Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

05 February 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... 1.15% mortgage, Ryanair trick, top 0% card ends, £15/mth fibre, sanitary product savers, £300/yr energy rip-off, Ikea hacks, £20 M&S couriered rose

This info may be out of date.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.


Important message to ALL mortgage holders

Big banks are pumping big cash into mortgages - meaning rates are seriously cheap. Check NOW if you can save £1,000s 

With 2yr fixes at 1.15%, 5yr fixes at 1.49%, they're super-competitive

Those of us in the financial world held our breath last Thu, waiting to hear whether the Bank of England would cut UK interest rates. It was set to be the closest call for years - in the end, the Bank held firm and kept the base rate at 0.75%. Yet the fact a drop was considered sends a signal that rates are low and set to stay that way. And as mortgage rates are based on the City's long-term view of interest rates... it means they're bloomin' cheap right now.

Add to this the fact that the big UK banks are no longer allowed to pump cash into their investment banking arms, which means additional money is being channelled out to mortgage borrowers, and a super-competitive market is developing. So anyone with a mortgage right now should be asking: 'CAN I SAVE £1,000s?'

Astonishingly, Vikki on Facebook said she'll save about £20,000 over the next 5yrs: "Just gone from 4.5% to 1.5%, fixed for 5yrs, saving £350 per month. Even stayed with the same lender, so saved all the fees involved in moving too." Here's how to do it...

  • Know your mortgage deal. If you're remortgaging, it's wise to understand how your current deal works to see if it's worth switching, so it's important to know the following:

    a) What's the rate? Plus monthly payments & outstanding debt.
    b) What type is it? Is it a fix, tracker, SVR etc? See Fixes v variables.
    c) When's the intro deal over? Eg, when does the 2yr fix end?
    d) When must it all be repaid? Eg, in 10, 20, 25yrs?
    e) Will I be penalised to switch? Any early repayment/exit penalties?
    f) What's the loan-to-value (LTV) - the proportion of the home's value you borrow? Eg, £180k on a £200k home is 90% LTV. See LTV help.

  • Compare your deal to the market's best (rates are cheap, even for those with little equity). Always check what your existing lender can offer you first, as it may have lower fees then use our mortgage comparison tool (which factors in fees) to get a benchmark for the best deal available in your circumstances.
Typical SVR rate for comparison (which you're most likely on if you're not on an introductory deal) 4.24%  £9,730
Fix, 2yrs at 60%
1.15% + £1,534 £7,679
Fix, 2yrs at 90%
1.59% + £0 £7,272
Fix, 5yrs at 75%
1.54% + £516
Fix, 5yrs at 95%
1.79% + £0 £7,440
Tracker, 2yrs at 60%
1.33% + £1,025 £7,568
Tracker, 2yrs at 80%
1.64% + £1,034 £7,837
(1) Cost per year during intro period, eg, 2yrs on a 2yr fix, incl all fees. Assumes 25yr mortgage term.
  • Remortgaging? We've a FREE 60-page booklet with everything you need to know. Your mortgage is likely your biggest expenditure, and just because you've done it once, it doesn't mean it's the same again. Our guide helps you know what you're doing.

    - Remortgage booklet: Download instant PDF or order printed version.
    - Remortgage help 5-min video: Sometimes it's easier to watch than read. See Martin's remortgage help video.

  • First-time buyer? We've a separate guide. While much of the info above remains the same - eg, fixes vs trackers and how LTVs work - our First-Time Buyers' Guide has specific help, incl how to boost your acceptance chances and save for a deposit.

  • Start looking for a deal 3-6mths before your one ends. Many lenders let you lock in a rate 3mths ahead, but a few even go to 6mths in advance, so it's wise to check within that window. However, if you lock in you may pay a non-refundable booking fee, which you'd lose if you decided to take another deal - ie, if rates fell - so there's a risk. See Long lock-in mortgage help for full info.

  • Midway through your mortgage? It could pay to ditch your fix. Use our Ditch your fix? tool to see if you can save by switching from a pricey fix. It won't work for all, as some will face exorbitant early repayment fees - but with rates so low, why not check, just in case?

  • It isn't just about the best deal, it's about getting accepted, and a broker can often help. There are a few possible hurdles, incl:

    - A rotten credit report can torpedo a home loan application. So double-check your credit file for FREE.

    - Lenders must also obey strict rules to check if you can afford mortgage repayments - not just at current rates, but if they rocketed to 7-8%. They want evidence of income, bills, expenses and sometimes even eating out. So being frugal in the months before will help.

