Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

08 July 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... BIG Energy Switch, hol refund HELL firms, free Costa, Shark vacuum £50off, cheap No7, 18mth 0%, cheap summer hols

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Plus... 18mth 0% debt shift, cheap summer hols


Launching today: MSE Big Energy Switch 15
FOUR special market-beating tariffs, but limited numbers so go quick

CHEAPER than the cheapest - 1yr fix, top service fix, 2yr fix & prepay energy deals. Save £340/yr

Martin: "While the energy price cap that most pay has remained stubbornly high, switchers' prices had been rock bottom for months. Yet since April they've crept up, by 5%.

"So to help, today we're launching our 15th MSE Big Energy Switch event, where using the weight of our 10m email recipients and 4m Cheap Energy Club members, we bag deals that undercut the market's very cheapest.

"And this is crucial right now. The drop in energy prices was a knock-on effect from the oil price slump due to a coronavirus demand drop. Now things are bubbling up again, prices are rising and seem set to continue (though as always right now, nothing is certain).

"The huge majority of UK homes already overpay by £100s. So by switching now to a cheap fixed deal, you LOCK IN current cheap prices so they can't rise. And for those who find switching a hassle, do take a look at the 2yr fix, which means you need to switch less often, and if energy prices do ramp up substantially, may well be the clever choice.

"Either way, savings by switching are huge, as Christine tweeted: '@MartinSLewis After taking your advice on switching energy companies, we will be saving over £600 a year. Thank you😃💕' Now over to the team to take you through the deals..."

As your exact winner, saving and price depends on your usage and location, the links take you via our Cheap Energy Club comparison to give a bespoke result. It also means if new tariffs launch, you'll see them. 

PS: Do play with the filters, such as 'great service only' or 'big name suppliers only', to home in on your best. 

Most people's tariffs in Eng, Scot & Wales charge close to regulator Ofgem's PRICE CAP. It's currently an avg  £1,127/yr   for someone with typical dual-fuel use. Our prices / savings below are based on that. 

  • CHEAPEST 1YR FIX: Pure Planet - £787/yr on typical use. Min 15,000 available. Green: 100% elec & gas. Service rating: 3.9/5 (good). Save: £340/yr. 

    There are 15,000 MSE Pure Planet 100% Green 12m Fixed Jul20 v1 online switches available. We'll try to push for more if they go, but for safety, sort it sooner. It has a good customer service feedback rating, and has agreed to 'MSE enhanced service' for this deal, meaning we can escalate issues directly.

    This tariff offers 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon-offset gas. It's a version of its standard fix, already very cheap, but here you get an extra £30 bill credit and the usual £25 MSE cashback, so it's £55 cheaper.

    Factor this in and on average it's GB's cheapest fixed tariff on typical use (ie, the price is locked in for a year - though what you pay of course depends on your own energy use). Pure Planet's a mid-sized firm with 130,000 customers - when we've done deals with it before, they've gone well.

    Key Pure Planet tariff facts: 
    Who can get it? New customers for dual fuel (ie, gas & elec)
    Smart meters? Not required - available if you want them
    Renewable? 100% renewable elec, gas is 100% carbon-offset
    Fixed? Yes, for 12mths from supply start date
    Early exit fees? £60 (unless you're within 49 days of the fix ending)
    Payment? Monthly direct debit
    Comparison link above: Filtered to exclude all but good-service, fixed-deal results (you can undo the filters)

  • CHEAPEST 'TOP SERVICE' 1YR FIX: So Energy - £795/yr on typical use. Min 5,000 avail. Green: 100% elec, not gas. Service rating: 5/5 (great). Save: £332/yr.

    There are 5,000 MSE So Artichoke Essential - Green - Seasonal Payments switches available. We'll try to push for more if they go, but for safety, sort it sooner. So Energy is the joint-top firm for customer service feedback, and has agreed to 'MSE enhanced service' for this deal, meaning we can escalate issues directly. 

