Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

25 November 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Black Friday bargains, NS&I alert, £240 MAC and Benefit etc £60, Baileys £10, self-employ grant 3, £165 off Scot Power, free wine, Christmas grocery slots

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Plus... £165 off Scot Power, free wine, Christmas grocery slots


Black Friday - bargains or bull?

What's hot & what's not at Amazon, Apple, Argos, AO and Asos (and we haven't even got to the Bs yet)

A word from Martin: "Sadly, this Black Friday the huge majority of UK stores will be shut, so for most it'll be an online fest. And while it can be marketing hype, strong discounts are likely as stores desperately need to shift unsold stock.

"So if you've planned purchases, this can be the cheapest time before Christmas to buy. Yet while a £50 video game reduced to £25 is a saving if you'd have bought it anyway, it's an extra cost if it was the discount that triggered the desire. My Money Mantras can help keep impulses in check. There are a few versions, but in a nutshell, ask yourself...

'Do I need it? Is it worth it? Have I checked whether it's cheaper elsewhere?' If not... don't buy it.

"Each year I campaign to 'ban' unnecessary Christmas presents to help the environment, reduce cost and stress. That holds true this year too, but I'm mindful of the nightmare many retailers, especially small retailers, are in - and the impact on our economy. So if you want them to stay open, it's best to use them so we don't lose them (and hopefully Amex will again do its £5 off £10+ spends Shop Small promo to help).

"So while below we talk about the big chains, as we just can't practicably list independents, please don't think they're always the best buys. I'm signing off this email here, leaving the rest of it in the talented hands of the MSE team, as I prepare for my Tue night live Christmas / Black Friday ITV special."

Black Friday discounts already on, incl Amazon, La Redoute, Moss Bros etc

Retailers have stretched the 'Black Friday' label from a weekend to a week and lots of big sales are already on now, though we reckon some are saving their best ammo for Fri.

All the corking deals we spot are on our Black Friday deals page, but brief highlights of bargains available now include:

  • Amazon - it's pumping out 1,000s of deals, eg, £40 Echo Dot (third gen) for £19. Deals are available across most of its departments, but within each department the selection appears random. From our analysis, electronic deals are the standouts and include the £19 Echo Dot, £229 Ring doorbell for £149 and £65 Babyliss hair straighteners for £26. Some last till Mon, some for a day, and others just a few hours. See Amazon Black Friday analysis for what's hot and what's not.

    Until Mon it also has 30% off much of its already cheap Amazon Warehouse stock, eg, a £129 Fitbit Charge 3 for £49. Its warehouse tends to sell returned or open box items at already reduced prices and can be a bargain hunter's dream.  

  • Everything5pounds site-wide 5% off code gets £4.75 Next, New Look, Topshop etc clothes, shoes & bags. MSE Blagged. The site sells surplus stock - some of it from big high-street brands - all for a fiver, and our code gets it even cheaper till Mon. Delivery's £5. See Everything5pounds. It's not specifically a Black Friday deal but it's site-wide and while prices could drop further on Friday, any subsequent sale is unlikely to be on everything.

  • Moss Bros 30% off almost everything, eg, £399 Ted Baker suit reduced to £118. It's already doing 25% off almost everything, incl sale items, but a special code increases that to 30% off till 11.59pm today (Wed). See how to get 30% off Moss Bros.

  • AO discounts on 100s of items, eg, £80 Amazon Echo Show 5 for £39 (slightly cheaper than at Amazon). It's picking and choosing which deals to discount, largely by price-matching, so while there are plenty of good deals, they're more likely to be joint-cheapest than cheapest. See AO deals.

  • La Redoute up to 40% off selected items, eg, £90 Levi's jeans for £67.50. Not as strong as its usual flat 40% off, but we've spotted deals on Dr Martens, Adidas, Ugg and more. See La Redoute Black Friday.

  • John Lewis 100s of discounts across electrical, home & more - eg, £149 Nespresso coffee maker for £74. It started its sale early this year, but we think it's likely to add more deals on Fri. See John Lewis Black Friday.

  • Google smart home device deals, eg, £49 Nest Mini for £19 and £219 Nest Hub Max for £169. Not just from Google itself, but we've rounded up the best offers. See cheapest Google smart speakers.

  • Buyagift 26% off code, works on already discounted 'up to 60% off' sale items too. MSE Blagged. It's the biggest site-wide discount code it offers, plus it works on 'up to 60% off' sale items too. The code's avail to all from Thu, but we've blagged early access.

See the full list on our Black Friday deals page, also incl Gap 50% off till Sat, and Currys PC World, which is already discounting selected items and will likely add more on Fri.

