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Broadband's now an essential utility like energy or water, and it costs almost as much too. Standard deals with BT, Sky & TalkTalk are all £300+ a year all-in. So the key to saving is grabbing short-lived hot promo deals.
The results can be powerful, eg, Stuart tweeted: "So pleased I moved - £270/yr cheaper and faster too." And even our energy analyst MSE Fraser's mum told us: "Switched from BT to Sky, now saving £540/yr - unbelievable." There are full options in our Cheap Broadband guide, but here are my key need-to-knows...
ENDS TODAY (Wed). Top fast FIBRE b'band & line deal, £285/yr from BT after cashback, plus £100 Sains vch.Factor that in & it's equivalent to £15.44/mth.
For once BT's blitzing the best-buys with a 1-year contract line rental & unlimited up-to-38Mb Infinity fibre broadband deal (avail to 75% of the UK - you're told when applying). Yet current BT broadband customers sadly CAN'T get it. Here's how to do it... (BT itself doesn't communicate this well, but it does work.)
1. Sign up by 11.59pm Wed. Go via this specific BT link*. 2. Opt to pay line rent upfront during application (if you can afford to). It's £194.28 for 1yr (equiv £16.19/mth). If not, it's £17.99 monthly. 3. Fibre b'band's £10/mth during the 1yr contract. There's also a £39 activation fee, plus a 'free' BT Infinity Hub router, though you pay £6.95 p&p. If you stay after the contract the broadband jumps to £23/mth. 4. MSE Blagged. It sends a cheque for £75 within 30 days of installation. We've blagged that if you use the link above you get cashback (if you've ad or cookie blocking software, turn it off or it mightn't track).
After the cashback, the total's £285.23 for the year, equivalent to £23.77/mth (£306.83 if you pay line rent monthly - equiv £25.57/mth).
5. You can CLAIM a £100 Sainsbury's in-store gift card. At least 5 days after installation fill in this online claim form* to get it and it'll be sent within 30 days. Do make a diary note with a copy of this link - it WON'T remind you.
If you were going to spend that at Sainsbury's anyway, factor it in and it's £185.23/yr, equivalent to £15.44/mth - cheaper than BT standard line rent alone. (It's £206.83 if you pay line rent monthly - equiv £17.24/mth.)
- What about calls? Wknd calls to UK landlines included - see BT costs. - No line/switching from cable? Installation is free. - Want BT Sport? Lite's included - the full shebang with all sports channels is £5/mth or free with TV.
PS. Virgin’s £224 for a year deal is cheaper if you don't factor in the Sains voucher, and you're in a Virgin area and happy to switch to cable.
ENDS TUE. Top standard line & broadband, £111 for a year (after cashback), from BT-owned Plusnet - equiv £9.24/mth.
Plusnet (part of BT) does well in our cust service polls (69% rate it 'great', 7% 'poor'). This 1yr contract deal's avail to 90% of the UK (it'll tell you during application). You can't get it if you're already specifically with Plusnet (or were during the last month). Here's what to do. 1. Sign up by 11.59pm Tue 24 Nov. Go via this specific Plusnet link*. 2. Opt to pay line rent upfront during application (if you can afford to). It's £185.88 for 1yr (equiv £15.49/mth). If not, it's £16.99 monthly. 3. Unltd up-to-17Mb broadband's included free during the contract. After, it jumps to £9.99/mth or £17.49/mth depending where you live. 4. MSE Blagged. It sends a cheque for £75 within 60 days of activation. We've blagged that if you use the link above you get this cashback (if you've ad or cookie blocking software, turn it off or it mightn't track).
So after the cashback the total cost's £110.88 for the year, equiv to just £9.24/mth (£128.88 if you pay line rent monthly, equiv £10.74/mth).
- What about calls? None included - see Plusnet call costs. - No line/switching from cable (or some Sky custs)? Installation's £49.99. - Need a router? There's an optional 'free' one avail, but p&p's £6.99.
You no longer need to contact your old provider to switch. It was a faff, but new rules since June mean (unless Virgin's involved) it's your new supplier's responsibility to inform your old one you're leaving. Switching usually takes two weeks, and service shouldn't be disrupted. See switching help FAQs.
