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Weekly Email
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30th Mar 2016
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 This info may be out of date.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 March 2016
Martin's Briefing: 20 tricks to drive down motoring costs, incl beat insurance and fuel hikes
Last chance cash ISA - use it or lose it
Free £150 bank switch ending
New 24mth 0% for EVERYTHING card
Find your NEW take-home pay
New. 20 Ryanair tips
Earn £15 Amazon via online surveys
FREE Ideal Home Show tickets
How to beat £72/yr Sky TV price hike
Sainsbury's Nectar double-up
15p Creme Eggs, 50p Easter eggs
£88ish Nails Inc set £19
100% pre-approved 39mth 0% debt shift & more
Replace specs' lenses for £10
Microchip your dog for free

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

20 tricks to drive down motoring costs

- Beat predicted 25% hike in car insurance even if not renewing now
- Petrol prices creeping up again - can you slash them by a third?
- Secret, fewer-fails MOT centres (don't worry, they're legal)

MotoringFuel prices have started to rise again this month, now averaging £1.03/litre for unleaded - and the RAC expects a further 3p/L increase. The AA also predicts an up-to-25% rise in car insurance this year, and that's before the Govt ups car insurance tax a touch in October.

Overall, it's likely motor-running costs will accelerate faster than Lewis Hamilton - so it's time to slam on the brakes with our 50+ Motoring MoneySaving tips. For speed, here are the biggies...

1. Warning: Lock in TODAY'S car insurance prices to beat the possible 25% hike - even if you're not at renewal... 'I saved £290'. Even if your policy isn't up yet, check NOW if you can slash costs & lock in today's prices, using our Cheap Car Insurance system (more tips below). Yes, we are saying even if you're not at renewal - here's how...

i) Renewal within 60 days? Firms such as Aviva*, Nationwide & LV* give quotes valid for 60 days - so lock in a quote now before prices rise further, then check if it's still cheapest in 2mths. As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: "Renewal £521. Quote from a month ago, which was honoured, of £319. Thanks." See our 20 long-quote insurers list.

ii) Mid-policy, ie, many months left. If you can find a deal cheaper than your current one (and if you just auto-renewed that's VERY likely), then provided you've not claimed, for a £50ish admin fee you can usually cancel and get the rest of the year refunded (you won't earn the year's no-claims bonus), locking in today's price. Andy tweeted us: "You gave us confidence to change mid-policy - it was £40/mth, now £16." That's a huge £290/yr saved. See full switching mid-policy help.
2. Check your photo licence or risk a £1,000 fine. More than 2 million people's have expired - see what to check & what to do if it's invalid.
3. Ends Thu: Hidden car insurance deals comparison sites miss - incl free £60 M&S vch. Different comparison sites search different insurers, and even where they overlap they don't always have the same price. Best policy for your, er... policy, is to combine comparison sites. Our current order's*, then Gocompare*, MoneySup* and if time CTM. Yet even then there are some they miss...

- Age UK*, £60 M&S vch with policy - ends Thu.
- Churchill*, £60 HoF, Debenhams, Cineworld vch - ends 5 Apr.
- Co-op*, £50 food voucher with policy.
- Also try Aviva* and Direct Line*, which comparison sites miss too.

We're not saying these deals will be cheapest, but they're worth getting quotes from and comparing with the best comparison results.
4. Use hidden 'fewer fails' council MOT centres. As they don't do repairs, they've no vested interest to fail you. Cat tweeted: "We always use a council MOT centre and in 5yrs I've never had a car fail an MOT. Everything is very efficient & cheap." Use our UK council MOTs finder to locate your nearest.
5. Seven tricks to use less fuel (slowing down isn't one). For some people this can cut 30% off their annual petrol bill - that's £800 a year if you put £50 of fuel in a week. For how see 7 cheap driving tricks.
6. Find your cheapest petrol station in seconds. Differences are huge, eg, in Manchester M20 the range is 99.7p to 107.9p, central London is 100.9p to a whopping 164.9p. Check a petrol price comparison.
7. Never renew breakdown cover (eg, AA or RAC) without haggling. In our poll of hagglers the AA was the top service provider to haggle with, with an 88% success rate. RAC was 3rd with 85%. Jacqueline emailed: "Thanks to Martin I have cut my RAC bill by £144 simply by phoning and threatening to leave." See our breakdown haggling tips.
8. Car (or bike) damaged by a pothole? You could be due £500+. They're a safety menace and can cause expensive damage, so use our full Pothole Claims guide to see if you're due.
9. More than one car in the home? Check multi-car policies - incl free £80 Karcher washer till Thu. Comparison sites' technology doesn't allow you to check these, so you need to do it manually. Admiral* covers up to five cars and it'll give a free £80 Karcher washer if you buy by Thu. Aviva* covers up to two. If time, also check Churchill*, Direct Line* & Privilege*, which give discounts on linked policies.

