Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

26 August 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... £2.50 Asos/Topshop, £100s off iPhones & Samsungs, renting tips, urgent energy fix, 2.8% loans, eBay & Facebook selling, Amazon sale, max Eat Out to Help Out, 18mths 0% NO FEE

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Plus... eBay & Facebook selling, Amazon sale, max Eat Out to Help Out, 18mths 0% NO FEE


Sizzling Sims & top handset deals, incl...

- Cheapest EVER 8GB Sim is back

- Save £100s with some of the cheapest deals for recent iPhones & Samsungs we've seen

With usage up & prices down, check if you can slash bills now

Mobile use has climbed since lockdown, and in our Twitter poll of more than 3,600 people this week, 51% said they'd used their phones more in that time, while just 6% said less. So with usage up, if you're one of the 9m out of contract, often vastly overpaying, it's a great time to switch given the latest array of top deals for a new phone or a new Sim - the chip in your phone that dictates your network and allowance.

This year we've seen the cheapest ever Sims at many data levels, and today it's the return of the cheapest ever 8GB Sim. And while there's recently been a dearth of hot handset deals, today you can bag the cheapest ever in some categories.

This is important whether you want a new Sim or new phone contract, so you choose the right deal. Data is the real differentiator as most deals have plenty of mins & texts for the majority of people.

If unsure, check old bills, or if you're with EE, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three or Vodafone you can use the Billmonitor* tool to analyse your bill, but you must give it your login details. It'll recommend top deals but it doesn't have them all, such as those we've blagged below. As a guide, in our most recent poll, 68% said they use 3GB/mth of data or less.

Most analysts have reported a large drop in the number of handsets sold in the past year as phones last longer and there are fewer new tech features. So if you're happy with your phone and are out of contract, check now if you can save with a new Sim. We've the top deals below (for newbies of that firm). The standout is the return of the Three 8GB/mth deal, as we've never seen cheaper at that level.

1yr contract, unless stated. For more deals, see our Top Sims guide
(uses Vodafone)
MSE Blagged
2GB/mth £5/mth (rolling 1mth contract)
Ends Sun. TalkMobile* 
(Vodafone's no-frills arm)
MSE Blagged
4GB/mth Equiv '£6.57/mth'
£3.75/mth for 3mths, then £7.50/mth for 9
Ends Mon. Three* (1)
MSE Blagged
8GB/mth Equiv '£6.33/mth'
£8/mth + £20 cashback (3)
O2* 10GB/mth £10/mth 
New. Three* (2)
MSE Blagged
Unlimited '£16.33/mth'
£18/mth + £20 cashback (3)
(1) Via reseller Fonehouse. (2) Via reseller MobilePhonesDirect. (3) Paid into your bank account within 90 days of activation.

A snazzy smartphone isn't MoneySaving, but if you'll get one anyway, at least get it for less. And that means never going direct to a major network as you'll almost always overpay. Sometimes it's cheapest to buy a new phone outright and pair it with a cheap Sim, but right now contracts through resellers and smaller providers smash that method for some phone and allowance combos. Here you pay an upfront fee, then a monthly rate to cover the rest of the handset + data, mins & texts. 

We've blagged four hot deals on popular phones with plenty of data for most. And right now it's possible to get the iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite or Samsung S20 at the cheapest price we've ever seen for those combos. The iPhone 11 deal below is close to the cheapest ever and certainly the cheapest way to get it right now.

These all come with unlimited mins & texts and are just a few from 1,000s of combos of handsets and allowances - see Cheap iPhones or Cheap Samsungs for more deals.

Cheapest ever deals on these 'basic' iPhones & Samsung combos

Both brands now have a 'basic' range that's still snazzy but not quite as tech-rich as their higher-spec counterparts. The two deals below are on their latest models released this year.

- Via this link for the iPhone SE with 64GB storage* which goes via, Vodafone newbies can get 4GB/mth data for £90 upfront, then £20/mth, and you'll be sent a £10 cheque within 2mths, making it an equiv £560 over the 2yr contract. Direct from Vodafone, you'd pay £209 MORE over two years for 2GB/mth LESS. 

