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26th Jul 2017
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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"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."

26 July 2017
11 big & easy tips to save £1,000s this summer
Sky Sports + b'band & line £28/mth
Slash supermarket bills, incl 100+ coupons worth £100
Is mobile phone insurance worth it?
Vax up to 70% off vacuum cleaners
Avoid the travel money rip-off
Should you get UK hols travel insurance?
New. £50 of Nectar pts with 31mths' 0% spending
Free £65 Tempur travel pillow
35 London MoneySaving tips
100+ free/cheap things to do with kids
Hot Sim - 5GB, unltd mins & texts £10/mth
Gap 24hr FLASH 40% off code
6 craft beers £8 all-in
20% off railcard codes

11 big and easy tips to save £1,000s this summer

Slash credit card interest, claim marriage tax allowance, check your tax code & more

The long summer hols are a chance for many to kick back and unwind. It's also the ideal time to take stock of your finances and do the things you've been putting off. To put a twist on the saying, make money while the sun shines. For just a few minutes' work you could save £1,000s - so grab a cuppa or a piña colada, sit back and see where you can save big.

1. Hold the taxman to account. You could be owed £1,000s. Your tax code tells your employer how much tax to take, but the overcomplicated system regularly throws up overpayments and underpayments - affecting millions. Use our Tax Code Calculator to find and check your code. Hannah did: "Checked my tax code - it was wrong for years. HMRC just sent a cheque for £6,000+. Thank you for the prompt to check."
2. Stop paying credit card interest - get up to 41mths interest-FREE. A balance transfer card can slash the cost of existing borrowing. You get a new card to repay debts on old cards, so you owe it instead but at a much lower rate. That means your repayments go towards clearing the debt, rather than paying interest.

Yet don't just apply - that marks your credit file. Our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc finds which top deals are most likely to accept you first. As Tracey emailed: "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Had a high-interest card, paying £100+/mth interest. I used the eligibility calc and got 0% for 37 months with a small fee - it's like a weight has been lifted." Here are the top deals...


Card 0% length (APR AFTER) Fee (1)
MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest 0%
Up to 41mths 0% (20.9%) 2.79%
Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) - long non 'up to' 0% 40mths 0% (20.9%) 1.7%
Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest NO-FEE Up to 29mths 0% (18.9%) None
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - longest non 'up to' no-fee 28mths 0% (18.9%) None (2)
Capital One (eligibility calc / apply*) - poor credit option 6mths 0% (34.9%) 3%

(1) Of amount transferred. (2) Charges 1.5% fee but fully refunds it.
Full info & options: Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

Important. Go for the card with the lowest fee in the time you know you can repay it. If in doubt, go long, even with a bigger fee. Some cards are 'up to' so you may get a shorter 0% deal, even if accepted.

Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules...

a) Clear the card or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay the high APR.
b) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0%.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate.
d) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days.
3. Empty your piggybank or coin jar... before it's too late. The £1 coin deadline's looming. See coin warning.
4. Get your savings in shape - earn up to 1.25% easy-access or 2.2% fixed. Many are languishing on savings rates as low as 0.01%, getting just 10p for every £1,000 saved. Yet there are decent rates out there, and we've done the legwork for you. All below have full £85,000 per person savings protection.

- Earn 1.25% easy-access: Ulster Bank (part of RBS) pays 1.25% AER variable. You can save from £1 and withdraw at any time. Full info and more options in Top Savings.

- Earn up to 2.2% in a FIXED savings account: Shawbrook Bank pays 1.9% AER for 1yr, United Trust Bank pays 2.05% for 2yrs or NS&I pays 2.2% for 3yrs (max £3,000). Full info and more options in Fixed-Rate Savings.

- Earn up to 5% if you can save every month: Some current accounts have linked 5% regular savers, letting you save up to £300/mth. Full info and best buys in Regular Savings Accounts.
5. MarriageMarried or in a civil partnership? Don't miss out on up to £662. A huge 2.1m eligible couples aren't claiming the marriage tax allowance. It's worth £230 this year, and £432 in previous tax years. It takes just five mins to sort - see Marriage Tax Allowance help. Marsha did: "Thanks so much. We qualify and are getting two backdated cheques."
6. Get a summer boost of up to £125 to switch bank. It's easy, takes seven working days, and the new bank does all the work for you - closing your old account and moving all direct debits, payments and standing orders. Full help and eligibility in Best Bank Accounts, here are the top deals...

