Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

11 November 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... £82k extra state pension, urgent 0%, cheap iPhone, Ted Baker 30%, Big Switch, mortgage prisoners, 3 and Vodafone hikes, free books

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails

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Plus... mortgage prisoners, Three and Vodafone hikes, free books


Warning. Pay credit card interest? Shift to 0% now, with worrying signs top deals will soon be pulled

You can't afford NOT to try for a 0% balance transfer

balance transfer is where you get a new card that pays off debts on your existing credit or store card(s) for you, so you owe it the money instead but at 0%. This means more of your repayments clear what you owe, so you get debt-free quicker.

card image reading top 0% deals endingAll sounds good, but the problem right now is the market is contracting. In Jan, eight cards offered 27mths+ at 0%, now there are just two. In recent weeks more have gone, and we hear strong rumours that many remaining cards don't have long left. So here's an urgent briefing...

  1. How to pick the right card for YOU. The key challenge is often getting accepted, so DON'T JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE TABLE BELOW. The key isn't 'what's the best card on the market', instead it's what's the best card you'll be accepted for.

    To help, we've built our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc, which for most top cards shows your acceptance chances, letting you home in on the right one, therefore minimising applications, which protects your credit score. Now you get that, here's the table, then tips on picking (if you've a wide choice).

    TSB 29mths 0%
    (apply*) - sadly not in our eligibility calc
    - Up to 29mths 0%
    - 2.95% fee of debt shifted
    The LONGEST 0% card, but an 'up to'. So some with poorer credit scores may be accepted but get 26mths or 23mths 0% - still decent. After the 0%, it's 19.9% rep APR.
    M&S Bank 28mths 0%
    (applications via eligibility calc)
    - All accepted get 28mths 0%
    - 2.85% fee of debt shifted (min £5)
    Longest DEFINITE 0% card. Here all accepted custs get the full 28mths 0%, so if you've a good eligibility chance it's a good call. After, it's 19.9% rep APR.
    Santander 26mths 0%
    (eligibility calc / apply*)
    - All accepted get 26mths 0%
    - £3/mth FIXED fee
    Long 0%, rare fixed fee. Decent only for BIG transfers. This is a Marmite card. The fee's cheap for very big debt shifts, c. £5,000+. If not, it's costly. After the 0%, it's 21.7% rep APR (but ditch then to avoid fee).
    HSBC 25mths 0%
    (applications via eligibility calc)
    - All accepted get 25mths 0%
    - 1.5% fee of debt shifted (min £5)
    Longish DEFINITE 0%, much lower fee. It's a good midway length card with a lowish fee. If accepted, you're certain to get the full 25mths 0%. After, it's 21.9% rep APR.
    Santander 18mths 0% NO FEE
    (eligibility calc / apply*)
    - All accepted get 18mths 0%
    - NO FEE
    Easy winner if you can clear debt in sub-18mths. If accepted and you clear it in time, there's no cost at all. So then it's unbeatable. After the 0%, it's 18.9% rep APR.
    Fluid 9mths 0%
    (applications via eligibility calc)
    - All accepted get 9mths 0%
    - 4% fee of debt shifted
    Longest 'poor credit' 0% deal, but costly. Offers some respite from interest, even if you've had a past county court judgment or bankruptcy. But only move money you can clear in 9mths. After the 0%, it's 34.9% rep APR.
    HSBC, M&S Bank and Fluid have asked we send people to our eligibility calc, to reduce demand on them at this crucial time. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Here's how to pick your winner...

a) Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most charge a one-off fee of the amount of debt transferred (so 2.95% is £29.50 per £1,000). Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

b) Some are 'up to' cards, so you may get a shorter deal than advertised. So we include the best non-'up to' deals. Unless you've a top credit score, where it looks like you'll get all the cards, 'up to' cards can be risky (where we know, we put what the alternative 0% lengths given are, which can mitigate the issue).

  1. The Balance Transfer GOLDEN RULES. Getting the right card is only half the job. Always...

    a) Clear debt or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay the full APR.
    b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
    d) You must usually transfer the debt within 60/90 days. 

