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28th Sep 2011
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28 September 2011


MSE News

Martin's Quick Briefing

Over 40 ways to slash motoring costs
Cut £1,000s off annual cost of cars, bikes & vans

Buying a car can hurt your wallet, but with huge hikes in petrol and insurance, running it can make you wince. The AA says average new cars now cost £5,500/year to run. To help, we've a new 40 ways to slash motoring costs guide. Here are 10 to start.

1. carDON'T assume 3rd party insurance is cheapest. The lowest level of cover, counter logically, isn't always cheapest. For some, comprehensive wins, as choosing it may mean you're considered a lower risk. So if you were planning on 3rd party, also get a comprehensive quote. For max quotes at speed, combine comparison sites MoneySup* and GoCompare*, then check the policy's right and if cashback's available. Full step-by-step in Cheap Car Insurance, Van, Bike or Young Persons.
2. 73% of AA hagglers succeed, 59% of RAC. If your renewal's too costly, ask them to cut it or you'll consider leaving. Haggling success rates are huge (we polled it). Alternatively, cashback sites can sometimes bring prices down below £10/year for basic cover. Full help in the Cheap Breakdown guide.
3. Hidden council MOT centres prevent fails. Council-run MOT centres are set up to do their own vehicles (eg, buses) but must also open to the public. As they don't offer repairs, they've no vested interest to fail you. So MoneySavers' feedback like this is common: "My garage said repairs would cost almost £1,000 ... the council test centre passed it without any work needed." Find your council MOT centre.
4. Your car doesn't need to drink premium fuel. Many forecourts sell 'high performance' fuels, yet unless you've a sports car there's little difference.
5. Get £100s back on petrol and diesel spend. Santander's 123* credit card pays 3% cashback on fuel spends up to £300/month, plus 2% at department stores and 1% in supermarkets. For many it can be worth £100+/year, though there's a £24 annual fee, so only apply if you'll use it enough and ALWAYS set up a Direct Debit to repay IN FULL each month to avoid the 18.9% representative APR interest. Full info and more options in Petrol cashback cards.
6. Make cash from your driveway. If you live in a city, near an airport or footie stadium (anywhere where parking's pricey), your driveway may be paved with gold. Renting out a parking space can make you up to £200 a month.
7. Less pedal to the metal saves 30% on fuel. Huge fuel savings come from driving less aggressively (not the same as slower). Think of the accelerator as a money pump: the harder you press, the more you spend. Accelerate gradually, stay under 3,000 revs, drive in the highest comfortable gear and think about road position to slow naturally. See full Low fuel driving tips.
8. 1.7million PHOTO driving licences out of date - avoid £1,000 fines. The photo needs renewing every 10 years. Urgently check the end date (section 4b) and if expired, see the Driving Licence Renewal guide for how to sort it.
9. Check your light bulbs pre-MOT - not as obvious as it sounds. 35% of MOTs fail first time. The most frequent reasons are bust light bulbs, suspension problems, handbrake tension, worn tyres and windscreen damage. Many of these can easily be fixed before you go, see cheap MOTs.
10. 57% who fight unfair council parking tickets win. Fight an unfair COUNCIL parking ticket all the way and you've got a strong chance of winning (free templates in Appeal council tickets). If it's an unfair private ticket then it's an INVOICE, not a fine. Simply write back, disputing it. Full help in fight private tickets, and avoid fines with our free glovebox parking guide.

This is just the start, see the new 40 ways to slash motoring costs guide for lots more tips, including car clubs and whether you should keep your car at all.

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28 Sept 2011

New! HALF PRICE loans for under £5,000 (via card)
Borrow at 6.9% APR thrashing the best-buy standard loans, where cheapest is 18%+

While rates for £5,000+ loans have plummeted, borrow less and even the cheapest are prohibitively expensive (eg, lowest sub-£2,000 loan is 18.6% APR). Yet use a new credit card correctly and you can do it for less than half the rate. However, ONLY get new debt if you truly need it, keep it small, repay as quickly as possible and have done a budget to ensure it's affordable. All cards require credit checks, never miss monthly repayments.

  • loanBorrow lump sum at 6.9% using a credit card. Provided you can buy the item on plastic (eg, car, kitchen) the new long-term low rate card from Sainsbury's* is 6.9% representative APR (you need an active Nectar card) on both spending and other card debts shifted to it. Next best is Barclaycard* Simplicity at 7.9% rep APR.

