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Weekly Email
This email was sent
28th Jan 2015
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 This info may be out of date.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."

28 January 2015

This week

The Big Winter Switch Event II - cheaper than the cheapest energy
Flight delays compensation news
Top credit (re)build cards + get £20
'I got £2k monthly bank fees back'
60 ways to boost your income
Should I change euros now for the summer? Read Martin's answer
Quickies: Free Weight Watchers, free £15 car check, £20 G Foreman grill
Say YES in Sentinel redress vote
Body Shop 40% code, incl 50% sale
30% off 60% Hot Diamonds jewellery sale code, eg, earrings £18
'I saved £800 on my car insurance'
£80 photobook for £19 & more
£75 of Thorntons choc bags £28
Alert: 4 days left to file tax return
All Boxed Up Valentine's bundle £17
F&F £10 off £50, Topman extra 15% off sale, Debenhams 10% off £30
Daily Mail '£15' hols - any good?
Free Build It Live show tickets
Quick: Merlin passes £120
Apply for student finance now
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs
Have your say on BBC changes

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

The 15-DAY Big Winter Switch Event II
We've negotiated cheaper than the cheapest energy

Many can save £250+ a year even AFTER big 6 price cuts

A staggering 60,000 people switched and together saved £10m in our Oct Big Winter Switch Event, by far the UK's biggest ever 'collective switch'. Now with prices dropping we can do it even cheaper, so today we're launching the Big Winter Switch Event II - but it's only on until 5pm Thu 12 Feb.

It's easy to do, as Steve tweeted me last time: "#bigwinterswitch saved £325 dual fuel, only took 5mins to change, thanks". Some had savings of £1,000+.

A collective switch is where a 'trusted intermediary' (eg, a council or us) runs an auction for firms to bid to give special tariffs. Our huge scale (10m email recipients; 1.4m Cheap Energy Club members) means unlike many collective switches, our winners smash the best-buys (here's my 3min video explainer).

How to grab one of these tariffs: The collective switch rules mean you need to go via our free Cheap Energy Club. Fill in your details (not for NI sadly). It's better if you've got bills to hand - if not it can estimate - then it'll...

- Show your exact prices and compare them to ALL tariffs. Worth doing as while our collective tariffs usually win, there are regional variations. So you can see who wins, how much you'll save and then switch to your best.

- Give £30 dual fuel cashback (£15 elec only)
. Any time we can switch you (collective switch or not) we give this, though it takes 60-90 days.

- Monitor that it stays cheap. You set a 'trigger saving', eg, £75/yr, then we alert you if you can save that by switching again. Perfect for fixed deals where cheap rates only last a year - taking the hassle out of energy tarting.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event: The CHEAPEST tariff. The winner is the Sainsbury's Energy Discount Fixed Feb 2016 tariff (run by British Gas). For most it's by far the cheapest deal, with huge savings, and the rate you pay is guaranteed not to rise for a year. Plus...

- Get £30 cashback
from the Cheap Energy Club.
- Get up to 1,560 Nectar points. Get 600pts automatically and 960 by giving quarterly meter readings. Worth £7.80 in Sains, up to £15.60 at theme parks.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Sainsbury's Energy fix till 29 Feb 16: £901/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Next cheapest firm: Extra Energy fix till 31 Jan 16: £913/yr; £25/fuel exit fee
Typical cost: Big 6 standard tariff AFTER announced price cuts: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You want the lowest price and don't mind switching again as it's only definitely cheap for a year. 2) You're moving house - as you can take it with you. 3) You want to switch quickly as it's part of the new 17-day faster switching scheme. 4) You get the Warm Home Discount.

- Not for you if: 1) You only need electricity. 2) You want a cheap deal you can forget about for the longer term.