- Free £125 M&S gift card + £5/mth: M&S Bank* gives new switchers a £125 M&S gift card and access to a 5% linked regular saver, plus for the first year you can get an extra £5/mth added to the card. To get it all you must pay in a min £1,000/mth and switch and keep 2+ active direct debits. There's also a possible £100 0% overdraft.

- Ends Mon. Free £125 + £3/mth: New Halifax switchers get £125, paid before the switch completes. Also, you get £3 each month you pay in £750+, stay in credit and pay out 2+ direct debits.

- Free £100 + top service: First Direct* gives £100 to new switchers, plus it's won every customer service poll we've done, with 90% rating it 'great' in the most recent. You also get access to its 5% fixed regular saver, and some get a £250 0% overdraft. The account's free if you pay in £1,000/mth; if not, it's £10/mth.

You'll be credit-checked when you apply and you need to use their switching services to get all the perks.
7. Check your FREE financial CV - or risk losing out on top deals. Your credit report shows your financial history. It's used by lenders when you apply for a mortgage, mobile contract, credit card, monthly energy tariff and more.

You need to check your report at least once a year because errors can mean you're rejected for the best deals. Our FREE MSE Credit Club gives your Experian Credit Report, Credit Score and tips on how to boost it.
8. Slash your gas & elec bills by £100s/yr. With British Gas expected to join the other Big 6 companies in raising prices in the next few weeks it's the perfect time to lock in to a cheap fix, yet astonishingly 66% of you still pay hundreds too much languishing on a standard variable tariff. Switching's easy. It's the same gas and elec, your new supplier does it for you, and you won't be cut off. Plus on typical use, most could lop about £300/yr off their bills. Here's why:

- Cheapest 1yr fix: £834/yr
- Cheapest 2-winter fix: £880/yr
- Avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,138/yr

Prices vary by usage and region, so do a full market comparison via MSE's Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save. And if we can switch you, you'll get £30 dual-fuel cashback (£15 single fuel). Some can save huge, like Victoria: "Thank you @MartinSLewis for your energy help. Just moved from E.on to First Utility, saving £720/yr."

For more info, including how to get up to £40 dual-fuel cashback on some providers, see our Cheap Gas and Elec guide.
9. Search for lost cash hidden in forgotten accounts. A few quick searches can uncover old bank accounts, savings, pensions and investments. See Reclaim Forgotten Cash help. Lance emailed: "Used your tip, found £39,000 with Scottish Widows. Thanks."
10. Bring down the cost of your broadband. If you're paying standard prices (up to £47/mth) for broadband & line rent alone, you're being ripped off by £100s/yr. That's because promo prices start from equiv £13/mth for standard speed and equiv £20/mth for faster fibre. See Cheap Broadband for the top deals.

Want Sports too? Check out the £28/mth Sky Sports deal below.
11. Check if you've ever had PPI - EVEN if you think you weren't mis-sold. We make no excuses for hollering about PPI again, such was the scale of the mis-selling - millions are still due cash back. Yet a deadline's been set for claims for Aug 2019, and the regulator's going to start publicising it soon, so do it NOW before banks are swamped. See how you can reclaim PPI for FREE including our reclaiming tool.

We get your successes daily, eg, Michelle emailed: "I used MSE's free tool and was sure nothing would come of it until I got a letter advising there had been PPI on an old mortgage account and I was due a refund of £3,517. What a result for 10 minutes' work."

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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Sky Sports + broadband & line, just £28/mth

We can't remember a similar Sky Sports deal that's so cheap, and you can add movies too

The secret to cheap TV sport is finding deals where watching Costa doesn't cost ya too much. And this from TalkTalk is cheaper than some standard prices for just broadband & line. But the firm's had massive problems. A major 2015 hack saw customers' personal info stolen, and it's got a terrible rep for service - 40% voted it 'poor' in our latest poll (although BT wasn't much better). We don't think it's proved itself yet, but the deal's so good we wanted to let you know about it...

