Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide


Share on:


Weekly Email
This email was sent
29th Aug 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 This info may be out of date.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."

29 August 2012
Martin's Quick Briefing

Urgent! Fix energy prices before hikes
Beat 9% hikes, save £100s, but hurry in case top deals pulled

This is an urgent call for EVERY electricity & gas bill payer. Prices are being raised again. However, act quickly and you can cut costs by £100s, and ensure no rises for TWO winters. Here are the 10 need-to-knows:

1. Who's hit by hikes? In a shock announcement, Scottish & Southern Energy (incl Atlantic, Scottish Hydro, Southern Elec and Swalec) says it'll raise its non-fixed gas & electricity tariffs 9% on average on 15 Oct. See SSE hike.

While not certain, it's unlikely to stop there. Energy firms are like sheep, when one moves, the rest follow - after all, SSE's taken the main publicity hit (the exception's Eon, due to its pledge of no hikes in 2012 - so that'll probably be Jan then). The Bank of England agrees, it's predicted hikes this winter.
Avg cost/yr Exit fees
SSE post-rise £1,354 N/A
Standard tariff (1) £1,310 N/A
EDF Blue* £1,058 None
Scottish Power fix* £1,050 None
First Utility fix* £1,040 £60

For medium user, dual fuel, mthly dd. Varies by region. (1) Avg of big 6, Ofgem. Source: Energyhelpline

A cheap fix NOW is a no-brainer. A fix is like insurance against rate hikes. Normally they cost more, but now three fixes are among the market's cheapest tariffs (details below). Thus millions can lock-in & save £250+/yr with no risk of price hikes.

For most this is a no-brainer. It's the SAME gas, SAME electricity, SAME safety, only service and price changes. Yet to be sure, do it quick. In the past when prices were rising, there was only a short window before cheap fixes were pulled.
3. EDF Blue cheap fix for TWO winters. EDF's Blue* tariff is near the market's cheapest, but its three killer features need highlighting before you compare.

a) It's fixed until April 2014, so no price hikes for two winters - a long time.
b) No early exit penalties, so no risk - you can leave whenever you want.
c) It promises to email if anyone launches a tariff £52/year cheaper.

If you're on the older, shorter EDF Blue fix, it'll let you switch without penalty (go via this Energyhelpline* link and you'll get £15 cashback too).
4. ENDS THUR! Fix until Nov 2013 plus £70 cashback. Also with no exit fees, Scottish Power’s* fix is slightly less, but the price is only locked in for one winter. TO GET CASHBACK: until midnight Thurs, compare & sign up via this link to MoneySup* for £70 dual fuel cashback (paid c. 3 mths after switching).
5. The cheapest tariff, with exit penalties. The cheapest on the market is a fix from First Utility* until Dec 2013. However, if things change and you want to leave early, it has £30 gas & £30 electricity exit fees.
6. Compare to find exact savings & get cashback. Your winner depends on your region and use, so use a comparison site to assess exact savings (some on top tariffs may not save). Plus, switch via these special links and they pay cashback after c. 3mths. See: Cheap Gas & Elec

Top comparison: Energyhelpline* pays £15 per gas, elec or dual fuel switch.
Dual fuel: MoneySupermarket* pays £30 cash (£70 Scottish Power).
Want wine? uSwitch* gives a mixed crate of six bottles on dual fuel.
7. Worth fixing now even if already on a cheap deal? If you're already on a cheap tariff, it's still worth a quick check to see how it stacks up. If you've exit penalties (typically £30 gas and £30 elec), do factor those in.

Yet if fixing isn't for you, stick. There's no point comparing, as it's likely other energy companies will put prices up, you could just be moving out of the frying pan into the fire. See Is It Time To Fix? help.
8. Electricity-only? Moving house? You can still save. Electricity-only users can still compare, switch and save the same way though the cashback's lower. If moving home, first connect to the past occupier's supplier - then you can switch. uSwitch* can estimate your home's usage if you don't know.
9. Prepay meter users can save too. Step 1: A credit meter (where you get bills) is cheaper, so try to convert. Some don't charge. Step 2: If unaffordable, compare & switch prepay provider. MoneySupermarket*, Energyhelpline* and uSwitch* have prepay comparisons. Step 3: When switching, favour companies that convert to bills without charge. See Cheap Prepay Energy.
10. Direct debit saves 5%-10% more. If possible, pay by fixed monthly direct debit to get a discount. Do regular meter readings to keep it accurate.
Cutting the rate paid is only half the job. Cutting your usage also has a huge impact. See Get Paid £30 To Get Free Insulation and Cheap Energy Grants guides.