The customer service feedback we have is decent - 43% great, 34% OK - though this is from a relatively small sample of 76 people. Yet to be sure it has agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event: Cheapest LONG no-price-hikes guarantee. The winner's the Green Star MSE collective 36mth fix for dual fuel or elec only. Many on standard tariffs can save £150/yr and the rate's locked in for THREE winters. Plus you get £30 cashback from the Cheap Energy Club.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Green Star fix till Feb 2018: £1,013/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Next cheapest: First Utility fix till 31 Mar 18: £1,082/yr; £30/fuel exit fee
Typical cost: On a big 6 energy firm standard tariff: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You want to sort this now then forget about it, knowing you're on a decent deal. 2) You want the certainty of no price hikes for a long time. 3) You want an elec-only tariff.

- Not for you if: 1) You just want the cheapest price. 2) You're moving home soon (it's not portable). 3) You want a tariff meeting Ofgem green criteria. 4) You get the Warm Home Discount.

Green Star is owned by big Canadian energy firm Just Energy. It's newish to the UK, so feedback's limited, but it was the 'green tariff' winner in our last collective switch and we've had very few reported problems. It has also agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
MSE Big Winter Switch Event Cheapest GREEN tariff. The winner's this Green Star MSE collective 12mth fix tariff available for both dual fuel and electricity only and crucially this tariff fits Ofgem's proposed green criteria incl carbon offsetting, renewable generation and more (see full green tariff pick info). Plus you get £30 cashback from the Cheap Energy Club.

How it compares
Avg price on TYPICAL USAGE for dual fuel direct debit user (varies by region)

Winner: Green Star 12mth fix: £967/yr; £30/fuel exit penalty
Next cheapest firm: Ecotricity: £1,232/yr; no exit fees
Typical cost: On a big 6 energy firm standard tariff: £1,158/yr

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- Good for you if: 1) You believe in green, but don't want to pay that much more. 2) You're willing to move again, as it's only definitely cheap for a year.

- Not for you if: 1) You just want the cheapest. 2) You plan to move house as you can't take it with you. 3) You get the Warm Home Discount.

Green Star is owned by big Canadian energy firm Just Energy. It's newish to the UK, so feedback's limited, but it was our 'green tariff' winner in our last collective switch and we've had few reported problems. It has also agreed to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Suppliers pay about £60 per dual fuel switch (£30 single fuel) to comparisons & collective schemes. We give £30 back to you as cashback (£15 single fuel), to encourage switching.

Much of the rest pays our suppliers: (part of the same parent group as MSE), which provides the underlying data & switch process, and Allfiled, the technology database platform. We expect to be left with £11ish per dual fuel switch - far less than we give in cashback. That'll pay the team who work on this, and hopefully leave some profit too.

As always, we only ever write based on editorial independence in the consumer interest as guaranteed by our legally binding editorial code.
The MSE Big Winter Switch Event FAQs
We've collated the most common collective switch questions we get.
Q. If prices are dropping, shouldn't I wait? A. All the big 6 firms have now announced gas only (not elec) price cuts of a trivial max 5%ish. Note above I compare to AFTER-cuts prices. They'd need to slash rates a ridiculous 22% more before our winner wasn't cheapest (never mind cashback).

If you're asking if new, even-cheaper fixes will launch - that is possible, prices move. Our collective switch could even start a price war (if it does the new deals will show when you compare). Yet it has a decent lead over the next best and we're in the high use time, so waiting on the off chance it'll get cheaper is risky, as the extra you pay meanwhile will likely outweigh that.
Q. Is there a collective switch for key/card prepaid meter users or heating oil? A. We tried for a prepaid collective, but no suppliers' bids were market-leading (last time one was), so instead use our Energy Club Prepayment Comparison to find the market's cheapest - some can save £150+/yr. To see if you can switch to a standard meter, read Prepaid Gas & Electricity.