Free TalkTalk upgrade to try to stop you taking a WalkWalk. TalkTalk's taken huge flak after the high-profile hack last month - from 1 Dec it'll offer all customers a free upgrade, eg, TV content such as movies & sport, a free Sim, or unlimited calls. We'll assess it when full info's out. If you still want to leave TalkTalk find out if you can quit penalty-free.
Urgent. Ditch your Sky & Virgin contract penalty-free. If you're out of contract you can always leave penalty-free. Yet right now as Sky & Virgin are hiking most costs, most customers have an option to leave penalty-free within 30 days of being notified (or use it as an excuse to haggle). See our Virgin price hikes and Sky price hikes full help.
"I was paying £100/mth for TV, b'band & phone. I haggled - it's now £57." If you're happy with your provider and nearing end of contract, try to haggle, as Lee did: "Thanks Martin. I was paying £100/mth for broadband, TV, and phone - after one polite phone call I now pay £57/mth for the same." See our haggling guides for Sky, Virgin, BT, TalkTalk & Plusnet. For other providers, see Broadband Haggling.
Don't expect the advertised speed. Shockingly, when providers promise 'up to' speeds the rules say only 10% of customers need actually get that speed. Yet during the sign-up process most providers give you an estimated actual speed tailored to where you live. You can also use Streetstats* to tell you what other people near you get from each provider.
Sorry, but you'll pay MORE for broadband with no phone line. 51% of people we polled say they don't use a home phone. Yet while there are some b'band-only deals, they usually cost more than getting a line too - so you may as well get a line even if you don't plug a phone in.
What's all this "available to 90% of UK" stuff? Firms tend to be only able to give the really cheap prices if they have their own kit in exchanges (I'm oversimplifying, it's called 'unbundled exchanges'). Otherwise it's usually either not available, or at a much higher price.
NEW. MONDAY 8PM, ITV. "The Martin Lewis Money Show" IS BACK
Each show in this fifth series is driven by roadshows I've just done across the UK, focusing on the most common questions, eg, Help to Buy ISAs, student finance and this week bank switching for free cash & top savings. Plus Xmas deals predictions, Scrooge's Quizmas Carol and a new savvy shortcuts slot.
It's back for a third year... our Christmas Deals Predictor shows the big deals we think are coming this Christmas at major retailers such as M&S, Asos & Boots, including Black Friday and the early Jan sales. The aim's simple: it helps you work out for things ON YOUR LIST whether you should hold off and when to be ready to pounce to bag the lowest price.
How did we do last year? We were over 90% correct regarding retailers doing deals similar to our predictions, and over 80% right on the timing of each deal.
How it works. We scour retailers' Christmas marketing plans from the last 5 years, plus look at whether they've changed strategy over the year, to work out what we'd do if we were them.
43 online shopping tricks, eg, abandon your basket to get a code. While we're at it, our 43 online shopping tricks from last week's email include a free Amazon delivery tool, how to haggle with online chat and far more.
A glossary first. A 0% balance transfer credit card lets you shift existing card debts to it so you owe it at 0% instead. A few specialist cards also allow 0% money transfers, where you can pay cash directly to your bank to use as a loan, or clear an overdraft, then owe the card at 0%. Full help & options in Top Money Transfers, here are the headlines:
New. 32mth 0% money transfer, just 1.69% fee. Accepted new Virgin Money* (eligibility calc) cardholders can both balance transfer & money transfer at 32mths 0% for a one-off fee of 1.69% of the amount shifted - the lowest money transfer fee we ever remember.
If you need longer, or aren't sure how long you need, another new Virgin Money* (eligibility calc) is 36mths 0% on both but for a slightly higher 2.39% fee. After the 0% ends, both cards are 18.9% rep APR on balance transfers and 20.9% rep APR on money transfers.
Money transfer 'loans' are 80% cheaper than the cheapest standard loans. Money transfer loans tend to be best for sub-£3,000 due to the credit limits given. Luckily, this is the range where normal loan costs are hideous, eg, the cheapest standard £2,000 3-yr loan is 7.2% rep APR. Borrow that over the term and you'd pay £236 in interest, do the same on the 36mth Virgin card and you'd pay just £48. For the cheapest for larger amounts see the Cheap Loans guide.
