Apr
22
2020

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

22 April 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... cancel car ins?, furlough & self-emp news, Ryanair farce, Prem Bond boost, student loan & covid, tighter credit scores, Amzn £1 back, cheap fibre ends, free TV sport

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... Amazon £1 back, cheap fibre broadband ends, free TV sport etc
                                                           
 


 

Martin's coronavirus update
21 NEW need-to-knows, incl: 
Furlough extension | Self-employ date | Tighter credit scores | Ryanair refund farce | Student loan update | Car finance & payday loan pay holidays | Fixed-term contracts... and more


It seems hard to believe, but a month ago, we weren't even locked in. The Chancellor foreshadowed the cataclysmic impact on the economy by announcing megalithic support measures. This week, the first got up and running - the furlough scheme's live.

No surprise it's had tweaks and changes - some good, others not. The team and I have been hard at work assessing and analysing it, and I've had many calls/emails trying to get clarification and even help smoothing out a few wrinkles, though bigger change is hard.

As always, everything we've learnt goes in our guides. Last week there were four - now they're split into six, as they keep growing...

- Coronavirus employees' help, incl furloughing rights
- Coronavirus self-employed & small ltd co help, incl income scheme
- Coronavirus finance & bills help, incl mortgages, energy and TV
- Coronavirus travel rights, incl refunds and insurance
-  Coronavirus life-in-lockdown, incl MOTs, food and entertainment

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 21 NEW coronavirus financial NEED-TO-KNOWS

1) Furloughing is live and now lasts until June. Since Mon morning, employers have been able to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Those that do it by the end of today (Wed) should receive the money this month, as it's due to be paid within 6 working days (see When will I be paid?).

The CJRS allows firms to choose to put employees with no work or who can't work on furlough - like a job standby button - and the state pays 80% of salary, up to £2,500/mth max. Employers can backdate claims to March, and it'll last until June (extended last week, from the original March to May). Furlough needn't last the whole time - it's for 21+ days. If you're discussing it with your employer, to tool yourself up, use my simple, updated cheat sheet: 11 simple furloughing need-to-knows for employees.

2) CONFIRMED. Self-Employment Income Support notification due mid-May. Now the employees' furlough scheme is open, I've had many questions about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme timings. With it, rather than applying, you're contacted if you're eligible.

To manage your expectations, I asked HMRC, and it's confirmed you should expect contact mid-May (it's not yet decided whether by letter, online or a combination, I'll let you know) and payment will be in June.

Many also ask me: "Will it be extended to 4mths like the employee scheme?" I've heard nothing, but my inkling is there's a good chance it will do it in parallel with the furloughing scheme. Though that was done at speed, to forestall firms starting redundancy consultations which need 45 days' notice.

PS: If you haven't submitted your (already very late) 2018/19 tax return, you must do it by THIS THU to be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. See self-assessment help, or the charity TaxAid can give personal help to those on low incomes.

3) Limited companies - no change I'm afraid. I know many who work via their own small limited co are struggling, as there's little support. There are campaigns to change that, but no news I'm afraid. All I can do is link again to my limited co directors tips & wriggle room video.

4) Paying interest on debts? APPLY ASAP to cut interest - our new data shows acceptance is rapidly getting tougher. While those in dire straits can get can a credit card or loan payment holiday, only do that in an emergency, as it still leaves interest racking up.

If you've manageable existing debt, ensuring the interest rate is as low as possible is the key. Yet we've crunched some eligibility data and it shows far fewer people getting accepted for cheaper debt. Likely a mix of tighter credit scoring, and people's worsening finances - in the short-term, things are likely to get worse not better, so sort it sooner.

- Credit cards: The number not eligible for any cards has jumped to 20% from 7%, while those offered at least one pre-approved card has dropped from a half to a third. So if you need to cut card costs, don't go direct - instead use the Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc to see which cards are likely to accept you (protecting your creditworthiness), and read the Balance Transfer guide.

- Personal loans: The number not eligible for any loans has jumped from 3% to over 30%, a ten-fold increase, while those offered at least one pre-approved loan has dropped from 40% to around a quarter. To look at cutting loan costs, it's best to use the Loans Eligibility Calc to see your likely acceptance, and see the Cheap Loans guide.

