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31st Jul 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 This info may be out of date.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."

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


 

It's the final countdown

Just 1mth left to reclaim PPI

Do it urgently for FREE - don't wait till the 29 Aug deadline

In the words of 80s band Europe, it's The Final Countdown (de, de, de, de... de, de, de, de, de). For years we've shouted and screamed from the highest metaphorical rooftops to urge you to reclaim cash wrongly taken from you in arguably the biggest systemic scam of recent times. This was carried out not by backstreet robbers, but by men and women in suits at banks and other financial firms who mis-sold and overcharged for payment protection insurance for decades. But the end is nearly upon us.

So if you've had a loan, credit card, mortgage, overdraft, catalogue debt or car finance over the past 30+ years, check NOW if you're owed via our Free PPI reclaim tool and guide - and do it well before the upcoming deadline.

To spur you on, a jaw-dropping £36 billion has been paid since 2011 to millions of people - but hundreds of millions is still to be repaid. We typically hear of successes in the £1,000s, though the biggest we've seen was the mammoth £175,000 that Swindon couple Jane and Bob got last year.

Jane said: "We didn't apply originally, but we then read all the MSE info and tried. The banks made it hard but we kept going, and this money gives us the peace of mind to look forward to retirement debt-free."

Hurry. Don't wait till the 29 Aug deadline

The reclaiming window slams shut at 11.59pm on 29 Aug, and other than truly exceptional cases, that's it. But don't wait till the last min as there's a risk technology could fail, lines could jam or the postie could lose your letter. Plus the earlier you claim, the quicker the result - important as the expected surge could delay claims processing.

While actually complaining is best, you could still beat the deadline by simply enquiring if you ever had PPI by 29 Aug. Every big bank or card firm we spoke to told us this'll work. Most automatically turn the check into a complaint later, but not all do - see our bank-by-bank checklist. If your firm is not listed, assume you must complain by the deadline to be safe.

The resolution of the complaint may take weeks or months, but if you meet the deadline, that's enough to beat the clock from your perspective.

What is PPI mis-selling?

There's nothing wrong with the concept of payment protection insurance - which covers repayments if you can't make 'em - but banks and others massively overcharged and systemically mis-sold it for decades. This created the UK's biggest recent financial scam. There are two types of mis-selling:

  • Were you outright mis-sold? Banks, car salespeople, shop assistants and others may have lied that PPI was compulsory, added it without asking or failed to ensure it was suitable - see the full mis-selling checklist.

    - How far back can you claim if mis-sold this way? You can go as far back as you like, but it can get tough if the PPI was taken out pre-2005.
     
    - How much will you get back? If outright mis-sold, you're entitled to the full amount of PPI you paid, plus interest charged by banks on the PPI itself. Whatever that total, you get an additional 8% a year on top - a bit like savings interest - as it's assumed you'd have put that in a savings account earning interest.

  • Or are you one of millions overcharged commission? Even if you wanted PPI, you were likely mis-sold due to the excessive commission taken by banks and building societies. After a landmark 2014 ruling called Plevin (the surname of the successful claimant), if more than 50% of the PPI cost included undisclosed commission (most wasn't disclosed), you're due the extra above that.
     
    So just having had PPI means you may well have been mis-sold. Watch Martin's Plevin video to see how outrageous banks' and building societies' commission was.

    - How much can I get under Plevin? It depends on the commission, but on loans, lenders typically took a HUGE 67% for themselves. On a £10k loan over 5yrs, Plevin payouts are typically £500ish.

    - Can anyone claim under Plevin? No. The PPI and loan had to be active at some point since Apr 2008, though there can be exceptions. Also, you can't claim if you've already had a mis-selling payout, even if you didn't get the full sum back.
     
    - I think I had PPI but I'm not sure I was wrongly flogged it - should I just do a Plevin claim? NO. It's VITAL to check first if you were outright mis-sold PPI as you'll get more. If the bank rejects your mis-selling claim, it should then automatically assess you for Plevin.
How to claim
  • First check if you had PPI, even if unsure, by searching all old credit card, mortgage, loan, store card and overdraft statements. It may have been called 'payment insurance' or 'accident or sickness cover'.

    - Can't remember the lender? All debts active in the last 6yrs are on your credit report(s) even if the accounts were opened earlier. See how to check your credit reports incl MSE's Credit Club. It won't show whether you had PPI, just the lenders to check with.

