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27th Apr 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 This info may be out of date.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."

27 April 2016
Martin's Briefing: Pay rent on time to now boost credit score + 50 renters' tips
3.2% cheapest-ever loan
DON'T pay £20/mth+ for your mobile
Warning: Booked hol but no ins?
Last chance FULL Sky TV £30/mth
M&S 50% off sale - eg, £10 dress
'I got £12 off Tesco THREE TIMES by abandoning basket'
Hot home ins ending, eg £75 M&S vch
£50 Nails Inc collection £19
Morphy Richards 20% off sale code
£355 PS4 combo £259 incl CoD
'£320 Hotpoint credit card refund'
Year's 2for1s to gardens incl Kew
16 fuchsia plants £9 all-in
£10 off £25 spas & beauty code

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

Pay rent on time to now boost your credit score... this and 50 more renters' tips

You don't need landlord's permission to save £100s

Rents continue to rise - they're at record highs, with the average £790/mth nationally and an eye-watering £1,240/mth in London. So we've 50+ Renting Tips to keep costs down. Some will help with the actual process of renting itself, others with special issues affecting renters. Here are just a few, as a deposit...

1. Renting tipsNew. Make paying your rent boost your credit score. Private renters can now opt in to a free scheme that records your rental payments and sends the results to credit reference agency Experian. To see how to do it, read our new Make your rent boost your credit file guide.
2. £3,000 free towards a mortgage. Renting is not a lesser option. Yet when finances suit, many who rent would also one day like to buy. A better credit score helps, and for most first timers a top Help to Buy ISA is a no-brainer too, as you get a 25% bonus on your savings - up to £3k. This can be used on ANY home up to £250k (£450k London).

Plus if you're starting the route towards getting your first home, read our free 56-page MSE First-Time Buyers' Booklet.
3. Renters have the right to switch and save on energy bills. If you pay your gas & elec bill directly (not via your landlord), you're entitled to switch. Some landlords may claim you need permission in your tenancy agreement, but regulator Ofgem says they can't be unreasonable.

If in dispute, print out and show 'em our Landlord Energy-Switching Factsheet. The exception is where you're changing something physical, eg, switching from a prepaid (key or card) meter to a credit meter - then you need permission.

To find the cheapest tariff, whether you're on a standard meter or prepaid, use our MSE Cheap Energy Club comparison to compare across the market to see how much you can save. It can also estimate usage for you. Stephen tweeted: "@MoneySavingExp Switched on a rental property, saving £240 over the year. Easy."
4. Save 60%+ on rent by becoming a property guardian. For those who can be flexible, in exchange for cheap rent, you can baby-sit empty properties to deter squatters - these can be private homes, fire stations, churches or schools.

For inspiration, check out forumite MissFox1973's story: "My boyfriend and I were guardians for a huge country estate for eight months. Cheap rent and incredible location, but limited security."

We found a room in a former hospital in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, for £230/mth, or in an old office block on the outskirts of London for £240/mth incl bills. Full info in Property guardians.
5. Check your deposit's protected - if not you could get up to 4x back. If you've the most common tenancy called an 'assured shorthold tenancy' and moved in after 5 April 2007, your landlord or letting agent MUST put your deposit into a Govt-backed protection scheme by law in Eng & Wales (similar schemes apply in Scot/NI) - see Is your deposit protected? for full info, incl how to check your tenancy type.

The scheme has a free arbitration service if there's a dispute. If a landlord fails to protect your deposit you can go to the Small Claims Court to get it back PLUS a penalty up to 3x its value and court fees, going back 6 years. It can be painless, as MSE Jenny explains: "My landlord didn't protect my deposit and didn't give it back so filed an online claim and got back £4,850 (incl court fees) from a £1,020 deposit. Easy."
6. Grab cheap contents insurance. Your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, so you only need to consider contents (essentially the stuff that'd fall if you turned your home upside down). Use a contents calculator to see how much to cover. Full help in Cheap Home Insurance - in short:

- Only you/your family live in the home? To get cheapest cover, combine comparison sites*, Compare The Market, Gocompare* & MoneySup* to bag max quotes in min time, then check Aviva* and Direct Line*, which they miss.

- If you live in a house- or flat-share. Getting cover from mainstream insurers can be tricky (a lock on your personal room helps).*, Compare The Market, Gocompare* and MoneySup* provide flat-share quotes but double-check the policies offered meet the cover you need. If struggling, specialist insurer Home Protect* can help, or use BIBA to find a local broker.
7. Beware nasty letting fees. Renters can be hit by huge fees, as Amanda tweeted, "Extortionate - almost £700 in fees and £250 for the cat."

