Feb
03
2021

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

03 February 2021

Over 50 ways to save, incl... 16 FREEBIES (eg, £40, PG Tips & a crate of wine), £14.66/mth fibre b'band, Martin's HALVE car ins trick, £33 Diesel specs, new top savings, GNE help, DIY haircuts

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Freebies, freebies & more freebies
Sometimes there is such a thing as a free lunch box of PG Tips, £40 cash, £180 of wine, make-up, crisps and more...


Everyone loves something for nowt. So this week, all the different MSE teams - deals, features, money, utilities and more - have (virtually) put their heads together to find the best possible freebies, and if there are any catches, made sure you know in advance. So with no further ado...

  • Use supermarket coupons to get free £2.50 PG Tips, £2 Lindt choc and £2ish oat milk. We update our list of 30+ supermarket coupons weekly, and sometimes, used the right way, they can net you total freebies. Currently these include...

    Free PG Tips Plus via a £2.50 off digital Co-op coupon, where the 20-teabag box is normally £2.50.
    Free £2 Lindt choc via our blagged code for an app that gives you the cashback after you've purchased a product at any store.
    Free £1.80 Jord oat milk at Asda, Co-op or Sainsbury's via an app.

  • Trick gets a FREE £40 via a new top credit card. Newbies signing up to M&S Bank's 18mth 0% card (best to quickly check acceptance odds first rather than just apply*) can get a free £40. Just...

    - Spend £100 on it within 90 days and you get £25 cashback (so just use it for spending you'd do anyway).
    - Sign up for paperless statements by 5 March and you get 1,000 bonus M&S points, worth £10 in M&S vouchers (as long as you were accepted for the card by 11 Feb).
    - Spend a penny at M&S (not the loo, literally pay 1p+, eg, buy a banana) and, via a coupon you're sent, you get another 500pts worth £5 (this could be part of the initial £100 spending for ease).
    - Then pay the card off IN FULL at the end of each month, and you're quids in at no cost whatsoever.

    The card also offers a near market-leading 18mths 0% on new spending too, so it's a good choice if you NEED to borrow for a planned, affordable buy (eg, a new fridge) - as done right it is interest-free.

    If you're using it for the 0%, always pay at least the min monthly payment, and clear the debt before the 0% ends or it's 19.9% rep APR. Full help, eligibility info and more options in Credit Card Rewards (APR Examples).

    PS: If you're due to make an important credit application in the next few months, don't get this just for the £40 freebie, as it can have a minor, short-term impact on your creditworthiness.

  • Freebies for NHS workers - coffees, £15 car check, films, data & more. Many people, including us, want to say thank you to our NHS heroes. We've a full compendium of NHS and care worker freebies & discounts.

  • Urgent. Free £180 case of 15 bottles of wine if you switch bank - but go quick. New switchers to the Virgin Money* bank account get 15 bottles of wine (it says they're worth £180, though this is hard to verify as they're Virgin Wines exclusives) and 2.02% AER variable interest on up to £1,000 in the account.

    This is by far the best switching offer available right now, but we're worried it won't be around for too much longer.

    To get the wine, within 31 days of opening you need to switch incl 2+ direct debits, register for its app, and put £1,000 in its linked 0.5% savings account (a best-buy easy-access account in its own right). Full info and more options in Best Bank Accounts, and please be Drinkaware.

  • Whata saving (works better said out loud)... 345,000 freebies to reduce water use and stop pipes freezing, incl £20 showerheads, water pipe & tap protectors. 18 water companies across Eng, Wales & NI are offering free water-saving gadgets that can help save £100s. See our water-saving freebies.

  • Galleons expelliarmus - 20 ways to get free books and audiobooks, incl all seven Harry Potters. Tricks for 1,000s of titles, from the simple, such as borrowing free e-books from the library, to tricks with real volume(s). See 20 Free Book Tricks.

  • Free iron, make-up, crisps and more via 'freebies for feedback' sites. These sites can give free goodies when you product test or give reviews. Forumites have grabbed everything from body butter to cat litter. Our updated Top Product Testing Freebie Sites guide shows how. It's not a dead cert, but fun to try.

  • Watch 100s of free big films & box sets with 22 TV streaming tricks. Eg, Little Women, Parasite, 1917 and Succession. Plus did you know there's a free version of Netflix? This and much more in our 23 TV MoneySaving Tricks.

