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This email was sent
29th Jul 2009
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email
29 July 2009
         
Sent: Wednesday 29 July
Highlights below include ...
Energy Time To Switch Free £3.50 health snacks
Any Domino's £10 Tax Credit Last Chance
£5 off Lidl, Tesco Savings Loophole, More £1 flights

Tax Credits: Why So Complex?
They're misleading, they're a misnomer, but don't miss out.

Millions are eligible for Tax Credits, yet having interrogated the system for our new Tax Credits guide (see below), in time for Friday's 'renewal' deadline, I could almost cry at its sheer unfathomable, unnecessary complexity.

  • Tax Credits aren't tax credits. The name is ugly and misleading. These aren't a credit taken off tax owed, they're simply a benefit paid into bank accounts to help families with children or those in work on lower salaries.

  • Renewal isn't renewal. The TV adverts shout "RENEWAL", implying it's only about assessing your eligibility for tax credits over the next year. This leaves those who don't plan to claim this year thinking they needn't do anything, yet the form is also to CHECK you were correctly paid over the last year. Fail to reply and you can face fines. So why call it renewal?

  • Overpayments are unavoidable. Nothing creates more tax credit angst than overpayments. Getting too much money sounds good, but it isn't when you've spent it, then the Govt. says "pay it back". Yet this can happen even if you do nothing wrong, as payments are estimates based on last year's earnings, so small changes can leave you overpaid.

While the help is welcome, the system causes much misery and confusion, and should be changed.

Yet for now as the payouts are worth it, we have to live with it, and that's the reason we've done a full guide. Guides: Tax Credits, Childcare Tax Credits, Benefits Check Discuss: Tax credits too complex?

TOP 5 MOST READ GUIDES

Week of Tue 21 - Mon 27 July '09
(Last week's position)

1. Boost Tesco Points (New)
2. Cheap Beauty Deals (10)
3. Savings Accounts (1)
4. £1 Flights (2)
5. Freebies, Freebies, Freebies (5)
6. Orange Wednesday 2for1 (New)
7. Cheap Travel Money (3)
8. Cheap Travel Insurance (New)
9. Cheap & Free Flights (4)
10. Swine Flu Holiday Rights (New)

The easy Tesco loophole last week, which enabled people to make £12 by buying a bottle of fragrance, was a huge smash hit.

And along with the other travel guides, it seems safety consciousness meant many people checked their travel insurance and the swine flu guide to ensure all's good.

The above excludes daily deals notes

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The Ones Not To Miss
MSE

Time to switch! Gas & Elec getting cheaper. If your cap's ending, new special comparison.
Two more suppliers have entered the price war to be 'cheapest online tariff', so act quick; some will save £100s. On a capped tariff? Last year, just before British Gas’s 35% price hike, I yelled “cap now” for those who couldn't risk price rises. If you did, many of those caps, inc. npower, Scottish Power & E.On, end soon and your cost will JUMP. Special comparison. Most comparison sites only use your capped rate to compare, but more important is the rate the cap goes to. After reading MSE's logic (and a bit of nagging) Energyhelpline's* adapted and now incorporates the rate your cap'll go to (it gives £15 cashback too via this link). FULL info & explanation in the Switching Guide: Switching from a cap. For everyone else, read the Updated Guide: Cheap Gas & Elec plus cashback

New Vouchers. Any Domino's £10 delivered, 2for1s at Bella Italia, Strada, GBK and Tootsies & Dexters. These join £9 'Tesco Finest' two-course meal plus wine and Henry's two mains & bottle of wine for £20 in the Daily Deals List: Restaurant Vouchers

Warning! Renew tax credits by Fri or payments may STOP! Inc. fighting overpayments
Tax Credits can add £1,000s to your income, but you need to manage them right. Renew NOW! The deadline's this Fri 31 July; miss it and you risk having payments stopped or overpayment hell. If you ONLY got an annual review form, just check it's correct (if it is, do nothing); if not, call the helpline. If you were also sent a declaration form, you must check, sign and send it back. Overpayments help. Overpayments can be a nightmare, so as well as renewals & eligibility, this brand new guide details your rights and how to dispute overpayments. New Guide: Tax Credit Renewal & Overpayments Related: Benefits Check-Up, Childcare Tax Credits

