Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

02 December 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Hot new cheap mobiles tool, Prem Bond cut, Ikea sale, energy price war, water-saving freebies, free photo postcard, Easyjet warning, £70 Nails Inc £28

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Plus... free photo postcard, Easyjet warning, £70 Nails Inc £28


Today we launch a major NEW tool...

The MSE Cheap Mobile Finder  

Clever ways to cut Sim, handset, contract, PAYG & more costs 

We're really excited to launch our Cheap Mobile Finder. We think there's nowt else like it out there. It's a treasure trove of tools cunningly analysing the data to compare more than 40 different retailers and resellers, covering all the major networks to find your top deal. 

Please play with our tool & tell us what you think

The best way to understand the power of the Cheap Mobile Finder is just to have a play with it. We hope it's simple & intuitive to use. And this is just day one - we plan to continue to add more bells & whistles to it. So do please send feedback, suggestions & bug reports. 

It's four big tools underpinned by lots of little ones

We've built the Cheap Mobile Finder to answer questions and make suggestions. This includes a data-use calculator, tips popping up if other options are cheaper (eg, you're looking for a contract but would be better off buying a separate handset and Sim) and much more.

Crucially too, if you have a specific network you want, we can also show you the best deals for ALL the networks that piggyback off the same signal - which are often far cheaper. All this is integrated into the main tools.

  • TOOL 1. THE 'CHEAP SIM' FINDER, eg, 5GB data '£5.92/mth'. The Sim-only finder is perfect for those who are happy with their phone, but want to cut costs. Just switch the Sim (the chip in your phone that dictates your data, calls and texts allowance) - you can choose between contract, rolling contract or pay-as-you-go.

    As Rachel, who had early testing access, told us: "I found a deal that I never would've found searching myself. I've switched from £24.53/mth with EE to Plusnet, who use EE, paying only £8/mth, and I'm getting an extra 5GB. I'll save £198.36 a year now. Thanks."

    And there are some seriously cheap Sims in there right now, incl our blagged Plusnet 5GB/mth data deal. It's £8/mth but you're sent a £25 prepaid Mastercard in 45 days, making it an equiv £5.92/mth over the 12mth contract.

  • TOOL 2. THE 'CHEAPEST NEW PHONE (& SIM)' FINDER - if you know what handset you want. Simply tell our new-phone and Sim finder what you want, and it'll find the cheapest handset, or if you want a package too, the cheapest contract (unless buying a phone outright and getting a separate Sim wins, in which case it'll point you there too). 

    We also pack it with codes and deals for handsets such as the iPhone SE, iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S20 and Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite.

  • TOOL 3. THE 'BEST PHONE DEAL WITHIN MY BUDGET' FINDERIf you're not wedded to a specific handset, tell us how much you can pay upfront and how much a month and our find me the best phone & deal within my budget tool will show you your options.

    Don't worry - within this, you can specify if you prefer Apple, Android, what you'll use the phone for, camera quality and more, so it can filter out the phones that don't fit.

  • TOOL 4. THE 'RIGHT PHONE AT THE CHEAPEST PRICE' FINDER. Again for those not wedded to a specific handset, with our find the right phone at the cheapest price tool, you tell us what you require in a phone (eg, streaming, taking lots of photos etc) and we'll find you the cheapest deal that fits those requirements.
Mobile cost-cutting need-to-knows 

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

  • You can unlock your phone for free. A new Sim won't work if your phone is tied to a specific provider, but you can unlock your phone for free.

  • 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.

  • Don't want to switch network? Haggle. Mobile firms are among the easiest to haggle with, so use the tools to find what your existing provider and others are offering then try to get your existing firm to match it - see Mobile Haggling for full help.

    As Sarah emailed us: "I saw your article on iPhone 11 deals and noted the lowest price and phoned O2 and said: 'If you can't match the deal, I'm leaving.' And wow, they did.

    "If I'd upgraded on the O2 website I would've paid £500 upfront then £92/mth for three years. Instead, for the same phone, same deal, I'm paying £38/mth for two years with nothing upfront. All with one phone call - thanks."

  • Got an old mobile gathering dust? Dig it out & flog it to bag £100s. See Sell Old Mobiles.

  • Out of phone storage? Claw some back to save 'upgrading' to pricier mobiles. There are lots of ways to save space via simple checks - see storage boosters.

  • Add a spending cap to stop eye-watering bills. See how to set a personalised spending cap.

  • Don't overpay on your mobile phone insurance. See our Mobile Insurance guide to help you decide if you need it, and how to get the best for least if you do.

