Deals and discounts for the Manchester area and also Nationwide offers - spread the word!
Most bargains are limited time one day only offers so if you see something you like don't hesitate and buy today!
I don't know whether to GRRR or BRRR. It's cold, so energy use is rising, but 7 in 10 UK homes frustratingly still overpay by an average 35%. Yet it's EASY to sort. It takes minutes to find your cheapest, then it's switched in 17 days. And don't worry, there's no service break - your heating stays on.
The impact can be huge. As Rachel tweeted me: "@MartinSLewis Consider myself money-savvy, but just done your energy supplier swap and saved £548 a year". To find out just do a comparison. If you want to know more...
Hidden British Gas tariff - £270 cheaper. Ends Wed 2 Dec.British Gas has a 12mth dual fuel, direct debit fix, ie, the rate is locked in. For someone with typical use it's £805/yr, compared to £1,075/yr on BG standard or Fix & Fall. Leave it early and there's a £60 exit fee.
It's not just for new customers. Existing BG custs (incl Sains Energy) can get it too and it'll waive any exit fees for these internal switches.
Helen tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Thanks. We moved from British Gas to British Gas and saved £600/yr. Can you get kids to turn lights off too?"
Sue tweeted: "Hurrah - switching supply to BG, paying £541/yr less." How to get it:When I say it's 'hidden', that's not a dig at BG - it's just you can't get it direct as it's a collective switch (where an intermediary asks energy firms to bid to provide a tariff) via MoneySupermarket.
As we're part of the same group, our Cheap Energy Club has the British Gas 12mth fix & we give £30 dual fuel cashback (even if you're switching BG to BG), which you won't get via MoneySup. As your price depends on usage & location, we do a full comparison.
How it compares to the best elsewhere. Since the BG tariff launched, a few small providers have undercut it, with both variable (so prices could rise or fall once you get it) and fixed deals. Here's a chart based on typical use at average prices, yet always compare for yourself to see YOUR prices.
Are you overpaying? (varies by region, based on typical use)
Ensure your bills stay permanently low. I've mentioned our Cheap Energy Club above, but wanted to explain a bit more. To use it (not NI sadly), fill in your details based on where you live and usage. If you don't know that, it can estimate. Then it...
- Does a full market comparison to find YOUR cheapest. - Gives £30 dual fuel cashback (£15 elec-only) if it can switch you. Suppliers pay switching sites £60ish, we split it & send within 90 days. - Monitors it stays cheap. You set a trigger, eg, £150/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again. Perfect for short-lived cheap fixes.
Energy switching Q&A
I've only got electricity - can I save? Not with BG, but the other cheap deals allow electricity-only switching. Someone on a standard tariff paying £1,000/yr would pay about £750/yr with the cheapest. So do an electricity-only comparison.
I'm on prepay (key or card meter) - can I switch? Not with the tariffs above, but someone with typical use on a standard prepay tariff pays £1,170/yr - the cheapest is £1,050/yr. So do a prepay comparison.
Also check if you can move to a cheaper billed meter for free - full help in Cheap Prepaid Energy. Plus prepay users should get a voucher for the £12 Govt elec rebate. If you haven't had one, check with your supplier.
Can I take my tariff with me if I'm moving house? This is known as 'portability' - some tariffs are portable, some aren't. Of those above, BG can move with you - the others can't.
I'm £100s in credit with my energy firm - will I get it if I leave? It should give you this money once you've switched. Many do it automatically, but make sure you ask if not. In the past they used to operate a 'don't ask, don't get' policy, so if you've switched previously see Reclaim Past Energy Credit.
If you're in debt, you can switch, unless it's huge (eg, £500+ on prepay). Though you will still need to pay it off.
I'm scared and confused about switching - is it worth it? Yes. It's far better to go for it than pay more while waiting. Our Cheap Gas & Electricity guide explains in detail - these pointers should help:
- Your new firm tells your old one - you just give a final meter read. - You WON'T lose supply during a switch or if a supplier goes bust. - It's the same gas, the same electricity, the same safety. - The only thing that changes is customer service and price. - Some firms do a credit check, incl BG. To find out what this means and a full list of who does what, see energy credit check help. - You can't be charged exit fees to switch in the last 49 days of a fix.
Is it worth switching now? The last year's seen a hidden price war - while standard tariffs haven't moved, the cheapest deals keep getting slightly cheaper. And that looks likely to continue (see energy price predictions). Yet switch now and you save immediately. Even if prices do drop in future, the savings over winter should outweigh this.
