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Weekly Email
This email was sent
24th Aug 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 This info may be out of date.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."

24 August 2016
Profit from the credit card price war, incl free £25 M&S
Record mortgage fixes, 0.99% 2yrs
Travel insurance expiry warning
£2.63 prosecco trick
Is the Help to Buy ISA a 'con'?
100+ supermarket coupons
Cheapest £5k-£7k loan
70 selling tricks - eBay vs Facebook
£12 for £40 of Boots No7 beauty
Big Energy Switch Event heads-up
Beat Virgin Media's price hike
Asos £2.50 tops, £6 dresses
Full Sky TV 60% off mega code
Laura Ashley FLASH 40% off
Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale

Profit from the credit card price war

- New. £25 M&S vch for spending 1p, longest-ever NO FEE 0% debt shift
- Banks desperate to lend - take advantage of blockbuster deals
- Eligibility calc boosted: Tesco in + Barclaycard pre-approval possible

If you need to slash existing debt costs, borrow for something new (don't mention Xmas yet) or make a quick buck, there's a host of new scorching deals that make credit cards a hot option. Used well, they're a great tool. Used badly, you'll get burnt - so never borrow unnecessarily. Our pick of the bunch is below, but first...

1. Always check if you'll be accepted for top deals via our bolstered eligibility calc. Normally, the only way to find out is to apply, yet too many applications hurt your credit score. Our Credit Card Eligibility Calc does a soft search, so while you see it on your file, lenders can't act upon it, protecting your creditworthiness.

It shows your odds from 0% to 95% of getting top deals. We had most card providers in there already, but a big one which was missing, Tesco Bank, is now in.

Pre-approval goes a step further and tells you if you've a 100% acceptance chance, subject to ID and fraud checks. You could do it with Aqua, MBNA and Virgin cards, and from this week, many Barclaycards too.
2. Credit CardsNew. Free £25 M&S vch for spending a penny via 25mth 0% spending card. Accepted new M&S Bank card holders (eligibility calc / apply*) who apply via our specific link and spend anything, even just 1p, before 31 Oct get a £25 M&S voucher to use on food, wine, flowers & more (not clothes or homeware), as long as you've not held its credit card in the past year. Plus it's 25mths 0% on spending (18.9% rep APR after). You can get 27mths 0% elsewhere - the longest-ever 0% spending period - but even though M&S is a tad shorter, combined with the freebie, it's a corker.

- Extra £5 of points. The first time you use it (on most things) at M&S you get 500 M&S points, worth £5. So buy a Tesco banana and you get £25, buy an M&S banana and it's £30. You can pay it off and forget it or keep using for 1pt per £1 spent in M&S and per £5 elsewhere.

Need a longer 0%? FULL help and all the best buys in 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples) - here are the table-toppers by length:

- Sainsbury's (eligibility calc / apply*) 27mths 0% (18.9% rep APR after).
- Post Office (eligibility calc / apply*) 27mths 0%, though if you fail to spend in first 3mths it's 16mths 0% (18.9% rep APR after).

0% spending card GOLDEN RULES:
a) Pay at least the monthly min & always stick to the credit limit or you can lose the 0%.
b) Plan to clear debt before the 0% ends (or do a balance transfer), or the rate jumps to the rep APR.
c) These cards are usually ONLY cheap for spending - avoid balance transfers and cash withdrawals.
3. New. Longest-EVER no-fee 0% balance transfer card. If you're paying credit card interest... STOP. Shift debt to a 0% balance transfer card to pay NO interest. These pay off existing credit and store cards, so you owe them instead, but at 0% (though you usually can't transfer a balance from a card issued by the same lender).

As Kelly told us: "Used the eligibility calc, got 35mths 0% and shifted £11,000 from 29.9%. Shocked by the savings." That's a saving of £4,900 if it's cleared within the 35mths.

There's been a host of new launches this week - Halifax yesterday was the standout with a longest-ever NO-FEE balance transfer: up to 25mths 0%. Follow our mantra though of going for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. See Best Balance Transfers for the top deals - here's the pick.

