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Weekly Email
This email was sent
23rd Nov 2016
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 12m who get it each week."

23 November 2016
Urgent. Cheap energy deals disappearing, lock in and fix NOW
Ends Mon. Hot BT fibre and line
Black Friday PREVIEW: Early access codes, confirmed deals & predictions
Shift debt to 41mths 0% pre-approved
Married, student, parent, pensioner or carer? Are you owed £100s?
10p/L off fuel with £50 spend
£100 large personalised canvas £25
Why Amazon's paying for Grand Tour
Virgin Trains sale, eg, Ldn-Leeds £10
£45 Sanctuary Spa beauty set £23
Avios axing 'points for Eurostar tix'
£10 West End theatre tix incl Les Mis
'Used your PPI templates & reclaimed £22,000 from our bank'
2for1 spa breaks + extra 10% off

Urgent. Cheapest energy deals disappearing fast - lock in & fix NOW. With prices rising no firm would commit to a new MSE Big Switch

- Cheapest deal has rocketed by £100 in 6mths
- Standard prices are rising - save £200+/yr by locking in now
- Switching's easy & takes 5 mins. It's the same pipes, gas & elec

We've been shouting it till we're blue in the face - if you're on a standard tariff, fixing can save you £100s. For the 66% of you on one with a Big 6 provider it's doubly important you ACT NOW. First, their prices are set to rise. On Monday smaller player Ovo Energy sneaked out a 5% rise starting in Jan - others are likely to follow.

EnergyWhat's more, the best switching deals are disappearing fast. In May, a typical user paid £724/yr on the cheapest 1yr fix - now it's £822/yr. Also, the best deals are from small firms, which buy a set amount of energy. Once it runs out, deals vanish without warning. They're currently £200/yr-ish cheaper than big firms' standard tariffs - a huge saving.

Plus, despite our best attempts, we couldn't negotiate a new MSE Big Switch - where a trusted intermediary (eg, us) gets energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs. We opened two bidding windows for suppliers to beat the market's cheapest. Yet even with our power, no firm would play ball - and as we always say, if it isn't cheapest, we don't put our name to it.

Of course, you can lower your bills by reducing usage, but switching can be a nailed-on winner. Here's what to do...

1. Stop wasting £200/yr on energy. Switch & lock in to a cheap fix. As prices vary by usage & region, always do a full market comparison via MSE's Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save. Plus we pay £30 dual fuel (ie, gas and elec) cashback if we can switch you. Judith says: "Thanks for your help. Finally got round to switching energy provider (I'm a switching newbie on a pension), which is due to save us £600 this year." Here's the killer point...

If you're one of the 66% on a standard tariff with the Big 6 - B Gas, E.on, EDF, Scot Power, SSE & Npower - you're being ripped off. On typical use, they're £1,063/yr. Our top pick cheap fix is £856/yr - £200/yr+ less.

And if you're on a standard tariff & lock in now at these prices, you may end up saving even more compared to standard rates if they rise.

As this table shows, there are huge savings to make. Avro is currently our top pick 1yr fix - fixes protect against price rises - but if you factor in cashback, Octopus Energy (though it's new, so we've little feedback) could come out cheaper for some. To protect yourself for two winters, iSupply may be better.

BEST FIXES (varies by region, based on typical use)

Full top picks comparison to find YOUR actual price

Tariff Cost (1) Cashback (2)
Typical Big 6 standard cost £1,063/yr -
Avro Energy - Top pick 1yr fix £856/yr -
Octopus Energy - Cheapest 1yr fix with cashback £876/yr £15/fuel
First Utility 1yr fix - Biggie with good service £914/yr £15/fuel
iSupply Energy - Longer 21mth fix £870/yr £15/fuel
(1) For dual fuel, paying by direct debit. (2) Via Cheap Energy Club.

But beware, these deals could be pulled at any moment. It's worth adding that with a fix, only the rate you pay is fixed, not the cost. So the more you use, the more you pay.

PS: We've chosen not to mention a £822/yr deal from Economy Energy because it's currently being investigated by regulator Ofgem for poor selling practices, plus we've little feedback on it.
2. Never switched before? It's quick, easy and can save £100s/yr. Many wrongly think switching's a hassle, yet it's the same electricity, same gas and same safety - only service, billing and price change. For most, it takes just 5-10 mins to fill out your details on our Cheap Energy Club.