    How to turn it into a loan
    . While it's cheaper, the big card dangers are you choose your repayments (provided it's above the minimum) and can spend more later. Loans have fixed repayments to clear the debt in a set time. To replicate this discipline, once you've done your 'loan' spending, lock the card away (jar of water in freezer?) and repay a fixed monthly amount by direct debit to clear within a set time (use the loan calculator to work it out).

    Is the rate fixed? As the cards are 'representative' rates, only 51% of accepted applicants must get the rate offered, others may pay more. While advertised as long term low rates, technically they're variable. Yet card rules say you pay the minimum, they can't up it in the 1st year, and after that, you've a right to reject APR rises, if you don't borrow any more (which if you're following the above, you won't). See the Rate Jacking guide for more.
  • Borrowing for under 15 months? Do it free. If you're borrowing an amount you will repay quicker, Tesco* and M&S* both give 15 months 0% (though repay by then or it's 16.9% and 15.9% rep APR respectively).
  • Trying to consolidate credit card debts? Far better to use the Cheapest Balance Transfers.

For full details of this card and other options see the Updated guide: Cards for Spending (and Official APR Examples) Related: Cheap Loans, Best Balance Transfers, Credit Card Loans

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FREE Odeon tickets (O2 users) or instant 40% off (everyone). The freebie's available for O2 existing mobile users Mon-Thur, the 40% off is for everyone, every day. See Deals Note: Cheap Cinemas

100,000 Ramada hotel UK £20 rooms Nov-May. Seriously cheap for its 42 mid-range UK hotels (usually up to £140). You need a newspaper voucher - see full info in the Deals Note: Hotel Sales

Sunny wknd special. Free National Trust family pass worth up to £30. Voucher in £1.20 mag for entry this weekend at 200 attractions incl Castle Drogo and Speke Hall. See Deals Note: Cheap Days Out

Free antivirus | Protect your PC, Mac and now MOBILES too
Shop, bank or pay bills online? Get legal, professional programs to protect you for free

Fail to safeguard your computer and you run the risk of malware and viruses, as well as identity theft and fraud, for which, if you're proved negligent, banks may MAKE YOU PAY. Our updated Free Antivirus and new Free mobile anti-virus guides include top baddy-fighting software. Here's a taster...

  • xxxFree antivirus software for PCs and Macs. If you're a standard home user why pay for antivirus when you can get it free from Microsoft, Avast, AVG and iAntiVirus? All offer professional, legal software which crucially provides regular downloads for their "virus bank", the bit which tells the software about new bugs. Full reviews and links, plus malware, spyware and other bug prevention in the Free Antivirus guide.
  • New. Free antivirus for mobiles. While attacks on mobiles aren't as common yet, they do exist, so if you shop, bank or pay bills online, beware. They're especially a problem for Android smartphones. Our new Free Antivirus For Mobiles guide includes tips from a top mobile security expert plus a list of mostly-free downloadable antivirus apps.
  • Why is the software free? Companies usually offer basic versions for nothing, hoping you'll upgrade for more advanced features. For most, there's no need to do that. Plus, the free software on millions of computers worldwide is a way of marketing and brand-boosting (after all, if you saw them offer another product, you'd trust the brand).

For full info, see the Updated Guide: Free Antivirus Software and New Guide: Free Antivirus For Mobiles

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8 x Burger King instant 2for1s vouchers. Click 'n' print in-store deals - 2for1 burgers, wraps, ice creams and more. See Deals Note: Burger King Vouchers

Free £10-£25 manicures with Always & Tampax. Buy promo packs (starting at £1) and redeem code online at over 300 UK manicurists, though appointment availability may be limited. Deals Note: Cheap Beauty Deals

20% code for bargain bulk buy store Approved Food. Sells discounted food, some beyond best-befores. This newbies code is the biggest ever. Deals incl 30 pack of soup for 79p & 99p 500ml Coke 4-pack (£5.25 P&P so bulk-buy only). See Deals Note: Approved Food

Tesco Clubcard Rewards BOOSTED, points SLASHED
Now you can trade-in vouchers at 4x value | Yet the amount earned per £1 will halve

tescoTesco's widely-reported 'Big Price Drop' price cut for 3,000 everyday items comes at a cost. Next month it'll end its double points promo that's been live since Aug '09 so you'll only earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent in-store, not the current two (see Tesco Clubcard cuts). Yet for point chasers who already have a stash, at least some rewards are improving...