    This tariff comes with 100% renewable electricity (not gas). It's a version of its standard fix, again already very cheap, yet here you get an extra £25 bill credit and the usual £25 MSE cashback, so it's £50 cheaper.

    Factor this in and on average it's GB's cheapest top-service fixed tariff on typical use (ie, the price is locked in for a year - though what you pay of course depends on your usage). So Energy's a mid-sized firm with about 200,000 customers.

    Key So Energy tariff facts:
    Who can get it? New customers for dual fuel (ie, gas & elec)
    Smart meters? Not available
    Renewable? 100% renewable elec - gas isn't green
    Fixed? Yes, for 12mths from supply start date
    Early exit fees? £10 (unless you're within 49 days of the fix ending)
    Payment? Monthly direct debit
    Comparison link above: Filtered to exclude all but good-service, fixed-deal results (you can undo the filters)

  • CHEAPEST 2YR FIX: Octopus Energy - £883/yr on typical use. Green: 100% elec, not gas. Service rating: 4.2/5 (great). Save: £488 over 2yrs.

    The MSE Exclusive Octopus 24M Fixed July 2020 v1 deal is available until Fri 24 Jul. Octopus has a great customer service feedback rating, and the tariff comes with 100% renewable electricity (not gas).

    While for typical use it's about £100/yr more expensive than the cheapest 1yr fix on typical use, the fact the rate here is locked in until July 2022 is a very big boon - it gives you price certainty over two winters, and means you can forget about needing to switch again for a time.

    As the graph below shows, the Octopus price would've been the market's cheapest fix for good chunks of the last few years. So if prices do rise substantially, as is very possible, in a year, with hindsight, this may look very cheap.

    Octopus is a considerable firm, catching up with the Big 6 in size (it even powers M&S's energy offering), with well over a million customers and counting. And it has a very strong customer service rating.

    Key Octopus Energy tariff facts:
    Who can get it? New customers for dual fuel (ie, gas & elec) or elec-only
    Smart meters? Not required - available if you want them
    Renewable? 100% renewable elec - gas isn't green
    Fixed? Yes, for 24mths from supply start date
    Early exit fees? No, you can leave any time penalty-free

    Payment? Monthly direct debit
    Comparison link above: Filtered to exclude all but longer fixed-deal results (you can undo the filters)

  • CHEAPEST PREPAYMENT TARIFF: Bulb - £963/yr on typical use. Green: 100% elec & gas. Service rating: 4.1/5 (great). Save: £201/yr (compared with the £1,164/yr prepay price cap).

    The MSE Bulb Vari-Fair Prepay tariff is available for a fixed time - until Fri 24 Jul. It has a great customer service feedback rating. Bulb is one of the biggest firms outside the Big 6, with a very strong following.

    This tariff comes with 100% renewable electricity and 100% offset gas. It's a version of its standard variable tariff, which is already competitive, but we've arranged that new customers get an extra £10 dual-fuel cashback on top of the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback, meaning it's £35 cheaper (£17.50 elec-only).

    Factor this in and it's on average the cheapest prepay deal on the market, on typical use. Like the vast majority of prepay tariffs, this is variable, not fixed, so the price can move. But Bulb has been pretty consistently near the lower end of the prepay market since it launched.

    Key Bulb tariff facts:
    Who can get it? New customers for dual fuel (ie, gas & elec) or elec-only
    Smart meters? Not required - available if you want them. If you have them already with another provider, you can't switch to this
    Renewable? 100% renewable elec, gas is 100% carbon-offset
    Fixed? No, it's variable so prices can change
    Early exit fees? No, you can leave any time penalty-free
    Comparison link above: Full prepay comparison
Here's a quick Q&A - for more, see the full Cheap Energy Club FAQs.

Q. I live in Northern Ireland. Can I get these deals? Unfortunately not. No UK comparisons include NI, but see Cheap NI Electricity or the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland's tool.

Q. Is switching risky? Could I be cut off? No. No one visits your home (unless you want a smart meter) and it's the same gas, same electricity and same safety. The only things that change are price and service. See our 'Switching is no biggie' FAQs.

Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Like all energy comparison sites, we're paid each time you switch through us, yet we give you roughly half (that's £25 dual-fuel, £12.50 single-fuel cashback). This is money you wouldn't get if you went direct (not that the deals above are available directly anyway). So it's a win-win. The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

More switching and energy help in the links below...

Switching with smart meters | Why's my price risen when I'm fixed? | Reclaim credit | Switching-in-debt help | Switching if I've solar panels | How direct debits are set | Can I pick a switch date? | How do you compare my rates?


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.



Martin's 10 new CORONAVIRUS financial need-to-knows, including...

New. 70 best & worst firms for travel refunds | Ends Mon. Self-employ grant 1 | Payment hols extended | Wedding rights | Self-employ grant 2 date released | Ryanair refunds | Sykes refunds & more...

Life feels like it's getting back to some form of (careful, baby steps) normality. Yet the financial knock-ons from the pandemic are far from over. So there's no stopping my weekly need-to-knows. Do remember, there's lots more help in our constantly updated Coronavirus Help Guides: Employees | Self-employed & ltd co | Finance & bills | Benefits | Travel rights | Lockdown life

1) New. The 70 best and worst firms for TRAVEL REFUNDS (MSE survey of 77,000). We're revealing our mammoth 70 best & worst firms for travel refunds survey results. Virgin and Love Holidays join Ryanair as the worst of the big names, all with feedback scores under -80 and less than 1 in 20 survey respondents having got refunds. This refund farce must end. Regulators must step in. So we're preparing a dossier to send to them. On the other hand, bravo to Travel Counsellors, Trailfinders and Jet2, who lead the big names all scoring +70 or better. Related: Travel refund help.

2) Ends Mon. Urgently apply for the first SELF-EMPLOYMENT grant. The first SEISS grant, worth up to £7,500, closes at 11.59pm Mon - the latest figures show only 2.7m of 3.5m eligible people have applied. If you've not applied thinking "I can't, I work" or "I can't, my business was up & running", then stop. That's irrelevant. Read our Can you declare your biz impacted by coronavirus? guide to see detailed help and examples about who can apply. Not sure if you're eligible? Use the HMRC eligibility checker.

3) PAYMENT HOLIDAYS EXTENDED - my guide to cards, loans, car finance, overdrafts, mortgages, insurance and more. All the info and deadline dates are in my new What payment holidays can I take, and should I? blog.

4) WEDDINGS. Ceremonies are back, but downsized. What are your rights? UK weddings have been allowed since Sat, but what are your refund rights if your dream day's changed? See MSE's new my not-so-big fat Greek wedding guide.

5) Confirmed: Applications for the second SELF-EMPLOYMENT grant open 17 Aug. On my show last week (watch it back) we had HMRC chief exec Jim Harra on. He revealed that applications for the second grant would open on 17 Aug. And if the process follows the last time, payment will be a few days later. See SEISS 2 for details.

6) Over 600,000 REDUNDANCIES Mar to May - be prepared. Sadly, as predicted the great job cull is on. In just the last week, Easyjet, Upper Crust and TM Lewin have added to the list. And more's to come as, from 1 Aug, employers have to contribute to furlough costs. For help if it's happened, or to prepare if it's likely, see our Redundancy Help guide.

7) RYANAIR claims it'll clear 90% of its refund backlog by 31 Jul. Hope for custs waiting for cash back as the airline - that's near the bottom of our refund league - says it's making "rapid progress" to pay out requests. See Ryanair refunds.

8) SYKES COTTAGES U-turns and says it'll give cancellation refunds. After intervention from the Competition and Markets Authority, it's agreed to pay cash refunds and convert unused vouchers. See Sykes Cottages refunds U-turn.

