Apr
15
2020

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

15 April 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... 3mths FREE streaming, savings alert, hot Sims, £16/mth fibre, NHS freebies

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... 3mths FREE streaming, savings alert, hot Sims, £16/mth fibre, NHS freebies
                                                           
 


 

Martin's coronavirus update

19 NEW need-to-knows, incl for self-employed, ltd co directors & employees, £500 0% overdrafts now on, cheap energy ending?, child benefit, uni credit changes

While coronavirus has united the nation in support of the NHS, it has led to stark division over the financial impact. This high contrast inequity was shown by the 77,000 who voted in my Twitter poll last week; 39% said they'd be worse off, 36% no change, while 25% thought lockdown would improve their finances.

With the economy predicted to shrink by a third this quarter, the number who have hit dire straits sadly needs little explaining. Yet the fact one in four people will see improvement probably does; for many still working, locked in at home, their income is stable, and expenditure vastly cut. It even leaves some starting to save for the first time.

My aim in these weekly need-to-knows is to ensure, regardless of your situation, you're tooled up with all the new info, discovered by us and announced by Govt, so you can support yourself and your families as best as you can. As always, everything we learn gets added into the huge wealth of information in our six constantly updated guides... 

- Coronavirus employees help, incl furloughing rights
- Coronavirus help for the self-employed, incl Govt grants 
-   Coronavirus & benefits, incl universal credit claims
- Coronavirus finance & bills help, incl mortgages, energy, TV
- Coronavirus life in lockdown, incl MOTs, food, entertainment 
-   Coronavirus travel rights, incl refunds and insurance


And finally, while we strive for 100% accuracy, as things are changing all the time, please give us just a touch of wriggle room.

The 19 NEW coronavirus financial NEED-TO-KNOWS

1) CONFIRMED: Self-employed? If you've savings put aside to pay tax, it NEEDN'T reduce your universal credit. Universal credit (UC) payouts are reduced if you've savings (or technically capital). The drop starts at £6,000 savings and by £16,000 you can't claim.

Right now, for the first time, there are hundreds of thousands of first-time self-employed UC claimants. Many of whom, rightly, as I've long warned, save 1/3 of earnings to pay tax. The problem is this normally sensible planning means you're due less UC.

As Dee tweeted me: "@MartinSLewis I'm self-employed and put money aside to pay my tax, which put me over £16k. If I pay my tax now, would I be eligible under universal credit?" And indeed this and many similar questions started me off checking what was possible.

I discussed it with the Department for Work & Pensions, and we clarified a much better route. This is the written confirmation from a spokesperson, just confirmed: "Most commonly, we'd expect people to have business assets in a business account, including savings for tax liability, which would not be counted towards their capital limit.

"However, if someone has money in their personal account to be used for business purposes, it won't be counted towards their capital, but they may be asked to prove that the money is for business purposes."

To translate: if you've got savings to pay tax, put a note of this in your online UC journal, and tell them when they call, and it should be discounted from the calculations. See help claiming universal credit.

2) NEW. Limited company director coronavirus tips / wriggle room video. Those who work via small limited companies that they're directors of (as many firms ask them to) will know already there's very little state support available, as dividend payments aren't covered. I've no grand solution, but have found some wriggle room, which I explain in my 10-min small limited-company director coronavirus help video.

3) Urgent. Lock in cheap energy NOW as prices are at their lowest for 3yrs, but the oil price is rising. Save £350+/yr. In the last few weeks, the coronavirus slump means oil prices hit a 17yr low, but on Sunday, Russia, US, Saudi Arabia et al agreed to cut production massively, to bolster the price. While this is just one element of our domestic energy prices, it's an important one.

The cheapest energy deals for switchers are at their lowest for about 3yrs - though in the last few days, some of the cheapest have been pulled. So use this energy club link to compare specifically cheap FIXED tariffs (with decent service) which lock in today's rates. Of course, things could reverse and get cheaper, but that seems unlikely for now.

Savings for someone on a Big 6 standard tariff with typical usage are £350ish/yr. The reason I've put comparison links is that your exact winner and saving depends on usage and location. If you don't want a fix, use our whole of market comparison to compare all tariffs. Best to stick online for this - firms' call centres are busy dealing with vulnerable customers.

PS: Switching almost always means NO ONE VISITS - it's the same gas, same elec, same safety, only service and price changes. Your supply won't be cut off. So don't overly worry during the pandemic.   