5) The furlough cut-off date's been EXTENDED to 19 March, helping 10,000s new starters, but it's no panacea. Originally, when the furlough scheme was announced on 20 March, only employees on a firm's payroll by 28 February were eligible. A vocal social media campaign rightly launched collectively to fight for 100,000s who'd switched jobs since then, as by ill luck they were left out in the cold.

The Treasury seemingly listened, and last week extended the cut-off until 19 March, saying it was "expected to benefit over 200,000 employees". But sadly when examining the technicals, there's a hole, which by my analysis suggests that number's a wild over-estimation.

The problem is we now know what they count as being on the payroll. It isn't when you started work, but instead when your firm submitted its first Real Time Info (RTI) payroll details including you to HMRC - usually done a few days before each payday.

Staff who are paid weekly and started in early March are therefore eligible for furlough. Yet most people are paid monthly, and most paydays are near the month's end. So even for those who started on 1 March, the RTI data often wasn't submitted by 19 March deadline, so the extension doesn't help. Full help & analysis in my furlough cut-off date extension video.

6) Old employers can rehire to furlough, but the cut-off date's still 28 February. If you were made redundant or left your old firm for a new job, which fell through due to coronavirus (ie, you didn't start, were put on unpaid leave or made redundant), you can ask your old employer to rehire and furlough you, but the cut-off date here hasn't moved, you had to be on the payroll by 28 February. Full help in How do I get my old employer to rehire and furlough me?

PS: On Fri, when new furlough guidance was published, it included that rehire and furlough was for "those made redundant or stopped working for employer after [28 February] and prior to 19 March 20". I was alerted to this by a kind employer, who'd been planning to help former staff, but this new 'must've left by 19 March' rule meant they couldn't.

So I had conversations with HMRC and I can happily confirm the guidance will be changed soon, and the new 19 March rule won't apply.

7) Newly self-employed? Help in Scotland. Those who started self-employment after April 2019 (and many even before that) aren't eligible for help (see the Chancellor's answer to my request to change that cut-off), leaving many in the lurch. Yet the Scottish Govt has announced a further £100m of support to help newly self-employed Scots.

8) Ryanair playing fast and loose (squared) with refunds - we've reported to Trading Standards and the aviation regulator. You've a legal right to refund for cancelled flights, and while flight and holiday companies are making people jump through hoops to claim it rather than vouchers (ie, offering vouchers online, but you have to call swamped phone lines for cash refunds), Ryanair's gone one step beyond.

We've 100s of reports that after people have jumped through the hoops to claim cash not vouchers, they're still sent vouchers anyway. See full Ryanair refund farce news. We've reported this to the Civil Aviation Authority and Trading Standards.

NEW: Car finance, payday loans & buy now, pay later rules

In last week's email, I said if regulator the FCA didn't announce something on car finance by Fri, you could slap me across the face and call me Eileen. Well on Fri, it announced a consultation to end the patchwork help on offer (so call me Martin).

That announcement also included plans for payday loans and other high-cost credit too. The quickfire consultation ended on Mon. The new rules, due on Fri, should be IN EFFECT NEXT WEEK. As almost certainly the mainstay of the proposals won't change, we expect...

9) Car finance 3mth payment holidays to start next week. If you've a car loan, PCP, leasing or HP deal and are struggling to pay due to coronavirus...

- 3mth payment holidays on request. Ask to defer payments for 3mths, though as interest still racks up, only do it if there's no other option.

- They can't repossess cars for non-payment. Car finance is oft secured on the car, so usually if you can't repay, lenders can repossess it. They can't do this for the next 3mths if you're struggling due to coronavirus.

Even before that comes in, speak to lenders, many are already offering forbearance. However, if the help isn't equal or better than these proposals, wait until next week and ask again. Full info and updates in car finance help.

10) Payday loan 1mth payment AND interest holidays due from next week. The consultation also says payday lenders should give month-long payment holidays, on request, to those struggling due to coronavirus, and here, crucially, the (usually hideous, outrageous) interest won't rack up.

