Jun
24
2020

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

24 June 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... summer hol bargains?, 30mth 0%, 40% overdrafts, Tui & Virgin refunds?, card & loan pay hols extended, NHS deals, cheap E.on, £100 M&S/Amazon

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... NHS deals, cheap E.on, £100 M&S/Amazon
                                                           
 


 

Martin's coronavirus update

21 NEW need-to-knows incl: Card & loan pay hols extended | Tui & Virgin refunds | Overdrafts 0% or 40%? | Self-employ help | Cheap new travel ins | Will existing travel ins work? | Bounce back survey | Renew passports ASAP

The Prime Minister has just announced that from 4 July, in England, the 2m rule will become 1m+ and hairdressers, pubs, restaurants and cinemas will be able to open... though not beauty salons, swimming pools and indoor gyms. Either way, we have to hope it's a huge signal that the virus must be on the wane.

Yet the financial contagion is far from over. In fact it's likely we're only at the beginning. So we will continue to brief you on what you need to know to stay financially safe. As always, all new info we get is added to our constantly updated guides...

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


While we strive for 100% accuracy, please give us just a touch of wriggle room - things are changing all the time.

The 21 NEW coronavirus financial NEED-TO-KNOWS

1) Credit cards, personal loans & catalogue debt payment holidays due to be EXTENDED till 31 Oct. On Friday, regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published proposals which included extending card and loan payment holidays for those struggling due to the pandemic. It's a lightning-quick consultation, almost certain to be rubber-stamped and in place by July. In brief it proposes...

- If you've not yet applied, you'll have till 31 Oct to do so.
- Already on a pay holiday? You can ask to extend it for a further 3mths.
- Partial pay holidays are allowed if you can repay some but not all of it.

My view is IF YOU NEED A PAYMENT HOLIDAY, DO IT, BUT ONLY IF NEEDED. The reason it's not a 'grab it' is two-fold.

First, because the holiday is just a deferment, you still have to pay what's missed, and the interest that's racked up, later. Plus, while it won't go on your credit file, as I revealed a month ago, payment holidays can affect credit scores as lenders use other methods to detect them.

But if you're struggling to repay, and need cash flow, do it. Better that than killing your finances. Though do check if you can get a balance transfer first to cut the interest before you stop paying. More info in credit card and loan payment holidays, which includes my video briefing.

2) Paying off a loan - cut interest & SAVE £5,000? Payment holidays don't stop interest. If you've an expensive loan, it's worth checking to see if you can do a loan switch to cut costs. I was prompted to write this after receiving David's email last week... 

"Massive thanks - due to your weekly email I saved over £5,000. I took out a 5yr loan in 2018, and have been happily repaying the instalments. Then you highlighted cheaper loans. I got one at 3.1% and now pay £40/mth less and it's due to finish 6mths earlier."

This is both a good and bad time to try. Good because rates are super-cheap, bad because loans are tougher to get. Still it's worth a check. Yet as there can be early repayment charges if you repay a loan early, it's not just about comparing APRs. Here's my mini step-by-step...

- STEP 1: Check if it's likely you can get a cheaper loan. Our Loans Eligibility Calculator shows your odds of acceptance for many cheap loans. If you've little chance, don't carry on. If cheaper loans are likely, keep checking.

For an idea of current cheapest rates: for £3k - £5k Hitachi* is 8.4% APR, for £5k - £7.5k, Tesco Bank is 3.4% APR, and for £7.5k - £15k, Cahoot* is 2.8% APR. All these are 'representative APR' though, meaning sadly only 51% of accepted customers need get the advertised rate. For borrowing under £3k, check out 0% money transfer loans.

- STEP 2: Ask your current lender for a settlement figure. Ie, how much it'll cost to clear your current loan including any early repayment costs (which tells you how big a new loan you'll need to get). 

- STEP 3: Calculate how much it'll cost you to stay with your current lender. Multiply your monthly repayments by how many months you have left (ask it if you don't know).

- STEP 4: Find out which is cheaper. Use the MSE Loan Switching Calc to see whether you should stick or not. See our Cut existing loan costs guide for more help.

3) 0% overdrafts extended BUT 40% rates may return. The FCA's proposals on Friday also included new overdraft help. In April the regulator introduced up-to-£500 interest-free overdrafts for 3mths - under the new proposals, these will be extended.

