Dec
16
2020

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

16 December 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... 24 Xmas tips, Lidl £12off, new Help2Buy, no-fee 0% + £20 Amzn, 1.25% savings, student loan reclaim, £50 breakdown, Cheap Mobile Finder and more

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... £50 breakdown, Cheap Mobile Finder and more
                                                           
 


 

It's the final countdown... du-du-du-dur
Our 24 last-ditch Christmas tips
Discounts, warnings, charity, Santa video, trains, football and more


Nine days till the big day. Christmas will likely be different for most this year, but it's still likely to be the typical emotional roller-coaster - a mix of joy, stress, love, loneliness and tiers. We can't do much to help with that, but we do have 24 MoneySaving tips to try to ease you through the festive period:

  1. £12 off Lidl on a £200+ spend by the end of Dec. This works for new and existing customers, via its app. See how in £12 off Lidl.

  2. Last 'free or cheap' online order dates are imminent. Online shopping is surging due to the pandemic and delivery delays are rife, especially with Royal Mail - so if you need to order, do it now. See our full list of major retailers' last order dates including the last free order dates, plus how much you'll pay if you leave it later. Eg:

    Last free/cheapest delivery:
    M&S, Kurt Geiger, The Entertainer - all Fri
    Delay warnings: Body Shop, H&M, Game, Screwfix and more

  3. Watch 20 Premier League football matches FREE over the Christmas period. Amazon's showing 19 games to Prime members over the next two weeks. Not on Prime? You may be able to get a free 30-day trial. Plus one game's on the BBC. See the full list of 20 free Premier League fixtures.

  4. How to give totally FREE Christmas gifts - use our gift cheques. If money's tight this year but you still want to gift, then give your time. Our printable Christmas gift cheques let you pledge to do something nice for someone - eg, breakfast in bed, cleaning someone's car - the sky's the limit.

  5. Can't afford Christmas? Then go cold turkey. If you're ill-prepared for Xmas, it may be possible to relieve pressure, increase happiness and avoid the nightmare before (and after) Christmas, as Martin's 2018 Christmas Cold Turkey blog shows.

    Yet ultimately, as he says there: "If you're really struggling and have nothing, then do truly go cold turkey - see family [if possible this year], spend time, think about life, watch the telly, but don't spend money on it. Christmas is just one day. Far more important is a happier, financially less-stressed New Year."
     
  6. How to still get Christmas online supermarket deliveries. Most have sold out, but we've a couple of ways you can still bag 'em (and get them to bag 'em for you). See Christmas online groceries.

  7. Not bought presents yet? Maybe just agree... not to. For years Martin's been campaigning to ban unnecessary Christmas presents (not for kids, but the wider range of 'got to get them anything' gifts). For more, and why, see his Ban unnecessary Christmas gifts blog, which includes his video on it that went viral, with 17 million views and 81,000 likes on Facebook.

  8. Buy gifts in early Boxing Day sales at Kurt Geiger, H&M, Asos. Each year a few stores start their main sales before Christmas - Kurt Geiger is already on, up to 50% off, and we predict H&M will follow suit on Thu, Asos up to 60% off on Mon. To get it in time for Xmas, delivery may cost a bit more, but it works. More in our Christmas Deals Predictor.

  9. Cheapest board games round-up - eg, Scrabble £12 (norm £20ish), Articulate £20 (norm £30ish). Board games have surged in popularity during lockdown, so we've rounded up where to buy them for less. (We also explain how to adapt them for video calls if you're planning to play with those outside your immediate household.) See board game deals

  10. Book train tickets NOW for Christmas bubble travel. Govt rules currently allow 'Christmas bubbles' from 23-27 Dec. Train demand's likely to be high those days, with limited seat availability due to social distancing, so the earlier you book, the better. Our spot check found cheap advance tickets still on sale on around half the routes we tried - eg, Cardiff to Nottingham on Xmas Eve £41 vs up to £114 to pay on the day. Full info in Cheap Train Tickets.

