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Weekly Email
This email was sent
23rd Dec 2014
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 This info may be out of date.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 December 2014

This week

Beat train and Tube fare hikes
Switch your gran!
Call abroad for free this Christmas
How tight are you? Take the test
£13 Now TV box & Sky bundle
Urgent: Free insulation & £25 vch
Save lives - gifts with a difference
Track Santa's progress
3 audiobooks £3, incl G of Thrones
Shift card debt to 0%, no fee
Corking £10 champagne deals
Free £1.35 Krispy Kreme doughnut
J Lewis & M&S Xmas decs sale
Xmas dinner for 6 for £15?
Petrol price lowest since 2010
Spotify Premium £9.99 for 3 months
25% off YHA hostels code
'I helped elderly neighbour save £400+ on car insurance'
5,000 FREE Southern Home Show tix
Time on your hands? Sort finances
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

'January' sales ON NOW
Most price cuts now start online BEFORE Christmas

Massive 50%+ sales. The Jan sales now start before you've pulled a cracker - many are already underway. Here's a rundown of the top 20 (see full 60+ sales on our January sales page), plus your rights if things go wrong.

We've added a column explaining which retailers boosted sales further last year from their original discount, to help you predict if this may happen again. Of course, if you wait, there's no certainty and you risk stuff selling out.

The top 20 festive sales
Full list of 60+ retailers' sales: Sales rundown
Retailer Sale (up to) Online from In-store from Sale boosted LAST winter? (i)
Amazon* TBC. Last year, 70% off from 25 Dec.
Argos* TBC 25 Dec 26 Dec 50% to 60%, 2 Jan
Asos* 50% off 19 Dec N/A 50% to 70%, 2 Jan
Boots* TBC. Last year, 50% off from 24 Dec, it later boosted sale to 70%.
Currys* TBC 7pm, 24 Dec 26 Dec N/A
Debenhams* Limited 50% off 24 Dec (web), 26 Dec (stores), rising to 70% on 7 Jan.
F&F clothing* 50% off 17 Dec 17 Dec N/A
Gap* 60% off 12 Dec 12 Dec 60% to 75%, 27 Dec
H&M 60% off 22 Dec 17 Dec N/A
Homebase* 20% off £50 (ii) 24 Dec 26 Dec N/A
H of Fraser* 50% off 24 Dec 26 Dec 50% to 70%, 12 Jan
Ikea Varies N/A 18 Dec N/A
John Lewis* 50% off (iii) 24 Dec 27 Dec N/A
M&S* 50% off 12pm, 24 Dec 26 Dec 50% to 60%, 7 Jan
Matalan* 50% off 25 Dec 26 Dec N/A
New Look* 60% off 24 Dec 24 Dec N/A
Next* 50% likely 3pm, 24 Dec 26 Dec N/A
Sainsbury's* 50% off 24 Dec 24 Dec N/A
Selfridges* 50% off 25 Dec 26 Dec 50% to 70%, 2 Jan
Toys R Us* 50% off 26 Dec 26 Dec N/A
Opening times vary. (i) Percentages 'up to'. (ii) Fixed 20% off £50, not 'up to 20% off'. (iii) Up to 50% off womenswear. Yet to announce discount on home and menswear.

Your rights (for sales and non-sales)

Know your rights1. You have NO legal right to change your mind if you buy in a store. The law says tough luck. Many shops normally still allow an exchange or refund, yet during sales, leniency often goes. Only buy if you're sure it's right, see Buying Rights.

2. Buy online and you DO have a right to change your mind. The Consumer Contracts Regulations mean if you order online or by phone, you have 14 days to notify the company you wish to return goods and a further 14 days to actually return them, regardless of the reason. These items are excluded though so can't be returned or cancelled.

- Personalised goods (eg, photo mugs), unless faulty or not as described.
- Fresh food and flowers, unless off or not as described.
- Opened games, videos or software, unless faulty or not as described.
- Travel, event and hotel bookings/tickets for a specific time.

If you click & collect at stores, you're covered by these regulations. But if you reserve items you pay for later, you're not. What matters is where you pay.

3. If faulty, return quickly and you DO have refund rights. The game changes if goods are defective - even with on-sale goods. Stores' policies are irrelevant as your statutory rights allow a refund if you return quickly (usually within a month). Shops may try to fob you off - eg, "go to the manufacturer" or "no returns during sales even if faulty" - they're wrong. See What Shops Get Wrong and Return Rights.

