12 post-Christmas MoneySaving crackers - incl Boxing Day sales, £10/mth broadband, gift return rights & cut debt to 0%
It's Christmas week so if you're at a loose end, bored at work or just want to escape the relatives, we've a sackful of tips to boost your coffers. Some are timely, some are simply good ways to save if you've time on your hands. Here goes...
- Mega Boxing Day/Jan sales, eg, Asos, John Lewis and M&S up to 50% off. They are in full swing, with many retailers adding new lines or boosting offers. See our full sales round-up.
- Don't like those dodgy socks or that garish jumper? Your gift return rights. The law can seem restrictive but stores often go over and above, so if you've had a mistletoe and whine about an unwanted Cliff Richard CD, you may be in luck.
- What are my rights in law? If faulty, a buyer can get a refund - see the definition of fault. If not faulty, you've no rights if bought in store but if they're quick the buyer can usually get a refund whatever the reason if bought online, by phone or mail order - see online return rights for full help.
- What extra do stores give? They often allow you to return something 1mth-ish after purchase whatever the reason, but if not faulty you may need to settle for an exchange. Some allow longer for Christmas presents and they don't always insist on the buyer returning it, especially if you've a gift receipt. See our Xmas Return Rights guide for full info.
- STOP paying credit or store card interest - get 27mths at 0% with NO fee. If you've existing card debt - eg, you overdid it at Christmas - a 0% balance transfer card can be your financial superhero. This is where you get a new card to pay off existing cards, so you owe the new one, but interest-free.
What really counts is which card you'll be accepted for, so use our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc to check your chances of getting most top cards before applying, without harming your credit score. Here are the standouts:
- Top pick for most: 27mths 0%, NO FEE. Most 0% balance transfer cards charge a one-off fee, as a % of the debt shifted. But this Santander card (eligibility calc / apply*) is fee-free, and gives the full 27mths 0%, if accepted.
- New. Get PAID if you can clear it quicker. This Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) is up to 20mths 0% with no fee and if you transfer £2k+ you get £20 cashback, though you could be accepted and get fewer 0% months. Bizarrely, you're charged a 2% fee of the amount shifted, which is then refunded, so it's effectively no fee.
- Longest 0%: up to 32mths. We've long said 'get the card with the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay', but it's not so simple now as lengths have shrunk. The Post Office (apply) is up to 32mths 0% for a 2% fee, but only gives 5mths more than Santander, so you don't get much more for the fee. Plus you could be accepted and get fewer 0% months.
Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules (for full help, see Best Balance Transfers and APR examples.)
a) Clear the card or transfer again before the 0% ends or you pay 18.9% (Santander) or 19.9% (the other two) rep 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 need to ask the new provider to do the transfer - you then owe it instead.
e) You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days of opening.
- £10 champers and £5 prosecco. If you want to see in the New Year with bubbly, we've rounded up corking champagne & prosecco deals. Please be Drinkaware.
- New. Slash your broadband & line bill by 75% - pay '£10.24/mth' for standard speed broadband or '£15.84/mth' for fibre. Millions overpay for broadband & line rent by shelling out up to £45/mth, yet hot deals for new customers have just launched at a fraction of that price - but like most broadband crackers, they're short-lived.
- Standard, avg 10Mb b'band speed (ends Tue). BT-owned Plusnet is an equiv £10.24/mth over the 1yr contract if you pay line rent upfront and bank a £75 cheque that comes within 30 days of activation.
- Faster 35Mb fibre b'band (ends Mon). Vodafone is an equiv £15.84/mth over the 18mth contract if you claim and spend a £75 Amazon, Currys PC World, M&S or Tesco voucher.
For lots more help and options, use our Broadband Unbundled tool.
- Should you 'downshift' your beauty regime in 2019? Eg, £6 Aldi substitute for £20 Benefit bronzer. Lots of stores sell own-brand items that mimic designer brands. MSE Rhiannon assesses how much you could save with the Beauty Downshift Challenge.