We've heard of fees for photocopying a contract, getting your deposit back and references. Sadly there are no regulations on what these charges are, but since May 2015 agents must at least clearly display fees in their office and on their website. For what to watch out for plus your (limited) rights and how to complain, see Fight unfair fees.
8. Furnish for FREE - sofas, beds, TVs & more. If you've gone unfurnished or part-furnished, online community giveaway sites can help you - for nowt. Some top-quality goodies are available. Forumite Soon2bjobless says: "Got a dishwasher, while my daughter got a washing machine, freezer and microwave". For sites to use and full help see our How To Use Giveaway Sites tips. Alternatively, get stuff cheap on eBay with our 40 eBay buying tips.
9. Are you paying the right council tax? If you live alone you are entitled to a 25% discount, so tell your council, plus full-time students don't count for council tax purposes. So if it's a student-only home there's no tax, if there's a student and a non-student, there's the 25% sole occupancy discount. See council tax discounts info.

- The tricky 'student with a non-student' scenario. The bill is the responsibility of the non-student, so there's a tricky question of how to split the bill - which is 75% of the full charge. My solution is...

If the student was with another student they'd pay nowt - and if the non-student was with another non-student they'd pay 50% of the full charge. So split the 25% difference - the student pays 12.5%, the other 62.5%.

Extra tip: Some (not all) councils upped rates by up to 4% on 1 April. But many have been overpaying for years and are due cash back - @petch82 tweeted: "Massive thanks @MartinSLewis - challenged my council tax banding saving me £1,500+". See Check & Challenge Your Council Tax Band (out of courtesy you could give your landlord a heads up).
10. Is your landlord doing its bit? They're responsible for...

(i) Buildings insurance.
(ii) Fire alarms, plug sockets, wiring and electricals.
(iii) Furniture they've provided - it needs a fire safety certificate.
(iv) A gas safety certificate (annual checks).
(v) General upkeep so it's in a safe and liveable standard - they don't have to colour walls bright pink if that's your taste.

If these aren't done, ask your council's environmental health department for help. It must take action if problems cause harm/nuisance.

Extra tip: If you want to make changes, get their permission even for minor things such as putting up shelves or repainting. Don't get hammer-happy hanging pictures - it destroys walls and deposits. Forumites recommend specially-designed picture strips to hold up pics without using damaging nails.
11. You needn't let your landlord in without warning & more quick tips.

- Landlords should give 24 hours' notice to enter. Landlord visit rules
- Take photos so you're not stung on the inventory. Inventory help
- It's one TV licence per tenancy agreement. TV licence rules
- Change address when moving or risk fines. Address checklist
- Renters can switch to a water meter. It might be cheaper if there are more or the same number of bedrooms than people - in Eng & Wales if your tenancy is for 6+ months you DON'T need the landlord's permission. Water meters
12. You may be eligible for help paying rent. If you're on a low income and struggling to pay rent, see if you qualify for housing benefit/grants. In social housing it reduces your bill. Renting privately, you get cash.

First read our housing benefit info and then take some time to do the full 10-min Benefits Check-Up to see your full entitlement.

PS from Martin: I’m taking a week off, to spend time being a daddy and husband. So having been through the first draft of this email, the rest is in the very capable hands of MSE Guy and the team. See you next week.

Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

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


Now you can get a loan for just 3.2% - the cheapest ever

Loan rates are at rock bottom, though the big question is for how long. If you NEED one, for safety go quick

A new UK lender owned by the family behind Ikea, Ikano Bank*, last week launched a 3.2% loan for borrowing £7,500 to £15,000 - it's never been cheaper. Yet signs are rates might start to rise soon; the Bank of England's warned it may impose restrictions and analyst firm Moneyfacts says average loan rates are rising, even if best buys remain untouched. So you may need to be speedy.

  • LoansEnsure you can afford it. Debt's like fire: it's a good tool but get it wrong and you get burnt. Only borrow if a) you need it for planned spending, eg, car/kitchen; b) you've budgeted & can afford the repayments; c) you minimise the amount & repay as quickly as you can; d) and, if you're only getting it to pay off credit cards, a balance transfer is cheaper.