Just grab a recent bill for your annual usage (if you don't have one, we can estimate), enter your details and we give a full market comparison. Select a tariff, and you're done - your energy supply should switch in 3-4 weeks, they do the work behind the scenes. Pete did it: "Saving £160 a year, took 5 mins max."

- Elec or gas only? Don't worry, you can still switch, although your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel when in the 'Edit details' section.
3. Save £280/yr if you have prepay. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay, and the Big 6 have stopped charging to swap you to one - though most require a credit check. Some small suppliers also offer this for free (tho not all). A typical standard prepay tariff is £1,137/yr so switching to the cheapest fix can save £280/yr. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide for full info.

If you don't want to or can't change meters, do a Cheap Energy Club prepay comparison anyway, because you could still save - though if you're in debt with your supplier you may not be able to move.
4. Loyal to British Gas? Switch to BG-operated Sainsbury's Energy to save a possible £130/yr. See BG vs Sainsbury's for full info. Charlie emailed: "Just swapped British Gas to Sainsbury's Energy and saved £359 per year, well happy." [That's more than the average saving, but averages are just that.]
5. Switch without switching to save up to £180/yr. If you think moving firm is a hassle (it's not), at least move to your provider's cheapest tariff. The biggest saving is for those with Npower - someone with typical usage on its standard variable tariff could save a massive £180/yr by moving to its cheapest fix. See Switching without switching for full help.
6. 'Unlimited' energy for a fixed fee with this unique tariff. If you're worried about your direct debit suddenly shooting up this winter, Green Star's Unlimited tariff* lets you pay a fixed amount every month regardless of how much energy you use - good for someone freezing in their home and fearful of putting the heating on.

All prices are personalised. You need to give it past bills for it to calculate a flat monthly rate, fixed for 12 months. But prices have risen recently and the tariff now costs similar to a Big 6 standard tariff, though there are £30/fuel exit fees. For medium users, it's about £1,056/yr, or £88/mth. Yet even if your usage rockets, Green Star says it'll honour the deal - useful if you just want peace of mind. See Is Green Star any good?
7. Going green won't get you the cheapest deals, but huge savings are still possible. If you're environmentally conscious, the cheapest deal about is Octopus Energy's green 1yr fix which offers 100% renewable electricity. With typical use, it's £902/yr, there are no exit fees, and you'll get £15/fuel cashback for switching with us. It's still £160/yr less than a Big 6 standard tariff based on typical use, but always do a full comparison for your cheapest (select the '100% renewable' tab once logged in).
8. Paying by monthly direct debit is cheapest. Suppliers charge about 6% less if you pay by direct debit, though give regular meter readings for accurate bills. If you let the supplier estimate, you'll likely pay too much or not enough. If too high, you've a right to challenge - see Fight Unfair Energy Direct Debits. If too low, you could face a bill shock.

Plus, if you've switched, check with old suppliers - you could be owed £100s. Most give it back automatically when you leave, but if you've switched in the last six years, check whether they owe you. Our Reclaim Energy Bill Credit guide shows how. Christy emailed: "Phoned my provider, turned out I was in credit by over £1,700, which it refunded in 10 days."
9. Use heating oil? Haggle for help with bills. Heating oil prices have tumbled in recent years, but they've been on their way back up since Feb, and you typically pay more in winter when demand is highest. So if you need to stock up, now's the time. However, remember to haggle to bring the price down, or check your local area for heating oil clubs - you could even set one up yourself - and benefit from bulk-buying. Beat higher prices with our Cheap Heating Oil guide.

As MSE Kirsty discovered: "After explaining certain personal circumstances to Calor Gas, it agreed to fix our tariff until next summer, giving us peace of mind through winter."

The Martin Lewis Money Show, SAVINGS IN CRISIS, 8pm MON 28 Nov, on ITV
How to make your savings pay you up to 5% even in today's dire interest rate environment

Over to Martin... "I hope you enjoyed last night's live show (especially as I'm writing this before I've done it) - you can watch the energy / festive forecaster special again on the ITV Hub. We move to Mondays next week, and we're starting with the can of worms that is savings. They are truly in crisis. Rates are below historic lows. I'm going to try to find you a route through. Do watch or set the Betamax."