4) Employer refusing furlough as it doesn't have the cash for salaries in the meantime? You can agree to delayed pay. The state will cover furloughed employees' salaries from March to May. Firms should be able to apply for this cash next week, and receive it hopefully days after that. Many people have reported to me that their firms are so short of cash to pay now, they won't furlough but instead offer unpaid leave/redundancy.

So many have asked if their firm could delay their pay. The Govt told me that's a matter between employer and employee. So you and your employer can agree it can pay you a little later (it's better than nowt), though best it's done via a formal agreement.

5) You can now ask for the first £500 of your authorised overdraft to be interest-free for 3mths. Emergency measures by regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which came into effect yesterday (Tue 14 Apr), require banks to ensure for those struggling due to coronavirus...

- On request, the first £500 of authorised overdrafts can be interest-free for 3mths (for overdrafts under £500, the entire balance will be 0%). This won't affect your creditworthiness. See bank-by-bank overdraft help and updates for how to get it.

- Those with accounts that have an overdraft facility can request one of these 0% overdrafts, subject to a credit score.

- And for the next 3mths, no one (whether struggling or not) should be charged more under the new c. 40% interest rates, which came in on 6 April, than they were under the prior system.

Some banks are doing more... 
For example, HSBC, TSB, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Santander are automatically giving ALL overdrawn customers up to a £500 interest-free overdraft.

6) Card & personal loan providers must now, if asked, give 3mth payment holidays to those struggling. The emergency measures by the FCA that came into effect yesterday (Tue) also require banks to give those struggling due to coronavirus, who ask, payment holidays of up to 3mths on personal loans, credit and store cards and catalogue debt. 

Don't just stop paying though - agree it with your lender first. Then these payment holidays can't hurt your creditworthiness, nor can there be any penalties or charges if you do it (and thankfully the FCA took our suggestion on board so you won't lose a 0% deal either). See full lender-by-lender credit card and loans help and update.

- Is it worth taking a payment holiday? Yes if you have an emergency cash flow need, no if not. That's especially true if the interest rate is high, as it'll still rack up during the payment holiday, and as you're not making repayments it can be hefty. So only do this if you need it.

- Does this apply to peer-to-peer loans? Surprisingly no. They're technically a different category from personal loans. I've suggested to the FCA it reconsider, as I don't believe these loans were marketed as substantially different. Though big provider Zopa is voluntarily following most of the rules.

7) Urgent. If you're self-employed, you must submit any already late 2018/19 tax return by Thu 23 Apr to be eligible for help. In early June, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will pay 3mths of grants worth up to 80% of self-employed profits, capped at £2,500/mth. To be eligible, you must have filed a 2018/19 tax return.

Most have, as we're already way past the usual 31 Jan self-assessment deadline, but it's been extended for coronavirus support purposes to 23 Apr. Miss it and you're not eligible for support. See self-assessment help or the charity TaxAid can give those on low incomes support if struggling to do it.

8) Car finance announcement likely this week or call me Eileen. I'd be so surprised if the FCA doesn't announce consultation proposals this week that if it doesn't, slap me with a wet fish and call me Eileen. What it'll say though is harder to guess. For updates and info when it happens, see car finance help.

9) Parent whose income has dropped? Are you eligible for child benefit? Child benefit is worth £21.05/wk for one under 16, £35/wk for two. If no one in the household earns over £50,000/yr, you're due it all, above that you get less, until at £60,000/yr you're not due any (and yes, it's crackers that two parents earning £49,999 get it, but one earning £60,000 doesn't - but that's for another day). 

So those earning about or just above these boundaries who have been furloughed, made redundant or put on unpaid leave may now be able to claim. Eg, someone on £60k who earns nowt for 3mths would be entitled to it all. You can backdate claims up to 3mths too.

As most don't know how long their income will drop for, just put in a claim now. It's easy, if you (hopefully) earn more than expected, you just end up paying it back through the tax system. More help in child benefit if income drops.

10) Fallen through the gaps, not supported? I'm sorry, don't expect major change. A fortnight ago, I wrote my Nine things the Chancellor could tweak to help people blog. It now includes his responses to five of those. Just a few problems I highlight include...

- Limited company dividends not being covered.
- New employees after 28 Feb can't be furloughed.
- No help for the self-employed who started biz in last year.
- No help if firms refuse to furlough, but do lay-offs instead.

