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WEEKLY EMAIL

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This email was sent
29th Mar 2017
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 This info may be out of date.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."

29 March 2017
         
THE TOP TIPS IN THIS EMAIL
STOP paying credit card interest - cheapest-EVER deals
Cash ISA deadline - use it or lose it
Booked hols? Don't risk £1,000s
4,500 offers for kids for £1 & more
What Article 50 means for you
Vax up to 75% off mega code
Urgent pensions warning to over-64s
New £1 coin - but with a big warning
Ends TODAY. Free £200 to switch bank
Ikea shopper? Get fed for 'free'
Gap 48hr FLASH 40% off code
£200 cashback on £1,600 investment
£30 free-range meat hamper
Extra 30% off Dr Martens, Timberland
SALES galore, eg, H&M up to 70% off

STOP paying credit card interest - we've the best-ever deals, but most of you aren't on 'em

Time to change that and save £1,000s


Whether you need to borrow or you've debt costing a fortune, credit cards are the best - and worst - remedy. Done badly they can lead to a world of pain - done right, they can save you £1,000s. Plus right now there are the best deals EVER to choose from. The longest 0% balance and money transfer cards, the longest 0% borrowing cards, and close to the longest combo cards.

Credit cardsEven if you've got good credit, it's vital to manage it and ensure you don't store problems for the future. So get a totally free Experian Credit Report as part of our Credit Club, which also gives your free Credit Score, Affordability Score, unique Hit Rate and eligibility chances for these & other cards.

Here are the top ones to look for - which all credit-check you - whatever your borrowing needs. And make sure you read the golden rules (in point 5), plus what 'up to' cards mean.

1. TOP 0% CARDS IF YOU'VE EXISTING DEBT. Do a 'balance transfer' and pay no interest for up to 43mths. Here, you get a new card that pays off existing debt on other credit and store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0%, usually for a small fee. More of your repayments go to reducing the debt, so you clear it quicker - and you can shift debt from more than one card.

Important. Go for the card with the lowest fee within the time you know you can pay it back in. If in doubt, go long, even with a bigger fee.

- The best cards if you need 40mths+ to pay it off. This Halifax card (eligibility calc / apply*) is the joint-longest ever at up to 43mths 0%, with a 2.98% fee. Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) offers 42mths 0% with a lower 2.3% fee, min £3. (Both are 18.9% rep APR after.)

- If you can pay a bit quicker, cut the fee and get cashback. This 32mth 0% HSBC card (eligibility calc / apply*) has a lower 1.4% fee (min £5) and offers £50 cashback on £1,500+ transfers till 11.59pm TODAY (Wed). So shift between £1,500 and £3,500 and you're in profit. Alternatively, Barclaycard (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers up to 32mths 0% for a 0.6% fee. It gives £20 cashback on £500+ transfers. (Both are 18.9% rep APR after.)

- If you can repay in less than 28mths, pay NO fee. This 28mths 0% Sainsbury's Bank card (eligibility calc / apply*) offers the longest-ever NO-FEE 0% debt shift though oddly, you do pay a 1.5% fee that's then refunded within 60 days (18.9% rep APR after). But after factoring in cashback, the cards above may be better.

You must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days to get the 0% + cashback. For full info and more options see Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
2. TOP 0% CARDS IF YOU NEED TO BORROW. Get 30mths' NO interest, NO cost with a 0% 'spending' card. This is THE cheapest way to borrow if done right, as if accepted you pay no interest for up to 30mths. As borrowing can be dangerous only do it for a planned, budgeted-for purchase, eg, a sofa or cooker. It's not an excuse to overspend.

Both The AA (eligibility calc / apply*) and Halifax (eligibility calc / apply*) offer up to 30mths 0%, while Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) offers 29mths 0%. With the latter, if you shop at Sainsbury's you get 5,000 Nectar pts (worth £25) if you use it there 4+ times in month one. (All are 18.9% rep APR after.)

For full info and more options see Top 0% Cards (APR Examples).
3. TOP 0% CARDS THAT PAY CASH INTO YOUR BANK - TO PAY OFF AN OVERDRAFT OR A LOAN. Get a 'money transfer' card and pay NO interest for up to 41 months. This is a little-known feature of a small number of cards. You get money to clear an overdraft or a bank loan that you're paying interest on, so you owe the card instead but at 0%, for a small fee.

