Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

30 June 2021

Over 50 ways to save, incl... Diesel claims, £500 Covid pay, free hot-air balloon trip, 40+ coupons, £200 energy saving, 50% off theatre, cheapest iPhone 11

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... £200 energy saving, 50% off theatre, cheapest iPhone 11


Martin's credit card masterclass
If you can't afford to clear your credit card each month, you can't afford NOT to read John's email... 'I'm saving £2,280/yr interest, which I'm using to clear the debt'

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis - linking to MSE's Top Balance Transfer Credit Cards guideAfter an entertaining but exhausting few days presenting Good Morning Britain, I was woken perked up after reading an email to MSE. 

It inspired me to lead this newsletter with a clarion call to everyone paying interest on existing credit card debt... CARDE DIEM (ut hmm, seize a top card today) - as six lenders are vying to top the balance transfer charts, increasing your acceptance chances.

And it's timely too, as the mood music indicates the next move on interest rates is more likely to be up than down. Here's the email...

From: John
To: successes@moneysavingexpert.com
Sent: 16 June 2021 20:50
Subject: Balance Transfer

Hi Martin and Team,

A year ago, when my employer refused to pay me, refused to furlough me and refused to make me redundant, it left me without any income. With a mortgage to pay and an 8 year old, my credit card debt rapidly increased.

Over the past year I have used your tool three times to gradually get all the credit card debt on to 0% cards and it is now saving me just over £190 per month in interest payments, which I am using to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.

Many thanks. John 

A simple message - when it comes to debt, cheaper is better, and perseverance counts. Now four important need-to-knows...

1. How balance transfers work

MSE's guide to the top balance transfer credit cards0% balance transfer is where you apply for a new card with a special offer to pay off debts on your existing credit or store card(s) for you, so you owe it the money instead, but it's interest-free for an extended period. This means more of your repayments clear what you owe - rather than just cover the interest - so you get debt-free quicker. 

You can normally do the balance transfer as part of the application process, telling the provider which cards to pay off - if you don't do that you usually have a further 60 or 90 days to request it. 

2. Use a credit matchmaker to find the top deal that'll have you

When you apply for credit, the main challenge is getting accepted. So, like other relationships, it's about finding the best card that'll have you.

To help, we've our 0% Balance Transfer Matchmaker, which calculates your eligibility for most top cards and shows your best acceptance match. To do this, it carries out a 'soft credit search', which means only you see it on your credit file - lenders can't - so it doesn't affect your ability to get future credit.

Applying for a card is normally different - that creates a 'hard credit search', which other lenders can see and which therefore does affect your creditworthiness. It's best to use our tool to home in on the right card first, so you can minimise applications and protect your credit score. 

If it shows you've a wide card choice, here's how to decide...

a) Go for the lowest fee within the time you need to repay. Most cards charge a one-off fee (a % of the debt transferred). Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

b) Check if it's an 'up to' card - meaning you may get a deal worse than advertised. This can be tough to see on official application forms (it should be in the summary box) but we always break out whether cards are 'up to' or not.

Below is a range of top-pick cards by rate in each category, yet right now there are so many good cards - eg, six offer 29mths 0% - which is why it's best to focus on which is most likely to accept you.

Card Key info Who's it best for?
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
Up to 29mths 0%, with a 2% or 3% fee (min £3). After, it's 21.9% rep APR. Longest 0% with lowest fee, but an 'up to'. Some accepted may get 21mths at 0% and/or the higher 3% fee. 
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
29mths 0%, with a 2.75% fee (min £5). After, it's 21.9% rep APR. Longest DEFINITE 0% card. Here all accepted get the full 29mths 0%, so it's a good option if you've decent odds in our eligibility calc.
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.
Up to 26mths 0% with a 1% fee (min £3). After, it's 21.9% rep APR. Much lower transfer fee & beats cards above if you can clear in 26mths. But it's another 'up to', so some accepted may get 18mths. (Our eligibility calc can pre-approve for this card. If pre-approved you'll know the length before you apply.)
It's best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*
18mths 0% but NO FEE. After, it's 20.9% rep APR. Winner if you can clear debt in less than 18mths. If accepted and you clear it in time, there's no cost at all, meaning it's unbeatable.
Applications via our eligibility calc.
9mths 0% with a 4% fee. After, 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 that we send people to our eligibility calc, to reduce demand on it. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

You can't balance-transfer between two cards from the same banking group. 