    - You may also be frozen out of some deals if you're buying or live in certain properties, such as high rises or above a shop.

    All this complexity means it can be difficult to find who will accept you, if anyone, which is why we suggest you use a broker. They've all that info, incl criteria that's not easily available to the public, to match you with the right deal. See Top mortgage brokers.

    However, some lenders only sell direct to the public. So some brokers can and do exclude them - we suggest you use one in conjunction with our mortgage comparison, which has broker and direct deals.

  • Use savings to bag a better mortgage. The lower your LTV, the better the deal. Rates tend to improve as you move down to 90%, 80%, 75% and 60% LTV, so savings could get you into one of these lower bands. See how pumping more savings into your mortgage can help you save.
  • Are you bang on an LTV band (eg, 90%, 75%)? Put down an extra £100. We've heard in the past that putting down a little bit more than the minimum can boost your chances of being accepted. For example, instead of borrowing £75,000 on a £100,000 property (where the loan is 75% LTV), ask to borrow £74,900.
  • Can I afford it? What will it cost? We've an array of calculators to help. Try the following:

    Basic mortgage calc - incl what it'll cost | Compare two mortgages | Compare fixed-rate mortgages | Ditch your fix? | How much can I borrow?

    Car ins hacks, TV licence help, 1.3m over-65s missing out on free cash
    The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm Mon

    Over to Martin: "On next Monday's show, tricks to slash car insurance costs - plus one woman tells me her firm wanted her to pay more because her husband had died. And millions of over-65s are missing out on free cash - mainly, but not only, pension credit. Do watch or set the Betamax. PS: If you missed this week's PPI tax back and kids savings show, click the link to watch it on the ITV Hub."


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.



Revealed: On Fri they'll announce the energy price cap will drop by about £25-£60/yr from Apr. Millions will see bills fall, but anyone on the price cap is still being RIPPED OFF by £300+/yr. Switch and sort it NOW

Regulator Ofgem will on Fri confirm the new price cap that lasts for six months, starting on 1 Apr. This is the max firms can charge for their standard tariffs - the expensive ones they leave 11m non-switchers on. As the price cap is based on an algorithm in which wholesale prices (those the energy firms pay) is a key element, analysts are predicting a drop of £25-£60/yr for those on standard billed tariffs, depending on who you listen to.

So the current cap is £1,178/yr for someone on typical usage. The new cap could be as low as about £1,120/yr, but the cheapest tariffs on the market are about £800/yr FOR THE SAME USAGE. So don't be fooled - a fair price isn't a cheap one. Compare NOW to find your cheapest (as some of the best tariffs are ONLY avail via comparison sites)

Based on typical use. Find your EXACT winner and saving via  a comparison
What MOST PEOPLE pay now...
The average Big 6 standard tariff (Brit Gas, E.on, EDF, Npower, Scot Power & SSE)
(Mix of price, service & names you know)
Cheap, 54% 'great' service. GNE 1yr fixDual fuel & elec-only | 100% renewable elec | Ends 14 Feb | 54% 'great', 30% 'OK' cust service (link compares all 'OK' or 'great' service firms)
(Save £349/yr)
BIG name, green elec. E.on 1yr fix. New custs only | Dual fuel & elec-only | 100% renewable elec | Smart meters required where poss | 32% 'great', 33% 'OK' cust service (link compares big-name providers)
(Save £345/yr)
BIG name & EXISTING EDF custs can get it too. EDF 1yr fix. Only avail via comparison sites | Dual fuel & elec-only | Smart meters required where poss | 40% 'great', 34% 'OK' cust service (link compares big-name providers)
(Save £333/yr)
Cheapest Brit Gas deal since Nov 2016
BIG name, green elec & EXISTING custs can get it too. British Gas 1yr fix. Only avail via comparison sites | Dual-fuel only | Smart meters required where poss | 40% 'great', 27% 'OK' cust service (link compares big-name providers)
(Save £328/yr)
Poor service and it's a tiddler. Outfox the Market 1yr fix. It's on avg the cheapest supplier, but has bad cust service, scoring 19% 'great', 16% 'OK', 65% 'poor' in our poll (link compares whole of market)
(Save £387/yr)
Prices are avg dual-fuel costs, incl £25 MSE cashback (where applicable), based on typical use. Savings based on current price cap.

Don't worry - switching is easy. Some are worried by it, but your supply won't be cut off, no one visits your home (unless you want smart meters) and it's the same gas, same electricity and same safety. The only changes are price and service. See our switching FAQs for more help.