WARNING. This is complicated, so you must do it right. NEVER withdraw the cash, but ask the new card firm to transfer it to your current account. While other cards might offer this, they'll often charge heftier fees. See our Money Transfers guide for full info.

Virgin Money (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers 41mths at 0%, though has a high 3.8% fee to transfer (20.9% rep APR after). Another Virgin Money card (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) card has a shorter 36mths 0% period, yet has a lower 2.9% fee (20.9% rep APR after).

For full info and more options see Top 0% Money Transfers (APR Examples).
4. TOP 'ALL-ROUNDER' CARDS IF YOU NEED TO BORROW AND TO CUT EXISTING DEBT. These give up to 29 months 0% for new spending and balance transfers. If you've existing card debt AND want to borrow for a planned purchase, an all-rounder may be best. While each element isn't as hot as the deals above, they're all decent and you only make one application, so there's a smaller hit on your credit file.

MBNA (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers up to 29mths 0% on purchases and balance transfers, though has a hefty 2.95% transfer fee. Nuba (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers one month fewer, at up to 28mths 0%, with the same 2.95% transfer fee. Shift £1,000+ within 60 days and you get a £20 Amazon gift card.

Virgin Money (eligibility calc incl pre-approval / apply*) offers 25mths 0%, and has a lower 1.5% transfer fee. After the 0%, all charge 18.9% rep APR on purchases balances and 20.9% on balance transfer debt.

For full info and more options see Top All-Rounder Cards (APR Examples).
5. Credit Card Golden Rules. Always follow these key points to ensure you don't lose out.

- Only use the card for its intended purpose. Eg, never make purchases with a balance transfer card, and don't do a balance transfer on a purchases card.
- Never miss a min monthly repayment (it's best to pay by direct debit) or bust your limit or you could lose the 0% deal.
- Plan to clear the card before the 0% ends or the rate jumps to the rep APR.
- Don't withdraw cash on these - it's rarely at the cheap rate.
6. Some have an 'up to' length so you may get a shorter deal even if accepted. Use our eligibility calculator to assess your chances of getting a card. If you only see 'up to' cards you're less likely to get the full length.
7. Do you really NEED to borrow? If you're just funding an ongoing lifestyle, this is the worst type of borrowing, as it means you're living beyond your means and risk a debt spiral. Do a money makeover, stop spending and cut your cloth accordingly.
8. Can't sleep because of debt? This isn't for you. Forget the above and get free, one-on-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, CAP, StepChange or National Debtline. They are there to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep". Read inspiring stories in our Debt-Free Wannabe forum board and see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Full info: Debt Crisis Help.

PS: Next week's email will come a day later (on Thu 6 Apr) so it arrives on day 1 of the new tax year, when the new Lifetime ISA (LISA) launches. As you've been asking questions on it in your droves, we'll have a full rundown on how the LISA works and whether you should grab one.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

Ends 5 April. Cash ISA deadline - use it or lose it (but do you need it?)

The top-paying tax-free cash ISA gives 1.75%, yet savings can pay up to 5% - so who should be using cash ISAs?


A cash ISA is just a savings account where the interest is always tax-free. You can put in £15,240 this tax year, which ends on Wed 5 April, but if you don't use it, you lose it (though next year's allowance is £20,000). The ISA deadline used to be huge, but the launch of the personal savings allowance (PSA) in April 2016 means about 95% of people don't pay tax on interest any more, so is a cash ISA still N-ISA? All savings accounts & ISAs below are part of the UK £85,000 savings safety scheme.

  • ISAThe top cash ISAs pay up to 1.75%. The top-paying easy-access cash ISA - where you can take money out whenever you want - is Coventry BS's 1.05% AER (min £1). It also allows transfers in, so if yours pays less than this, at least transfer it.

    Yet most people hold money in ISAs for longer, in which case, locking it away pays more. Principality BS is 1.26% AER for 2yrs & Paragon Bank's 1.4% AER for 3yrs. You can get up to 1.75% AER with Paragon's 5yr fix, but we don't think it's worth it. Full best buys in Top Cash ISAs. But go quick.