  • Who'll give you YOUR cheapest loan? All providers credit score you, so use our free Loans Eligibility Calc to find which top loans you've the best chance of getting (it won't work for Ikano).

  • Cheapest loans from £1,000 - £15,000. All are 'representative rate', meaning ONLY 51% of those accepted need get it, the rest may pay more. Though roughly, higher eligibility calc odds mean a better acceptance chance. All below are for 1-5yrs, unless stated.

    - £7,500-£15k: Ikano Bank's* 3.2% rep APR, ahead of HSBC* at 3.3% rep APR.
    - £5,000-£7,499: Ikano Bank's* 4.1% rep APR, Hitachi* is next best at 4.2% rep APR for 2-5 yrs.
    - £3,000-£4,999: Zopa's* 4.6%-6.9% rep APR, next is Ikano Bank* 7.3% rep APR.
    - £2,000-£2,999: Zopa's* 6.9%-7.9% rep APR, next is Hitachi* (min £2,500) at 7.4% rep APR for 2-5 yrs.
    - £1,000-£1,999: Zopa* is 7.7%-7.9% rep APR, Ikano Bank* 11.9% rep APR.

  • For under £3,000 a 0% credit-card loan can be far cheaper. Some 0% cards allow money transfers - they pay cash in to your bank, like a loan, so you owe them instead. Virgin* (eligibility calc) is 32mths 0% for a one-off 1.69% fee and another Virgin* (eligibility calc) card offers up to 36mths 0% for a 2.39% fee. Or if you apply by 11.59pm on Thu, there's Tesco* for 40mths 0% with a 3.94% fee. Never miss a repayment & clear the debt before the 0% ends or they jump to 20.9% rep APR (Tesco 20.6%). Read our Credit Card Loans help.

  • Nationwide customer? Trick to beat the cheapest. For new or existing Nationwide current account customers who get accepted for any bank/building society loan (but not peer-to-peer lenders, eg, Zopa), Nationwide will beat the interest by 0.5 percentage points, eg, a 3.3% loan becomes 2.8%. See Nationwide loan trick.


Last chance: FULL Sky TV incl Sports & Movies £30/mth (norm £80/mth) - save £600/yr. MSE Blagged. You must get/redeem one of 35,000 Sky codes by Thu (it's added more codes this week). Only if you've not had Sky TV or b'band in past year. £10 installation on 12mth contract. Already got Sky? Haggle

M&S 50% off sale - eg, £10 dress, £10 men's shirt. At least 50% off many men's, women's, and kids' clothes, + homeware. Stock limited. M&S sale

'I got £12 off Tesco THREE TIMES by abandoning my basket'. Fail to finish an online order and firms often send codes to tempt you back. We've boosted our list of retailers that give abandoned basket discounts from 15 to 25.

Ends Sat. Hot home insurance deals: £75 M&S vch/Vax steamer. MSE Blagged. We've blagged freebies with combined buildings & contents cover till Sat. There's a £75 M&S vch with this Together Mutual* link or a Vax steamer (RRP £140) via this Churchill* link (both can take up to 120 days to arrive). Warning: We're not saying these are cheapest - always compare with results after combining comparison sites.

£19 Nails Inc set (norm £50ish indiv). MSE Blagged. 10 mini polishes incl metallic, glitter effects. 1,400 avail

Morphy Richards extra 20% off sale code, eg, £200 stand mixer £64. MSE Blagged. Plus £100 espresso maker for £52, £50 steam iron £18. Free delivery. Morphy Richards



- £10 off £25 at 1,000s of hairdressers & salons 5,000 avail

- £19 Nails Inc collection (norm £50ish) 1,400 avail

- £75 M&S vch or Vax steamer with home insurance Ends Sat


- Will you lose £1,000s in benefits if you don't claim NOW?

- Totally free prize draw now £250

- Time to ditch premium bonds? 14 need-to-knows

- Can you rent out your home with H2B or Lifetime ISAs?

- 'I complained at 8.30am and got £800 by lunch'


Do you pay over £20/mth for your mobile? STOP

HOT DEALS ENDING: Every major network has virtually 'all-you-can-eat' tariffs for not much more than £20

Many pay huge sums for their mobile, some in the £1,000s a year. OK, often this is because they're paying off a handset - but even after that many just roll over to a costly tariff when it ends, and there may be roaming costs too. Yet most can make huge savings once out of contract by keeping their handset but switching their Sim.