14 ways to save on sanitary products, incl hard-to-find & cheap 'period pants' from Sainsbury's. With the news that schools in England can now order free products for students, we've updated our guide showing how EVERYONE can save. See Free & cheap sanitary products.

New. Don't buy the ticket Ryanair wants you to - we've a trick to save up to 60% on seats & hand luggage. See Ryanair fare play.

Received a PPI payout? You may be due a share of £100,000,000s in overpaid tax. Read Martin's Reclaim PPI payout tax guide.

Ends Fri. Cheapest fibre broadband we've seen since 2017 - '£15.29/mth'. This 35Mb fibre deal for newbies to Vodafone (via Broadband Genie) is £21.95/mth over an 18mth contract, but you can claim a £120 Amazon vch. If you'd have spent that anyway, it's an equiv £15.29/mth. Plus if you're with Vodafone for mobile but new to its broadband, you can get the deal for £2/mth cheaper. See our Broadband Unbundled tool for lots more deals.

22 Ikea hacks, incl new £1 breakfast, store shortcuts & more. We've updated our Ikea hacks.

Received a 'persistent debt' letter from your credit card firm asking you to pay more? Should you listen? If you've only been paying min repayments, you may get one of these. They look scary to some, so we've guidance on how to deal with them. Persistent debt


Mis-sold Wonga victims get a measly 4.3% payout... that's a lesson - DON'T WAIT to check if you're due £1,000s after a mis-sold payday loan

Some 360,000 former Wonga customers who were mis-sold payday loans have just heard they'll receive a paltry 4.3% of what they were owed after the firm went into administration (Wonga customers, see the last bullet). So this is a clarion call to anyone else who may have been mis-sold a payday loan - so many are reclaiming that these firms are collapsing left, right and centre, and if that happens you're unlikely to get much back. DON'T WAIT. Use our FREE Reclaim Payday Loan Tool. In brief:

  • What counts as mis-selling? You've likely been mis-sold if any of the following happened (see the full 'Was I mis-sold?' checklist):
    - It wasn't made clear how much it would cost in total to repay the loan.
    - A lender didn't sufficiently check your finances to ensure you could afford the loan and fees.
    - You weren't told that payday loans shouldn't be used for long-term borrowing.
    - A lender didn't deal with you "sympathetically and positively" if you had difficulties repaying the loan.

    You can reclaim even if the loan is now paid off. If you were mis-sold, you don't get the money you were lent back, but you do get all the interest, fees and charges and 8% a year on top - and that can be huge. Hayley tweeted: "A big thank you to @MartinSLewis. Got £500 wiped and £2,045 refunded from a payday loan company.

  • You needn't pay a claims firm - use our FREE TOOL. Claims firms can take 25% + VAT off your claim, so instead use our totally FREE Payday Loan Reclaiming Tool. It combines complaints site Resolver's tech with our template letter text. All you do is enter your details - it helps draft the complaint, sends it to the lender and keeps track of it.

    If the payday lender rejects you, don't think it's over. More than 60% of people who then take their case on to the free Financial Ombudsman Service win. Our free tool automatically helps escalate it for you where appropriate.

  • Martin: 'Mis-sold Wonga customers have been legally robbed.' Many disgusted Wonga customers, who received just 4.3p per £1 of compensation they were due, want to know what to do. So we asked Martin...

    "Is it right those who were mis-sold get so little back? Morally no. Legally yes. I and others long campaigned for payday loan regulation, but it came far too late. These vultures preyed on and profited from the vulnerable with impunity for years. When regulation finally came, enabling people to reclaim, some of these international firms declared their UK arms bust, so they weren't liable, sometimes leaving the founders sitting on cushions of cash powered by usurious profits.

    "Yet ultimately, legally, UK Wonga doesn't exist anymore - it's a dead company. So now (oversimplifying a touch) the administrators simply add up its assets and share them among those it owed money to - including those due mis-sold money back. A few are looking at the administrators' fees - that's a matter of opinion, theirs is a complex task, but even if they'd done it for free, it wouldn't very substantially increase payouts. Ultimately I suspect the only thing you'll be able to do now is spit, swear, stamp your feet then get on with life."

Martin Lewis to fund large-scale LSE research to free 170,000 'mortgage prisoners'. We've commissioned the London School of Economics (funded by Martin's charity) to find policy solutions for the 170,000+ people locked into inactive, painfully expensive mortgages (such as former Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley custs) - aiming to push the Govt to intervene. Major mortgage prisoner study 

FREE Radflek radiator reflectors - can you get 'em? MSE Blagged. They help save energy. While there are 1,000 packs up for grabs, they always go in seconds, so see it as a bonus if you're lucky. The link won't go live till later this week to be fair to everyone - see how to try to grab a Radflek freebie.