I'm constantly being asked for news of change on these and other gaps. So I need to be plain - barring minor guidance clarifications, there aren't any. And the strong signals I'm getting from key sources is THERE WON'T BE ANY, certainly not unless, as isn't expected, lockdown extends beyond the original 3mth financial limit.

Of course, that isn't a reason to stop campaigning for change (MSE and I are doing that too), but it is a reason to plan your finances on the fact things won't change, to apply for universal credit if you haven't already and to do what you can. I'm sorry to bear this unwanted news.

11) Employer unsure about furloughing you? Use our cheat sheet, including template letter to make it easy for them. Last week, I drafted a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cheat sheet - 12 simple furloughing need-to-knows for employees and small firms. It's a simple way to be prepared if you're trying to persuade employers to furlough you. It was popular, so I wanted to remind you about it.

Plus as furloughing sometimes involves both parties agreeing a contractual change, employment specialist ACAS kindly sped up drafting its furloughing template letter for employers so we could include it. It's an easy legal way to furlough someone.

My old firm rehired & furloughed me after last week's email

One of the biggest holes is those who changed jobs after 28 Feb, meaning their new employer can't furlough them. In last week's email, I explained I'd got the official guidance tweaked to confirm firms can rehire staff who voluntarily left after 28 Feb.

Of course, sadly most former employers will say no, but don't let pride stop you asking - do what you can - it's unlikely owt else will change, and some successes are coming in, such as Penelope's..

"Thank you for the email last week saying that if you had recently left an employer for a new job that couldn't start due to coronavirus, you could ask to be put back on your old employer's books and furloughed.

"I did just that and my amazing old boss has been super kind and amazing by doing this for me, even when it wasn't 100% sure last week. This has honestly made such a difference as I had nothing without it and the future looked bleak with all jobs in my industry on hold. Thank you, thank you, thank you.💕"


12) Income dropped due to furlough, redundancy, business struggles? Do a budget. With millions facing sudden income shocks, it's crucial to try to budget and plan expenditure. Even if income is only 20% lower, as it is for many being furloughed, that's a big change to your discretionary spend.  

Of course in some cases right now, it's simply impossible to balance a budget, but even then it's important to understand the limits. Use our free budget planners to go through it. Plus give yourself a money makeover to ensure you're on the best deals, so you have the lowest outgoings on everything.

13) Register newborns for child benefit without registering their birth. Normally, you have to go in person to register a birth before getting child benefit. For obvious reasons this has been relaxed - just tell HMRC when applying that you haven't been able to register your baby's birth due to coronavirus. See full claiming child benefit for newborns step-by-step help.

14) Can I apply for universal credit if I'm going to get the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme payment? Yes. Many are also worried how they interact. In a nutshell, apply for UC now, then when you receive the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme payment, it's counted as earnings, so your UC will drop then, but I've been told they won't be looking at retrospective clawbacks due to this.

15) Overtime earnings, bonuses & possibly sales commission count towards furlough pay. I've been asked this a lot by people trying to budget. With furloughing your work is put on hold and the state covers 80% of your salary, up to a max payment of £2,500/mth.

The definition of salary is 'regular, contractual pay', which includes basic wages, compulsory commission and past overtime. Yet it excludes discretionary commission (eg, tips), 'tronc', bonuses and benefits in kind.  

Previously we'd thought sales commission didn't count, now it seems (though we're waiting for an official answer, so it's still TBC till next week) if it's in your contract, eg, you get 10% of each sale, it's covered.

As for how much overtime/commission you get, again it's TBC, but normal furlough rules of variable income is the higher of the same month the prior year (eg, March to March) or average over past 12mths. For more see How is furlough pay calculated?

16) You can now claim a train refund online/remotely. Nearly all train tickets bought before 23 Mar have been refundable since then, though you may need to pay a £10 admin fee on season tickets. A few firms were, ridiculously, saying you must go to a station office to sort it, now train firms allow all passengers to get refunds remotely, usually online. See rail refund help.

17) One in nine mortgages are now on payment holidays. Need it? Do it. The bank trade body UK Finance just announced over 1.2m mortgage payment holidays have now been granted. You can apply online for a mortgage payment holiday with ALL major lenders. Do apply though, don't just stop direct debits - that'll kill your credit file.