These won't always be cheapest so compare against buying individual policies using our Cheap Car Insurance system.
10. Free tank of fuel trick - if you're making a big purchase. If you're going to be shopping at Next, Boots, House of Fraser or others, there's a trick to get a free full tank of petrol.
11. Cut new RAC & AA policy costs to £21/yr buying the right way. Don't buy direct, take a slightly more scenic route for cheap AA/RAC cover.
12. Get up to 5% cashback on petrol or diesel. The Amex Platinum Everyday* credit card (eligibility calc) has no annual fee and pays 5% cashback in the first 3mths (max £100 cashback), then up to 1.25%. Ensure you pay it off in full every month (best by direct debit, so you never miss it) to avoid its 22.9% rep APR, which will dwarf any cashback. Full info in Petrol Cashback Cards.
13. Try adding Mum, Dad or Aunt Dora to car insurance to save £1,000s. Bizarrely, adding more drivers to your policy can cut costs, especially for younger drivers, as it lowers the risk average. Use trial & error, as MazzyB tweeted: "Took your tips & added mum to my insurance & saved £500."

NEVER add a second motorist as the main driver. It's 'fronting', which is fraud and can invalidate your insurance. See 7 tips on adding 2nd drivers.
14. Rent a driveway to slash parking costs. We found £12/day in central Ldn vs NCP's £42. See if you can rent a private parking space for less.
15. Renewing your licence, paying a toll charge? BEWARE GOOGLE AND BING. Search online to renew your driving licence, book a driving theory test or pay the congestion charge, and you may end up on shyster sites that charge admin fees on top of the normal cost to "fast-track" your application. This is nonsense. Anyone can get caught out - follow the official links in our Shyster Sites Warning.
16. Nine things you MUST do before taking your car to its MOT. Staggeringly one in five fails are caused by simple things such as lights not working, damaged windscreen wipers and tyre pressure probs. We've compiled 9 things to check before your MOT - the most common fails and what to do about them.
17. Private parking firms CAN'T fine you - don't believe the disguise. Many tickets from supermarkets, retail parks & private car park firms do better impressions than Alistair McGowan. Some even call themselves Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) to mimic official Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). They've no right to fine you though - see how to Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets.
18. Some save £100s on car insurance by legitimately tweaking job titles. A contractor is oft cheaper than a builder's labourer, a hairdresser cheaper than a barber, a PA cheaper than a secretary. As @fabsternation tweeted us: "I saved £300+ going from creative director to marketing manager. Crazy." Play with our car insurance job picker tool to find your cheapest, and find when it does and doesn't work.
19. Unfair parking ticket? Over 50% who take it all the way beat 'em. If your ticket's unfair, appeal. Even if you lose that, don't be fobbed off - go all the way to the final tribunal and over half win. See Fight unfair council parking tickets.
20. Warning - monthly car insurance doesn't exist, it's a hidden loan. They simply loan you the year's cost, often at 20%+ APR, as @rgeldard found: "I saved 27% on my renewal price by switching from paying monthly to in full." Check what your insurer charges as often you'll be far better off spreading the cost over a year on a 0% credit card.

PS: I'm having a slightly extended Easter off, so I'm leaving the final i-dotting and t-crossing of this week's email in the hands of the very talented MSE team. Martin

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Last chance: The cash ISA year ends next week - USE IT OR LOSE IT

Earn up to 2.33% TAX-FREE. If you haven't put money in a cash ISA since last April, the clock's ticking

The tax year ends on Tuesday, so the window to use this year's £15,240 tax-free ISA savings allowance is closing. Don't let ISAs scare you - a cash ISA is just "A SAVINGS ACCOUNT YOU WILL NEVER PAY TAX ON" - as once the money's in, it stays tax-free year-after-year. Yet we're not going quite as loud & large on top cash ISAs as previous years, as a major savings shake-up looms. Here are the need-to-knows... All below have full £75,000 savings safety protection.

  • Lifetime ISAFrom 6 April ALL savings interest will be paid gross (ie, without tax taken off). That's the day the new personal savings allowance (PSA) launches. With it, basic-rate (20%) taxpayers can earn £1,000/yr interest (higher rate £500) tax-free - equivalent to the interest on £76,000 saved in the top easy-access savings. This means 95% of people won't pay tax on savings interest. For full info & what to do if you exceed the limit, read the PSA guide.