    - Not got paperwork? You can request it from your lender, and as long as the account was active in the past 6yrs the firm must keep details, regardless of when you opened it. If it was closed more than 6yrs ago, you can still ask for paperwork or whether you had PPI at all, but there's no certainty it'll have this info.

Once you've sorted your paperwork, follow the steps below...

  • Not claimed before? Do it yourself for FREE. You DON'T need to pay to reclaim - claims handlers typically take a third of your payout, often £1,000s, and do very little you can't do yourself. To do it easily, use our free reclaiming tool, powered by complaints site Resolver. It sends your claim to the bank, building society etc that sold the PPI.

    For inspiration, here's Laura: "Found old paperwork while tidying & made four PPI claims using your Resolver tool - now I'm £11,000 richer."

  • If rejected on a new claim, go to the free Financial Ombudsman Service. Sometimes when you contact banks etc they say "fair cop".
     
    But if they wrongly reject you (as many do) and you've exhausted their complaints processes, you've 6mths to take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. This independent body can adjudicate and, if it upholds your claim, force banks to pay you back.

    Via our free reclaim tool you can easily escalate the case to the ombudsman if you're turned down.

  • Even if previously rejected, many should claim again. There are 1.2m whose claims were turned down by banks, building societies and other firms (even where the ombudsman agreed with the rejection) who are now eligible again under Plevin. You should have been notified by whoever sold you PPI - if not, claim anyway.

    What's more, after a ruling on commission payments in Nov, up to 150,000 previously rejected claimants should have received letters from lenders saying they can reapply.

    If you got one, act on it. If you still have details from your previous claim, use those to help with your new one. However, don't worry if you don't have them as you can still try. With our free Plevin reclaim tool, you only need to fill in a few straightforward details.

  • You can reclaim PPI for a deceased relative too. The deadline still applies, but the process is slightly more complicated. Read Martin's blog on how to reclaim PPI for a deceased person.
Already got cash back? You could get even more
  • Payouts are normally taxed - so check if you're due this back. 
    If your payout was since Apr 2016, you could be due £100s if you needn't have paid savings tax. Read Martin's blog for info on how this works or check our guide for how to reclaim PPI tax.
 
 

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.

 

 
 

Arrrrrgh. As the pound crashes to a 2yr low at peak holiday time, here's how to squeeze the most from your sterling


Sterling has slumped this week due to the market's growing belief there could be a no-deal Brexit. It comes at a terrible time for holidaymakers, as a weak pound buys you fewer euros, dollars etc, making holidays pricier. At 5pm on Tue, £1 got just $1.22 or €1.09 - it's not been this low since summer 2017. Yet you'll only get close to those rates buying currency the right way. Get it wrong and costs jump further. While we've no crystal ball to know if this downward trajectory will continue, it's rarely been more important to nail the best possible rate...

  • Going soon or just want cash? Don't get stung at the airport - compare 30+ bureaux in secs. Use our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool which speedily shows where to bag the best rate for delivery or collection - you usually get the rate on the day you do the exchange. Crucially, never just turn up and buy cash from an airport bureau as rates are hideous. If you've left it to the last min, most airport bureaux give you a better rate if you pre-order to collect at the terminal, which sometimes even works on the day.

  • Going away in a few weeks? Bag near-perfect rates everywhere, every time with the top plastic. Note, cards can take 1-2 weeks to come. Using your regular card for holiday spending can be expensive as many charge a 3%-ish 'load' fee, so £100 of euros costs £103. Instead, the cheapest way to spend abroad is with a specialist overseas credit or debit card which doesn't charge a fee and gives a near-perfect rate on the day you spend - of course the pound could strengthen or weaken in the meantime, so it's a gamble either way (like anything with currency).

    - Top overseas CREDIT card, incl £20 cashback. Halifax Clarity (eligibility calculator / apply*) gives near-perfect rates on spending worldwide, but always repay it IN FULL each month to avoid incurring interest. Apply by 29 Aug and you also get £20 cashback on your first spend within 90 days. It's a tad pricier for cash, as you pay 19.9% rep APR interest even if you clear it in full (costs up to £1.50 per £100/mth) - but that's still often cheaper than a bureau de change.

    Top overseas DEBIT card, and you don't need to change bank. App-only Starling Bank (apply*) has no overseas fees nor interest on spending and withdrawals (max £300/day cash). In fact you earn 0.5% AER interest on up to £2k, 0.25% up to £85k. It's easier to get than Halifax, as the credit scoring process is less harsh if you don't apply for an overdraft. It's a current account, but as you can load cash to spend overseas, you can easily just use it on holiday.