  • Now get 4x your voucher value not 3x. If you get vouchers, redeeming them in-store is often a waste, as using Tesco's Rewards Brochure lets you trade them in at a higher value. This was 4x, last Dec was cut to 3x, but now for some "popular" items it's back at 4x. So £5 becomes worth £20 (at list prices anyway).

    Improved Tesco vouchers trade-ins include...
    Deal Was Now Deal Was Now
    Pizza Express x3 x4 Legoland entry £13 £11
    Strada x3 x4 Thorpe Park entry £12 £10
    Airmiles £2.50 = 50 Airmiles £2.50 = 60 Airmiles BA miles £2.50 = 500 miles £2.50 = 600 miles
  • Are these the best use of points? If you'll spend at those outlets it's an improvement, though if there are free 2for1 vouchers available anyway (see Restaurant Vouchers and Days Out Vouchers), in reality you're only doubling your value compared to the cost to 'MoneySavers'. Instead, consider 3x value on rewards such as train fares or jewellery, see the Top 10 Tesco Rewards.
  • Reclaim lost Tesco vouchers. Everyone should check if they've old unused Tesco vouchers they can reclaim. It takes two minutes online (see Reclaim Tesco vouchers). Many people find £100s which, when trebled, is huge.

For a run-down of which rewards are changing, see the Updated Guide: Boost Tesco Points guide. Related: Discount Codes, Loyalty Points Boosting, Supermarket Shopping

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100,000 FREE bags of Walkers (any flavour). Postponed from last week, we've been told it's now good to go (though with just slightly fewer than the 50 million first mooted). See Deals Note: Hot Bargains

Borrow £100 at Wonga's APR & after 7 years you'd owe US's Debt (£10 trillion) This salacious, though disingenuous stat (Wonga only lends for max 31 days and doesn't compound) caused a storm this week. See Martin's blog that started it: Wonga APR gives US debt in 7 years and Wonga's response

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Free £9ish pies & beers to your door (O2 users). O2's pumping out deals this week. Provided England get to the Rugby quarter finals (very likely) there are 20,000 more 'brekkie' packs available (2 Pieminister pies, 2 Greene King beers) as long as you didn't get one earlier. See the Deals Note: O2 Bargains Please be drinkaware

Reminder. It's the PERFECT time to switch energy, save £250/yr. All the big firms have announced price hikes, so comparing's now fair.Top Comparison: Energyhelpline* pays £15 cashback per switch. Dual Fuel: MoneySupermarket* pays £30 cash, Uswitch* a crate of wine (all via these links not direct). Full Help: Cheapest Energy

Free travel insurance up to age 75 with free bank account
Cracking deal, especially for older travellers | Or cheapest annual cover (from £17/yr) for all ages

For older travellers especially, finding cheap insurance is a bit like searching for Marmite in a French supermarket. So hurrah for Nationwide for upping to 75 the maximum age for free cover with its current account. travel insurance

  • Free European travel insurance (max age 75). New and existing holders of the fees-free Nationwide FlexAccount* get free annual European travel insurance (with joint accounts, both get it). To qualify, you need to pass its credit check and use it as your main account, ensuring a salary/pension of £750+/month is paid in. It doesn't pay in-credit interest though, and the overdraft's a hefty 18.9%, but customer service feedback's good.

    Whether it's worth it depends on your usual travel insurance costs - so it's better for older travellers. Some with higher incomes may prefer the £100 freebies offered by the other Top Bank Accounts, though those are one-offs, while this is an ongoing deal. The travel cover itself is well-rated (see Travel Insurance guide).

  • Cheapest annual insurance from £17/year. These are based on price, and minimum cover levels. More choices incl 'top value' policies, winter sports cover & pre-existing condition policies are in the Travel Insurance guide. Links go via Moneysup's comparison where it's cheaper than direct.

    - Singles U65.
    Virgin's* £17 Europe only; £25 worldwide (50-65s pay £22 or £34).
    - Families U65. Protect your bubble's* £35 Europe, £39 worldwide (for 50-65s Insurefor* is cheapest).
    - Europe only 65-80. EHICPlus* is cheapest (eg, £62 for 74-year-olds) but requires an EHIC card and provides state-run medical cover only. Alternatively, try Preferential* or Cosmos*.
    - Europe only over 80s: The Co-op is £153 (previous cheapest was £282); £246 for couples.