As for whether to fix and lock in a price, the benefit is if things change (and the market has switched direction rapidly before) you've certainty your rate won't go up. And if worst comes to worst you can always leave and pay the exit fees - usually trivial compared to the savings.
Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day? If you've just turned your heating on and are wondering how to keep bills low, we present the arguments (it's not always clear-cut) plus loads more tips on how to save energy in our Energy Mythbusting guide.
Struggling to pay? Get extra help this winter. Too many people need to choose between heating and eating. Yet there's help...
a) Winter fuel payments. If you were born on or before 5 Jan 1953, you're eligible for the up-to-£300 winter fuel payment.
b) Cold weather payments. Those on certain benefits, eg, Jobseeker's Allowance/pension credit, get £25 for every seven days it's sub-zero. It's paid automatically from 1 Nov. Cold Weather Payments
Wow - Monday's bank switching & Xmas deals show got our highest rating ever, 4.1m. Thanks if you watched - if you missed it, watch again here. Next Mon 8pm ITV (Tue Scot, Fri NI), it's on the new Help to Buy ISAs, cutting mortgage costs, when your student loan wipes and a shortcut to blag extra codes from shops.
Some banks want your business so much they pay you tax-free cash to switch to them. Better still, as many are best-buys it's a win-win, so why not give yourself an Xmas treat? Full options & FAQs in Best Bank Accounts - in short...
Ends 30 Nov. Free £150 + 2% interest on up to £3k. Sister banksClydesdale's*/Yorkshire's* Current Account Direct pays the biggest free cash, £150, but go quick. It also pays 2% AER interest on up to £3,000 in it.
Want the free cash in time for Christmas? That's unlikely with Clydesdale, but definitely do-able with Halifax Reward*. With M&S* and First Direct* as the table shows there's no certainty, though in practice they tend to pay reasonably quickly so there's a decent chance, if you get your skates on, to fulfil their criteria.
THE TOP FREE CASH BANK CURRENT ACCOUNT BRIBES - IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS?
All credit-score you. To get the bonus you need to use their 'switching services'.
(1) The timetable starts after you switch, which takes 7 working days, so we've added 9 days. Halifax is 3 working days after, M&S up to 30 days. (2) Timetable starts after you switch, set up direct debits & hit the min pay-in - we allow 15 days. First Direct is up to 28 working days after, Clydesdale up to 70. (3) Also, sister bank Yorkshire*.
Do you earn enough to get 'em? As well as a credit check, and requiring you set up direct debits, banks also set a min monthly deposit - a way of saying "pay your salary in" (there is a workaround). The exception's M&S*, so it's great for those with irregular incomes. Halifax's min is £750/mth (equiv £9,150/yr salary), First Direct & Clydesdale £1k/mth (equiv £13,200/yr salary).
It's Black Friday week, which means stores are pumping out deals galore, and they change daily. This is just a taster - see our full Black Friday Deals page and get regular updates from our MSE Deals Twitter & MSE Deals Facebook feeds. And beware impulse buys - our aim's to show you how to cut the cost of what you'd have bought anyway.
Solar panels not only reduce your electricity bill; you GET PAID for generating energy, even if you use it. Yet the Govt's consulting on slashing the payout from the end of Jan. If so, it'll no longer be worth it for most people. Even if the Govt doesn't go the whole hog, returns'll likely drop. So if it's right for you, go ASAP. Full help in Solar Panels - in short...
How much can solar make? With savings rates dire & looking to remain so, panels can be a lucrative alternative. Of course, first check if your home's suitable. Based on typical £6,500 panels (using data from the Energy Saving Trust), you gain by...
1. A lower elec bill. You can use the elec as it's generated, saving around £65/yr. 2. You're PAID the 'feed-in tariff'. You're paid for generating elec even if you use it yourself, c.£435/yr. Yet the proposal could mean those getting it AFTER 31 Jan will only get £55/yr. 3. You're PAID the 'export tariff'. It's on half the elec generated (what you're assumed not to use), c.£85/yr.
So in total that's a £585/yr return, which means the panels pay for themselves in 11yrs. The rate is LOCKED IN (plus rising with RPI inflation) for 20 years - so you should be seriously quids in. Yet if the Govt proposals happen, the return's just £205/yr, so the payback time will be over 30yrs - longer than the guarantee.