- For those struggling due to coronavirus, on request, the first £500 of authorised overdrafts can be interest-free for a further 3mths.
- If you've not yet asked for help, you'll have till 31 Oct to do so.

In fact, many banks have made these blanket arrangements, giving the £500 overdrafts to all - see overdraft bank-by-bank help. And it's likely (though not yet firmed up) that will continue.

Will the new 40% overdraft rates restart? There are still clouds on the overdraft horizon. In Feb (doesn't it seem a lifetime ago) I explained there'd been regulation changes to make banks ditch daily fees and just charge interest instead. Sadly this had resulted in almost all banks announcing new 'from April' overdraft rates at a hideous 40% EAR. That's nearly double a high street credit card, making larger overdrafts the new danger debt.

Then coronavirus hit and the regulator said firms would have to ensure no one would pay more for overdrafts than pre-April. In its latest proposal, the FCA hasn't included extending this, so banks can return to their up-to-40% interest rates - though they will need to reduce the interest for those struggling due to coronavirus. Watch this space.

4) Car finance, payday loan, buy-now-pay-later payment holiday extensions? Last Friday's FCA announcement simply said there'd be "separate guidance which will be updated soon" - I suspect that'll mean similar extensions. See car finance and payday loans for the help currently available. Updates here when we know (obvs).

5) Are you one of 1m eligible for the self-employment grant who's not claimed? You CAN even if you're working, shielding, looking after kids... The second Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant is due in August, but there are still 1m+ people eligible for the first grant who haven't claimed it. There's still time to apply for SEISS.

Some, rightly, won't have done it because their businesses are fine, but I've had many messages from people worried about having to "declare their business is impacted by Covid". Actually you'll know better than anyone if your business is impacted, so if you can put your hand on your heart and say it is, there isn't an issue. To help, it could be because...

... you or a staff member's been off sick, shielding, or looking after kids.
... even though you're working - which has always been allowed with SEISS - there's less work or profit than normal, eg, a cab driver with fewer fares as there are fewer tourists.
... your premises are more difficult to access, slowing things down.
... your costs are up, for example to provide PPE for all your staff.

And this is binary - if you're impacted you're due the FULL amount, if not you're due nothing. To help, we've got a NEW What counts as 'impacted by Covid' for SEISS guide, going through HM Revenue & Customs' guidance and a whole range of practical scenarios to help, including how the two grants interact.

PS: And sadly, the 1m eligible who haven't claimed are likely dwarfed by those who aren't eligible who'd love to claim. I'll continue to voice my concerns over the excluded as I did in this Guardian profile.

6) Time to grab an August holiday bargain, eg, £41 return flights to Milan? There's so much to say on this, we've separated it out in our Book a summer holiday? note below.

7) English hotels, holiday apartments, campsites & caravan parks to reopen from 4 Jul. This has just been announced - we'll be looking at what's available for next week.

8) Travel insurance is available again - it WILL cover coronavirus illness but NOT coronavirus cancellations, and costs more. In March, when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warned against all non-essential travel, travel insurance came to a near standstill. Now, a few insurers are offering policies again - dirt-cheap deals have gone, so prices are higher, but still affordable.

No mainstream policies will cover travel while the FCO continues to warn against it, nor if that's lifted and your holiday's cancelled due to future UK or other countries' coronavirus travel restrictions.

However, some (not all) new policies will cover medical costs relating to coronavirus if you catch it overseas or if you or a family member get coronavirus before travelling and then can't travel.

The team have updated our travel insurance guides to include these. Nothing is perfect though, but we hope this helps...

Cheap annual travel insurance can, at times, win if you go away 2+ times a year. Prices start from £18 for a year's Europe cover for an individual. 
Top single-trip policies start from £7.50 for a week in Europe.
Top over-65s' travel insurance prices start at £20 for a week in Europe.

Top pre-existing conditions travel insurance
 prices start at £7.50 for a week in Europe, but vary a lot depending on your condition.

9) Existing annual travel insurance MAY cover Covid cancellations. It depends on when you got the insurance and booked the holiday...

