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30th Jan 2019
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 This info may be out of date.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."

30 January 2019
         
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.
                                                           
 


 

Now SEVEN banks pay you to switch - so it's the perfect time to grab free cash

- Incl free £150 from NatWest/RBS + 2% bills cashback
- Free £150 from HSBC + 5% linked savings
- Free £125 from First Direct + top service + 0% overdraft

The bank switching war is red hot as seven banks now pay cash or shopping vouchers to tempt you one way or another, compared to three just six weeks ago. This fine harvest of freebies isn't likely to last long, they're just grasping at the New Year fervour to sort your finances.

And switching is easy, yet official figures out today show fewer than 2% of UK current accounts were switched in 2018, despite many groans about poor service or rip-off charges. However...

- It takes just 7 working days.
- All direct debits and standing orders are automatically moved to the new account.
- Cash sent to the old account is moved to the new one for at least 3yrs.

Just ensure you use the banks' official switch service, and you must pass a not-too-harsh credit check. Here's the cream of the crop, by category.

Top for cold, hard cash

If you just want the max bucks in your pocket, these are for you. Yet do take note of how quick they are to pay...

  • NatWest or RBS: Free £150 + 2% bills cashback (£200+ in year 1 for many). Joint-highest upfront bonus + great for bill payers. RBS has joined sister bank NatWest in offering a £150 bonus for switchers on most of its current accounts. The standouts are NatWest's* or RBS's* Reward accounts.

    With them, you get the £150 by 19 Apr (NatWest) or 10 May (RBS).
    Plus for a £2/mth fee, they both give 2% cashback on most bills paid by direct debit. Our analysis shows with avg bills you'd get £66-ish/yr after the fee. With higher bills, it's £135 - so with the £150, many will make £200+ in year 1.

    How do I qualify? You must complete your switch and log in to online banking by 22 Mar (NatWest) or 12 Apr (RBS), and pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv to a £21,500/yr salary). It's for new and some existing customers - see our NatWest/RBS review for eligibility info and how to get the £150 on a no-fee account (without cashback).

  • HSBC: Free £150 + 5% savings. Joint-highest upfront bonus. Newbies switching to HSBC Advance* get £150 within roughly 40 days, and access to a 5% regular savings account that allows you to save up to £250/mth in it for one year at 5% interest.

    How do I get it all? You must start a switch incl 2+ direct debits or standing orders within 30 days of account opening and pay in £1,750/mth (a £25,900/yr salary does it), but you can't have had an HSBC current account since 2016. See our full HSBC review.

  • Halifax: Free £50 upfront + £85 after 6mths + £2/mth (£159 total in year 1). The quickest payer. Halifax Reward gives new switchers the £50 before the switch completes, then the rest as above

    How do I qualify? To get it all, switch and pay in £1,500+/mth (equiv to a £21,500/yr salary). Plus use your debit card at least once in the first 6mths, pay out 2+ direct debits each month, go paperless and remain in credit. Full info in our Halifax review.
Top for service

Every 6mths we ask how you rate your bank. The last time 5,000 voted, and as in every poll we've done since 2010, there was a clear winner, with 89% rating First Direct 'great'...

  • First Direct: No.1 service + free £125 + 5% savings. New customers applying via this special First Direct link* get £125 when they switch to it (only £100 if you go direct) within roughly 40 days.

    It also offers a 5% regular savings account, only available to people with this account. That allows you to save up to £300/mth in it for one year. Many also get a £250 0% overdraft.

    How do I qualify? Pay in £1,000/mth (basically have a £12,700+/yr salary going in) or eventually there's a £10/mth fee. Full info in our First Direct review.
Top with NO minimum monthly pay-in

Most banks make you pay in a min amount per month, which is just a way of saying "pay your salary here". You can often jemmy it, but if you've uncertain income and/or don't want to play it, there's a clear winner...