As for heating oil and LPG, the key is local collective bargaining power there. We've not taken this on yet, but there's help in our heating oil guide.
Q. I don't use gas - can I use the collective switch for electricity only? A. You can with the 3yr and green tariff, but not the 1yr deal. Yet big savings are still possible, do an electricity-only comparison to find your cheapest.
Q. I'm already with the provider (eg, Sainsbury's Energy). Can I use its collective switch? A. Yes you can switch to it, and better still both Sainsbury's and Green Star say they won't charge exit penalties if you do.
Q. Who's responsible for these tariffs, MSE or the energy firm? A. The energy firm is responsible for supplying you, and you pay it. Yet we take our bit seriously too and ask all providers to set up special customer help teams with max 48hr response times - and if something goes wrong, and it won't help, let us know and we'll try. See the Switch Event help page.
Q. Will these definitely be the cheapest deals? A. Usually, but in a few cases in specific regions with specific usage they may not be, hence why we get you to do the Cheap Energy Club comparison as part of the process. Of course new tariffs may launch too - if they do, the comparison will show you.
Q. I was in credit with my previous supplier. Will I get the cash? A. Yes. Most people's last bill was an autumn one, so if you pay by monthly direct debit you may still be in credit now - it could be by £100s. Ensure you ask the firm you're leaving for it (if not, some mightn't cough up) - though do put it aside to pay for winter's bills. See Reclaim energy credit.
Q. Where can I see the standing charge & kWh collective switch costs? A. They vary by region, so we display your exact cost in the Cheap Energy Club comparison result - just click the 'Feedback & Full Info' link.
Q. I've heard paying by monthly direct debit is cheapest. Is that true? A. Yes. It typically cuts £70-£90 off annual bills compared to other methods. Just ensure you do regular meter readings to keep it accurate.
Q. I fixed on a cheap deal, so why has my direct debit risen? A. It's the rate that's fixed, eg, the price per unit, but what you pay depends on your usage.

Direct debits estimate usage - so even if your rate goes down, the debit can go up, either if your new provider overestimates, the old one underestimated, or your usage has changed. If you think the debit is too high, you've a right to ask for it to be lowered. See Energy Direct Debit help.
Q. You're normally against exit penalties - why do these have them? A. I am normally, as it leaves you free to leave if things change. Yet quite simply there aren't any cheap no-exit fee tariffs, so the saving you'd make meanwhile should easily outweigh cost of penalties if you need to leave.

Plus you can always leave 49 days before the tariff ends with no penalties, so the 1 year is only really locked in for 10 and a half months.
Q. I'm in debt with my supplier. Can I switch? A. It varies depending on your supplier - some make you pay it off or get it under a certain balance.
Q. Was I wrong to get the first collective switch if this is cheaper? A. No. Our last collective switch was at £950/yr on typical use, plus you got reward points worth £15ish. While the new one is cheaper, we're now several months into the cold weather, and the saving you've made meanwhile will likely very easily outweigh the price difference.
Q. I've just switched elsewhere. Can I cancel & collective switch instead? A. With most suppliers you've a 14-day cooling off period to cancel - so you can. Though be sure it's worth it, factoring in the extra time to switch over.
Q. Why when I compare does it give me a blended projection for the year, when my fix ends sooner? A. We think this doesn't make sense either - after all, you want to see whether you're saving compared to your current fix, then compared to the go-to rate after. Yet the Ofgem comparison code rules say it has to be this way. We're working/lobbying on a way round it.
Q. What does typical usage mean? A. We use a figure provided by the regulator Ofgem which it quotes as typical usage (it's 13,500 kWh of gas and 3,200 kWh of elec over a year) - and the price we give is an average across all regions, as it varies. Of course your own price could be very different to this, which is why we encourage you to do a comparison to get a bespoke price.

Know someone who's overpaying? Spread the word to help cut energy bills.

PS. New. The Martin Lewis Money Roadshow, ITV1, Fri 8pm.
Should I overpay my mortgage? 6% savings? Sentinel reclaiming & more. Last week we got record ratings of 4.2m with a 19% share - if you want to see what the fuss was about, watch last week's flight delay & more programme. This week the big theme is overpaying your mortgage vs saving. Do watch or set the Betamax.

