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31st Oct 2018
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 This info may be out of date.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 October 2018
         
Hi - here are your latest deals, freebies, tricks and messages to help you save.
                                                           
 


 

Winter is coming... our 12-point checklist to save £100s before the big chill really hits

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is getting grey, and the recent chill certainly makes it feel like a winter's day. As cold weather is costly - sort yourself NOW before it gets really grim. So here's our annual winter checklist to help you protect your home and your wallet...

  1. Is it REALLY cheaper to leave the heating on low all day? Find out the truth behind this and 16 other common energy conundrums (eg, should you paint radiators black?) in Energy Mythbusters.

  2. Ends Sun. Two-winter full service breakdown cover £48. Cars are more likely to break down when it's cold, and consequences are worse, as you (and the kids) don't want to be stuck on a motorway when it's freezing. So check if you're covered now...

    - Our top pick: £48.31 for 15mths' full cover - till 11.59pm Sun. If you're a newbie, AutoAid* covers any car you and your spouse (or civil/common law partner) drives. Crucially, unlike basic policies, it includes home breakdowns (a big winter problem) and onward travel if stuck elsewhere. Equiv AA cover is £100+ for couples. Feedback on its service & call-out times has been positive for years.

    Full info on this and all cheap deals, including European cover, price beater offers, and how to get extra cashback on new AA & RAC policies in our Cheap Breakdown Cover guide.

    - Don't want to switch? HAGGLE. Breakdown firms are among the easiest to haggle with. Some 90% of RAC and 88% of AA customers who tried got lower rates in our most recent poll. Fergus emailed: "RAC wanted to charge me £162, but I told it Green Flag quoted £90 for the same cover, so RAC dropped to £85.See Breakdown Cover Haggling.

  3. Warm your cockles with free cuppas from six stores incl Waitrose, Greggs & Caffe Nero. How to play the stores' games to bag free tea & coffee.

  4. If we've told you once, we've told you a million times... CHECK NOW IF YOU'RE ON THE CHEAPEST ENERGY DEAL. We couldn't not say it, could we? Prices are ramping up, most people (60%) are on, frankly, crap deals and burning money. So check before high-use winter starts. Switching's no biggie, it's the same gas, elec and pipes - only price and service change. Fiona tweeted: "I thought it was a hassle. Yet I finally did it & saved £504/yr - thanks."

    Finding the best deal is easy with our Cheap Energy Club -  it shows the whole market, and you get £25 cashback (£12.50 per fuel) if we can switch you. And we've special comparison links based on what you prefer:
     
    - The 'Just show me the cheapest deal comparison'
    - The 'Good service firms comparison'
    - The 'No price hikes comparison' (only lists fixed-rate tariffs)
    - The 'I only want names I know comparison'
    - The 'I like my current provider, find me its cheapest comparison'

    For more info on switching, and the impact of the forthcoming Ofgem price cap, see our Cheap Gas and Electricity guide.

  5. FREE winter-car check - oil, battery, wipers etc. Before any long journey on icy roads, it's a wheely good idea to check your motor is winter-ready. Halfords' free winter car check examines oil levels, battery, bulbs and wipers, and includes a free screenwash top-up.

  6. Slash the cost of boiler cover by up to £100. Don't feel you need to have boiler cover from your energy provider, they're not linked. In fact in some cases you may not want it at all, most new boilers are reliable, and self-insuring (just putting cash aside each month in case of a problem) can work well.

    Yet if boiler cover is right for you, check you're on the best deal by doing a quick comparison, or better use a couple for more range - uSwitch*, Energyhelpline* & MoneySupermarket*

    Though if you're unsure the type of cover you want - there's a raft of options, read our full Cheap Boiler Cover guide first for help.
     
     
  7. £4.99 cold & flu medicine for £2.59. Drug firms are geniuses - not just in making medicines, but also in persuading us there's hidden magic in expensive brands. Yet cheaper, generic cures can contain EXACTLY the same ingredients.

    On Tue at a Boots store, we found a 16-pack of £2.59 generic Max Strength Cold & Flu (Day & Night) tablets which were exactly the same medicine as Sudafed Mucus Relief (Day & Night) which cost £4.99 - they had the same PL number, which is the licence number given to each drug. Full info and lots more tips, including who can get a free flu jab, in our Cheap Medicines guide.