- Had cover and holiday booked before mid-March? If both were sorted before the FCO warned against all non-essential travel, most (though not all) policies should cover you for cancellation while the FCO warning remains in place. Though your insurer will want you to try for refunds from the airline/travel firm first. The same should apply if the Govt lifts then reimposes restrictions - provided your holiday was booked before mid-March.

- Booked holiday after mid-March? If you booked after the FCO warning, you WON'T be covered for cancellation due to coronavirus travel restrictions or disruption.

- Annual travel insurance lapsing and booked a holiday before mid-March? DON'T switch firm. If your insurance is about to expire, renew your cover with the same firm ASAP if you can. Most offer a continuation of existing coronavirus cancellation cover for holidays booked before the FCO warning, so stick with it, as you can't get that cover elsewhere. See annual policy renewal help.

If the holiday was booked after mid-March, you're unlikely to be covered for cancellation, so switching isn't such an issue.

- Not got travel booked and annual policy expiring? There's little benefit in renewing immediately, as you only get the coronavirus continuity on holidays that were in place pre-March.

10) Passport at or nearing expiry? Renew ASAP. The Passport Office is warning, understandably, that renewing is taking longer than the usual 3wks. We're hearing reports that at the extreme, some are taking 3mths or more, while fast-track services and face-to-face appointments are suspended. 

So if you've a trip planned later this summer sort it quickly - Tracy emailed: "Been waiting 13wks. Now looks like our holiday will have to be cancelled, costing us £1,000s." And 'no passport' isn't covered on most travel insurance. Full info and help in Passport renewals latest.

11) Part-time furlough starts NEXT Wed. From 1 Jul your employer can bring you back to work on a part-time basis - there's no limit on the number of hours you can work, but it'll have to pay your wage for any hours you do. See full info, incl how much you'll be paid for working, in our part-time furlough work and pay help.

12) Struggling to get a Tui refund? Call mid-afternoon. A few weeks ago, Tui changed its policy and agreed it'd offer cash cancellation refunds, allowing those who'd been sent a voucher to put it in the system to request a refund. Some have struggled with that, and calling can be a nightmare. See my 2min Tui help video, clipped from my ITV show, where I explain what to do.

13) Applied for a bounce back loan? Good or bad experience, pls take 5mins to fill in our survey. Small businesses impacted by coronavirus can get £2,000 to £50,000 bounce back loans, which are interest- and payment-free for the first 12mths.

I've had wonderful and terrible feedback on this. So we'd like to know how your experience was - were you accepted, was there a delay? - via our anonymous bounce back loans survey. We'll publish the results, and feed through any negative trends and specific or systemic issues, to the appropriate regulators to try to help improve things.

14) How to get a Virgin travel refund. We've been swamped with complaints about refunds from Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. Both are giving vouchers for cancelled trips automatically, but they say refunds could be "120 days after requesting it". We've more info and help in how to try to get a Virgin Holidays / Virgin Atlantic refund.

15) Travel refunds whatever the firm. We've pulled up Tui and Virgin today, and other firms in previous weeks. Yet there are 1,000s of firms out there, and issues with many. We can't do individual guides for all, but our travel refunds section has details and general help which covers all.

16) New Eng, Scot & Wal online jobseeker site. It's likely millions of people are facing redundancy over the coming months (see Redundancy Help). For those looking for work, the Govt's launched a new Job Help site, listing over 65,000 jobs and offering tips, incl which sectors are recruiting, how best to use your transferable skills and how to secure a new role.

17) Even HMRC's webinars are confused about the second self-employment grant's timing. Last week, I explained that to claim the SEISS grant due in Aug you'll bizarrely need to declare your business was impacted by Covid on or after 14 Jul.

It's bizarre, as the first 3mth grant covered Mar-May, so you'd assume the second 3mth grant covers Jun-Aug. If so, the declaration should be those impacted after 1 Jun. Yet that isn't the rule. 

Now we've discovered even one of HMRC's own webinars 'wrongly' told confused potential claimants the second grant applied specifically to Jun, Jul and Aug. See our HMRC 'sheesh' SEISS story for full info.

18) Shielding? The Govt says you can return to work on 1 Aug in Eng - which means sick pay stops. From 1 Aug, the 2.2m clinically vulnerable people in Eng will be able to go back to work. So employees currently getting statutory sick pay due to shielding will no longer be eligible for it and the Govt's free food boxes will also end then. Full info, plus shielding advice for Scot, Wal & NI, in our shielding update.