Please help us spread the word

Please forward this email to friends and suggest they
get it themselves via

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

Wed 29 Aug 2012
URGENT. Reclaim £100,000+ in care costs for free?
Elderly people may have wrongly paid for care - you must start reclaim by 30 Sept

Many older people in England and their families have shelled out for care (whether NHS or private) when the NHS should’ve paid. This money is now being repaid. To help, we've a new Reclaim Care Costs For Free guide.

  • care reclaimIs/was care for health reasons? To qualify, care must've been primarily for mental or physical health issues, such as severe mobility and incontinence problems.
  • How to claim. You must put in an initial application by the 30 Sept 2012 deadline. Our Reclaim Care Costs guide shows how (thanks to the Alzheimer's Society for its help). If the person receiving care can't reclaim, or has passed away, you can still do it.
  • How much could this be? Many have spent £10,000s on care each year. If you succeed, payouts can be huge. Some have been £100,000, as they must cover all nursing and accommodation costs from back as far as 2004.
Back to top ^

M&S Outlet discount boosted to 70% (eg, £14 maxi dress). It's upped reductions from 50%-off to 70%-off on some items, incl £20 men's jacket, £17 skinny jeans. Limited stock: Online Outlet Shopping

Forum Hottie

Boots loophole: £4 fragrance gets 500 bonus pts. Get 500 points worth £5 on selected fragrances. As some are sub-£5, you're effectively in profit. Full Boots Loophole info.

Time to ditch standard mortgage rates? Santander's just hiked its. On 3 Oct it'll join the rest, hiking its standard rate from 4.24% to 4.74%. Time to Ditch Your SVR? Related: Remortgage Guide

BT hikes prices (again). Beat 'em.
4th hike in 2-ish yrs | Line rent rising 85p to £15.45/mth - yet you can almost halve this

BT's announced its line rent will jump to £15.45/mth in Jan. Two years ago, it was £11.54 (online bills, direct debit), so it's a 34% rise. Daytime calls will also rise to 8.41p/min (from 7.95p) and the connection fee for each paid call will be 13.9p (13.1p). See Cheap Home Phones for full bill-busting info, here's a taster... Plus see How to Legally Break Your BT Contract.

  • BT hike pricesWant to stick with BT? Lock-in 'equiv' £10.75/mth. With BT's Line Rental Saver* you pay a fixed £129 upfront for a year, incl weekend calls to landlines (but not evenings like standard line rent). Then see how to cut daytime calls to 5p/CALL from 8p/min.
  • Only have landline for broadband? Pay £7.99/mth. Unless you've a cable or Kingston line, most can switch to no-calls-included Primus Line Rental Saver* at £7.99/mth on a year's contract. Or to get eve & weekend calls included, its Home Phone Saver* is £9.19/mth.
  • Line, b'band & calls 'equiv' £8.60/month. Pay £114/yr upfront TalkTalk line rent, then get its Essentials package* and you get broadband (avail to 85% of UK), eve & wknd calls for half the usual £6.50/mth, PLUS a £50 voucher. Factor the voucher in as cash and over a year it's £103; equiv to £8.60/mth.
Back to top ^

Free days out at 1,000s of places. Quick. From 6-9 Sept, open days at 4,600 English Heritage sites, eg, Beatrix Potter's cottage, normally £8. Plus 22-23 Sept London Open Days, incl Emirates Stadium.

Top 3.06% 'Nationwide' savings. Derbyshire BS's* 3.06% AER NetSaver (min £1K) is the top easy-access savings, but many don't realise it's part of Nationwide, offering an identical rate to its MySave account, but with unlimited withdrawals compared to one annually. Diarise to switch in a year when the bonus ends. See Top Savings.

New 0% card for 'poor credit'
Use to (re)build credit history + get interest-free borrowing till Jan statement (be careful)

The key technique to (re)build your credit score is to get a special credit card. Do, say, £50/mth of normal spending on it and FULLY repay each month to avoid interest. Normally these have no decent features. Yet right now, two do...

  • bad creditNew. 0% card. The Capital One-managed Luma* card allows 0% spending until next Jan's statement. You need a min £10k income, but even some with past CCJs & defaults, or past bankruptcies, will pass its credit check. Beware: in Jan, it jumps to 35.9% representative APR.

