Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

18 December 2019

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Asos/Ikea etc sales, free M&S £180 ends, Martin: how to start a biz, 4.5% kid savings, do good at Xmas, cheap Samsung S10, perfume tips

This info may be out of date.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.


There's a festive price war raging with hot deals galore for standard broadband speed and faster fibre. One standout is from BT with its cheapest fibre deal in 6mths, and while you can get cheaper, we know many like to be with the UK's biggest telecoms firm. Those other offers incl the cheapest standard speed since June. As always, such hot deals are short-lived, so check NOW if you can save big...

  • How much can you save? If you've had your broadband and line deal for 1yr+, the answer could be £100s/yr. That's because out-of-contract prices with the biggies can hit a mammoth £52/mth (BT), £44/mth (Virgin), £36/mth (TalkTalk) and £32/mth (Sky). Now compare those prices to the deals below. 

  • ALL BELOW END FRI. Top broadband & line deals, from '£10/mth'. They're for new customers only and as availability is postcode dependent, links go to our Broadband Unbundled tool so you can check your eligibility. If you can't get 'em, it'll suggest alternatives.
Cheapest broadband & line since June
It's £15.90/mth over the 1yr contract, but you can claim a £65 Amazon vch. If you'd have spent that anyway, it's equiv to £10.49/mth.
Cheapest fibre b'band & line since May
It's £23.99/mth over the 1yr contract, plus you automatically get a £50 bill credit within 3mths and you can claim a £50 Amazon vch. If you'd have spent the vch anyway, with the credit it's equiv to £15.66/mth. (3)

Cheapest BT fibre b'band & line since June
It's £9.99 upfront and £28.99/mth over the 2yr contract, plus you get an automatic £70 Amazon vch and a £100 prepaid Mastercard (almost as good as cash) which you must claim. If you'd have spent them anyway, it's equiv to £22.33/mth.
It's £27.99/mth over the 1yr contract, plus you automatically get a £50 bill credit within 3mths and you can claim a £60 Amazon vch. If you'd have spent the vch anyway, with the credit it's equiv to £18.83/mth. (3)
(1) Usually means customers who don't have that firm's b'band and/or line now or haven't in 1yr - exact rules vary by firm so check via the links. (2) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash/vchs and averaging over the contract. (3) You can claim a 'free' Google Home Mini too.

  • What broadband speed do you actually need? Standard avg 10/11Mb speed is usually fine for browsing or light streaming. Fibre - the term for fast broadband due to the fibre cables that deliver high speeds - is best for streamers, gamers or if many use it at once in your home. Yet even with fibre there are speed differences, and the faster you go, the more of a luxury it is.

  • Will I get the advertised speed? The 'average' quoted is what at least 50% of customers get at peak times. Most big firms also tell you the minimum speed you'll get before sign-up. Plus with BT, if you don't get the minimum and it's not sorted within 30 days, you've the right to cancel penalty-free. See how to check your speed.

  • Won't switch? Haggle. Switching gives the best savings, but broadband firms are among the easiest to haggle with. In our last poll, 84% of Sky customers said they succeeded - for Virgin Media it was 76%, BT 74% & TalkTalk 69%. See Broadband Haggling help.

  • Could they hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do. Yet if you weren't warned pre-sign-up, you can switch to a better deal fee-free.

  • Rather watch Martin explain it all? See him on ITV's The Martin Lewis Money Show from earlier this week. As well as how to save on broadband, it also included mobiles and trains cost-cutting, plus how much you should give your kids for uni. Watch Monday's Martin Lewis Money Show.

PS: Given the festive schedule, next week's email will come a little earlier than normal, on Monday 23 December.


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.



The MoneySaving guide to doing good this Christmas

We've alternative gift ideas that won't break the bank, eg, feed the hungry, help the homeless & free gift cheques

While many still love to give Christmas presents, we've felt a recent sentiment shift. Now it seems more want it to be about giving their time, donating to charity or other thoughtful ways to spread festive cheer. To highlight people's current attitudes, Martin's ban unnecessary Christmas presents video from 2018 has had 16m+ Facebook views and 300,000+ shares. Here's how you can do good without spending a fortune...