4. Pay by credit card for extra protection. Buy anything costing £100+ and pay even 1p of it by credit card (not debit) and Section 75 laws mean the card firm's jointly liable if things go wrong. So if goods are faulty, or the firm goes bust, it needs to cough up as if it were the shop.

Make sure you REPAY IN FULL each month, preferably by direct debit so there's no interest, in which case... get 5% cashback too. The Amex Platinum Everyday* card has no annual fee and pays 5% in the first 3mths, then up to 1.25% (fail to repay in full & it's 19.9% rep APR, which quickly wipes cashback gains). Full info and other options in Cashback Credit Cards.

5. Martin's Money Mantras - Before spending, check Martin's Money Mantras. If the answer is 'no' to any of the questions, DON'T BUY IT.

PS. I'm taking time off over the Christmas period (perks of being the boss) so this email is in the safe hands of my team. Wishing all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas, Martin.

PPS. The next weekly email will be sent on Friday 2 January. After that, it's back to normal Wednesdays.

Blagged for MoneySavers

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MSE News

Top story: Yodel again voted among the worst delivery firms
Debt management firm to pay out £185k over communication delay
TfL to tackle bogus congestion charge websites
Unlimited data scrapped for Utility Warehouse mobile customers
Give the perfect MoneySaving gift
If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via
Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Tue 23 Dec 2014

To wish you a Merry Christmas, Martin & MSE have jointly donated 15,000 polio vaccines on your behalf.

Urgent. Beat train and Tube fare hikes
Prices rise on Fri 2 Jan. Buy season tickets before to beat 'em and save £100s

Annual fare hikes are looming. Season tickets, incl London Travelcards, will rise in price by up to 2.5%. Check if you can slash costs by buying season tickets BEFORE 2 Jan, plus our Cheap Train Tips has a train-load of cost-cutting tricks.

  • train hikesHow big are the hikes? Many are close to the 2.5% max. A year's Cheltenham Spa - London rises 2.49%, from £9,468 to £9,704; Driffield - York rises 2.5% from £3,844 to £3,940. A tiny number may fall in price but we haven't seen any yet.
  • Grab next year's season tickets at today's prices NOW. If you're due to renew, to pay 2014 prices, the ticket start date must be 1 Jan or earlier, and you must buy it by then (on 1 Jan some ticket offices may be shut, so try earlier). If your ticket expires in Jan, it might be worth paying twice for a few days, so check.

    Go to National Rail's Season Ticket Calc and compare prices now and from 2 Jan to make sure you save. The average price rise of all tickets, incl singles and returns, is 2.2%. FULL info, incl how to save on one-off journeys (eg, buying 12 weeks ahead), in Cheap Train Tickets.
  • Free split ticket apps can save £££s. Counter-logically, buy two tickets for one journey and you can save big - our unique Tickety Split Tool shows where to split & the saving. We found a £52 Nottingham-Ldn single. Yet buy Nottingham-Aslockton, where the train often stops, then Aslockton-Ldn, and it's £30 all-in, saving £22.

£13 Now TV box bundle, incl 2 mths' Sky Movies (was £20). Ends 11.59pm Wed 24 Dec. Get box (which basically turns your telly into a smart TV, letting you watch iPlayer etc through it) + choice of Sky Movies, Entertainment or Sports passes. Sky Streaming

Ends 4pm Wed 24 Dec. FREE insulation worth £700 plus £25 J Lewis/Argos voucher. MSE Blagged. Anyone in a suitable home (not NI) can get free loft & cavity wall insulation and a £25 J Lewis/Argos/Homebase etc giftcard. It's installed by British Gas but you needn't be its customer. These offers tend to come & go but there's no certainty this will return, so hurry if you want it. Free Insulation

Help save lives this Xmas, incl 100 polio vaccines for £11. Presents with a difference. Charity gifts

Track Santa as he delivers pressies worldwide. Nifty site watches his progress. More Santa freebies, incl video

Switch your gran!
Well, her energy firm. Fight the national disgrace that the elderly pay £100s MORE for fuel than they should

If you've a gran, gramps, uncle, aunt, or chap over the road who's not confident online, why not give them a hand with our Switch Your Gran info? With some of the top pick tariffs now averaging less than £1,000/yr, there's no excuse to overpay. Not checked your own bill? Do that too.

