Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Free £220 bank switch, free Tastecard, ditch 123?, £7 Amzn code, 21 resolutions, 23mth 0%, 6 gym tips, Sky 33% off, £40 Jawbone, £58 Eurostar

                                                           
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THE TOP TIPS IN THIS EMAIL
Menu links don't work in some email readers. If a problem, view online
New 23mths 0% NO FEE debt shift
Free £220 M&S bank switch
6 tips to slash gym costs
Santander 123 fee hike MON - ditch it?
Free 1-year Tastecard (full price £80)
'Free' £7 Amazon code
15% off UK railcards code
Cheapest-ever loan - 3.3% APR
Jan sales BOOST eg Asos 70%
Cheap fitness trackers, eg £40 Jawbone UP2
33% off Sky TV bundles special link
Urban Outfitters, La Redoute sale codes
Eurostar sale £58 rtns to Europe
FREE 3mth Weight Watchers
 

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

21 New Year's resolutions that'll save £1,000s

Most resolutions hardly outlast Christmas turkey leftovers, but I've designed these so if you do 'em now, the impact's felt all year


There's one silver lining to January's financial clouds. As Christmas splurges and December's early pay mean some sadly struggle to make cash stretch, it does mean many are ready to put in the work to save cash, and that can pay large.

Throughout January, this email will give you a detailed money makeover. Yet if you're ready to rock 'n' roll already, here are some quick resolutions you can do now while the 'I WANT TO SAVE' fervour's still in place, and the impact will last all year.

I resolve to...

1. ...check if I can slash £1,000s off the year's mortgage repayments. Mortgage rates are still near all-time lows, yet there's a chance UK interest rates could rise this year. Everyone with a mortgage should check right now if they're on the best deal. First use our Mortgage Best Buys Tool to find your cheapest rate, then use the mortgage calc to compare it with your current deal. Full help in our Free 60-page MSE remortgaging booklet.
2. ...check NOW if I'm owed £100s from AI Scheme (Sentinel). Are you one of 2m who've been sent a letter about AI Scheme mis-selling? You may've ignored it thinking it was spam. It's not. Fill in the form for cold hard cash - the deadline's 18 March. As Patrick tweeted: "Just got £313 AI reclaim. If it wasn't for your weekly email I probably would have binned it. Top job." Free templates & help if you've lost the letter in AI Scheme reclaim.
3. ...sort a power of attorney now (even if you're very young, like me). One in three over-65s die with dementia, many people lose their faculties earlier from strokes, accidents, and more, too. Without a power of attorney to get access to your funds, even to pay for treatment, family would need to make a hard, slow and costly attempt to apply in court. Sort one now (I have at 43), so it kicks into effect ONLY if you lose your faculties. See Power of Attorney for help. Plus while we're at it, sort a Cheap & Free Will too.
4. ...call up my OLD energy firm, to see if it owes me £100s. If you've switched energy in the last six years and were in credit, some providers operated a don't ask, don't get policy. So ask now - we're swamped with successes, like forumite Drakekard's: "Got £134 from Npower from an Aug 2012 switch and £53 from Scottish Power which is probably from 2009." Full help in Reclaim Old Energy Bill Credit.
5. ...finally ditch my crap bank account & earn £220 doing so. An easy win, and a price war means today's the day. Scroll down for full info.
6. ...claim marriage tax allowance worth £212/year. If you're married or in a civil partnership, the Marriage Tax Allowance lets some couples transfer a proportion of their personal allowance (the amount you can earn tax-free/tax yr) between them. Natalie tweeted:"That's £212 a year saved thanks to @MoneySavingExp & @MartinSLewis, didn't know about the marriage allowance, thanks for the heads up."
7. ...take a few mins to bag unbeatable exchange rates for all trips this year. Specialist overseas credit cards give you the same near-perfect rate on euros, dollars and the rest that banks get - smashing bureaux de change, and saving up to 8% over other methods. So apply now, set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month to minimise interest and the job's done for the year.