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via

A YEAR's BT fast fibre b'band & line '£273' & get £40 M&S vch

Pay BT £373 & claim £100 Mastercard (works like cash) and the vch. Use 'em all, it's equiv £20/mth

The key to slashing broadband costs is pouncing on short-lived promos such as this from the UK's biggest provider. You usually pay more for faster fibre - best for gamers, streamers or multiple users - but this cracker is cheaper than BT's typical standard-speed broadband and half its normal fast fibre. Here are the need-to-knows...

  • BroadbandEnds Mon. Hot BT fast fibre broadband & line. Go via comparison site using this BT fibre link* and anyone who doesn't currently have BT broadband can get this line rent & up-to-52Mb speed unlimited broadband deal on a 1yr contract (83% of the UK can get it - you're told when applying). Avail until 11.59pm on Mon 28 Nov. Here's how it works:

    1. Choose to pay £205.08 line rent upfront for a year during the application. If you can afford to (equiv £17.09/mth), or it's the standard £18.99/mth.
    2. Broadband's discounted to £9/mth for 12mths (£108 total). After, it's the usual £26/mth.
    3. You pay £59.99 set-up. Includes activation and p&p for the 'free' router.
    4. You can claim a £100 prepaid Mastercard and £40 M&S voucher AFTER installation. This is what makes the deal really hot. Annoyingly, BT won't remind you, so diarise to use this Mastercard claim form (when you've got it you can spend it anywhere that accepts Mastercard) and this M&S vch claim form. They can take up to 45 days from claiming.

    - What about calls? Weekend calls to UK landlines are included. See other BT costs.
    - Could BT hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, but you can leave your contract within 30 days of notification if so. If you pay line rental upfront you'll at least be shielded from line hikes in that year.
    - Anything else? You get 100GB free online storage & you can opt in to free BT Sport for 3mths (after, it's from £5/mth - cancel if you don't want it).
    - Can I get more cashback elsewhere? Regular cashback site users may see bigger cashback, but often on more expensive deals. Cashback can also change daily, so check.

    Cost analysis: It's a steal. The total you pay over 1yr paying line rental upfront is £373.07 before calls. But claim & use the Mastercard & it's £273.07. If you use the M&S vch as well, it's equiv to £233.07, or £19.42/mth.

  • Already with BT? HAGGLE. If you're near your contract's end, it's easy to haggle with BT to nail a decent deal. For inspiration, this week MSE Guy haggled a deal only a few quid a month off this one.

  • Don't need fibre? Standard speed broadband for '£115'. The market's current cheapest is Sky at £190 for a year with a £75 prepaid Mastercard, but we expect more deals around Black Friday. Full options in Cheap Broadband.

Black Friday

It's here... Black Friday week, where stores pump out deals galore, which change daily. Yet only buy what you need and can afford, and beware dud deals - our Deals team will do the hard work and research to help you see through shops' spin and nail the genuine corkers.

ON NOW incl... Selfridges RARE 20% off code | Amazon up to 50% off | La Redoute 40% off | John Lewis price-match | Currys 'Black Tag' event. Plus Tesco Direct, Argos, eBay, Halfords & more. See all confirmed Black Friday deals.

Deals we've blagged EARLY ACCESS to... Hi-Tec up to 60% off on now | £93 Body Shop Bundle £35 on now | Urban Outfitters 40% off on now | Sports Direct spend £50, get £10 vch from Thu.

Discount PREDICTIONS for Thu/Fri, incl... Gap 40%, Topshop up to 50%, Ralph Lauren 30%, M&S 30-50%, Asos 20%. See full Black Friday predictions.

We'll keep our Black Friday Deals page updated all week, including from the early hours of Friday and right through the weekend. Also get regular updates via our Twitter & Facebook feeds.


- Large personalised photo canvas £25 Ends 30 Nov

- Extra 10% off 2for1 spa breaks via code Ends Mon


- Now's the time to cut your mortgage by £1,000s

- £55 free-range turkey & meat bundle, feeds 10-12

- Free Santa letters (incl in Braille) - stamp needed

- Uni minister refuses to be clear on parental contribution

Paying credit card interest? STOP - get 41mths 0% PRE-APPROVED

The balance transfer price war hots up with fees falling & new options to save £100s or £1,000s in interest

A balance transfer is where you get a new card to pay off existing credit & store cards, so you owe it instead. Many now give you till 2020 to pay them off at 0% interest. You're debt-free quicker as repayments cover the debt, not any interest.