  • Top cash ISAs... 1.4% easy-access or 2.33% fixed. If you want to be able to withdraw any time, Coventry BS is 1.4% AER variable (min £1). If you've got poorly-paying old ISAs you want to transfer, the Post Office is the same rate but only allows 2 annual withdrawals (min £100). Its rate includes an 18mth 0.75% bonus, so you'll need to transfer again after.

    If you're unlikely to withdraw cash, earn more with a fixed-rate ISA. And unlike normal savings fixes, with fixed ISAs you can withdraw cash early, though you lose some interest. The Kent Reliance 1yr fix is 1.45%, Kent Reliance 2yrs 1.65%, (both with 180 days' interest penalty for early withdrawal) - United Bank 5yrs 2.33% (365 days' interest lost). Full best buys in: Top Cash ISAs, and see last chance 2015/16 ISA dates.

  • If savings will be tax-free, is an ISA worth it? And should I withdraw cash from old ISAs? With Santander 123 paying 3% on £3,000 to £20,000, once it's tax-free it's tough for ISAs to beat. Yet if you've more, it's important to note that ISA interest doesn't count towards the PSA £1,000 limit, so those with a whack of savings can still gain. When you should or shouldn't, though, is complex: read Martin's Time to ditch cash ISAs? for full analysis.

  • First-time buyer? A Help to Buy ISA is a no-brainer - get it now. You can save up to £1,200 in month one, £200/mth after, and when used for a first-time residential home, a 25% bonus is added. Technically you can't have a Help to Buy and cash ISA in the same tax year, but we reveal a loophole to get round this in Top 4% Help to Buy ISAs. Then from 2017 convert it into a Lifetime ISA and add even more. See Lifetime ISA need-to-knows.


What's your take-home pay from Wed? Income tax calc 2016/17. Next Wed (6 April) a new tax year starts, and thresholds change, so most will get more. Find out how much (and compare with now) with our Income Tax Calc 2016/17.

New. 20 Ryanair tips join 17 tricks to manipulate Easyjet. See 20 Ryanair tips and 17 Easyjet tricks.

Earn £15 M&S/Amzn vouchers doing quick online surveys. MSE Blagged. Site popular with MSEers where you fill in surveys & search online to earn. We've a link for newbies to accrue £5 & get a bonus £10. Swagbucks

5,000 FREE Ideal Home Show London tickets - go quick. MSE Blagged. We've more free tix for the show's final days. For Wed-Sun this week at Olympia London. Tix norm £14-£20. Free Ideal Home Show tickets

Huge up-to-£72/yr Sky TV price hike coming - beat it like this: 'Thanks, got it from £67/mth to £37/mth.' Successes are rolling in after last week's tips to beat Sky TV's price hike.

1 wk only: 1,000 Nectar pts worth £10 (norm £5) in Sainsbury's but... only in some departments. Nectar x2.



- Replace your specs for £10 with code Ends 30 Jun

- £19 Nails Inc collection (norm £88ish) 1,100 avail



- Lifetime ISA: Up to £32k towards first home or retirement

- 'Ta, Hotpoint gave me new machine' - Hotpoint refund tricks

- FREE packet of wild flower seeds

- Hi-Tec extra 60% off shoes & clothing, eg, £17 trainers


Ends THURSDAY: FREE £150 bank switch

Stop bitching, start switching... but go quick as the last of the big bank bribes for switching accounts are ending

In recent months up to 9 different banks have paid switchers to join them. But many of the biggest bonuses have now ended and two more biggies are about to be pulled. With 4 in 5 of you admitting you've not switched banks in the last 3yrs, even though many are deeply unhappy, it's time to stop bitching & start switching.

  • Bank switchSwitching's 'easy & hassle free' since 7-working-day switching started. Introduced over two years ago, it means the bank closes your old account, moves all direct debits & standing orders for you, and for 3 years auto-forwards any payments made to or from the old account.

    Of the 1,700 responses to Martin's Twitter poll, 83% found it easy enough, such as Kimberley who tweeted: "Had no problems. Switched to First Direct - best decision." Only 8% found it a pain. You usually need to use this service to get the bonus and switch 2+ direct debits. Full info in Best Bank Accounts - here are the main contenders...

  • Free £150 plus 2% interest. Clydesdale*/Yorkshire* banks pay you £150 if you switch to them by this Thu (31 March) - nothing after. Plus open their Current Account Direct and you get 2% interest on up to £3,000. Customer service: 49% 'great'. Min pay-in: £1,000/mth.