19) Energy firms could start chasing unpaid bills again next month. Ofgem's chief executive Jonathan Brearley said suppliers "cannot extend unlimited credit to customers", so it's anticipated they'll restart debt management activities.

20) Self-employed & were on maternity / paternity in 2018/19? If you missed out, you could now be due a grant. Two key criteria for eligibility for the SEISS grant are that you need to have earnt enough to do a tax return, and that at least 50% of your total income must come from self-employment in the 2018/19 tax year.

New guidance means those who missed these criteria in that year due to being on parental leave can now disregard it and look to the prior two tax years. Full help in self-employment paternity.

21) At-a-glance coronavirus support

Help schemes based on your work situation:

- Working from home: Claim tax back Universal credit
- Employee who can't work: Furlough | Universal credit
- Self-employed: SEISS | Universal credit | Bounce back
- Ltd co director: Furlough (PAYE) | Universal credit | Bounce back
- Zero hrs, gig, umbrella, agency: Furlough | Universal credit
- Being made redundant: Redundancy help
Universal credit
- Unemployed: Jobseeker's allowance | Universal credit

Help schemes based on financial products:
Need more financial help? If you need to take a payment holiday and haven't yet, there's still time - here are the last application dates:

Not extended (yet?):
- Until 27 Jul: Car finance (PCP, lease, HP), pawnbroking, buy-now-pay-later & rent to own, payday loans (interest & payment hols)
- Until 18 Aug: Insurance, eg, car, home, loan payments
- Until 20 Oct: Individual voluntary arrangements

Extended:
- Until 31 Oct: Mortgage payment holidays
- Until 31 Oct (TBC): Credit cards, personal loans & catalogue debt


The Martin Lewis Money Show - 8.30pm Thu, ITV
LIVE - your questions answered, and the week's top tips

The Govt may be ending its daily briefings, but the week's must-watch financial briefing is still on for another three weeks. We're live, so you set the agenda - if you've a question, tweet me @MartinSLewis importantly using the show's #MartinLewis hashtag. Plus I'll have the latest must-know news to maximise your money. Do tune in or, at worst, ask a quick-typing friend to transcribe it.

 
 

DON'T believe the fake 'Martin Lewis' or 'MSE' ads
Lots of scam ads litter social media and even newspaper websites - some of these lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

Last chance. The LONGEST 0% debt-shift ends - 30mths 0% (2.95% fee)

If you can't afford to clear your credit or store card debt, you can't afford NOT to try to get a 0% balance transfer

The TSB 30mth 0%* balance transfer launched a few weeks after the pandemic started, so while most deals were being pulled, it bucked the trend. But it closes to new customers next Tue 30 Jun (this is our last email before then). A balance transfer is where you get a new card that pays off debt on other cards for you - so you owe it instead, but at a cheaper rate. That means more of your repayments clear the debt, saving £100s or £1,000s.

Yet the longest card isn't for everyone. Always go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. If unsure, go long, so the TSB card is a good catch-all. Here are our top-picks - see a more detailed list in Top Balance Transfers.

Top 0% new-cardholder balance transfer CREDIT cards
CARD + APPLY LINK LENGTH & FEE (1) HOW GOOD IS IT?

Ending. TSB 30mth 0%*


- Up to 30mths 0%
- 2.95% fee
The LONGEST 0% card on the market, but an 'up to'. So some with poorer credit scores may be accepted and offered 27 or 24 0% mths - still pretty decent. After the 0% ends, it's 19.9% rep APR.
M&S Bank 28mth 0% - All accepted get 28mths 0%
- 2.85% fee (min £5)
Longest DEFINITE 0% card. Shorter 0% than TSB, but all accepted custs get the full 28mths 0% if accepted. After, it's 19.9% rep APR.