  11. Panicked about debt? DON'T WAIT - get free help before Christmas. If you're struggling with debts, and it's giving you sleepless nights, then free one-on-one debt help is available. They're there to help, not judge, so don't worry. Except they get rammed in January, so don't leave it - get your appointment now. Full info in debt crisis help.

  12. There's still time (just) to cut the cost of sending parcels for Christmas. Full info on how to cut costs in Cheap Parcel Delivery.
Do some good this Christmas... 


Christmas doesn't need to be a festival of retail. The real spirit is to make it a time of genuine giving. So rather than tit-for-tat swapping of unwanted presents with friends, why not give time and thought to others, or donate to some good causes? Here are a few ideas...

  1. Help feed the hungry for free with just one click. Via a special site where sponsors donate on your behalf. See give with a click

  2. Check out charity gift catalogues - from goats to jabs. Why not agree to give to good causes in each other's name? Be it a goat to help a family, life-saving jabs for children or Christmas dinner for a homeless young person in the UK, our charity gift catalogue guide is packed with ideas.
     
  3. Foodbanks need help. Charity the Trussell Trust has forecast a huge 61% increase in foodbank demand this winter, due in part to the pandemic. We've links to find your nearest, plus how to help even if you're not flush with cash. See foodbank help.  

  4. Buy a toy for a child who might not get a gift. If you can afford to, why not double up on gifts, to ensure a youngster who won't get anything can get one too... Christmas present appeal.


  1. £5 cashback on £10+ Amex spends at 1,000s of local shops, restaurants, barbers etc. Great way to support struggling small businesses. Selected Amex cardholders can earn cashback shopping at local businesses. Just ensure you repay IN FULL so there's no interest. See Amex 'Shop Small'

  2. Six bottles of posh wine £30 (usually £67), £5 prosecco, £12 Baileys. We've blagged Virgin Wines £30 for six bottles, plus see our cheap champagne & prosecco round-up and Baileys deals. Pls be Drinkaware.

  3. 19p sprouts, sprouts, let it all out... the cheap Christmas veg deals that you can't do without. Come on, we're talking to you - take a look at when these cheap Xmas veg deals will launch, eg, 2kg of potatoes 19p.

  4. Send a free personalised video from the big beardy guy. See how to create your own Santa video (though it gets very busy so you may need to try a few times).

  5. 22 free (or v cheap) ways to add Christmas magic for kids. It's the build-up and memories that create the most fun. MSE Jenny's added four new points to her updated Free Christmas magic for kids blog.

  6. Can you beat MSE Rhiannon's 'same wrapping paper for five years' record? No one likes chucking away loads of wrapping paper each year, but MSE Rhiannon's turned reusing it into an art form - see her sustainable present-wrapping tips.

  7. Be wary buying gift cards this Christmas. Remember people lose cards, they have expiry dates and most importantly, if the firm goes bust, they're often worthless. Why not give cash with an explanation of where you want it spent? Or if you must buy a gift card, think about the financial strength of the retailer first. See our gift card warning.

  8. And finally, why not share a moment with an elderly neighbour who may be struggling after an awful year? Many may be feeling isolated, particularly at this time of year and particularly this year. Yet small acts of kindness can help neighbours who may feel lonely or need a hand with quick tasks.
-------------------------------------------
8.30pm Thu, ITV - Martin's Money Show Live
Kids Savings, New Help to Buy, Christmas and more...

Martin: "This week, news depending, my big briefing will be on the best place to save for your children. Plus loads of up-to-the-minute key info to cut costs in the week's crucial financial briefing.

"As we're 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 Betamax.

"PS: Goodbye... 
From next week I'm taking a break over the festive period and will leave the email in the talented hands of the MSE team. 

"I wish all celebrating a joyous, peaceful and  contented Christmas. Plus let's hope a much better New Year.  For those who find this time of year difficult, grief-filled, or lonely, may your passage through it be easy, with more smiles than you expect. Martin."
 
 

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.