Card 0% length (APR AFTER 0% ENDS) TRANSFER FEE (1)

New. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - joint-longest 0%, but 'up to' 41mths

Up to 41mths 0% (18.9%) 3.5%

Virgin (eligibility calc / apply*) - joint-longest 0% + pre-approval check

41mths 0% (20.9%) 4% (min £3)

New. Lloyds (eligibility calc / apply*) - long 0% but 'up to' 40mths

Up to 40mths 0% (18.9%) 2.41%

Sainsbury's (eligibility calc / apply*) - long 0%, special fee for Nectar holders

40mths 0% (18.9%) 2.42% (min £3)

New. Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - long 0% with low fee + pre-approval

Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.68%

New. Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest NO-FEE 0% but 'up to' 25mths

Up to 25mths 0% (18.9%) None

Tesco (eligibility calc / apply*) - next longest NO-FEE 0%

24mths 0% (20.6%) None
(1) % of debt shifted. Full info: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples)

Balance transfer GOLDEN RULES:
a) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose special rates.
b) Always clear the card/shift again before the 0% ends, or rates jump.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them - it's rarely at the cheap rate.
d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool.
e) Check if you can use existing credit first. See Credit Card Shuffle.
4. Get a 0% loan for up to 41mths using specialist credit cards. Some balance transfer cards also offer money transfers, where they pay money into your bank, so you owe the card firm at 0% instead - useful for clearing overdrafts or as a small loan. The top picks below contain the longest and lowest fee on 0% money transfers we've seen.

- Virgin (eligibility calc / apply*), 32mths 0%, 1.69% fee (min £3 - lowest fee we've seen on a 0% card). 19.9% rep APR after.
- MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*), up to 24mths 0%, 1.99% fee. 22.9% rep APR after.
- Virgin (eligibility calc / apply*), 41mths 0% (longest-ever), 4% fee (min £3). 20.9% rep APR after.

Money transfer GOLDEN RULES:
a) Ask the new provider to do the transfer. Don't withdraw cash to do it.
b) Never miss min monthly repayments and clear the debt before the 0% ends or the rate rockets.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash - that's costly.
d) To replicate a loan, do a standing order so you're sure to clear it within the 0%. Full info & other top picks in Money Transfers. (APR Examples)
5. Get near-perfect rates abroad, every time. If you've September sun planned, or any other trip, bag a top specialist credit card now. Most plastic adds a 3%-ish fee when you spend abroad, but a few specialists don't, so you get the near-perfect rate banks get. Full info in Top Travel Cards (APR Examples) - here are the hottest (which can take 1-2 weeks to arrive):

- Long-term winner: Halifax Clarity (eligibility calc / apply*) has good feedback and a) it's a Mastercard, which usually wins on the underlying exchange rate - see rates compared b) it has low charges for cash withdrawals.

- Slightly cheaper at ATMs:
The Creation Everyday (apply*) is similar, but cash withdrawals are a touch cheaper, though we've little feedback (let us know).

Overseas cards GOLDEN RULES:
1) Clear IN FULL or these cards are 18.9% and 12.9% rep APR.
2) Pay on the card - it's cheaper than withdrawing cash as you usually pay interest on them even if you clear in full. Yet Halifax and Creation still beat most bureaux.
6. Get PAID up to 5% to use a credit card. With cashback cards you are literally paid to spend, but set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month or the interest kills any gain. This is one market where deals have weakened over time, but you can still gain (see Cashback rate cuts for info on cuts and why they've happened).

- Fee-free: Amex Everyday (eligibility calc / apply*) 5% cashback for first three months (max £100), then 0.5% on the rest of the first £5k spent in a year, 1% on £5k+ (22.9% rep APR).
- £25 annual fee but better for big spenders: Amex Platinum (eligibility calc / apply*) 5% cashback for first three months (max £125), 1% on the rest of the first £10k spent in a year, 1.25% on £10k+ (28.2% rep APR incl fee).
- Top fee-free non-Amex: Asda Mastercard (apply*) 0.5% on all spending, 1% in Asda (19.9% rep APR).

See all best buys in Top Cashback Credit Cards (APR Examples) and, for alternatives, Airline Credit Cards and Credit Card Rewards.
7. 35+ tips to boost your credit score. You need a good credit history for the top cards above, yet credit scoring's like going on the pull, so you can make yourself more attractive. For what to try, see 37 Credit Boosting Tips. Also, find out how to check your credit score for free.
8. (Re)build your credit score AND get a £20 Amazon vch. If you've a patchy or limited credit history, you'll struggle to get the cards above. However Aqua has cards even some with past CCJs & defaults can get:

- Aqua Advance (eligibility calc / apply*) gives a £20 Amazon voucher after two months, as long as you use the card at least once, pay on time and don't bust your credit limit. Used correctly, it's a good option to rebuild your credit score.