  • Free £30 Amazon voucher for doing quick online surveys etc. If you're spending a lot of time on t'interweb at the moment, you might as well get paid for it. Ever popular with MSE Forumites, Swagbucks is free to join and rewards you for online activities such as surveys, gaming etc. Newbies who go via our blagged link can get a free £20 Amazon voucher when you earn £10.

  • Free ways to learn languages, gain university qualifications, or draw Disney characters. Many want to use this time for self-improvement and to acquire new skills, so check out 12 free ways to learn something new at home during lockdown.

  • Free postcode lotto with a £200+ daily prize, which rolls over too... one MoneySaver even won £2,500. It sounds too good to be true, but it's legit and costs nothing as it's funded by ads. See free Pick My Postcode lotto.

  • 32 big-name free games for your phone - incl Call of Duty, Mario, Sonic and The SimsMSE Sarah's rounded up some top-rated games, incl arcade classics and TV/film characters everyone's heard of. See her pick of the free big-name games (some have in-app purchases, but all are playable without).

  • Get paid to spend (1). Up to £100 free in 3mths with a 5% cashback credit card. All spending up to the first £2,000 in the first 3mths with Amex Platinum Everyday (best to check acceptance odds first rather than just apply*) gets you 5% cashback, so that's a possible £100. Though to get it, you'll need to spend at least £3,000/yr, and you can't have had a personal Amex card in the last 2yrs.

    After the intro period, the cashback's tiered up to 1% depending on spending. Remember, this isn't an excuse to overspend, and only do this if you can repay IN FULL each month, or the 22.2% rep APR dwarfs the cashback. Check out Reward Credit Cards for more options (APR Examples).

  • Get paid to spend (2). When you spend online. Buy online or sign up to a product, and cashback websites may pay you for clicking through them. Don't let this dictate what you do though, see it as a nice bonus rather than a certainty. See our Top Cashback Sites guide for need-to-knows and the top-paying sites.

  • Freebies for babies - toys, books, veggie pouches etc. There's lots of free stuff out there - retailers are super-keen to bag new parents' custom with promos, while in Scot, the Govt gives parents of newborns a free heavy-duty cardboard crib filled with freebies. Full info and lots more in our baby freebies rundown.

  • And bear in mind... post-pandemic, use Freecycle for video games to sailing boats. Not for now, but MoneySavers have bagged everything from plants to video games to sailing boats via giveaway giant Freecycle. See our Freecycle & Similar guide. Though right now, most groups are temporarily closed due to lockdown.
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Slash your energy bills & more
8.30pm Thu, ITV: Martin's Money Show Live

Over to Martin: "This week's show, news depending, is likely to be on energy bills. We get so many questions, so I want to blow away the cobwebs and confusions to minimise your bills. Plus in my News-You-Can-Use, there are all the other hot need-to-knows to protect your pockets.

"And of course, as it's live you can tweet suggested questions to me via @MartinSLewis, and if possible, please use the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do tune in or set the Betamax. It pays to watch."

 
 

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.

 

 
 

New. Cheapest fibre broadband we've seen for FOUR YEARS.
'£14.66/mth' for b'band & line rent all-in, beating even non-fibre deals


If we've said it once, we've said it 100 times. The way to get cheap broadband is to pounce on short-lived promo deals, and this one from Shell is the hottest we've seen for an age. If you just had BT line rental (no broadband) you'd pay a huge £20/mth, yet contrast that with our Shell deal, where if you factor in the cashback you get fibre broadband (so it's fast) and line rent for less than £15/mth over the 1yr contract. MOST PEOPLE PAY DOUBLE THIS and many have slower speeds. So it's time to ditch & switch...

top NEWBIES' HOME broadband & line deals
Eligibility depends on postcode, so all links go via our broadband comparison which shows whether you can get it
DEAL + EQUIV COST (1) HOW GOOD IS IT?
BENCHMARK: Many pay £30-£45/mth for standard speed
 Terrible value. Even if you don't want to switch, use the prices below to haggle.
New. Shell Energy 12mth contract. MSE Blagged
35Mb fibre £14.66/mth
(also 63Mb fibre £19.50/mth)
Cheapest fibre b'band & line deal in FOUR YEARS. Apply via this Shell 35Mb fibre link and you pay £22.99/mth, but we've pushed so you AUTOMATICALLY get £100 bill credit, giving you 4mths+ free (it can take a few months before it's credited to your bill). In total, that's a £176 outlay over the 1yr contract, equiv to £14.66/mth. MSE customer service feedback grade: 'OK'.