- Via this link for the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite with 128GB storage* which goes via, Vodafone newbies can get 4GB/mth data for £35 upfront, then £20/mth. Plus you'll be sent a £10 cheque within 2mths, making it an equiv £505 over the 2yr contract. Direct from Vodafone, you'd pay £556 MORE over two years for 2GB/mth LESS data.

We've never seen either cheaper, with one possible exception. On paper, they can just be beaten going via cashback site Topcashback for the same deal with £40 cashback instead of the £10 cheque. However, we normally warn that cashback isn't always certain, and on this occasion (which runs the deal) has even told us the cashback definitely wouldn't be paid out. We've not been able to check with Topcashback, though we will try to. Confused? So are we. So you'll need to weigh up which link to try.

Cheapest ever Samsung S20 combo + hot iPhone 11 deal

These two are the latest standard models from the pair, with all the bells and whistles.

- Via this link for the Samsung Galaxy S20, with 128GB storage*, which goes via Fonehouse, EE newbies can get this 5GB/mth deal for £249.99 upfront, then £23/mth, making it £801.99 over the 2yr contract. Direct from EE, its cheapest S20 deal - which comes with 10GB of data - costs £1,178 over 2yrs, which may be too much for most people. 

- Via this link for the iPhone 11, with 64GB storage* new customers of iD Mobile (which uses Three's network) get 5GB/mth data for £39.99 upfront when using code IDM10OFF. It's then £32.99/mth, making it £831.75 over the 2yr contract. A similar deal from Three with 4GB of data and a slightly different roaming package costs £1,036 over 2yrs.

Just want a cheap smartphone? You don't need to go with expensive iPhones or Samsungs as you can get a decent alternative with 4GB/mth of data for as little as £458 over 2yrs. See cheap contracts for more info on how to compare these.

Want to buy a new phone outright? Refurbished can be as good as new. It's difficult to cut standard new phone costs bought outside a contract, but one trick is refurbished models as they're often just returns from customers who have changed their mind or have small problems that have been fixed.

There's more to slashing prices than simply finding the best deals. Here's what else you need to know.

  • How to unlock your phone for free. If you're switching network, a new Sim won't work if your phone is tied to a specific provider, but you can unlock your phone for free if out of contract.

  • It's easy to keep your number if switching network. Simply send a free text and you're sent a code to give to your new network and it transfers the number over within one working day.

  • Is your network the only one with a good signal? Find a cheap 'piggyback'. There are actually only four UK networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. All others piggyback on one of them, eg, Tesco is on O2, Virgin on EE. So if stuck with an expensive network, there may be an escape - see mobile piggyback help.

  • Don't want to switch network? Haggle. Loyalty sadly doesn't pay, but if you'd prefer to stay put, mobile firms are among the easiest to haggle with. For example, in our latest haggling poll, 77% of Three and 76% of EE customers said they'd had success. See Mobile Haggling for full help.

  • Got an old mobile gathering dust? Dig it out & flog it to bag £100s. While you normally get more via eBay, it's usually easier via special mobile-reselling sites. We found one that pays £190 for a 64GB iPhone 8. See Sell Old Mobiles.

  • Out of phone storage? Claw some back to save 'upgrading' to pricier mobiles. Don't assume because you've run out of capacity, you need to shell out for a new higher-spec device. There are lots of ways to save space via simple checks - some don't even require you to delete any photos etc. See storage boosters.

  • Add a spending cap to stop eye-watering bills. There have been many horror stories of people running up HUGE surprise bills. Yet you may be able to set a personalised spending cap.

  • Are you a loser? Do you need mobile insurance? It's not right for everyone, but if you're prone to losing things it may be worth it. See Mobile Insurance to help you decide and for our top-pick policies.

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.



The tenant eviction ban in Eng & Wal has been extended, but dangers still exist, so we've...