  • Ends today (Wed). M&S Bank: Free £100 M&S vchs upfront, £80 after a year (£180 vchs in year 1). New switchers to M&S Bank* who apply by 11.59pm tonight can receive a £100 M&S gift card in around 40 days with no min pay-in required. You can get another £80 added after a year if you pay in £1,250/mth for at least 10 out of the 12mths (which is basically equiv to a £17,100/yr salary).

    It also offers a 5% regular savings account, only available to switchers. That allows you to save up to £250/mth in it for one year. Many also get a £100 0% overdraft.

    How do I qualify? You must fully switch, incl 4+ active direct debits (and keep them active) and register for online banking + paperless statements within 3mths of account opening. Full info, incl up to £220 for M&S Bank credit cardholders, in our M&S review.
Top packaged account - pay a fee & get insurance

If you need the cover, these deals can be a cheap way to get insurance, but first check if you can get it for less elsewhere.

  • Nationwide: Up to £700 worth of FAMILY travel, phone and breakdown insurance for £156/yr. Nationwide's FlexPlus* is £13/mth and gives worldwide family travel insurance, family smartphone insurance, and UK and European car breakdown cover for all account holders. A family needing them all could pay up to £700/yr separately.

    You can also earn 3% AER variable interest on balances of up to £2,500, and get access to a 5% regular savings account, which allows you to save up to £250/mth in it for one year. Interestingly, you just need to open the current account, you don't need to switch another account to it to get those perks.

    Yet if you're prepared to switch and are referred by a friend who has a Nationwide mortgage, savings or current account, and you switch, you both get £100. More info in our FlexPlus review.
Top for overdrafts

Debit cards are debt cards if overdrawn. So if overdrawn, don't ignore it, especially Lloyds, Halifax & Bank of Scot custs as your fees are rising.

  • Currently via this link, First Direct* offers £125 to switch to it and many get an ongoing £250 0% overdraft (if you pay in £1,000/mth). So if your overdraft's up to £375, this pays off some of what you owe and the rest is at zero interest.

  • Alternatively, Nationwide FlexDirect* can offer a far bigger 0% overdraft depending on your credit score, but it only lasts a year (50p/day after). So aim to clear it before. If you've a friend with an account, you can both gain £100 via its recommend a friend scheme if you switch incl 2+ direct debits.

  • For larger overdrafts, a few specialist cards allow 'money transfers' where the card pays cash into your bank account, clearing your overdraft, so you owe it instead at up to 28mths 0% (with a small fee). For help and best buys, see our Money Transfers guide.

Full eligibility on all these accounts + more help in Best Bank Accounts. If you don't qualify for one of these, check out Basic Bank Accounts which are accounts with no overdrafts.

____________________________

£75,000 by entering competitions | Is equity release right for you?
Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm Mon


Over to Martin: "On Monday's show, we get tips from the woman who's won £75,000 of stuff entering competitions (and whose husband is now fed up of holidays), plus I explain how to work out if releasing equity from your home is a good idea. Do watch or program the laser disc. And if you forgot about this week's show on 'the hidden £10,000s parents need to save in case their kids go to uni', you can watch it on the ITV Hub."

 
 

DON'T believe the fake ads on Facebook
Lots of scam ads that litter social media lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

New. Are you one of 8m missing out on benefits? Take a 10-min check-up

Millions are losing out on pension credit, childcare help, universal credit etc - you could be due £1,000s

There's an old joke that only two people really understand our social security system - one is dead and the other is starting to doubt herself. So it's not surprising the Government believes 8m+ households aren't claiming what they're due. To help, we've updated our free benefit check-up tool with the latest phased roll-out of universal credit, a benefit that now affects all new claimants with up to two children - or those whose circumstances have changed.

  • Free 10min check-up. Simply use our free benefits calculator, which has been rebuilt for us by benefits specialist Entitledto, to see all means-tested benefits you're eligible for, such as universal credit, housing benefit and pension credit & what each pays.

    The calculator asks questions such as location, housing situation, number of kids, if you've a partner and more. Don't worry, we never identify you or ask for your name.
     