  • Declare medical conditions. Whether cover's via a bank account or standalone policy, inform the insurer of any pre-existing conditions. It may exclude you or put up prices, but that's better than invalid cover.

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Totally free £5 fish & chips voucher at BHS on Monday. Instant print voucher, use at over 100 BHS restaurants or cafes for free grub on Mon 3 Oct, no strings attached. See Deals Note: BHS Vouchers

Heads up: House of Fraser 25% off 'brands' sale. Starts online today (Wed) at 5pm, then in-store Thurs & Fri. PLUS John Lewis'll price match. Joins Debenhams & Warehouse up to 50% off and Wallis extra 20% off 50% sales. See Deals Index: High St Sales

Birmingham/West Mids residents new 1/3 off Railcard. £28 year's trial railcard gives 33% off national travel for you & a friend travelling together. Only main cardholders need to live in the area. Deals Note: Train Deals

The Top 50 Student MoneySaving Tips. New guide
Slash costs whether student new or old | And £50 for your best suggestions

Whether it's loans or grants, how to manage your money, raise extra cash, grab scholarships or find discounts, we've put together 50 Student MoneySaving Tips to help you thrive, survive and imbibe (only as it rhymes). Here's a taster:


- Ensure you get council tax discount. And how to split it, if you share with non-students
- Free cash to study. Take 10mins to check the education grants & scholarships available
- TV licence refund for summer hols. If you're away, you can get a refund
- Grab a student discount card. NUS Extra's £11 but gets a year's discounts at c. 120 retailers
- Get biggest 0% overdraft possible. It helps avoid charges, see the Top Student Accounts guide
- Get cheapest energy. Get on the cheapest tariff, even if not billed yet, see Cheap Gas & Elec
- Don't overpay tax on summer jobs. If you earn under £7,475 a year you shouldn't pay income tax
- Splash out on last day of term, not first. Budget hard, then party in comfort when you can afford it
- Ensure parents pay their share. If your loan's reduced, because you've wealthy parents, ask 'em to fill the gap

If we're missing anything in the 50 Student Tips for 2011, enter the Student MoneySaving Tips contest (must be a student). For the best used in the guide (max 5), we'll give £50 to help you while you're studying.

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5% off 1st class stamps - bulk buy for Christmas. Superdrug's restarted its 5% off stamps deal. Consider stocking up for Christmas (or just buy 2nd class). Deals Note: 5% Off Stamps

Ensure kids get financial education - take 20 secs to sign petition. We're on 75,000, we need 100,000 to get a parliamentary debate, so please sign the petition

Restaurant Vouchers

Discount Vouchers

Top Deals

Strada 2for1 La Redoute £15 off £20 Two free John le Carré audiobooks
Pizza Express 2for1 Wallis 18% off + free p&p Baileys free mini bottle
Cafe Rouge 2for1 Peacocks 20% off Chocolate Tasting Club £3 chocs
La Tasca 2for1 Tesco Clothing £10 off £40 Harry Potter £8.50 pre-order DVD
Bella Italia 2for1 Javari 25% off Wizard of Oz £40 tickets
All Restaurant Vouchers All Discount Vouchers More Deals

Big & Easy Ways To Save
Quick links or click the titles for full pros, cons, alternatives & more savings

See all official APR examples


25 Free MSE "Thrifty Ways For Modern Days" books. We're giving away 25 of the glorious Thrifty Ways books written from the collected wealth of the Old Style forum. If you haven't got one it's worth buying it (all Martin's 'author' proceeds go to charity). Want one?

spill beans

Spill the beans ... on how to manipulate airline codesharing
Codeshares are where two airlines agree to sell each others' flights, so you book with one carrier, fly with another. Often it's annoying, yet be clever and you can gain. Prices differ wildly, eg, we found a Manchester to Orlando return Virgin Atlantic flight sold by Virgin for £650, but if you'd booked with Continental on its codeshare it was £790, but it can work the other way too. Tell us your best experiences (and tips to avoid being taken for a ride). Spill 'em: How to manipulate airline codesharing Past topics: View all

Deadline for charities/groups to apply for MSE Charity Grants now 6 Oct
The MSE Charity gives grants to individuals or charities for financial and consumer help/education. The deadline for the latest group applications (charities or constituted groups) has been extended to 6 Oct due to a glitch with the application form. How to apply: See The MSE Charity Related: The MSE Charity Fund, How this Site is Financed