50+ tips for ALL renters, incl your rights if struggling + cost-cutting tricks

Renting suits many, but it can be insecure at the best of times. Many are particularly struggling now, with housing charity Shelter estimating 220,000+ may have fallen into arrears due to the pandemic, in Eng alone. And while last week's news of a 1mth extension to the ban on evictions in Eng & Wal was welcome, it may only be a temporary reprieve. So if you're a renter who's struggling, or if you want to know your rights, or you just want to cut costs, here are a few tips (with lots more in 50+ Tips For Renters)...

  • New. Ban on evictions extended in Eng & Wal - your rights if struggling with payments. To help people behind on their rent during the pandemic, courts in Eng & Wal were initially unable to hear eviction cases till 24 Aug, but at the last min that was extended to 21 Sep (there are similar restrictions in Scot & NI). While good news in one sense as you can only be forced out by a court, it's only a temporary reprieve. So for full info, plus which organisations offer free help if struggling with payments, see coronavirus help for renters.

  • Check your deposit's protected - if not, you could get it back plus 3x the value. With most tenancies, your landlord/letting agent MUST put your deposit into a Govt-backed protection scheme by law. If it fails to, you have rights to redress. See deposit protection.

  • You CAN often switch broadband & energy - saving £100s/yrDon't put up with rip-off rates - unless you need a new line or you're changing the energy meter, you can switch without your landlord's permission. See hot b'band & line deals, incl fibre from £17.44/mth, or save £100s switching energy.

  • Dispute with a landlord? There are official bodies that can help, but with limited powers. See landlord disputes.

  • Check if you're entitled to a council tax discount. If you live alone you can get 25% off, while full-time students don't pay (though it's more complex if they live with non-students). Plus anyone can claim big cash back if in too high a band. For how to do it, see council tax discounts.

  • Save 60%+ on rent by becoming a property guardian. You can baby-sit empty properties - private homes, schools etc - to deter squatters. Full info in property guardians. MSE Becky tried it: "I lived in guardian properties for 3-4 yrs and paid a third of normal London rent. Places can be huge, but you often don't know how long you've got, and facilities can be basic."

  • Beware bogus fees. Some landlords and letting agents charge £100s for credit checks, photocopying etc, but many such fees are now banned in Eng, Wal & Scot (though some are still allowed in NI). For what CAN be levied, and what to do if you're wrongly charged (as reports suggest this still happens), see allowable fees.

£2.50 Asos, New Look, Topshop etc clothes, shoes & bags. MSE Blagged. Discount retailer sells surplus stock (mainly women's clothes) from high st giants and others at knockdown prices. They're usually £5, but we've blagged a selection of 500ish styles for just £2.50. Delivery's from £4. Everything5pounds

Last chance. Eat Out to Help Out - who's taking part + deals with MORE THAN 50% off, incl 19p Pret coffee & £1 BK Whopper. Today (Wed) and bank holiday Mon are the final days of the scheme that gives 50% off (up to £10pp) at restaurants - and you can stack it with other deals for huge savings. Max Eat Out to Help Out

Top NO-FEE 0% debt shift - Santander 18mths. Anyone paying credit card interest should consider shifting their debt to a cheaper balance transfer card. And those accepted for Santander's 18mth 0% card (eligibility calc / apply*) can do that at no cost whatsoever - as it was so popular last week, we're reminding you of it here. While Santander is open to all, existing NatWest/RBS custs can get 20mths 0% with no fee. Golden rules: (1) Always pay at least the min monthly repayment. (2) Clear the debt or transfer again before the 0% ends (Santander is 18.9% rep APR interest after). (3) Don't spend/withdraw cash. Full help and longer deals (for a fee) in Top Balance Transfers.

Revealed: 1m+ could have saved on prescriptions with an NHS 'season ticket' last year. Many overpay in Eng, as our NHS prescription investigation shows. Click the link for full details, incl how to check if you can save.

Ends 9am Fri. Cheapest 1yr energy fix from Shell - save £240+/yr. MSE Blagged. The Shell Energy Sept 2021 v4 tariff is similar to the one we featured last week, which we warned wouldn't last long, and indeed its new version (this one) is now a tad pricier. Yet even after the rise it's still the market's cheapest fix, including the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback and £10 bill credit we've sorted for you. Though hurry if it wins for you. It comes with 100% renewable elec and is for new AND existing dual-fuel and elec-only custs. As prices vary by use and region, links go via our energy club to compare it against other fixes. You can play with the filters to find slightly cheaper variable rates from tiddlers.