  • Is it accurate? We hope so, but this can be complex as what you're entitled to depends on your exact circumstances. See the tool primarily as a ready reckoner and a prompt to investigate further by calling the relevant Government office (listed in the results). You can get more help in our Benefits guide.

  • Who should do this check-up? While very rare, even some with family income up to £78,000/yr miss out. However, entitlement doesn't just come down to income but personal circumstances, eg, how many kids you have and their age, if you're disabled, your childcare costs, your savings and rent - so it's important to do a calculation. You're more likely to be entitled to cash if your family income is sub-£40,000, especially if you've children, disabilities or you rent.

  • Does it cover everything? The tool only gives you a figure for means-tested benefits, however it mentions many non means-tested benefits (though not all) you could be entitled to, such as the warm home discount and boiler grants, but won't give an amount. Ensure you don't miss out on additional help not mentioned in the results, such as the attendance allowance, bereavement allowance, TV licence discounts and the severe mental impairment discount for council tax. For a comprehensive list, see our Benefits guide.

  • Is one-on-one help available? Yes, via a local Citizens Advice office or Jobcentre Plus.
 

Get 5p/litre off Tesco petrol & diesel. Useful with prices almost 20% up on 2016. Cheap fuel  

SCAM ADS VICTORY: Martin settles Facebook lawsuit in return for it donating £3m to anti-scam charity & a new one-click scam reporting button. See Martin & Facebook team up to fight scams.

New. Hot Sim - 4GB data + unltd mins & text for '£6.67/mth' from BT-owned Plusnet. MSE Blagged. This is a cracker as that price normally gets you 1-2GB. Newbies to Plusnet* (uses EE's network) can get it for £10/mth on a 1yr contract. As you're automatically sent a £40 cheque within 30 days, it's an equiv £6.67/mth. Got Plusnet b'band? You can get the deal with 4.5GB. Full help & more deals in Top Sims.

FINALLY! Boots sale to boost to up to 70% this week. We thought it would happen a couple of weeks ago. It didn't, but we've been nagging and now it's finally confirmed. Get full updates in Boots sale boost.

London transport 'tap-dancing' warning - how it cost one Londoner an extra £700. Never tap in and out on different devices, even if paying on the same card. TfL payment warning 

Warning. Probate fees rising by up to almost £6,000 - if someone's died and you're in charge of the will, check ASAP if you can beat the increase. See Probate rise.

 
 

Ends Mon. Shift card debt to up to 20mths 0% NO FEE and get £20

If you pay interest on credit card debt, you can shift it to 0% and get cashback that reduces what you owe

If you pay interest on credit or store cards, there's currently a range of strong deals that can save you large. Yet two end within the next week. They're balance transfers, where you get a new card to pay off debt on other cards - so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest. That means more of your repayments clear the debt, rather than just profit the lender. Alicia did just that: "Got accepted for 0% interest on balance transfers for 27mths. Can pay off my two 29% APR cards. Thanks."

- Find the cards most likely to accept you BEFORE you apply. Each card below includes a link to our balance transfer eligibility calc. It shows your odds of acceptance before you apply without impacting your creditworthiness.
- Go for the lowest fee (factor in cashback) in the time you're sure you can repay. If unsure, play safe and go LONG.
- 'Up to' cards mean you could get a shorter 0% deal if accepted. That's why we include the top 'non up to' cards too.

BEST 0% NEW-CARDHOLDER BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS
CARD  0% LENGTH (REP APR AFTER) FEE (1) + CASHBACK 
Ends Mon. Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - No fee, and cashback when shifting larger amounts. But some won't get the full 0% length as it's an 'up to'.
Up to 20mths (19.9%)
None (2) + £20 if shifting £2k+
Ends Thu. M&S Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) - Long 0% and cashback bigger than fee if you shift sub-£2,500. If accepted, you'll definitely get the 28mths 0%.
28mths (19.9%)
0.99% (min £5) + £25 if shifting £100+
Santander (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest no-fee 0% and if accepted you'll definitely get the 27mths 0%. But no cashback.
27mths (18.9%)
None
HSBC (eligibility calc / apply*) - Longest 0%. Higher fee but cashback bigger than fee if you shift sub-£1,750. If accepted, you'll definitely get the 32mths 0%. 32mths (21.9%) 1.4% (min £5), but £25 if shifting £300+
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) - Accepts some poorer credit scorers, but hefty fee and no cashback. If accepted, you'll definitely get the 18mths 0%. 18mths (24.9%) 2.99%
 (1) % of debt shifted. (2) Initial 2% fee, but refunded within 28 working days.


  • Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full info in Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you could lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
    b) Clear the card or balance-transfer again before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the higher APR.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and withdrawals hit your creditworthiness.
    d) You must usually balance-transfer within 60 or 90 days to get the 0% and cashback.

 

Brexit update: How it impacts mortgages, flights, your rights & more. With yet another vote in Parliament, check the latest facts when there are facts & Martin's analysis when there aren't in our Brexit guide. (Plus if you've spring hols booked, check if your travel insurer will cover Brexit flight disruption.)

£18 for 23 berry plants bundle incl strawberry, raspberry & blueberry (norm £57-ish). MSE Blagged. You also get £10-ish of veg seeds. Berry nice

Contactless card flaw largely fixed, in a win for our 2yr campaign. Our investigation revealed crooks could use cards MONTHS after you'd cancelled 'em, but the regulator says it's now mostly fixed the flaw.

Karen Millen 20% off EVERYTHING code, incl up to 70% off sale. MSE Blagged. Valid online and in stores till Sun. Karen Millen

3,000 FREE pairs of Build It Live tickets (norm £24). Self-build and home renovating show in Kent (9-10 Feb), Manchester (23-24 Feb) and Oxfordshire (8-9 June). Build It Live

 
 

Tell your friends about us

They can get this email free every week

 
 

AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: HSBC* 32 months 0%, 1.4% fee (min £5) (21.9% rep APR) plus £25 cashback if you shift £300+
No-fee 0%: Santander* 27 months 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva* 

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.8% rep APR (Nectar custs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Sky equiv £14.67/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
TalkTalk equiv £17.18/mth

Top for service + free £125: First Direct
Free £150 to switch + 2% bills cashback: NatWest Reward

 

Charity shops are overflowing - eg, 'I got a very cheap Mulberry bag'

The 'Marie Kondo' effect means people are donating more - and charity shops want you to take advantage 

There's been a surge in clothes, furniture and even handbag donations at many charity shops - in the past our forumites have reported "very cheap" Mulberry bags or £5 Magimix ice-cream makers. Charity Sue Ryder says donations are double last Jan's in some shops, the Salvation Army's are up 80% in some areas, while Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and Scope confirm rises, too. Many suggest it's down to Netflix's declutter-encouraging show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Barnardo's says: "It's a great time to find a bargain in our shops, as we have an even greater range." So as charity shops want your custom, we've launched 13 Charity Shop Tricks, which shows you how to find the best items...

  • Head to posh areas for posh clobber. Affluent locals can mean swish bargains, so we list posh hot spots.

  • The charity shops that specialise in designer donations. See our list of high-end charity boutiques. One chain told us it counts 400 labels as donors, incl Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney.

  • Some high-end stores even donate unsold stock. Often big name chains donate surplus stock with labels snipped out. M&S has confirmed it does this (with labels still in), while Ted Baker says it has "relationships" with charities.

  • Some have joined the online shopping revolution. We list online charity shops if you can't get to the high street.

  • Follow charity shops on social media to hear about new stock & sales first. See key social media insider tips.

  • You can haggle, but whether you should is an open question. Many do report haggling in charity shops. This is more a moral decision than a financial one. Martin's view is: "This is about charity, so it's the one time paying full price (if it's reasonable) is a good thing. Yet if you're on the breadline and this is your only route available, then offering to pay what you can afford isn't wrong."