  • More tips to get the most bang from your, er, pound. Here are a few - lots more in Cheap Travel Money.

    - When using ANY plastic abroad, always pay in euros/dollars etc. If a waiter, shopkeeper or ATM asks if you want to pay in pounds or the local currency, always choose the local currency. For why, see Martin's Pay in euros? blog.
    - How to hedge your bets. A simple way to guard against further swings is to buy some cash now and some when you go, to diminish the impact of rate moves. There's also a trick to buy cash now and cancel for a small fee if the pound strengthens.
    - Don't buy cash with a credit card. Most cards count buying currency as a cash withdrawal - and they usually charge a fee plus interest for it. Some do the same when loading up prepaid cards, so it's better to pay on a debit card.
 

Martin: '11m will see energy bills cut in Oct - but check now if you're still being RIPPED OFF'. In his new blog, he explains the changes coming to the energy market everyone needs to understand. Martin's energy warning

10 Kindle tricks - incl save £25 buying 'em 'nearly new' & FREE e-books galore. See the latest instalment in our series of how to hack big stores and popular products. Kindle tricks

Off to Malaga, Marbella, Torremolinos, Fuengirola etc? 43 Costa-cutting tips. Incl cheap water parks, €15 for a 3-course meal and a blue-min time at the free Smurf village. See Costa Del Sol MoneySaving tips.

Reminder. Now 5 lenders offer 2.9% loans. Last week, we told you Tesco* has become the 5th to offer a market-leading 2.9% rep APR if borrowing £7.5k-£15k, along with Admiral*, John Lewis*M&S* &, if you've its Nectar card, Sainsbury's. As there's lots of choice, it's best to use our Loans Eligibility Calculator(works for other amounts too) to home in on banks most likely to accept youIMPORTANT: If you need to borrow we're letting you know again in case you missed it, but never dive in just because loans are cheap - only borrow for something affordable that you NEED. Plus always minimise the amount, never miss a payment and repay ASAP. More help and options in our Cheap Loans guide (APR Examples).

Bag easy money off your mobile bill when shopping at Argos, Boots, Pizza Express etc. Via app, when you shop at 50+ retailers. Avg 5% back per shop. See mobile cashback.

Travel toiletries rip-off revealed: 'minis' with a major price... and the trick to beat it. You may need small creams etc to get through security, but they can be 7x the cost of larger bottles. Beat the travel toiletries rip-off

 
 

Warning. The disappearing 0% balance transfer card - with lengths AND choice cut. You can still get 29mths 0% (3% fee), but for how long?


Balance transfer credit cards are a great way to slash debt costs as you get a new card to pay off other credit or store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. You're debt-free quicker as more cash clears the debt, rather than servicing the interest. Yet we've warned for ages that the likes of 43mths at 0% that you could get in 2017 are long gone - today it's a max 29mths. And this week it's emerged not only are lengths shrinking, but so is choice.

New data from Moneyfacts shows that in 2019 the number of 0% deals available hit the lowest point since its records began in 2006. Throughout this year there have been about 80 at any time, versus 95 in Aug 2018 and a high of 138 in Feb 2007. While the current crop of deals are still good (if not quite that of previous years) no one knows if they will last given the trajectory. So if you pay interest on plastic, try to cut costs NOW - we've the top deals below, with three key tips first...

- Find cards most likely to accept yoBEFORE you apply. Most cards below include a link to our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator. It shows your odds of being accepted before you apply, and doesn't affect your creditworthiness.
- Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay in. If unsure, play safe and go long.
- 'Up-to' cards mean you could get a shorter 0% deal if accepted. So 'non up-to' cards offer greater certainty.

BEST 0% NEW-CARDHOLDER BALANCE TRANSFER CARDS
CARD + KEY INFO
0% LENGTH (1)
FEE (2)
Virgin Money (eligibility calc / apply*) Joint-longest 0% & you get the full 0% length if accepted. 29mths (21.9%) 3%
MBNA (eligibility calc / apply*) Joint-longest 0%, but it's an 'up to'. Up to 29mths (20.9%) 2.75%-3.49% (3)
Barclaycard (eligibility calc / apply*) Long 0% with a low fee, but it's an 'up to'. Up to 28mths (19.9%) 1.75% (4)
NatWest (eligibility calc / apply*) or RBS (apply) Longest NO-FEE 0% & you get the full 0% length if accepted.
Alert: You can only apply if you're a customer of the relevant bank (5).
23mths (19.9%) None
Sainsbury's Bank (eligibility calc / apply*) Joint-longest 0% with NO FEE that's open to all, but it's an 'up to'. Up to 20mths (20.9%) None
(1) Rep APR after 0% deal ends in brackets. (2) As a percentage of debt shifted. (3) Depending on your credit score. (4) Initial 3.5% fee, half of which is refunded within a couple of days of the transfer. (5) Only for existing NatWest/RBS current account, savings, credit card or mortgage customers - although you could open an ISA with £1 and, hey presto, you qualify.