Second self-employment income support grant now open. A huge 800,000 missed out on the first grant earlier this year so we're reminding you the second one opened last week and is worth up to £6,570. The criteria are similar to the first so sadly many are still ineligible. Second self-employment grant


Cheapest loans from 2.8% - a host of rate cuts this summer gives you more choice, but only borrow if you really NEED to

Banks have mostly kept a lid on hot new savings, cards or current account deals during the pandemic. But with UK interest rates at a historic low, it's different with loans. TSB, Virgin and Hastings Direct have unveiled cheap deals in recent weeks, while Sainsbury's Bank has launched competitive rates today (Wed). All are equal or close to the table-toppers.

So although lenders are being more cautious about saying yes, given the impact of the pandemic on many people's finances, more choice means more chance of landing a low rate. After all, as they all score you differently, if a cheap firm rejects you, there may be another willing to accept you. Given it can be hit and miss, that's all the more reason to use our Loans Eligibility Calc as, after filling in your info, it lists firms most likely to accept you BEFORE applying, in turn protecting your credit score.

  • With so many cheap loans, is now the time to borrow? For those with stable finances who need to borrow, it's a decent time. But don't take on debt lightly, and only do it if you need to for a planned, budgeted, affordable, one-off buy (eg, you need a kitchen) where you minimise the amount and repay as quickly as you can. If in doubt, don't.

  • Cheap loans from 2.8%. Here are the three or four cheapest loans per category, but via our Loans Eligibility Calc you may see more, which may cost the same or only be a tad pricier given the array of cheap rates, eg, the new Virgin and Sainsbury's deals.
LOWEST LOAN RATES FOR £3,000-£15,000 (1)
£7,500-£15,000 2.8% Cahoot (eligibility calc / apply*), TSB (eligibility calc / apply*)
M&S Bank (eligibility calc) (1-7yrs), Sainsbury's Bank - Must have had a Nectar card for 6mths+, sadly not open to anyone self-employed (eligibility calc / apply*)
£5,000-£7,499 3.4% Tesco Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) (1-3yrs)
3.5%  MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*)
3.6% John Lewis (apply - sadly, not in our eligibility calc)
£3,000-£4,999 8.4%  Hitachi (eligibility calc / apply*) (2-5yrs)
8.5% Tesco Bank (eligibility calc / apply*)
8.7%  Hastings Direct (eligibility calc / apply*)
Note: M&S has asked we direct people to our eligibility calc, so only those more likely to be accepted will apply, reducing enquiries, as it says it's over capacity and needs to prioritise help for vulnerable people. (1) Over 1-5yrs, unless stated.

  • Lowest sub-£3k rates. A money transfer credit card is likely cheaper. It pays cash into your bank, so you owe it instead, but at 0% for up to 18mths, for a 3%-ish fee. But if a loan is right for you (eg, you need longer to pay it off), the Loans Eligibility Calc includes your cheapest.

  • Beware, rates usually have 'representative APRs'. So just 51% of those accepted need to get the stated rate - others may pay more. Yet you're usually only told it after application, so once accepted, check. Even our calc has to work with rep APRs (we're working to change that), so high acceptance odds don't always mean cheap rates.

  • Loan Golden Rules. Full info & options in Cheap Personal Loans (APR Examples).
    a) Minimise the amount you borrow and repay as quickly as possible.
    b) Pay on time (preferably by direct debit) or you may get a charge and a missed payment on your credit report.
    c) If you're getting a loan to pay off credit cards, a balance transfer may be cheaper.


Amazon 'end of summer sale' (eg, £60 Echo Plus speaker, norm £140) - is it any good? It's offering daily deals till Mon, eg, we've also spotted a £95 kids' Fire tablet (norm £140) and £110 Fitbit Versa Lite (norm £150). Amazon sale analysis

eBay & Facebook selling - how to declutter & make £100s. Useful if you're doing a bank holiday clear-out - make a tidy sum while tidying up with our 45+ eBay and 25+ Facebook selling tips.