  8. Free loft and cavity wall insulation... for some. The days of free insulation for all have gone, but if you're on certain benefits (eg, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance) and your home is deemed suitable, some big energy firms offer insulation for free. Whether you pay for insulation or not, it can cut bills by £100s/yr and keep you warmer, yet it's not right for everyone. See full insulation help + pros & cons 

  9. Stay toasty with a DIY sausage dog. Sometimes the low-tech warmers are best. Thrifty tips include making a sausage dog draught excluder, lining your curtains with fleece or blocking draughts with a chimney sweep - see more thrifty heat-saving tips. Plus on our forum there's the Winter Prep thread where MoneySavers share ideas.

  10. Do you fumble for your stopcock? Every household should know where theirs is (it's your mains water off-switch, in case you don't know). Winter is a crucial time as if your pipes freeze and burst, you need to turn the water off to prevent huge damage, costing thousands to repair. See how to find your stopcock.

  11. Over 64 or on benefits? Are you eligible for winter cash from the Govt? Winter can be tough but there's help available...
     
    a) Winter Fuel Payments. If you were born on or before 5 Nov 1953, regardless of income, you're eligible for the up-to-£300 one-off payment. If you get certain benefits, eg, state pension, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance, you'll usually get it automatically, otherwise you may have to claim. See Winter Fuel Payments.
     
    b) Warm Home Discount. If you were on pension credit on 8 Jul 2018, most get an automatic one-off £140 rebate on their electricity bill between Oct and Mar, unless you're with some smaller suppliers. If you've a prepay or pay-as-you-go meter you won't get it automatically, but you can apply for it. Other low-income families may also be eligible - check if your provider pays the discount.
     
    c) Cold Weather Payments. Anyone on certain benefits, eg, income support, jobseeker's allowance or pension credit, gets £25 for every seven consecutive days it's zero degrees or below from Nov to Mar, paid automatically. Full details in Cold Weather Payments.

  12. Are you forced to choose between heating and eating this winter? It's a disgraceful choice, but sadly it's a dilemma too many face. It is worth checking if you're eligible for special help, via special free advice services.

    - Eng, Wales, NI. See Simple Energy Advice or call 0800 444 202.
    - In Scotland, contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.
    - Also see our Housing & Energy Grants & Debt Help guides.
 
 

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.

 

 
 

Free £150 in time for Christmas - ho, ho, kerching

Big bank bribes are there to be bagged - but be quick if you want to boost your festive coffers

Many banks pay you to switch, and as it's often to better accounts, you should grab the freebies - and there may be time to get 'em for Xmas. You must use their switching services and pass a not-too-harsh credit check. The switch only takes 7 working days and they move payments incl direct debits - most deals require 2-4 to be moved and kept active, and that you register for online/mobile banking. Full eligibility in Best Bank Accounts, but without further ado, here are the hot deals...

THE TOP FREEBIES AND HOW QUICK YOU GET 'EM (1)
  
ACCOUNT SWITCH BONUS AND ACCOUNT DETAILS
APPLY TODAY, GET BONUS BY (2)
HSBC Advance*
Free £150 + £50 more after 1yr if you're still with it. Also access to linked 5% regular saver. Min £1,750/mth pay-in. 
9 Dec - takes about 40 days
First Direct*
Choose a freebie, eg, £150 Expedia vch, £120 Amazon Echo, from no. 1 service bank (89% rate it 'great'). Also access to linked 5% regular saver + many get a £250 0% overdraft. Min £1,000/mth pay-in.
1 Dec - about 32 days (3)
NatWest Reward*
Free £125 + 2% bills cashback for a £2/mth fee. Cashback on council tax, energy, water bills and more paid by direct debit. Can earn some £100+/yr. Min £1,500/mth pay-in.  
8 Feb - could be quicker, but unlikely by Xmas
M&S Bank*
Free £125 M&S vch with NO min pay-in but... if you pay in £1,250/mth you get £5/mth extra for first year. Also access to linked 5% regular saver. 9 Dec - about 40 days
Halifax Reward  Free £75 with NO min pay-in but... if each month you pay in £750+, pay out 2 direct debits and stay in credit you get £2/mth.  9 Nov - by far the quickest
(1) Many for new custs only, check first. (2) Our estimate based on banks' terms. Assumes you apply today, switch completes in 7 working days and you make first pay-in early. (3) You're emailed how to claim but FD says Bose products listed may be unavailable and you may need to choose something else - if they're all you want, don't apply.   