9) LOCAL LOCKDOWN so can't go on holiday? Always check with the travel firm if they'll let you postpone or cancel, though it's unlikely. Travel insurance is your best bet, but it'll likely only cover you if you got it and booked the holiday pre-pandemic, otherwise you're stuck. See our local lockdown holiday cancellations full info.

10) Ends Thu. After 15 shows throughout the pandemic, my last ITV Money Show is LIVE 8.30pm Thu. Back in Mar, I spoke to ITV and suggested a one-off live Q&A pandemic help special. It agreed. It worked. We did more, and more... the last 12 from home (with 'Mrs MSE' aka Lara's kind help). Now it's coming to an end (I need a break). So please tune in for our finale, and as always, as it's live you can suggest questions - tweet @MartinSLewis, importantly using the show's #MartinLewis hashtag.


2,200 £50 off codes for a Shark DuoClean cordless vacuum - making it the cheapest we've seen. MSE Blagged. Our code gets you one of three mid-level cordless models with a 5yr warranty for £220-£250. £50 off Shark

FREE Costa coffee, croissant, shortbread or bacon bap. In a (coffee) nutshell, register on its mobile app and new & existing custs are given 300 points, which can be redeemed on one of this lot. Costa nothing

Top NO-FEE 0% debt shift - Santander 18mths. With top balance-transfer deals disappearing, those paying interest on existing credit card(s) debt should be looking to shift it to a cheaper card. Accepted Santander 18mths 0% (18.9% rep APR after) custs can do that at no cost whatsoever. NatWest/RBS 20mths 0% no fee is longer, but you need to be their existing cust to apply. Golden rules: (1) Always pay at least the min monthly repayment. (2) Clear the debt or transfer again before the 0% ends. (3) Don't spend/withdraw cash. Full help & longer deals (for a fee) in Top Balance Transfers.

£130 of No7 beauty and skincare products for £32. 10-piece set incl mascara, eye pencil, hydration mask etc - it goes on sale next Wed, but see how to get early access via a special link.

Planning on getting insulation? Hold off - the Chancellor's announcing a new up-to-£5,000 voucher scheme TODAY. The Govt's due to unveil its new Green Homes Grant for Eng later today (Wed), incl vouchers for insulation & more - see what we know so far (and we'll update it as soon as we know more).

PS: It's the Chancellor's big statement today (Wed) - join us at 12.30pm-ish. News on stamp duty, energy grants, tax changes and more are likely. Join Martin's Twitter for his 'translations', the MSE Twitter for news and more detailed coverage on MSE News.

Martin wants a favour... Over to him: "My live coronavirus TV shows have made the final of the TV Choice Awards for the 1st time. If you liked it/saved, pls vote (page 9, Best Lifestyle Show). Money shows don't usually get these. It'd be a powerful message to broadcasters about how important consumer info on TV is."


Planes, strains and auto-refunds: Some(mer) holidays abroad are back - what are your rights, where are the bargains and should you go?


The UK Govt's given the green light to SOME overseas trips, with the Foreign Office lifting warnings and England relaxing quarantine requirements on return. There are bargains to be had, but much depends on your own attitude to travel. The best advice at the moment is, if in doubt, don't - but if you're healthy, happy and low risk, a careful bit of sun is possible. So here are a host of key links to further info if you're thinking of booking:

  • Spain and Italy are fine - but in some places it's confusing. Since Sat, the Foreign Office has lifted its warning for 67 destinations, and from this Fri (10 Jul) you won't need to quarantine on return to Eng (not Scot, Wales or NI) from 59 countries. But some destinations on both these lists still aren't letting Brits in (or are making them quarantine) and it's all changing daily. See our full list of the countries we know you are fine to travel to no-hassle.

  • Cheap flights - eg, Barcelona £55 return in Aug. Lack of demand means some peak summer deals are still stonkingly cheap - so cheap that it could be worth the risk, even if you change your mind later. Alternatively, some airlines now offer flexible booking, eg, with BA, change your mind on a trip until 30 Apr 2021 and you'll get a voucher. Key info: How to get cheap flights | Airline-by-airline flexible booking policies | Airline-by-airline passenger protection (masks, seat gaps etc).