When you're on a payment holiday, the interest and cost is added to the rest of the term. Sounds harsh, but isn't for most, eg, on a £700/mth mortgage with 20yrs left, take a 3mth holiday and after that you'd pay in the region of £710-£715/mth for the remaining 19yrs and 9mths. So if you need it, do it. 

It can be costlier for those with higher interest, and shorter time left. Use a mortgage payment holiday calculator to work it out.

18) Universal credit online applications - 'don't call them, they'll call you'. The Department for Work & Pensions has processed 1.2m claims in the last three weeks alone, 10x normal demand. To try to unjam the system, now once you've completed your online application they'll call you back (and, in some cases, may not need to call and verify at all), freeing up phone lines for those who can't get online to claim. See full universal credit help.

19) Really struggling? Is there a grant to help you? This won't work for most but if you're really struggling it's worth two minutes on charity Turn2Us's grant finder. Most individual grants aren't specifically for coronavirus, but for those on low incomes, so may help - they tend to be targeted at specific areas, eg, young entrepreneurs who are struggling, those in education, or musicians.

The Martin Lewis Money Show LIVE (from HOME)
Now EVERY Thu at 8pm on ITV for the next 6 weeks

After three successive one-off coronavirus live 'Ask Me Anything' specials - where we've managed to cover huge topics and had 10,000s of questions - ITV asked if I'd do the show for the next 6 weeks.  

I agreed, provided I could do it from home, so we're going to try with two remotely operated cameras and Mrs MSE kindly agreeing to be the location director. Fingers crossed, it'll be interesting. Do watch or set the Betamax.

 
 

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.

 

 
 

SAVINGS WARNING: Switchers' rates holding up - 1.3% easy access, 1.6% for a 1yr fix. But do nowt & many will earn less than a tenth of that

Update Fri 17 Apr: The top 1.3% easy access rates from Marcus and Saga dropped to offering 1.2% this morning. See top-easy access savings for the new best buys.

The savings world has been cleaved in two. Four weeks ago, the Bank of England cut UK interest rates to 0.1%, the lowest in its 325yr history. Most savings rates fell to similar, dire levels. Yet so far the top rates have hardly dropped. So CHECK NOW what you earn, as the difference between the rates inactive savers get, and the best switchers' deals, has likely never been bigger. All accounts below have full UK savings protection of up to £85k per person, per institution.

  • Earn under 1.3%? SWITCH NOW. The top easy-access deals let you put money in and withdraw it whenever you want - so why earn less? Sister accounts Marcus* and Saga*, operated by Goldman Sachs, pay 1.3% AER (min deposit £1). As with all easy-access accounts, the rates are variable, so keep your eye on them - we suspect they may drop a touch, but hopefully not too much. More info and options in top easy-access savings.

  • BOOST it to 1.6% fixed - if you can lock cash away. With fixed savings, the rate is, er, fixed for the term. The top payer for 1yr is Vanquis Bank* at 1.6% AER (min £1,000). Like most fixes, you must lock money away during the term (though you can access if you can prove financial difficulty). If you think you might need your savings, Marcus* and Saga* pay 1.45% AER (min £1) and allow anyone to withdraw money by closing the account at a cost equivalent to 90 days' interest. See top fixed savings for longer fixes and more info.

  • REALLY BOOST IT to 2.75% on regular savings. If you're putting cash away each month, rather than lump sums, use a specialist regular savings account. These pay higher interest, but on smaller sums for a short time.

    Those who bank with First Direct, HSBC or M&S can access linked 2.75% fixed regular savings accounts, and save up to £250/mth (£300/mth in First Direct). Or anyone can open and put £500/mth in Coventry BS's 2.5% AER variable regular saver, and £250/mth in Virgin Money's 1.5% AER fixed account. Virgin allows unlimited withdrawals, while the others let you access the money before the year's out for a fee. And if you've more to save a month, you can use more than one. Lots more help and full criteria in Top Regular Savings Accounts.

  • Pay tax on savings? Top cash ISAs pay up to 1.45% fixed. Cash ISAs are just savings accounts where the interest isn't taxed. But these days most people don't pay tax on savings anyway, as the personal savings allowance lets basic 20% taxpayers earn £1,000/yr interest tax-free, while higher 40% taxpayers get a £500/yr allowance. As ISAs usually pay less than normal savings, most shouldn't bother unless you pay tax or think you may do soon, given ISAs will protect against tax year-after-year.