  1. New. Got an Amazon account? Check if you can trigger a free donation of 25 school meals in Mali and get £5 Amazon credit for yourself. If you're eligible, it'll donate on your behalf and give you the credit - if you switch your default Amazon payment to a Mastercard. Amazon tells us there's no need to spend anything. How to check if you can donate 25 meals for free.

  2. Fund lifesaving jabs for kids, buy a goat to help a family and more - all via charity gift catalogues.  If you don't know what to buy family and friends, why not agree to give to good causes in each other's name? Our Charity Gift guide is packed with ideas, plus info on how to increase your donation by 25% or more using Gift Aid.

  3. Help feed the hungry for free with just one click. It's via a special site where sponsors donate on your behalf. See how to give with a click.

  4. Pledge to do something nice with our free Christmas gift cheques.  This is a way to promise to give time to a loved one, eg, breakfast in bed or to baby-sit. Though you could also use one to promise to get them something post-Christmas, when discounts in the sales tend to get even deeper. Use our Christmas gift cheques.

  5. Help out at a homeless centre.  Many charities look for volunteers year-round, and while a few are full this Christmas, some places are still available for the coming weeks. You don't always need specific skills to be accepted, though chefs, beauty therapists, tutors and counsellors are especially wanted. See  how to help the homeless.

  6. Donate to your local foodbank.  December is the month when foodbank demand is highest. We've lots of ways to help - with links to find your nearest, and ways to give even if you're not flush with cash. See foodbank help.

  7. Be there for elderly neighbours. Many  small acts of kindness can help neighbours who may feel lonely or need a hand with quick tasks. It's simple stuff, from having a chat to offering to pick up shopping.

PS: If the pressure to spend adds to debt worries you may have and is causing you sleepless nights, a non-profit debt counselling agency can help. They're rammed in Jan, so book an appointment now. There's free, one-on-one help from Citizens Advice, National Debtline and StepChange. See full debt crisis help.


SALES PREDICTIONS: Asos 50%, Ikea 50%, H&M 60%, Topshop 60% etc - could start this week. So-called 'Boxing Day' sales now often begin before Christmas, and we reckon some will kick off this week as MSE's elves have analysed nine years of offers to help you know when's best to pounce. Christmas Deals Predictor 2019

New. Cheapest way to get a Samsung Galaxy S10 - and you get 4GB/mth data + unltd mins & texts. A snazzy new smartphone is not MoneySaving, but this is the cheapest way we've seen to get the new Samsung Galaxy S10 with 128GB of storage from a well-known firm, and you get a healthy airtime allowance. EE newbies* (link goes via can get the deal above for £110 upfront, then £23/mth. That's £662 over 2yrs, less than the £699-£799 it costs for the phone alone at most major retailers (eg, Argos & Currys). Samsung deals

15 cheap perfume tips, incl '£18 M&S scent as good as £113 Chanel' and 10-20% off codes. See how to sniff out a bargain.

Martin's 3 tips to succeed if you want to start your own business. It's The Apprentice final this week, so if you've a taste to go it alone, read Martin's 3 tips if you want to start a business.

Ending. Up to £180 in M&S vchs for switching to M&S Bank. The popular M&S Bank* switch bonus ends on 6 Jan - we're telling you now so you've time over Christmas in case it's right for you. Newbies get a £100 gift card if they switch, incl 4+ active direct debits, within 3mths of account opening. Unlike many bank switch bonuses, there's no min pay-in required for the £100. You get another £80 card after 12mths if you pay in £1,250+/mth, keep the direct debits active and register for online banking & statements within 3mths. Full help & other options in Top Bank Accounts.

Are your '90s clothes worth £100s? Bjork & Nirvana T-shirts selling for £200+. Vintage fashion fans could be waiting to snap up your cast-offs. See '90s clothes in hot demand.


Big 4.5% savings interest for littl'uns

If you're giving kids cash for Christmas (or they have it already), make it really count by helping them max it

While interest rates for grown-ups continue to drop, children's accounts are holding steady, with some paying close to double that of standard rates. That's good news for the many parents and grandparents who give Christmas cash to kids. Such presents can be doubly useful - both the cash itself and also as a means to show them how to save. So whether they have the money already or they are about to get a festive windfall, here's how to max kids' savings.