Eligibility chances don't look great? 
It can still be worth applying

Remember percentages are a clinical measure. A 50% chance means half those in your situation will be accepted. And while 95% seems almost certain, you can still be the 1 in 20 who doesn't get it.

My worry is many are wrongly put off by low odds. I often tell a tale of something that happened a few years ago, which may help...  

I sat with a MoneySaver who had large, costly card debt and a poor credit history. Her eligibility showed zero chance of all balance transfers, except a 20% chance with Halifax. She looked despondent and asked me: "Is there any point?"

I explained that as it was the only credit she needed - there was no mortgage application or similar due - it didn't overly matter that a rejection would mark her file. The reason to protect your credit history is so you can get maximum use from it when needed. 

This was her most pressing financial need, so a 20% chance was better than nowt. The worst that could happen was a rejection. She applied and got a 26mth 0% card with a £1,500 limit.

For more on this, and what you can do to improve things, see my related blog: Why you shouldn't worry too much about your credit score - it's not actually a real thing.

3. When you get a card, always follow the GOLDEN rules

Getting the right card is only the start point. To make it work you need to strictly follow the recipe, or it can leave a sour taste.

a) Clear debt before the 0% ends. Clear it or transfer again before the 0% ends or you'll pay the rep APR - which is never cheap.

b) Never miss the minimum monthly repayment. Or you can lose the 0%. It's best to set up a direct debit for the minimum payment as a safety measure to ensure it happens. Yet it's better to pay debts off quicker if you can - so you can still make manual repayments on top of the direct debit.

c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on the card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and it's best not to build up other debt while you're trying to repay what you've already got.

d) See if you can use existing cards more efficiently too. If you've more than one existing credit card, you can sometimes use them to move debt to where it's cheapest.

Let's say your 30% APR card is maxed out, and you've another at 18%, which isn't. You may be able to shift debt from the 30% to the 18% card, saving you cash without affecting your creditworthiness. In fact, some lenders offer special existing-customer balance transfer deals - always aim to move debt to where it's cheapest. 

e) Got multiple debts? Repay highest APRs first. Some try to repay their biggest debt first, or spread repayments equally. Yet it's the debt with the highest APR that's growing most quickly, so that's the priority. 

Focus all spare cash on clearing that debt, paying just the minimum on all others. Once it's clear, focus on the next highest APR and so on. And do include overdrafts in this - at 40% many of them are far more expensive than credit cards. If so, prioritise clearing that before the cards.

4. Credit limit not big enough? Take what you get & try again

If you apply, are accepted, but the credit limit isn't big enough to shift all your debt over, don't give up there. The application is on your credit file - shift as much of the highest APR rate debt as you can to the new card. Most let you use 90-95% of your limit to shift debt.

MSE's Balance Transfer Credit Card Eligibility CalculatorWhen done, again use our 0% Balance Transfer Matchmaker to see your chances of acceptance for other providers' cards, then aim for a second balance transfer.

If there's a good chance, apply, though each subsequent application can get harder as too many recent applications can indicate you're desperate for credit. So if you have another important application to make - such as a mortgage - then perhaps hold back.

In serious debt? Seek free help instead

The solutions I've put above are for those who can manage repayments, keep their head above the water, and who aren't in a panic over debt. I have three questions you should ask yourself... 

- Do you struggle to make the minimum monthly payments?
- Is your total debt (excl mortgage & student loan) over a year's salary?
- Do you have sleepless nights or depression/anxiety over debt?

If you've said yes to any of these, forget the solutions above and instead get free, one-to-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, StepChange or National Debtline. And if you need emotional support, try CAP.

They're there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep." Read inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum and see our Mental Health & Debt and Debt Crisis Help guides.

PS: If you have experience of mental health and debt problems (or a close family member does), my charity, the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute, is always looking for new members of its mental health and money research panel to help us formulate new policies to help.


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. Battle of the bank-switch freebies: what turns you on most?

 Now Virgin takes on First Direct's FREE £125 with hot-air balloon trips, supercar drives & more

In response to First Direct boosting its cash offer, Virgin Money has hit back with a new offer to draw switchers in - it's all about experience day gift cards. And with so much choice, unless your bank is deliriously good to you, why not consider ditching, switching, and bagging a (legal) bribe - especially as some of these deals AREN'T AROUND LONG. Full options in Best Bank Accounts, but in brief...