  2. Can't get a 0% card? You can sometimes use existing cards to move debt to where it's cheapest. If you've more than one credit card, ensure the debt is on the cheapest. For example, if one is 18% and it isn't up to the credit limit, but your 30% card is, you may be able to shift debt from the 30% to the 18% card, saving you cash without impacting your creditworthiness. Some cards even offer this at special cheap rates - see existing customer balance transfers.

  3. GRRRR. I applied, was accepted, but the credit limit isn't big enough to shift my debt to. What should I do? Don't see this as a total fail. You've got the card. It's marked your credit file. So balance-transfer as much of the expensive debt as you can.

    When done, apply for another balance transfer card for the rest - fingers crossed you're accepted. Though each subsequent application can get harder, as each very slightly marks your file. Also note most cards only let you use 90-95% of your limit to shift debt.

  4. EEEK. My eligibility chances aren't great - only 50%. Should I risk applying? It's a common concern, yet by definition, over half get accepted with 50% odds. Equally, even a 95% score means one in 20 get rejected. This tale by Martin should help...

    Martin:I sat with a MoneySaver who had large, costly card debt and a poor credit history. The eligibility calc showed zero chance of all balance transfers, except a 20% chance with Halifax. She looked despondent and asked me: 'Is there any point?'

    "I explained that as it was the only credit she needed - there was no mortgage application or similar due - it didn't matter that a rejection would mark her file. The reason we protect credit scores is so we can use them when needed. A 20% chance was better than nowt, and the worst that could happen was a rejection. She applied and got a 26mth 0% card with a £1,500 limit.

    For more help on this, see 27 tips to boost your credit score.

  5. Struggling with credit card debt repayments due to coronavirus? Credit card and other 'automatic' payment holidays officially ended on 31 Oct, but regulator, the FCA, has proposed bringing them back, and that should come into force in the next week or so.

    You'll be able to apply for a payment holiday of up to 6mths if you've not had one before, or a further 3mths if you're currently on your first 3mth holiday (though unlikely if you had one earlier and have been paying since). Even though this isn't officially in, most big banks are accepting applications.

    So take one if you need one, but ONLY if you need one. Interest still racks up, and while this doesn't go on your credit file, it could have a minor impact on your future creditworthiness. More info in Martin's Should I take a payment holiday? blog, where he also discusses that in some cases you'd be better to take a mortgage holiday (as interest's lower) and use that to cover card payments.

  6. Can't sleep because of debt? This likely isn't for you. We sadly know that debt problems amid the pandemic have got worse for many. The solutions above are for those who can manage repayments, and who aren't in a panic over debt.

    If you are, don't worry. There are many ways to improve things, but the techniques above probably aren't for you. Instead, read our full Debt Help guide. And crucially if you need it, get free, one-on-one debt counselling from StepChange, Citizens Advice, National Debtline or, for emotional help too, CAP. They're all there to help, not judge.

    The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read some inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and see our Mental Health & Debt guide.

PS from Martin. Normally he tells you here about his weekly ITV Thu evening show, but due to the football this week he's been 'booted off', though he's back the Thursday after.


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 MSE Big Energy Switch 16

British Gas and Shell super-cheap 15mth fixed energy deals - save a typical £290 over that time. These undercut almost every 1yr fix

With our Big Energy Switch 16 winners, we use the weight of our huge user base to bag cheap deals. This time they're fixes, meaning your rate's locked in with no price hikes. It's week two and we've three deals for you to choose from...

  • Find choosing confusing? We can pick your winner. All deals accessible via...

    Recommended: Pick Me A Tariff every year (MSE Autoswitch). For those unsure about switching, this is the best option. Here you quickly tell us your energy preferences (fixed, name you know, top service, green etc) or just select Martin's default choice. Use that to find your top pick tariff, from the whole of the market, including our Big Energy Switch deals, based on those priorities. Then each year, when your deal ends, we'll autoswitch you (providing you agree with one click) to your new winner based on your preferences.

    - Pick Me A Tariff for now. Tell us your preferences the same way, but with no autoswitch after a year, just a reminder.

  • MSE WINNER 1: SHELL ENERGY. Cheap 15mth fix + MSE enhanced service + 100% renewable elec. Price: £842/yr on typical use. Green: 100% elec, not gas. Service rating: 3.3/5 (decent). Save: £237/yr (see below).