What's still to come, incl our predictions? Incl Apple, ShopDisney, Asos, Boots etc

On our main Black Friday deals page, we also have details of deals which aren't yet on. We know a few great deals are launching on Fri, and our Deals Hunters have gazed into their crystal balls and predicted a few more...

  • CONFIRMED: 'Free' Apple gift card with big purchase. The tech giant will offer an up to £120 Apple Store gift card when buying selected products from it between Fri & Mon.

  • CONFIRMED: ShopDisney 20% off 1,000+ items. Last year, it offered this on 1,000s of items online, but excluded Frozen and Star Wars, and while we don't have full info yet they'll probably be excluded again. It starts on Fri, and is an automatic discount rather than a code.

  • PREDICTED: Asos up to 70% off everything. Last year, it changed from its usual 20% off Black Friday offering to up to 70% off. Like previous years, we expect it to start on Thu.

  • PREDICTED: Boots up to 50% off selected items. Last year, it offered deals on fragrance, make-up and electricals, and we reckon it'll ramp these up through this week with most on from Fri to Mon.

  • PREDICTED: Benefit 20% off most items. Last year, the make-up and skincare brand offered this discount on almost all full-priced items, so we reckon it'll do the same again from Fri.

  • PREDICTED: Nike 30% off sale items. For the last few years, Nike has offered 30% off already reduced women's, men's & kids' sale items online via a code. We're predicting this'll start today (Wed).

And while deals land all week, Fri's the big one when our Deals Hunters will keep track from 7am to help you find what's hot and what's not (so please excuse our tired eyes).

Bookmark our Black Friday analysis, plus our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

It's not just Black Friday - we've predictions of discounts and deals right through to the Jan sales

Many biggies are yet to start. Our analysis of previous years (and factoring in what has / hasn't happened in this unusual year) allows us to predict what's coming right up till Jan - and we think we'll see half-price Soap & Glory and No7 at Boots, Kurt Geiger up to 50% off and an Ikea sale, plus much, much more.

Our Christmas Deals Predictor has the full list - though take a slightly bigger pinch of salt with it this year given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. 

How to protect yourself (from yourself?) this Black Friday

Not everything with a Black Friday label's a corker - and some so-called 'offers' are just outright scams. So to help you separate the deals from the duds, and to keep safe online, we've a few top tips:

  • Beware the duds. Retailers are desperate to sell, sell, sell, so many try to flog almost anything with a 'Black Friday' label. But there are dodgy 'deals' galore, eg, we found a Fire 7 tablet 'deal' at Amazon that was cheaper last month, and a Huda eyeshadow palette at Selfridges which is £12 cheaper elsewhere.

  • Compare prices between shops AND with past sale prices. So you can see how much of a discount (if any) you're really getting.

    - Use free online tools to compare prices. Sites include Google Shopping and Price Runner - but as these might favour some retailers, also check stores directly. See Cheap Online Shopping.
    - Check what it's sold for in the past. Online tools such as CamelCamelCamel (for Amazon) and PriceSpy (for multiple retailers) track the price of products over time.
    - Can you get cashback to cut the cost? Once you know where's cheapest, check cashback sites for further savings.
    - Consider more than the price. Often big retailers price-match each other, so see what else they're offering, eg, additional warranties, music streaming and TV subscriptions.

  • Don't be fooled by bogus reviews. Usually the only way to spot falsely flattering reviews is to trust your gut, but there's a nifty free tool to help detect 'fake' reviews. While not definitive, it can help.

  • Keep an eye out for scams. Ask yourself: "Is this deal too good to be true?" If the answer's yes, then it might well be the case. Check web addresses look legit, look for spelling mistakes (a big tell-tale) and check independent reviews, especially if it's a site you've never heard of. Our How to Spot Scams tips will help you stay vigilant.

  • Tool up on your refund rights. If you wake up the next day with a retail hangover and think "why did I buy that?" or you've been sent the wrong item or it's faulty, you often have rights, especially if you bought online. Our Consumer Rights guide has full help.

  • Credit cards give more protection. Pay just 1p on a credit card for goods costing £100+, and the card company's jointly liable with the retailer for the WHOLE amount. See Section 75 protection.

    - Spending less than £100 or on a debit card? You can still claim for faulty or undelivered goods under chargeback.
NS&I rate cut, self-employ grant and Rishi's review  
8.30pm Thu, ITV - Martin's Money Show Live

Martin: "It's likely you're reading this not long after I've finished Tue's Christmas (planning) special. Yet it's a BOGOF on my shows this week, as the normal show is on Thu too. Exactly what's in it will depend on what the Chancellor announces in his spending review on Wed. Yet I'll definitely cover the NS&I rate cut to 0.01% and self-employment grants. As for what else... well, you'll need to watch to find out.