  • Top for small amounts or for putting money aside each month - up to 4.5%. The Halifax Kids' Monthly Saver pays 4.5%, while the Saffron BS Children's Reg Saver pays 4%. Both are AER, fixed for a year and let kids save up to £100/mth. Saffron allows unlimited withdrawals, but with Halifax the account must be closed to access the money (full interest is paid up to that point). Full info in kids' regular savings accounts.

  • Top for lump sums with easy access - up to 3%. If your child's seven or over, HSBC's MySavings pays 3% AER variable on up to £3,000. Alternatively, Virgin Money's Young Saver pays 2.25% AER variable on up to £25,000 - compared to HSBC, it's good for younger children (as there's no min age) or if your child's a big saver. Both allow unlimited withdrawals.

  • Top children's bank account with interest (but not everyone can get it). The Santander 123 Mini* pays 3% AER variable on £300-£2,000. Plus if your child is 11+, they can get a debit or cash card - an added tool to teach them about real-world products. If your child is under 13, you must have a Santander current account and open it for them in branch. Any child aged 13 or over must open it themselves, and it doesn't matter what account their parent has. 

  • Are junior ISAs (JISAs) worth it? The benefit of a JISA has always been that the interest is tax-free. But as most people don't pay tax on savings interest now, the gain's diluted. The big problems with JISAs are that the money is locked away till 18, and that it automatically goes to your child then, to spend as they like. But if a JISA is right for your kid(s), the top payer is Coventry BS's 3.6% AER variable (max £4,368/yr). Full info to help you decide in Top JISAs.

  • What if they have a child trust fundIt's best to convert it to a JISA. For why, see Child Trust Fund help.

  • Who can open a kids' savings account? You need to check each bank's rules - it usually must be opened by a parent or guardian (sometimes other grown-ups can do it). A few accounts let teenagers do it on their own.


How to unlock your mobile for free (as regulator proposes ban on locked phones). Some see being barred from using another network's Sim as a barrier to switching, but fear not, you can often unlock a mobile for free.

What Boris Johnson promised (or didn't) in our leaders' debate. After his victory last week, see Johnson's consumer pledges (made before the general election).

Warning. WhatsApp to stop working on older phones from Feb - are you hit? See WhatsApp help.

£18 Nails Inc glitter lip gloss set (norm £56). MSE Blagged. Incl 7 colours, 5,000 avail. Nails Inc

19p per packet of Christmas vegetables at Aldi - could spark a price war at Tesco, Asda etc. Incl packs of sprouts, parsnips, swedes, potatoes, red cabbage and carrots - £1.14 if you want the lot. In past years, Aldi has taken the lead on cheap trimmings and others have followed. See veggie price war latest.

Get 10% off top pick car breakdown cover - bag it for just £54/yr. MSE Blagged. We've got you this discount on AutoAid*, which has been our top pick for more than a decade. It covers you and your spouse, civil or common-law partner in any car. Unlike basic policies which only cover breakdowns on the road, this has home start too. For context, similar AA/RAC cover can cost £100+/yr. Full info in Cheap Breakdown Cover.

30% off M&S and John Lewis Christmas decorations. Online & in stores while stock lasts. Deck the halls


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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. Compare The Market*
  4. Gocompare*

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: Post Office equiv £10.49/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £15.66/mth

Great service + free £50 + 0% overdraft: First Direct
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect


Christmas last order dates, incl Amazon, Boots and M&S. Act fast to take advantage of free delivery in time for Christmas or to get it at all by the big day. Last order dates

Hurry if you've not sorted Christmas train tickets yet.  The longer you wait, the pricier they'll likely get. While the very cheapest fares may have already gone, big savings are still possible, eg, on Tue, we found London-Manchester for £58 return on 24 Dec-1 Jan vs £90 buying on the day. See lots more Christmas train cost-cutting tips.