    Min 9,000 avail. This Shell Energy Jan 22 v4 deal (for dual fuel & elec only) is a version of its normal cheap fix, but you get an extra £25 dual-fuel bill credit and the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback (£12.50 bill credit and £12.50 cashback for single elec). It's fixed until Jan 2022, so your rate is locked in 3mths longer than most similar fixes, for some of next winter. Yet it's cheaper than almost every 1yr fix on the market (barring a tiddler). We've also arranged enhanced service here, so if it doesn't help you, contact us so we can escalate issues, but pls talk to it first.

  • MSE WINNER 2: BRITISH GAS. Cheapest Big 6 fix (15mths) + 100% renewable elec + 1yr's free heating cover. Price: £857/yr on typical use. Green: 100% elec, not gas. Service rating: 3.9/5 (decent) - not MSE-enhanced. Save: £222/yr (see below).

    Ends Fri 20 Nov. The British Gas Exclusive Protection Jan 22 new dual-fuel customer deal is the cheapest Big 6 fix, even though the rest last just a year and this one is for 15mths. Plus you get the usual £25 MSE cashback. It includes 1yr's 'free' heating, plumbing and electrical insurance for newbies (that auto-renews at £12/mth after a year - but you can cancel before), and you must agree to get free smart meters installed (if possible) if you don't have them already.

  • MSE WINNER 3: GREEN NETWORK ENERGY: Cheapest TWO-winter fix + 100% renewable elec. Price: £913/yr on typical use. Green: 100% elec, not gas. Service rating: 3.6/5 (decent). Save: £332/yr over 2yrs (see below).

    Ends Fri 20 Nov. This Green Network Energy 2 Year Green Fix newbies' tariff (for dual fuel & elec only) is the cheapest 2yr fix on the market, including the £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback. It's great for those who don't like switching often or worry about future prices so want certainty now. It's about £80/yr more expensive on typical use than the market's cheapest shorter fix, but the price certainty lasts longer.

  • Sadly, these deals aren't available for prepay or Northern IrelandInstead, do a prepay comparison or see our Cheap NI Energy guide.

All product links go via our Cheap Energy Club so you get a comparison, as your exact winner depends on location and use (they're filtered to compare similar deals). The savings above are based on typical use vs the estimated price cap over the next year (5mths at the current cap, 7mths at the future cap - predicted to be 6% higher). To qualify for MSE's special tariffs, you must have signed up to this email or have been a Cheap Energy Club member by 11.59pm on 2 Nov.


'The Govt's failed 250,000 mortgage prisoners and only it can release them - if not, it could devastate lives.' A new landmark mortgage prisoners report by the London School of Economics launches today, commissioned by MSE and funded by a substantial personal donation from Martin. It proposed eight practical solutions to free 'mortgage prisoners' unfairly trapped since the 2008 financial crash. Treasury Minister John Glen wrote to Martin when the research was announced, saying he'd give it "full consideration". Do click the link above to find out more about this important MSE campaign.

20 free e-book and audiobook tricks for 1,000s of titles, incl Harry Potter and Ada Twist, Scientist. The pandemic has led to a huge increase in book buying, so we've updated our list of tips and tricks. See 20 free book tricks.

Gill: 'I reclaimed £82,000 in underpaid state pension after watching Martin's ITV show.' 10,000s of married, widowed or divorced women had been underpaid state pension for years - and you could be due HUGE money like Gill. Watch Martin's explanation and check if YOU (or someone you know) can reclaim.

Ends 11.59pm Sun. Even cheaper: Cheapest-ever iPhone 11 contract, incl huge 25GB/mth EE data. MSE Blagged. The iPhone 11's got progressively cheaper since the 12 launched, and this week it's fallen even further, as EE newbies can get an iPhone 11 64GB* (via this Affordable Mobiles link) with unltd mins, texts and 25GB/mth data for £42 upfront using code MSE70, then £29/mth. The £738 cost over the 24mth contract is £101 less than buying the phone outright with a similar data Sim (the huge data package is effectively just £6/mth). More in Cheap iPhones and Samsungs.

Covid update: Furlough until March, self-employ grant 3 now 80% - step-by-step help. Full info incl who's eligible, how much you'll get and who's still excluded in furlough extension latest and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme latest. Plus bounce back loan 'top-ups' are now available.