  • Sky TVNew. £28/mth for Sky Sports + TalkTalk broadband & line. Via this TalkTalk* link new and existing customers (who want to extend their contracts for 1yr) can get this heavily discounted deal till Thu 20 Aug. The broadband & line is on a 1yr contract but you can cancel the TV element at any time after the first 30 days. There are no upfront costs - here's what you get:

    1. Sky Sports + TalkTalk YouView box for £8.50/mth. This element of the deal lasts 18mths and is a huge reduction on the usual £34/mth + £50 upfront. You get 8 of 10 Sky Sports channels (not Sky Sports News or Mix). The box gives all Freeview channels - though you can't get Sky channels in HD via TalkTalk and need to pay extra for other premium channels.

    2. Either... standard up-to-17Mb broadband & line £19.95/mth for 12mths. After, it's the usual £27/mth.

    3. Or... up-to-38Mb fibre & line £26.50/mth for 12mths. After, it's the usual £33.50/mth.

    - How's it stack up? All-in it's a steal at £28.45/mth for Sky Sports with standard speed broadband & line and £35/mth for fibre & line.

    - Anything else? No calls are included - costs are similar to BT. Also, regular cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but often on different deals. Cashback can also change daily, so check.

  • Want sports AND movies? You can get the standard-speed bundle above and all 11 Sky Cinema channels for £32.45/mth* via this link (fibre £39/mth*). It's the same deal as above, with Sky Cinema added for £4/mth for 18mths.

  • Don't want premium TV? If you're just after broadband & line, see our Cheap Broadband guide incl deals from equiv £13/mth. For TV, see Digital TV Deals.


Vax up to 70% off vacuum cleaners code, eg, £70 upright (norm £240). MSE Blagged. Ends Mon. Vax sale

Holidaying abroad? Avoid the travel cash rip-offs. NEVER buy currency at the airport as rates are hideous - instead use our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool which speedily finds the best rates from 30+ bureaux. Eg, on Tue, £100 got you €111 via our tool but a pathetic €87 at Cardiff Airport.

Holidaying in the UK? Should you get travel insurance? A key question for staycationers. Read our full analysis

New. Up to £50 of Nectar pts with 31mth 0% spending card. Apply via our link and new Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) cardholders get 31mths' 0% spending plus £5 of Nectar pts each time they spend £35+ at Sainsbury's in the first 2mths (max £50 of Nectar pts). Warning: You can get the points on normal spending but only borrow if planned and budgeted, never miss a payment and clear before the 0% ends or it's 18.9% rep APR. Full info and options in Top 0% Spending Cards (APR Examples).

Free £65 Tempur travel pillow. A dreamy deal just for lying down. Pillow talk

New. 35 year-round London MoneySaving tips. Incl free Parliament tours, £5 Shakespeare theatre tickets, £20/night hotels and £3 Heathrow transfers. London calling



- Vax code: up to 70% off cordless vacuums Ends Mon

- £8 for 6 craft beers delivered (norm £18) 1,200 avail

- £10/mth Plusnet Sim, 5GB data, unlimited mins Ends 7 Aug


- 20 last-min holiday MoneySavers

- Student loan interest to hit 6.1% - time to panic or pay it off?

- 2 'free' cinema tickets for cleaning your loo

- 'Free' Nando's chicken with £6ish spend


Slash your supermarket bill incl 100+ coupons worth £100

Plus more cost-cutters incl divvying up your trolley, extreme couponing & aisle swapping

MoneySaver Lisa's story last week of how she bagged £60 of shopping for £2.55 was such a hit that we wanted to share lots more supermarket tricks and tips to help you max savings on your weekly shop. See our 36 Supermarket Shopping Tips for the full list - here are five to check out first...