Our top picks are the tried and tested Halifax Clarity and the new player Creation Everyday. Full help, pros, cons & options in Top Overseas Credit Cards (APR Examples).
8. ...not just renew AA, BT, Virgin, Sky, but to haggle £100s off. If you're renewing a service with a call centre - they want you to stay, so haggle. Success rates of those who try are huge: 88% at AA, 73% BT, 88% Sky, 83% Virgin, and savings can be large, as Sarah found: "Haggled £324/yr off my Sky bill (TV, b'band, phone)." Full help see our Haggle with Sky, AA & more guide.
9. ...print 'Martin's Money Mantras' to stop overspending. To curb impulse spending, I've two money mantras, so get the free wallet-sized Martin's Money Mantras Printout as a reminder each time you spend. Here they are, and if any answer is no... DON'T BUY IT:

- Skint?: Do I need it? Can I afford it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere?

- Not skint?: Will I use it? Is it worth it? Can I get it cheaper elsewhere?
10. ...use MSE's free automated budget planner to check if I'm on track. You likely know your income, but not your expenditure - without that you can't balance the books. Our Free Budget Planner tool takes you through step-by-step.
11. ...shop & save for next Christmas NOW. Pre-Christmas is the most expensive time to buy, Jan sales the cheapest, so see our Jan sales list and buy now to save. Plus spread the cost of Xmas; the average family spend is £800, so save £70/mth now. See Save for Xmas.
12. ...take just five minutes to save £305/year on energy bills. Depressingly 70% of the UK is still on a big-six standard tariff, which with typical use costs an average £1,095/yr. The cheapest deals are under £800/yr for the same. It takes just FIVE MINS to find your winner & start a switch. Use my Cheap Energy Club to do it (if you want help on top tariffs click the Top Picks tab).

PS: Renting, only use elec or on prepay? You can still do this.
13. ...cut credit card interest by £100s or £1,000s this year. A big, easy save and firms are fighting for your business, scroll for full info.
14. ...do a direct debit check up (you could gain £100s). Millions wrongly let cash drip from their bank accounts for things they don't really want, like unused gym membership or worse, like Tuftyhead: "We'd paid insurance for our daughter's old phone - she upgraded 4yrs before but the direct debit wasn't cancelled. It amounted to £400". So do Direct Debit Check Ups (includes standing orders & recurring payments) and let me know if you find any.
15. ...check if I'm overpaying for car insurance. Prices are predicted to rise this year, so check now if you're overpaying and lock in at a cheaper price, via our full Car Insurance Cost-Cutting System. Even if you're not at renewal you may be able to switch & save now, though do read our switching mid policy help first. Andy tweeted: "You gave us the confidence to challenge our insurance mid-policy. It was £40/mth, now it's £16 - thanks. We didn't take no for an answer."
16. ...check my savings to see if I'm being ripped off. Check your savings interest rates now - owt under 1.2% is dismal, and most are dismal. So move the money. You can earn up to 3% on lump sums via our Top Savings Accounts guide and up to 6% on money saved each month in Top Regular Savers.
17. ...check my tax code to see if I'm overpaying £1,000s. At least six million people are paying the wrong amount of tax due to an incorrect tax code - the little piece of info that tells your employer how much it should take from you. Our Free Tax Code Checker can check for you. Some even get past refunds, the biggest so far is £5,000.
18. ...pay off my debt with savings. Those with debt AND savings are likely wasting big money. Eg, £1,000 owed on a typical 18% APR credit card costs £180/yr; the same in a top savings account earns £13/yr after tax. So pay off the card with the savings, and you’d be £167/yr better off.