    If you are a taxpayer, Penrith BS (min £100) and Shawbrook Bank (min £1,000) pay 1.25% AER variable on their easy access ISAs. For a 1yr fix, the top pick is at 1.35% from Kent Reliance (min £1,000), or for a 2yr fix, it's 1.48% AER from Shawbrook (min £1,000). If you've existing cash ISAs, Shawbrook and Kent Reliance let you transfer money in, too. More options and info in Top Cash ISAs.

  • Make savings easier or pay you even more...
    - Not sure how much to put away? An array of autosaving apps can decide for you.
    - Earn 5% on up to £2,500. Nationwide's FlexDirect account pays this for a year, if you apply this month.
    - Low income? Get a 50% bonus on your savings: Check the Help to Save scheme to see if you qualify.
    - First-time buyer? You can get a 25% boost to your savings via a Lifetime ISA.

 

Free 3mth Quibi subscription - a new mobile streaming app taking on Netflix. What's different about Quibi is the episodes are all 10mins or shorter, plus what you see on-screen sometimes changes if you move your phone around. Big names appearing in its original shows incl Chris Hemsworth, Sophie Turner and Jennifer Lopez. Whether it's any good is for you to decide - though it's free to try for 90 days. Full info on this & more in 20+ TV MoneySaving tricks.

Paying credit card interest? Shift debt to new 30mth 0% (2.95% fee). Don't leave interest to rack up. Check now if you can get a new balance transfer card, which then pays off debts on (an) old credit or store card(s) for you, so you owe it instead but at 0%. As acceptance criteria are getting tougher, our eligibility calc shows which of many top cards you're likely to be accepted for, incl no-fee 0% deals, though sadly we haven't got the data yet for the new longest card, TSB's up to 30mth 0% (one-off 2.95% fee)*. With all, ensure you never miss the min repayment and clear the debt before the 0% ends or it's 19.9% rep APR. Full info, help and options in Top Balance Transfers (APR examples).

New NHS staff freebies & discounts, incl free car checks and 10% off at Morrisons, Pets at Home etc. Many people, including us, want to say thank you to these lifesavers. So we've updated our compendium, which also incl FREE parking, discounts on food, free mobile data and more. NHS deals

Nintendo and PlayStation up to 80% off game sales, eg, £7.50 Mario + Rabbids for Switch, £12 GTA V for PS4 (both norm £30). 100s of downloadable games discounted till 29 Apr. Game on

Free tool to measure kids' feet at home. Useful as they grow fast and need shoes bought online. Step this way

20+ FREE (or very cheap) ways to sprinkle magic and joy for kids indoors. MSE Jenny has loads of creative ideas to amaze and entertain your little'uns while stuck at home. Incl beaming a 3D tiger into your front room and free 'thank you NHS' colouring sheets. 20+ ways to bring kids joy indoors

 
 

Are you one of 9 million overpaying for broadband? HALVE your cost now, as the cheapest fibre (fast) b'band & line drops to '£15.66/mth'

With a nation at home, broadband has become a key utility. But 9m are out of contract, free to shift, with many still paying £40/mth (£480/yr) even for slow speeds. So although we mentioned this a fortnight ago, we make no apology for doing it again, as some deals have got a smidgeon cheaper. Two mins on our Broadband Unbundled comparison will show you the best deals in your postcode, but to enthuse you, we've listed the top deals for most below.  

Will switching cause capacity probs? BT and others here have told us their networks and call centres can cope with more people switching and on faster speeds - so thankfully it isn't an issue, and you can do it guilt-free.

TOP BROADBAND & LINE DEALS FOR NEWBIES (1)
Deals avail to 98% of postcodes - links go via  Broadband Unbundled  which checks if you can get them
DEAL & SPEED
EQUIV COST (2)
 HOW GOOD IS IT?
Ends Fri.
Vodafone
63Mb fibre (VERY FAST)
'£19.62/mth'
('£17.62' for some)
MSE Blagged
Fastest super-cheap broadband (if you'll spend at Amazon anyway). Apply via our Vodafone link by 11.59pm Fri and you'll pay £22.95/mth over the 2yr contract. Do this and you're automatically sent an £80 Amazon voucher within 4mths. If you'd have spent that anyway, factor it in and the cost is an equiv £19.62/mth. Existing Vodafone pay-monthly mobile customers pay £2/mth less.
New.
Shell Energy
35Mb fibre (FAST)
'£15.66/mth'
 MSE Blagged
Cheapest fibre broadband. Apply via our Shell Energy link by Mon 27 Apr and you'll pay £23.99/mth. You automatically get £100 bill credit within 3mths, making it a total layout of £187.88 over the 1yr contract, equiv to £15.66/mth.
Ends Tue.
Plusnet 
10Mb (standard speed)
'£12.99/mth'
Cheapest standard broadband - but not much cheaper than the cheapest fibre deal.  Apply via this Plusnet link by Tue 21 Apr and you'll pay £17.99/mth, but you can claim a £60 prepaid Mastercard (as good as cash where accepted). Factor this in and it's £155.88 over the 1yr contract, equiv to £12.99/mth.
(1) Definition of newbie differs by firm - click the links and it's explained there. (2) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash or vouchers and averaging it over the contract.