It's not just charity shops. See more tips on second-hand bargains via police auctions, Facebook buying, eBay&#x#xA0;& Freecycle

 
£2,600 FLIGHT DELAY WIN - SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"My family and I flew back from the US in September last year and we had a 7-hour delay getting home. Thanks to MSE's tips we eventually got a €3,000 [£2,600] refund."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Want or know a charity wanting an MSE Charity grant? Our charity's latest grant-giving round opens on Mon 4 Feb, but go quick - it closes once it's accepted 40 applications, or on Fri 1 Mar, whichever's sooner. It's offering up to £7,500 each to organisations that teach practical money and budgeting skills, focusing on projects that help children, young people and families. Apply via its website and take a quiz to check if your organisation's eligible.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How do you feel Brexit will affect your personal finances? The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March (see our Brexit help guide). So we wanted to test your sentiment about Brexit and its effect on your pocket, rather than the general economy. How do you feel Brexit will affect your personal finances?

Younger MoneySavers gobble up the most mobile data. Last week, we asked how much mobile data you use in a typical month and received 4,500+ responses. From the results, younger people were the most data-hungry – with almost a quarter of under-25s using 10GB+ a month. In stark contrast, just 2% of those aged 65+ used the same amount. See full mobile data results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Is it OK if I don't pay for my Valentine's date? I'm a mystery diner, so I get reimbursed the cost of a meal for reviewing the service and food afterwards. I have a fine dining restaurant to review during the week of Valentine's Day. Is it OK to take a date and treat it as our Valentine's Day meal? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Is it OK if I don't pay for my Valentine's date? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: February's bring your lunch to work challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Cook Islands holiday
- Old-Style board thread of the week: Make do, mend and minimise in 2019
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Considering getting married abroad
- Discussion of the week: How many banking apps do you have on your phone?

 

Gym passes - FREE or £1 for 1-day or 3-day passes
Hobbycraft - FREE kids' workshops over holidays
Caffe Nero - FREE hot drink via app
Cadbury Freddo - 'Free' via cashback
Aldi - £2 for a bouquet of 12 Valentine's red roses

Pizza Express - 2for1 on mains (ends Thu)
Bella Italia - Kids eat for £1
Carluccio's - Main courses 2for1 for £1 (ends Thu)
Crown Carveries - Unlimited breakfast for £4.49
Prezzo - 2for1 on mains (Sun-Thu)

Asos - Now up to 70% off
H&M - Now up to 70% off
M&S - Now up to 70% off
Miss Selfridge - Now up to 80% off
Office - Now up to 70% off

Quick Forum Tips

Tu clothing up to 50% sale. Suits Tu
Lidl weekend deals, incl 74p spring rolls. Rock & (spring) roll
Herbal Essences free sample. Hair necessities

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 30 JAN ONWARDS)

Thu 31 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 1 Feb - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 4 Feb - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 4 Feb - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again
Mon 4 Feb - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. See previous

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 30 Jan - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 1 Feb - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 4 Feb - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 4 Feb - BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 5 Feb - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: My energy supplier has a cheaper tariff and I want to switch to it, but the firm still wants to charge me the exit fee. Is this right? Jameel, via email.

MSE Steve B's A: It depends when you are switching. Its policy for levying exit fees – charged when you switch if still within the minimum term of your tariff – should be laid out clearly in the terms and conditions. However, if you're within 49 days of the end of your tariff, exit fees can't be charged at all. So check the date your tariff ends.

Before switching, do a full comparison via our Cheap Energy Club. You may find even better savings.

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

 

'MY MOTHER-IN-LAW PUT A CURSE ON ME': THE TOP TAX RETURN EXCUSES

That's it for this week, but before we go... "I'm too short to reach the post box", "my mother-in-law put a curse on me" and "my fingers were too cold to type". These are just some of the excuses HMRC says it has been given for late tax returns over the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, they didn't work - but at least they get top marks for creativity. See the full list in our Tax return excuses forum post - and remember, you only have until 11.59pm on Thursday to file your 2017/18 return and pay any tax due.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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