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Weekly Email
This email was sent
28th Mar 2012
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 This info may be out of date.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 March 2012
Martin's Quick Briefing

April cost explosion — act NOW to beat it
Stamps, tax, prescriptions, childcare, pensions & more

April is price hike month as official bodies do their annual hoicks and tax changes too. Follow our top 10 tips and you can steal a March (sorry) on these hikes...

1. Find your new take-home pay. On 6 April, the standard personal allowance (what you can earn tax-free) rises to £8,105 from £7,475. Other thresholds change too. Our Income Tax Calculator shows what you'll take home.
2. Beat HUGE stamp price hike. From 30 April 1st class letter-sized stamps will cost 60p (now 46p), 2nd class 50p (36p). So stock up now for Christmas 2012, 2013, 2014 etc. Provided it says 1st or 2nd, not a price, they're valid after any rises — plus Superdrug & Costco have discounts. See Cheap Stamps.
3. Buy prepay prescription certificates. From 1 April English NHS prescriptions rise 25p to £7.65. (Scotland, Wales & NI are free.) To save, consider a prepay certificate at £29.10 for 3 mths or £104/yr for unlimited prescriptions (you win if you get 4+ in 3mths, 13+ in a year).
4. State pension up £5, but claim pension credit. On 9 April, the full state single pension rises from £102.15 to £107.45/week. Yet millions are missing out on the guaranteed top-up to £142.70 for lower earners (if you've savings, you could get even more). To claim it, see Pension Credit info.
5. checklistPrepare for tax credits cuts now. Most families with kids and up to £41,300 income currently get child tax credits worth £545+ annually. But from 6 April, most earning £26,000+ with 1 child, £32,200+ with 2, £38,800+ for 3 won't get it (see Tax Credit Cuts Explained). Little can be done, except planning for lost income. Do a Money Makeover and use the free Budget Planner.
6. Check your new tax code. Tax free allowances rise on 6 April, so many have a new tax code (it tells your employer what to deduct). In recent years, millions of these have been wrong, leading to overpaying or underpayment claw backs. Use our Tax Code Calculator to check yours.
7. Switch to a water meter to beat 5.7% hike. On 1 April English & Welsh water bills rise by an average 5.7% (Scotland's are frozen). If you've MORE bedrooms in your home than people, you may save £100s on a meter. See the Water Meter guide.
8. Beat council tax rises. Many English local authorities have frozen council tax, but some will rise on 1 April as will those in Wales. Ways to save: a) Are you in the right band? 100,000s are overpaying and due rebates, see Council Tax Reclaiming. b) Are you due discounts? See Council Tax Discounts.
9. Drill down dental costs. From 1 April basic dental treatment in England rises 50p to £17.50 (up £5 on more complex work), so book quick if poss. In NI it's up 0.5% in early May. Scottish charges are frozen, Welsh undecided.
10. Petrol at record highs and up again in August. The Budget didn't add an April petrol hike, but it did confirm a rise by 3p/litre from 1 August. Yet there are ways to save: declutter your car, change driving style, use cashback cards, cheap forecourts and more. Take a trip to the Cheap Petrol & Diesel guide.

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Use the Money Mantras If you're skint, ask - do I need it, can I afford it If you aren't, ask Will I use it, Is it worth it?

The Ones Not To Miss

28 Mar 2012
Last chance. Online ISAs — 3.5% easy-access or 4.5% fixed
Only 8 days till the cash ISA year ends, yet apply NOW or you'll need to traipse to a branch

If you've any savings, a cash ISA is a no-brainer. It's just a savings account where once opened, the interest is tax-free year after year. If you haven't used the £5,340 allowance by the tax year end on 5 April, you lose it. True, the next day you get a new allowance. Yet even if that's enough, play safe. Do it NOW in case of an unexpected windfall.

  • clockNew top 3.5% AER easy access cash ISA. The top deal's Cheshire BS's* 3.5% AER variable (min £1,000) Direct ISA, which allows unlimited withdrawals whenever you like. It closes for online applications on Monday at 5pm. If you've less to save, Principality BS pays 3.1% AER (min £1). Both include year-long bonuses so diarise to ditch and transfer, or the rate will plummet.
  • Top 3.3% AER rate to boost old ISA rates. Check old ISAs' rates ASAP. Many are pitiful, so transfer to gain £100s. The top payer's Santander* Direct ISA at 3.3% AER variable (min £2,500) — if you're combining it with new money (makes transferring easier next time) the online deadline's Sunday. If you've £30k+ NatWest* pays 3.5% AER. Both include bonuses, so diarise to ditch and transfer when they end. Full help in Top ISA Transfers.
  • Lock in at up to 4.5% AER . Lock cash away (with hefty interest penalties to access it) to get guaranteed high rates on new money and transfers. Halifax* is 4.25% AER to 4.5% for 3-5 yrs. For 2 yr fixes BM Savings is 4.05% AER (min £500), yet at 4% AER Santander's* access penalties are lower, plus it'll pay 0.1% more if Rory McIlroy wins a golf major.