  • Can you get cashback on top? Once you've done a comparison, see if the deal's available via a cashback site, but do note cashback is never certain.  
Premium Bonds – ditch 'em or grab 'em?
8.30pm Thu, ITV - Martin's Money Show Live

Martin: "As you'll see below the Premium Bond rate dropped on Monday from 1.4% to 1%. So I'll talk you through whether they're worth it, plus a host of other important info in your must-watch (if I say so myself) weekly financial briefing.

"And of course, as it's live you can tweet suggested questions on owt you like to @MartinSLewis, but pls use the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do tune in or set the LaserDisc recorder."


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.



Urgent. Energy firm punch-up - take advantage, save £200/yr.
Brit Gas, E.on, Scot Power & Shell in a fight to undercut each other

There's an energy firm price war on. They're battling to be the top big name in the switching tables. It started with British Gas, then E.on undercut, Scottish Power came in - and the lead's flick-flacked as each has cut prices 3 times in response, leaving them now £20ish/yr cheaper than the start. Millions can save, such as Jan, who tweeted: "@MartinSLewis thanks to you I've saved over £1,000/yr on my energy bills. Feel like I've been ripped off for years." So if you're one of the many who tell us you want a name you know, here's the state of play... 

  • Find choosing confusing? We can pick your winner for you. For those unsure who to choose, our Pick Me A Tariff every year (MSE Autoswitch) tool is recommended. Tell it your preferences and it'll find your winner from the whole market (incl deals below), and then when that ends, it emails you your new winner, and you switch again with just one verification click. Alternatively, Pick Me A Tariff for now does the same, without switching you at the deal's end. 
MSE's Top-pick 1yr fixed energy deals
Your cheapest depends on where you live & what you use so all links go via our comparison
WHAT MOST PAY NOW: Current energy price cap (applies to 50%+ of homes) on typical dual-fuel use £1,042/yr
Ends 4pm Thu. Shell Energy 28 Feb 2022 fix. Cheapest fix & it lasts 14mths. New & existing dual-fuel or elec-only custs | 100% green elec (not gas) | Middling 3.3/5 service rating | £10 dual-fuel bill credit (£5 for elec-only) | A MoneySupermarket exclusive, but we've access to it & via our Cheap Energy Club you also get cashback | Only available via comparison sites (not direct). NB: There are two slightly cheaper (on avg) 1yr fixes we exclude from this list: one from a tiddler we've no service feedback on, one from a firm with a poor service rating. They are included in comparison results. £827/yr
(save £215/yr)
E.on 1yr fix. Cheap big name 1yr fix + 100% renewable elec (NEW CUSTS ONLY). For dual-fuel or elec-only custs | 100% renewable elec (not gas) | Smart meters required where possible | Middling 3/5 service | Only available via comparison sites (not direct).
(save £200/yr)
British Gas 31 Jan 2022 fix. Cheap big name 13mth fix + 100% renewable elec + 1yr's free £12/mth heating insurance (NEW CUSTS ONLY). Dual-fuel custs only | 100% green elec (not gas) | Smart meters required where possible | Good 3.9/5 service rating | 1yr's free heating insurance (auto-renews after 1yr at avg £12/mth but you can cancel anytime) | Only available via comparison sites (not direct).
(save £197/yr)
Scottish Power 31 Dec 2021 fix. Cheap EXISTING CUST deal + 100% renewable elec. For dual-fuel or elec-only custs | 100% green elec (not gas) | Smart meters required where possible | Poor 2.2/5 service rating | Only available via comparison sites (not direct). NB: Scottish Power has a cheaper new-customer deal at £845/yr (incl in your comparison), but as its service rating's poor, we're flagging this deal, which existing customers who are happy & don't want to move elsewhere can switch to. £874/yr
(save £168/yr)
Prices are based on average dual-fuel costs on typical use across the regions, and include any MSE cashback & bill credit (which we spread across the length of the fix).

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

  • Switching is easy - little changes apart from service and cost. Switch firm and it's the same gas, same elec and same safety. The only things that change are the customer service and who bills you. Your supply isn't cut off as part of the process, while no one visits your home unless you want or need smart meters. See our switching FAQs for more help.

Now open. Self-employed grant 3 - worth up to £7,500 BUT declaration criteria are much stricter. If you were eligible for or received grant 1 or 2, you're eligible for this (sadly those excluded are still excluded), but the declaration rules are now much stricter. See Can I claim the third SEISS grant? - including Martin's detailed Radio 5 Live explanation.

Water-saving freebies, eg, 30,000 NEW water pipe & tap protectors to save £100s in winter repairs. Find out what you can get in our winter water-savers.

Ikea's sale to start TODAY? Plus Soap & Glory, Amex free £5 & more in our UPDATED Christmas Deals Predictor. More and more of our predictions are being confirmed - see Christmas Deals Predictor 2020.

