black Friday deals... how to separate the brilliant bargains from the bull

It's THIS Friday, though these days it's more a frenzied week than a single sales day - but beware the traps

Throughout this email we're telling you about the top deals we already know of, but there's a lot more to Black Friday. In among some great deals, there are loads of duds and lots of ways stores tempt you to spend money on things you don't need or can't afford - which is dangerous. So here's our quick Black Friday survival guide...

  • Before buying, remember Martin's Money Mantras. If you'd have bought something anyway, cross-store discounts mean you may pay less. The danger is deals that tempt you into spending on stuff you can't afford. If you were planning to buy something worth £100 and it's 30% off, that's a £30 saving. If it wasn't on your list, it's a £70 cost. So before buying, ask yourself: 'Do I need it, is it worth it, have I checked whether it's cheaper elsewhere?' If the answer to any of those is no, don't buy it. Even if yes, ensure you can afford it. For the full logic, see Martin's Money Mantras.

  • Our predictions of Black Friday (and more) deals to come - incl Selfridges & Ted Baker. Lots are out, but many biggies are yet to start. Our analysis of previous years allows us to predict what's coming right up till Jan, incl H&M 20% off, Selfridges 20% off and Ted Baker 30% off. See our Christmas Deals Predictor for the full list.

  • Our Deals Hunters will help you spot the real deals. They'll keep track all week, then they'll go into overdrive from 11pm on Thu ahead of the big one on Fri (we'll allow 'em a few hours' kip before they get going at 7am again, but please excuse tired eyes). They'll analyse deals compared to current and historical prices to find the true bargains. See our constantly-updated Black Friday deals analysis plus Twitter & Facebook feeds for regular updates.

  • Beware Black Friday duds. Retailers are desperate to sell, sell, sell, so many try to flog almost anything with a 'Black Friday' label. But there are dodgy 'deals' galore, so see how to spot the duds - eg, we found a Nintendo Switch Lite for £190 tagged 'Black Friday' at Game, but it was £169 at Asda.

  • Know your refund rights. If you've simply changed your mind, you've no legal rights to a refund in-store - but you likely do online if you're quick. See full help in our Consumer Rights guide.

  • Credit cards give more protection. Pay just 1p on a credit card for goods costing £100+, and the card company's jointly liable with the retailer for the WHOLE amount. See Section 75 protection.

2for1 Frozen II for £1 + loads more MoneySaving at the movies tricks. See our 16 cinema savers.

£28 Berlin, £247 NYC etc - can you find mega flight bargains? Big discounts are usually rife on Black Friday week (ie, this week). But they're often hidden amid the millions of route, date & airline combos, so we help you find flight bargains.

Free kids' reindeer story book. 500k hard copies + unlimited e-book or audiobook downloads. Free book

Warning. 200,000 could lose £1,000s in state pension payments where 'wrong' parent claims child benefit. See Child benefit warning.

£144 of Ciate nail polish for £25. MSE Blagged. Incl 23 mostly mini polishes and a nail file. 2,000 avail. Ciate 

New. 20-40% off airport lounge access, making 'em £15-£35. MSE Blagged. Works for Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow (T3) and Luton. For travel till Dec 2020. Cheap Airport Lounges


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Longest 0%: Virgin Money* 29mths 0%, 3% fee (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: NatWest / RBS 20mths 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*
Admiral MultiCar (incl £70 Amazon vch)

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 equiv £10.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £17.83/mth

Ends Mon. £175 to switch: HSBC Advance
£150 to switch: NatWest Reward


Ending. Two big bank switching bribes to be pulled - act now to get up to £175 to help with Christmas

Big bank switch bonuses come in cycles and the current hot streak is ending, so it's a good time to remind you of the top deals. While it may be too late to get the free cash below before Christmas, many of the bonuses should come shortly after - when money can be tight. As we always say, switching is easy as it takes just seven working days and the new bank moves all payments. So if you're fed up with your account or just want the freebies, here are the top deals. All do a not-too-harsh credit check and you must use their official switching services to get the perks.