  • supermarketGet 100+ supermarket coupons worth £100. Incl FREE Covent Garden Soup, FREE Huggies Wipes, £1 off Goodfella's pizza. Grab July's supermarket coupons before they run out.

  • Know the best times to get the biggest 'yellow sticker' reductions. We've craftily gathered insider info from supermarket staff and shoppers on when stores want to offload stock, to help you time your trip right. This is what Lisa did but her story isn't a one-off - we've had lots more successes since, eg, Nicola: "I got £75 of M&S food for £16."

  • Take it to the max with EXTREME couponing. This is about hoarding 100s of product and store coupons, then combining them for huge code-stacking discounts. Learn the art with MSE's Coupon Kid in his Extreme Couponing guide. MoneySaver Cal tweeted us her haul: "Extreme couponing while still buying useful items - £40.33 of shopping for £1.04 after coupons."

  • Divvy up your trolley to max price-match promises. Three big supermarkets refund the difference when groceries are cheaper at rivals, but because it's done by averaging your trolley or online basket, splitting your shopping into full-price items and discounted goods at the checkout can really pump up the savings. See how to max price-match promises.

  • Swap aisles and bend down to save BIG. You can buy the SAME item in the SAME supermarket for less by swapping aisles, eg, cotton buds are 75% cheaper in the baby aisle. We also found discounts in the world foods aisle. Plus avoid overpaying in the free-from aisle, and save by bending down.


School's out - 100+ free or cheap things to do with the kids. Incl £1 60-day Kids Pass with 4,500 offers, 170+ free museums, 2for1 theme parks and zoos, free in-store activities and kids eat 'free'. 100+ things to do with the kids

Hot Sim - 5GB of 4G data, unltd mins & texts, £10/mth. MSE Blagged. Anyone can apply for this cheap Sim-only deal from BT-owned Plusnet* (which uses EE's network). Currently the cheapest we've seen at this usage, it's on a 30-day rolling contract so you're not tied in for long. Full info and more options in Sim top picks.

Gap 24hr FLASH 40% off code. Bigger than normal. Works on most full-price items, Thu only. Gap 40% off

6 craft beers £8 delivered (norm £18), incl Buxton Brewery, Northern Monk. MSE Blagged. 1,200 bundles from HonestBrew. Pls be Drinkaware.

20% off code for Family & Friends or 16-25 Railcard. Cardholders get 1/3 off most journeys, and 60% off for kids with Fam & Friends. Norm £30 for one year, code gets 'em for £24 till Sunday. All aboard


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Is mobile phone insurance worth it?

Our survey shows a huge 88% don't have standalone cover, yet it's useful for some

The merits of mobile insurance normally come down to how clumsy or forgetful you are, and your phone type. In our poll this month, only 12% said they have a specific mobile insurance policy - others don't bother or rely on cover from their home insurance or bank account. Our Cheap Mobile Insurance guide explains the pros and cons, here are the key calls to make...

  • Phone insuranceDo you need mobile phone insurance? It's neither compulsory like car insurance nor always worth getting like travel insurance. It usually boils down to these questions:

    1. Are you a loser? If you're careful and unlikely to lose or damage it, self-insure instead.
    2. Already covered on home insurance? Check your policy but don't always rely on it, eg, a high excess can render cover for mobiles worthless.
    3. Already get it with your bank? Some packaged bank accounts offer mobile cover. So check your account.
    4. How old's yours? Many insurers only let you start cover if the phone is less than 6mths old (a small number go up to 18). See age restrictions.

  • Slash networks' prices. They charge up to £168/yr yet our top picks smash 'em on price (with decent feedback), though check the excess...

    - All iPhones (incl 7 Plus). Via this Insurance2Go* link (with code MSEIPHONE) it's £70/yr with accidental damage and loss cover.
    - All Samsungs (incl S8 / Edge) + other pricey smartphones (incl Google Pixel). Via this Insurance2Go* link (with code MSE5) it's £70/yr with accidental damage and loss cover.
    - All other phones. Gadget Cover* is from £44/yr with accidental damage (£55/yr incl loss) for up to £250 cover.
    - Need a speedy replacement? Network cover is often fastest, but can be pricey. Decide if cost or speed matters more.