Blagged for MoneySavers

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Get constantly cheap energy
Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: Redress scheme announced for customers with card protection products
Why selling your home could get harder
EDF announces gas price cut, but it's nothing to party about
SSE the latest firm to cut gas prices - but you can still save by switching
Npower to cut gas prices, but you can save much more by switching
Spread the (MoneySaving) love
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 Wed 28 Jan 2015
Flight delays compensation UPDATE - are you due £460 per person?
The airlines lost in court but some of them are still revolting. Here's the latest info you need to know to claim

If your flight was cancelled or delayed 3hrs+, EU reg 261/2004 means you may be entitled to up to £460 per person. We've piloted many people through this with nearly 300,000 free Flight Delay Compensation template letters downloaded. Late last year the airlines lost two key court battles - most accepted it, but some STILL play hardball...

  • flight delaysFirst, the flight delay compensation basics...

    - You can claim for delays now or dating back to 2009 (or even 2005 in some cases).
    - You must've arrived more than three hours late - check past delay lengths.
    - Any flight from an EU airport counts, or to an EU airport but only if it's an EU airline.
    - Compensation's fixed, based solely on delay & journey length. See What am I due?
    - It must be the airline's fault - so bad weather doesn't count. See What counts?
    - Is it fair to airlines? Arguably not, if your flight cost £10 and you get £460. See Martin's legal vs moral concerns.
    - As an easy intro to this, watch Martin's ITV flight delays programme from last week.
  • Flight delay news - court challenges defeated but some claims still up in the air. Two airlines tried to stymie reclaiming in big court cases. Last June both lost in the Court of Appeal and in Oct the Supreme Court said they couldn't appeal. Most airlines shrugged their shoulders and started paying out, but a few still fight on...

    - The 'extraordinary circumstances' issue. Jet2 fought this in court, saying unforseeable technical problems even if due to lack of maintenance were extraordinary and therefore not its fault. Yet we hear Flybe, Jet2, Ryanair & WizzAir are still holding out paying based on a Dutch case. A hearing in Liverpool in Feb should clear this up, we'll update you then.

    - The 'you can only go back two years' issue. Thomson fought for this in court, but the court confirmed you CAN claim back at least six years (five in Scot). Yet we hear Jet2 and Ryanair still argue their T&Cs limit claims to two years. If this happens to you, fight 'em - their argument has little weight. See claim on hold help.
  • Reclaim for FREE. Steve emailed us: "My wife and I flew to Mexico with Thomson in August 2014. We had a six-hour delay. I complained using your letter template. Expected nothing, but got a cheque for the full €1,200 (€600/person) requested and an apology." Free template letters and step-by-step help in our guide. See How to claim.

"Is it worth changing euros for the summer holidays now?" The weakening euro means £1 currently buys a stonking €1.34. Many of you are asking if you should be stocking up. Read Martin's Should I change euros now? answer.

QUICKIES: Free £15 winter car check, free Weight Watchers, £20 George Foreman grill & more
Totally free £15 Halfords winter car check incl battery, wipers, oil, screenwash & more | Free 3mth Weight Watchers online
£20 George Foreman grill (RRP £70) | Pay £10 get £20 London minicab credit

Ever had Sentinel card protection? VOTE YES for £100s. Sentinel had a card protection plan (similar to CPP) sold via Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, etc. They've just agreed to repay possibly £100m+ to mis-sold customers. In a few months you'll be asked to vote on an automatic redress scheme - more info then but basically, vote yes. See Sentinel reclaim info.

Top (re)build your credit cards + £20 cashback
Bizarrely the best way to (re)build your credit score's with a credit card, but how to get one with a poor score?

Whether for mortgage, loan or owt else, credit scoring is about predicting your future behaviour based on your past. So a poor history means you're likely to get rejected, and little or no history means rejection as they don't know enough to make predictions. So to build a good score you need to build a good history with a bad-credit credit card. At speed...

  • Rebuild your credit scoreHow to use a credit card to (re)build your history. Do £50-£100/mth of your normal spending on it, but never exceed your credit limit. Repay it IN FULL each month and you're not charged the hideous 34.9% rep APR interest (repaying just the min would help your credit score, but at this rate it'd kill your pocket). And never withdraw cash.