£270ish of Ciate beauty products for £50 delivered. MSE Blagged. Seems too good to be true but we've checked it out and it's just £50 for the 21-piece set that includes eyeshadow, brow pencils, nail polish etc. Bought separately it's close to £300, but only 2,700 Ciate beauty bundles are available.

24 craft beers for £24 delivered (norm £46ish). MSE Blagged. We do this type of deal a lot but we've never seen it cheaper - 3,000 boxes avail for newbies only. Flavourly deal (please be Drinkaware).

Travel rights latest as restrictions extended to Croatia & Austria, but lifted for Portugal. Check your refund, insurance and quarantine rights in our Coronavirus Travel guide (plus see specific France help and Spain help).


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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: Shell Energy, save £243/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: 
E.on, save £215/yr

Savings incl £25 MSE cashback and bill credit 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 (check eligibility / apply*), 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k: Cahoot
 (check eligibility / apply*) or TSB (check eligibility / apply*), both 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell equiv £15.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell equiv £17.44/mth
Superfast fibre b'band only (no line): Virgin Media equiv £19.84/mth

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


"A massive cheers to you - I've just been awarded £1,000 in packaged bank account charges. I filled in your form, answered a few questions over the phone and have just found the money in my account this morning."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



How much are you worth (or do you owe)? While many are struggling as a result of the coronavirus crisis, others are saving and repaying debts much faster than before. So this week, we're looking to get a snapshot of the nation's finances. How much are you worth (or do you owe)?

Zen once again tops our broadband customer service poll. In last week's poll, small firm Zen came top among providers with 100+ votes, with a huge 91% of its customers rating it 'great'. EE was best of the biggies, with 58% saying it's 'great', while Post Office took the wooden spoon - just 24% said it was 'great', while 47% said it was 'poor'. See full broadband poll results.



Do I have to go on my spa day with the person who bought it for me? An old school friend has recently had some health problems - I've been visiting him and taking him out on day trips as he doesn't get out much otherwise. He's bought me a voucher for afternoon tea and a spa day for two for my birthday, as a thank you. I think he might be expecting to come with me, but I'd feel so uncomfortable going to a spa with him. Do I need to invite him or can I go with someone else? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Do I have to go to the spa with my old school friend? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Everything5pounds - £2.50 clothes, shoes, bags
Eat Out to Help Out - Last chance & deals to combine it with
Amazon - 'End of summer sale', eg, £60 Echo Plus (norm £140)
Ciaté - £270ish of beauty products for £50 delivered
Flavourly - 24 craft beers for £24 delivered (norm £46ish)

Wine deals - Incl 25% off 6 bottles at Tesco and Sainsbury's
Pick My Postcode - Free £200+ daily prize lottery
Shopmium - 'Free' £2ish Lindt choc for cashback app newbies
MoveGB - 3mths' free digital membership via Boots card
Timpson - Free interview outfit dry-cleaning for the unemployed

Ikea - Last chance 'up to 50% off' summer sale (ends Mon)
Nike - 25% off almost everything code (ends Fri)
No7 - Trick to get £40ish mascara for £10 (Fri 28 Aug only)
Nails Inc - £18 face, hands & feet pamper set (norm £27ish)
Sainsbury's - 'Up to 50% off' Tu clothing sale

How low can your monthly grocery bill go? Souper saver
Easy ways to feed hungry students on a budget. Lettuce learn
The 'Grocery Challenge' helps slash shopping costs. Grape ideas



Tue 1 Sep - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... the man who often sources the content for this sign-off to our weekly email, MSE Ant, turned 30 last week. So after we shared the news on Facebook, you shared the best MoneySaving advice you'd give him for his 30s. You've clearly been following our tips as "Pay off debt ASAP", "If you can't afford it, don't get it", "Pay into a pension" and "Try to save a little each month if you can" all featured, and apply to all ages. Though we're sure a few had a chuckle at the tongue-in-cheek advice not to get married or have kids. Let us know the MoneySaving advice you'd give for the big 3-0 in our Facebook post.

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