When will the consultation announcement come? It's likely to be mid-December; and then whatever cuts are due will come in 40 days later, so that's why we're saying the end of Jan.
Is there still time to beat this? Yes. The rate is FIXED FOR 20YRS from when your panels are registered. Some firms can install & fit in c. one month, so there's just time to beat the big deadline (the rate drops a touch anyway on 1 Jan, but not hugely). If it's right for you, go quick & ask installer for a time estimate. Full help: Installing solar
SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic) "I was paying over £90/mth for broadband, TV & phone with Virgin. Following your haggling tips, I phoned up and told it I could no longer afford it. It reduced my payment to £64/mth, saving me £312/yr. It also threw in a new hub and increased my internet speed. Thank you MoneySavingExpert."
Saving for children's futures is a lovely gift. Better still, if they're old enough, get them to monitor the rate and see if anything better arrives. Then they also get the gift of financial education. So here's our kids' savings masterclass.
Top 6% kids' savings. Put £10-£100 in monthly and the Halifax Kids' Regular Saver pays a fixed 6% AER for a year (no withdrawals allowed). For putting lump sums in, Nationwide is 3% AER (max £50k) allowing one withdrawal a year; HSBC pays 3% (max £3,000) and you can withdraw whenever you want. See: Top Kids' Savings.
Top Junior ISAs and Child Trust Funds. These are tax-free savings you can put up to £4,080 per tax year in, locked away until they're 18. Kids aged five to 13 would've got a Child Trust Fund (CTF) - younger or older are eligible for a Junior ISA (JISA).
Aren't kids' savings tax free anyway? No. They pay tax just like grown-ups, ie, they can earn up to £10,600/yr tax-free. Yet as most children don't earn that, their interest isn't taxed (fill out an HMRC R85 to get it paid gross).
However if they generate over £100 interest a year from money given specifically by a parent (not grandparents, uncles etc), then all of it's taxed at the parent's rate. This is to prevent parents stashing cash in their kids' names. It's one of the main reasons for considering Junior ISAs (see when to use a JISA) and NS&I children's bonds. Also see Martin's Kids' savings tax changes from April 2016 blog.
Last week 5,452 voted on what they thought of their energy company's service. Good Energy topped our poll for the third time running with an incredible 96% of its customers who voted claiming it has great service. The silver medallist in our last poll, Ovo Energy, maintained a high rating, with 85% of its customers who voted rating it 'great'.
At the other end of the scale, Extra Energy took the wooden spoon for the second time running with 80% of its customers who voted rating it poor, followed by the once-good Co-op on 76% poor. See the full results.
Thu 26 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous Fri 27 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous Mon 30 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Mon 30 Nov - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast Mon 30 Nov - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.
Thu 26 Nov - Black Friday, MSE Steve - BBC Radio Leicester 10.10am, BBC Radio Leeds 11am Thu 26 Nov - Share Radio, MSE Helen K and MSE Rebecca, 11am Fri 27 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm Tue 1 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.30pm
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: My daughter is about to become the main driver of my wife's car - my wife will now drive mine. Can my daughter, who's currently a second driver on my wife's policy, be given any no-claims discount from our current insurer? Or will she have to start from scratch? Alf, by email.
MSE Tony's A: First you need to call up your current insurer to ask it to make your daughter the main driver. This is vital because if you don’t disclose this information it’s known as ‘fronting’ and is fraud. The insurer will then tell you how the change will affect the cost of the policy - it may well be more expensive.
As far as the no-claims discount is concerned, it’s the policyholder who earns this entitlement for each claim-free year. As your wife has been the policyholder until now (and your daughter was only a second driver), it will be your wife, not your daughter, who’s earned any no-claims discount to date - unfortunately it can’t be transferred.
If your daughter stays with the same insurer though, it’s possible she may be offered an introductory discount. Get a quote from your current insurer and use this as a guide but check elsewhere as well - see our Young Drivers' Car Insurance and Cheap Car Insurance guides for our full cost-cutting system.
WANT TO SEE WHAT THE ARGOS CATALOGUE WAS LIKE IN THE SEVENTIES?
That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum. Did you ever spend hours flipping through the new Argos catalogue? Well, one site has archived catalogues from as far back as the Seventies. The prices have certainly changed but that's not the only thing. Keep an eye out for the, erm, lovely hairdos on the models.
We hope you save some money, Martin & the MSE team
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