The Money Transfer Golden Rules. If in doubt please read full step-by-step in the Money Transfers guide.
a) If you're doing new borrowing, be careful - ensure it's needed & budgeted for and you're sure you can repay it. b) Don't just apply - it marks your credit file. Use the Money Transfer Eligibility Calc for acceptance odds first. c) Ask the card provider first to "do a money transfer to my current account". Don't withdraw cash to do it. d) Never miss min monthly repayments & ensure you clear the debt before the 0% ends or the rate will rocket. e) Don't assume all cards offer this - most don't & it'll cost large. And don't spend/withdraw cash - that's costly. f) To truly replicate a loan, ask the card firm to fix payments so you're sure to clear it within the 0%.
Two million people are entitled to money back from the AI Scheme - a card protection plan mis-sold via banks, often under the Sentinel brand. If you're due, you'll have been sent a letter, but these do look a bit like spam, so many people have likely binned 'em. Patrick tweeted: "@MartinSLewis just got £313 from AI reclaim. If it wasn't for your weekly email I probably would have binned it. Top job and Merry Xmas". So this is our reminder - full info in AI Scheme (Sentinel) Help.
Claiming is easy. If you've a letter, use our template statements to fill it out and post it back. We've not heard of anyone rejected. Cheques should be sent within 8 weeks, some are big, like Shirley's: "Received £481 - thanks."
What if I've thrown away my letter? If you've binned it, lost it or made a mistake filling it out, you can request a new letter, and you've until 18/3/16 to reply. If you can't remember if you had a letter, call to check and get a new one sent, if eligible. Full info in get a new letter.
I didn't get a letter, but think I should have. Letters were sent between 18 Aug and 14 Sep - if you didn't get one and should have, it may've had the wrong address. See 'I've not got my letter' help.
My policy was before 2005. Can I claim? Letters are only for post-2005 policies. For earlier, use our pre-2005 AI reclaim help. It can work, as Alan tweeted: "Thanks for AI scheme info, also pre-2005. Both claims now settled."
SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic) "Thanks, just read your email and renewed via your combined home insurance deal which was £110 - but with a rebate of £80 M&S vouchers , the real cost's now only £30. Happy days."
Is your energy company's service any good? Please rate your current supplier’s SERVICE (not price) over the last SIX MONTHS. If you’ve gas & elec with different firms, please rate both. Here are just a few of those you can vote on:
Last week 22,179 voted on the sensitive subject of whether the NHS should pay for IVF treatments. The biggest difference in opinion was not between those who are childless (58% say yes to the NHS paying) and those with children (63% yes), but between men (47% yes) and women (67% yes). See the full IVF on the NHS results.
Thu 19 Nov - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous Fri 20 Nov - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous Mon 23 Nov - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.
Fri 20 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm Tue 24 Nov - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.15pm
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Can insurer charge me an 'admin fee' of about £20 if I change my address or car? Martin, by email.
MSE Rebecca's A: Insurers are permitted to charge fees to cover their admin costs of the paperwork associated with changing your address, car, name, job or to cancel a policy. However, we think some charge over the odds.
Fees of up to £55 are levied by some for cancelling a policy, while address or job changes can come with an up to £30 fee. While the regulator says these need to be "reasonable" and reflect the work carried out, charges vary hugely and we think many are dubious - does it really cost £30 of someone's time to change a name?
The good news is many MoneySavers successfully challenge them, see beat insurance admin fees for inspiration, how to challenge and a list of fees.
Don't confuse admin fees for the paperwork with a change to your price, which can happen when a policy alteration makes you more or less likely to claim. Eg, you move from a low to high-risk crime area which would mean your costs would rise as you're more risky to insurers.
That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum asking if opposites really do attract. Is one of you a hoarder and the other a cleaner? Do you hate Marmite but they insist on it with every meal? Join our forumites as they discuss "Things you like but your partner hates".
We hope you save some money, Martin & the MSE team
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