    After around six months to a year your credit score should start to improve (provided there are no other negatives). Full help in boost your credit score. (APR examples.)
  • Top (re)build credit cards. Don't apply willy-nilly as each application marks your credit file. Use our eligibility calc to home in on the card you're most likely to get, eg:

    - Easy to get + £20 Amazon voucher: Aqua Advance* (eligibility calc) accepts some with CCJs/defaults just 1yr+ old and discharged bankruptcies 18mth+, and sends you a £20 Amazon voucher after 3mths if you pay on time.

    - Easiest to get + £10 + 0.5% cashback: The Capital One* Classic Extra card (eligibility calc) seems a touch easier to be accepted for than Aqua. It offers £10 next Jan if you always pay on time, plus 0.5% cashback on spending.

    - £20 cashback + 6mth 0% on spending: Barclaycard Initial* (eligibility calc) has slightly more stringent criteria, but gives £20 cashback after 3mths' good behaviour and offers 6mths 0% on new spending. Yet we'd strongly caution against using it to borrow - just pay in full, unless you cleverly use it for respite on bank charges/payday loans.
  • Last resort if you can't get these cards. Everyone can get a Cashplus Creditbuilder, It's a prepaid card you pay £4.95/mth to have (plus a £4.95 appl fee) but technically that fee's structured as a loan so it builds your credit.

Body Shop 40% off almost EVERYTHING incl up to 50% off sale items. Eg, £13 body butter £4. Body Shop

Extra 30% off Hot Diamonds up to 60% sale code. MSE Blagged. Discount on its women's jewellery sale. Incl silver diamond earrings £17.50 (were £45) & silver pendant necklaces £17.50 (were £44). Ends Tue 3 Feb. Hot Diamonds

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I am so excited. After reading last week's email, I decided to search for cheaper car insurance. I found a deal for half the price of what I pay, thereby saving about £800. Thanks so much."

£19 photobook (norm £80) & £16 canvas (norm £45). MSE Blagged. Great for Valentine's gifts. Photo deals

30 x 100g Thorntons chocolate bags £28 code (£75 separately). MSE Blagged. The code reduces the £40 bundle (with £75 worth of stuff in it) to £28. It's a mixed selection. 1,500 available. Thorntons

Only 4 days to file tax returns. Need to file a self assessment return? Do it by Sat or pay a £100 fine. Tax Filing Help.

'I got £2,710 of monthly bank account fees back'
Do you/have you paid a monthly fee for a packaged bank account? 100,000s were mis-sold. RECLAIM FOR FREE

We're receiving daily success stories about mis-sold packaged bank accounts - those charging £10-£20/mth that give 'extras' like travel insurance. They're the Marmite of banking. For those making an active choice to get them, they're often a corking way to get cheap insurance, yet they're a nightmare for those upsold them after a call or bank review...

  • packaged accountsIs it worth paying a fee for my bank account? Work it out as an annual cost, eg, £15/mth is £180/yr. Then ask what value you get for that? If there are 'extras', could you buy them separately for the £180? If yes, consider cancelling for a fee-free account; some pay you £150 to join or give 0% overdrafts, see top bank accounts. If you have been mis-sold, don't worry, you can still reclaim after cancelling.
  • What counts as mis-selling? Just being bad value isn't enough (though it's a good reason to cancel). We've a full fee-paying bank account mis-selling checklist including...

    1) You weren't actually covered, eg, it sold it to you on travel insurance but you were over the age limit/had pre-existing conditions. 2) You were told you had to have the account to get a loan, mortgage or overdraft. 3) You were upgraded without your permission, or without being told there were fee-free options.
  • Reclaim for FREE. There's no need to pay a claims handler and lose 30% of what's due. Our Reclaim Package Accounts for FREE DIY guide is easy, and includes template letters. Phil's one of more than 140,000 who've used it: "I wrote to the bank asking to be changed to a free account and all charges returned. I received a lengthy & confusing refusal. I referred it to the Ombudsman and won back all fees plus interest - £2,710."
  • The top packaged account. If paying a fee's right for you, Nationwide's FlexPlus*, for £10/mth, gives cover for ALL the family's smartphones, world family travel insurance (up to age 75) and European breakdown cover; bought separately it'd cost up to £600/yr, so it's a great deal at £120 if you'd use it - Top Packaged Accounts Analysed.
  • Bank charges reclaiming's different. If you're charged for busting your overdraft, see Bank Charges Reclaiming.