Note: Existing NatWest/RBS customers can also get 28mths 0% and the fee, at 2.75%, is slightly lower.
Virgin Money 24mth 0%
(goes via our eligibility calc at provider's request to help it manage capacity)
- All accepted get 24mths 0%
- 1.25% fee
Longish DEFINITE 0% with a lower fee. This is a good mid-length card, with a much lower fee than the longest. If accepted, you're certain to get the full 24mths 0%. After, it's 21.9% rep APR.
Santander 18mth 0% NO FEE
(goes via our eligibility calc at provider's request to help it manage capacity)

- All accepted get 18mths 0%
- NO FEE
NO FEE and DEFINITE 0% length. The winner if you can clear debt in less than 18mths. If accepted and you clear it in time, there's no cost here. After the 0%, it's 18.9% rep APR.

Note: NatWest/RBS existing custs can get a 20mth 0%, no-fee card.
(1) As a percentage of debt shifted.


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% - check what your card says.
e) You normally can't balance transfer between two cards from the same bank (the case for all cards above).

 

New. Morrisons 10% off for NHS workers + 37 more NHS & key worker staff discounts. We've added to our bumper NHS & key worker deals round-up, incl free drinks, free breakdown help, discounts on food etc.

£60 Boots beauty box for £25 incl No7, Soap & Glory, L'Oreal etc. This 6-part set also incl Burt's Bees, Garnier and Face Halo items, eg, lip balm, clay mask & vitamin C cream. Find out when you can grab this Boots set.

6,000 cheap E.on 1yr fixes left - it's the cheapest Big 6 tariff. Save £330/yr. MSE Blagged. Dual-fuel or elec-only newbies to E.on can still get the E.on Fix 1 Year Exclusive June 2020 v2 tariff. It has 100% renewable elec and is £330/yr cheaper than the price cap on typical use (incl £25 MSE cashback). We highlight this as many like a name they know, and the link takes you via our comparison, as your exact winner depends on location and usage. Yet for many, if you're happy with a smaller firm you can undercut it with good service, and there's nowt wrong with that.

28 FREE Premier League TV games, NOW incl Man Utd v Southampton, Bournemouth v Spurs etc. We always knew there'd be 33 free games (with 5 already played), but initially we only knew what 12 of 'em were. Now with further fixtures announced, we know 9 more. See game-by-game free footie.

TWO pairs of prescription or standard sunnies for £22. MSE Blagged. Incl free delivery. Spec-tacular

 
 

NOW's likely the sweet spot to bag an August overseas holiday bargain

If you're willing to risk it, serious deals can be had, eg, £41 return London-to-Milan Easyjet flights

No surprise, Sherlock. There's heavy discounting on overseas holidays right now. Spain and others are opening up to UK travellers, so see our Top 10 holiday countries - 'Will you be let in?' guide. But with the Foreign Office still advising against all but essential travel and a possible 2wk quarantine on your UK return, should you book?

  • Martin's view on booking now... "The Govt is due to announce a review to its quarantine rules on Monday. The mood music sounds like travel to most traditional European destinations will soon open up, certainly by Aug. By that I mean the travel ban lifted and no quarantine on return. Though it'll still be against visiting hard-hit countries such as Brazil.

    "So if you're willing to take a small gamble on booking pre-announcement, after which it's possible prices will start to rise, you may be able to bag a bargain. I wouldn't book that super-expensive holiday of a lifetime - I'd only book a deal, where if the worst happened you could accept losing some cash. Of course, your own travel attitude's crucial - if you've any nervousness, don't book. If travel was opened up, but you changed your mind, you'd have no rights. And remember the experience may not be quite what it usually is."
  • Slash flight costs - incl new research into flexible policies. For scheduled flights, we normally say "don't wait till the last minute as flight costs soar". Yet some peak summer deals are stonkingly cheap, eg, Easyjet, London to Milan £41 rtn and Barcelona £55 rtn. Plus some airlines now offer flexible booking policies. Eg, if you change your mind on a journey due to be completed by 30 Apr 2021, British Airways will give a voucher valid until 30 Apr 2022. Virgin Atlantic, one valid till 30 Sep 2022, for journeys due to be completed by 31 Dec 2020.

    For how to bag the cheapest deals (primarily which comparison sites to use), see Cheap Flights. And also see our list of airline-by-airline flexible booking policies, plus our airline-by-airline update on what they're doing to protect passengers (masks, seat gaps etc).

