May
19
2021

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

19 May 2021

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Boost savings 50x?, Nando's hacks, HSBC cheque alert, 'I made £2,500 selling crisp bags', Martin's credit score myths, £29 Premier Inn, FREE nappies, beat energy hikes

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Savings are still in crisis, but there's a sliver of hope - rates are up. Our masterclass shows how many can boost their interest 50x 

Don't let money languish at lousy 0.01% rates

Never before in the UK has so much been saved by so many. Lockdowns meant many of us spent much less than normal, and Bank of England data shows that's resulted in an extra £180 BILLION sloshing about in current and savings accounts. And while interest rates are still pitiful, we have seen things turn a corner over the last few weeks. Rates are up compared with what they were just two months ago, some by almost half again...


Today
March '21
Top easy access
0.5%
0.4%
Top 1yr fix
0.85%
0.58%
Top 3yr fix
1.02%
0.9%
Top 5yr fix
1.35%
1.25%


These rises are on the back of City predictions of long-term interest rates creeping up, likely due to a predicted post-pandemic economic bounce back (let's hope). Plus some smaller players need to raise cash to fund booming mortgage lending. And that makes this the right moment to check what you're earning - especially because, as Martin says...

'Many savings accounts have cut rates to 0.1% or less, in other words, diddly-squat. The fact it was once a best buy or has 'high interest' in its name means nowt. Check what rate it pays today.'


Once you know what rate you're getting now, compare it with what you can earn. Many on the very worst rates - which can be as low as 0.01% - can increase their interest fifty-fold or more, just by shifting to the top easy-access accounts. 

How to sort your savings - and make every penny count

The days of money happily idling in one account earning decent interest for years are long gone. You need to become an active, aggressive (but polite) saver, monitoring accounts and ditching and switching when rates become pants. Here's how...

(All accounts listed here have the full UK savings protection on up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution.)

  • MSE guide to the top savings accountsNOT A PENNY SHOULD EARN UNDER 0.4%. We've benchmarked this rate, as it's what the top standard online easy-access accounts pay. These let you add and withdraw money whenever you want. In fact, you should store cash here even while you work out if you can earn more elsewhere. And thankfully easy-access rates have crept up too (though they're all still variable, so can change)...

    - New. Top 0.5% easy-access savings. App-only Atom Bank (no min pay-in) is the top payer at 0.5% AER interest. Yet we know many prefer online accounts - here Cynergy Bank (min £1 deposit) pays 0.42% AER. Full info and more options in Top Savings.

    - Prefer an ISA? Get 0.46%. Most don't need the tax advantages of an ISA, as they don't pay tax on savings interest anyway. But if Atom Bank's not for you, and you've less than the £20,000 annual ISA allowance to save, then Cynergy Bank's cash ISA is actually the next best payer at 0.46% AER (min £1), beating the normal easy-access savings account it also offers. See more options, incl fixes, in Top Cash ISAs.

    - 0.67% if you can wait for your cash. Charter Savings Bank pays a higher 0.67% AER (min £5,000), but you need to give 120 days' notice to withdraw.

    Now read on to see if you can earn even more. You can have lots of different accounts, so put every penny where it earns most...

  • You can earn 1.25% easy access, via a special code, in a not-so-standard account. Newbies to autosaving app Chip can get a higher rate on up to £10,000, plus some can get £10 cashback on top. Yet it's complex, so read our full 1.25% savings help first.

  • Can you lock cash away? Earn 0.85% fixed for a year. For money you're willing to lock away without access, open a fix (also known as a savings bond) to lock in a rate. Full options in top fixes, but in brief:

    - Top 1yr fixes. App-only Atom Bank (min £50) pays the top rate at 0.85% AER. Or if you prefer to open a savings account online, PCF Bank pays a smidgeon less at 0.79% AER (min £1,000).

    - Top 2yr fixes. Here 
    Zopa's* 0.9% AER (min £1,000) is the top rate. However, newbies to savings platform Raisin may be able to earn more. Via Raisin, FCMB Bank pays 0.88%. Yet newbies saving £5,000+ can claim £5-£50 cashback on top. For those saving between £5,000 and £12,000 (and some higher amounts), the cashback means overall returns beat Zopa. 