'All Boxed Up' Valentine's bundle £17. MSE Blagged. Get £17 bundle with £37 of branded candles, massage oil & chocs OR a £25.50 bundle which includes the same with cosmetics (£77 of stuff at full price). 3,000 All Boxed Up bundles

CODES: F&F £10 off £50, Topman extra 15% off sale, Debenhams 10% off £30, etc
F&F Clothing £10 off £50 code | Topman extra 15% off sale code | Debenhams 10% off £30 (incl sale) code
Shoeaholics (Kurt Geiger's outlet) 15% off code | Miss Selfridge 25% off vch/code in £2 mag | See ALL codes & vouchers

Daily Mail '£15' hols. Really £40 min but still cheap for 150+ parks across UK. See '£15' Daily Mail holidays?

3,000 FREE tix to Build It Live show (Manc & Kent) norm £12. 1,500 for Manchester (7-8 Feb) and 1,500 for Bluewater, Kent (28 Feb-1 Mar). A building and renovation exhibition. See Build It Live.

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)

No fee 0%: Santander*
15mths 0%, no fee

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

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k)
4.8% rep APR

M&S Bank* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.6% rep APR

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

Coventry BS 2.25% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples
60 ways to boost your income
Can you make £2,015 extra in 2015? You need to learn to flog it, rent it, click it, earn it and watch it...

While nothing supplants real work, there are a host of canny techniques to add cash to your coffers. Our updated 60 ways to boost your income guide is jammed with money-makers, but to entice you to earn, here are 10 tasters...

Boost your income 1. Rent out a room. You can earn up to £4,250 tax-free with the Rent a Room scheme.
2. Get paid to watch TV.
Up to £70 for a 2-hr focus group, or 50p a survey. See Review Telly.
3. Recycle old printer cartridges. Get as much as £3 per cartridge. See Recycle Ink For Cash.
4. Rent your parking space. If you've unused parking in a busy city use rent parking space sites.
5. Not used it in a year? Flog it. Do a personal stock clearance. Old mobiles can fetch £180+, to compare prices, use Flog old CDs, games & books via Music Magpie and make £100s selling old textbooks. For everything else, see our 40+ eBay selling tricks.
6. Do online surveys.
Swagbucks is popular with forumites and we've currently blagged a deal for you to get a bonus £10-worth of M&S/Amazon vouchers once you've accrued £5.
7. Rent your storage space. There are specialist rent storage space sites to flog unused attic, garage or spare room space.
8. Flog old gold for £100s.
Most postal gold sites are hell, but, done right, an 18ct ring can net £55. See Top Gold Buyers.
9. Listen to music? Get paid to review it. Put in a couple of hours a night and you could get up to £30/mth with Slicethepie.
10. Join the club. For more inspiration and competition, join the £2,015 in 2015 club in our forum.

Quick! 1yr Merlin passes £120 for Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, London Dungeon, etc. On 8 Feb it rises to the 2015 price, which is £170, so if you're going to buy one, do it now. Unlimited visits to Merlin attractions. Merlin passes

Apply for student finance now. New & continuing full-time students from Eng can apply. Student Loan Mythbusters.

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.

Someone with typical dual fuel usage on a big 6 standard tariff pays £1,158/yr (inc price cuts), the cheapest deal's £901 via our collective switch - a huge £260 difference.

First Direct*
£125 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

Tell the BBC what you think of its proposed changes
It's planning some changes to its services later this year and it wants to hear what licence payers think about them. It plans to make BBC3 online-only, but introduce a BBC1+1 channel (non-HD), expand the content on iPlayer and extend CBBC hours. Share your views via the BBC survey and then have your say in the MSE Forum discussion thread.