  • Switching is easy, quick & hassle-free. Open your new account (you usually need to pass a not-too-harsh credit check) and use your new bank's switching service and within seven working days it'll move all your direct debits and standing orders across. It also tells your old bank to close your account and auto-forward any payments that come to it.
  • Update, Fri 2 Jul, 11am. First Direct has this morning unexpectedly lowered its bonus to £100. The link below will take you to the updated offer page. HSBC's switch bonus remains at £125. 

    MSE TOP PICK: Free £125, top service, 1% savings + £250 0% overdraft. First Direct* currently pays newbies £125 to switch (normally £100), and it takes a lot to beat free cash. Plus its big strength is its outstanding customer service: 91% rated it 'great' in our latest poll. You also get access to a linked 1% regular savings account and many get a £250 0% overdraft (39.9% EAR variable interest above, so avoid).

    - How to get it: Apply by Mon 12 Jul, then switch and pay in £1,000 within 3mths of opening (you don't have to keep the money there). To count as a newbie you can't have had any First Direct account before, or have opened a current account with sister bank HSBC since Jan 2018.

    PS: HSBC has a similar offer on its Advance account, with a £125 bonus and linked 1% regular saver. Yet as its service rating is just 42% 'great', for us First Direct easily beats it, apart from rare cases where you don't qualify for First Direct, but do for this. See full HSBC Advance eligibility.

  • MSE's full details on Virgin Money's new bank-switch offerNEW. Free £150 experience-day gift card + 2% interest on up to £1,000. New Virgin Money* switchers get a £150 gift card to spend on Virgin Experience Days. There are 100s of offers including hot-air balloon rides, driving days and learning how to make sushi to name a few. The account also pays 2.02% AER variable interest on up to £1,000, and for those who (normally) go abroad a lot, its debit card is a top pick for overseas use.

    It's a decent alternative to First Direct for those who prefer a 'treat' to free cash (as their spending psyche means they wouldn't treat themselves).

    How to get it: Apply online, then within 45 days: complete the switch (incl 2+ direct debits), register for its app and put £1,000 into its linked 0.35% easy-access savings account (and keep it there till you get the gift card email, which comes within 14 days). You don't qualify if you've had a wine switcher current account offer from Virgin, or if you've had a Virgin, Clydesdale or Yorkshire Bank current account since Mar 2021.

  • Top 'bills account' - up to 3% cashback. This is good if you've a bills account (eg, a joint account you pay household bills from). For a £2/mth fee, Santander 123 Lite* pays cashback on bills you pay from it via direct debit, eg, 1% on council tax, 2% on energy and 3% on water. Those with mid-to-large household bills could make £40-£80/yr after the fee.

    How to get it: Pay in £500+/mth and log on to mobile/online banking every 3mths. There's no need to switch account or move all your payments to it, though of course you will want to move all bills that qualify for cashback.

New. Should you join the diesel car compensation claims against Audi, BMW, Ford etc? 100,000s who have owned diesel cars since 2007 have joined up - our new guide takes you through the issues, pros and cons. See Should you join a diesel claim?

Spread word: Possible help for parents who can't work if their kids are sent home due to Covid. Many children are being sent home from school because someone in their class or year-group bubble has tested positive. If so, and you - the parent - can't work as you need to be with them, this can trigger the £500 isolation payment for those on low incomes (not just being informed by NHS Test & Trace). See £500 non-working Covid payment.

Ends midday Fri. Cheapest 1yr FIXED energy deal with decent service. The 100% renewable-elec Green 'Baille' tariff is likely to save someone on typical bills £200/yr compared with standard rates. (Our comparison will actually show your savings to be smaller than this - that's because it doesn't factor in the predicted, dramatic rise to the regulator's price cap, which'll change in October). Find choosing confusing? Our Pick Me A Tariff tools make it easier.

40+ supermarket coupons: incl free £3 McCain chips & free £1.75 Costa in a can. See our updated coupons round-up - some of which end today (Wed) as it's the end of the month.