  • If savings are tax-free anyway, is a cash ISA worth it? The PSA means basic-rate taxpayers can now earn £1,000 of interest a year without paying tax on it (higher-rate £500, top-rate none). With savings rates so dismal, this means a basic-rate taxpayer needs about £95,000 saved in the top easy-access savings before they pay tax. So in which case, what counts is what pays the highest interest, whether inside an ISA or not. And as you'll see below, ISAs don't win right now.

    However, the big boon is ISAs are tax-free YEAR AFTER YEAR. So if interest rates rise - so the PSA covers less of your savings - those with more savings than an ISA allows in a year (£20k) may want to use ISAs to protect from future tax. For more, watch Martin's new 'get an ISA?' video and read his Is the cash ISA dead? analysis.

  • Earn up to 5% on smaller amounts in the top 'savings' bank accounts. Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5% AER fixed for a year on up to £2.5k, and Bank of Scotland pays 3% AER on £3-5k (dropping to 2% on up to £5k in June) - though you can have three of these, making it 3% on £15,000. Santander 123 pays 1.5% AER on amounts up to £20k. Its £5/mth fee is cancelled out for most by up to 3% bills cashback. Here, a couple can have three accounts between them, allowing £60,000 to be saved. Full info and all best buys in Top Savings Accounts.

  • The top standard savings pay up to 2.25%. For top easy-access savings, Nottingham BS pays 1.05% AER. If you'll only make one withdrawal a year, Yorkshire BS pays 1.15% AER. If you're willing to lock cash away for a fixed rate, the top deals here smash ISAs - Atom Bank pays 1.6% AER for 1yr, 1.7% AER for 2yrs and 1.9% AER for 3yrs. Again, you can get a higher 2.25% AER 5yr fix with Atom, but it's probably not worth it. Full info in Top Savings.

Note this is about straightforward cash ISAs. For first-time buyers the Top Help to Buy ISAs and, launching next week, Top Lifetime ISAs are a no-brainer. For info on investing, not saving, see Stocks & Shares ISAs.

What Article 50 means for your mortgage, savings, debt, house price and more. Read Martin's latest Brexit analysis. Plus, MoneySavingExpert.com, alongside fellow consumer champions Which? and Citizens Advice, have sent a letter to the PM urging Theresa May to set up a working group to protect consumers in negotiations.


Vax early access code for up to 75% off clearance. MSE Blagged. Get in ahead of the rush for cut-price vacuums, steam cleaners etc. Last time loads got bargains, eg, "£50 carpet cleaner instead of £150, saved a fortune." Vax sale


Urgent warning to over-64s - you've 1 week to boost your state pension, or it closes forever. It ends on Wed 5 April and can be worth £10,000s. Read Martin's 3-min state pension top-up briefing - mse.me/pensiontopup - to see if it's right for you. Please urgently share this link with all women over 64, men over 66.


New £1 coin launches - a warning for EVERYONE with a coin jar. See £1 warning.


Ends today (Wed). Free £200 to switch bank. Apply for the HSBC Advance* account and get £150 to switch + £50 if still with it after 12mths. Important. The £200 offer is no longer mentioned on the HSBC page, but it has promised it will honour it for applicants accepted before 11.59pm on Wed 29 Mar. The account also gives access to a 5% linked regular saver. You need to pay in £1,750+/mth, switch your account incl 2+ direct debits/standing orders within 30 days of opening it and register for online or mobile banking within 60 days. Important: Say you want to switch when applying online and HSBC will call within two working days to arrange. Full info, eligibility plus more options in Top Bank Accounts.


Ikea shopper? Get fed 'for free'. Fill up with meatballs, Daim cakes and other canteen food, then get the cost taken off your shopping. Full info in 'free' Ikea food.

BLAGGED FOR MSE

- Vax up to 75% off early access code Ends Mon

- £30 free-range meat hamper code 2,500 available

- Extra 30% off boot brands code Ends Fri

- £1 for 1mth Kids Pass Ends 1 Jun 2017

- £9 for 6 craft beers (norm £22.50) 350 bundles available

DID YOU MISS?

- Waitrose to axe free tea and coffee

- Driving to France? You could be fined £100+ without sticker

- 2yr mortgage fix 0.99% - NEVER been lower

Booked your holiday? Are you risking £1,000s for the sake of a fiver?