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%.
e) You normally can't transfer a balance between two cards from the same bank (the case for all cards above).

 

Urgent. Tax credits deadline TODAY (Wednesday) - act now or risk a payment shock. What to do depends on the colour of a thick red or black line on your form. If you need to respond you've till 11.59pm (online) or 10pm (phone), but don't wait till then as the system can get clogged. See full Tax credit renewal help.

Get 25% extra Clubcard pts. You've just 1mth for the boost on every £4-£250 Tesco spend, via 'wallet-free' app.

Warning. Got a Nationwide current account? It's hiking overdrafts for most. You'll pay a whopping 39.9% APR from Nov. See Nationwide hike.

£1 for 3mths' Dine Club (norm £50/yr) - gets 20% off Carluccio's, 50% off Bella Italia etc. MSE Blagged. Discounts on 5,000 restaurants, incl independents where deals are less common. £1 Dine Club

1m+ missed out on cheaper prescriptions last year - how to save. Our investigation found getting a 'season ticket' could have saved many an avg £35. See prescription season ticket probe (incl whether one wins for you).

Are you due £5 back on £10+ Amex spends at smaller stores? See 'free' Amex £5.

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: Virgin Money* 29mths 0%, 3% fee (21.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: NatWest / RBS 23mths 0% - existing custs only but there's a trick for others (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

Then check insurers they miss:
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Yorkshire* / Clydesdale Bank* 3.3% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k:
 M&S Bank* 2.9% rep APR (1-7 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: Post Office equiv £11.74/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Plusnet equiv £18.99/mth

Great service + free £50: First Direct
Free £100 gift card + £80 after a year: 
M&S Bank

 

Are you one of 2 million still paying for a mobile you already own? STOP


You've bought a £700 TV. Wanna pay again? Nah, we thought not. Yet new figures from regulator Ofcom show 2m mobile users do just that. A big reason is that ambiguous contracts leave many blissfully unaware they're throwing money away. Here's a typical example:

Say the monthly contract price is £50. Of it, £20 may cover airtime & £30 the handset (numbers vary by contract). Over a typical 2yr deal, £720 (24 x £30) pays the phone off completely. At the end you should only pay for airtime, but most firms don't automatically adjust your contract then. So do nothing & you pay £30/mth for something you already own.

There are plans to force firms that use this method to be clearer about what you pay for in future, yet you can save NOW. If out of contract and happy with your handset, check if you'll save with a new Sim - the chip in your phone that connects you to a network. That'll stop you paying for the phone and may get you cheaper calls, texts and data as Sims are cheap now. The latter point means if you're one of 7m out of contract on a Sim-only deal you can save too. Here's how...

  • The key to the right deal is your data use. Most deals have unlimited texts and a generous calls allowance, so they're less important these days. But ensure you know your data habits. To give an indication, in our latest mobile usage poll 70% said they used LESS than 3GB/mth. So if that's you, don't get sucked into a high data deal - though as you can see below, prices are decent for big data gobblers. If unsure of your usage, check old bills or use the free Billmonitor* tool which can analyse your bills. Once sorted, you're ready to pick a deal...

  • Top Sim-only deals from £6/mth. Here are the cheapest for new customers to these networks (all are 1yr contracts, lots more options in our Top Sims guide):

    - An OK 2GB for £6/mth - ends Fri. Plus 1,000 mins & unltd texts from Virgin Mobile* (uses EE's network).
    - A big 8GB for £9/mth - ends Thu. MSE Blagged. Plus unltd mins & texts from Three*.
    - An even bigger 12GB for £12/mth. MSE Blagged. Plus 5,000 mins & texts from Virgin Mobile*.
    - A HUGE 20GB for '£14/mth'. MSE Blagged. Plus unltd mins & unltd texts from Vodafone*. Go via our Fonehouse link and you pay £20/mth, but you automatically get a £72 bank credit after 90 days. Factor that in and it's an equiv £14/mth.