Full pros & cons in my three guides to SHOULD I USE MY SAVINGS TO PAY OFF MY 1) Debts? 2) Mortgage? 3) Student loan?
19. ...start a Help to Buy ISA (as I'm 16+ and have never bought a home). They're the no-brainer place to save for anyone (aged 16+) who's never owned a home. Save in one, then use the money for a deposit and the state adds 25% on top, up to £3,000. Full help, FAQs & best buys in Top Help to Buy ISAs.
20. ...become a diary tart. Many products like mortgages, energy fixes, credit cards and car insurance only give a good deal for the short term. So check now when things end, and put a big note in your diary/calendar a month before so you've time to check, ditch & switch.
21. ...watch the Martin Lewis Money Show 8pm ITV Fri. Series five recommences this week, but the day's moved to Fridays, 8pm until 12 Feb. This week's programme is quite simply how to save yourself £1,000s. Watch & find out.
 
 
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New. Shift debt to 23 mths 0% NO FEE - the longest ever

If you've got credit card debts save £100s or £1,000s as FOUR new top balance-transfer cards launch


Don't wait for January's statement to hit the doormat. If you've got credit-card debts you can't clear this month, do a balance transfer. This is where you get a new card that repays debts on old cards for you, so you owe it instead, at a cheaper rate. Lenders know many do this in January, so, no surprise, FOUR new cards have hit the best buy tables...

The TOP new cardholder 0% balance transfers - TIPS FOR CHOOSING BELOW
Don't just apply in hope, that hits your credit file - find which cards you've best chance of getting via our eligibility calc.
Card 0% deal (REP APR AFTER 0% ENDS) ONE-OFF FEE
New. Halifax* - longest no-fee 0% card Up to 23mths 0% (18.9%) NONE
The AA* - no-fee card where 0% length isn't an 'up to' 22mths 0% (19.9%) NONE
Barclaycard* - good midway card
Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 1.13%
New. MBNA* - longest 0% Up to 39mths 0% (20.9%) 2.98%
New. Halifax* - v. long 0%, slightly lower fee Up to 38mths 0% (18.9%) 2.75%
New. Virgin Money* - longest 0% where length isn't 'up to' 38mths 0% (18.9%) 2.79% (min £3)

  • Tip 1: Go for 0% NO FEE if you can repay in under 23mths, if unsure, go long. Most long deals charge a one-off fee, of the debt shifted, eg, a 2% fee is £20 per £1,000 shifted. Calculate how long you'll need to clear the shifted debt, add a few months for safety, then pick the lowest-fee card within that time. Unsure? Play safe & get a long 0% and pay the fee.

  • Tip 2: Some 0% lengths are 'up to'. Here some get a shorter deal, depending on their credit score. Our eligibility calc can't tell you whether you'll get the full length, but, roughly, the better your odds to get a card, the better your chance.

  • How much can you save? A lot, eg, with £3,000 owed on a typical 18.9% APR card, repay £131/mth and you'd still have around £635 to pay after 23mths - shift it to Halifax's 23mth 0%, and you'd have cleared the card.

  • The Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples), in brief...

    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can 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 rep APR.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on these. It usually isn't at the cheap rate & cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
    d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card's Cheapest? tool.

 

Santander 123 fee more than doubles on MON - should you scrap it? Martin's updated Ditch 123? analysis.


Free 1-YR Tastecard (£80 full price), 2,016 avail. MSE Blagged. The restaurant card gets 2for1ish in 6,500+ eateries (eg, Pizz Exp, Strada & independents). Those who miss out get one free mth. Ends Fri 15 Jan. Tastecard


'Free' £7 Amazon code. Provided you haven't bought a gift card from it in the last two years. 'Free' Amazon £7


15% off the 4 big railcards code. It's very rare that they are all discounted but until Sun 17 Jan you can get 16-25, Family & Friends, Two Together & Senior Railcards 15% cheaper. Railcard deals


New. Cheapest EVER loan - 3.3% APR. If you need to borrow (budget to ensure affordable repayments) M&S Bank's* 3.3% rep APR for £7,500-£15,000 is the lowest rate we've ever seen. For £5,000-£7,499 Sainsbury's* is 4.2% rep APR over 1-3 yrs (you need to have/get a free Nectar card) or 4.3% rep APR over 4-5 yrs*. Can you get it? Use our Loans Eligibility Calc to find your odds. Full help & warnings: Loan Best Buys