We think you should be allowed to extend the 1mth holiday if needed, and have submitted that to the consultation. The final measures on Friday will go in payday loan help.

11) Pawnbroking, buy-now-pay-later and rent-to-own 3mth payment holidays from next week. Again, with all these, there are 3mth payment holidays planned for those struggling due to coronavirus, though interest still racks up, so only do it in emergencies. Pawnbrokers also won't be allowed to sell your goods during the payment holiday. See full credit help.

PS: Buy-now-pay-later covers things like in-store credit, where you've a few months or years to spread the cost of purchases. Rent-to-own covers firms like PerfectHome and the now-in-administration BrightHouse, where you pay regularly to use goods such as TVs and fridges.


12) Mortgage, credit & store card, personal loan payment holidays and 0% overdrafts. Just a reminder, if you've an authorised overdraft, you now have a right to ask that £500 of your overdraft is at 0%. Also, rules allow you to request mortgage payment holidays and credit & store card, loan & catalogue debt payment holidays.

13) Child at/going to uni and your income's substantially dropped? Let student finance know. First-time UK undergraduates are automatically eligible for a full loan to cover their tuition fees (watch my Student Loans Decoded prog for full info - for sixth-formers & parents).

Yet the amount of the maintenance loan, which covers living costs, is means-tested depending on household income, and those income forms are being completed by many right now. How it works exactly depends on which UK country the student is from...

- Eng: Higher income, less loan, implicitly suggesting parents should fill the gap - see our Parental Contribution Calc.
- Wales: Everyone gets the same amount. Higher income, more of it's a repayable loan, rather than a non-repayable grant.
- Scot & NI: It's a mix of grant, loan and implied parental contribution. Higher income, less grant, more loan & parental contribution.

For new and continuing uni students from September, the funding is based on information in the 2018/19 tax year. Clearly many people will have seen substantial income drops. If your income is at least 15% lower over this year, you can do a current year income assessment instead. For more, see coronavirus and students.

14) You can be furloughed on fixed-term contracts - even if that contract's ending or has ended, it can often be extended. If you're on a fixed-term contract, your employer can extend it within the furlough period, without breaking rules, so your continued employment can be covered.

However, if the contract's due to end soon, your employer needs to extend or renew it before it ends to keep you on the furlough scheme.

Firms can also rehire to furlough contractors. New guidance on this on Fri has muddied waters, so I've been in conversations with HMRC on this, and as part of that, it's told me the guidance will be updated, along these lines (I know in the TV industry this meant some firms felt they had to U-turn on rehiring. Hopefully this helps)...

"Employees on fixed-term contracts notified to HMRC on an RTI [payroll] submission on or before 19 March, which ended after 19 March, can be re-employed and furloughed by their employer. Their contracts can be renewed or extended before their natural conclusion during the furlough period without breaking the terms of the scheme.

"Employees who were on fixed-term contracts as of 28 February, whose employment was notified to HMRC on an RTI submission by then, but whose contract ended after 28 February, can also be re-employed in the same way." See fixed-term contractor help.

15) I'm not dead - beware coronavirus scams. Sadly, this week many of you have seen adverts about my death online in publications such as the Guardian, Metro and others. These are click-bait ad scams, placed on Google and others, which are then published via ad software on legit sites. Clearly, as I'm writing this, they're fake. Please report any you see.

But that's just one of many attempts to scam the vulnerable during coronavirus, from sophisticated text message fraud to dodgy driveway cleaning services - we've 15 coronavirus scams to watch out for.

16) CONFIRMED. Sales commission that's in your contract counts towards furlough pay. Last week, I told you I thought it counted but I'd asked HMRC for official confirmation. That came on Fri. In a nutshell, if you're contracted to get extra money, eg, some sales commission, fees or guaranteed overtime, it should count towards your salary when the 80%, up to £2,500/mth, is being worked out.

However, if it's discretionary commission, such as tips, 'tronc' or bonuses, it's not included. Full info is in How is 80% of my salary calculated?