Post-Brexit (2021) changes to passport rules, roaming, driving docs & more revealed. We now know much more about what's happening NEXT year. Full info in Brexit 2021 update.

TV licence fee to rise again - but do you need one? Some can watch & not pay (legally). See Licence help.

Romance is lovely, but over-commercialised pressure to show your love really ain't. Many will want to spend anyway, and if so, THIS WEEK is usually the time to buy - discounts tend to be more scarce in Valentine's week. Yet don't overspend, and try our Valentine's gift cheques to promise something special for free.

 Cheap dozen roses: £20ish couriered, incl M&S. See Valentine's roses round-up.
 Cheap card: £1.59 delivered, personalised with photo. See Card Factory code.
 Lots more, incl cheap dine-in deals, £5 prosecco & £10 champagne. We'll update our Valentine's Day 2020 guide as more deals roll in later this week and next.

500 left. 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 withdraw after 6mths (the earliest you can). Just 500 of the original 1,500 cashback deals are still avail. Robo-investing cashback


Tell your friends about us

They can get this email free every week



Longest 0%: Sainsbury's Bank* up to 29mths 0%, 2.74% fee (min £3) (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Barclaycard* up to 20mths 0% (21.9% rep APR) or 20mths 0% if you're a NatWest/RBS customer (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket.com*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* or Hastings Direct 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Cahoot* 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £12.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £15.29/mth

Free £175 for switching: HSBC Advance
Free £100 + No.1 service: 
First Direct


Ends 9am TODAY (Wed 5 Feb)
Top balance transfer deals: Get £20 cashback when shifting credit card debt to a NO FEE 20mth 0% or a long 28mth 0% (1.73% fee)

If you can't afford to clear your card debt, you can't afford NOT to try to shift it to 0%

If you've card debt, a balance transfer credit card is the key weapon. It's where you get a new card to pay off other credit or store cards, so you owe it instead but at 0% interest. It helps you get debt-free quicker (if you don't borrow more) as repayments clear what you owe, rather than servicing interest. And with two hot deals about to fizzle out, NOW's the time to do it. Here's what you need to know...

- Don't just apply. FIRST find which cards you're likely to be accepted for. Our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc shows your acceptance odds, helping you minimise applications and protect your credit score.
- Go for the lowest fee (incl cashback) in the 0% period you're sure you can repay in. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

Top NO FEE cards - best if you'll definitely clear the debt during the 0% period
Ends 9am Wed
(eligibility calc / apply*)

- Up to 20mths 0%
- £20 cashback if you shift £2,500+ (2)
The longest NO FEE 0% period, but it's an 'up to' card, so not all accepted will get the full 0% length. If you're approved by 9am on Wed and you shift £2,500+, you're actually PAID due to the cashback. After the 0%, it's 21.9% rep APR.
(eligibility calc / apply*)

- 18mths 0%
This isn't an 'up to' card, so if our eligibility calc shows you've a good chance, you may want to opt for this as you'll definitely get the full 18mths if accepted. After the 0%, it's 18.9% rep APR.
PS: Existing NatWest/RBS customers can get 20mths 0% on a separate card.
Can't clear debts in 20mths? Top cards with longer 0% periods - though you'll pay a one-off fee
Sainsbury's Bank
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- Up to 29mths 0%
- 2.74% fee, min £3 (3)
The lowest fee of the joint-longest 0% cards, but it's an 'up to' card, so you may get a shorter 0% based on your credit score. After the 0%, it's 19.9% rep APR.
Virgin Money
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- 29mths 0%
- 3% fee
A tad higher fee, but not an 'up to' card, so if our eligibility calc shows you've a good chance, you may want to opt for this as you'll definitely get the full 29mths if accepted. After the 0%, it's 21.9% rep APR.
Ends 9am Wed
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- Up to 28mths 0%
- 1.73% fee
- £20 cashback if you shift £2,500+ (2)
For those shifting £2,500+ who are approved by 9am Wed, the cashback and lower fee means this is a cheap long-0% card. Though it's an 'up to', so you may not get the full length. After the 0%, it's 21.9% rep APR.
Sainsbury's Bank
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- Up to 26mths 0%
- 0.62% fee, min £3 (4)
This wins on fees (even factoring in the Barclaycard cashback) but it's shorter. It's an 'up to' though. After the 0%, it's 20.9% rep APR.
(1) Fee as % of debt shifted. (2) You must debt-shift within 60 days to get the cashback. (3) You initially pay 3%, but the difference is refunded within 60 days. (4) You pay 1% initially, with the difference refunded within 60 days.