£150 of Ciate nail polish & lip oil for £34 all-in. MSE Blagged. Via sustainable & vegan Advent calendar. 5,000 avail. Ciate beauty calendar


'I reclaimed £14,000 on an Amigo guarantor loan - MSE changed my life.' How you can reclaim for free. Thousands could be due big money

Guarantor loans are often for £1,000s, with a family member or friend being your 'guarantor' if you miss a repayment. They're expensive with hideous APRs (we're not fans), often at 50%+, and as repayments last for up to 5yrs, people can pay back over three times what they borrowed given the way interest builds. It's no surprise they've been widely mis-sold. In fact, a huge 88% of complaints brought to the Financial Ombudsman are upheld against guarantor lenders - a higher rate than PPI.

What's more, the UK's largest guarantor lender, Amigo, recently paused new lending and upped its complaints contingency fund from £116m to £150m+. To help, we've developed a free guarantor loans reclaim tool to make getting money back easy (mirroring our free payday loan reclaim tool). You can go back UP TO SIX YEARS from when you took the loan out.

Here's a brief explainer:

  • A bit of inspiration from Sam to start... "I had a £10,000 Amigo loan after topping it up several times - I was borrowing more just to keep up with repayments, so I followed your website and was offered almost £14,000. The reclaim has changed my life, I am now planning to buy a house." Just to note Amigo doesn't legally accept this was  a case of mis-selling, but refunded it anyway, obviously just out of the goodness of its heart, uh hmm (sorry, just clearing our throats)...

  • Who sells guarantor loans? Amigo is the big name, but others include Buddy Loans, TrustTwo and TFS Loans.

  • The big mis-selling tell is if you can't afford the loan, whether you're the borrower or guarantor. Most mis-selling happened when lenders didn't do affordability checks properly (eg, looked at income, expenditure and debts) to see if the borrower or guarantor could afford the loan. While you won't know what they did behind the scenes, as long as your circumstances haven't changed since being approved, if one of you can't afford it, you were likely mis-sold.

    You may also be due money back if you were treated unfairly (eg, using debt collectors before offering fair repayment solutions) or pressured to become a guarantor. Full info in our mis-selling checklists for borrowers and guarantors.

  • How much are you due back? The exact calculation depends on your circumstances. See what you're due back if you're a borrower, and find out here what you could get back if you're a guarantor. In a nutshell, borrowers typically get all interest and any fees back (so not the loan itself) + 8% interest on top and any credit 'black marks' erased. Guarantors get similar, but you may also get any payments you've made on the borrower's behalf back and should be released from your responsibility as a guarantor.

  • What our FREE TOOL does. Earlier this year we launched our guarantor loans reclaim tool (part of our collaboration with complaints website Resolver), merging our template letters and experience with its tech. Enter your details and it helps draft the complaint, sends it, keeps track and escalates it to the ombudsman if necessary. We also have free template letters you can use. So don't bother using a claims firm which may take a third of any payout.

Warning. Vodafone or Three mobile or b'band customer? They're planning inflation-busting price hikes. See full Vodafone and Three hike info and your rights.

Sainsbury's double-up promo help now available to vulnerable customers after MSE intervenes. Redeeming required people to go in-store from 11 to 17 Nov. It wasn't avail online, even in the middle of Eng's lockdown, so we campaigned. See Sainsbury's agrees special provisions for the vulnerable for details.

30% off most full-price items online at Ted Baker. MSE Blagged. Our code gets you early access to Ted Baker's best discount, which comes round only a few times a year. Ted Baker

Bank with M&S, HSBC or First Direct? Urgently open its regular saver. Lock in 2.75% AER for a year before it ends. Regular savings

24 craft beers for £28ish delivered. MSE Blagged. With 18 different types of beer, this is the biggest variety Flavourly has given us, and while most cans are the standard 330ml, four of them are a larger 440ml. One-off, no subscription. 4,000 boxes avail, newbies only. Flavourly. (Please be Drinkaware).