    - Top 3yr fixes. Here Cynergy Bank tops the charts paying 1.02% AER (min £10,000). And again, newbies to Raisin may be able to earn more. Via Raisin, FCMB Bank pays 1% on its 3yr account. Here, cashback means newbies saving between £5,000 and £15,000, and those saving £40,000+, can beat Cynergy Bank's 1.02%.

    Is this a good time to fix? It's a tough call. Fixed rates are on the up, so it may seem perverse to suggest locking in now if rates might go even higher. Though without a crystal ball, we don't know what'll happen.

    We do know that fixes pay higher rates than easy access and give certainty. So the more you value certainty and the easy life of being able to put money away and leave it, the more you should fix. Then, if rates do move after, as Oasis wisely said, don't look back in anger. Though in such uncertain times, we'd hedge towards shorter 1-2yr fixes.

GOT DEBTS OR A MORTGAGE? 
OVERPAYING OFTEN BEATS SAVING


If you've expensive debt, it always pays to clear it before saving. After all, £1,000 in top savings earns up to £10/yr, while £1,000 debt on an 18% credit card costs £180/yr. Clear the debt with the savings and you're £170+ better off. See Repay debts or save? Plus see if you should overpay:

- Mortgages: 
Similar logic, but there are a few catches - see Overpay my mortgage with my savings? and the Mortgage Overpayment Calc.

- Student loans: It's complex - see Martin's 'Should I overpay my Plan 1 student loan?' video (if you started uni in 1998 to 2011 plus NI students after 2011) or his 'Should I overpay my Plan 2 loan?' guide (Eng/Welsh students who started after 2011). Or see Plan 4 info (for Scottish students who started in 1998+). 

  • MSE guide to regular savings accountsEarn 1%+ with easy(ish) access when you save regularly. As the name suggests, regular savers are for putting money aside each month, not lump sums. They pay higher interest, but generally only on smaller sums for a short time...

    - Top open-to-all regular saver. Coventry BS pays 1.05% AER variable for 12mths and lets you save up to £500/mth (though you can miss monthly payments without penalty). But withdraw cash before the 12mths are up and you lose 30 days' interest on the withdrawal.

    - Earn 3.04% if you bank with NatWest/RBS. If you've either bank's current account, you're eligible for its linked regular saver paying 3.04%, but only on a max £50/mth.

    - Earn 3.5% if you've savings, a mortgage or a share plan with Yorkshire BS. Currently Yorkshire BS's regular saver pays the top rate of 3.5%, but to open one you'll need to have a savings account, mortgage or employee share plan with it that was opened before 2 Jan 2020.

  • Earn up to 2.02% via current accounts, but only on smaller savings. Our top picks...

    - Virgin Money pays 2.02% AER variable on up to £1,000. You don't need to switch to it, though there is a wine and charity donation switcher offer if you do.
    - Nationwide* pays 2% AER fixed on up to £1,500 in year 1, 0.25% after. You need to pay in £1,000+/mth to get the interest.

    More options and full eligibility criteria in interest-paying current accounts.

CHECK IF YOU QUALIFY FOR MUCH HIGHER RATES ON THESE SPECIAL ACCOUNTS

- On a low income & claiming universal credit/tax credits? Get a 50% savings boost. For those who qualify, Help to Save is unbeatable - it can add 50% on top of savings of up to £50/mth.

- Saving for a first home? The state will add 25% to your savings. If you're aged 18-39, you can open a top Lifetime ISA, which gives you a 25% boost on up to £4,000 saved a year (so a max £1,000/yr boost).

- Check credit unions. Occasionally they have rates that'll beat the savings accounts above. See how to find your local credit union.

  • Are Premium Bonds, at 1%, worth it? While the 'prize fund' is an average 1%, for each £1m winner, many must win a lot less than the average. Yet with savings rates so low, for those saving £5,000+ and/or those who pay tax on savings interest, Premium Bonds can be a decent option. See Are Premium Bonds worth it?