Cheapest no-frills cover from just £5, but you need it from the moment you book - don't take an unnecessary risk


If you've a holiday paid for, you risk financial catastrophe if you haven't got insurance. Without it, if you need to cancel because you fall ill or suffer a bereavement, you're not covered. It doesn't cost any more to book early. Full info in Cheap Travel Insurance, in short:

  • Travel insuranceGoing away once this year? Cover from £5. There's no one winner as prices vary based on age and where you go, but for almost any combination, Leisure Guard Lite* or Holidaysafe Lite* tends to win for no-frills policies that meet our min cover levels. Eg, from £5 for solo under-45s for 1wk in Europe (£14 worldwide) and from £9 for families (£28 worldwide). See Single-trip travel insurance.

  • Go away more than once a year (incl UK)? Get an annual policy from £9. Again, for almost any combination Holidaysafe Lite* or Leisure Guard Lite* is usually cheapest. Prices vary by age and destination, eg, £9 for a solo 30-yr-old in Europe (£19 worldwide), £17 for a family (£37 worldwide). For top value, incl feedback and past payouts, LV* is from £67 for Europe cover, or from £111 worldwide for individuals. For families, it's from £113 and £187 respectively. Also check MoneySup's* comparison, which sometimes wins. Full best buys in Annual policies.

  • 65+ or pre-existing condition? Don't get fleeced, here's our lowdown...
    - 65+? Prices can rocket, but there are competitive options from £17/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 Europe? Get/renew a FREE EHIC. Not a substitute for insurance but it gives state-run hospital care at the price a local pays. Also check yours is still valid; almost 5.3 million expired in 2016. See How to check your EHIC & renew for free. (Some have asked if these work despite the Brexit vote. The answer's 'yes'.)

Gap 48hr FLASH 40% off code. Strongest UK-wide Gap code we've seen since Black Friday, Wed-Thu only. Gap


Special links give £200 cashback on £1,600 Nutmeg investment ISA or £100 on £350 Wealthify. If you're going to put money in these much-advertised 'robo-investing' stocks & shares ISAs, use special links to make more. Full explanation and pros & cons in robo-investing cashback.


£30 free-range meat hamper (£56+ at supermarkets). MSE Blagged. All outdoor-reared UK meat. Incl lamb, pork, beef, bacon, sausages & mince. Market Porter


Ends Fri. Extra 30% off code on boot brands, eg, £66 Dr Martens deliv (norm £105). MSE Blagged. Also works on Caterpillar and Timberland. Limited stock. Boot-iful


SALES galore: H&M, Debenhams up to 70% off, House of Fraser, River Island etc up to 50% off. See full mid-season sales round-up.

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

4,500 offers for kids for £1 & more cheap Easter tips

Have low-cost fun via cheap cinema tix, free museums, £5 off railcards and 2for1 theme park vouchers


Easter's nearly upon us but there's no need to break the bank when the kids break from school. We've 100+ egg-cellent things to do with the kids this Easter - many for free or less than their pocket money. Here's a taster...

  1. Easter holidaysPay £1 for month's app trial with 4,500+ offers for kids. The Kids Pass app gets free meals at 1,500 restaurants, up to 40% off cinema tix, 2for1 bowling and more. It's normally £7.50/mth but we've blagged a cheap Kids Pass trial.

  2. New. Travelling by train? Get 60% off for up to 4 kids with this £5 off railcard. A one-year Friends & Family Railcard normally costs £30, but we've a £5 off code. The card gets a third off fares for up to two grown-ups, and 60% off for up to four kids. The code also works on 16-25 Railcards - hop to it to get in time for the holidays.

  3. Don't get taken for a ride, get 2for1 theme park vouchers. Entrance can cost up to £60 per person. Get 2for1 at Legoland, Thorpe Park, Sea Life and more via promo cereal packs.

  4. Freebies galore at museums and in stores. You don't always have to pay to have fun. Get FREE entry to 180+ museums, and enjoy free in-store activities at Lego stores, Pets at Home, Hobbycraft, Hamleys and more.

  5. Cheap flicks via £2.50 kids' cinema tickets, including Moana and Trolls. Vue, Odeon and Cineworld offer that price for kids and accompanying grown-ups on weekend and school holiday mornings at participating cinemas.