- Aqua Reward (eligibility calc / apply*) gives 0.5% cashback on all purchases & is cheap to spend on abroad as there's no exchange fee.

Both have a hideous 34.9% rep APR, so repay IN FULL to avoid interest and never bust your credit limit. Loads more help in Credit Rebuild Cards (APR Examples).
9. Beware rep APRs and 'UP TOs'. All the cards above are 'representative' APRs, meaning sadly only 51% of accepted customers need get that rate - the rest can be charged more.

Some cards offer 'up to' a certain number of 0% months, so depending on your credit score you might not get the full length. The only way to know is by applying. As a loose indication, the higher your eligibility calc score, the more chance you have of getting the full length.
10. Do you really NEED a credit card to borrow? If you're just funding an ongoing lifestyle this is the worst type of borrowing as it means you're living beyond your means and risk a debt spiral. Use the Free Budget Planner, stop spending and cut your cloth accordingly.

PS from Martin: After 13yrs writing this email, I'm taking a month's sabbatical - to have fun and be a husband and daddy. So this August the email's in the very talented hands of the MSE team.

Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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


Record low mortgage fixes, 0.99% for 2yrs, 1.99% for 7yrs

It's never been cheaper to borrow for a home, so is it time to lock in at record lows for many years?

Borrowers are flocking towards fixed rates - latest Council of Mortgage Lenders figures show around 90% are doing so. And since the Bank of England cut the base rate from 0.5% to 0.25% this month, long-term fixed rates have fallen, while new customer tracker rates have risen a touch. As the market is a minefield with multiple complexities, we've a free printed Remortgage Booklet & First-Timers' Booklet to guide you. Here's the latest:

  • MortgagesFixes at unfathomable lows. Fixing means monthly costs are fixed for the term. Deals up to five years were already at historic lows, then came a batch of cheapest-ever 7yr fixes last week. Below are the top fixes by loan-to-value (LTV - the % of the price borrowed against the total house value) as picked by mortgage broker London & Country (L&C). As the best deal varies by person, we've links below to our Mortgage Comparison Tool to find YOUR cheapest by duration.

    - 10yr. Max 50% LTV: Coventry, 2.39% (£999 fee). Max 90% LTV: N'wide, 3.99% (£999 fee). All top 10yr fixes
    - 7yr. Max 50% LTV: Coventry, 1.99% (£999 fee). Max 60% LTV: Barclays, 2.09% (£999 fee). 90%: n/a.
    - 5yr. Max 60% LTV: Tesco, 1.99% (£995 fee). Max 90% LTV: Chelsea, 2.87% (£1,675 fee). All top 5yr & 7yr fixes
    - 2yr. Max 65% LTV: HSBC, 0.99% (£1,499 fee). Max 90% LTV: Yorkshire BS, 1.94% (£1,475). All top 2yr fixes

    To put rates into perspective, two years ago the cheapest 10yr fix was 3.99% (50% LTV); for 5yrs, 2.59% (60%); for 2yrs, 1.58% (60%) - all with similar fees.

  • Tracker rates similarly cheap but mean gambling. Despite the recent rise, rates on trackers (which track the base rate so can rise or fall) are similar to fixes. While nothing's certain, the Bank of England has hinted base rate could yet fall further this year which would make them cheaper. Here are the top deals picked by L&C.

    - Lifetime. Max 60% LTV: HSBC, 1.74% (£999 fee). Max 90% LTV: HSBC, 2.54% (£999).
    - 2yr. Max 60% LTV: NatWest, 1.24% (£995 fee). Max 90% LTV: N'wide, 2.14% (£999). All top trackers

  • The big question. Should I fix? Here are the key points...

    - Fixing gives surety. It means having clear monthly payments to help you budget. The more crucial that is, or the more worried you are by uncertainty, the more you should hedge towards fixing, and fixing longer. See fixes vs variable help.
    - Fixing now locks in perhaps the cheapest rates you'll ever find. While we can't predict the future, rates really can't fall much further. But at some point they'll start to rise, so this protects against that possibility, even if you lose a bit if rates fall again.
    - You could be stuck in your home with a longer fix. If you want to move during the fixed term, even so-called 'portable' mortgages aren't always portable - see Moving Home Help. Longer deals are best for those likely to stay in their home for the term.

  • Mortgage tools to compare costs, incl should you ditch your fix early? Play with our Ultimate Mortgage Calculator incl a Basic Mortgage Calc, Compare Two Mortgages and Ditch Your Fix?.