For faster speeds, this Shell 63Mb deal is £25.99/mth, with a lesser £77.97 auto bill credit, equiv to £19.50/mth over the year.
Ends 11.59pm Thu. 
Vodafone 24mth contract
63Mb fibre £19.83/mth or £17.83/mth for its mobile custs
Cheap FAST fibre b'band & line. Apply via this Vodafone link and it's £22.95/mth, but you can claim (it's not automatic) a £75 Amazon vch. If you'd spend that anyway, factor it in and the cost is equiv to £19.83/mth over the 2yr contract (there will be an inflation + 3.9% price rise in Apr though). MSE customer service feedback grade: 'OK'.

Vodafone monthly mobile custs get it cheaper. If you don't already have its home broadband, the same deal is £2/mth less.
Ends 11.59pm Sun. Virgin Media 18mth contract
108Mb mega-fast £21.23/mth
Cheapest SUPER-FAST fibre broadband, BUT no phone line. For serious speeds and no need for a landline (which many of you tell us is what you want), apply via this Virgin Media link and it's £24/mth, but you can claim (it's not automatic) a £50 Amazon vch. If you'd spend that anyway, factor it in and the cost is equiv to £21.23/mth over the 18mth contract. MSE customer service feedback grade: 'OK'.

Yet note this is only available to 52% of UK households, whereas the other promo deals here apply to 96%. You'll be told when applying if you can get it.
Customer service grades are from our Aug poll, and are relative as few broadband firms set the service world alight. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent costs' - adding all costs, deducting promo credits and averaging over the contract. 


  • Firms can only advertise speeds if 50%+ of customers get that at peak times. Plus, all providers above tell you the estimated max you're likely to get before applying. Do check your current speed and see our eight speed boosting tips.

  • Switching usually means about two hours of downtime. You're told the switch time in advance and it's often quick (though nothing is perfect).

  • Engineers won't usually need to visit, though they may with some switches involving Virgin. About 60% of Virgin customers won't need a visit (if in this group, you're told BEFORE signing up). Of the remaining 40%, an engineer may need to visit your home or may just need to visit the local exchange, though you won't know which at sign-up. Some leaving Virgin may need a new line installed if they don't have an Openreach one (it supplies most other firms) - currently that may be delayed as it's prioritising urgent issues, though engineers can visit (obeying social distancing rules) during lockdown.

  • Be warned, some firms hike prices a little during your contract. If your contract pre-warns you, you're stuck with the rise. If not, most let you leave penalty-free within 30 days. We've noted the planned Vodafone one above. Shell and Virgin don't note rises in their contracts, so if they do it, you can leave penalty-free, though such rises tend to be small, and if they come while you're on a hot deal, it'll probably still be hot.

 

Martin: 'Changing the day you apply for car insurance may nearly HALVE the cost'. Watch Martin's video and click the key links.

New top easy-access savings, and it's from Nationwide. Rate cuts from rivals mean Nationwide's 0.5%* (min £1 - max three penalty-free withdrawals a year) long-standing account is the first table-topper from a biggie for a while. It's the joint-top rate with Aldermore's 0.5%, which has a higher £1k min but no restrictions on withdrawals. Both are beaten by Cynergy's 0.55% (min £1) top easy-access cash ISA. All are AER variable, incl Nationwide which only lasts 1yr, so rates can change. Full top easy-access accounts help.

Prescription specs from Diesel £33 all-in (norm £120). MSE Blagged. See SpeckyFourEyes deal.

Green Network Energy customers auto-transferred to EDF (Simplicity to Brit Gas) - any good? Green Network Energy, with 360,000 custs, is the biggest energy firm to go bust so far. See our Is EDF's new GNE tariff any good? analysis. And similar for Simplicity's move to British Gas.