  • switch granSwitching is no big deal. Fear of change is often a big inhibitor. Yet even those reluctant to switch firm can still often cut bills by just switching tariff. If your cheapest is another firm though, remember it's the same gas, the same electricity, the same pipes, the same safety. The only real change is the price, and who you call up.
  • Our FREE Cheap Energy Club's designed to make it easy. Everyone's cheapest depends on their usage & postcode. Our Cheap Energy Club uses (we hope) plain English to find your cheapest deal and guide you through switching, usually giving £30 dual-fuel cashback if it can switch you. After that, uniquely, it monitors the tariff to check it's still cheap and tells you once it isn't.

    To help further, you could help your gran set up an account and get her alerts emailed to you too, so you can check and notify her when to switch again.
  • Fix prices for long-term peace of mind. If you prefer stability, a fix gives the peace of mind of a locked-in rate for up to four years. Ensure it has no exit penalties, so if politicians deliver their holy grail of lower bills, you can escape fee free. Our Top Pick Fixes Comparison via Cheap Energy Club runs through your top deals.
  • You can switch by phone if the web's a bother. Some comparison sites let you switch by phone if you prefer it to online, incl MoneySupermarket* (where you get £30 cashback if you mention MSE - 0800 177 7861), uSwitch on 0800 051 5493, Energyhelpline on 0800 074 0745 and UKPower on 0800 320 2000. Most lines are open as normal today (Tue), limited hours tomorrow, then closed for the rest of the week.
  • Key need-to-knows to finish...
    - For those without gas, don't worry. Electricity-only deals follow the same logic as above.
    - For prepayment (card or key) meters, see our Cheap Prepaid Energy guide.
    - If possible, pay by fixed MONTHLY direct debit. It's up to 6% cheaper, but do regular meter readings.
    - With some cheap 'online' tariffs bills are posted, so you can use 'em without web access.

THREE audiobooks £3, eg, Game of Thrones & The Fault in Our Stars. MSE Blagged. Three-month Audible newbies' trial at 99p/mth. It's £8/mth after, but you can cancel after 3 months and keep the books. Audible

Reminder. Shift credit card debt to 0% NO FEE. Accepted newbies can shift to Santander* (eligibility calc) for 15mths 0%, no fee. Shifting from Santander? Tesco* gives a year's 0%, no fee. Need longer? Barclaycard 24mths 0%* has a 1.25% fee (eligibility calc), or for longer, Barclaycard's 35mths 0%* with a 2.49% fee (eligibility calc). Clear before the 0% ends or they jump to 18.9% rep APR (Tesco 20.6%-26.7%). See Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Reminder: £10 champers at Asda (was £24) & Aldi (£12). See all corking bubbly deals. Pls be Drinkaware.

FREE £1.35 Krispy Kreme doughnut. Via Facebook page, more likely to work on desktop. Go quick

John Lewis up to 80% off Christmas decorations sale + M&S up to 50%. Incl lights, baubles & trees. Great for next Xmas (or this if running VERY late). Limited stock

£15 Xmas lunch for 6? Read MSE Tara's blog on cheap turkey, sprouts & parsnips. Cheap Xmas dinner

Speak to friends and family worldwide for free this Christmas
Chat for free via the web. Calling offline? Our unique CallChecker finds cheapest ways to phone for EVERY country

Call a mobile in Australia on BT during the day and it's £40/hour - Virgin's £49/hr. But you can use web tools to smash costs or, better yet, make calls free. Even offline, you can use your phone to call for 0.5p/min.

  • international calls Don't pay a penny unnecessarily. Do it FREE. If both you and the person you're calling are online - whether on a mobile, computer or tablet - and both use the same app, such as Skype, Viber or FaceTime (on Apple), you can call (sometimes by video) free. Use wi-fi, as using mobile internet data can cost. Full details in Free Web Calls.
  • Calling someone offline? Instantly find cheapest USA, Oz, India etc prices. Our free International CallChecker finds the cheapest way to make a traditional phone call to each country from landlines or mobiles. Once you've found the cheapest, dial the prefix, then the normal number, and it's billed to your home phone. They're no-frills, so don't expect quality service, just low prices.

    Don't believe the Skype hype - it's not always cheapest for paid-for calls to an actual phone number. If you call the US, the cheapest providers charge just 0.5p/min (45p/hour incl connection charge) whereas Skype's 1.7p/min.

Petrol prices lowest since 2010 - drive 'em down more. Ahead of the Christmas getaway, how to find the cheapest fuel (eg, pay 111p rather than 126p/litre) and cut costs by up to a 1/3 by driving more efficiently in Cheap Petrol.

