Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

12 August 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... £15/mth fibre, No7 mega trick, 2nd self-employ grant, Lidl £5 off, energy warning, 19p Pret coffee, '1.2%' savings ends?, £5k green home vchs

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Grab the latest deals, guides, tips 'n' tricks directly from Martin and the MSE team. Don't miss out

Plus... 19p Pret coffee, '1.2%' savings ends?, £5k green home vchs update


New. Cheapest fibre (ie, FAST) broadband & line in THREE YEARS at '£15/mth'. Take advantage of the price war to save £100s

Fast broadband is a key utility now with so many people working and socialising from home, and the great news is the cost of the cheapest deals has fallen this year. It's culminated in us blagging you the cheapest b'band & line deal we've seen since Aug 2017 - it's from Shell, at only a fraction more than the cheapest standard speed price.

Plus there are other hot deals at lots of speed levels as you'll see below, all from firms with reasonable overall feedback (of course, they all have their horror stories too), though as always they are short-lived. So if you're one of the 9m out of contract who usually overpay, sometimes shelling out £45/mth for slow speeds, check now to see if you can save large.

Our comparison takes you through loads of deals and includes service ratings. But here are the top deals - all are for new customers of each provider...

Links via our b'band comparison, which shows postcode eligibility, though all bar Virgin are avail to 95%+ of homes
Ends 11.59pm today (Wed).

10Mb (basic) b'band & line
MSE Blagged
Cheapest standard b'band & line - but not much cheaper than faster speeds. Apply via this Plusnet link and you pay £17.99/mth over the 18mth contract, and you get an AUTO £70 prepaid Mastercard within 45 days, which is almost as good as cash. Factor it in and it's equiv to £14.11/mth.
New. Shell Energy
35Mb fibre (fast) b'band & line 
MSE Blagged
Cheapest fibre in 3yrs
Cheapest fast b'band & line. Apply via this Shell link by 24 Aug and it's £24.99/mth, plus you get an AUTO £120 bill credit within 3mths. So it's a total £179.88 outlay over the 1yr contract, equiv £14.99/mth.
Ends Fri.

63Mb fibre
(very fast) b'band & line

MSE Blagged
Cheapest very fast b'band & line. Apply via this Vodafone link and it's £25/mth over the 2yr contract, and you get an AUTO £125 Amazon vch within 4mths. If you'd have spent it anyway, it's equiv £19.80/mth. Vodafone pay-monthly mobile custs pay £2/mth less.
Ends Thu.
Virgin Media

108Mb fibre (mega-fast) b'band only
IMPORTANT: Unlike other deals above, this is BROADBAND ONLY, so no phone line
Cheapest MEGA-fast b'band only (avail to 51% of homes). If b'band alone is fine and you want serious speed, apply via this Virgin link and it's £24/mth over an 18mth contract. You can then CLAIM a £75 Amazon vch, so if you do that & would've spent it anyway, it's equiv to £19.84/mth.
Deals are for new customers of that provider. If you've not been a customer for 1yr+ you qualify, but if it's more recently then rules vary by provider, so check first. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent cost' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash or vchs and averaging it over the contract.

Seven broadband switching need-to-knows
  • 1) Consider if you really have a need for speed. Faster costs more, though with the deals above the differentials aren't huge. Standard avg 10/11Mb is usually fine for browsing or light streaming (eg, TV) for one. Yet go faster for good streaming, gaming or if multiple people use the b'band at the same time.
  • 2) Advertised speeds are more reliable than in past years. Rules have been tightened so now more than 50% of custs must get the advertised speed at peak times. Plus most firms - incl those above - tell you the estimated max you're likely to get before applying. Virgin and Plusnet also allow you to cancel penalty-free if your speed doesn't live up to this for three consecutive days, and then isn't resolved in 30 days. See how to check your current speed and 8 speed-boosters.
  • 3) Happy with your current set-up? Haggle. If out of contract, use the prices above as a benchmark. Note: It's often easy to get a deal. In our last poll, 84% of Sky custs said they succeeded. For Virgin it was 76%, BT 74% and TalkTalk 69%. Yet it may take longer than usual to get through as providers are still taking lots of calls from vulnerable custs during the pandemic. See Broadband Haggling help.
  • 4) Some switchers to Virgin (ie, cable) may need an engineer visit - but you may not find out if that's required before applying. You'll be told before you sign up if you're in the 60% of eligible custs who won't need an engineer. If your set-up does need an engineer, they still may not need to come to your home, as they may be able to sort it via an exchange, but you won't be told which in advance, so be aware of the risk.
  • 5) Usually there's no need for engineers for other switchers (apart from some ditching Virgin). Most other firms require you to have a BT Openreach line, which is the underlying tech for most non-cable b'band. Though if you're leaving Virgin, an engineer may need to come round to install a line, which could cause a delay.
  • 6) Switching often means 2hrs-ish of downtime. You're told the switch time in advance and it's often quick. Occasionally the outage is longer, so consider the risk, but hopefully your mobile data can cover any gap.
  • 7) Be warned, some firms hike prices a little during your contract. It often happens in line with inflation once a year. If your contract pre-warns you, you're stuck with the rise. If not, most let you leave penalty-free within 30 days. Of those above, Plusnet says it won't raise prices during your contract, while Shell and Vodafone will let you leave penalty-free if they do. However, such rises tend to be small and as they pretty much all do this, it doesn't mean you'll have a poor deal.