- Ending. Get £110 cashback on £1,000+ Ratesetter 3%-ish investment. This is about peer-to-peer investing, which comes with risks so is not for everyone. If you'll do it, our special link gives newbies an 11% head start on £1k+. It ends when the last 1,500 go, or Mon, whichever is first. Full info + pros and cons in Peer-to-peer lending.
- Make it your early 2019 resolution to beat the savings rip-off. Bag 1.5% easy access. Many languish on pathetic sub-1% rates, yet it's possible to smash these. All deals below have full £85,000 per person UK savings protection.
- Top easy access: 1.5%. If you want to be able to add or withdraw money when you want, Marcus Bank*, a UK arm of US giant Goldman Sachs, pays 1.5% AER (min £1 & it includes a fixed 1yr 0.15% bonus).
- 1yr fix: likely 2.1% + possible £10-£100 cashback. With a fix, you earn more but your money is locked away for the term. Gatehouse Bank's 2.1% deal beats other 1yr fixes, but as it's a sharia account the 2.1% is technically an 'expected profit rate', though it's always paid out previously. If you apply via savings marketplace Raisin, newbies can get £10 cashback on £10k-£39,999, or £80-£100 on higher sums.
More info and lots more deals in Top savings.
- Ends 12pm Fri. £600 off an iPhone XR contract with low upfront cost and 30GB/mth data. The latest iPhone is never MoneySaving, but if Santa didn't deliver you a new handset and you want one, at least do it cheapest.
We've spotted a cracking deal for O2 newbies* (via Mobiles.co.uk) to get 30GB/mth data + unltd mins & texts on a 64GB iPhone XR for £50 upfront then £38/mth for 2yrs, and you automatically get a £50 cheque within 3mths of ordering. All in, it's £912 over 2yrs. That makes it £600 less than getting the deal direct from O2 and it's about the same price as the cheapest way to get a MUCH lower 4GB/mth. For more deals & help, see Cheap iPhones. NOTE: This deal was expected to expire at 3pm on Monday but sadly Mobiles.co.uk brought the end time forward.
- Beat the Jan train and tube season ticket hikes if yours expires soon. Most prices rise on Wed 2 Jan by up to 3.2%, but buy before and you pay 2018 prices for 2019 travel (almost always cheaper, though check). This can save big, eg, a year's annual Leeds to Birmingham season ticket rises by £254. To check if you should do it, plus restrictions, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide.
- Save £250+/yr switching energy before the full winter blast hits - and don't be fooled by the impending price cap. Next week sees the implementation of the cap which the regulator insists will make costs fairer, as many standard tariff prices will fall. But that doesn't make them good prices as the savings are pitiful compared to switching to a cheap deal. On typical use, you'll still likely pay an avg £1,220 on a Big 6 standard tariff over the next year, yet the cheapest deals can cost £100s/yr less.
To help, we've arranged a special deal with a rare combo of excellent price and service. Bulb's Vari-Fair deal costs an avg £970/yr on typical use - after the usual £25 Cheap Energy Club dual-fuel cashback and extra £25 dual-fuel bill credit we've blagged for you. You can get cheaper but only via minnows, often with little feedback.
In contrast, Bulb supplies 860,000 households and was rated 'great' by 76% of its customers who voted in our recent customer service poll. As it's a variable rate prices can move, but there are no exit fees to ditch it if they rise. The link above has full info on the Bulb deal and goes via our Cheap Energy Club to compare against the rest of the market to help you decide what's best for you.
- Got serious debt? Make an appointment with a debt counsellor ASAP. Many struggle at this time of year. If your non-mortgage and non-student loan debts are bigger than a year's after-tax income, you can't meet your minimum repayments or you're having sleepless nights over debt, a non-profit debt counselling agency is the place to turn. They get rammed in January, so if you're going to do it, book your appointment now.
There's free, one-on-one help from Citizens Advice, National Debtline, StepChange or, if you're struggling emotionally too, CAP. Full info in Debt Crisis Help. Remember, these agencies are there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep".
PS: You'll notice this festive week email is shorter than usual. But we'll be back IN FULL with the next one on Thu 3 Jan. From all of us here, wishing you a happy and financially fabulous New Year.