  • What's the minimum pay-in all about? It's really just a way of the bank ensuring you pay your income in each month. Eg, HSBC's £1,750 is equivalent to someone on a £25,900 salary while First Direct's £1,000 is a £12,675 salary. There is usually a way to play this (though some banks need proof of income). Say the minimum is £1,000/mth and you only earn £600/mth, you can just withdraw £400 the next day and redeposit it and, hey presto, you qualify.
 

M&S £35 beauty Advent calendar, with contents worth £250+, incl L'Occitane, Ren & Eyeko. It's a knockdown price, but only available if you spend £35+ on clothing, homeware or beauty. Not just any Advent calendar

£5 off £15+ train tickets - great for Xmas trains. Only 5,000 avail. MSE Blagged. Excl season tickets & NI. £5 off trains.

1.5% top easy-access savings. Finally there is a bit of competition as banks battle for your money. And while the recently-launched 1.55% Nottingham BS account was pulled this morning due to huge demand, the best rate now is only a tad less. Goldman Sachs' Marcus Bank* pays a healthy 1.5% AER variable (incl 0.15% bonus for 1yr) and you can open with £1. Full info in Top Savings.

How to make fake blood using everyday ingredients (it's frightfully easy). See MSE Becky's dead simple last-min Halloween hack.

Budget 2018: Most will pay less income tax from next April. Find out what you'll pay. Plus there are changes to Universal Credit, Premium Bonds, stamp duty (for shared ownership), and more. See our Budget round-up.

'Martin Lewis: 10 things your kids need to know'. If you missed Martin's much talked about 1hr ITV special, it's now live on the ITV Hub. Related links: Martin's student mythbusting guide4 ways to be successful3 tips for entrepreneurs.

 
 

Martin's alert: 'Dream of owning your first home? There's £1,000s of FREE cash available to help you save for it, and it just got better'  


It feels quite exciting for me (it doesn't take much) to write for the first time that there's a new top cash Lifetime ISA (LISA). Ever since these launched in June 2017, Skipton BS has topped the table. The LISA, or its cousin the Help to Buy ISA, are no-brainers for anyone saving for a first property, as an unbeatable 25% bonus is added towards the mortgage deposit, ie, £250 on every £1,000 saved. Let me explain...

  • Up to £1,000 free cash a year is added to your LISA. They are a tax-free way to save that anyone aged 18 to 39 can open. The state adds 25% on top of up to £4,000 you can put in per tax year, until you turn 50 (so a max of £1,000/yr free). The Top LISAs guide has full info, but the main need-to-knows are...

    - It's usable by first-time buyers for mortgages on a UK residential property worth £450,000 or under.
    A first-time buyer is simply someone who's never owned (or part-owned) a home. You also get the bonus if you wait until age 60 (ie, for retirement savings), but I'll not focus on that here as pensions beat it for most (see LISAs for pensions).
    - You have to wait a year after the LISA's opened to buy. If you're buying sooner, look at Help to Buy ISAs. Or even if you want to save in the future, just open one now with £1 to get the clock ticking.
    - If a couple, both of you can save up to £4,000/yr. 
    LISAs are an individual product, so you can both have one. If you're buying with someone who isn't a first-time buyer, you can still get a LISA and get the bonus.
    - There's a 25% penalty if you withdraw for anything other than first-home buying or retirementIn practice, for every £1,000 you put in, as you'll have got the bonus, it's 25% of £1,250, so you only get back £937.50.

  • New. Top cash LISA. Newcastle BS's just became the third cash ISA provider. It pays 1.1% AER variable, just beating Skipton's 1%. This isn't that high but don't let it put you off, it's all about the 25%. The interest is just the icing on the cake. If you're already with Skipton you can't transfer into Newcastle yet, but we'll let you know if that changes. While a bit risky for those saving for a home rather than retirement, there are also investment LISAs.