  • Analyse your usage. Two web tools do this and find what's likely to be your best deal. Use Billmonitor* (detailed but doesn't do Giffgaff, Virgin or BT Mobile) or MobilePhoneChecker* (less detailed but incl more networks).

  • Top 'all-you-can-eat'-ish tariffs, by network. This is the easy way to ensure you won't spend too much. Here are the cheapest - all have unlimited mins and texts, and at least 4GB/mth of fast 4G data (in our poll only 26% of people use more than 3GB).

Top UNLIMITED mins, texts, and min 4GB 4G data, 12mth Sim-only deals, by network
Vodafone via* - incl 12mths' Spotify premium, Now TV or Sky Sports Mobile (1) 6GB £27/mth + £100 cashback within 90 days (equiv £18.67/mth)
EE via* - incl unltd calls & texts roaming in Europe (1) 4GB £21.99/mth + £40 cashback within 90 days (equiv £18.66/mth) (2)
Ends TODAY. O2* 4GB £19/mth (2)
Three* - incl phone & data roaming in 18 countries 4GB £21/mth (2)
Avail to new and existing custs, though existing EE & Vodafone custs may need to use a number porting trick to keep their number. If switching network you may need to unlock your phone, though it's often free. (1) Only certain to be avail till Wed 4 May. Links for nano Sims (used in most new handsets) - Vodafone* and EE* micro Sims also avail. (2) May increase cost by inflation each year.

  • What can I get for £10/mth? If you don't use much, our top pick's iD Mobile's* £10/mth Sim (uses Three network) with 500 mins, 5k texts & 4GB of 4G data for 12mths. For the best for each network, see Sim-only deals.

  • Best PAYG deals. If you don't have a good enough credit score to get a contract, or simply don't want one, pay-as-you-go providers offer cheap bundles, eg, £10/mth upfront with Giffgaff* gets 500 mins, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G data. See Cheap PAYG.

  • For speed, just haggle. If you're near or past the end of your contract you wield a powerful weapon - loyalty. So just ask your network to match or beat the best deals above & ensure it knows you'll leave if not. Full tips in Haggle Down Your Mobile Bill. Of those who try, here are the success rates in our poll: Vodafone 77%, EE 63%, Three 62% & O2 57%.


£259 PS4 combo (norm £355ish). Incl console, extra controller + Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 & Until Dawn games. Stack 2 Tesco offers and £20 code. Best-value combo in 2016. See our PS4 bundle blog.

'I got £320 Hotpoint dryer refund from my credit card, using your tips'. Successes are flooding in, incl Section 75 credit card refunds, after we revealed 3 Hotpoint refund tricks to beat its mass tumble-dryer repair delays.

'Free' YEAR'S garden-pass gets 2for1s for 385 UK gardens, incl Kew/Eden. With £4.50 mag. Gardens

16 fuchsia plants £9 all-in (£24ish elsewhere). MSE Blagged. Plus two hanging bags. 5,000 avail. Park Promotions

£10 off £25 spend at 1,000s of hairdressers, spas and beauty salons. MSE Blagged. 5,000 codes for new custs only. Ends Sat. Treatwell code


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Warning. Have you booked a holiday but not got insurance?

Buy insurance ASAP so you're covered for cancellation - from £5/person via our top picks

If you've booked your summer getaway or any other trip but not got travel insurance, you risk a cash catastrophe. It doesn't cost any more to buy early, though many wait till the last minute. Without it, if you pick up an illness which lasts till you go away or suffer a family death which forces you to cancel, you're not covered. Full info in Cheap Travel Insurance; here are the key points:

  • Travel insuranceGo away more than once a year? Annual policies usually win. Holidaysafe Lite* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually the cheapest no-frills policies that meet our min cover levels. Prices vary by age and destination, eg, £13 for a 30-yr-old solo in Europe, £55 for a family worldwide. For top value (incl feedback and past payout record) LV* is from £63 Europe or £105 worldwide for an individual (from £98 and £160 families). Also check MoneySup* which sometimes wins. Full best buys in Annual policies.

  • Cheapest single-trip policies from £5. Protect Your Bubble Economy* tends to be cheapest for under-45s, eg, 1wk Europe from £5 for solos (£14 w/wide), from £10 Europe for families (£28 w/wide). If 45+, Leisure Guard Lite* and Holidaysafe* often win. Prices vary but examples for 1wk include from £5 Europe (£17 worldwide) for solos, from £10 Europe (£30 worldwide) as a family. See Single-trip travel insurance.