 

 
 

Two weeks ago we launched Cheap Mobile Finder, our new service with four powerful tools to slice down mobile costs. And we've had great feedback, such as Peter's - he emailed: "Used your tool and bought an iPhone SE, a 24mth deal with EE, saving almost £200 over buying the handset and getting a Sim. Very pleased, thank you." Now we've opened its lid, peeked inside, and grabbed handfuls of data to find out what you want, what you really, really want...  

  • Apple trounced Android - 65% of contract / handset-only searches were for iPhones. It seems iPhones top the handset lust list, with the latest, the iPhone 12, being the lustiest of all. Within the Android world, Samsung dominated with 69% of all Android searches - Google was a distant second with 8%. If you're looking, our new-phone and Sim finder will seek out the cheapest handset or contract for a specific phone.

    TOP 10 MOST SEARCHED PHONES (109,046 searches from 17 Nov to 14 Dec
    1. iPhone 12 range: 28% of searches 6. Samsung Galaxy S10 range: 3%
    2. iPhone 11 range: 17% 7.  iPhone 8 range: 2%
    3. Samsung Galaxy S20 range: 13% 8= Samsung A21s: 1%
    4. iPhone SE 2020: 12% 8= Google Pixel 4 range: 1%
    5. iPhone X range: 5% 8= Google Pixel 5: 1%


    Interestingly, while this table shows the iPhone 12 range was the most searched for, it wasn't the one most people ended up getting. In fact, the older iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 11 ranges were chosen by over half of all those who got a new phone, while the iPhone 12 only made up 11%.

  • 2GB data tops the Sim-only picks - not surprising at just £5/mth. For Sim-only deals, we found the most popular was for 2GB of data, which matches our prior usage polls showing most use 3GB or less. Although while low data amounts were popular, the super-cheap no-frills Smarty 30GB Sim bucked the trend. The top five Sim-only picks were (all come with unltd mins & texts on a 1mth contract):

    1. Lebara 2GB data, £5/mth - uses Vodafone's network
    2. Lebara 8GB data, £7.99/mth - as above
    3. iD Mobile 4GB data, £6/mth - uses Three's network
    4. Smarty 30GB data, £10/mth - uses Three's network
    5. TalkMobile 12GB data, £8/mth - uses Vodafone's network

  • We thought Sim-only deals would be most popular, but 75% wanted a new handset. You surprised us...

    - 45% of people used our new-phone and Sim finder (for contracts or just handsets).
    - 30% used our 'help me choose a new handset (and/or) deal' tool.
    - 25% were happy with their phone and just wanted a cheap Sim to cut monthly costs.
 

Ends TOMORROW. Shift debt to 18mths 0% for NO FEE, plus £20 Amazon vch. Apply by noon THU and those accepted for this Santander 18mth no-fee 0%* credit card get a £20 Amazon vch within 90 days (after Thu, there's no vch). 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. 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. Full options in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Reclaim student loans - we reveal 100,000+ overpay as they're on the WRONG payment plan. Found via our Freedom of Information request - one MoneySaver got £1,500 back. Full info in 100,000 overpaid student loans news. Related: Full Reclaim Student Loans guide (incl other ways you may have overpaid).

New Govt first-time buyers' Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. Buy a new-build home with a 5% deposit. Full pros and cons in our new Help to Buy Equity Loan guide. Related: MSE First-Time Buyer free booklet.

Send £200+ abroad (eg, for Christmas), get a £25 Amazon vch. MSE Blagged. Send £200+ abroad via our special Azimo link and it now gives a £25 Amazon vch. As its exchange rates tend to be competitive, that means it's often unbeatable. Yet foreign currency is an under-regulated area, so for full safety info and links, see our Sending Money Abroad guide.

HSBC, First Direct, M&S, John Lewis bank customer? You may get a £100 cheque. If you've been in arrears in the past, it may send you a cheque as compensation. Full info in HSBC cheques.