For full ISA help, closing dates & options see Top ISAs and ISA Transfers. All listed have full UK £85,000 savings safety.

Back to top ^

10,000 FREE (£16) Ideal Home tix AND 10,000 FREE (£16) Grand Designs tix

Codes &

Try a new supermarket & save

£30 off £90

(all O2 mob users)

£10 off £50

(new web cust)

£10 off £50

(new web cust)

£5 off £40
(if you spend £40)

£5 off £40

(for everyone)

Online code
Ends 4 May
Online code
Ends 30 Mar
Online code
Ends 31 Mar
In-store voucher
Ends 7 Apr
Voucher in paper
Get by 1 Apr

See All Vouchers

FREE month's daily contact lenses. Click 'n' print Acuvue voucher (worth up to £60) in Acuvue Deals.

Reclaim £100s in mortgage exit fees with a call
Did you switch mortgage pre-2007? You may be owed money — join 300,000 successes

In 2007 banks were spanked over increasing these fees. We went large on it and 100,000s reclaimed. Surprisingly, new users are still succeeding en masse. So it's time to go large on our Mortgage Exit Fee Reclaims guide again. A taster...

  • How to reclaim MEAFs: Lenders charge Mortgage Exit Administration Fees when you close a mortgage or switch to a new provider. Before 2007, while contracts stated they'd be £50ish, lenders hiked them to £200+. The FSA put them on the naughty step and said borrowers should usually get the difference back. So if you moved mortgage before then, you could be owed cash.
  • Isn't it too late? There's often a six-year rule on these things, but the banks' systems to pay out are still in place. So there's no harm trying with a call or letter, even if you don't have exact documents. Please let us know whether it works. Forumite AngleseySoulie says:

    "Phoned ex-mortgage firm to discuss claiming back the exit fee. They phoned back refunding me their full £100 charge."

Full easy how-to in the Updated Guide: Mortgage Fee Reclaiming Related: Council Tax Rebanding, Reclaim Lost Cash

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Get £50 of designer sunnies for £19. Allows £45 Ray-Bans, £36 Oakleys. See Glasses Deals

Last chance. Free £10 with 0% bad-credit card. Capital One's* Balance card lets you shift other card debts to it at 0% till Oct for a 1.7% fee and doesn't auto-reject some with defaults or CCJs. Plus, apply by Sat to get £10 on your account. Beware, after the 0% ends it's a HUGE 34.9% rep APR so please read the Cap One Do it Right guide (APR Examples)

Get £125 cashback + £100 M&S with new Sky+. Ends Thu. Full info in Cheapest Sky Deals

Cheapest iPhone 3GS from £13.50/mth on O2. It's an older, cheaper, version. See Cheap iPhones

Urgent FLASH sales of euros, dollars and more
Travelex & ICICI boost travel money rates | Though overseas spending plastic beats both

If you're heading abroad, if you time it right this week there are a number of ways to slash short-term costs. The best way is by checking live updates in our comparison tool, to see if they're really delivering the top rates.

  • clockTravelex 1½-hr flash sales — boost airport rates. The boon here is it includes pre-ordered airport rates (never just buy at the airport). All barring $ or € (eg, UAE dirham): Wed 11am-12.30pm US dollars: Thur 11am-12.30pm, euros: Fri 11am-12.30pm.
  • ICICI 24 hour sale starts today (Wed) 9.30am. This is delivery only, there's a £4.75 fee on orders under £450, though that's factored in when you compare on
  • Grab a specialist travel money card for perfect rates year round. Most credit and debit cards add a hidden 3% load, so spend £100 worth of euros and it costs £103. If you've a decent credit score, specialist load-free credit cards from Halifax Clarity, Post Office* & for over-50s Saga* (or for Nationwide FlexAccount holders, its Select* card) give unbeatable rates worldwide. Yet ALWAYS fully repay by direct debit, or the 12.9%, 16.9%, 11.9% and 12.9% rep APRs respectively cost large. See the Top Overseas Cards (Official APR Examples)
Back to top ^
Forum Hottie

