15 post-Christmas MoneySaving crackers - incl HUGE sales, Brexit help, 1.25% savings, shift debt to 0% + £20 cashback, beat stamp hikes & is it cheapest to keep the heating on low all day?
It's that week between Christmas and New Year with many at a loose end, and as that's an even bigger issue this year, we've a sackful of MoneySaving tips - some are timely, some are simply good ways to save if you've spare time. So instead of rewatching that film you've seen 1,000 times, feast on these festive financial helpers...
Mega sales, eg, Amazon, Asos, John Lewis and M&S - some up to 75% off already. The festive sales may be different this year with many stores closed, but we've found some bargains are bigger than usual where retailers look to shift stock unsold due to the pandemic. Eg, Asos normally starts at up to 50% off, but this year it started at up to 70% off and we expect it to hit up to 80% off. See our full sales round-up.
PS: Sales are great if you need something, but don't get sucked in by the hype. Before buying, remember Martin's Money Mantras: Do I need it? Can I afford it? Have I checked prices elsewhere? If the answer is no to any of those questions, DON'T BUY IT.
What the Brexit deal means for you - passports, EHICs, roaming, house prices and more. After years of wrangling, a trade deal was finally agreed last week, and while not everything that affects your pocket has been finalised, we've the latest in our 22 Brexit need-to-knows (which we'll keep updating as more info comes out).
... and why not go back in time to read Martin's 'How you should vote in the EU referendum' blog? It's now four-and-a-half years on, but we thought some of you may enjoy Martin's original June 2016 how to vote blog - which has been read more than a million times - to see how well (or not) it stood the test of time.
New. Some can get PAID £20 to shift debt to 0% for 15mths with NO FEE. If you can't afford to clear credit or store card debt, you can't afford not to try to get a 0% balance transfer credit card, where you get a new card to clear existing cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. It can be your saviour, whether debt has been a problem for ages or you overdid it at Christmas.
While you can get up to 29mths 0%, you'll pay a fee for such a long 0%. But if you can clear the debt quicker, there are two standout cards with no fee, and one of them added £20 cashback on top this week. They're for newbies only, and with both, if accepted, you DEFINITELY get the advertised 0% length, unlike others which may give fewer 0% months.
- 18mths 0% NO FEE. This Santander card offers 18mths 0% with no fee*, though it's best to use our eligibility calc to check your acceptance chances first.
- New. 15mths 0% NO FEE + £20 cashback for some. This Barclaycard offers 15mths 0% with no fee*. Plus, if you're accepted and transfer £2.5k+ within 60 days, you get £20 cashback on top. Again, it's best to use our eligibility calc to check your acceptance chances first.
- Always follow the balance transfer golden rules: 1) Pay at least the monthly min. 2) Pay it off within the 0% period or the cards above are 18.9% and 21.9% rep APR, respectively (see APR Examples). 3) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them as that's usually expensive. 4) Transfers must usually be done within 1-3mths to get the deal, so check. 5) You can't transfer between cards from the same banking group. Full help and options in Top Balance Transfers.
£10 champers and £4.50 prosecco - great if you want to see in the new year with bubbly. If you want some fizz for what will be a very different New Year's Eve to normal, or for any other reason, we've rounded up corking champagne & prosecco deals. Please be Drinkaware.
Got a new phone for Christmas and need a cheap Sim, or been stuck on your deal for years? Try our new Cheap Mobile Finder, incl '£6/mth' for a 5GB Sim. We launched our Cheap Mobile Finder earlier this month and it's been used more than 420,000 times already. It has four key tools: 1) The Sim-only finder. 2) The new phone (& Sim) finder. 3) The right phone at the cheapest price finder. 4) The best phone deal in my budget finder. As it's new we want to keep improving it, so please send us feedback and report bugs.
Required to work from home, even for ONE DAY, since 6 Apr? Join the 1.4m who've claimed a YEAR'S tax relief. This is one of our most popular articles of the year, and no wonder with millions not able to go into work. Martin started shouting about this here and on his ITV show in Oct, and HMRC told us today that about 1.4m had already claimed. It's a doddle for most - see working-from-home tax back.
Is it REALLY cheaper to leave the heating on low all day now it's getting very cold? (Brrrr). As temperatures plummet in many areas, get the lowdown on this and 17 other common energy conundrums (eg, should you paint radiators black?) in Energy Mythbusters. Of course, there's more to saving money on energy, as you'll see below...