Will you be accepted? Our Balance Transfer Quick Eligibility Calc shows which cards you've best odds of getting, or join our FULL Credit Club, where you also get free Credit & Affordability Scores. Both do a 'soft' search on your credit file that lenders can't act on, so there's no impact on your creditworthiness. And for some cards the calcs show which providers 'pre-approve' you, and will definitely give you the card, subject to an ID check.

Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Lowest 41mth 0% fee, but you may get fewer 0% months Up to 41mths 0% (18.9%) 3.18%
New. Virgin (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Slightly higher fee, but you can be pre-approved 41mths 0% (20.9%) 3.19% (min £3)
MBNA-owned Nuba (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Slightly higher fee but you can be pre-approved + get £20 Amzn vch (on min £1k transfer). You may get fewer 0% months Up to 41mths 0% (20.9%) 3.29%
New. Sainsbury's (eligibility calc / apply*) - Long 0%, and with lower fee 40mths 0% (18.9%) 1.95% (min £3) (2)
Virgin (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Long, VERY low fee 30mths 0% (19.9%) 0.59% (min £3)
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest NO-FEE, but you may get fewer 0% months Up to 25mths 0% (18.9%) NO fee
Virgin (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) - Next-longest NO-FEE 24mths 0% (19.9%) NO fee
(1) % of debt shifted. (2) Must have Nectar card, otherwise 2.89% fee (min £3). Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

  • Tip 1: Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most 0% cards charge a fee to transfer your balance. So calculate how long 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, even with a bigger fee.

  • Tip 2: Some have an 'up to' 0% length, so you may get a shorter deal. That's why we include the best non 'up-to' options in the table - with them, you know for sure what you get if accepted (& our eligibility calc will say if you've good odds).

  • Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help, get cashback & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
    a) Never miss the min 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 on these. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
    d) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days to get the 0% & vouchers.

10p/litre off fuel at Morrisons with £50 in-store spend. Prices are up this year, but this trick takes unleaded at Morrisons forecourts to sub-£1/litre (diesel a little over), though go quick. Full info: Morrisons fuel trick.

Large personalised photo canvas £25, norm £100. MSE Blagged. Incl del. 100cm x 75cm. Cheapest we've seen

The hidden reason Amazon is paying so much for Jeremy Clarkson & co's Grand Tour. Read Martin's Amazon's in Top Gear blog.

Virgin Trains East Coast FLASH sale, eg, Ldn-Leeds £10 rtn. 200,000 discounted tickets for 4 Jan to 10 Feb 2017 travel. Ends Fri. All aboard

£23 Sanctuary Spa 'Make a Wish' beauty set (norm £45). Boots 'Star Gift', incl body butter/scrub/wash, hand cream and bath soak etc. From Thu. Sanctuary Spa

Warning. Avios axing 'points for Eurostar tix' swap. It's a top way to use Avios as you don't pay taxes & charges. It's also axing Disneyland Paris, package hols, cruises & ferry swaps. But there's still time to beat the Avios cuts.

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Married, student, parent, pensioner or carer? Are you owed £100s?

Millions fail to claim benefits or refunds they're entitled to - missing out now can have a massive long-term hit

There might not be much to unite this lot, but being owed cash definitely does. Young or old, student or parent, millions of you are losing out on money that's rightfully yours. Plus by not spending a few minutes to check now, you could be losing out on £1,000s more in future. Here are some of the biggies...

  • BenefitsMarried or in a civil partnership? You could be owed up to £432. One million have successfully claimed the marriage tax allowance in the past 18 months, though a whopping 3.1m who are eligible still haven't claimed. Don't miss out - see Marriage Tax Allowance Check. Robert emailed: "After reading your tips, I got £432 by phone, all in 10 mins."

  • Graduate paying off your student loan? Many overpay by £100s. Last year alone, 77,000 bagged an average £700 refund after overpaying. It happens when you keep paying based on your old salary even after a pay cut, or you keep going after it's paid off - see Graduate Refund help. Rebecca emailed: "After reading your article I checked and got back just under £1,000. Fab."