10p umbrellas, hair clips & fake lashes. Forumites are made-up with this. Superdrug has reduced items while stocks last. Can you find 'em? See Superdrug Deals

Year's theme park pass £35 Tesco pts. Incl Thorpe Pk, Alton Towers. Limited no, go quick. See Tesco Pts

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans 0% Spend Cards
22 mths 0%, 2.9% fee

(17.9% rep APR)

22 mths 0%, 3.5% fee

(17.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral Multi-car*
Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k) 7.8% rep APR (Need Nectar card)

Derbyshire BS*
(£7.5k - £15k)

6% rep APR

Tesco* 15 mth 0%
16.9% rep APR

M&S* 15 mth 0%
15.9% rep APR
See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Don't leave it till you've lost your faculties. Dementia happens. If you don't have a Power of Attorney set up, loved ones face tough & costly court action to look after your cash. Do it now, so it's ready IF needed. It doesn't need to be active straight away. See full Power of Attorney info.

£5 off £10 on London minicab fares. Pre-book & pay online by 9 Apr. See Cheap Kabbee Deals

Cheapest breakdown cover — £9/year
Don't pay £100s. Get basic policies for less than a tenner, comprehensive £38

Too many people auto-renew AA or RAC breakdown cover and unnecessarily spend £100s. We've fully re-researched and updated our Cheap Breakdown Cover Insurance guide — here's a taster...

breakdown cover
  • Basic AA cover for £9/year. Basic AA* Roadside Assistance is £30 online, but sign up via cashback site TopCashBack* to get £21 back. If you're new to this, read the Cashback Sites Guide first as there are potential pitfalls. Also check out cheap RAC with Tesco points.
  • Don't renew, HAGGLE. If you're happy with the firm, but it hoicks the price, haggle. It can be the winner for high-end policies, eg, "AA renewal £155, rang and told them website was £100 for same and RAC was £99 + home start, offered £84."
  • Got special requirements? For one-off, Europe cover or more, use MoneySup's* comparison.
  • Green Flag promises to beat AA/RAC renewal. If haggling fails, Green Flag* guarantees to beat your AA or RAC renewal price. Just quote "Guarantee to Beat". There are some exclusions (see guide) - Let us know how you get on.
  • Comprehensive cover for £38/year. If you're prepared to 'pay and reclaim' — you pay a local firm, then claim back the cost — Autoaid gives breakdown, home start, and onward travel for £38/year (feedback's good). Alternatively, for a limited time, there's £50 cashback on £89 AA cover via TopCashBack*.
  • Add it to car insurance. Many insurers allow this, eg, for home start Morethan* from £41, Direct Line* from £51 and Admiral* from £73. Sainsbury's* and Be Wiser* give free breakdown cover for new customers (see Car Insurance guide).
Back to top ^

24hr West End tix sale, eg, £25 Les Mis. Starts Thu 10am. See full Deals

Ending. £10 Tesco vouchers get 4,000 Avios (norm 2,400). Full info: Boost Avios

Tell friends about us! They can get this free every week!

Last chance. Free £10 on top cashback credit card. The Capital One* World Mastercard pays a big £5 per £100 spent for 3 mths (max £100 cashback), then up to 1.25% — apply by Sat for an extra £10. Yet ALWAYS repay in full each month or the 19.9% rep APR dwarves the cashback. Full info in Top Cashback Cards (Official APR Examples).

Phew — Experian's u-turned over financially linking renters. Last week, we warned of plans to credit link flatsharers. After MSE pressure, it's seen the light. See Renters let off news story & Credit Rating guide.

Quick — line rental AND broadband £10.90/mth
Or line rent
£8/mth incl mobile & international calls | Vs BT's standard £14.20/mth

Line rental with the big players is now £14+/mth (£170 a year). But act quickly and you can slash it and get broadband or mobile calls thrown in. Lots of deals in our updated Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides. Here's a taster...

breakdown cover
  • A year's broadband AND line rental £131 (equiv £10.90/mth). Pay a year's line rental upfront with Plusnet* (part of BT) and it's £114 (£9.50/mth). Plus, until 10 April, sign up via Broadbandchoices (above link goes there) to get £35 cashback and 4mths free on its £6.49/mth Value broadband (avail to 80% of the UK). Overall, that's £131 for a year. You need to manually claim the cashback 30 days after sign-up.
  • Last chance. £8/mth line rent incl mobile & international calls. The Post Office's* £12.25/mth line rental includes eve & wknd calls to landlines AND weekend calls, to mobiles & 40 countries. Sign up by Saturday to get £50 cashback — making it an avg £8.08/mth over the year's contract. For bog-standard line rental, Primus* is £6.79/mth but no calls.
  • Stick with BT for £129 annual line rental. If you really want to stick with BT, its Line Rental Saver* deal is £129 for a year upfront (was £120) with free weekend calls, saving £46 a year (but losing evening calls).
Back to top ^

Totally free Ben & Jerry's cone. Grab one next Tue, see Ben & Jerrys deals.