Ends today (Wed). Cheapest iPhone 11 contract we've EVER seen. MSE Blagged. EE newbies who apply by 11.59pm on Wed (via this Affordable Mobiles link) can get a 64GB iPhone 11* with 5GB/mth of data, unltd mins & texts for £47 upfront, then £23/mth. That makes it £599 over the 2yr contract - only £10 more than buying a new handset outright with no Sim, and £500+ cheaper than getting a similar deal from EE. See Cheap iPhones. Note: EE is responsible for your contract, Affordable Mobiles for the handset. More options: MSE Cheap Mobile Finder tool. 

50% off West End theatre 'Kids Week' tickets (eg, Lion King, Mamma Mia). The popular 'Kids Week' sale on 30+ shows is back from today (Wed) for shows in August. Full info in kids' half-price theatre. Pre-Covid we would've said go quick as this was always popular. While you'd need a crystal ball to predict demand now, it's still safer to hurry. 

1,000 left. Get £40 cashback for investing £400. MSE Blagged. If you plan to 'robo-invest' - where investments are selected for you based on your attitude to risk - then after fees, this Wealthify deal is equiv to a 9.6%-ish head start, provided you keep the full investment for a min 6-7mths. (The fact we've included it doesn't mean we recommend Wealthify - it's just if you're going to use Wealthify anyway, you can get cashback). But only 1,000 remain. See Robo-Investing Cashback, incl info on the deal + how robo-investing works.


The MSE Academoney free Open University course - 40,000+ have enrolled, making it the most popular course since it launched. Why don't you?

Our six-part detailed financial-education modules with the Open University have rave reviews

The badge you can earn for completing all six Academoney sessions - linking to where you can enrol on the course on the Open University's OpenLearn websiteLast week we told you of the latest free financial education textbook for schools - funded by Martin. It's for Scotland, joining the English & Northern Irish versions (download them all via that link). But many were interested to know about how grown-ups can tool themselves up with financial knowledge too. Well, the textbooks are actually at a pretty decent level for them too, but the MSE Academoney (or more formally the MSE Academy of Money) is designed especially for them...

  • There are six Academoney sessions - take as many as you like. Each takes about two hours, with a mix of info, exercises, Martin's explanatory videos and animations. Completing all six earns you an OU badge, which you can use as evidence of ongoing professional development. See Academoney explained. The six are:

    1) Making good spending decisions. Explores behavioural and marketing pressures to help you manage your money.
    2) Budgeting & taxation. Calculate net income, how national insurance and tax work, and how to budget.
    3) Borrowing money. How different debts work, the differences between them and the dangers.
    4) Understanding mortgages. Including interest rates, repayments and how mobile bills etc may kibosh applications.
    5) Saving & investing. How they differ, savings options and investment basics (eg, how shares/funds work).
    6) Planning for retirement. Pension help and more, for those retiring imminently or with years to go.

  • Yng Nghymru? Mae'r cwrs hwn yn cynnwys chwe sesiwn dwy awr o addysg ffurfiol ar forgeisi, cynllunio ar gyfer ymddeol, creu cyllideb, cynilo a mwy. Ymunwch â'r cwrs Academi Arian neu ddysgwch fwy amdano.

    Or translated... In Wales? The Welsh language version of the course contains six two-hour sessions of formal education on mortgages, planning for retirement, creating a budget, saving and more. Join the Academi Arian course or find out more about it.

  • Those who have taken the course are raving about it. Here are just a couple of testimonials...

    - Bianca tweeted: "Daughters and me halfway through @MartinSLewis #Academoney with @OpenUniversity. We're enjoying it. Hoping to send them out into the big wide world with a bit of nous."

    - Alex wrote to Martin on Facebook: "This is a great development... I've been fortunate to have grown up with your early books and website including the fantastic forums. To have this resource available in Welsh is fantastic... Many thanks, Diolch yn fawr."

BrEExit: Roaming charges for going to Europe to return for EE customers - others likely to follow. See return of roaming costs.

Summer sales: Up to 50% off at John Lewis, H&M, Nike, Ugg etc. See our full sales round-up.