17) If you take a holiday firm's voucher refund, are you protected if it goes bust? If your holiday's been cancelled you are legally entitled to a refund (see coronavirus holiday refund rights). Yet online many firms are pushing vouchers, and making you hold in long telephone queues to request cash refunds.

You may be willing to take a voucher, to help the struggling travel industry out, or if you just can't face pushing to get cash. But if you have a voucher, what happens if the firm goes bust? 

- Refund credit notes: Issued for some ATOL-protected package hols and flight-only booking refunds, these will likely offer ATOL insolvency protection, so you'd likely get a full refund (though it's a new protection, so it's not been 100% tested).
- Other vouchers: These aren't protected if the firm goes bust - legally you'd just be a creditor. Though I suspect, and the Financial Ombudsman agrees, it'd be worth trying cover via your card provider under chargeback or Section 75 rules. But this is untested.

18) I'm on tax credits/housing benefit etc, should I switch to the boosted universal credit? Universal credit (UC) payouts have been increased by £1,000/yr since coronavirus, and the housing allowance for private renters is more generous. Many existing benefit recipients are still on the old system, so is it worth switching to UC? There's no hard answer - for many, payouts are similar, but:

- Some are better off, eg, some renters and/or disability benefit recipients.
- Some are worse off, eg, if you've £6,000+ saved, or couples where one is above state pension age.

For more info, including our free tool to help, read our new Will I be better off switching to universal credit? info. Then if UC is better, you can do it online or call the helpline.

19) Nursery support less than expected - likely to hit staff & fees. It had been thought nurseries could furlough all the staff needed. On Fri, new guidance stated, in simple terms, nurseries can only get furlough funds for the proportion of income that's not publicly funded.

As many nurseries already get (and continue to receive) funds from the state to cover 3-4yr-olds, this is a big late change, especially for those who'd already furloughed most of their staff, causing added pressure. For more, see nursery furlough. Some in the industry fear up to 1 in 10 staff may lose jobs and providers may shut or hike fees.

20) Supply teachers are only getting 80% of minimum wage. Supply teachers working for agencies and umbrella companies are often paid minimum wage plus discretionary bonuses (to allow flexible pay rates depending on the job). As discretionary bonuses aren't included in furlough pay, many firms are therefore basing the 80% of salary when furloughing on just the minimum wage.

Being straight with you, I'm talking to HMRC about this, which essentially says "it depends on the contract", though some lawyers tell us while called 'discretionary' bonuses, they're not really discretionary so should be included. We've not got anywhere yet though - I'll keep on it, and any updates will go in supply teacher help when I get them, and of course in this email.

21) Annual leave DOES accrue during furlough. Those on furlough remain employed, and annual leave accrues. Good news for most, but it does put some employers off furloughing people rather than redundancy, as it essentially leaves a cost accruing.

While there's nothing in the furlough rules to prevent you agreeing to vary holiday terms with your employer, employment law means the minimum 28 days a year (20 days + 8 bank hols) can't legally be waived, only extra allowances above that. More in furlough & annual leave.

The Martin Lewis Money Show LIVE (from HOME) 

Now EVERY Thu at 8.02pm on ITV for the next 5 weeks

It's my Thursday briefing - everything you need to know on coronavirus and key MoneySaving - plus answering your questions live, straight after the NHS clap on Thursday night. And it's from home, and Mrs MSE's kindly guest-producing, so I'll see what I can rope her into doing. Do watch or set the VideoPlus.

 
 

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.

 

 
 

Can I cancel car insurance as I'm not driving? As Admiral and more give £25 auto-refunds, we've the key car insurance coronavirus need-to-knows

 

Admiral Group insurers - incl its Admiral, Bell, Diamond and Elephant brands - have just announced that all car and van insurance customers who had a policy on Mon 20 Apr will get an auto £25 refund as people are driving less. We've asked other big firms - including Aviva, Axa and LV - if they'll follow suit, but to no avail so far. So for those hardly using their cars, what can you do to save?