Fully comp car breakdown cover £50/yr via our link (norm £60). MSE Blagged. It's long been our cheapest full service breakdown pick, and currently newbies going for AutoAid* via this link get £10 credit automatically paid back to their debit/credit card within 60 days. It covers you and your partner in any car you drive, incl home start, snow recovery and onward travel. Full info in Cheap Breakdown Cover.

Urgent. Cheap big-name energy deals pulled as predicted, but a few hot deals are left - save £200+/yr. Last week, we told you we thought many big energy firms would pull their cheap switchers' tariffs any moment as they hit year-end targets, and most went by Fri, relaunching tariffs up to £50/yr more expensive. There are still some decent deals left though, like GNE's 1yr fix and Pure Planet's 1yr fix, which will save someone with typical use up to £205/yr including MSE cashback - both have decent customer service feedback. Is choosing confusing? Try our Pick Me A Tariff tools.

 
 

Big interest for ickle people. The top children's savings pay 3.5% - perfect if you're giving 'em Christmas cash gifts
 

Grown-up savers have endured a blizzard of interest rate cuts this year. Yet under-16s' accounts have been more sheltered from the storm - a ray of sunshine for parents, grandparents and family who give Christmas cash. So whether they have the money already or are about to get a surprise, there's full info in our Top Children's Savings guide, or here's an ickle briefing...

  • The top interest is for those who save each month - 3.5%. Two accounts share the top spot at 3.5% AER fixed for a year: the Halifax Kids' Monthly Saver which you can open online or in branch for up-to-15s, and the Barclays Children's Regular Saver which is branch-only, again for up-to-15s. Both let you put in up to £100 a month (you can miss months), and while you can get money out before the end of the year, you have to close the account (Halifax) or lose interest (Barclays) if you do. Full info in kids' regular savings accounts.

  • Top rate for bigger lump sums - 3% (and debit card access available). Three accounts vie for supremacy. All offer debit cards to those aged 11+. Santander's the only one most can open online, but it only pays the most if you've a specific amount of savings in it...

    - Santander 123 Mini* pays 3% AER variable but only on £1,500 - £2,000. Age 13-18 (0-18 if parent banks with Santander).
    - HSBC's MySavings pays 2.5% AER variable on up to £3,000 (for those 7-17).
    - TSB's Under-19s' Account pays 2.5% AER variable, but on up to £2,500 (for those 11-18).

    If your child has larger savings, Virgin Money (for those 0-15) pays 1.75% AER variable on up to £25,000. To get accounts offering more parental controls you'll generally need to pay a fee - see top children's prepaid cards.

  • Earn 2.95% on up to £9,000 a year in a junior ISA - but the money's locked away until they're 18. Under-18s can save £9,000/yr tax-free in a junior ISA (JISA). Coventry BS pays 2.95% AER variable and allows transfers in from existing JISAs or Child Trust Funds. In truth, the tax-free boon of JISAs is irrelevant for all but children with big savings, with parents with very big savings, as otherwise their interest isn't taxed anyway. The real decider is whether you see the cash being locked away until they're 18 as a pro or a con. See our Top JISAs guide for more.

PS: Tip from Martin - why not make the decision about where to save together with your kids? It's a great way to start to engage them with making good money decisions. Plus if they're 14+, download the free financial ed textbook for them.

 

Free bonus £10 for ALL Swagbucks members who earn £10+ doing surveys, searches etc. MSE Blagged. Swagbucks is a popular site with MoneySavers and we often run deals rewarding new sign-ups, but for the first time, newbies AND existing members can earn a bonus. Swagbucks

Top 1.25% easy-access savings via special MSE code. This was mega-popular last week - if you missed it, autosaving app Chip launched an account paying 1.25%, smashing normal savings rates. To get it, you usually need a friend to invite you, but with this deal, MSE's your friend. This isn't a normal savings account though, so read our full 1.25% savings help.

Sadly redundancies have hit a record high - tool up on your rights. Some 370,000 people were made redundant in the 3mths to Oct, a new record. If you're affected, or worried you might be, we've full redundancy help.