Save £190+/yr switching energy tariff - vital as costs are highest in these winter months. Millions overpay on standard tariffs as it is, and while it's easy to switch to deals which can be close to £200/yr cheaper on avg, the prices of the top deals have been rising and there's a risk that trend will continue, so sort it ASAP.
For those unsure what 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, and then when that ends, it emails your new winner, and you can switch again with just one click. Alternatively, Pick Me A Tariff for now does the same, without switching you at the end of a deal. If you know what you're doing, you can still do a standard full comparison too.
Stock up on stamps now to beat Fri's up-to-14p hike. It's the biggest rise in 8yrs - see stamp price help.
Bag 1.25% easy-access savings via special MSE code. Returns have been in freefall during 2020, with some banks giving a pathetic 0.01%, so why not make it your New Year's resolution to beat the rip-off? Via the Chip+1 app newbies can get 1.25% interest, smashing the 0.55% top normal easy-access rate. To get it you normally need to be invited, but we've an MSE code to bypass that. As this is far from a normal savings account, read our 1.25% savings help, or see our Top Savings guide for other options.
Slash broadband & line bills by £100s/yr with deals from £16/mth. Web connections have been a lifeline this year, yet millions overpay. The trick if out of contract is to pounce on short-lived promos, and there's a bevy of them now. The three MSE blagged Shell deals below are the standouts, but we've included other options where prices are close. All below are for new customers and are 1yr contracts unless stated.
Standard 10-11Mb speed b'band and line - usually fine for emails and general browsing.
- Ends Mon. Shell Energy '£15.83/mth' (incl AUTO £50 bill credit)
- Ends Wed (tomorrow). Plusnet '£16.22/mth' (18mth contract - but to get that price you need to CLAIM a £50 prepaid Mastercard)
Fast 35Mb fibre b'band and line - good for streamers, gamers or if lots of you use it at once
- Ends Mon. Shell Energy '£17.74/mth' (incl AUTO £75 bill credit) - nothing we've seen is close to Shell on price at this speed
Superfast 63-67Mb fibre b'band and line - good if you've a real need for speed
- Ends Mon. Shell Energy '£20.74/mth' (incl AUTO £75 bill credit)
- TalkTalk '£20.11/mth' (18mth contract - while it's a tad cheaper it has the worst service rating of the biggies, and to get that price you must CLAIM a £75 prepaid Mastercard)
Do note, that Shell is rated 'OK' on service, with Plusnet rated 'Good'. Though like with any big firm, you may still hear some horror stories about them. Also, the costs above are today's prices, but firms often raise 'em mid-contract. More help and options in our Broadband Unbundled tool.
Got an overdraft with Lloyds, Bank of Scot, Halifax or Santander? If struggling, 0% help has been extended for some, but you still only have a few weeks to apply. When the financial regulator extended coronavirus payment holiday help on mortgages and many other forms of credit at the end of Oct, it didn't instruct banks to extend overdraft help. But a few still chose to offer a 3mth, up-to-£500 0% buffer.
Now just the four banks mentioned above remain. Lloyds Banking Group (incl Lloyds, Bank of Scot and Halifax) has just extended the deadline to apply by a month, so you have till 31 Jan, which is the same deadline as Santander already had in place. Full info in last-chance overdraft help.
Don't like those dodgy socks? Is that jumper too big? Know your gift return rights. If Santa didn't read your letter properly, you may still be in luck. While technically only the buyer has rights, you can have a go yourself as many stores allow refunds or exchanges if the recipient tries.
However, you may need proof of purchase (which may mean a difficult chat with the buyer to fess up) and any refund usually goes back to the card used. Full help in our Christmas Return Rights guide, incl policies where stores are closed due to Covid restrictions. Here are the key points...
- What are my rights in law? If something's faulty, you can get a refund. If not, you've no legal rights if bought in store. But if bought online, you can get a refund on most items if you alert the retailer within 14 days of receipt and you return it within another 14 days.
- What extra do stores give? They often allow you to return something 1mth-ish after purchase, whatever the reason, as long as it's in its original condition - though you may need to settle for an exchange. However, these extra rights often don't apply if the item was bought in a sale.
Panicked about debt? DON'T WAIT - get free help. If you're struggling and it's giving you sleepless nights, then free one-on-one debt help is available from many charities. They're there to help, not judge, so don't worry. However, they get rammed in Jan, so don't leave it - get an appointment now (though some charities have reduced opening hours this week). Full info in Debt Crisis Help.