  • Over 65 or pre-existing condition? You often need to look beyond standard policies.
    - Over 65? Prices can rocket yet there are competitive options from £25/yr. See Over-65s Travel Insurance.
    - Have medical issues? Always declare them. If getting cover's tough, see Pre-Existing Medical Conditions help.

  • Travelling in EU? Get/renew a FREE EHIC. 5m+ free cards are out of date, but every family member needs a valid EHIC for emergencies. See How to check your EHIC & renew for free.


£53 steak bundle for £30 via code. MSE Blagged. All free-range, outdoor-reared, outdoor-bred UK meat, incl 2 sirloin, 2 flat iron, 2 lamb rump, 2 pork loin & 2 gammon steaks. Market Porter

Take Martin's 5min wallet workout and save £100s. Your purse or wallet's the key to speedily unlocking huge savings from the best debit and credit cards to supermarket coupons and even free condoms. Start your workout

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I've followed MSE for 18mths and saved £7k. Got my parents a £3k council tax refund, £288/yr off phone & b'band, my £2k PPI refund, cut £300/yr from gran's fuel bills, sold £900 of goods on eBay and got £470 for a cancelled flight. Thanks."

Last-EVER Tesco Clubcard double-up starts 16 May. Hold off spending points to cash in on your final chance to double up. See Final Tesco points boost.

Warning - MoneyExpert cold-callers are NOTHING to do with MoneySavingExpert. Some wrongly think we're involved - see MoneyExpert warning.



Teachers: Take part in My Money Week. Education charity Pfeg (part of Young Enterprise) is running My Money Week again this year from 13-19 June, offering resources (jncl lesson plans and suggested activities) to teachers delivering cash classes for the first time or who are after new ideas. Download from the My Money Week website, and see MSE's Financial Education info.


Is the landline dead? How many of your (non-work) calls made and received are on your home phone compared with mobile/web calls?

La cucina italiana è la vostra preferita... (that's "Italian cuisine is your favourite" in, well, Italian) with 24% of the 14,235 who voted claiming they could live off Italian for the rest of their lives. British cuisine came a close second, taking 22% of the vote. See the full results for what other cuisines were on people's menus.



- Top story: BHS to file for administration: what it means for you

- Ofgem orders Scottish Power to pay customers £15m for IT failures

- Nuisance callers banned from hiding behind withheld numbers

- Charity Commission to work with Age UK after E.on 'conflict of interest'

- MPs brand Scottish Power warranties 'a fraud' - are you one of 625,000 customers affected?



Is it wrong to ask for something in return for my staff discount? I work at a designer clothes shop and get a sizeable staff discount. I've used it to get cheap items for friends, but more are asking and it's becoming a nuisance. Is it wrong for me to expect a few 'perks' - drinks, lunch perhaps - in exchange? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Staff discount in exchange for gifts? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Happy Dance
- Competitions thread of the week: Seven-night holiday for two to Antigua
- Old-style board thread of the week: Time to get my head out of the sand
- Discussion of the week: What's stressing you at the moment?


Martin's taking a break, but here are a few past blogs you may enjoy...

- Compare pizzas and save cash. A simple tip to 'slice' down your costs

- No it's not a MAC code, it's just a MAC - redundant acronym syndrome

- It's specific not pacific, and no you didn't literally die - word pedants' top 10



Wed 27 Apr - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 28 Apr - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.20pm
Tue 3 May - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: We were wondering who is responsible for our flight delay? It was a code-share flight (when two or more airlines sell seats on the same flight) and I contacted the airline that issued my ticket. The airline said we should contact the travel agent we bought it from. Raj, by email.

MSE Megan's A: Under EU rule 261/2004, the airline that operates a flight is responsible for a delay and it has to pay any compensation. It's not the responsibility of the travel agent, nor any second airline that may have issued your ticket.

You’re only due compensation if it’s an EU-regulated flight, and the delay was more than three hours and the airline’s at fault, ie, the crew were late or because of most technical problems.

You’re not due money back for strike action or anything outside the airline’s control. For more information on whether you could be eligible to claim compensation of up to £470 per person, per flight, see Flight Delay Compensation.

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


Mushy peas and soggy semolina - your favourite school dinners?

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: Favourite School Meal? Our forumites have been reminiscing about school dinners; it's a love/hate relationship, and notable mentions include spam fritters, cornflake tart and even fresh-air pies. Let us know in the forum which were your favourites - and which you avoided.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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