  • Is a Lifetime ISA better than a Help to Buy ISA? If I'd a penny for every time someone had asked me that, I'd have £12.32 (1). Help to Buy ISAs are LISAs' predecessor and also give first-timers a 25% boost. You can't get the first-time buyers' bonus with both though, so you must choose. See LISA v Help to Buy ISA for details, but in short...

    - LISAs let you save more. 
    Their big boon is you can put far more in. For example, max a LISA from today and you'd have £8,000 in a year (£2,000 free cash) compared to £3,400 in a Help to Buy ISA (£850 free).
    - Help to Buy ISAs are more flexible. 
    There's no age cap, anyone aged 16+ can open them. You could get the bonus after just 3 months, and crucially if you choose not to buy a home, you can withdraw cash without a penalty.

(1) This amount is an estimate, even I am not nerdy enough to have actually counted.

 

Want the new iPhone XR? How to get £500+ off a 2yr contract or spread the cost. A new iPhone is never MoneySaving, and early adopters often overpay, but if you're set on getting one now, at least do it cheapest. iPhone help.

Flash Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Gap etc sales - 20%-40% off. Specials for Halloween week. Some are one-day only, some last longer. We expect more stores to join the fray, so there's full info and updates in our Spook-tacular savings round-up.

Ends Thu. Fibre broadband & line for '£16.84/mth'. This Vodafone fast broadband deal was due to end last Sun, but it's been extended until 11.59pm on Thu. Newbies pay £21/mth over the 18mth contract, but can claim and spend a £75 Amazon vch to make it an equiv to £16.84/mth.

£35 for 7 bottles of wine & 4 beers. MSE Blagged. Via Naked Wines newbies code. Pls be Drinkaware.

November is Will Aid month - if you need a will, book quickly, as it sells out.The gold standard for wills is getting it drafted by a solicitor. The Will Aid scheme allows everyone to do that, and instead of paying, you're asked for a donation to charity. £95 is recommended for a single will, £150 for a couple - less than it'd usually cost, though if you can't afford it you can give less.

15% off code for Tesco, Hughes & Perfume Shop etc outlets. Min spend £30, ends Fri. Outlets code

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: HSBC* 32mths 0%, 1.4% fee (min £5) + £25 cashback (19.9% APR) 
No-fee 0%: Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR) 

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

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

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line (incl £40 Amazon vch)
Aviva* 

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Admiral* 3.4% rep APR
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k: Sainsbury's Bank* 2.7% rep APR (Nectar custs, 1-3 yrs)

Standard b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £12.54/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Vodafone equiv £16.84/mth

£150 to switch + £50 if you stay a year: HSBC Advance
5% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect

 

As Ryanair adds new bag charge... 5 tips to beat rip-off airline fees

With passengers hit by yet another fee, here's how to fight back to ensure your costs don't soar sky-high

When paying for a flight it can feel like there are more extras than a Hollywood blockbuster. You often pay to choose seats, eat, drink, board early, watch films, check baggage in, and now even Ryanair will charge to take standard carry-on bags. It's not just budget carriers that levy extras - British Airways, Virgin & co are often at it too. So we've lots of help to beat these charges in our Flight Fee-Fighting and Cheap Flights guides. Here are the highlights...

  • New. Ryanair's adding a new luggage charge TOMORROW (Thurs). We told you about it when it was announced a couple of months ago but the change actually happens this week - and Wizz Air has since decided to follow suit on the same day. See what you can now take for free in our Budget airlines baggage alert.

  • How to sit together for FREE on BA, Easyjet, Virgin etc. Some have sneaky ways to make you pay - costing a family of four up to £240 to sit together on return flights. In fact, research from UK regulator the Civil Aviation Authority last week found British passengers waste up to £175m/yr on unnecessary seat fees. To help, we've airline-by-airline free seating tricks.

  • Baggage hacks, incl... can you beat fees by posting your luggage? We could go on for hours about how to beat baggage fees, but for ease, here are three key tips:

    (1) ALWAYS pay for baggage in advance or risk huge fees of up to £220 per person at the airport for a return flight.
    (2) Can you save by posting your luggage? These sometimes beat airline fees.
    (3) Can you fit it all into hand luggage? Watch how to pack like a pro with former MSEer Rose's packing hacks.

  • Beat airport check-in fees of up to £110 per return. It's free to check in online, but if you forget, some airlines charge you to do it at the airport.