    Is it worth using the 0%? If you've credit problems, new borrowing isn't a good idea. Yet, used carefully, the 0% can provide respite from existing repeat bank charges or costly payday loans. For this, do normal spending (keep to a tight budget), so the same amount builds in your bank account to clear your overdraft/payday loan. Yet you must carefully plan repayments to clear it by Jan. More help in 0% Cards.
  • 3% cashback & cheap overseas spending for those with credit issues. The Aqua* card gives 3% cashback (max £100/yr), plus cheap spending overseas. This is great, provided you ALWAYS fully repay each month or it's a huge 34.9% rep APR. See Top Cashback Cards and Official APR Examples.
Back to top ^

The King's Speech & more Blu-rays sub-£5. In Sainsbury's sale. See Sainsbury's Deals.

BIG Discount codes
Body Shop 50% off | H&M 25% off | Brantano 10% off 70% sale
More in Discount Vouchers

MSE Blagged

Ends TODAY: £5 off £30 George (Asda) code incl sale items. Incl kids' tops for £2 (were £3.50), sandals for £1.50 (were £3.50), canvas shoes for £2.50 (were £6). George Deals

Click titles for full info & all top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
22 mths 0%, 2.9% fee

(17.9% rep APR)

Low fee 0%: Fluid*
15 mths 0%, 1.5% fee

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

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Sainsbury's* (£5k - £7.5k)
7.1% rep APR
(Need Nectar card)

Derbyshire* (£7.5k - £15k)
5.8% rep APR

(via this Moneysup link)

Manchester BS 3.06% AER
Min £1,000. Incl bonus.
Postal only. Transfers allowed.

Santander* 3% AER
Min £500. Incl bonus.
Transfers allowed

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

16 FREE tampons sent to your door. 3,000 available via free subscription trial. See Hot Bargains

20% designer sunnies code (incl Ray-Bans & Oakleys). Use on discounted sunglasses. Brings Ray Bans down to £65, Oakleys £60. See Cheap Glasses.

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

40 eBay selling tricks
Boost sales | How to build your rep | Upload extra pics for nowt | Smash fees

If you've got it, and don't need it, flog it. To really get the eBay cash rolling in, learn the etiquette and shortcuts.

  • ebay tricksNew. 40+ eBay tricks 'n' tools. Our new 40+ eBay Selling Tricks guide is a crash course, from cutting eBay fees by tweaking start prices & using no-charge listing weekends, to adding extra pics with special tools. Plus there are tools to create multiple listings in advance and bulk upload them.
  • And for buyers... map hidden eBay local bargains. 'Pick-up only' deals have fewer bids, so are cheaper. Our Local eBay Deals Mapper tool locates those near you. Tell it how far you're prepared to schlep, and it maps nearby gems.
Back to top ^

'Free' Clinique minis in £4 mag. Each one varies, incl mascara, lipgloss worth up to £7. Clinique Deals

H&M 50% off FLASH SALE. Ends today (Wed). Limited items from men's, women's, kids' and home ranges. Incl dresses for £7 and shirts for £10. HURRY. High Street Sales

School uniforms from £4. See our full run-down of primary and senior Cheap School Uniforms.

Last Chance. Tesco double exchange. Until next Tue, swap £5 for £10 of vouchers in-store or online in selected departments. Includes frozen food for the first time. Full info in Reclaim and Max Tesco Points.

Student loan interest cut to 3.6% for some
Over 4 million former students have outstanding loans - should you overpay?

This Sat, 1 Sept, sees the annual student loan interest rate change. We've updated our Should I Overpay My Student Loan? guide for those with outstanding loans, here are key snippets. (New starters, see Students 2012 guide.)

  • student loanStarted uni before 1998? 3.6% interest (was 5.3%). The rate for the 320,000 with these loans is based on the previous March's RPI inflation. It adds £360 per £10,000.
  • Started after 1998? 1.5% interest (could rise). 3.9m still have these loans. The rate will stay at 1.5%, as it's based on last March's 3.6% inflation unless 'base rate + 1% is lower', as it currently is. If base rate rises, it will too, but only to max 3.6% (was 5.3%).
  • Is the loan ever wiped? It's wiped at death (ie, it's not part of your estate), in case of permanent incapacity, or after a set time, depending on when you started uni. See When's My Loan Wiped?
  • Worth clearing it quicker? For post-'98 starters, often not. You can earn more in a Top Cash ISA than the loan costs. Plus if you later want a mortgage/care loan, that borrowing would be at a higher rate. See Should I Overpay?
Back to top ^

New cheapest loan for £5k-£7.5k. If you're a Nectar cardholder, Sainsbury's* is 7.1% rep APR for 1-3 years, or 7.2% for 4-5 years*. Always plan and budget for repayments. Full help & best buys in Cheap Loans.