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.



8 new CORONAVIRUS financial need-to-knows, including...

Second self-employment grant opens | Redundancy rights | Spain help | Greece warning | Rent evictions return & more...

Coronavirus is still crippling people's finances and their ability to get back to normal - redundancies are rife, many businesses are struggling, travel restrictions continue and rental evictions will soon be back. So we'll zip you through this week's need-to-knows to help, plus there's lots more help in our constantly updated coronavirus help guides: Travel rights | Employees | Self-employed & ltd co | Finance & bills | Benefits | Lockdown life

1) SELF-EMPLOYED? The second income support grant opens on Mon. From that point, you can apply for the final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, worth up to £6,570. The eligibility is the same as the first one - so sadly many are still excluded. See self-employed grant eligibility and how to apply.

2) REDUNDANCY. Sadly it's coming for 100,000s - tool up on your rights now. We're sorry to be so blunt, but every day there seem to be announcements of job losses, and more bad news is likely to come, especially once the furlough scheme ends. Our fully updated Redundancy Help guide has tips to prepare financially, plus details of your legal rights, including the recent confirmation that redundancy payouts should be based on normal (not furloughed) salaries.

3) SPAIN, BELGIUM, ETC TRAVEL BANS - your refund, insurance and quarantine rights. Those two plus the Bahamas, Luxembourg and Andorra have recently been added to the UK's travel exclusion list, and further changes may still come. We've full info on your rights if you've a trip booked.

4) GREECE WARNING. You'll need special paperwork in advance or you may be refused entry. It's a popular summer destination in its own right, plus may be bolstered by holidaymakers to Spain rebooking there. Full info on Greece and many other countries in the top 15 destinations travel rules.

5) RENTAL EVICTIONS BAN. It ends shortly in Eng & Wal. If you've been unable to pay rent, you're protected by a ban on court eviction hearings, but only till 23 Aug. Full help (incl Scot & NI info) and what to do if you're behind on payments in rental evictions to restart.

6) PRE-LOCKDOWN RETURN RIGHTS. Do shop returns ASAP, eg, for Argos you've till Sat. Many retailers extended refund policies so you wouldn't miss out while stores were closed - the final few end soon. See retailer-by-retailer return policies.

7) INSURANCE BILLS HELP. It's been extended till 31 Oct. If struggling due to coronavirus you have till then to ask to downgrade policies (eg, remove extra drivers) to cut costs or to ask for payment holidays. See insurance help. Also, see more payment holiday help for mortgages, credit cards, loans, car finance and more.

8) SAVINGS PROTECTION. Temporarily high balances now safe for 1yr. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme usually protects deposits up to £85,000 if a bank goes bust, though there's a special rule to protect up to £1m for 6mths after a life event such as selling a home or getting an inheritance. That's been temporarily extended as coronavirus has made it more difficult to spend or move large sums. Temporary high balance help


Ends Wed (today). Huge £117 of No7 beauty for £20 Now it's £43 of No7 for £11.50. Incl mascara, eyeliner & make-up palette. No7 trick Update at 10.04am on Wed 12 Aug: This deal has been incredibly popular and one element of the trick has now sold out, meaning you can no longer get the full £117 of products, though you can still get £43 of No7 make-up for £11.50, while stock lasts.

£5 off a £25 Lidl spend. Valid at stores in Eng, Scot and Wales via a new app. Save a Lidl more

£5,000 green home improvement vouchers in Eng - who can use them. The scheme launches in Sept and after the Govt revealed who could actually use it last week, our story was so popular that we're highlighting it again in case you missed it. Eg, those who just planned on getting double-glazing don't qualify. See Green Homes Grant.