Money Moral Dilemma

Should she pay for my horse?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
I have a horse and recently found someone who was happy to help me look after her in exchange for rides. It was verbally agreed I would pay the day-to-day costs, but that she would look after my horse one day per week. After a couple of months she fed my horse something that made it very ill and the vet bill was £220. Should I ask her to pay all, or even just part, of the bill as she caused the incident? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should she pay for my horse? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

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Spill the beans... revealed What are your tips on becoming a Londoner?
Last week we asked Londoners to get off their Queen Mums and tell first-timers how to move to the city without feeling brassic (broke). Some suggestions included yearly travel cards, avoid estate agents and check online reviews.

Quick Forum Tips

Andrea's Freebies

Top pick! 1/2 price Ben & Jerry's, now £2.22 at Morrisons. N-ice Seed planting kit download
£15 Beeb comedy audio collection at the Book People. Blimey Love of Baking Cookbook download
Cheap wheat-free items inc. 44p lasagne sheets at Sainsbury's. Stock up Olay Night Elixir sample
£6 yoga and pilates set. Was £25 at Tesco. Yoga to get it Lil-lets tampon samples
Debt Free Wannabe chat of the week: How much to feed 5? Bird feeding pack
Competitions thread of the week: Scottish holiday
Old Style (Thrift) Board thread of the week: What can I freeze?
More Tips: Tips, Tricks & Treats Try: Freebies Roulette
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Cheap Flight Sales

Airline: Ryanair Price: From £9.99 each way Ends: Thur 29 Sep
Our pick this week is the Ryanair £9.99 sale: Last week's promotion's extended, to Thur 29 September, for flights until 15 December 2011, and includes some taxes and charges. We've included it again as it's still the best sale of those the Flightchecker lists. To find the cheapest seats quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £50 max search. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment & check-in charges, see Budget Airline Fee Fighting Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance.

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Martin's Stuff

Cheap Travel Cash

Latest Blogs
Stop early redemption penalties on student loans: the MSE consultation feedback
Consumer Minister commits to future Financial Inclusion Fund money
Note to Energy Minister: it's not just laziness that stops switching
Appearances This Week:
Wed 28th Sept- Tues 4th Oct

Lorraine, ITV1, Thurs, between 8.30 & 9.30am. Real Deals.

Daybreak, ITV1, Fri, between 7 & 8.30am. Subject TBC.

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 114.55 103.52
US Flag $ 154.75 139.85
Turkish Flag TL 279.59 256.27
Rates correct at 5.30pm Tues
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash
Find Martin on facebook! Martin's Facebook Page All Martin's Appearances Cheap Travel Money Guide
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Board Of The Week

Over 50s MoneySaving

This board is great for sharing tips on how to save over 50 or even ask for support. Recent discussions include retired and what to do all day, property in joint names and benefits for over 50s?

Question Of The Week

MoneySaving Polls

Q. My wife and I each held an ISA each for about 3 years with only a few pence still in them. We can now save the maximum but want to do it with another bank. Can we, without having to close or transfer from the old ISA? Gareth

MSE Alana's A: You are allowed to open a NEW cash ISA each tax year (April to April) with any provider and can put up to £5,340 in it. So as long as you haven't deposited money into a cash ISA since 6 April this year you can open one with any bank you want (see the Top Cash ISA guide).

Even if you had put a little into the old ISA during the current tax year (perhaps dripping across from an old direct debit) then you would simply have to transfer this year's chunk of that to the new provider, then add to it afterwards. To transfer, just open the new ISA, fill in the transfer forms and they'll do it for you (see the Cash ISA Transfers guide).

This week's poll:

Are there too many gas & electricity choices?

Last week's poll result:

Would you take too much change?

37% of MoneySavers said they'd pocket extra change, but only from the big chains (not smaller stores). Nearly a quarter would keep schtum no matter where it happened, but the biggest set of 39% said they'd remain honest and always give it back.

Suggest a question of the week (big general issues not personal q's pls) See Full Results
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Game Of The Week

Fortress Magnus

Draw a stickman - more fun than you can, erm, shake a stick at!

That's it for this week, but before we go, have a play with this charmingly silly draw a stickman site. Simply create Mr Stick, then there's no need to flick the corners of a notepad to see him walk, talk and fight dragons.

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

P.S. Shana Tova to all our Jewish readers

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