Blockbuster £20 games/DVD vch with £10 DVD subscription. Newbies signing up for a free trial and paying £10 for a 2nd mth get this. You can cancel after. Full info in Cheap DVD Rental.

Last chance. £60 4-day family holiday. Via newspaper tokens, Sep-Dec at 200 parks. Sun Holidays

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

£15 per switch

£30 dual fuel

6 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*

BT Line Rental Saver*
£10.75/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £16 Travel Insurance

the moneysaving community

Want an MSE paid internship? In our news team, ideal for budding journalists. See: MSE Interns

spill beans

Spill the beans... on cheap, nutritious back to school lunchboxes
It'll soon be back to school time for many (in Scotland, some are already there). So we thought we'd ask people to share their cheap, nutritious packed lunch ideas that the kids won't just throw in the bin. Spill 'em: What's in your kids' packed lunch? Past topics: View all

Book Giveaway RESULT. The Little Book of Jokes for Kids of All Ages. 25 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one.

Cheap Flight Sales

Easyjet Price: From under £35 each way Ends: TODAY (Weds)
Our pick this week is Easyjet's from under £35 each way flights. It's on various routes for travel until Sat 15 Dec, but doesn't include taxes or charges. Flights include Manchester to Munich for £26.99 each way. To find flights quickly, use the FlightChecker on a £50 one way 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

Cheapest grow-your-own. Spill the beans... revealed
As one MoneySaver pointed out, it's not always cheaper to grow your own, but making your own compost can make it more cost-effective. Growing expensive perishables, such as herbs, is worthwhile too. The best advice was to share seeds, cuttings and gardening tips, to get greater variety, fresher produce and tremendous reward.

Money Moral Dilemma

Should I cut back so I can sponsor a half marathon?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
For the last few years, one of my relatives has run a half marathon for charity and asked friends and family to sponsor him. I always struggle to spare the cash. However, I always sponsor him because I feel obliged. That time has come around again and money's tight as ever. Should I make cuts and sponsor him, or confess I don't have the money? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I make cuts to sponsor my relative? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

Back to top ^
Campaign of the week

Should firms be forced to let you access your customer data?
The Govt wants to force private companies to give consumers access to data about their usage history - whether for finance, retail, utilities or telecoms - so we can use the info to find better deals. In an ironically cumbersome form, it's asking you to let it know what you think. It's worth it, as this could be a biggie. Spotted a campaign? This space is for MSE to support the work done by other charities, community groups and campaigners. Send us a Campaign of the Week suggestion.

Cheap Travel Money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 125.56 114.67
US Flag $ 157.06 143.74
Turkish Flag TL 276.50 250.11
Rates correct at 4pm Tue
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash

This week's poll: Is the landline dead?

What percentage of (non-work) calls made and received are on your home phone compared to mobile/web calls?

Answer Vote by age group

Don't have a home phone

Under 30

30-60 61+

Never/rarely use the home phone for calls

Under 30

30-60 61+

Home phone under 40% of calls

Under 30

30-60 61+

Roughly half calls via home phone

Under 30

30-60 61+

Home phone more than 60% of calls

Under 30

30-60 61+

Use home phone for all/almost all calls

Under 30

30-60 61+

Poll Results

Is it time to end 'free' banking?

Out of 6,876 votes, a massive 6,094 (89%) were in favour of no change, ie, keeping no fees in-credit banking. The general consensus in the forum discussion was if you manage your finances efficiently, free banking is, effectively, just that. See Full Results.

Question Of The Week

I don't pay tax, my partner does. Can we claim any tax back on our joint savings account interest, or would it need to be in my name only? - Susan.

MSE Guy's A: A joint account is automatically considered to be a 50/50 split, so half the interest is for you to pay tax on, half for your partner. Therefore you can claim tax back on your half. You may want to consider signing an R85 form, so you get it without tax deducted.

If you are in a trusting relationship, if you put all the savings in your name there'd be no tax to pay at all, though consider safe savings limits.

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

Board Of The Week

The UK Armed Forces MoneySaving Board

Discuss issues specific to members of the forces. Recent threads include Husband home for R&R soon, leaving army, will get mortgage? and What to send to Afghanistan?.

Back to top ^
Game Of The Week


The internet - my, how you've grown...

Remember rushing to a DVD store to return a video, or wishing you could do all your Christmas shopping online? Remember dial-up? It's amazing how far the internet's come and a little daunting to imagine how it'll grow... The internet a decade later

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

Get The Free Weekly Moneysaving Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out