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines & Broadband
Compare, switch & get cashback

£15 per switch

£30 dual fuel

8 bottles of wine

First Direct*
£100 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Get quotes in this order...

Primus Line Rental Saver*
£6.79/mth (pay a yr up front)

Plusnet Broadband*
Do a Money Makeover Free Budget Planner Free MSE car sticker £17 travel insurance

the moneysaving community

Free book giveaway. Amsterdam travel guide. 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Want one?

Cheap Flight Sales

Airline: Jet2 Sale: 10% off returns Ends: 11.59pm Mon 2 Apr
Our pick this week is Jet2's 10% off return flights using code SALE10. It's on all routes except New York for travel till 15 April 2013, and includes most taxes and charges. Flights include Leeds to Paris at around £90. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £100 return max search. 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

Spill the beans... revealed your Facebook Marketplace tips
Last week we asked you for your tips on Facebook's classified ads. There were some useful ones including bumping your posts so they don't get lost, getting help as well as buying and price items up as there's always haggling.

spill beans

Spill the beans... on products don't live up to the hype
"You'll look 10 yrs younger," it says — but your mates say "you look like a freak". Whether it's cleaning stuff, fitness gear or make-up, when have you fallen for spin and been disappointed? Which products made you frown? (Botox?) Spill 'em: Products which don't live up to the hype Past topics: View all

Money Moral Dilemma

She broke my phone — should I make her pay?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
I was talking to my boss when my mobile rang. A colleague tried to pick it up and dropped it. It seemed to work okay when reassembled, but it went dead the next day. It cost me £500 when I got it last year and was not insured. I asked her to pay for a replacement and she said she couldn't afford it, but would give me an old phone of hers. I refused this. I can't afford a new phone and am now using an old one that I had sitting in a drawer. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I make her pay for the phone? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

Back to top ^
Campaign of the week

Want to teach financial education in your school?
The Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg) is running its fourth My Money Week this June. It's a chance for primary and secondary schools in England to get help and resources on teaching financial education. Teachers wanting to take part can order a free activity pack to start planning ideas at My Money Week (includes some scenario discussion cards contributed by MSE). Related: Try our Teen Cash Class Teacher Activity Sheets Suggest a campaign: This space is for MSE to support the work of other charities, community groups and campaigners. Send your Campaign of the Week suggestion.

Cheap Travel Money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 119.75 105.08
US Flag $ 157.57 138.69
Turkish Flag TL 279.00 244.17
Rates correct at 5.30pm Tues
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: What should the maximum income tax rate be?

If you were in charge of the tax system, what would you set as the HIGHEST income tax rate?

Which is nearest to your view?












































Poll Results

Should Sunday trading restrictions be lifted?

7.813 practising Christians, 829 practising members of non-Christian faiths & 16,551 non-religious MoneySavers voted in last week's poll.

49% of Christians thought Sunday trading rules should be kept as they are, whereas 48% of non-Christians thought trading on a Sunday should be like any other day. See Full Results

Question Of The Week

When returning goods, stores often take up to seven days to log items, then up to 21 more to pay the money. Is this legal? Mary, by email

MSE Wendy's A: Returning items in person usually means an instant refund as the money is added to your card there and then. But when returning non-faulty online orders, the Distance Selling Regulations rule. They say refunds should be paid as soon as possible but not exceeding 30 days. So it is legal.

If goods are faulty, you should be returned to the position you were in beforehand, although no timeframe's given. It should be reasonable, but that's undefined — it would be ultimately up to a court to decide. Full info in Consumer Rights

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

Board Of The Week

Green and Ethical MoneySaving

Swap tips on how to save money while staying eco-friendly. Recent discussions include disposing of energy-efficient lightbulbs, getting a new meter and looking for eco-friendly products. Related Guide: Free Solar Panels

Back to top ^
Game Of The Week

Colour Cleaner

Want to take control of Martin?

Here's your chance - well, a mini-Martin anyway. If you've never played the MSE Game, have a go. You need nimble fingers to help him grab bargains, catch loopholes, avoid bad deals and more.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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