Mar
31
2021

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

31 March 2021

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Beat £100 energy hikes, B&Q £5 off, 3.5% savings?, FREE Creme Egg, Martin's urgent LISA help, £50 bike vchs, Green Homes Grant ends, 'I made £1k on eBay', 29mths 0% and more

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Plus... Green Homes Grant ends, 'I made £1k on eBay', 29mths 0% and more
                                                           
 


 

Warning. Huge energy hikes to hit millions this week - but we've deals to save £230/yr

If you're on a Brit Gas, E.on, EDF etc standard tariff, check NOW if you can beat the rip-off by switching

Beat energy hikesIt's no joke... on 1 Apr (tomorrow), regulator Ofgem will raise the energy price cap for standard tariffs from £1,042/yr to £1,138/yr based on typical use. All the biggies - Brit Gas, E.on, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE - are raising prices to within a quid of it, so most of the 50%+ households on a standard tariff will pay an avg £100ish/yr MORE on typical use.

You'll likely be on one of these if you've not switched in 1yr+, but YOU NEEDN'T ACCEPT THE HIKE. There are tariffs £100s cheaper, so take 5mins to do a comparison for your saving via our Pick Me A Tariff tools, where we do it all for you this year and, if you want, in future too.

To help, we've got two deals that undercut the cheapest, barring tiddlers with little feedback. They're from Green (nothing to do with Green Network Energy, which recently went bust) and Igloo - both medium-sized providers with excellent service feedback. We've also listed top deals from big-name suppliers - while they're mainly the ones raising standard tariffs, they have cheap deals for new customers. And switching really is worth it, as Alan emailed: "Finally decided to leave British Gas via your Cheap Energy Club, saving £500/yr. Thanks."

The top-pick energy deals 

Given the risk of more rises, we've focused on fixes which are good if you need surety. Prices are averages as your price depends on region and use, so all links go via our comparison. Savings are on typical direct debit use vs the new £1,138/yr cap.

Find choosing confusing? Most prefer to let us help them with our speedy MSE Pick Me A Tariff tools - perfect for those unsure or nervous about switching or choosing, plus they cover the whole market.

TOp-pick Energy dealS (all NEWBIES onlY)
Based on typical direct debit use, average of regional prices
The new direct debit standard tariff price cap. What most non-switchers pay. £1,138/yr
Top 1yr fixes (where the rate, not price, is locked in)
Ends 3pm Thu. Green 1yr fix. Cheapest good service fix. Dual-fuel & elec-only | 100% green elec (not gas) | 4.2/5 MSE service rating | Only via MSE or MoneySupermarket (we're part of the same group), but via MSE you also get £25 dual-fuel cashback | Not avail to all in Scot

A tiddler, Hub, which we know little about, has a 1yr fix that beats this. As we're whole of market, it appears in your full comparison result, so you can make your own mind up.
£911/yr
Save £227/yr
E.on 1yr fix. Cheapest big-name deal. Dual-fuel and elec-only | 100% green elec (not gas) | 3.0/5 MSE service rating | Smart meters required within 3mths if you don't have 'em (unless they can't be fitted) £961/yr
Save £177/yr
British Gas 14mth fix - via its Evolve brand. Incl 'free' £138 heating insurance. While not cheapest, many prefer the biggest name & this is its top deal. Dual-fuel only | 100% green elec (not gas) | 3.5/5 MSE service rating | Incl 1yr's 'free' heating insurance (£11.50/mth after, can be cancelled any time) | Evolve is BG's new online-only energy brand £974/yr
Save £164/yr
Top variable deals (where rates can rise or fall)
Igloo variable. Cheapest good service deal. Dual-fuel and elec-only | 100% green elec (not gas) | 4.3/5 MSE service rating | It says it won't raise prices for 3mths & there are no exit fees if it hikes after | Only via MSE or MoneySupermarket (we're part of the same group), but via MSE you also get £25 dual-fuel cashback.

A tiddler, Orbit, which we know little about, has a deal that beats this. As we're whole of market, it appears in your full comparison result, so you can make your own mind up.
£902/yr
Save £236/yr

All prices include £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback.


Not on direct debit? Live in N Ireland? You can still save

If you don't pay by monthly direct debit, you either can't get the deals above or you'll pay a higher rate. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't act:

  • Billed (not prepay) meter but not on monthly direct debit? The cheapest thing to do is to switch to monthly direct debit, as the top deals are only via this payment method. If you're not happy to do so, you can still do a comparison based on your payment method.