  • Should you invest instead? With savings your cash is protected; with investing you hope that it grows quicker, but at the risk of losing some or all of your money. See Investing for beginners.

 
 

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.

 

 
 

The top balance transfer's just got better
Shift debt to 29mths 0% (2.75% fee) AND now bag £25 cashback too

Can't afford to clear credit or store card debt? You can't afford not to try shifting it to 0%

A balance transfer is the first thing anyone paying interest on credit or store cards should try. It's where you get a new card that repays debts on old cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest for a set period. Your repayments then go towards clearing the debt rather than paying interest - often saving £100s or £1,000s. This week, the longest 0% card's added cashback - use these two rules to see if it's your top card...

- Go for the lowest-fee card within the 0% period you need to clear the debt. If unsure, play safe and go longer.
- Don't just apply - find out which cards will accept you first. Our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc will help.

TOP-PICK NEWBIES' 0% BALANCE TRANSFERS
Card Key info Who's it best for?
New. HSBC
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
- 29mths 0%
- 2.75% fee (min £5)
- £25 cashback if shifting £100+ in first 60 days
- After the 0%, it's 21.9% rep APR interest
The clear top-pick if you need the longest 0% period or are shifting less than £900. All accepted get the full 29mths at 0%, plus the cashback essentially reduces the one-off fee. If you're shifting £100-£900, the cashback is bigger than the fee, so this card then beats even Santander's top no-fee card below.
MBNA
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
- Up to 26mths 0%
- 1% or 3.49% fee
- After the 0%, it's 20.9% rep APR
A much lower transfer fee, so cheaper than HSBC if you're shifting £1,430+ and you can clear it in 26mths. Though it's an 'up to', so some accepted may get just 14mths at 0% and/or the higher 3.49% fee unless pre-approved - use our eligibility calc to check.
Santander
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
- 18mths 0%
- NO FEE
- After the 0%, it's 20.9% rep APR
Easy no-cost winner if you're transferring £900+ and can clear the debt within 18mths. Done right, it's totally free, plus all accepted get the full 18mths at 0%.
Fluid
Applications via our eligibility calc.
- 9mths 0%
- 4% fee
- After the 0%, it's 34.9% rep APR
Longest 'poor credit' 0% deal, but high fee. Offers respite from interest, even to those with past credit problems. But only move debt you can clear within 9mths - else you'll pay horrid interest on what's left.
Fluid has asked we send people to our eligibility calc, to reduce demand on it during the pandemic.  


Getting a card? Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules:

a) Never miss the minimum monthly repayment, or you could lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
b) Clear the card (or balance-transfer again) before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the higher APR.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and withdrawals hit your ability to get credit.
d) The balance transfer must usually be done within 1-3mths to get the 0% and any cashback - check your card.
e) You can't balance-transfer between two cards from the same banking group.

Full help and more options and info in Best Balance Transfers (see APR examples).

 

New. Martin video: 'You DON'T have a UK credit score, so if you're told yours has dropped a touch, the impact is oft near-meaningless.' Martin's new 6-minute video, to bust the myths over credit scores, is a must-watch so we've added it into our 37 Credit Boosting Tips guide. 

10 Nando's hacks incl how to save £10+ ordering from a different part of the menu & free delivery trick. Whether you're happy to eat out, or want to order for home, save with our dine-in and takeaway Nando's hacks.

Warning: Don't bin post from HSBC, First Direct or M&S Bank, as MoneySaver Jane says: 'I received a cheque for £7,000.' HSBC Group is sending cheques or payment notifications refunding historic arrears charges to some, so keep an eye out and don't bin it thinking it's spam/a scam. Jane emailed about one of the biggest refunds we've seen: "Today I received an HSBC cheque for over £7,000, for unfair fees and charges. I'm gobsmacked. It will go straight into an ISA." Read Will HSBC Group send you a cheque? for more.

2 million Premier Inn rooms for £29. For stays up to 14 Oct, incl Edinburgh, Manchester, Gatwick Airport and more. Full info and Travelodge's similar £29 promo in hotel deals.