It's back. £2.63 prosecco trick (min 6 bottles, norm £9 each). Anyone can get 25% off wine and bubbly until 27 Aug, but Sainsbury's online newbies can stack this with a code for corking savings on Valdo prosecco. Sainsbury's insists it won't pull the deal early this time (as it did before). See £2.63 prosecco. Pls be Drinkaware.

Is the Help to Buy ISA really a 'con'? Newspapers & politicians have been knocking the scheme this week ‘revealing’ the bonus can’t be used at exchange, only at completion. This is annoying, though this issue’s been in Martin’s guide a good while. To help, he’s expanded the explanation on it in How Help to Buy ISAs really work. PS, we’re also backing the Telegraph’s call for improvements.

100+ supermarket coupons worth £100+ incl FREE £2.70 kids' meal, FREE 1L milk, £1 off Fairy. Last chance to print August's 100+ coupons.

New. Cheapest £5k-£7k loan, 3.8% APR. If you've planned, budgeted borrowing, some loan rates are at rock-bottom. New lowest rate for £5k-£7k: M&S Bank*, 3.8% rep APR (next lowest: Zopa* & Ikano*, 4.1% rep APR). Cheapest-EVER for £7.5k-£15k: Ikano* & Sainsbury's* (1-3yrs, needs Nectar card), 3.2% rep APR. What's YOUR cheapest? All providers credit-score you, so use our free Loans Eligibility Calc to find which you've the best chance of getting (won't work for Ikano). Full help & more best buys (incl for smaller loans) in Cheap Loans.

70 selling tricks - eBay vs Facebook. See 43 eBay & 27 Facebook flogging tips (good for bank hol decluttering).

Last chance. Get £40 of Boots No7 beauty products with £12 spend. Incl eyeshadow, mascara, primer & lippy. Limited stock. Boots



- Full Sky TV 60% off, incl sports & movies 23,000 codes avail

- Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale via code Ends 31 Aug

- Robert Dyas extra 10% off sale via code Ends 31 Aug

- Topman FLASH extra 20% off everything code Mon-Tue


- Santander 123 rate slashed - ditch it?

- Free mobile roaming trick extended to 42 countries

- M&S up to 50% off sale

- Hidden cheap train tricks rail firms keep hush

- Summer sizzlers, incl £1 BBQ, £1 sun cream


Warning. Check NOW when your travel insurance ends - get from £9/yr

Many annual policies expire around now. If you've a trip booked, don't delay - ensure you're covered ASAP

Lots of people buy annual travel insurance in summer to coincide with their holiday. If that's you and you've another trip booked, check when your insurance expires. Without cover, even if your trip is many months away, you won't be protected if it's cancelled or a new illness/injury stops you going. See Cheap Travel Insurance, but in short...

  • Travel insuranceGo away more than once a year? Annual policies usually win. Holidaysafe Lite*, Coverwise (Bronze)* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually the cheapest no-frills policies that meet our min cover levels. Prices vary by age and destination, eg, from £9 for a 34-yr-old solo in Europe, £42 for a family worldwide.

    For top value (incl feedback, past payout record and automatically including gadget cover) LV* is from £64 Europe or £106 w/wide for an individual (£98 and £162 families). Also check MoneySup*, which sometimes wins. Full best buys in Annual policies.


Big Energy Switch Event coming soon, so spread the word... you MUST subscribe to this email or be an Energy Club member by Mon 12 Sep to take part. Our past collective switches saw 100,000s get tariffs that beat the market's cheapest. On 13 Sep we hope to do it again, but regulator Ofgem's rules mean we can only offer it to 'members', so check you're registered. If you're getting this email, you already are, so tell your friends and family to register instead.

Beat Virgin Media's price hike. Second this year on its phone, broadband & TV. Some will pay £42/yr extra. Virgin

Asos £2.50 tops, £6 dresses in up to 70% off sale. Plus extra 10% off code from Thu. Ltd stock

Full Sky TV 60% off, incl sports & movies. MSE Blagged. Hugely popular last week, 23,000 codes still avail. Makes it £29.40/mth (£35.40/mth with HD) on 12mth contract for Sky newbies. Cheaper options minus sports or movies avail from £20.40/mth. Hot Sky deal. Already got Sky? Haggle

Laura Ashley FLASH 40% off almost EVERYTHING. In stores only. Or 30-37% off online. Laura Ashley

Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale code, eg, £100 stand mixer £44, £90 bread maker £50. MSE Blagged. Free delivery. Morphy Richards


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Free £150 or 6% FIXED interest from your bank - despite rate cuts. Plus the top banks for customer service. Switching's easy with top deals aplenty. Bank bribe bonanza

Sneak preview: MSE Credit Club: free Experian credit score & more. We hope to launch our revolutionary new free Credit Club soon to help you boost your credit-worthiness. It gives 1) A free credit score. 2) Our unique affordability score. 3) Eligibility tools to show your best credit deals. 4) Our unique Credit Hit Rate (the percentage of top deals you're likely to get). 5) Your credit pros & cons. Try the pre-launch version. Also please feedback.