  • Are you a prepay customer? Those on prepay sadly have a less competitive market to choose from, and usually pay more. The prepay cap is also increasing by an avg £87/yr on typical use, so try our prepay comparison - savings are smaller, but still possible. Yet it is likely you would make far bigger long-term savings by switching to a credit meter. See Cut prepay energy costs.

  • In Northern Ireland? Sadly our Cheap Energy Club - like all main comparisons - doesn't include NI as it has a separate energy market. But you can get more info in Cheap NI Electricity or do a comparison via the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland's tool.
Common energy-switching questions
Here's a quick Q&A - for more, see the full Cheap Energy Club FAQs.


Q. Is switching risky? Could I be cut off? 
No, as no one visits your home (unless you want/need a smart meter), and it's the same gas, electricity and safety. The only things that change are price and service. See our How switching works FAQs.

Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes, provided it's a tariff we can switch you to. Like all energy comparison sites we're paid (though unlike others, we don't hide tariffs that don't pay), and we give you roughly half as cashback (£25 dual fuel, £12.50 single fuel).

You wouldn't get this going direct, so it's a win-win. The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

 
 

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.

 

 
 

Ditch dire 0.01% savings NOW - you can bag up to 1.25% easy access, while some can get 3.5% for saving regularly

Ditch dire savingsThere's no escaping it - savings rates are in the deepest doldrums any of us can remember, and some banks pay a pathetic 0.01%. Yet you can still massively boost returns, although the top rates are reserved for those who go beyond standard accounts and do a bit more leg-work. Here's how (all accounts listed have £85,000/person savings protection)...

  • Want easy access? Get up to 1.25%. Here you can move money in and out when you want, though rates are variable, so keep a close eye out. Top deals below, with more help and options in top easy-access savings:

    - Top standard accounts. If you want to keep things simple, Marcus* and its sister brand Saga* (both part of Goldman Sachs) pay the joint-top 0.4% AER variable rate from £1.
    - 1.25% (+ up to £25 cashback) via special MSE code. If you're prepared to jump through some hoops, newbies to autosaving app Chip can get a much bigger rate on up to £10,000, plus there's cashback. Yet it isn't a normal account, so read our full 1.25% savings help first.

  • Want rate certainty (but without access)? Get up to £50 cashback with the top 0.65% 1yr fix. Here you can earn a little more than standard easy-access rates, but the trade-off is your money is locked away for the term and you won't benefit if rates rise. Ahli United Bank offers the top 0.65% AER 1yr fix (min £1k), though it's only available via savings marketplace Raisin. If new to Raisin, some can also claim £5-£50 cashback. See top 1-5yr fixed savings for more help and deals.

  • Can you save regularly every month? Get up to 3.5%, though only on smaller sums. Here the rates are variable, usually only last for 1yr and you're limited on how much you can save each month. Also check the conditions, as some have withdrawal restrictions. Top picks below, with more help in Regular Savings Accounts:

    - The top open-to-all account: Coventry BS pays 1.05% on up to £500/mth.
    - Top existing customer accounts: Yorkshire BS pays 3.5% on up to £500/mth (if you have a savings account or mortgage with it that was opened before 2 Jan 2020) while NatWest/RBS pays 3.04% on up to £50/mth (if you have its current account).

  • Happy to open a new current account? Earn up to 2.02%, but again only on smaller amounts. Some bank accounts beat the top standard rates, but they often come with extra conditions. See top current account savings.

  • Pay savings tax? Hurry to use your 2020/21 cash ISA allowance. Cash ISAs are simply savings accounts where the interest isn't taxed. Yet as fewer than 5% of people pay savings tax, what matters for most is the rate, and right now standard cash ISA rates can't beat normal savings accounts. Yet if you pay tax on your savings, or may do soon, check out the Top Cash ISAs before your allowance resets on 6 Apr. Prefer to invest? See Stocks & Shares ISAs.

More options in our savings section, incl Premium Bonds, a 50% bonus if you're on a low income and kids' accounts. Plus see Martin's Help to Buy Isa/Lifetime ISA help immediately below.