Spotify Premium buy one month for £9.99, get two months free. Newbies only till 31 Dec. Music streaming

25% off 71 YHA hostels code (incl half-term). Ideal for families & groups on an adventure holiday. Book 26 Dec to NYE, for stays till 28 Feb. Eg, en suite room for 6 for 3nts at Snowdon Pen-y-Pass (Wales) for £200 (norm £267). YHA

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
35mths 0%, 2.49% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

Low fee 0%: Barclaycard*
24mths 0%, 1.25% fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Cahoot* (£5k - £7.5k)
4.9% rep APR

Sainsbury's* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.9% rep APR

Post Office 1.5% AER
Min £100, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed

Coventry BS 2.4% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I helped an elderly neighbour renew his car insurance, saving £400+, then applied for Attendance Allowance to help someone else elderly cope with ill health. She got 50% more in benefits."
- see our Cheap Car Insurance guide and use our Benefits Check-Up Calculator.

5,000 FREE Southern Home Show tix (norm £8). MSE Blagged. 30 Jan - 1 Feb in London. Alexandra Palace tix

How tight are you?
For festive fun, take the 'are you a Scrooge?' test. Plus MoneySaving IQ, consumer rights & debt quizzes

If you think you have what it takes, try these four fiendish quizzes.

  • how tight are you quizHow tight are you? Take our revamped tongue-in-cheek How Tight Are You? test. MoneySaving is about cutting bills, not cutting back - unless you need to. Tightness includes thrift and being less than generous. The aim is balance.

    Compare your result - the average is 37% tight, while Martin was 41%. But forumite Sparrer, who scored 63%, said: "Proud of being very frugal thanks to Martin Lewis."
  • MoneySaving IQ Test. This email's weekly, but how much info do you retain? Our MoneySaving IQ Quiz reveals if you're a MoneyWastingExpert or competition for Martin.
  • Celebrity Consumer Rights Quiz. Can Chris return the 'conscious uncoupling' top he bought for Gwyneth? Or Kim K her too-small undies? Try our Celebrity Consumer Rights Quiz - bad puns thrown in for free.
  • Good Debt/Bad Debt Video Quiz. Some debts are good, some hideous. Play our Good Debt/Bad Debt Video Quiz to see if your wisdom's up to scratch.

Spare time over Christmas? Sort your finances. There are many ways to make Christmas pay. Cut your bills with a Money Makeover, Boost Your Income (eg, flog old gadgets) and do a budget to avoid overspending.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines

Compare, get £30 dual fuel cashback & alerts if your deal's no longer cheap. Go via the free MSE Cheap Energy Club Top Pick Fixes Comparison.

The savings can be huge. Someone with typical dual fuel usage on a big 6 standard tariff pays £1,180 a year, the cheapest deal's £950.

First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...*
Compare The Market
Direct Line*

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£11/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Post Office
with weekend calls
£12/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
Show Vouchers and Top Deals

Restaurant vouchers

Discount vouchers

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
Show Money Saving Community
The MoneySaving Community

Can I tell my in-laws which account to save in for my child?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... We have a small child and we opened an ISA for her which has a decent savings rate. Every Xmas and birthday her paternal grandparents put money in her name into premium bonds. We would prefer if they pay into the ISA as the returns are likely to be better. Is it right to ask? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Can I tell my in-laws where to save for our child? | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

Creative ways to use leftover Xmas food
A recent Great Hunt revealed many of us overbuy Xmas food. We want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on the best ways to avoid wasting it. Do you have any top recipes for combining Christmas ingredients? How else do you make sure everything is used? Share yours/read others': Creative ways to use leftover Xmas food Past topics: View all

Airline: Aer Lingus Price: Flights to Ireland from £19.99 one-way Ends: Mon 26 Jan
Our pick this week is Aer Lingus's* offer for flights from 1 Jan till 30 Apr 2015 to five Irish destinations from 13 UK airports. The sale ends Mon 26 Jan and includes taxes and charges. There is no code to enter - the price appears automatically. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

Make sure your festive visitors save money

We asked how you make sure your guests have a MoneySaving stay if they're visiting over the holiday period. One forumite said they kept a PAYG sim card topped up in an old phone, while another opened a basic bank account for their parents to avoid bank charges. Another poster said they printed restaurant deals so their guests could get cheap lunches.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

No appearances this week.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

What makes a house homely?