CASH/VOUCHERS should come within 40 days unless stated
Ends Mon. HSBC Advance
- FREE £175
- Average service (54% 'great')
- 2.75% regular saver
Min pay-in £1,750/mth, equiv £25,900/yr salary
- Must switch 2+ direct debits/standing orders
- Can't have had an HSBC bank account since 2016
M&S Bank* - FREE £100 M&S gift card
- Extra £80 card in 1yr (helps next Xmas)
- GOOD service (68% 'great')
- 2.75% regular saver
- NO min pay-in for the £100, but £1,250/mth for the £80, equiv £17,000/yr salary
- Must switch 4+ direct debits & keep them active
- Choose online banking/statements within 3mths
- Can't have switched to M&S Bank before
NatWest / RBS Reward (1) (2) - FREE £150 (won't come till Feb)
- £2/mth fee but 2% bills cashback (till Feb)
- Service: NatWest is average (42% 'great'), RBS is poor (only 36% 'great')
- Min pay-in £1,500/mth, equiv £21,500/yr salary
- Log in to online banking before 10 Jan
- Can't have had switch bonus from 'em since Oct 2017
First Direct* - FREE £50
- Top service (85% 'great')
- £250 0% overdraft (3)
- 2.75% regular saver
- Must pay in £1,000 within 3mths for bonus
- Can't have ever had a product with First Direct
Ends Sat. Barclays - Free £10/mth in year 1, £3/mth after (4)
- Top-rated big bank app (69% 'great')
- Min pay-in £800/mth, equiv £10,000/yr salary
- Must pay out 2+ direct debits per month
- Must join 'Blue Rewards' by this Sat
- Anyone eligible if switching from a non-Barclays acc
(1) You also get £150 switching to fee-free NatWest/RBS Select accounts, but no bills cashback. (2) The RBS offer ends this Fri, but you've till 6 Dec with NatWest's identical deal. (3) Many get the overdraft, but it's dependent on credit score. (4) You pay a £4/mth fee, but get a £14/mth reward for 1yr - a net £10/mth. After, the fee is still £4/mth but the reward is £7/mth - £3/mth net.

For lots more info and help, see Best Bank Accounts, which includes top deals if you don't want to switch bank.


"I wanted to share that in discovering the mis-selling of Geek Squad insurance,  I used Resolver to open a complaint. It was very easy and I received £287.97."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Warning. 130,000 drone owners must register before Sat to avoid max £1,000 fine. See Drone warning.



Should 1950s WASPI women be compensated? Up to 3.8 million women born in the 1950s had been due to get the state pension at age 60. But legislation changes as recently as 2011 mean many will receive theirs up to six years later. Labour proposes to compensate the women affected, costing the state £58 billion over five years. Boris Johnson said in a leaders' debate that while he sympathised, he couldn't promise 1950s women the money. Should WASPI women be compensated?

Haggling on the high street is still alive and kicking. Last week, we asked whether you'd haggled on the high street in the last year, and how you got on. The top three shops where shoppers reported success were Tesco and Currys PC World (where 56% who tried got a discount) and B&Q (52%). See the full high street haggling poll results.



Should we claim £300 for a train delay when we still enjoyed the journey? My partner and I took a sleeper train to Scotland recently, a 12-hour journey which was delayed by 90 minutes. Under Delay Repay rules that entitles us to full compensation for a single fare - £300 for two people. Yet for an overnight journey the delay wasn't massive, plus we enjoyed the trip so it feels unfair to pay nothing for this experience. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we claim £300 for a train delay when we still enjoyed the journey? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Saving for Christmas 2020 - £1 a day challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Win two Lego Star Wars sets
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Alternatives to plastic gifts in my daughter's Christmas stocking?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: The official trying to conceive thread
- Discussion of the week: What presents could I give to a family using a food bank?


Amazon - Echo latest model £22, cheapest ever
No7 trick - £56 of beauty products for £10 in Boots stores
Cinema hacks - 2for1 Frozen II for £1
Ciate - £144 nail polish for £25 del in Advent calendar
Free book - Kids' reindeer story (e-book also avail)

Muscle Food - Meat hamper incl 5kg chicken, £31 del
Little Dish - £1 off toddlers' meal coupon
Starbucks - 10% off for emergency services & NHS staff
Sizzling Pubs - £5 off food bill with £15+ spend
Morrisons - Kids eat free with paying grown-up

Tesco - Free fruit for kids while you shop
Halfords - Free car check, incl screenwash top-up
Parkrun - Free weekly timed 5K run
Dobbies - Free festive games, fun & crafts this Sun
Homebuilding & Renovating Show - Free tickets

Quick Forum Tips

Up to 25% off Sainsbury's Tu clothing. Et Tu?
Free 'get well soon' card. Be patient
Lidl weekend deals, eg, £2 olive oil. Save a Lidl



Thu 28 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.35am
Fri 29 Nov This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 2 Dec 
- This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 2 Dec - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12.20pm. Listen again
Mon 2 Dec - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. See previous


Wed 27 Nov - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm, Oli Townsend
Fri 29 Nov 
- BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 2 Dec
- TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Oli Townsend
Tue 3 Dec 
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: My flight was cancelled in July. The airline's paying expenses and compensation, and while it initially said it was prepared to offer a refund for the actual flight ticket, it now says I need to go to the online travel agency I booked with to get it. Is that right? Archie, via email.

MSE Sarah's A: The law is clear that it's the 'operating air carrier' (ie, the airline) which is responsible for refunding passengers when a flight is cancelled. So even though you booked with an online travel agency, the airline needs to give you the money back. For more help, see our Flight Delays guide and free reclaim tool.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... have you ever taken a common household item and found an entirely new use for it to save chucking it? MoneySavers have been sharing ingenious ways they've 'repurposed' domestic junk. Clever examples include a candle made out of Babybel wax, a plant trough fashioned from a CD tower and a kitchen lampshade which is, well, a stainless-steel colander (it "shines a lovely pattern on the ceiling", apparently). Read more examples and let us know what you've found a brand-new use for in our Repurpose, reuse, recycle MSE Forum thread.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team