Urgent. Pay overdraft interest with Lloyds, Halifax, Santander etc? If struggling, hurry to get £500 at 0%. Last week, the regulator announced it would extend many payment hols till Jan, but didn't extend overdraft help beyond the original 31 Oct cut-off. Yet seven banks will still offer anyone struggling a £500 0% overdraft for 3mths - which was the default for all who applied by the end of last month. Some have an end of Nov apply deadline, some haven't specified. See which banks offer overdraft support, deadlines and more info in last chance overdraft help.

Don't believe false 'Martin Lewis' viral scam warning about O2, Vodafone, Giffgaff etc. It's nowt to do with him. See full help on this in fake viral scam warning.


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Longest 0%: TSB up to 29mths 0%, 2.95% fee* (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR)

Cheap 15mth fix: Shell Energy, save £237/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: British Gas, save £222/yr

Cheapest 2yr fix: Green Network Energy, save £332 over 2yrs
Want us to help you pick a tariff & switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings include bill credit & MSE cashback if avail. Assumes typical use vs price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

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*), 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £14.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £21.74/mth

£125 to switch + £3/mth: NatWest Reward


Free letters from Santa, incl in Braille. Send wishlists to Royal Mail's elves to get a reply from the Big Man. It's free by email and just the price of a letter by post. Free letter from Santa.

"Thanks for helping me get my finances on track. I've switched bank accounts and got £125, did a tax reclaim for working from home and got £80 back, and now I'm helping my mum claim the uniform tax rebate. I will have paid off my 0% credit card too."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Have you haggled with Sky, BT, the AA or others this year? Did you succeed? Haggling can result in big savings - on anything from digital TV to breakdown cover. Each year we try to gauge the success rates of those who have done it. Let us know how you've got on in this week's poll.

Important: Last week, a technical issue meant some people weren't able to submit their haggling outcomes for a short period. The issue has been fixed, and we're keeping the poll open for another week to give everyone a chance to take part.



Should I still send a present if I'm not invited to the wedding? My niece was originally due to have a large wedding in June, and we'd accepted an invitation. I'm not close to her, but I am to her dad (my brother). Due to the pandemic, they've decided to get married just before Christmas with 15 close family members. I'm now not invited - so I'm not sure what the present-sending etiquette is. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I still send a present if I'm not invited to the wedding? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Free book tricks - 20 ways to get 1,000s of audio and e-books
Ciate - £150 nail polish & lip oil for £34 all-in
Ted Baker - 30% off full-price items
Flavourly - 24 craft beers for £28ish delivered
Free Santa letter - Sent to your ho-ho-home

Baileys - £12 1L bottle (norm £20)
Nike - 25% off code, incl 'up to 50% off' sale (ends Wed)
Greggs - Free £1.50ish festive bake via Vodafone
Morrisons - '10% off' for teachers
Halfords - Free 10-point car check for teachers, NHS etc

Shreddies - 30p a box coupon stack hack (norm £2.10)
Lindt chocolate - 'Free' £2 bar for Shopmium newbies
Bodega Bay - 'Free' £2 hard seltzer (pls be Drinkaware)
Dolmio - 'Free' £1 plant-based bolognese
Andrex - £1.50 off toilet roll

Easy warming recipes for a food flask. Winter warmers
Get rid of mouldy smell in soup maker. Who nose?
Drying laundry efficiently in winter tricks. Let's get ready to tumble



Wed 11 Nov - Lorraine, ITV, 9.10am
Thu 12 Nov - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Mon 16 Nov - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 12.20pm. Listen again


Thu 12 Nov - BBC Radio Sheffield, Breakfast with Toby Foster, Guy Anker on saving in tough times, from 9am
Fri 13 Nov - BBC Three Counties Radio, The JVS Show, Guy Anker on financial help in lockdown, from 12.30pm
Mon 16 Nov - 
BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 17 Nov - 
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.20pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... back in December, we explained how you could save £670 in 2020 with the 1p Savings Challenge - where you save 1p on the first day of the year, 2p on the second, 3p on the third and so on. Though of course you could always choose to add a bit more. MoneySavers stepped up to the task and last week we were delighted to hear from Fiona, who completed the challenge on 2 November - almost two months ahead of schedule - by adding some extra along the way. Let us know how you're doing in our 1p Savings Challenge Facebook post, and to see how it's done, see our How to save £670 in 2020 blog.

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