Coffee trick - 19p Pret, 32p Costa and 38p Starbucks cuppas by stacking Eat Out to Help Out + other offers. MSE Rhiannon has come up with a clever trick by combining a few existing deals for coffee, tea, croissants and more. Brew-tiful saving

10 finger-lickin' KFC MoneySaving tips, incl free side and 9 chicken pieces for £3 (norm £12ish). We're bringing you lots of food hacks in Aug given Eat Out to Help Out is on, so here are 10 KFC tips. Related: Eat Out to Help Out 50% off - who's taking part.

Last chance? Top fixed savings via sharia accounts, eg, 1.2% expected interest for 1yr. For easy access, Govt-backed NS&I pays the top 1.16% AER variable rate (min £500 & min £500 deposits or withdraws). But if you're prepared to lock money away, sharia bank QIB UK launched two hot deals via savings marketplace Raisin last week, and as top rates don't tend to last long right now, we're reminding you of its QIB 1.2% AER 1yr fix* and QIB 1.4% AER 2yr fix* (both min £1k). In line with Islamic principles, both pay 'expected profit' not interest, though we've not seen a UK-based sharia bank fail to meet expected rates. QIB has full £85k/person protection, its rates beat other 1yr and 2yr fixes, and via those links, Raisin newbies can claim £5-£50 on £5k-£85k deposits. Full info and options in Top Savings.


Warning. The energy price cap will drop from Oct and millions will see bills fall. But anyone on the cap is still being RIPPED OFF by £250+/yr as hot deals aplenty smash it - incl the new cheapest fix in Eng & Wales

Energy regulator Ofgem announced on Fri an avg £84/yr drop, based on typical use, in the max price firms can charge for their standard tariffs, which kicks in on 1 Oct. However, these are already mega-expensive rates paid by a whopping 11m people - either after a cheap deal has ended or if they've never switched. What's more, they'll still be hugely expensive compared to the top deals for switchers even after the cut, as the table below shows. So many can save £100s by switching. 

Plus this week there's a new cheapest fix in Eng and Wales. It's from a medium-sized firm with middling service, but if you want a big name or better service, or if you're in Scot, there are other hot deals about. All rates below except from Outfox the Market are only avail via our Cheap Energy Club links and incl £25 MSE cashback where avail.

Prices are averages on typical use. Your winner depends on region & use, so links go via our comparison
BENCHMARK: Energy price cap (applies to 50%+ of homes) over next year on typical dual-fuel use
£1,053/yr (1)
CHEAPEST FIXES (rate is fixed so offers security, but what you pay depends on what you use)
New. Cheapest fix in Eng & Wales, but not green. Utility Point 1yr fix. Dual-fuel only | Not avail in Scot | A middling 3.1/5 service rating £810/yr
(Save £243/yr)
Cheapest GB-wide fix + green elec. Shell Energy 1yr fix. For new AND existing custs | Dual fuel & elec-only | 100% renewable elec | A middling 3.3/5 service rating
(Save £237/yr)
Greenest of the cheap fixes + good service. Pure Planet 1yr fix. Dual fuel & elec-only | 100% renewable elec & 100% carbon offset gas | A good 3.9/5 service rating
(Save £236/yr)
Cheapest Big 6 firm + green elec. British Gas 1yr fix. Dual-fuel only | Smart meters required where possible | A good 3.9/5 service rating
(Save £225/yr)
MARKET'S CHEAPEST (it's variable, so prices can move up or down)
Cheapest, but we've seen big problems with its service. Outfox the Market variable. Dual-fuel only | 100% renewable elec | A poor 2.3/5 service rating. Note: The next cheapest variable is a tiddler with little feedback which may also appear in your comparison £788/yr
(Save £265/yr)
Deals not avail in NI. (1) Assumes 1.5mths at current price cap level, 10.5mths at new level. Savings are versus that figure

Switching energy is easy. Your supply won't be cut off, no one visits your home (unless you want a smart meter) and it's the same gas, same electricity and same safety. The only changes are price and service. See our switching FAQs.

PS: On a Big 6 standard tariff? We've based savings above on the average new price cap cost, so it's accurate at a national level. But when you click to our Cheap Energy Club, your personal savings figure may be overestimated as we don't yet know precisely what firms' standard rates will be from Oct for your area and use as the news is so fresh and suppliers haven't yet released that level of detail. We'll be updating our numbers as soon as possible, but in the meantime, personal savings are compared to current prices. But most can still save big, so don't worry.


Warning. Are you one of 10,000s of women missing out on £1,000s of state pension? We reported in June that many married women who hit state pension age before Apr 2016 and get less than 60% of their husband's basic state pension are entitled to a boost to get them up to that 60%, possibly backdated for years. That still stands, but other women should check too if they're underpaid for similar or other reasons, incl widows, divorcees and over-80s (married or not). Are you owed £1,000s?