There's definitely a difference between a house and a home. Our forumites discuss some of the ways they have given their houses a more lived-in feel in the What makes a house homely? thread. Join in and share your tips for personalising your living space.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 126.46 113.81
US Flag $ 155.11 139.59
Turkish Flag TL 350.00 307.47
Rates correct at 4pm Mon
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: What's your favourite Christmas song?

It's Christmas, so for this week's poll, we're forgetting about money and going for a bit of fun. We've selected some of the most loved Christmas songs - choosing the best known version - and we’d like you to pick your favourites.

Please vote for your FAVOURITE THREE (here's a taster of the options).

Poll results

How likely are you to switch when a hot deal ends?

Car insurance is the product most would dump for a new deal, but bank accounts were the least likely, even though service and rates can be pitiful. Here's how you voted.

- 84% are v likely to switch car ins
- 77% are v likely on home ins
- 65% are v likely on energy
- 22% are v likely with banks

3,437 voted. See  full results.

Question of the week

Q: If you are going away over the Christmas/New Year period what should you do with your heating? I have read that it should be set at five degrees. Geoff, by email.

MSE Sally’s A: To prevent frozen pipes, which can cause hundreds of pounds of damage, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) recommends you leave some heating on even if you're away.

If you can set your thermostat so the heating comes on when it drops below 5 degrees that should do it. It adds that if your thermostat doesn't go down so far, setting it to come on for a couple of hours a night at about 15 degrees should be enough as it can take a long time for pipes to freeze. For more on using energy efficiently, see Energy Mythbusting.

 MSE Nick's free game of the week: 12 Holes of Christmas

The best (worst) Christmas jumpers ever?

That's it for this week, but before we go, it's that time of year again when Christmas jumpers - the good, the bad and the very, very ugly - are popping up all over the place. Here's a selection of some of the best (or you may think, worst) around.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

international calls
The MSE team's attempt before our Xmas party.

Important. Please read how works

We think it's important you understand the strengths and limitations of this email and the site. We're a journalistic website, and aim to provide the best MoneySaving guides, tips, tools and techniques - but can't promise to be perfect, so do note you use the information at your own risk and we can't accept liability if things go wrong.

What you need to know

  • This info does not constitute financial advice, always do your own research on top to ensure it's right for your specific circumstances - and remember we focus on rates not service.

  • We don't as a general policy investigate the solvency of companies mentioned, how likely they are to go bust, but there is a risk any company can struggle and it's rarely made public until it's too late (see the section 75 guide for protection tips).

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  • Always remember anyone can post on the MSE forums, so it can be very different from our opinion.

Please read the Full Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, how this site is financed and Editorial Code. Martin Lewis is a registered trade mark belonging to Martin S Lewis.

More about MoneySaving Expert and Martin Lewis

What is

Founded in February 2003, it's now the UK's biggest consumer help website with over 10 million people getting this email and more than 15 million using the site every month. In September 2012 it became part of the MoneySupermarket Group PLC. Its focus is simple: saving cash and fighting for financial justice on anything and everything. The site has more than 75 full-time staff, many of whom are researching, analysing and writing to continually find ways to save money. More info: See About MSE

Who is Martin Lewis?

Martin set up and runs MSE, and still writes this email each week (unless it says so). He's an ultra-focused money-saving journalist and consumer campaigner with his own ITV prime-time show The Martin Lewis Money Show and weekly slots on Radio 5 Live, This Morning and Good Morning Britain, among others. He’s a columnist for publications including the Telegraph and Woman magazine. More info: See Martin Lewis' biography

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Any links with a * by them are affiliated, which means get a product via this link and a contribution may be made to, which helps it stay free to use. You shouldn't notice any difference; the links don't impact the product at all and the editorial line (the things we write) isn't changed due to it. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it's still included in the same way. More info: See how this site is financed.

As we believe transparency is important, we're including the following 'un-affiliated' web-addresses for content too:

Unaffiliated web-addresses for links in this email,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Note

Referring people to insurers or insurance intermediaries can in some circumstances constitute an FCA regulated activity. For this reason, pages with links which take you to the sites of insurers or insurance intermediaries are hosted by Limited on behalf of Group PLC. Financial Group Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 303190). The registered office address of both Group PLC and Financial Group Limited is MoneySupermarket House, St. David’s Park, Ewloe, Chester, CH5 3UZ.

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