Energy prices up again - but you can still save a typical £240+/yr. MSE Blagged. More cheap energy deals have disappeared this week due to further rises in wholesale energy prices (the ones providers pay). Yet we've still got the cheapest deal from a provider with decent service - Igloo's Pioneer tariff could save you £240 incl a blagged £47 bill credit and our usual £25 MSE cashback (both halved for elec-only). The tariff is variable, so the rates could rise (or fall) at any time. One tiddler with little feedback is cheaper, so the link takes you to our comparison so you can decide. Find choosing confusing? Most people prefer to let us help them through it with our MSE Pick Me A Tariff tools. 

Barclays customer? Most can make an easy £36/yr with Blue Rewards. But scheme changes mean you'll now need to have online/mobile banking. Read how to get the cashback and what's changing in Blue Rewards.

Martin Lewis' Extreme Savers, ITV, Wed 8pm: In the 2nd show we meet Abbie who lived in a garage, Julie who earns £1,000s for her opinions and Yuki who forages for her family. Plus watch show 1 (incl tiny homes, 'winning' a baby and reusing loo paper).

 
 

Are YOU sitting on a hidden treasure trove?
'I made £2,500+ in six months selling old crisp bags on eBay'


Shops regularly do a stocktake...  most of us don't. Yet many have £1,000s' worth of items sitting in our homes that we don't use nearly enough to justify keeping. Converting these into cash so you can buy stuff that's more useful can be well worth doing. And you might be surprised by what others are willing to pay for, as one MoneySaver recently found out. Here's her story, plus tips on how to make the most from whatever you choose to clear out:

  • MSE News story on how Karen Chapman sold old crisp bags on eBay'I made £2,500+ selling old crisp bags' - your junk may be others' treasure. Karen Chapman from Surrey proves you really can make a packet having a clear-out. She originally began collecting crisp packets as a child in the 1980s when she was about 10 - then forgot all about them until they were discovered at her parents' home.

    She started selling them in November - and since has made a (Golden) Wonder(ous) £2,575, after fees and postage costs. She told us: "I was going to recycle them. But I did a quick check on eBay and saw they were selling and people were paying quite a bit, so I put them up for sale instead. Check before you chuck." Don't Skip(s) Karen's astonishing success story: 'I made £2,500+ selling old crisp bags'.

    And it's not just crisp packets. A surprising range of items that many would normally throw out can actually be sold online. Eg, when we checked we found empty jam jars fetching an average 92p each, wine corks 9p and pine cones 23p. There have even been dozens of sales of old loo roll tubes in the past 3mths too. See our Flog your rubbish guide for the full list of what we've seen sell - and how to do it.

  • 40+ eBay sellers' tricks, incl how its new fees shake-up affects you. Plus how to quickly check what stuff is worth using your phone's camera, and loads more ways to make the most of the site. See 40+ eBay selling tricks.

  • Sell for FREE on Facebook and others. With no fees and fast sales, Facebook is hot on eBay's heels. Our 29 Facebook selling tips include what to sell on Facebook vs eBay, how to find the best groups, and how to sell safely.

  • 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 flog your finery.

  • Trade in old mobiles for £100s + get paid for CDs, DVDs, computer games etc. While eBay often nets max cash, for speed and ease, plug your info into trade-in sites. Eg, we found one site pays £208 for a 64GB iPhone XR. See Sell Old Mobiles and how to sell old games, CDs, DVDs and books.
 

New. 108Mb fibre (MEGAFAST) broadband AND line from Virgin for '£19.79/mth'. MSE Blagged. Anything sub-£20/mth for these speeds is decent. Right now Virgin Media newbies can get this 108Mb deal for £23.95/mth, with a blagged £75 bill credit on top - factor that in and the price is equiv to £19.79/mth over the 18mth contract. Virgin's only available to 52% of homes, so the link takes you via our broadband comparison tool to check your eligibility, and from it you can check other deals too.