  • Virgin Media/cable users can't usually switch to these right now. If that's you, as you're currently on cable, you'd need a BT Openreach engineer to come to your home (unless you have the right wires from an old connection) and they can't now, due to social distancing. Out of contract and can't switch? Haggle.

  • You may be down for up to 2 hours when you switch. You're given the switch time, so there's notice and it's usually pretty speedy. In rare cases the outage can be longer if anything goes wrong, so it's worth considering. Hopefully your mobile's internet can cover the gap.

  • Will I get the advertised speed? The 'average' speed quoted is what 50%+ of custs get at peak times - and many firms have confirmed they're not slowing speeds, despite more demand. Most big providers (incl all of those above) tell you the estimated max you're likely to get before you sign up. See how to check your speed and 8 broadband speed tips.
 

£18 Nails Inc face, hands and feet pamper set (norm £37). MSE Blagged. Incl four face, one foot and one hand mask. 5,000 sets available. Nails Inc

News: Martin's Coronavirus Poverty Relief Fund's distributed £1.16m to 122 small charities so far. Three weeks ago MSE's chair promised to fund first £1m, then added £900,000 more, for poverty relief grants of £5,000-£20,000 to support small local UK charities. He asked other high net-worths to join in, and that's brought in £1.4m. A hastily arranged team & volunteers are filtering the 7,000+ charity applications, and so far 122 grants worth £1.16m have been given out to foodbanks and community poverty relief projects. Full info & updates in Martin Lewis Coronavirus Poverty Fund.

Debenhams in administration - what it means for orders, gift cards & refunds. See Debenhams help.

Did you miss our razor sharp DIY haircut tips last week? As it was hugely popular, here's a reminder of all the shortcuts and perm-utations + how to avoid a close shave. Home haircutting tips

Free £18ish flower seeds with £8 magazine delivered. Great if sprucing up your garden. Cheap seeds

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: TSB* up to 30mths 0%, 2.95% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander 18mths 0% (18.9% 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*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Compare The Market*
  4. Gocompare*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: 
Cahoot 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £12.99/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £15.66/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Vodafone equiv £19.62/mth

5% interest fixed for a year: Nationwide FlexDirect
1-3% cashback on bills: 
Santander 123 Lite

 

UNLIMITED UK data, minutes & texts - £16/mth. Why pay more?

Happy with your handset? Most people can slash costs just by switching Sim (while keeping their number) 

We're all becoming ever more data-dependent in lockdown - on broadband and mobiles. And like with broadband (above), about 10m are out of contract on their mobile and paying too much, including stumping up for the 'inclusive handset' cost even once it's paid off. So if you're happy with your handset, switch to a cheaper Sim...

TOP-PICK SIM-ONLY DEALS FOR NEWBIES (1)
For many more options at different usage levels, see our Top Sims  guide
PROVIDER (NETWORK)
MONTHLY ALLOWANCE
COST (CONTRACT LENGTH)
Lebara* (Vodafone) MSE Blagged 2GB data, unltd mins & texts £5/mth (1mth contract)
Virgin Mobile* (EE) 8GB, unltd mins & texts £8/mth (12mth contract)
TalkMobile* (Vodafone's no-frills provider) MSE Blagged 9GB, unltd mins & texts £4.50/mth for 3mths, then £9/mth for 9mths - equiv £7.88/mth (12mth contract)
O2* 9GB, unltd mins & texts £10/mth (12mth contract)
Smarty* (Three's no-frills provider)  30GB, unltd mins & texts £10/mth (1mth contract)
Three* MSE Blagged  Unlimited data, mins & texts £16/mth (24mth contract)
(1) New customers of that provider.