  • Check hotels' terms - opt for fully flexible. Look for hotels where you pay at the hotel and can cancel for free (often you can 24-48 hours before your stay starts). Even if cancelling your booking isn't free, some have an option to pay slightly more for a fully flexible booking. Weigh up this charge against how much you'd lose if you couldn't go - these days it could be worth paying. See Cheap Hotels for full info and how to bag the best deals, incl uncovering secret hotels and grabbing cashback.

  • Late package deals, eg, 1wk in Gran Canaria in Aug £141pp. If you want 7, 10 or 14 days in traditional resorts (a good focus now), then package holidays - flights, hotels etc in one booking - can be cheapest.

    We're seeing heavy discounts as tour operators try to flog unsold flight seats and hotel rooms. For example, 1wk's 3-star self-catering in Gran Canaria £141pp, and 1wk's 3-star self-catering in Crete £190pp (both in Aug). For safety, consider booking via a travel agent such as Hays Travel, which offers no-quibble cancellation rights up to 6wks before travel on some holidays, or Kuoni which does the same on all holidays. However, more generally in the industry, there's always a solvency risk. See Package Holidays for full info, incl top comparison and flash-deal sites.

  • Are you protected? If your booking can't be cancelled easily, it's vital to know what protection you have. In brief:

    - Flight/hol cancelled by them? You're due a refund, but that hasn't always proved easy - see 50 holiday firms ranked for cancellation refunds.

    - Flight/hol happens, but Foreign Office guidance against travel in place? Refunds unlikely as most insurers won't cover you.

    Unless your booking can be fully cancelled, booking now is a risk. So weigh it up. But the chances of being able to travel in Aug look better now than a few weeks ago. The costlier your trip, the more caution required.
 

Do not open your door to anyone claiming to be from MoneySavingExpert. We don't cold call, we don't switch energy on your doorstep. These people are not us. If you've evidence they're claiming to be, please send it to us (eg, photo evidence that they're pretending to be us is most welcome). We're AGAINST energy cold callers, especially during a pandemic when people are shielding.

Ends Mon. FREE £100+ M&S or Amazon vchs as a credit card reward. Accepted Amex Preferred Rewards Gold* custs (or, better, use our eligibility calc), who apply by Mon and spend £3,000 within 6 months on it, get 20,000 extra reward pts as a bonus - convertible into £100 of vchs (or airmiles). So do all your (and your family's) normal shopping/spending on it and, as long as that's at least £500/mth and you always repay the card IN FULL each mth so there's no interest, you're up. The card is fee-free in year one, but £140/yr after (so cancel before). If you fail to repay in full, or withdraw cash, you'll be charged at least 22.2% interestFull help in Credit Card Rewards.

5,000+ mags on your phone/tablet for free, eg, Good Housekeeping, OK, Gardeners' World, Women's Health. 2mths' access for newbies to app that lets you read mags offline. Mag-nificent

Martin: 'Natasha died after eating sesame in a wrongly labelled sandwich - her parents asked me to tell you this.' "I met the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in a TV green room last year, after they'd bravely talked about their daughter, who passed away from a severe allergy after eating inadequately labelled food. Last week, they asked me to tell you that Tesco Free From has teamed up with their Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, and will donate 10p per item bought to the foundation from 28 Jun-4 Jul. So if you buy those products, please time it right." See Tesco Free From 10p donation.

Get £5 cashback on £10+ spends on Amex at 1,000s of LOCAL stores. Our UK-wide email means, sadly, we can't often mention smaller shops. So we're delighted to include this Amex £5 off deal for Amex cardholders - though pay it off IN FULL to avoid interest.

 
 

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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)

Cheapest fixed rate: Tonik Energy, typical £780/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: E.on, typical £794/yr

Incl £25 MSE cashback. Links go via our Cheap Energy Club

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

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 £12.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk equiv £19.06/mth

1-3% cashback on bills: Santander 123 Lite
2% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect

 

 19,000 have joined our new free MSE Academoney - why don't you?  