Slash the cost of sending parcels to the UK & abroad, eg, UK send for free not £11, Oz £6 not £65. We've updated our Cheap UK Parcel Delivery guide in time for Christmas. Also see MSE Jenny's new Sending gifts overseas blog.

Totally FREE photo postcard. Good for Christmas and more, for FreePrints app newbies. Free photo postcard

Worried about debts? DON'T WAIT - get free help before Christmas. If you're stressed due to debts, don't wait to get free one-on-one non-profit help. Many leave it till after Christmas, when debt-counselling agencies are swamped (and things have got worse). Do it now. It should help you sleep at night. See how to get free debt help.

Arcadia (incl Topshop, Burton etc) in administration + Debenhams set to close - your rights. Dire news for some high st giants - see full info on gift cards, online orders, return rights and more in our Topshop, Burton etc help and Debenhams help. Do you work there? We're afraid it's important to tool up on your redundancy rights.


Martin: 'Premium Bond rate slashed to 1%, but in the current bonfire of savings, that's actually not bad... so who should have 'em?'

Yesterday was a BAD DAY for the 21m people with a staggering £99bn saved in NS&I Premium Bonds. The chance of winning fell, as the prize-fund rate dropped from 1.4% to 1%. In normal times, that'd be pitifully low, but times are far from normal. This paltry 1% compares well to savings elsewhere. Yet the prize rate isn't an interest rate, so working out if it's right for you takes explanation...

  • Premium Bonds are a lottery. Each individual can own up to 50,000 £1 bonds, and the money put in is safe. Each bond is entered into a monthly prize draw. The prize fund dictates how much is paid out annually. So the 1% means for every £100 of bonds, £1 of prizes is paid out per year (in maths, the 'mean' average). But in practice that doesn't happen, as the smallest prize is £25, and for a few bonds to pay out £1m, many need to pay out nothing.

  • The key is 'What would someone with average luck win?' Imagine everyone with the same number of bonds lined up in order of their winnings - the person in the middle is the definition of average luck (in maths, the 'median' average). Calculating this is complex, so years ago I had our Premium Bond Probability Calc built. It works out your odds of winning using ridiculously complex multinomial probability (the algorithm was designed by a post-doctoral cosmology statistician), and it's just been updated with the latest prize distribution, so have a play. It currently shows:

    - With £100 of bonds, with average luck you'd win NOWT over a year.
    - With £1,000 of bonds, with average luck you'd win NOWT over a year.
    - With £10,000 of bonds, with average luck you'd win £75 over a year (ie, equiv 0.75%).
    - With £50,000 of bonds, with average luck you'd win £450 over a year (ie, equiv 0.9%).

  • Top normal savings pay just 0.6% easy access, from 0.8% fixed. Top savings rates are disappearing all the time, so I won't list best buys here - instead here are links to updated info: Easy access 0.6% | Notice 0.8% | 1yr fix 0.8% | 2yr fix 1%. Much higher rates are possible via Help to Save (for those on low incomes), Lifetime ISAs (for 1st time buyers), regular savers (if putting money away each month) and current account savings (for smaller amounts).

  • Who are Premium Bonds best for? The Premium Bond (PB) prize-fund rate may smash easy-access savings rates, but remember most people WON'T win as much as that, and fixed savings can be at a higher rate anyway. Full info in our Are Premium Bonds worth it? guide, but in a nutshell, here's when PBs are better compared to normal savings...

    - They're better if you're saving roughly £10,000+. 
    The more bonds you have, the closer you get to the prize-fund rate.
    - They're better if you're saving for longer, but may need access. 
    Top fixed savings beat PBs for most with average luck. Yet with fixes your money's locked away, while PBs allow access to your cash. So if you want to save for the longer term, but keep access to your money, they're a decent option.
    - They really come into their own for the few who pay tax on savings interest. 
    PB prizes are tax-free - then again, so is savings interest for 95% of people. But if you earn more interest than the personal savings allowance, you'd have to be very unlucky for PBs not to be the winner (especially as cash ISA rates are poor).
    - They're better if you don't really care about interest. If the prime aim is to protect your capital and keep it safe, and the interest isn't a big deal, you may as well enjoy the ridiculously small chance of winning large.

PS: NS&I has just announced it's delaying scrapping paper Premium Bonds prize cheques.


Easyjet's cutting its free hand luggage allowance. See full info on what's changing and what you can do.

Calling all TEACHERS: new free financial education teacher training e-learning course. Martin's funded the Young Money charity to provide a new free teacher training digital course for primary and secondary educators, to go alongside the free financial education textbooks. Pls spread word.