"I told a friend about your method to find cheap car insurance to help their mother-in-law save. She's in her 80s and was quoted £1,800+, but after using this method she saved over £1,300."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

£16 Coast dress (was £69) & more via 20% off sale items code. MSE Blagged. Ends Fri. Coast code

Hotel comparisons push 'deals' 20% pricier than the cheapest, MSE investigation finds - how to beat 'em.  Comparisons are still useful, but you need to know how to find the gems amid the duds. See hotel warning.



If you could cancel Christmas, would you? Christmas is nearly here. For some it conjures a picture of family, fun and festive frivolity; for others it means stress, present pressure, debt and chores (see Martin's Ban Unnecessary Christmas Presents blog). So if you had a CANCEL CHRISTMAS button that'd make the whole thing disappear (and just add days to your holiday entitlement), would you press it?

Most now do the bulk of their Christmas shopping online. Last week, we asked whether you'd been buying your Christmas gifts in store or online, and 3,935 of you voted. Younger voters were more likely to head straight to the web, with 75% of 25 to 34-year-olds saying they buy most of their gifts online, while only the over-65s were more likely to have done half or more in stores. See full Christmas shopping poll results.



Is it OK to give second-hand gifts? I've seen a lot of good quality second-hand stuff I think my friends and family might like for Christmas. My family have got used to my habit of reusing wrapping paper, but is giving second-hand gifts to save money (and the planet) OK? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK to give second-hand gifts? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Pay off ALL your debt by Christmas 2020
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a £4,000 holiday to Canada, including a trip to Niagara Falls
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Anyone ever cooked turkey crown in a slow cooker?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: How do you cope with growing families at Christmas?
- Discussion of the week: Are eco-friendly Christmas crackers the way forward?


Christmas Deals Predictor - Asos '50% off' sale this week?
Cheap perfume tips - Incl '20% off' code, top 'smell-alikes'
Nails Inc - Glitter lip gloss set £18 delivered (norm £56)
Aldi - 19p spuds, carrots, sprouts & more veg
M&S - 30% off Christmas decorations, incl trees & lights

KFC - Mighty Bucket with gravy for £5.99
Morrisons - Free pack of wonky carrots on Sat
Bella Italia - Kids eat free with paying grown-up Sun-Fri
Cafe Rouge - Vch for 25% off food Sun-Fri
Ikea - £1.75 cooked breakfast

Postsnap - 50% off personalised Christmas cards
The Fragrance Shop - 20% off code (ends Wed)
No7 - £156 of make-up & skincare for £39
Soap & Glory - £30 gift set (was £60)
Kurt Geiger - 'Up to 50% off' sale

Quick Forum Tips

30% off partywear at Peacocks. Dress to impress
Urban Outfitters up to 40% off. Hip hip hooray
Free car tyre puncture repair. Flat fighters



Wed 18 Dec BBC Radio 5 Live, 8.20am, Guy Anker on changes to overdrafts
Wed 18 DecBBC News, 12.30pm, Helen Saxon on changes to overdrafts
Wed 18 Dec - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 20 Dec - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker on Christmas shopping



Q: My wife tells me that once your energy supplier fits its smart meter at your property it becomes more difficult to switch to another energy supplier in future. Is that right? David, via email.

MSE Andrew's A: No, smart meters don't make any difference to switching your energy supplier. And most suppliers are now installing newer versions, which stay fully smart when changing energy provider.

If you've an older version, the only thing that may happen to your smart meter when switching is that it goes 'dumb' and loses some of its functionality, such as sending automatic readings to your new supplier. But you can still switch as normal, and the meter will continue to work just like a non-smart, traditional one - meaning you'd need to manually send meter readings to your supplier.

So don't be put off switching, do a full Cheap Energy Club comparison to make sure you're on the cheapest deal, or see Smart Meters for full info.

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



That's all for this week, but before we go... 'tis the season of feet up and telly on, and we were wondering: what is the best Christmas film of all time? We asked our users on Facebook and after 600+ comments we still don't know, as there was no definitive winner. There was lots of love for the films in the headline above, plus Die Hard (an MSE Towers fave), The Grinch and Miracle on 34th Street. So with no clear winner, help us by suggesting your favourite Christmas film on our Facebook post

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team