"And of course, as it's live you can tweet suggested questions to @MartinSLewis, but you must use the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do tune in or set the Betamax."


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.



Self-employed grant 3 opens MONDAY - but be aware, the criteria are stricter

It's no longer just about being 'adversely affected' - now, you must expect a 'significant reduction in profits'

On Mon, the third of four Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants opens for applications. It covers the 1 Nov-31 Jan period and the amount you can claim has increased since it was first announced - it's now 80% of avg monthly trading profits over 3mths, capped at £7,500. Yet this time the application criteria are stricter, while those excluded from the first two grants are sadly still excluded. Full info in our Self-Employed & Small Ltd Co Help, but in brief:

  • New. This time you must believe you'll have a "significant reduction" in profits. This can be for one of two reasons - either because of "reduced demand, activity or capacity" OR you're temporarily unable to trade. We've put some of these phrases in quote marks as that's how the Govt sums it up but there's lots more key detail - see Can I claim the third grant? for full help.

    This is very different from grants 1 and 2, which only required you to have been "adversely affected". For example, you can't claim grant 3 if the only impact is increased costs for your business, eg, buying face masks and cleaning supplies. Yet there are still a wide range of scenarios where you may be able to claim, eg, if you're instructed to self-isolate and it significantly reduces profits.

  • Only those who were eligible to apply for the first two grants are eligible for the third. In a nutshell, you must have filed a tax return for 2018/19, your avg trading profit must be no more than £50,000/yr, and 50%+ of your income must come from self-employment. See full eligibility help.

  • Applications open from Mon - but you're given a slot which could be a few days after. HM Revenue & Customs is writing by Mon to all those potentially eligible to claim. To help its systems cope, you'll be given a slot between Mon 30 Nov and Fri 4 Dec to apply, though if you miss it you've until 29 Jan to claim. You do it via the Govt claims portal and will need your self-assessment unique taxpayer reference, national insurance number, Govt Gateway user ID and password, and bank details. See full info on how to apply.

  • Is there a glimmer of hope for excluded new starters? See Martin's Self-employment hope? blog.

  • If you're claiming universal credit, timing your SEISS application is important. When you get the SEISS grant it's classed as income, meaning the amount of universal credit you get may decrease. So it may be best to wait before applying if you can. Full info in our Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits guide.

NS&I top savings slashed to 0.01% - move to 0.6% easy access or 1% notice. Sadly, the big NS&I rate drop announced in Sep has just happened. If you've yet to move, UBL UK at 0.6% AER is top for easy access (it only allows one penalty-free withdrawal a month and must be opened by post). As rates are changing fast though, see Top easy-access savings for the very latest top picks. UBL UK's 1% AER 35-day notice postal account is currently top if you can wait to withdraw your money, though it drops to 0.75% in Jan. Both rates are variable, but if you want certainty, Tandem's 0.85% AER is fixed for 1yr (min £1,000). More options and how they work in Top Savings.

Beauty Advent calendar trick - £240ish of make-up & skincare for £60 all-in. MSE Blagged. This deal has been extremely popular and sadly all 1,250 sold out by early on Wed morning.

IMPORTANT: Scottish Power dual-fuel customer? Urgently cut your bill by £165/yr WITHOUT switching. If, like most, you're on its standard direct debit tariff, you pay £1,042/yr on typical use. Yet via comparison sites (not direct), existing dual-fuel custs can move to Scottish Power's Super Saver Nov21 B3 at just a typical £877/yr (incl £25 Cheap Energy Club cashback, avail via this link). It's a 1yr fix so the rate's locked in, but go quick as we don't know how long it'll be around. Though you could save up to £226/yr by switching firm - use our Pick Me A Tariff or MSE Autoswitch tools.

First mortgage prisoners FREED after MSE campaign, incl Maurice who's saving £500/mth. Some are escaping to cheaper deals under new rules - though Govt action is still needed to help others. Mortgage freedom

Shift debt to 18mths 0% for NO FEE, plus £20 Amazon vch. Those accepted for this Santander 18mth no-fee 0%* credit card will be sent a £20 Amazon vch within 90 days. So if you've credit or store card debt, check NOW if you'll be accepted via our eligibility calc. As there's no fee, if you clear what you owe within 18mths it's totally free, and you get the vch - no wonder this deal was so popular last week, which is why we're reminding you of it. Full options in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples). Golden rules: 1) Pay at least the monthly min. 2) Pay it off within 18mths or it's 18.9% rep APR. 3) Don't spend/withdraw cash on it.