 

Martin: 'URGENT: Should you move your Help to Buy ISA to a Lifetime ISA?' His new Is a LISA better than H2B ISA? blog takes you through who should and shouldn't move it over. If you should, do it ASAP, before the tax year ends (in a few days).

New. Top balance transfer credit card - shift debt to 29mths at 0%, 2.75% fee. If you pay credit or store card interest, a balance transfer helps you slash costs. First check which cards you're most likely to get, though this new M&S Bank* card now offers accepted new cardholders the longest 0%, for 29mths, with a one-off 2.75% fee (min £5). If you apply by 11.59pm today (Wed) and go paperless by 23 Apr, you also get 1,000 M&S pts - worth £10Golden rules: 1) Pay at least the monthly min. 2) Pay it off in the 0% period or transfer again, or it's 21.9% rep APR. 3) Don't spend/withdraw cash. More help & deals, incl 18mths 0% NO FEE (+ £20 Amzn vch), in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

B&Q £5 off £30 spend. For newbies to its free loyalty scheme. See how to get £5 off at B&Q.

Last chance. Green Homes Grant closes to applicants at 5pm TODAY (Wed). We've criticised this Govt scheme for being overcomplex and cumbersome, but it gives up to £5k for green improvements in Eng. Yet after a surprise announcement on Sat you now only have hours to apply, so if you've begun the application process and have a quote for the work from an installer (which you need in order to apply), then move quickly. If you've not begun the process it's probably too late, although you may get lucky.  Full info in our Green Homes Grant guide.

Free £50 Govt bicycle repair vchs in Eng - can you get one? 150,000 originally avail, but they tend to go wheely quick, so see it as a bonus if you're successful. Free £50 bike vchs

FREE Easter choc for 3m Clubcard holders (eg, Creme Egg, Mini Eggs etc). Check if you can get free choc.

Ends today (Wed). EXTRA 30% off secret Amazon discounts on returned (often unused) items. Eg, £250 off an HP laptop, £30 off a Nespresso machine. Get 30% more off 40,000+ items that are already discounted at the little-known Amazon Warehouse.

 
 

Take our Easter spring clean challenge - can you cut the clutter and make big money? Eg, 'I've made £1,000+ on eBay this year from a mass clear-out'

If you've spare time this long weekend, why not do a personal stock clearance? With what you find, ask yourself: "Have I used it since last Easter?" Our usual rule is to consider flogging anything unused in a year, but now, given the restrictions, you get a pass on stuff such as suitcases, ball gowns or fancy china. However, we bet most can still make cash from their attic - here's how you could make £100s...  

  • Fiona earned £1,029 on eBay40+ eBay sellers' tricks, eg, the 'how much can I get for it?' tool. "Just eBay it" - the site's so ubiquitous its name is now a verb. Use our 40+ eBay Selling Secrets guide, incl quickly check what stuff could fetch using your phone's camera and how to boost eBay's 'sell for £1 max' promos. Fiona told us of her earnings by email this week: "I'm having a mass clear-out, and in the last 90 days I've sold £1,029 of stuff on eBay, from clothes and computer games to candles and toys.See her screenshot, right.

  • Sell for free on Facebook and other sites. With no fees and fast sales, local Facebook selling groups are hot on eBay's heels. Our 29 Facebook Selling Tips guide includes what to sell on Facebook vs eBay and how to find the best groups. It's not the only free selling site, and the guide has help on others, incl Gumtree. Billie tweeted: "@MoneySavingExp We sold our old kitchen for £500 on Facebook ahead of renovation work. Sold and collected within 36 hours, had over 30 enquiries."

  • Turn unwanted clothes into CASH via specialist sites. Whether it's Gucci, Gap or George, our 9 ways to sell clothes blog shows how to raise your returns, including how buyers can be willing to pay more on clothing-specific sites for designer or vintage clobber, as MSE Jenny found: "I put a Ganni dress for sale on eBay and Vestiaire Collective. The highest offer on eBay was £55, but it sold for £85 on Vestiaire."

  • Trade in old mobiles for £100s + get paid for other gadgets, such as CDs, DVDs and computer games. While eBay often nets max cash, for speed and ease, try specialist gadget trade-in sites. With mobiles, we found one site pays £199 for a 64GB iPhone X - see Sell Old Mobiles. Also see how to sell old games, CDs, DVDs & books.