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 balance-transfer between two cards from the same bank (the case for all cards above).


Aaaargh... we're closing the MSE Forum at 3pm Thu, but don't worry, it's only for a day. Behind the scenes we've totally rebuilt the forum's technology to futureproof it - we're installing it this Thu. We hope you'll like the new, improved forum. Have a sneak peek now

"Thank you for the information on packaged bank accounts and how to claim. I used the template letter and, less than a week later, have been promised over £2,000 will be in my bank within five days."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Want an MSE Charity grant of up to £7,500? Non-profit organisations can benefit from a cash boost in our charity's latest grant-giving round. It's themed on 'living with long-term challenges', so is for groups that may, for example, help teach financial skills to people with learning difficulties. If you're interested, you can check your eligibility and apply via its website. The round closes once it accepts 40 applications or on Fri 28 Feb, whichever comes first.



How much do you have in your current account TODAY? This week, we want a snapshot of your finances. So we're asking a simple question. How much do you have, or how overdrawn are you, in your main current account?

Around half of you spend more than 20% of your income on mortgage/rent. Last week, we asked what proportion of your income you spend on accommodation - 9,500 people responded. Some 85% of renters and 46% of homeowners said they spend more than 20% of their income - though a quarter of homeowners pay nothing at all, and of course some live in council property or with family. See our full housing poll results.



Should those with more children pay extra when we eat out together? We often go out in groups of families for meals and the cost is always split per family. However, we have one child and all the others in the group have two or three. I don't want to risk my friendships or be seen as tight, but I feel I am subsidising those with more children. Am I being unreasonable? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should those with more children pay extra? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Fabulous February's No Spend Days Challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a honeymoon trip to the Maldives
- Old-Style board thread of the week: No Craft Spending in 2020
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: How often do you see your family?
- Discussion of the week: Who has two jobs?


22 Ikea hacks - Incl new £1 breakfast, store shortcuts
Radflek - Free radiator reflectors. Can you get 'em?
Valentine's deals - Incl 12 roses couriered for £20ish
Card Factory - Personalised photo A5 card £1.59
The Fragrance Shop - 20% off code incl sale (ends Thu)

Meerkat Movies - 2for1 tix on Tue/Wed for 1yr for £1ish
Vue - Two tickets for £7 any day for Vodafone customers
Odeon - Five tickets for £24, or two for £11.50, via Groupon
Family screenings - Everyone pays £1-£2.50 per ticket
Free preview screenings - Incl Odeon, Picturehouse

Free drinks on Fridays - Greene King pubs via O2 (12-7pm)
Asos - 'Up to 70% off' sale
Specsavers - Free £20ish eye test voucher
Glasses Direct - Two pairs of specs for £29
Maybelline - £30 of make-up for £12 at Boots

Quick Forum Tips

£1 for two Greggs sausage & bean bakes. Such a melt
Free Tesco meal deal for Vodafone users. Meal-ly good
The Sims 4 free for PS Plus members. I'm game



Thu 6 Feb - Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.45am
Fri 7 Feb
This Morning, ITV, 10am
Mon 10 Feb 
- This Morning, ITV, 10.55am
Mon 10 Feb - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.20pm. Listen again
Mon 10 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm


Wed 5 Feb BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 7 Feb
BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker
Mon 10 Feb
TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am, Oli Townsend
Mon 10 Feb 
BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 5.45pm
Tue 11 Feb
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm



Q: When looking at train booking sites, I noticed that buying two single tickets seems to be cheaper than a return - shouldn't it be the other way round? Roger, via email.

MSE Kelvin's A: We can't blame you for thinking it should be the other way round but, in truth, there's little logical about the UK's train ticketing system. That means it's always worth checking if two singles or a return is cheapest. As you found, the two singles option sometimes wins, but in other cases returns can be cheaper. For lots more help to cut the cost of train travel, see our Cheap Train Tickets 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... we know many of you listen to us and rightfully ask yourselves some tough questions before making a purchase to rein in your spending and save cash, so we're collating the best of 'em. "What would Martin do?", "Did I check to see if I can buy this cheaper?" and "Should I wait for the sale?" are some of the popular ones we've seen from keen MoneySavers, but let us know if we've missed any in our Top MoneySaving questions Facebook post. If you don't ask these questions, read the post for inspiration and check out our Money Mantras.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team