 Our totally free six-part financial education course with the Open University has rave reviews 

We launched our joint initiative with the Open University, the MSE Academoney (formally the Academy of Money), a month ago. And already people are feeding back - and proudly showing off their certificates - such as footballer Sam Tierney who plays for Sheffield United Women. Unprompted, she tweeted this:


  • There are six Academoney sessions - take as many as you like. Each takes about two hours, with a mix of info, exercises, explanatory videos from Martin and animations. Completing all six earns you an Open University badge, which can be used as evidence of ongoing professional development. See Academoney explained. The six are:

    1) Making good spending decisions. Explores behavioural and marketing pressures to help you manage your money.
    2) Budgeting & taxation. Calculate net income, how national insurance and tax work, and build a budget.
    3) Borrowing money. How different debts work, the differences between them and the dangers.
    4) Understanding mortgages. Incl interest rates, repayments and how mobile bills etc may kibosh applications.
    5) Saving & investing. How they differ, savings options and investment basics (eg, how shares/funds work).
    6) Planning for retirement. Pensions help and more, for those retiring imminently or those with years to go.
 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: 
"Big thank you. My 93-year-old mother has vascular Parkinson's and after reading on your site about the 'severely mentally impaired' council tax discount, we got the appropriate form, sent it to her council and got a refund of £1,320."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Energy smart meters: Great tech or a pain in the neck? The smart meter roll-out is resuming as the UK's lockdown gradually eases, with over 21 million meters installed since 2011. They automatically send meter readings to your supplier so you don't have to. Yet they're not without issues - eg, some will still revert to being 'dumb' if you switch provider. So what's your opinion of them?

Few MoneySavers are rushing back to the high street. Last week we asked when you expect to go out shopping next for 'non-essentials'. Over 8,900 responded - while 15% had already been shopping or would go within the first week, others were less keen. Twenty per cent said they expected to wait at least a month, and 23% until social-distancing measures are relaxed. Clothes and DIY supplies were top of most shopping lists, while one user was after a staircase and another an engagement ring (aww). See full shopping poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I take out a new train season-ticket loan and invest it? I usually get the train to work, paid for with an interest-free season-ticket loan from my employer. I'll soon be able to claim a new loan, though due to the pandemic I'm working from home and there's no word yet on when we'll be returning to the office. As I'm used to the repayments being deducted from my salary, I'm thinking of taking out a new loan and using it to buy Premium Bonds or putting it somewhere I can earn interest on it, but I'm worried this might be seen as abusing a work perk. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I take out a new season-ticket loan and invest it? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

NHS freebies & discounts - Eg, Morrisons 10% off
Boots - No7, Soap & Glory etc skincare box for £25 (norm £60)
Glasses Direct - Two pairs of prescription sunnies for £22
Readly - 2mths' free access to 5,000+ digital magazines
Amex - £5 cashback on £10+ spends at 1,000s of local stores

Boohoo - 30% off most items, excluding sale
Co-op - £5 pizza and Budweiser or Coke deal
Now TV - Sky Sports pass £25/mth for up to 3mths (norm £34/mth)
Cheap sun cream - Incl own brand from £2ish & £4.50 branded
Cheap fans - Incl £9 desk fan & £18 standing fan

John Lewis - Up to 70% off clearance
Asos - Up to 70% off boosted sale
Clarks - Up to 50% off and an extra 10% off a second pair
Topshop - Up to 60% off sale
Office - Up to 70% off boosted sale

Tips for making iced coffee cheaper at home. A brew-tiful idea
Easy makeshift sun shelters for cats. Feline good
Competition to win a Dyson purifying desk fan. It's a breeze

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 24 JUN ONWARDS)

Thu 25 Jun - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.20am
Thu 25 Jun - The Martin Lewis Money Show - Coronavirus Special, ITV, 8.30pm
Mon 29 Jun - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.45am
Mon 29 Jun - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.20pm. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 29 Jun - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 30 Jun
 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm 

 

DAILY SHOWERS DOWN THE PLUGHOLE: LOCKDOWN HYGIENE & BEAUTY CHANGES 

That's it for this week, but before we go... we may all be washing our hands more during the pandemic, but it appears some are failing on other personal hygiene tasks, and are doing less to spruce themselves up. It was a hot topic on our social channels last week, with many of you coming clean that you no longer shower every day. Others told us that stopping using deodorant and aftershave is saving them money, while some have dropped make-up, nail polish and hair dye. Join the conversation in our How has your hygiene & morning routine changed? Facebook post.

We hope you save some money, stay safe,

The MSE team