URGENT! £1(ish) European flights. Ends midnight Thurs 30 July. Yet another Ryanair sale. A million £1 flights (inc. some taxes & charges) from UK airports to 75 European destinations for Sept & Oct travel. To speedily find them, see the Updated Guide: £1 Flights Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Carbon Offsetting

New 50%-off home insurance deals. Good, but often beatable. Always check with comparison sites
A raft of 50%-off home insurance promos have launched, but even half price doesn't make expensive providers cheapest, so always do a full comparison. The deals: Tesco's* new 50%-off sounds good, but you normally get 35%-off online anyway, so it's not huge. However, Direct Line's* 50%-off contents insurance is often competitive & not on comparison services, so it's worth a check. Alternatively, there's free contents cover if you buy buildings insurance from Aviva* or MoreThan*. Do a FULL comparison. To ensure you're getting a top price, combine comparison sites in this order (as many as you can): Confused*, MSM*, GoCompare* and CompareTM*, then check for cashback. FULL info in the Updated Guide: Cheap Home Insurance Related: Cheap Car Insurance, Travel Insurance

£5 off £30 at Lidl (per 40p newspaper) and a 20%-off Coast magazine voucher. Joins online discount codes £10 off £50 at Tesco and 15% off Ocado in the Daily Deals List: Shopping Vouchers

Got friends who'd like to save? Please tell them about this email

Free snack box inc fruit, nuts, seeds, olives (worth c. £3.50). Healthy snack retailer Graze is offering a totally-free food box for registering. You must give card details, but can cancel after your first order. See the Forum Post: Free Graze Box

Warning! Help stop your credit / debit card being blocked on holiday.
If you're going to use your card abroad, be careful: card companies may block your spending, as it triggers a "fraud warning". Common advice is to inform them beforehand, yet this doesn't always work, so we've done a full card-by-card survey. Who you MUST call. With the following credit & debit cards, calling should prevent unnecessary blocks: Abbey, Alliance & Leicester, Barclays, Barclaycard, HSBC, HBOS, MBNA, Santander and Virgin. What about the rest? The others either take no notice, or record it on your file, but it doesn't stop blocking. For a card-by-card breakdown & more info, see the MSE news story: Avoid blocked cards Related: Best card for overseas spending, TravelMoneyMax.com

Tesco SAVINGS loophole. Make £10 with £1 savings. Tesco's savings interest rate is pants, but a new promo gives you Clubcard points for account opening. Put £1 in for 250 points, worth £10 of Tesco Rewards. It's possible to gain up to £60. FULL info inc. how to apply in the Updated Guide: Tesco Savings Loophole

New Summer Holiday MoneySaving Quiz. Tool of the Week. Test your MoneySaving skills
To prepare you for the sun, sea and sangria, we've designed this fun, fast 10-question quiz to tease, test and tone your MoneySaving muscles ready for the beach. Then you get to see how you did compared with other MoneySavers. Try the quiz: Summer Hols Quiz If you're feeling more adventurous you could take the full MoneySaving IQ test, and see whether you're a Martin or a Martian when it comes to cutting bills. Related: Cheap Flights, Travel Money, Hotels, Packages, Insurance, Travel Section

Get 800 mins, 600 texts, & unlimited mobile data for £11.25/mth. It's possible to get £100 cashback on O2's SIM-only SIMplicity £20/month year-long package, effectively making it £11.25 a month. See the Forum Note: £100 O2 mobile cashback

Summer Hols Quiz


The hold on bank charges reclaiming's been extended until Jan 2010.
This DOESN'T apply to credit card reclaiming or if you're in hardship though. See the MSE news story: Bank charges hold extended Related: Bank Charges Hardship, Credit Card Reclaiming

Earn 5% interest if you save every month! Three new top hidden 'regular savers' launched.
You can save at higher rates if you're prepared to put money aside every month, though the total amount you can save is limited. New top regular saver: Halifax* pays 5% AER fixed for a year, if you pay in £25 - £500 every month. Yet you can't withdraw cash, or miss repayments. Similar 5% deals are available in Natwest & RBS branches (so no web links). Flexible regular saver: Barclays' Monthly Saver pays 4.25% AER for a year on £20 - £250 a month but you can miss payments and make withdrawals (though interest halves in those months). Top easy access: For a normal account that lets you put what you like in, with no withdrawal issues, Alliance & Leicester* pays 3.15% AER though 2.65% is a bonus for the first year. FULL info & alternatives in the Updated Guide: Regular Savings Related: Instant Access Savings, Cash ISAs, Safe Savings