  • Donate unwanted items to charity by post. You may prefer to give unwanted items to a worthy cause. While charity shops are still closed, you can often donate old clothes, jewellery and more for free by post to the likes of British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. See donate for free.
 

M&S to close current accounts, but ALL its custs can now apply for £100+ switch bonuses. They're closing in Aug, but when the news broke earlier this month, anyone who'd opened an M&S current account since 2018 couldn't grab bribes to switch to sister brands First Direct and HSBC (the market's standouts). But that restriction's been lifted, subject to normal eligibility criteria. The most similar account to M&S is First Direct, which offers newbies a free £100* to switch, a 1% savings account, while some get a £250 0% overdraft. For more deals, see Best Bank Accounts. Also see M&S to close bank accounts news.

Martin's 17 urgent pre-Apr checks, incl work-from-home rebate and marriage tax allowance. Plus beat council tax & prescription hikes, and last chance Covid payment hols. 17 urgent pre-Apr checks

Ends 11.59pm today (Wed). Cheapest 8GB Sim we've seen - '£5.09/mth' from Three. MSE Blagged. With this 1yr deal, newbies to Three* (via reseller Fonehouse) get 8GB/mth of data + unlimited calls & texts. It's £8/mth, but you get £35 automatic cashback, so it's equiv to £5.09/mth. For more Sim-only deals, see our Cheap Mobile Finder.

COUNCIL TAX RECLAIM SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"After reading your email, I looked at our council tax and saw I'd paid too much for 17 years. I talked to the Valuation Office and it revalued the property - just received £5,600 back. Thank you."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Warning. Renewing or signing a new O2 deal? It's planning inflation-busting price hikes. Affects pay-monthly & Sim-only contracts. See full O2 hike help.

Free or cheap Easter kids' activities at home. Incl cheap baking recipes, free colour-in pages and kids' movies on Freeview. Easter fun at home

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: M&S Bank 29mths 0%, 2.75% fee - min £5 (check eligibility / apply*) (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% + £20 Amazon vch (check eligibility / apply*) (20.9% rep APR)

Cheapest good-service deal: Igloo variable, save £236/yr
Cheapest good-service fix: Green 12mth fix, save £227/yr
Cheapest big-name deal: E.on 12mth fix, save £177/yr
Cheap big-name deal: British Gas Evolve 14mth fix, save £164/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Pick Me A Tariff Every Year

Savings include £25 MSE cashback and bill credit (where paid). Assumes typical use vs price cap over the next 12mths. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

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*), Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) or MBNA (check eligibility / apply*) (2.8% rep APR)

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £12.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £18.67/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £18.74/mth

Free £125 for switching + 1% regular saver: HSBC
Free £100 for switchers + top service
: 
First Direct

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

What TV do you pay for? The pandemic has led to a surge in TV viewing, and streaming services continue to grow in popularity too. But with more choice than ever, this week we want to know what TV you pay for.

MoneySavers are keenest on buying books and cars second-hand. Last week, we asked what you'd be happy to buy second-hand - over 7,400 voted. More than three quarters were happy to give a second home to books, cars and furniture. Meanwhile, bicycles and DVDs were also popular choices. But just 13% would buy second-hand bedding and just 11% a second-hand carpet, while not surprisingly, very few were keen on the idea of pre-owned underwear. See the full second-hand poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Is it 'morally wrong' to use student discounts aged 55? I'm a 55-year-old mature student doing a continuing education course at a university, which is about two hours a week, plus reading, studying etc. As such, I have a university email address, which means I'm eligible for all manner of student discounts. My 20-year-old son, who is also a student, is appalled that I can do this and says it's "morally wrong" as I'm "not a proper student". Is it wrong for me to take advantage of these offers? Enter the Money Moral Maze:Is it 'morally wrong' to use student discounts aged 55? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 
 

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Sat 3 Apr - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 11am
Tue 6 Apr 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.40pm

 

£99,999 TO RENEW BIKE INSURANCE... WHAT'S YOUR MOST OUTRAGEOUS INSURANCE QUOTE?

That's all for this week, but before we go... one MoneySaver got a shock recently when he was quoted a whopping £99,999 to renew his bike insurance, and while something strange has obviously happened, it turns out he's far from alone in getting an outrageous quote. You've been sharing the most ridiculous quotes you've had, including £17,000 for travel insurance. See the full list and let us know if you can beat 'em on our outrageous quotes Facebook post.

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