FREE £14 Cake & Bake Show tix - meet past Great British Bake Off winners. With the new series starting today (Wed), we've 3,000 free tix each for London (7-9 Oct) & Manchester (10-13 Nov). Cake & Bake

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Had a free date with my wife because of your tips. Free chicken fajitas by 'wombling' receipts, free cocktails with a Pitcher & Piano voucher and we paid nothing to see Ghostbusters at the cinema - she has a Cineworld card, I used Meerkat Movies. Thanks, MSE."

Thu only. 20% off 900+ burger joints, incl GBK, Ed's Diner, Byron & pubs. One to relish. National Burger Day

Top student bank accounts 2016/17, incl 4yr railcard, £60 Amazon vch. If you or your kids have a confirmed offer (incl existing students, as they can switch), see Top Student Accounts.



Do ‘rent to own’ companies treat you fairly? These are shops such as BrightHouse and Perfect Home that offer sofas, beds, fridges and TVs for a weekly fee, which includes a high APR interest payment to rent the item. When you complete the payment plan, you own it. Citizens Advice is investigating whether the sector needs to improve, and, if so, how. If you've used one of these companies, take its survey to help.


Have you been to university? It's exam results season and with it comes the inevitable decision of where to go with your life. University is a common next step for those who take A-levels, but you don't need a degree to 'make it'. What decision did you make/plan to make?

Go, go gadget. In last week's poll of the gadgets you own, it was the mundane, unsurprisingly, that were most popular, with 79% of you owning a printer followed by 66% of you with an electric toothbrush. A surprising 2% of you own a teasmade. See the Gadget poll results.



- Top story: EE to hike out-of-bundle mobile charges by up to 60%

- Up to 11,000 hit by gas metering blunder - are you affected?

- BT broadband customers overcharged after 'glitch'

- 'Misleading' Walkers crisps competition banned

- Graduate with a student loan? You'll be charged more interest from September

- HMRC plans 'penalty points' system for those who miss tax returns deadline

- 1.6 million families in 'extreme' debt

- My Travel Cash axes prepaid travel cards - what to do if you've got one



Should I buy gifts for both halves of a couple? I usually get presents for both my sister and her husband on their respective birthdays and Christmas. But I only ever receive a single joint gift from them both, which I think is a bit cheeky as it costs less than what I pay. Should I just buy a single gift in future, or maybe chop my budget in half? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I buy gifts for both halves of a couple? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: What small Debt-Free Wannabe things will you do this week?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win an overnight stay in St Austell
- Old-style board thread of the week: Is having one weekend every now and again free of visitors that unreasonable?
- Discussion of the week: Relocating to London - best place to live?


- It's back: £2.63 prosecco trick (min 6 bottles, norm £9 each)

- Tesco wine glitch - £8 Casillero del Diablo wine £3.50 each



Wed 24 Aug - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 25 Aug - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 30 Aug - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: I bought a TV online and want to return it. The company only offered a 55% refund as I unpacked and watched it for five minutes. It's not broken - is this right? James, via Twitter.

MSE Megan's A: Sounds like the company is within its rights, though that's not the end of the story. Under the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 you've 14 days after receiving an online order to cancel, then 14 more days to send it back.

There is however a grey area in this law, which this falls into. If you have reduced the value of the goods unnecessarily, it can offer less than the full price back, though there's no definitive stated sum allowed.

It seems it has deemed you watching the TV as diminishing the value, though knocking 45% off seems harsh. You could argue your case for a larger amount back, but an easier way may be to recoup a bigger chunk by selling it, for example on eBay. See our Consumer Rights guide for more information.

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


The £276,000 engagement ring... from Costco. Eh?

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: What would you spend on an engagement ring? You may have heard about the hefty £250,000 price tag for Pippa Middleton's engagement ring, but does this one from Costco really match it, or is there something up?

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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