  • Top service, free £100, 6% linked savings & 0% overdraft. First Direct's* won every service poll we've ever done. It also has a £250 0% overdraft and opening it gives access to its 6% regular savings account you can put up to £300 a month in. Customer service: 91% 'great'. Min pay-in: £1,000/mth.

  • Free £100 M&S plus £10/mth. M&S Bank is the only one of the top picks that doesn't require you to deposit a set amount each month to get its switchers' £100 M&S gift card, £100 0% overdraft & 6% linked regular savings account. And if you open it by Tue 5 April, and then pay in £1,000/mth, it'll add £10 to the gift card each month for a year. Customer service: 68% 'great'.

  • Free £100 plus £5/mth. Halifax gives switchers £100, then £5 cash (after basic-rate tax) every month they don't slip into its expensive overdraft. Customer service: 68% 'great'. Min pay-in: £750/mth.

  • Got savings? 3% interest may be better. Santander 123* pays 3% AER on balances of £3,000 to £20,000, as well as up to 3% cashback on bills, which usually wipes out its £5/mth fee. Customer service: 78% 'great'. Min pay-in: £500/mth. Full info/options, incl up to 5% for smaller amounts, see Top Interest-Paying Bank Accounts.


15p Creme Eggs, 50p top-tasting Easter eggs - can you find 'em? Stores flogging leftovers. Cheap chocs

£19 Nails Inc collection (norm £88ish). MSE Blagged. 8 full-sized polishes incl glitter effects. 1,100 avail. Nails Inc

100% pre-approved 39mth 0% debt shift, credit rebuild, cashback & overseas cards? Now our eligibility calcs show if you've a 100% chance of getting 7 cards &, unlike applying, there's no creditworthiness impact. Pre-approved?

Replace your specs' lenses for £10 with code. MSE Blagged. Via £10 off code & get free lenses upgrade. ReglazeMyGlasses

Warning. Microchip your dog before Wed 6 Apr. The law's changing, see how to microchip your dog for FREE.


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Merlin 2for1 attractions, eg, Alton Towers, Legoland, Sea Life. Via cereal packs. Theme parks

Are you registered for the EU vote? How to do it without getting spammed. See vote registration help.


New. 24mths 0% for EVERYTHING - a one-of-a-kind 3in1 card

Not only does this card give a long 0% on purchases AND 0% balance transfers, it gives 0% cash loans too

When this Virgin Money* card (eligibility calc) was market-tested with a short launch last July, we said "we've not seen owt like it". Now it's back & still one of a kind, though its competitors are stronger. It offers near best-buy 0%s for borrowing, debt shifting & rare 'money transfers'. As it's a 3in1 you only need one application for three perks, protecting your credit file. It has...

  1. Three in one card24mths 0% on all spending. It's close to the longest 0% for new borrowing on the market, and if you NEED to borrow, this is the cheapest way. Full help: 0% Cards. Which'll you get? 0% Spending Eligibility Calc. Here's how it compares...

    - Virgin 3in1* is 24mths 0% on spending (18.9% rep APR after).
    - Post Office* is 27mths 0% on spending only (18.9% rep APR after).
    - Clydesdale Bank* is 26mths 0% on spending only (18.9% rep APR after).

  2. 24mths 0% on balance transfers (one-off 1% fee). It also lets you shift debt from other credit cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. Here's how it compares against the top new cardholder 0% balance transfer-ONLY deals (aim for the lowest-fee card, provided you can repay in that time). Full help: 0% Balance Transfers. Which'll you get? Eligibility Calc.

    - Virgin 3in1* is 24mths 0% on balance transfers for a 1% fee, min £3 (20.9% rep APR after).
    - Halifax* offers up to 23mths 0% NO FEE on balance transfers (18.9% rep APR after).
    - Barclaycard* is up to 32mths 0% on balance transfers for a 0.72% fee (18.9% rep APR after).
    - Halifax* also offers up to 40mths 0% on balance transfers for a 2.58% fee (18.9% rep APR after).

  3. 24mths 0% money transfer 'loans' (one-off 1.9% fee). An additional function of a few balance transfer cards: they pay in 0% cash to your bank account - great for clearing overdrafts or if you need a small cash loan. Here's how the 3in1 stacks up against other 0% balance & money transfer cards (but they don't do 0% on spending). Full help: 0% Money Transfers. Which'll you get? Money Transfer Eligibility Calc.