  • Got a family? Grab phone insurance for all for £156/yr. The £13/mth Nationwide FlexPlus (£10/mth till 21 Sep) account covers ALL family phones, plus gives worldwide family travel insurance and UK & Europe car breakdown cover.


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Thanks for telling me about this free, no-risk lottery. I won £150 last month plus a £9.50 bonus - all paid within one week." See how to enter the Free Postcode Lottery.

Want an MSE Charity grant? It's awarding not-for-profit organisations up to £5k to get their financial/money-saving education or empowerment idea off the ground. This round's funding is for organisations that support people going through life-changing events, such as bereavement or homelessness. It opens on Fri 1 Sep - but you can find out how to apply now on its website: MSE Charity.



Assess your numeracy skills. MSE is working with the charity National Numeracy to help people improve their numeracy skills - vital to getting the best deal, managing your money better or just being able to crunch numbers. Take its numeracy quiz and get online help if needed. Then give feedback about it in the MSE Forum.


What unexpected expenses did you have at uni? Doing a budget before you head off to uni should be a priority, but did anything crop up you didn't expect? Let us know what you wish you knew at the time. Share yours/read others': Your unexpected uni expenses Past topics: View all


What's your main way of spending when abroad? School's out for summer and many of you will be heading abroad to catch some rays. We want to know your primary way of spending (including getting cash) when in foreign climes. How do you spend abroad?

Plusnet retains its customer service crown while TalkTalk gets the wooden spoon... That's according to votes cast in last week's broadband customer service poll. Of providers that got 500+ votes, Plusnet was top with 54% rating it 'great', with TalkTalk bottom as 40% rated it 'poor'. See the full broadband customer service results.



- Top story: Ed Sheeran's promoter helps fans chase refunds after hundreds sold 'invalid' tickets

- Mastercard class action legal claim refused by tribunal

- Copycat website charging for free EHIC cards is blasted by ASA

- Moved from Ebico to SSE? You need to check your bills now

- Millions face waiting an extra year for their state pension



Should I tell my employer I've been overpaid? I've been paid too much this month by mistake. Should I own up or put it down to good luck and trouser it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tell my employer I've been overpaid? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: When things hit rock bottom the only answer is to fight the way back up...
- Competitions thread of the week: Big Feastival family ticket
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Charity shops getting expensive
- Discussion of the week: Friend getting married. What if the worst happens?


- Free £65 Tempur travel pillow


- To fly but NOT to serve. Is British Airways' new M&S paid-for food service always this shambolic?



Wed 26 Jul - Facebook Live Q&A #AskMSE, 5pm
Wed 26 Jul - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Fri 28 Jul
- BBC South West stations, breakfast, travel money tips
Tue 1 Aug - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: Five years ago I invested in a five-year savings plan but opted to take the interest after it expired - ie, this year in one go - rather than annually. As it's one lump sum, I'll exceed my tax-free personal savings allowance (PSA) this year so will have to pay tax on it. Is there anything I can do to avoid this? Margaret, via email.

Sam McFaulMSE Sam McF's A: Sadly not as HMRC rules state that tax is due when the interest is paid. Under the PSA, you can earn £1,000 in interest tax-free if you're a basic-rate taxpayer, £500 if a higher-rate. Over that, tax is charged at your standard rate.

It's worth adding, as the PSA was introduced in April 2016 - after you opened your account - you probably would have needed to pay tax on interest for the first few years anyway, had you opted to take your interest yearly.

We've more on how the tax-free exemption works in our Personal Savings Allowance guide.

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


221 Andrex toilet sheets instead of 240. Have you noticed SHRINKflation?

That's it for this week but before we go, have you run out of loo roll sooner or gobbled your Toblerone faster? This is 'shrinkflation' in action - manufacturers aren't raising prices, but they're keeping them the same while making stuff smaller. Both are just two of 2,500 products the Office for National Statistics says have shrunk over recent years. What have you noticed and how have you beaten it? Let us know in our Facebook post: 'How to beat shrinkflation'.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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