Big-name battle for energy fixes: E.on's cheaper, but Brit Gas's longer & gives £138/yr free boiler cover. With more smaller firms going bust, many want the security of big names. Right now E.on's 1yr fix is cheapest, but for only £8/yr more on avg on typical use there's Brit Gas's fix till Apr 2022, which also has 1yr's 'free' heating insurance (auto-renews after 1yr at £11.50/mth, but you can cancel anytime). Both are ONLY for newbies, ONLY avail via comparison sites, and ONLY with us do you get an extra £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback. Savings shown will typically be about £110/yr, but with an announcement that the price cap is set to rise by £90/yr on Fri, that's likely a substantial underestimate. Find choosing confusing? Use our Pick Me A Tariff tools.

DIY haircut tips - vids from the pros + fun dos & don'ts from us. With salons and barbers closed again, see our DIY haircut tips round-up if you plan to brave it.

RESULT. Buy now, pay later firms (Klarna, Clearpay etc) to be regulated. It's a campaign win for Martin and MSE, who have been calling for more consumer protection around this new form of debt, which has had explosive growth. It means lenders will have to do affordability checks, and you will be able to go to the ombudsman if you've a problem. See BNPL to be regulated. Exclusive: Former FCA boss Chris Woolard on why he told Treasury to regulate BNPL.

 
 

Cheep pet insurance - find the purrfect policy, incl deals comparisons miss, eg, £110 Amazon voucher. You'd be barking... (OK, we'll stop now)


Pet ownership has peaked during the pandemic - now about 40% of homes have a furry friend. Yet it's important to understand that vet bills aren't cheap, and there's no pet NHS. You can pay £3,000 for cat cataract operations or £800+ to fix a dog's dodgy bones. So it is worth considering insurance, and our Cheap Pet Insurance guide has a litter (sorry) of quick tips.

  • How to find the cheapest deal depends on your pet. Like most types of insurance, prices are bespoke, so the key is to get as many quotes as possible. It's easier with some pets than others...

    (i) Got a cat or dog? Here there are comparison sites to speed the process up. Try as many as you've time for, as they search different insurers (and sometimes have different prices for them). Use Confused.com*, MoneySup*, Gocompare* and Compare TM* - the latter has a good range, but unlike the others, only searches single pet policies.

    Then get a quote from Waggel*, which via this special link gets you an Amazon vch within 60 days worth £20-£110 depending on the pet and how many you have. It's a newish firm to us, so pls feedback. Plus check Direct Line* and Petplan*, as you won't find them on comparison sites. Full help and more options in deals comparisons miss.

    (ii) Got other pets, such as a horse, parrot, rabbit or reptile? Comparisons usually don't work here, so do it manually.

    - Horses and ponies: Try SEIB, Petplan Equine* and NFU Mutual.
    - Rabbits, budgies, parrots, chinchillas, lizards etc: Try Exotic Direct* (and Petplan* for rabbits only).

  • BEWARE switching insurance if your pet has a pre-existing condition. Most new firms won't cover any past issues, whether you've claimed or not. Plus if you've recently claimed, your insurer may hike the premium to cover that problem. Full info in pre-existing problems help.

  • Pet insurance top tips when choosing a policy...
    1) Pet insurance generally covers big issues, eg, broken bones and cancer, not check-ups. See what's covered.
    2) Need cover but can't afford it? If you're on certain benefits, charities such as the PDSA may help with vet bills.
    3) Cats are seen as free spirits, dogs aren't. You're liable for your dog's behaviour if it causes damage or injury to other people or property. So check third party cover (you can get this standalone from Dog's Trust).
    4) Could you self-insure? For smaller animals, you could put cash in savings to cover fees. See self-insuring help.
    5) Don't forget routine jabs. Forgetting could invalidate cover, though there's currently some flexibility. Jab help.
    6) Struggling to pay pet insurance due to coronavirus? See Covid-19 help, eg, you can ask to review cover levels.

  • Always check the policy is right for you. And when claiming, if unhappy, you can go to the ombudsman. As with any insurance, check the policy details and that insurers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority before you buy. If a claim is unfairly rejected, take 'em to the free Financial Ombudsman.
 