Should I refuse to pay service charge that doesn't go to staff?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... I regularly eat at a local restaurant that always applies a 12.5% service charge. Service is good so I don't mind paying it. However, I recently discovered about 80% of that doesn't even go to the staff who serve me - the restaurant keeps it. Should I refuse to pay the service charge from now on and give cash tips to staff? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I leave cash tips? | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

How to do Valentine's Day on the cheap
The day of romance is just around the corner and restaurants are busy preparing overpriced set menus, while hotels hike prices. We want to tap MoneySavers' collective knowledge on cheap ways to spend the day. What are your top tips for treating your loved ones without breaking the bank? Share yours/read others': How to do Valentine's Day on the cheap Past topics: View all

Airline: Jet2* Offer: 10% off all flights Ends: Tue 3 Feb
Our pick this week is Jet2's* 10% off all flights sale which ends Tue 3 Feb. Each passenger gets 10% off the cost of any flight (includes taxes, but excludes some charges and extras) between 29 Mar 2015 and 30 Apr 2016. It flies from seven UK airports to more than 50 European destinations. There is no code to enter, the discount appears automatically. Excludes group bookings (10+ people). 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

Cheeky ways to get free wi-fi

We asked for the boldest ways you get online when you're out and about. You suggested lurking outside restaurants and fast food outlets, swapping access codes with your mates and visiting the lobbies of upscale hotels while abroad. Airports often have free wi-fi but users warned you'll often have to pay if you go over 30 minutes.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

29 January
Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.40am
Deals of the Week
30 January
This Morning, time tbc
Martin's 90-Second Savers
2 February
This Morning, time tbc
Subject tbc

Radio 5 Live, 12pm-1pm
Consumer Panel
Subscribe to podcast
The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm
Should you pay off your mortgage with savings? Plus, haggling with service providers.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

Must-have beauty products

Are you a beauty junkie? We want to know - if you could only have one beauty product, what would it be? Cast your vote in the Must-have beauty products poll and join the discussion to let us know what item you simply can't live without.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 132.56 119.30
US Flag $ 149.76 134.78
Turkish Flag TL 341.00 299.86
Rates correct at 3pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Would you support renationalisation of energy, water, rail and more?

Since the 1980s the Government has privatised many essential services, often by floating previously state-owned companies.

Those arguing for privatisation often focus on increased efficiency due to competition. Those against say firms do what's best for their shareholders and not for consumers. It's a complex argument, but we're really most interested in testing public sentiment so are keeping it simple.

Please vote for the choice closest to your own opinion on whether you support renationalisation for each of the following services:

Poll results

How do you rate your home phone and broadband provider?
Of the major firms (with more than 1,000 votes) there were poor results across the board, with only Plusnet rated highly. Here's how the major firms fared:

- Plusnet was 74% 'great' on home phones, 71% 'great' on broadband.
- Virgin Media 47% 'great' on home phones, 54% 'great' on broadband.
- Sky 49% 'great' on home phones, 45% 'great' on broadband.
- TalkTalk 40% 'great' on home phones, 32% 'great' on broadband.
- BT 35% 'great' on home phones, 33% 'great' on broadband.

10,281 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q: What compensation can I get if my train is delayed and then cancelled? Rob, via email.

MSE Rebecca’s A: Train delays and cancellations can be a nightmare and our Train Delays guide explains exactly how you can ask for your money back from your train company.

However, in a nutshell... assuming you had a ticket for a set train and didn't travel, you're entitled to a full refund for the cost of your ticket. You can usually get this at the ticket office where you bought the ticket or by applying to the company within 28 days.

If you decided to travel on a later train, the rules state you're entitled to compensation of at least 20% of your ticket if you got there at least 30 minutes after your original scheduled arrival time. However, some train firms go over and above this and you could get up to the full ticket price back, so always check.

 Nick's free game of the week: Archie

Marmite and Pot Noodle Easter eggs?

That's it for this week, but before we go, would you eat a Marmite-flavoured Easter egg? How about Pot Noodle? The unusual flavours will be coming to a shop near you soon - let us know if you'd try one and if not, what flavour you'd like to see instead.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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