FREE 24-pack of Aldi newborn nappies. Fill in a form to get your voucher sent, then collect in store. Free nappies

'Just got self-employed income support. Only applied as I read about the changes on MSE.' Success of the week. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has changed - some are eligible for the latest (4th) grant who previously weren't. Emma emailed to thank us for the info and to encourage others to apply ASAP as there's less than two weeks to go: "Just received my first financial support. Only applied to SEISS round 4 because of what I had read on MoneySavingExpert about the changes to the scheme. Deadline's on 1 June, please apply." (Send us your MoneySaving success on this or owt else.)

6 bottles of wine £33 delivered (norm £75). MSE Blagged. For new customers only, via a cancellable subscription (pls be Drinkaware). Virgin Wines

100,000s missing out on £1,000s/yr in employment & support allowance - can you claim? Some with a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work could get up to £114/week. But latest stats show 220,000 who are eligible don't claim. Check if you're eligible for ESA (or if someone you know is).

ALL shops in Eng must charge 10p for plastic bags from Fri - how to cut costs. See 10p plastic bags.

Amigo guarantor loan reclaim delayed by its court case? A decision's expected today (Wed). Find out what's happened so far and come back for updates, incl what the court's decision means for your claim, in Guarantor Loans.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: New. HSBC (check eligibility / apply*) 29mths 0%, 2.75% fee (min £5) + £25 cashback if shifting £100+ in first 60 days (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (20.9% rep APR)

Cheapest good-service deal: Igloo variable, save £243/yr
Cheapest fix: Avro 12mth fix, save £152/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 & bill credit (where paid). Assumes typical use vs price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Top standard easy access: Atom Bank 0.5%, no min
Top one-year fix: 
Atom Bank 0.85%, min £50

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 (10Mb+): Shell Energy equiv £14.91/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent (30Mb+): 
Shell Energy equiv £17.83/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent (55Mb+): 
Shell Energy equiv £18.74/mth

Free £100 to switch + top service: First Direct
Free case of wine + 2.02% interest: 
Virgin Money

 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Want to become confident with numbers? Take the National Numeracy Challenge. Brushing up on your maths skills could help you make better decisions about money, and give you more control over your finances. Today (Wed) is National Numeracy Day, so it's a great time to do a short test to check your numeracy levels - you can then take free bite-sized lessons to help you improve if you need to.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you rate your mobile network? This week, we want to find out how each firm rates for service (how it treats you) and for coverage (how strong the signal is when you need it). Tell us how you rate your mobile network.

Most MoneySavers are STILL not keen on going back to the office full-time. Last week, we asked if you've been working from home over the past few months, and whether you'd like to keep doing so. Over 7,500 responded, with 92% of people reporting they've been working from home some or all of the time. Just 4% of them want a full-time return to their normal workplace when it's deemed safe - even fewer than when we asked the same question in July 2020. Meanwhile, 50% said they'd prefer to work from home fully and 46% partially. See full working from home poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I challenge my neighbours over damage to my car? I was cleaning my windows when I heard a noise outside. I looked up to see a car close to mine, but the driver reversed and drove off. Later I noticed my bumper was damaged. I can't prove who did it but I know it was one of my neighbours or someone visiting them. Should I try to find the person responsible to get them to pay for repairs, even if it risks causing bad feeling, or let it go? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I challenge my neighbours over car damage? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 19 MAY ONWARDS)

Wed 19 May - Lorraine, ITV, 9am
Wed 19 May - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 1pm
Wed 19 May - Martin Lewis' Extreme Savers, ITV, 8pm
Thu 20 May - This Morning, ITV, 10.30am, then phone-in from 11.10am

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 19 May - BBC Radio Surrey, Drive with Danny Pike, Helen Knapman on selling your rubbish, from 5pm
Sat 22 May - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 11am
Mon 24 May - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.20pm
Tue 25 May - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.40pm

 

WHAT'S YOUR BEST-EVER CAR BOOT BARGAIN?

That's all for this week, but before we go... MoneySavers have been sharing the best deals they've found at car boot sales (or boot fairs, as they're known in some parts of the country). Top finds include a £1 Breitling watch and full set of golf clubs complete with bag and trolley for just £3, while one MoneySaver was quids in when she coughed up £2.50 for a vintage piggybank... only to discover it had £3.50 still inside. For loads more bargains and to share your own, see our car boot sale bargains Facebook post

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