Ends Sun. Claim £30 Amazon vch if accepted for cheapest big loan. Normally we're anti loan sign-up incentives. Yet as Cahoot's* 2.8% rep APR loan for those borrowing £7,500-£15,000 is already the market's cheapest, it's a winner. But only borrow for NEEDED, one-off, planned and budgeted purchases, then borrow as little as possible, and repay as quickly as possible. If in doubt, don't. If you're not sure if you're likely to be accepted, our Cheap Loan Eligibility Calc can help. Remember though, 'rep APR' means only 51% of accepted applicants need to get the advertised rate. Full info and best buys in Cheap Loans (APR Examples).

Jai Kudo prescription specs £11 delivered (normally £69). MSE Blagged. Via code at SpeckyFourEyes.

New. MSE Train Season Ticket Calc - which should you buy? If you're not going back to the office full time, our new Season Ticket Calculator lets you compare daily and flexi tickets with normal season tickets to see which is cheapest - yet as it's so new please give it a try and send us your feedback.

If you're still waiting for 72 plant plugs from Suttons from its April deal - we're sorry. Some people have still not yet had plugs delivered from the £20 deal we featured. Suttons blames bad weather for the fact they've not all grown properly. We've been pushing it throughout this to sort it out and it now says you can claim a full refund, or wait to be sent the plugs by mid-July as it's sown a new batch. See Suttons deal latest.


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Longest 0%: Sainsbury's Bank (check eligibilityapply*) up to 29mths 0%, 2% or 3% fee - min £3 (21.9% rep APR interest after)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander (check eligibilityapply*) 18mths 0% (20.9% rep APR)

Cheapest top-service deal: Green variable, save £191/yr
Cheapest top-service fix: Green 12mth fix, save £114/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 (where paid). Assumes typical use vs current price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Top standard easy access: Cynergy Bank 0.5%, min £1 deposit
Top easy-access cash ISA: 
Cynergy Bank 0.54%, min £1
Top one-year fix: 
UBL UK 1.06%, min £2,000

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 interest
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k:
Ends Sun: Cahoot 2.8% rep APR interest + claim £30 Amazon vch (check eligibility / apply*). Plus Ratesetter (check eligibility / apply*) or MBNA (check eligibility / apply*) - both 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent (10Mb+): Shell Energy, equiv £14.22/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent (30Mb+): 
Shell Energy, equiv £17.27/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent (55Mb+): 
TalkTalk, equiv £19.45/mth  

Free £100 to switch + top service: First Direct
Free £150 experience day gift card to switch: 
Virgin Money



When did you last check your credit report? Your credit report can strongly influence whether you get a particular mortgage, credit card deal, mobile phone contract or cheap energy tariff, and sometimes even the rate you get. So even a small error can cause havoc. When did you last check yours?

Most MoneySavers say smoking ban SHOULD be extended. Last week, we asked if you thought the smoking ban should be extended and over 7,000 people voted. Overall, 63% said the ban should be extended to outdoor public spaces, but when you split it out between non-smokers and smokers you unsurprisingly get conflicting views. Among non-smokers, 70% think it should be extended to outdoor public spaces but only 11% of smokers thought the same. See full smoking ban poll results.



I got paid to eat lunch, but should I own up and risk getting a cafe worker into trouble? I bought two sandwiches for £7.50 in total in my local cafe and paid by contactless. It all seemed to go through fine, but when I checked my account the cafe had actually refunded me £7.50 - meaning they're essentially now £15 down. I was going to go in and explain what happened as I don't want a small business to lose money, but I also don't want the young assistant who was struggling with the lunchtime rush to get into trouble - should I just leave it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay for my 'free' lunch and risk getting a cafe worker into trouble? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs



Wed 30 Jun - Good Morning Britain, ITV, from 6am


Thu 1 Jul - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Ben Jackson, from 11.35am
Sat 3 Jul - BBC Radio Leicester, Mid-morning with Summaya Mughal, from 11am
Mon 5 Jul - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.20pm
Tue 6 Jul - BBC Radio Berkshire, Mid-morning with Sarah Walker, with Guy Anker, from 11.30am
Tue 6 Jul - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.40pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... news that Morrisons is trialling selling reusable glass milk bottles in a few stores sparked discussion on the MSE Forum. While good for the planet, some were put off by the fact they cost 90p a pint as opposed to the regular 50p, while others questioned whether returning the bottles would be a faff, suggesting they'd just end up in normal recycling. One MoneySaver thought of a way around this, in the form of a 10p refund for each bottle returned. But what's your view? Join the conversation on our glass milk bottle forum thread.

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