  • Do I need insurance if I'm not driving? Yes. Until 2011, you needed insurance to drive, then it was changed so you needed it just for owning a car - with one exception. If it's kept on private land (eg, garage/drive) you can declare it off road via a Sorn (statutory off-road notification), cancelling your vehicle tax and with no need for insurance. But is it worth it? Over to Martin:

    "The difficulty is we don't know how long lockdown will last. If it's just weeks, this'd be a faff for a small saving. Yet if you don't think you'll drive much anyway even when the rules relax, then, for example, if you've two cars and are only likely to use one, it could save you cash. Though do remember if you've no car insurance, your car isn't covered for damage or theft."

    As for how to do it and the costs, we've full info on 
    how to Sorn, including cancelling insurance, tax, the risks and how to restart cover once you're ready to drive again.

  • I want the option to drive my car, but am driving far less. Can I save, eg, by reducing estimated mileage? Insurance is all about risk, so the more chance they think you have of claiming, the more they charge. There are three key changes that may save you money: a) substantially reducing estimated annual mileage, b) telling 'em you're no longer driving for work or commuting, c) removing young or risky extra drivers. As insurance pricing is personal, it's tough to say which works best, but full info on possible savings and how to check is in should I reduce my car insurance cover?

  • Tell your insurer of major changes, eg, losing your job. While it may not help, it's worth a reminder that if major things change, such as losing your job (no need if you're furloughed), or if you have new convictions or medical issues, you should notify them. See what must I tell my insurer mid-term?

  • FOR MOST, THE BIGGEST SAVINGS COME FROM CHECKING PRICES FOR A NEW POLICY - how to save £100s. Huge numbers already overpay, so frankly it's worth checking even if not at renewal, especially if your use has changed, and you've not claimed this insurance year (but factor in £50ish admin fees to cancel an existing policy). Full info in our cut car insurance costs guide, in brief...

    - Step 1: Combine comparison sites to scour 100s of insurers in mins. Comparison sites don't search identical insurers, nor give identical prices, so try as many as you've time for in this order: MoneySupermarket*, Confused.com*, Compare The Market* and Gocompare* (see how we rank 'em). They search standard policies and those that let you pay by the mile (but these can have big restrictions, so check).

    - Step 2: Then check big insurers - and hot deals - not listed on comparison sites. Aviva* and Direct Line* can be competitive, but don't appear on 'em. You also won't find some deals on comparisons, eg, a £60 Love2Shop, M&S or Amazon vch. See hot deals comparisons miss.

    - See if these counter-logical savings work for you. It's worth checking if choosing comprehensive over 3rd party, adding a responsible (often older) extra driver or tweaking your job title can save you cash.

PS: Also get help on MOT extensions if you can't get to a garage and see lots more coronavirus-related motoring help.

 

Updated. 15 things now FREE online that you used to pay for, eg, watch Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (incl Love Never Dies) & extra 2mths' free Amazon Music Unlimited. We've added these and more to our mega-popular list, incl audiobooks, box sets, learn French and hone guitar skills. Online freebies

Ends Mon. Cheap fibre (FAST) broadband & line - '£15.66/mth' from Shell Energy. MSE Blagged. This 35Mb deal for Shell Energy newbies is £23.99/mth over a 1yr contract, but you get £100 bill credit within 3mths. Factor that in and it's an equiv £15.66/mth. See our broadband comparison for more deals and switching help.

15 FREE ways to relax & feel good, incl meditation apps, virtual yoga classes, uplifting podcasts. We know it's a stressful and unsettling time for many, so see MSE Becky's tips to look after yourself at no cost - many of which she's tried herself. 

Ends Mon. Cheapest UNLIMITED mins, texts & data Sim we've ever seen - £16/mth from Three. MSE Blagged. As many are more data-dependent in lockdown, this 2yr deal for Three newbies* is ideal for big data-gobblers - but it's only available until 11.59pm Mon. More help and deals in Top Sims.