Christmas grocery deliveries open for bookings at many stores, but demand is high so hurry. See store-by-store supermarket delivery info.

Coronavirus disrupted travel plans? Please take our 3min survey. We're rerunning our research into the best & worst travel firms for refunds. As ever, we'll flag up problem areas to the Govt and regulators. Refund goodies & baddies


The best way to pay for Christmas? Put it on a credit card... (don't be shocked - we're not suggesting you rack up debt)

Pay with a cashback or rewards credit card and you GET PAID TO SPEND - some people make £100s a year this way. Just do all normal spending on it (as it's not an excuse to overspend) and pay it off IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit, and there's no interest and no cost. Do it now and you'll get the gain over the high-spend pre-Christmas period. Yet this is only for those who are financially disciplined. If you don't trust yourself with a credit card it's not worth the risk.

Amex Platinum Everyday*

Check your acceptance chances first

- 5% cashback in first 3mths (max £100) (1)
- Then 0.5% to 1% cashback
- Fee-free
Top rate of cashback by far: Yet you need to spend £3,000+/yr on it to get any cashback (if you'll spend less, don't bother), which is paid on your 1yr anniversary - perhaps even in time for next Xmas? Fail to repay fully and it's 22.2% rep APR.

PS: If you'll spend more than £10k/yr, the similarly-named Amex Platinum Cashback card, with a £25/yr fee, is more lucrative.
Amex Nectar*

Check your acceptance chances first
- 20k Nectar pts bonus on £2k spend in first 3mths (1)
- 2pts per £1
- Fee-free in year 1, £25/yr from year 2
Top 'close to cashback' deal: Spend £2,000 in 3mths and you'll have a total of 24,000pts (worth £120), which can be used for money off at Sainsbury's etc. The bonus pts come within 1mth of hitting the trigger. IMPORTANT: To avoid the fee, cancel before year 2. Fail to repay fully and it's 27.3% rep APR.
Amazon Platinum
(Sadly not in our eligibility calculator)
- New. £30 Amazon voucher
- 0.25-0.75pts per £1
- Fee-free
Decent upfront bonus for a non-Amex: While Amex tends to have the best rewards, it isn't accepted everywhere so this is a decent alternative. The £30 intro vch should come on acceptance. Separately, every 1,000pts you collect will convert to a £10 Amazon vch. Fail to repay fully and it's 21.9% rep APR.
John Lewis Partnership*

Check your acceptance chances first
- £20 in vchs on £250 Waitrose / J Lewis spend in first 90 days
- 0.25-1.25pts per £1
- Fee-free
Good for Waitrose / John Lewis shoppers: Another non-Amex, this card gives a bonus 2,000pts when you've spent £250, on top of normal spending pts. Every lot of 500pts is converted in to a £5 vch (so 2,000pts is worth £20) & they're sent to you 3 times a year (in Feb, June & Oct). Fail to repay fully and it's 18.9% rep APR.
For full info on how the cards work, see Credit Card Rewards (1) You won't get the bonus if you've held a personal Amex card in the past 2yrs.

  • The Credit Card Rewards Golden Rules.
    a) Do all normal spending on the card to maximise the gain - but it's not an excuse to overspend.
    b) Always repay IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit, to avoid interest that will dwarf the gain.
    c) Never withdraw cash. You pay interest on it even if repaying in full, and it hits your credit score.
    d) Never go over your credit limit, or you'll pay a £10ish fee.

 Full details on these cards and other options in Credit Card Rewards (APR Examples).


£10 for 1L of Baileys in-store, or £12 bought online. As always in the run-up to Christmas, supermarkets battle to be cheapest to sell Baileys (which is normally £20 for a 1L), and if you're prepared to go into a store it's the cheapest we've seen, with the top online prices decent too. See £10 Baileys. Pls be Drinkaware.

Important & shocking Daily Mail undercover expose of 'Money Expert' door-knockers (who are nowt to do with us). The investigation shows, among other things, that sales staff are using Martin's name to flog energy switches and are entering homes during lockdown. Money Expert expose

Deliveroo 25% off £20 at 1,000s of takeaways, incl Subway, Byron and Prezzo. Via app, ends Fri but it won't work at all restaurants. Full info in 25% off Deliveroo.