  • Check hotels' terms - and opt for fully flexible. Many offer free cancellation until 24-48 hours before your booking - if not, you can often pay slightly more for a fully flexible booking. And some don't require payment until then. Weigh this up - that extra flexibility is worth it right now. See Cheap Hotels for full info and tricks to get cheap deals.
  • Cheap package holidays - eg, Fuerteventura, Aug, 1wk, £183pp. If you want 7, 10 or 14 days in traditional resorts (a good focus right now), then package holidays - flights, hotels etc in one booking - can be cheapest. Tour operators are still trying to flog unsold flight seats and hotel rooms, eg, we also found 1wk's 3-star B&B in Tuscany in Aug for £205pp incl flights. Plus some travel agents offer no-quibble cancellation rights - Hays Travel lets you cancel up to 6wks before travel on some holidays, Kuoni does the same on all holidays (do check your local agent too). See Package Holidays for full info, incl top comparison and flash-deal sites (and your rights if things go wrong).

  • Booking a holiday right now isn't financially risk-free. Know the risk. The first thing to say is if you change your mind and get cold feet, refunds are unlikely, and travel insurance won't cover you.

    If you've booked a package and it's cancelled, you are due your money back under ATOL rules. If your flight or hotel is cancelled, you're also due a refund for that. Yet we all know in practice your rights and what happens don't always match up - see our new 70 best and worst firms for travel refunds survey.

    A bigger problem is if your flight is cancelled and separately booked hotel isn't (or vice versa) - then you'll likely be reliant on travel insurance (whether it'll pay out depends). And, finally, the biggest risk is you book, but then the UK or a foreign govt brings in a rule that in effect bars you from travelling, but the flight and hotel are still on. Then you're likely stuck as no mainstream travel insurance policy will cover new bookings for govt coronavirus cancellations.

  • Travel insurance starts at £7.50 for 1wk in Europe - with limited coronavirus cover. There are gaps in cover, but it's still important to have. Some policies will cover you if you have to cancel due to catching coronavirus before you go, and most give medical cover if you get it while away. Full info's in cheap annual travel insurance (from £18 for a year's Europe cover) and top single-trip policies (from £7.50 for a week in Europe), plus see over-65s' travel insurance and pre-existing conditions cover.

  • Is your EHIC one of 5.7 million set to expire this year? As this year most trips will be to Europe, ensure you've a valid European Health Insurance Card (as a supplement, not replacement, for travel insurance). So check yours is in date - if not, renew for FREE. See EHIC check & safely renew help.  

  • The cheapest way to spend abroad is on the right plastic - sort it sooner. The top specialist travel cards easily undercut the best bureaux de change and mean you don't need to handle as much cash. 


M&S Sparks card scheme relaunches Thu - but are the NEW perks better? See Sparks restart.

Amazon 'summer sale', eg, up to 50% off Echo devices - is it any good? This time of year Amazon usually does its 'Prime Day', but instead it's this week offering daily deals, eg, we've spotted big Echo discounts, up to 30% off Lego, up to 20% off Fitbit. See our Amazon sale analysis.

It's tax credit renewal time - CHECK NOW for errors. Almost 3m letters have been sent out. Some must respond or payments could stop. For most, credits will automatically renew this year due to coronavirus - but you could still lose out if your info's wrong, so check and TELL 'EM if it's not right. See tax credit help.

7 NEW free Premier League TV games confirmed, incl Man City vs Bournemouth. More fixtures have been announced - see a full list of the 12 free games currently scheduled. Free footie

16 Center Parcs tricks as it reopens - incl half-price Euro stays & hidden cheap dates. Whether you've booked already or plan to, with the UK parks reopening next Mon, we've updated our Center Parcs tricks.