  • Join the mile-high (picnic) club... eat for 'free' at 35,000 feet. Food's not restricted through airport security, so bring your own to avoid stale sarnies at sky high prices.
 

26 Disney kids' books £15, incl Frozen, Incredibles 2, Snow White. MSE Blagged. Via code. Treat your shelf

STUDENT LOAN WIN - SUCCESS OF THE WEEK

"I've put off reclaiming student loan money for months, thinking 'I'll owe them money'. Less than 10 minutes on the phone and nearly £450 better off. Very helpful for our house move. Thanks." 

(Send us yours on this or any topic.)
 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Does mental health affect your debts? We're updating our research on links between mental health issues and debt problems. It's argued that either one can cause the other. If you've been affected, see our Mental Health & Debt guide. Does mental health affect your debts?

Last week's poll asked which subscriptions you pay for and how often you used them. Unfortunately, technical gremlins meant we couldn't see the results properly, so we'll look at re-doing this poll in the near future. Apologies if you voted.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should my wife get her cousin a birthday present even though they didn't get us a wedding gift? My wife has been repeatedly asked by her cousin to contribute to a birthday present for their partner. When we got married they didn't get us a wedding gift. While that's fine, shouldn't it work both ways? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should my wife buy her cousin a birthday present? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Debt Free Roll of Honour
- Competitions thread of the week: Luxury Christmas Hamper
- Old-Style board thread of the week: How much do you spend on clothes for yourself and your family per year?
- Family, marriage, relationships chat: Would you comment on someone's speed if you were a passenger?
- Discussion of the week: Stress testing your retirement plan... have you?

 

FreePrints - 10 free 6"x4" photo prints via app
Halfords - free winter car check
Gap - 5% extra discount every time via app
Lego - free £5 Lego for kids every month
Blue Peter - earn a badge to bag free attractions entry

Subway - buy one 6-inch sandwich get one free (Sat)
Beefeater - 33% off food
Prezzo - 2for1 on mains (Sun-Thu)
Zizzi - 30% off mains (days vary)
Pizza Express - 2for1 on mains (ends Wed)

Office Offcuts outlet - extra 20% off selected shoes code
Heartier - £30 free-range roasting and steaks hamper
Bonusprint - 24-page photo book £15 delivered (ends Wed)
M&S - up to 40% off selected furniture
Grüum - shave & body scrub set £15 delivered (norm £38)

Quick Forum Tips

Free eBook downloads - An author you can't refuse
Lidl weekend offers - A Lidl treat
Free first aid guide - Lifesaver

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 31 OCT ONWARDS)

Thu 1 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am
Fri 2 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am
Mon 5 Nov - This Morning, ITV, from 10.30am
Mon 5 Nov - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, noon. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 31 Oct - BBC Radio Cumbria, Money Talks with Ben Maeder, from 6pm
Fri 2 Nov - BBC South West stations, Good Morning with Joe Lemer, from 5am
Mon 5 Nov - TalkRadio, Breakfast with Julia Hartley-Brewer, 9.45am
Mon 5 Nov - BBC Radio York, Beth McCarthy, from 7pm
Tue 6 Nov - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: I spend a lot of time in Spain and when I use my UK Visa debit card there, they ask me if I want to pay in euros or sterling. What do you suggest? Michael, via email.

MSE Karl's A: Wherever you are abroad, it's best to pay in local currency. Otherwise you're letting the overseas retailer or its bank do the conversion to pounds - and rates are often terrible. We've seen some overseas banks apply an 18% mark-up to transactions.

Even if you have an expensive card that charges the typical 3%-ish 'load' fee on overseas transactions, it's still likely to be cheaper to let your bank do the converting by paying in euros or local currency. That said, if you haven't done so already, get yourself a specialist card to use overseas instead. Many have no fees whatsoever. For the top deals, see our Travel Credit Cards guide.

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

 

WHAT ARE YOU GIVING TRICK-OR-TREATERS THIS YEAR?

That's all for this week, but before we go... if you're not switching the lights off this Halloween, sitting behind the sofa in the dark pretending to be out, what treats are you giving the little witches/wizards/pumpkins when they knock on your door? Homemade, a job lot from Costco or leftover sweets from last year? Let us know in our Trick or Sweet forum discussion.

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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