£9 for 6 craft beers delivered (norm £22.50), incl Beavertown, Wild Beer Co. MSE Blagged. Plus free glass. 350 bundles from HonestBrew. Pls be Drinkaware.


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"I followed MSE's tips on car insurance for young drivers and negotiated my cover down from over £1,000 to £595. Thanks MSE."


MSE is looking for a User Relations Manager. Based in London. For this and more opportunities, see MSE jobs.


THE GREAT HUNT

Help others if you've been an executor of a will. We're after your experiences and tips to help with a new guide we're writing. Did you deal with probate? What did you learn? What do you wish you had known at the time? Share yours/read others': Your experiences of being an executor of a will Past topics: View all

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Will your finances be better or worse in two years, after Brexit? It's Article 50 week. If all runs as it should, in two years the UK will no longer be part of the European Union.

So forget the economy, let's go personal. How do you feel your finances will be in two years compared to now? Let us know based on your choice in June's referendum...

I voted 'leave' | I voted 'remain' | I didn't/couldn't vote


Zog Energy turns up the heat on the big boys. The small energy firm came top in last week's poll on energy firms' customer service - for the third time in a row - with 96% of those voting for it rating it 'great'. Of the big six, EDF came out highest, while Npower was lowest. See full energy service poll results.

MONEYSAVING NEWS

- Top story: Halifax pays out 'missing rewards' to 1,000s of Clarity cardholders - are you due £100+?

- Ofcom proposes automatic compensation for broadband and landline customers

- Shoe store Brantano slides back into administration - what you need to know

- Robin Hood Energy hits customers with 17% hike in standard dual fuel prices

- Tesco Orchard product testing freebie site to close

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Is it wrong for me to get a student card? I work full time but recently signed up to an evening distance learning course. I'm entitled to an NUS [National Union of Students] card, which gets me discounts at loads of retailers, but is it right when I can afford to pay full price? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I get a student discount card? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES
- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Debt-free by 24
- Competitions thread of the week: Win a grand crystal hamper from Artisan du Chocolat just in time for Easter
- Old-style board thread of the week: Any positive stories changing from DLA to PIP benefit?
- Discussion of the week: Both working - fairest way to split the finances?

MARTIN'S BLOGS

- What the triggering of Article 50 means for your mortgage, savings, debt and more

- Is your student loan being sold? The answers we must get from the Government...

- Young journalists, looking for a mentor?

DEALS HUNTERS' BLOG

- How to eat for FREE in the Ikea restaurant

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 29 MAR ONWARD)

Thu 30 Mar - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Thu 30 Mar - Ideal Home Show, 11am
Fri 31 Mar - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous
Mon 3 Apr - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 3 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Subscribe to podcast
Mon 3 Apr - Ideal Home Show, 3pm

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 29 Mar - Share Radio, 12.20pm
Wed 29 Mar - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 30 Mar - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 31 Mar
- BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 4 Apr - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: I am a renter and contacted my energy provider as I wanted to get a meter so I could pay by direct debit to save. It wants to charge £60 per meter, is this right? Shirley, via email.

Andrew CapstickMSE Andrew's A: Yes it is. Although the big six firms no longer charge to switch customers from a prepayment meter to a credit meter, some smaller suppliers still do.

Switching from a prepayment meter to a credit meter can mean big savings. The cheapest tariff paying by direct debit is nearly £200/yr less than the cheapest prepay deal, based on typical use.

However, as you're a renter, you'll need permission from the landlord - ideally in writing - as it can be seen as changing the property from its original condition.

Importantly, if you do get a credit meter, once you swap, you'll likely be put on your supplier's standard tariff - which won't be the cheapest. So do a 5min Cheap Energy Club comparison as soon as you can to find your top deal. For more info on switching to a credit meter, see our Prepay Gas & Elec guide.

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

Diet water and the radio DJ who announced the wrong day - your best and worst April Fool's jokes

That's it for this week but before we go, we couldn't let April Fool's pass this week without sharing some laughs from past years. Forumites reminisce about the radio station that announced it was 31 March, how 'diet water' can help you lose weight, how kids pranked their teachers by attending the wrong class, and more. Read them and tell us your Best and Worst April Fool's jokes. (And be on the lookout this Saturday.)

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

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