New INSTANT theme park 2for1s at Alton Towers, Thorpe Park & The Dungeons. These new click 'n' prints join 3for2 at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 2for1 at Camelot Theme Park, £10 off M&D's & more discounts in the Deals List: Cheap Theme Parks

Graduated in last three years? Get interest-free £2,000 overdraft. Top 2009/10 grad accounts

The top graduate account can save recent students £100s in overdraft costs, as banks offer big interest-free overdrafts for up to three years. The biggest 0% deal: Two accounts tie: Lloyds and RBS both give £2,000 in year one, £1,500 year two and £1,000 year three. Lloyds just wins though, as its limits are guaranteed, not decided case-by-case. Graduated in past years? Anyone who left uni in the last three years is allowed to switch. Make a profit! Even graduates without debts should grab one, then take the free money and stash it in the top Instant Access Savings, to make £150-ish profit! For full info and explanation, read the New Guide: Graduate Accounts Related: Pay Off Student Loan?, Bank Accounts Coming Soon: Top Student Accounts 09/10

Reminder! Now ANYONE can get Orange's 2for1 Wed cinema deal. FREE Orange sim card. Just grab this free Sim card* with £5 credit, pop it in your phone on a Wed to get the Orange cinema deal. Full info in the Updated Guide: Orange Wednesdays

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




More MoneySaving
MSE


Read real people's intimate money lives. Debt-Free Wannabe Diaries. Board of the Week
To help work towards getting debt free, many MoneySavers start diaries charting their progress and asking for help. The tales can be moving, funny, or just really informative, and you may be able to help too. So now they've been separated into their own Debt-Free Diaries board; do have a read or start one yourself. Some sample diaries: When the devil vomits into your kettle, Motivational ramblings & Hypno's approach to life, universe & debt-busting Related: Debts Problems Help

New savings safety rules start next January. Among the changes, providers need be more upfront about who they're linked with. See the MSE news story: Savings clarity rules Related: Safe Savings

MoneySavingExpert.com work experience. Paid design intern: Temporary, 12 weeks in MSE's London office. Full details

Abbey warning. Some are hit by huge backdated fees. After failing to collect bank charges for months at a time, the banks catching up by lobbing them all on at once. See the MSE news story: Abbey backdated charges Related: Reclaim Bank Charges

Long term care & the elderly ... tell the government what you think. The Department of Health wants to hear people's views on the future 'National Care Service' adult care and support services. To take part, see the Forum Post: Big Care Debate

Great 'Cheap Holiday Rentals' Hunt. How to grab fab self-catering properties for less
Self-catering villas and rentals can be much cheaper than equivalent hotels; the problem is finding them at good prices. So we’d like to tap MoneySavers for their top tips on grabbing bargain hideaways, from white-washed villas to cosy cottages. How can you haggle down the price, and avoid renting a pig sty? Should you go directly to private owners or via an agency? Add your ideas/read other people's: Great 'Cheap Holiday Rentals' Hunt Past Great Hunts: View all


MSE's gradual facelift... No Martin's not on the botox, we're just trying to make the site easier to use, so now the Cards & Loans and Reclaim sections have a new look, and the others, eg, Banking & Savings are due to follow. Do let us know what you think in the MSE sections redesign discussion.

Should MSE support the mobile pricing 'terminate the rate' campaign? Call a mobile, and the network called charges your provider up to 5p/min; it's one reason mobile costs are so high. There's a new campaign against this; read pros & cons, and help us decide if MSE should support it. Support terminate the rate?


QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q. How can credit reference agencies justify their £60-£70 annual fee for credit reports when they are available for £2 a time. Nic, by email.

Martin's A. They don't have to justify it; they're commercial companies and it makes them money. Experian and Equifax compile credit files, so lenders can assess whether to loan out money to us. You have a statutory right to see a paper copy for £2, but the agencies spotted a lucrative market, selling 'credit monitoring services' for up to £70 a year.

These are often unnecessary, and prey on our fear of being 'blacklisted', worse at some entry points their sites just say "free credit report" without obviously explaining you need set up a direct debit and the cost if you don't cancel.