Tesco axes cheap deliv & collection slots. See what you'll now pay and what rivals charge. Tesco changes

Get 5% back on everyday spending for up to 6mths. Accepted new Amex Plat Everyday (check eligibility / apply*) credit card applicants get 5% intro cashback on the first £2,000 spent in the first 6mths. Above £2,000, or after 6mths, the rate is up to 1%, but you must spend £3k+/yr to qualify for any cashback. Yet never use cashback as an excuse to overspend, and always repay it IN FULL each month, or the 22.2% rep APR interest wipes the gain. Full help and more options in Credit Card Rewards.

'I've fostered cats for 10mths... how you can care for dogs, rabbits etc too for free.' Lockdown has created greater demand for pets, and this is a good option if you can't commit long-term, though it's still a big responsibility. MSE Sarah explains how to foster a pet for free for days or months via charities, which often provide food and equipment.

Sadly now sold out. £53ish of posh men's skincare and grooming for £20 delivered. MSE Blagged. Incl facial scrub, body & hair wash and beard oil from the likes of Lab Series and Fudge. But only 650 sets avail. This deal has been very popular and all boxes sold out by 10.10am on Wed 12 Aug


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Longest 0%: M&S Bank 28mths 0%, 2.85% fee (min £5) or 28mths 0%, 2.75% fee for NatWest/RBS customers (both 19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR) or 20mths 0% for NatWest/RBS customers (19.9% rep APR)

Cheapest fixed rate: Utility Point, save £243/yr
Cheapest 100% green fix: Pure Planet, save £236/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: British Gas, save £225/yr

Savings incl £25 MSE cashback if avail & assume typical use vs price cap. Links go via our Cheap Energy Club.

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  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 (check eligibility / apply*) or TSB (check eligibility / apply*), both 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £14.11/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell equiv £14.99/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Vodafone equiv £19.80/mth

Free £100 for switching + monthly rewards: Halifax Reward
2.02% interest on up to £1,000: Virgin Money


"Sincerest thanks for your help to haggle over Sky TV subscriptions. I was paying £117 per month - now I'm only paying £54."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Are you 'eating out to help out'? The Government's 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme gives a 50% discount up to £10 per person on sit-down meals out from Mon to Wed throughout Aug. Tell us if you've used it, and where, in this week's poll.

First Direct top in our banking service poll. Last week, we asked you to vote in our twice-annual banking customer service poll, and more than 3,400 people responded. Of the banks that received 100+ votes, First Direct came top with 90% of its customers rating it 'great' and just 4% 'poor'. Surprisingly, Monzo - which won the last poll - took the wooden spoon with 43% rating it 'poor'. Next worst was Santander with a 21% 'poor' rating. (Note: The poll only just closed before sending this email, so we will be digging deeper into Monzo's performance.) See full bank service poll results.



My tenants left without cancelling their broadband - should I keep using it? I'm a landlord and recently moved into one of my flats that was previously let to tenants that left without paying several months' rent. I discovered they hadn't cancelled the broadband, so I've been getting it for nothing. Given they owe me money and seemingly don't check their bank accounts, do I really have to contact them about cancelling it - or should I just keep using it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: My tenants left without cancelling their broadband - should I keep using it? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


No7 - £117 of beauty products for £20 trick
Lidl - £5 off a £25 spend via app
Coffee trick - Eg, 19p Pret, 32p Costa by stacking offers
KFC - 10 finger-lickin' MoneySaving tips
Latest in Beauty - £50ish of men's grooming for £20 delivered

Burger King - £1 Whopper burger hack
Meerkat Meals - 2for1 meals for a year for £2ish
Pizza Hut - £4.25 unlimited pizza Mon-Wed in Aug
Dine Club - 60 days free, up to 50% off selected restaurants
Amex - Free £5 on £10+ spend at independents

Amazon - £21 Echo Dot and 2mths' Amazon Music Unlimited
Vodafone 'VeryMe' - Free movie to rent or gift someone
Bookhound - Four thriller books for £10 delivered
Morrisons - £10 off £50 code via Prime Now
Odeon - Free cinema tickets for Blue Light Card-holders

Create easy recipes from what's in your cupboard. Nothing leftover
Tips for freezing takeaway pizza. Knead-to-know
How well do 'keep fresh for longer' bags work? Bag for life?



Mon 17 Aug BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 18 Aug 
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... for days, much of the UK has been sweltering, and in some places there is more to come. So MoneySavers have been sharing tips on saving cash while staying cool, including rinsing your wrists under the tap, sitting with your feet in a bowl of cold water or freezing hot-water bottles. Read more tips and add your own in our Beat the heat Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team