  • Parent to a young child? Act NOW to protect your state pension entitlement. You could be missing out on £1,000s over your retirement if you fail to claim child benefit - even if your partner's income means you're not entitled to keep it. Tens of thousands could be affected. Urgent Child Benefit Check

  • Aged 63+ and on low income? Ensure you claim pension credit. The Govt estimates 1m+ aren't claiming this top-up to their weekly pension. Our Pension Credit guide has qualifying criteria and how to claim. Jean emailed: "After checking your site I claimed and I'm going to receive an extra £22/week [£1,144/yr]. Thanks so much."

  • Are you one of 6.5m who cares for someone? Ensure you claim carer's credit. It's a national insurance 'credit' to fill gaps in your NI record. If you don't claim you could lose out on £1,000s of your state pension. See Carer's Credit help.

PS: Even if you can't claim for the above, if you have a household income of £73,000 or less per year you could still be due cash. Find out in our 10-Min Benefits Checker.

£10 West End theatre tix incl Les Mis & The Gruffalo. Massive savings across all seats IF you have a Mastercard. For Jan/Feb shows. Theatres

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"We used your templates to reclaim PPI from our bank. Imagine our delight when we received a cheque for £22,000. We'd like to say a huge thank you for encouraging us to put the claim in."

2for1 spa breaks + extra 10% off code. MSE Blagged. Valid at 39 venues nationwide. Fri-Mon. Spa deals


Do tear-jerker Christmas ads - such as the bouncing John Lewis dog - change where you shop? Whether it's the John Lewis dog bouncing on a trampoline, Aldi's carrot traversing a Christmas dinner or Waitrose's two robins uniting over a mince pie, a host of maudlin Christmas ads are designed to tug at our heart and purse strings.

Click here to vote - has a Christmas ad affected where you shop?

Sky's the limit for haggling. Last week's poll asked what firms you'd had most success haggling with. For the second year running it was Sky and the AA that came out top, with 87% of voters reporting success at haggling down costs with Sky and 86% at the AA. See how other firms stack up in the full haggling poll results.


- Top story: New-build homeowners left unable to get insurance

- Government likened to payday lender over its refusal to budge on retrospective student loan changes

- Concentrix claimants awarded up to £100 compensation - how to apply if your tax credits were wrongly cut

- Think Money customers locked out of accounts after IT upgrade causes chaos

- Apple offers free battery replacement for faulty iPhone 6s handsets - how to check if you're eligible

- Mastercard class action legal claim to get January hearing

- Savings protection limit set to return to £85,000

- Government to ban pensions cold-calling


Should we buy gifts for my mate's kids? I'm meeting a group of old school friends, one of whom has kids. Another pal suggested we buy presents for them, as the friend and his children live near the hotel we're staying in. Yet we won't even see them, and it'll set a precedent that won't benefit those of us without children. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we buy gifts for my mate's kids? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: How can I make £100 last a month?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a Misfit Ray fitness tracker
- Old-style board thread of the week: Oldest milk you've drunk
- Discussion of the week: Young entrepreneur - I don't know how to support him


- How to fight banks that keep your savings prisoner because you want to take 'too much' out...


- Is it time to scrap the 1p coin?

- How I got £230 off fibre broadband - you can do it too


Thu 24 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Thu 24 Nov - Ideal Home Christmas at Olympia, London, 2pm
Fri 25 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 28 Nov - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 28 Nov - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast


Wed 23 Nov - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 23 Nov - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 24 Nov - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 25 Nov - BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 29 Nov - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm


Q: During a recent family holiday to Bulgaria my wife was rushed to hospital, had emergency surgery and spent six days there. Our insurers were first class in paying her medical costs, but can we as a family claim for the cost of the holiday as we couldn't enjoy it? Aled, by email.

BroadbandMSE Tony's A: Firstly, we hope she made a speedy recovery.

To answer your question, while all policies differ, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to get a refund as we don't know of any that cover 'loss of enjoyment'.

Having said that, some policies offer a daily allowance if you accompany someone to hospital and stay with them, so it's worth checking that out. For more information, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.

Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).

Have you got a dirty mind?

That's it for this week, but before we go, we'd like to ask, have you got a dirty mind? We posted a viral image in the forum that is actually quite innocent - despite what it looks like at first glance. Our forumites responded by posting a range of similarly rude (but innocent) optical illusions. Can you tell what they really are or are you just dirty-minded?

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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