Yet on the bright side, it does leave open a loophole to get an online version of your credit rating for free. Sign up for the free 30 days trials on offer, then cancel before this time is up to avoid paying a penny, full details of how to cancel are in the Credit Rating guide.

Discuss: Credit reference agencies
Suggest: A question of the week

(big general issues not personal q's pls)


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 Quick Forum Tips
Warning! Bargains listed here tend to sell out quickly

Free NHS Recession stress-line. If your health is being affected by money worries, a new service from the NHS, where trained staff give advice, is available on freephone 0300 123 2000, Mon-Sun 8am-10pm. Also see the full Debt Problems Help guide.

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Should a desperate housewife condone a cheating boss?

Gabrielle is good pals with her husband, Carlos's, boss and his wife. Yet one day, she catches the boss romancing another woman. When she confronts him, he promises to pay Carlos a £100 bonus every month if she keeps schtum about his cheating ways. They're struggling at the moment; should Gabby spill the beans to the boss's wife or take the cash? (Inspired by Desperate Housewives) Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should Gabby expose Carlos's love-cheat boss? Previous MMDs: View All

Great 'How to ensure your insurer pays claims' Hunt Result
Last week, we asked for MoneySavers' top tips on making sure legit insurance claims get accepted. There were some great suggestions, including Six top tips, keep damaged items and read the policy carefully

Online Welsh Lessons, Carte Noire Coffee, Kids' Fun Pack
Horrid Henry Book Download, Cardiff Festival (inc. Zutons)



Odds and Ends
MSE

Martin's Appearances ... Weds 29 Jul - Tues 4 Aug
These are scheduled appearances, though other ad hocs may happen. See the appearances list for updates.

  • Thurs, GMTV, ITV1, sometime between 8:30 & 9:30am. Deals of the Week.
  • Tues, GMTV, ITV1, sometime between 7:20 & 9:30am. The topic's news reactive.

This week's Martin's Blog: Big Brother's flawed wealth test: a missed lesson
"I hate stoozers" and "The girl in the £35 dress". Read m'blogs (or RSS users access)

How much do you spend while on holiday? This week's poll. Vote and Holiday Cash discussion.

Your biggest money vice? Food! 8,915 voted last week. 16% of you voted eating out & gourmet food your biggest money vice, just pipping the 15% who voted for clothes & shoes. In third place was booze, with 13%, followed by a further (slightly smaller) 13% who always budget, and never overspend at all. See Money Vice poll results.

Archna's Free Game of the Week! Use your trusty cannon to burn, bomb or blast these bothersome bugs. Roly Poly

Best wedding entrance video ever! Most couples wait until after they’re hitched to do the first dance, but this pair decided to boogie down to the alter in style. Rock the wedding

We hope you save some money

Martin & the MSE team

Explanation of * Links

FSA NOTE: Referring people to insurers or insurance intermediaries can in some circumstances require FSA authorisation. For this reason, Martin Lewis of Shepherd's Studios, Rockley Road, Shepherd's Bush, London W14 0EH is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

How this site is financed.  Any links with a * by them are affiliated. That means go via this link and a contribution may be made to MoneySavingExpert.com, which helps it stay ad-free and free to use. You shouldn't notice any difference, the links don't impact the product at all and the editorial line (the things I write) is NEVER impacted by it. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it's still included in exactly the same way. As I believe transparency is important, I'm including the following 'un-affiliated' web-addresses for the same things: affordablemobiles.co.uk, alliance-leicester.co.uk, aviva.co.uk, comparethemarket.com, confused.com, directline.com, energyhelpline.com, firstdirect.com, gocompare.com, halifax.co.uk, moneysupermarket.com, morethan.com, plus.net, tescofinance.com, uk.virginmoney.com. . Read more about this in how this site is financed.

MoneySavingExpert.com is the free to use Consumer Revenge website focused on how to save you cash. It's owned, and run by ultra-specialised journalist and bestselling author Martin Lewis. On TV amongst other things Martin is GMTV's Money SavingExpert and presents money programmes for ITV1 Tonight. On Radio Martin has regular slots on Radio 2 Vine and Radio 1 Whiley. He's also a columnist for the News of The World, Moneywise and the Sunday Post. Find out more: About the site and its funding.

Disclaimer: This e-mail is based on journalistic research. It does not constitute financial advice. Any information should be considered in regard to your own specific circumstances. All tips are followed at your own risk and should be followed up with your own research Full Terms & Conditions.

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