ALL GONE. 10 flowering dahlia plants for £10 delivered (norm £41). MSE Blagged. Ready to plant outdoors. Unfortunately, all 4,000 sets of 10 have now sold out. Gardening Express

 
 

Savings update...
The GOOD: NS&I cancels Premium Bond & other May rate cuts 
The BAD: Top easy-access rates shaved lower, now 1.2% 
The UGLY: 180 savings accounts pulled, most people earn just 0.4%

The UK base rate has been cut to 0.1%, the lowest in its 325yr history, and most savings are at similar dire levels. The latest research shows that in March 180 accounts were withdrawn, and the average rate fell from 0.56% to currently stand at 0.44% (source: Moneyfacts). This means everyone should CHECK NOW what they earn. And with things shaking up again this week, we thought we'd better give you a run down. All accounts below have full UK savings protection of up to £85k per person, per institution.

  • Top easy-access accounts now pay 1.2% - if you earn less, ditch & switch. With easy access, you can put money in and withdraw it whenever you want - so why earn less? Sister accounts Marcus* and Saga* pay 1.2% AER (min deposit £1), shaved down from 1.3% last week. If there's a silver lining to this rate cut, it's that we can hope the new rate will stay for a decent time, now that the lower UK base rate has been factored in. But rates remain variable, so as with all easy-access accounts, keep an eye on them. Full info & more options in easy-access savings.

  • NS&I cancels rate cuts. This was welcome news from the state-backed financial institution this week as it cancelled its long-planned May rate cut. So Premium Bonds stay at 1.4% (not cut to 1.3%), its Direct Saver stays at 1% (not 0.7%), its Investment Account at 0.8% (not 0.6%) and Income Bonds at 1.16% (not 0.7%). These now look strong compared to the market, suggesting the Govt wants NS&I to raise cash.

  • Earn 1.6% fixed - if you can lock cash away. With fixes, the rate is fixed for the term (obvs). The top payer for 1yr is Vanquis Bank* at 1.6% AER (min £1,000), with no access unless you can prove financial difficulty. If you think you might need your savings, Saga* (no min age other than the usual 18) and Marcus pay 1.45% AER (min £1) and let you close the account any time at a cost equiv to the first 90 days' interest. More options & full info in top fixed savings accounts.

  • Martin: 'Now Premium Bonds are staying at 1.4%, are they a good place to save?' Tough call this, so here's Martin's view... "Even at 1.4% tax-free, the Premium Bond prize fund rate isn't a no-brainer. While NS&I is a bastion of savings safety, unless you've £85,000+ saved, the protection isn't materially better than the normal UK safe savings cover.

    "Nor is 'tax-free' a boost for most. Since 2016, the personal savings allowance means basic 20% rate taxpayers can earn £1,000/yr interest in any savings tax-free (higher 40% rate, £500). So fewer than 1 in 20 people have enough saved to pay tax on it.

    "Compare rates, and while 1.4% beats the top easy access, it loses to the top 1yr fix, and most people do park cash in Premium Bonds for more than that. Yet even then, the Premium Bond prize fund rate isn't the same as an interest rate. Put £1,000 in for a year and you won't get £14 back, you can't; the smallest prize is £25. In fact, statistically with £1,000, most win nowt, just less than half win £25 and a trivial number win more.

    "According to our Premium Bond Probability Calc, those with smaller amounts and typical luck are unlikely to win more than the top easy-access accounts over a year. To do that, you'd need to have closer to the maximum £50,000 in. And you'd need far better than typical luck to win close to the interest from today's top 1yr fix.

    "So based on pure financial logic, unless you pay tax on savings, Premium Bonds aren't a good bet for most. But if you are happy to have a little bit of a flutter and like the dream of winning a million, then at the moment with the rate riding relatively high, it's far from the worst thing to do with your ca
    sh."
 

Amazon Prime member? Choose slower delivery to get £1 back on many £10+ orders. And let's face it, few expect lightning delivery at the moment. £1 Amazon back

100+ free digital comic books, eg, Avengers vs. X-Men, Batman, and Spider-Man. See free comics.

How to watch sport for free (OK, they're re-runs) incl World Cup and Premier League footy, F1, tennis, NFL etc. There's no live sport on TV now, and while there are re-runs galore on paid-for channels, we've a round-up of free online showings available to all. So you can relive recent and vintage sporting history, but we must warn - there are painful moments for England men's and women's football fans. See free sports streaming. PS: If you already subscribe to 'em, also find out how to pause BT Sport and Sky Sports subscriptions (though you still get access if you do so). 