Nike EXTRA 30% off sale code, eg, £90 running trainers for £41. Works on its 'up to 50% off' sale. Nike code


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Longest 0%: M&S Bank 28mths 0%, 2.85% fee (min £5) or 28mths 0%, 2.75% fee if you're a NatWest/RBS customer (both 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: Pure Planet, typical £787/yr
Cheapest top service fix: So Energy, typical £795/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: British Gas, typical £820/yr

Cheapest 2yr fix: Octopus Energy, typical £883/yr

Incl £25 MSE cashback & bill credit if avail. 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: Shell Energy equiv £15.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: 
Virgin Media equiv £19.84/mth

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


"Read on your site about cutting home insurance quotes - I managed to save £400/year. Unbelievable that the same level of cover could be given for a third of the price. Thanks."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

EXTRA 10% off code for reduced 'past best-before' food, eg, 15p Walkers Crisps, 18p Mars Bars, 30p Diet Coke. MSE Blagged. Approved Food is a site selling cheap groceries near or past their 'best-before' (which is just a manufacturer's view of optimum quality, so they're safe to eat - don't confuse with 'use-by' on fresh meat & dairy etc, which is a health warning). Min spend £22.50, delivery £3+, so best for stocking up. Approved Food



Which loyalty schemes do you use? With M&S overhauling its Sparks card scheme, we want to know which high street and supermarket loyalty schemes you're signed up to - and how often you actually use 'em. Which loyalty schemes do you use?

MoneySavers rate Monzo as the best banking app. Last week, we asked how you rate your bank's app. More than 6,000 people responded and app-only bank Monzo came out top again - it was rated 'great' by 91% on features, 86% on usability. Starling came a close second on both features and usability, with 83% and 84% 'great' scores respectively. Barclays did best of the traditional banks - 69% said it's 'great' for features, 76% for usability. See full banking app poll results.



Should I pay extra child maintenance during lockdown? I'm separated and my children live with my ex-partner. They usually stay with me at weekends and while children have been allowed to move between households during lockdown, we decided against it. As they haven't been to stay in three months, I've been wondering if I should pay extra child maintenance. On the one hand my ex is having to pay more than usual for food, utilities and so on while I'm paying less, but on the other I haven't been able to see my children properly for weeks. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay extra child maintenance? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Shark - 2,200 £50 off codes for DuoClean cordless vacuum
Costa - Free hot drink or snack via app
No7 - £130 of beauty and skincare products for £32
Amazon - Summer sale, eg, Echo discounts, up to 30% off Lego
Nike - Extra 30% off sale code

Approved Food - Extra 10% off reduced 'past best-before' groceries
Flavourly - 24 craft beers for £28 delivered
KFC - Nine pieces of chicken for £5.99 on Tuesdays
Co-op - £5 for two pizzas and a four-pack of Budweiser or Coke
Uber Eats - £15 off with no minimum spend for newbies

Free mobile games - Incl Mario Kart Tour, Lemmings, The Sims
Readly - Two months' free access to 5,000+ magazines
Topshop - 'Up to 70% off' sale
Amazon Prime - Two free e-books
New Look - 'Up to 60% off' sale

Tips for where to get cheap bird food. Toucan join in
Quick tricks to train garden climbers. Have a dig through
Chance to win a Gingko tree and Waterstones novel. Treemendous



Wed 8 Jul - LBC, Shelagh Fogarty, 2pm
Thu 9 Jul - This Morning, ITV, 10.20am
Thu 9 Jul - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8.30pm, last in the current series
Mon 13 Jul - This Morning, ITV, 10.55am
Mon 13 Jul - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.20pm. Listen again


Mon 13 Jul - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 14 Jul
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm



That's it for this week, but before we go... lockdown forced many to change their spending habits, and with some restrictions now being eased, MoneySavers have been sharing the ways they plan to continue saving cash. Many of you intend to keep making your own lunches and 'fakeaways' rather than eating out, others have quit smoking and some aim to keep working from home to save on the commute - plus a LOT of you plan to keep cutting your own hair. See what others are going to do and share your own post-lockdown resolutions in our New MoneySaving habits Facebook post. 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team