£70 of nail polish £28 delivered. MSE Blagged. Incl eight full-size 14ml polishes. 1,700 sets avail. Nails Inc

Get £25 cashback for investing £250. MSE Blagged. If you plan to 'robo-invest' - where investments are selected for you based on your attitude to risk - then after fees, this Wealthify deal for newbies is equiv to a 9.6% head start. But you'll need to keep the investment for a MIN 6-7mths. (The fact we've included it doesn't mean we recommend Wealthify, as we don't do investment tips - it's just if you're going to use Wealthify anyway, you can get cashback.) 1,000 avail. Robo-investing cashback

25% off full-price Bobbi Brown, eg, £30ish eyeshadow palette for £22ish. MSE Blagged. Ends Thu. Bobbi Brown

Power of Attorney money back: 1.3m refunds of up to £54 still owed - less than 2mths to claim. We've found a huge number of people are still due a rebate after the Govt set fees too high over a 4yr period. Check if you can claim a Power of Attorney refund.

Have your holidays abroad been disrupted by Covid this year? How did the firm deal with it? Pls take 3mins to fill in our Refund goodies and baddies SURVEY. It lets us praise the good and highlight the bad to regulators. Pls share.


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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)

Cheap 14mth fix: Shell Energy 14mth fix, save £215/yr
Cheap big name: E.on 1yr fix, save £200/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings include £25 MSE cashback and bill credit 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


"After Martin talked about the marriage tax allowance, I looked into it and this morning received a cheque for £937 plus a notification of the change to my tax code. Thank you for the tip."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)



If you could cancel Christmas, would you? For some, it conjures up a picture of family, fun and festive frivolity. For others it means added stress, debt and chores - and, of course, this year it could look very different given coronavirus restrictions. So if you had a CANCEL CHRISTMAS button that'd make the whole thing disappear, would you press it? 

One in five MoneySavers have NEVER made a call on their home landline. Last week, we asked when you last made or received a call on your landline - 17,000 of you responded. While 35% of those with a landline had made a call in the last week, 24% last did so over a year ago and 21% said they'd never used their current landline to make a call. Younger MoneySavers were more likely to have ditched the landline phone altogether - 29% of under-35s said they didn't have one, compared with just 1% of over-65s. See full landline poll results.



Should I ask my partner to contribute to Christmas gifts for my family? This is my second Christmas with my partner, and we'd planned to each buy our own family's gifts and put both names on them. However, his family now want to do a Secret Santa, where each person buys just one other person a present, with a £50 limit. I feel pressure to be involved, but will have to spend another £50 on his family, having bought all my family's presents myself. Should I ask him to contribute to what I've spent? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I ask my partner to contribute to Christmas gifts? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Christmas Deals Predictor - Incl Soap & Glory, Amex 'free' £5 etc
Cheap overseas parcel delivery - Slash costs sending abroad
FreePrints - Totally FREE personalised photocard (norm £2ish)
Nails Inc - £70 of nail polish for £28 delivered
Bobbi Brown - 25% off full-price items

Danone - 'Free' £3.50 yogurts at Co-op
Shreddies - £1 off at most supermarkets
Felix - £3 off 'Naturally Delicious' cat food at Tesco
Dentalife - 'Free' £1 dog or cat chew treats at Sainsbury's
Lee Kum Kee - £2.45 off oyster sauce at most supermarkets

Ikea - 'Up to 50% off' winter sale
Lidl - Up to £12 off via app
Glasses Direct - Varifocal lens glasses from £49
Asda - Two pizzas, one side and a four-pack of Budweiser for £7 - 80% off first box, eg, £5 instead of £25

Are real or fake Xmas trees better for environment? Needle about it
Homemade hot choc hamper - what to include? Hot to choc
Chance to win a prize every day till Christmas. Advent-urous plans



Thu 3 Dec - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.45am
Thu 3 Dec - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8.30pm
Mon 7 Dec - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 12.20pm. Listen again


Wed 2 Dec - Be Clever With Your Cash, podcast with Andy Webb, Helen Saxon on Premium Bonds, from Wed lunchtime
Thu 3 Dec - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Ben Jackson, Guy Anker on little-known tax breaks, from 11.35am
Mon 7 Dec
- BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 8 Dec 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.20pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... we're now into December which means we're counting down to Christmas. And the Elf on the Shelf craze is back (where Santa's little helper is moved into a new mischievous position every night, watching to ensure kids are behaving ahead of the big day). Thinking of 24 new and creative ideas isn't easy, so parents have been sharing their top tips. The most popular has to be putting him into quarantine - very fitting for 2020, and obviously complying with elf and safety rules... So if you need inspiration, or have ideas to share, see our Elf on the Shelf Facebook post.

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