Free 15-bottle wine case for switching to Virgin's 2% interest account. New Virgin Money* current account switchers get a case of wine it values at £180 - pls be Drinkaware. The account pays 2.02% AER variable interest on up to £1,000 (which you can get without switching). To get the wine, within 31 days of opening you need to switch incl 2+ direct debits (via its official switch service), register for its app, and put £1,000 in its linked 0.5% savings account (you can move the cash after the wine vch arrives). Full info in Best Bank Accounts.

Green Homes Grant extended to Mar 2022. Good news as many struggled to find installers in time - but more changes are needed. Full help on how it works in Green Homes Grant.

Check if you can claim free school meals. With more people claiming benefits, more now qualify. School meals help


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Longest 0%: TSB up to 29mths 0%, 2.95% fee* (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%:
Santander 18mths 0% + £20 Amazon voucher (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR)

Cheapest decent service fix: Utility Point 1yr fix, save £210/yr
Cheapest Big 6: E.on 1yr fix, save £203/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings include £25 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: Shell Energy equiv £14.99/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £15/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £17.50/mth

Free case of wine for switching + 2.02% interest: Virgin Money
1-3% cashback on bills: 
Santander 123 Lite


Want a sneak preview of MSE's new Cheap Mobile Finder? We're giving it a final polish before we officially launch it next month, but our Cheap Mobile Finder is working, and packed with clever MoneySaving features to help you find top Sim and handset deals. So do have an early play, and pls send us feedback (or, heaven forbid, let us know if you've found a glitch).

"After reading on your website about broadband haggling, I used Broadband Unbundled to check other providers and then rang BT. I was immediately offered an improved deal, saving me a whopping £360 per year. Many thanks indeed."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



Donate unwanted items to the British Heart Foundation... by post. If you're having a clear-out during lockdown, even though many charity shops are temporarily closed, you can still donate by post for free. As long as they're in good condition, box up your old clothes, fancy ornaments, video games, jewellery, records or electronics, then download a Freepost label and take 'em to your local Collect+ drop-off point. Donations go to British Heart Foundation shops and support raising funds for lifesaving heart and circulatory disease research.



When did you last make a call on your home landline? To get broadband at home, you often need to have a landline as well. But with many increasingly turning to other methods of communication, from video calls to group messaging, this week we want to know when you last used your landline to make or receive a call. Let us know in this week's poll.

Banking via app is the most popular option for many MoneySavers (though not the over-65s). Last week, we asked you how you access your bank most often - app, web or branch? With more of us banking remotely during the pandemic, it's little surprise that digital banking was the clear winner. Of the 8,000+ people who responded, 50% used their bank's app most often, and 35% its website. But there was a stark age divide - app-based banking was the most popular option for 63% of those under 65, but just 30% of those aged 65+. See full bank access poll results.



Should I sell my new PlayStation 5 to make a profit at the expense of another gamer? I managed to pre-order a PlayStation 5, but have had a change of heart as I'm not impressed by the new game releases. I could return it for a refund, and buy it next year when more games have been released, or I could sell it on eBay. The current hype around the new console means I'd likely make a nice little profit on eBay, but as someone who was a keen gamer when I was younger, it feels slightly immoral. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I sell my new PlayStation 5? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Everything5pounds - 5% off everything code
Buyagift - 26% off code, stacks with Black Friday offers
Google - Nest Mini £19 (norm £49) + more
Deliveroo - 25% off £20 spend via app at, eg, Subway
Baileys - £9.99 for 1L, cheapest we've seen

Tesco - 25% off when you buy 6+ bottles
Sainsbury's - 25% off when you buy 6+ bottles
Asda - 25% off when you buy 6+ bottles
Aldi - Bottle of prosecco £4.99, in store or online
Lidl - Bottle of prosecco £4.99, in store only

Boots - Up to 50% off, incl No7 mini, Ted Baker and more
Superdrug - Up to 60% off, incl Disney, Revolution and more
Ciate - £34 for sustainable + vegan nail polish (norm £59)
Feel Unique - Up to 48% off, incl Lynx, Dove, NYX

How to plan a weekly food shop? Recipes for success
Reverse Meal Planning ideas. Vital ingredients
Eating only from cupboards and freezer? Can do



Thu 26 Nov - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 26 Nov - The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, ITV, 8.30pm
Mon 30 Nov - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 12.20pm. Listen again


Mon 30 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 1 Dec 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.20pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... last week, social media was swamped with people asking "what isn't something but feels like something" about lots of different topics, so we tried it for MoneySaving. Top responses we had included buying three items for the price of two when you only need one, driving miles to a cheaper petrol station to save 5p a litre, and buying Christmas chocolates early when they're on sale only to scoff them all before the big day. See more examples and add your own on our What isn't MoneySaving but feels like MoneySaving? Facebook post. 

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