EXTRA 15% off already reduced Kurt Geiger, Joules and Steve Madden shoes. MSE Blagged. Via code valid on the Shoeaholics 'up to 70% off' sale. Ends Thu. Shoeaholics

Told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app? It now lets those eligible claim £500 payments. If you're on benefits or a low income and unable to work because you're self-isolating, you may be able to claim. This includes if you're still self-isolating and were told to before last Thu's change. See £500 support payments.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: TSB up to 29mths 0%, 2.95% fee* (19.9% rep APR)
Ends 11.59am Thu. No-fee 0%: Santander 18mths 0% + £20 Amazon voucher (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR)

Cheapest tariff: Green Network Energy 12mth fix, save £205/yr
Cheap big name: E.on 1yr fix, save £153/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings include £25 MSE cashback. Assumes typical use vs price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Top standard easy access: Aldermore 0.6%, min £1,000
Top one-year fix: 
Tandem 0.8%, min £1,000

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  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 £15.66/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £19.67/mth

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

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Just wanted to say a huge thank you. I looked into council tax rebanding and we will receive a refund of nearly £4,000 and a £600 annual reduction - our property's being rebanded from E to C. "
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you rate your energy provider's recent service? Winter's here, the heating's on and while we're all about slashing energy bills, we know customer service counts too - so let us know how your energy firm has been doing in this week's poll.

Most of you have already done all or most of your Christmas shopping. With the big day fast approaching, 72% of the 5,400 of you who voted in last week's poll said your shopping's finished or nearly finished - and you're much more prepared than the same time in 2018, when just 57% said they were (nearly) finished. However, 13% of men and 4% of women hadn't even started. See full Xmas shopping poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I keep the money my plumber would have made from selling my old taps? While I was getting my bathroom redone, a woman knocked at my door and said she was there to buy my old taps, which she'd seen online - it turns out the plumber had put them up for sale. I sold her the taps, but I hadn't intended to - I assumed the plumber would have taken them away with the rest of the fittings. Should I keep the money or share it with him? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I keep the tap money? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

Boxing Day sales predictions - Incl Asos, H&M and M&S
Christmas cheques - Totally FREE printable gift
Charity gift guide - Ways to do good at Christmas
Cheap Xmas veg deals - Incl 19p potatoes 2kg
Sustainable present-wrapping - Recycle used paper & fabric

Virgin Wines - 6 bottles of wine £30 delivered (red, white or mixed)
Tesco - £4.99 semi-sparkling Bella Cucina Prosecco
Asda - £5 Prosecco Extra Dry
Aldi - £9.95 Nicholas de Montbart Champagne
Lidl - £12.99 Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut

Lidl - £12 off £200+ spend by end of Dec
Board games round-up - Incl Scrabble for £12 (norm £20ish)
FreePrints - Personalised photocard for 76p (norm £2ish)
Scribbler - 33% off all cards
Amex Shop Small - £5 cashback on £10+ spends at local shops

Never too early to save for Christmas 2021. £1 a day challenge
Easy meals to prep in a shared kitchen. Bolog-nice
Benchmarking prices per item. No rip-offs here

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 16 DEC ONWARDS)

Thu 17 Dec - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 17 Dec - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8.30pm
Fri 18 Dec - The Price of Fame, Channel 5, 12.05am

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 16 Dec - BBC Three Counties, Stuart Miles, from 12.15pm, Helen Saxon on changes to the Help to Buy scheme
Sun 20 Dec - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 10am
Mon 21 Dec 
- BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 22 Dec 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.20pm

 

DO YOU SHARE A NAME WITH SOMEONE FAMOUS?

That's all for this week, but before we go... William Shakespeare (who just happened to be from Warwickshire) was the second person in the UK to get the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine. It prompted us to ask if any MoneySavers shared a name with someone famous... Ben Stokes told us he often gets congratulated on his Cricket World Cup exploits, Amy Macdonald wrote to say she's not the singer, and Phil Collins was just 'whatever' about the whole thing. Tell us about your celeb name-sharing in our Facebook post

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