  • Sim-switching need-to-knows...

    - Check your handset's unlocked, ie, you can put any Sim in it. If not, unlock it for free.

    - Want the same network? There are only four UK networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. All others piggyback off their signals (eg, Giffgaff is O2). To find which providers piggyback off your network, use our Mobile Piggybacking guide - we've listed the cheap deals for each network above.

    - Match your allowance to your use. Check old bills or use the Billmonitor* tool, which analyses your bills and finds Sims to match your use. Though it doesn't spot every deal - we've the cream above.

    - Switching and keeping your number's easy. You get the Sim in the post and in most cases you don't have to speak to anyone, while moving your number over normally takes just one working day (even during lockdown). See switching help.

  • NHS worker on EE or Vodafone? They offer unlimited data for existing customers - NHS mobile boosts.

  • Don't want to switch? Haggle... Mobile firms are among the easiest to haggle with. See Mobile Haggling.
 

120 hay fever tablets for £2.75. With high pollen counts across much of the UK, see cheap hay fever meds.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"A massive thank you for highlighting that BT Sport and Sky Sports are offering to pause subscriptions - I didn't know anything about this. I've paused both today and that's a big help - I would've missed out completely if I didn't subscribe to your emails."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

What are your favourite at-home hobbies? With the Government urging us all to stay at home as much as possible right now, many are dedicating more time to hobbies at home - or even trying to pick up a new one. This week, we want to find out how you're spending your leisure time in lockdown. What are your favourite at-home hobbies?

Over half of employed MoneySavers say they've been furloughed. Last week, we asked how your work's been affected by the pandemic - over 8,000 responded. Of the nearly 90% of respondents who said they were employed, a huge 59% told us they've been furloughed. Among self-employed respondents, there was uncertainty about the help on offer, with 30% unsure if they're eligible for the Government's income support scheme. See full furlough poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I claim compensation for a cancelled flight when airlines are struggling? A recent flight back from an overseas holiday was cancelled due to coronavirus, and I was put on one much later. While technically I'm eligible for compensation and food costs, I was safe and staying with family so I didn't have any major extra expenses - so should I claim at a time when airlines are struggling, furloughing staff etc? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I claim for cancelled flight? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Taking payment holiday to clear smaller debts?
- Old-Style board thread of the week: 2020 - banish the clutter
- Random Acts of Kindness and All Things Positive chat: Positive MoneySaving
- Discussion of the week: Alternatives for when supermarkets sell out

 

TV MoneySaving tricks - Incl free 3mth trial to Quibi
NHS freebies & discounts - Incl free car checks
Nintendo, PlayStation and PC - Up to 80% off game sales
Nails Inc - £18 face, hands & feet pamper set (norm £37)
Free £18ish seeds - With £8 mag delivered to your door

Museums - Pop into the Vatican or look around the Louvre
World wonders - Incl Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu etc
Fun experiences - Swim with sharks or dive with dolphins
Zoos, wildlife & aquarium feeds - Watch exotic animals live
Theme parks - Go on a 360 ride incl Splash Mountain

Marvel - Free digital copies of comic books incl Spider-Man
Readly - Two months' free access to 4,000+ magazines
FreePrints Card - FREE personalised photo postcard
Scholastic - 25% off selected kids' reading packs
Stand-up comedy - Free NextUp two-week streaming trial

Quick Forum Tips

Free best-selling & classical audiobooks. What's going on ear
99p The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity book. Feed a read
Charming cookie cutters on sale at White Stuff. Can't cut this

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 15 APR ONWARDS)

Thu 16 Apr - This Morning, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 16 Apr - The Martin Lewis Money Show - Coronavirus Special, ITV, 8pm
Mon 20 Apr - This Morning, ITV, 10.55am
Mon 20 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.15pm

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 20 Apr - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm

 

'I CAN WEAR MY ONESIE TO WORK NOW': YOUR LOCKDOWN SILVER LININGS

That's it for this week, but before we go... we may be in lockdown, but our Forumites have made us smile by sharing the silver linings they've taken from the current situation. Some are enjoying the fact they're no longer getting cold callers at the door, while one MoneySaver is making the most of working from home by wearing a onesie rather than smart office attire. Others are putting the extra time at home to good use by finally emptying kitchen cupboards or catching up with friends they've been meaning to call for some time. Let us know the small mercies you're thankful for in our forum post.

We hope you save some money, stay safe,
The MSE team