    - Virgin 3in1* is 24mths 0% on money transfers for a 1.9% fee, min £3 (22.9% rep APR after).
    - Virgin* is 32mths 0% on money/balance transfers with a 1.69% fee, min £3 (20.9% MT, 18.9% BT rep APR).
    - MBNA is up to 24mths 0% on money transfers, with a 1.89% fee, and up to 32mths 0% on balance transfers, with a 1.49% fee (22.9% MTs and 20.9% BTs rep APRs after).

  • The Golden Rules. It's not just about picking the right card, it's about using it the right way...

    a) Don't get new borrowing unless you must. If so, always budget & plan to repay before the 0% ends.
    b) Don't just apply in hope, as that marks your credit file. Use our eligibility calcs to find your best chances first.
    c) Never miss min monthly repayments, or you can lose your 0% deal and pay far more.
    d) Clear the card or balance transfer before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to your card's standard APR.
    e) Never withdraw cash. It's often far more than 0%, and just doing it can hurt your credit file.


6,000 FREE £8-£18 Homebuilding & Renovating Show tix. For Birmingham (14-17 Apr), Glasgow (21-22 May) or Surrey (25-26 Jun). Homebuilding Show

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Just received a cheque for £937 for a delayed Jet2 flight after first being told I wasn't eligible. Many thanks, @MartinSLewis."
See how to claim up to £470 per person in our Flight Delay Compensation guide.

Mid-season sales at House of Fraser, Laura Ashley & Habitat. Plenty of deals...1) House of Fraser up to 50% off; 2) Laura Ashley up to 50% off; 3) Habitat up to 30% off. See all high st sales.



Which UK stores do you LOVE or LOATHE? We've selected 40 big-name retailers. Please pick THREE that you love and THREE that you loathe...

Aldi | Amazon | Apple | Argos | Asda | ASOS | B&Q | BHS
Boots | Co-op | Currys/PC World | Debenhams | eBay | H&M
Holland & Barrett | Homebase | House of Fraser | Ikea | Jack Wills | John Lewis | Lakeland | Lidl | M&S
Morrisons | New Look | Next | Poundland | Poundworld | Primark | River Island | Sainsbury's | Superdrug
Tesco | TK Maxx | Topshop/Topman | Waitrose | Waterstones | WH Smith | Wilko | Zara

What do you make of benefit cuts? It was always going to be a divisive poll and the results reflected that, with 56% of you saying cuts had gone too far compared with 37% saying they needed to go further, while 2% of the 16,618 who voted thought ALL benefits should stop. See full results: Have benefits been cut too far or not far enough?



- Top story: Credit card firm New Day to refund 180,000 over unfair charges

- Anger after Thorpe Park 12p ticket gaffe

- Stop refunding victims of online fraud, police chief tells banks

- Buy As You View customers to share £939,000 compensation - how to claim



Should we contribute to a new fence? We've got a new neighbour who has a dog. Our back gardens meet, but we own the fence. The new neighbour wants to replace it with new, taller panels to stop his dog from escaping. Should we help out? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we contribute to a new fence? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Competitions thread of the week: A getaway of your choice
- Old-style board thread of the week: March 2016 Grocery Challenge
- Discussion of the week: First holiday... where to go?


- Cheap Easter chocs



Thu 31 Mar - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Thu 31 Mar - Ideal Home Show, 6pm.
Fri 1 Apr - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Sun 3 Apr - Ideal Home Show, 2pm.
Mon 4 Apr - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 4 Apr - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast


Wed 30 Mar - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 31 Mar - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.20pm
Tue 5 Apr - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: I have several different accounts with Barclays including a current account, several ISAs and a savings account. If I switch my current account, what happens to the others? Len, via email.

MSE Rosie's A: Switching to a new bank will only close the current account you've switched from, and won't normally affect other products you hold with the bank you've switched from.

This means that you're free to keep any ISAs or savings accounts. However, if you've had these for a while it's likely the rates won't be the best, so it's worth looking at the top savings and ISA transfers to see if you can get a better deal.

An exception is if you hold a product that is linked to a current account, for example regular savers or loyalty ISAs. If you switch away from an account that has linked products such as these, the savings will most likely be transferred into an account paying a lower rate, so check. For info on the best banks to switch to, see Best Bank Accounts.

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


'When the ice cream van plays a tune, it's sold out' - the biggest lies we tell our kids

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: "Lies we tell our children". We all tell our kids those little white lies to keep them (and us) happy, and possibly save some money along the way too. What's the biggest porky you've told your children? Tell us in the forum.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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