£150ish of Ciate vegan/cruelty-free nail polish & lip oil for £25 all-in - 2,000 avail. MSE Blagged. Incl 22 minis, one full-size paint pot, and one lip oil. Via surplus Christmas Advent calendars it's trying to shift. Ciate set

Warning. Tax self-assessment late payment interest STILL applies. HMRC's waiving £100 fines for people who file returns after the 31 Jan deadline but by the 28 Feb cut-off. But 2.6% interest is still charged on outstanding tax from 1 Feb, so many should consider paying an estimate ASAP even if they haven't done their return, and fail to do it before 3 March there's a 5% fee on top. Self-assessment help


Romance is lovely, but over-commercialised pressure isn't. Plus this year, especially when many have lost loved ones, feel free to skip past this bit. Yet if you are going to spend (there's no need), this week is usually the most cash-efficient time. Incl...

A dozen roses: From £25 couriered, incl M&S and Waitrose. See our Valentine's roses round-up.
Cards: Basic from 25p, personalised from £1.79 delivered. See cheap cards round-up.
Free gift cheques: Pledge time/love, not cash. Make a promise with our Valentine's gift cheques.
£11ish jumbo personalised photo marshmallow. And if you wanna get quirky, a code gets 40% off a sugary incarnation of a photo of your choice that fits through a letterbox. See personalised marshmallows.


Now open. MSE Charity grants of up to £7,500 for a project to support under-26s. Non-profit organisations can apply for a cash boost in our charity's latest grant-giving round. It's aimed at projects that'll support the under-26s by teaching and developing financial life skills. You can check if your project qualifies and apply online. Go quick - the round closes once the MSE Charity accepts 40 applications, or on Fri 26 Feb at the latest.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: Sainsbury's Bank up to 29mths 0%, 3% or 4% fee (check eligibility / apply*) (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: Santander 18mths 0%, no fee (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR)

Cheapest deal: E.on 12mth fix, save £189/yr
Cheap big-name fix: British Gas 12mth fix, save £181/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 over the next 12mths. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Top easy-access: Nationwide 0.5%, min £1
Top easy-access ISA
Cynergy Bank 0.55%, min £1
Top one-year fix: 
Zopa 0.71%, min £1,000

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Compare The Market*
  4. Gocompare*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) (2.8% rep APR)
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k: 
Cahoot (check eligibility / apply*), TSB (check eligibility / apply*) or Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) (2.8% rep APR)

Fibre b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £14.66/mth
Standard b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £15/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £19.50/mth

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

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Used your Reclaim mis-sold guarantor loans tips as payments have been crippling me, especially during furlough. I used Resolver to lodge a complaint and have had just over £5,000 wiped off my debt. I will be debt-free in June. You don't realise the stress this has lifted from me and my family. Thank you - my gratitude is through the roof."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you rate your bank account's service? Every six months, we ask for your help to track the quality of customer service provided by banks. By comparing your answers with last time, we can see which have got better or worse. How do you rate your bank account's service?

More than half of MoneySavers have a summer holiday booked. Last week, we asked about your summer holiday plans. Over 8,300 people responded - 44% said they've already booked a holiday abroad, while a further 12% have booked to go away in the UK. But just 16% of those with bookings were confident they'll actually be able to go, while 19% said they thought they wouldn't. See full summer holiday poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I give my friend the cash I made selling her unwanted clutter? I've been helping a friend declutter her house, and took a car load of stuff to the tip. There were some items I suggested she could get cash for if she put them up for sale, but she said she couldn't be bothered. I hate waste, so took two of the items home and, with a bit of effort, sold them online, making about £30. Should I give her the money, offer to split it with her or keep it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I give my friend the cash I made from selling her unwanted clutter? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 3 FEB ONWARDS)

Wed 3 Feb - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 1pm. Listen again
Thu 4 Feb - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 4 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, ITV, 8.30pm
Fri 5 Feb - Any Questions, BBC Radio 4, 8pm

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Thu 4 Feb - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Ben Jackson, from 11.35am
Sun 7 Feb 
- BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 10am
Mon 8 Feb 
- BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.20pm
Tue 9 Feb 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.40pm

 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE MONEYSAVING HACK?

That's all for this week, but before we go... last week we asked you to share the first MoneySaving hack that came to mind. We were inundated with hundreds of great tips, which included the straightforward, eg, never auto-renew insurance and check unit pricing at supermarkets. Yet we also saw some extreme ideas, such as one MoneySaver who bought a Christmas tree with roots and used it for seven years running. Read the full list and add your own on our MoneySaving hacks Facebook post.

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