  • Switching is easier. It's up to you to get a new Sim, but once done, new rules this month have made it simpler to keep your number and complete the switch. On any network just text 'PAC' for free to 65075 and you're instantly texted a 'porting authorisation code' (PAC). Give that to your new provider and it moves your number and your old contract is cancelled within a working day. See full mobile switching help - incl if you don't want to keep your number and how to unlock your phone for free so any Sim will work in it.
 

AMAZON PRIME RECLAIM SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"My wife emailed Amazon asking for a refund of her unwanted and unused Prime membership and got 22 months of £7.99 - that's £175."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

20% off 100+ eBay outlets, eg, Joules, KitchenAid, Mountain Warehouse. On £25+ spends till Thu. eBay

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How much of your shopping is now online? Earlier this year, a committee of MPs warned that city centres are in danger of becoming 'ghost towns' due to the success of online retailers. So how many of you still shop in stores vs online? How much of your shopping is now online?

Most MoneySavers think the NHS and libraries should be free for all. In last week's poll, we asked what should be means-tested (ie, the richest don't get it or get less). Over 10,000 people voted, and more than 9 in 10 backed the NHS and libraries being free for all, regardless of income or wealth. At the other end of the scale, 71% said free school meals should be means-tested (based on parental income), while 65% feel the same about child benefit. See full poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Someone forgot to take their train ticket - should I use it? When I was buying my train ticket, I found someone had accidentally left theirs in the machine. The timestamp showed it was printed a good 20 minutes earlier, so it seemed unlikely they were coming back for it. As the ticket's still valid, would it be wrong to use it and save a bit of cash? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Someone forgot to take their train ticket - should I use it? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Using savings to pay off debts?
- Competitions thread of the week: Weekend trip to a magical theme park in France & Sky Q including Sky Cinema
- Old-Style board thread of the week: August 2019 grocery challenge
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Ex taking child abroad - do they need a birth certificate?
- Discussion of the week: How do you cope with boredom of paying down long-standing debt?

 

Kindle - 10 tricks to save, incl FREE ebooks
Dine Club - £1 for 3mths (gets 50% off grub)
Airtime Rewards - Shop at 50+ retailers to save on phone bill
Amex - 'Free' £5 cashback when you spend £10, for some
eBay - 20% off 100+ retailers, incl Joules & KitchenAid

Iceland - 89p Goodfella's pizza
Matalan - 'Free' school uniform
Adidas - 25% off app purchases
Brewers Fayre - Feed a family of 4 for £11

Carex - Half-price entry to Alton Towers & Sea Life
Recycle - Get 50% off via reverse vending machines
National Rail - 2for1 attractions
O2 - 50% off gate price for up to five
Tesco Clubcard - Convert points into discount vouchers

Quick Forum Tips

John Lewis dresses up to 80% off. Frock and awe 
Body Shop £5 back for recycling. Don't bottle it
Lidl weekend offers, incl 64p peanuts. You'd pea-nuts to miss it

 
 

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 31 Jul - BBC Radio Shropshire, Mid-morning with Jim Hawkins, from 10.15am, Megan French on haggling
Fri 2 Aug - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am, Guy Anker on PPI
Mon 5 Aug - 
TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Tue 6 Aug
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Sue Marchant, 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 an exit fee. Is this right? Gwen, via email.

MSE Andrew's A: Unfortunately yes, it is allowed. While some suppliers choose to waive exit fees for internal switches, not all do. However, in order to be able to charge you any exit fee, a supplier must have warned you that you could be charged when you joined, and must have clearly set out the details in its terms and conditions. And crucially, if you're within the last 49 days of a fixed tariff, exit fees CAN'T be charged - so check the date your tariff ends.

Finally, before switching always do a full Cheap Energy Club comparison. You may find even better savings elsewhere.

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

 

FLORENCE + THE CASH MACHINE, AND OTHER MONEYSAVING MUSICIANS

That's it for this week, but before we go... a while back we asked you to give the title of your favourite movie a MoneySaving twist - now we've done it with musicians. We've been bombarded with brilliant suggestions, from rock ('Grateful Debt', 'Foo Fivers') and rap ('50 Pence', 'Vanilla ISA') to pop ('Simply in the Red' and, er, 'Lewis Shopataldi'). Our favourite though has to be 'Martin Lewis and the News'. Check out the full list and add your own in our MoneySaving musicians Facebook post.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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