Oasis and Warehouse enter administration - your rights with online orders, returns & gift cards. See administration rights.

 
 

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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*

Admiral MultiCar (incl £70 Amazon vch)

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 £19.83/mth

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

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Thanks to MSE Becky for the extra dating from a distance ideas. I'm 50+ and had a first date in person with a guy, but all subsequent dates have been virtual, incl two dinner dates. It's been great to have some other options I'd not thought of."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Have you applied for a payment holiday? With many struggling as a result of the coronavirus crisis, lenders, utility firms and others are offering some the opportunity to take payment holidays, where you stop making payments for a set period (though beware, in many cases you will still rack up interest). Have you applied for a payment holiday?

MoneySavers are green-fingered and enjoy reading. With all of us urged to stay at home right now, last week we asked you to tell us your favourite at-home hobbies. 4,900 responded, and 35% said gardening was one of their top three pastimes - more than any other activity (though reading was a close second at 33%). More than 450 of you wrote in with your own options, ranging from genealogy and amateur radio to zentangle (that's drawing structured patterns). See full hobby poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I claim tax back while working from home due to coronavirus? I'm working from home due to coronavirus, and I've read Martin's blog about homeworkers being able to claim £6/week tax back on extra costs. While I'm entitled to do so, since I've not been travelling to work I'm financially better off overall. Obviously, the UK is struggling with this pandemic and spending a lot on benefits to support people who have lost their jobs or been furloughed, so should I claim the tax back? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I claim tax back while working from home due to coronavirus? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

With virtual quizzes so popular, we thought we'd quickly run through some you can join online for free each week:
- Every night, 9pm: The Self Isolation Pub Quiz with Gil Kolirin (via Facebook)
- Wednesdays, 8pm: Virtual Pub Quiz Wednesdays (via Facebook)
- Thursdays, 9pm: Social Distancing Quiz with 'Lisa off of Eggheads' (via Facebook)
- Sundays, 7pm: PJ Quiz Co (via Facebook)
- Mondays, 7pm: The Pembury Tavern (via Instagram)

 

15 things now FREE online - Incl musicals, fitness classes etc
15 free ways to feel good - Incl meditation apps, yoga etc
Gardening Express - 10 dahlia plants for £10 delivered
Free Marvel and DC digital comics - Incl Avengers, Batman etc
Free sport re-runs - Incl World Cup football, NFL, F1 etc

Beam a tiger etc into your home - Via Google augmented-reality
Disney+ free trial - 7 days incl Lion King, Lady & The Tramp etc
Playdough - Online homemade recipe
Free audiobooks - 100s incl Winnie The Pooh
Free online activities/classes - Incl drawing, ballet etc

Scribbler - Send a totally free card to NHS staff or key workers
Quibi - Free 90-day trial for new mobile video streaming app
Beano - Free monthly digital comic
Gardeners' World - Free £18ish seeds with £8 mag delivered
Amazon - Reclaim digital versions of lost music for free

Quick Forum Tips

This week, forum manager MSE Tine shares a few posts and discussion boards with extra 'feel good' factor:
Write to a sick child - Via the charity Post Pals
Debt support & inspiration - Join the Debt-Free Wannabes
Chance to win £1,000 - Free online competition

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 22 APR ONWARDS)

Wed 22 Apr - BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine, 12.30pm
Thu 23 Apr - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 23 Apr - The Martin Lewis Money Show - Coronavirus Special, ITV, 8pm
Mon 27 Apr - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Mon 27 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.15pm. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 27 Apr - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 28 Apr
 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 12.30pm

 

HOW ARE YOU STAYING FIT AT HOME?

That's it for this week, but before we go... with gyms and leisure centres closed, you've been sharing the ways you've been keeping fit at home. Loads of you are starting the day with a PE lesson from Joe Wicks on YouTube, while other MoneySavers are getting a more personal touch with their local exercise classes now being run online. Tyson Fury's regular workouts for couples on social media are packing a punch for some, while others are following the 'Couch to 5K' challenge. Let us know how you're staying fit during the lockdown on our Facebook post.

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