Jan sales BOOST, incl Asos & D'hams now 70%. Discounts are getting bigger for final stock. Jan sales update

 

BLAGGED FOR MSE

- Free 1-year Tastecard (£80 full-price) 2,016 avail

- Lastminute.com £20 spa sale + 15% off code Ends Thu

- Urban Outfitters extra 20% off up to 75% sale From Wed

 
 

New. Free £100 PLUS £10/mth bank account switch

Stop bitching, start switching. If your bank isn't great, take advantage of a price war - they'll bribe you to switch


Three new bank switching bribes have launched; unless you're deliriously happy with your bank, they're worth considering. To qualify you usually need to use the banks' seven-day switching services (82% of you say it's easy & hassle free) and switch 2+ direct debits too. Full info in Best Bank Accounts. Here we account for the latest fee-free deals...

  • Bank switchNew. Free £100 M&S tax-free plus £10/mth. M&S Bank* has added a promo to its normal switchers' £100 M&S gift card. For the 1st year, every month you deposit £1,000 in it (ie, pay in income of over that) it'll add £10 to the card. It also offers a £100 0% overdraft and a 6% linked regular savings account. Its customer service is strong: 67% rate it 'great'.

  • New. Free £150 tax-free cash & No.1 for service. First Direct's* won every service poll we've ever done - 92% rate it 'great', and go via this special link and you get £150 (£125 direct). It also has a £250 0% overdraft and gives access to its 6% regular savings account. You need to deposit £1,000/mth in it (ie, pay in income of over that).

  • New. Free £120 tax-free cash. HSBC* is now giving switchers £120, and you only need to deposit £500/mth to qualify. It also has a 4% linked regular saver. Customer service is middling, 46% say it's 'great'.

  • Halifax free £100 tax-free plus £5/mth. Halifax's* min pay in is £750/mth and you get £5 cash every month you don't slip into the overdraft (avoid that, as it's expensive). Service rating is 66% 'great'.

  • Top 'no min pay-in' account? Only the £10/mth element of the M&S Bank* account requires a min pay in - unusually you still get its £100 M&S switching bonus, 6% savings & 0% overdraft with no pay in, so it wins if you've irregular income.

  • Got savings? 3% interest may be better. Santander 123* pays 3% AER on balances of £3,000 to £20,000, plus up to 3% cashback on bills, which usually wipes out its £2/mth fee (rising to £5/mth on 11 Jan; see Martin's Will it still be worth it? analysis). Plus earn up to 5% for smaller amounts, see Top Interest Paying Bank Accounts.

 

Cheapest fitness trackers - £40 Jawbone UP2, £80 Fitbit Charge HR. Top fitness tracker deals.


Sky TV bundles 33% off + £25 M&S/Tesco link. If you've not had Sky for a year or more. See Sky discount link.


Urban Outfitters & La Redoute sales codes. Use the codes to get a discount off already discounted goods. We've blagged Urban Outfitters 20% extra off up to 75% sale, plus there's La Redoute 10% more off 50% sale.


Eurostar sale - £58rtns to Paris, Brussels, Lille. Cheapest we've seen for 2yrs (norm £69-£300ish). Eurostar


Free 3mth Weight Watchers online (£63 full price). For newbies only. Free Weight Watchers

 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS
 

Lastminute.com £20 spa experiences sale + 15% off code. MSE Blagged. It's launched one of its spa sales (incl massages, facials, treatments) for 19 venues till Thu, and we've a 15% extra off code. Lastminute spa sale


Ends Fri: Virgin East Coast 200,000 sales tickets, eg, Ldn-York £10rtn. Travel till 23 Mar. Virgin Train sale


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
£30,000 back - "After following your mis-sold PPI guide and using your forms I've received £5,000 from RBS and £25,000 from Lloyds. Well done MSE."


British Gas kills off 'switch to Sainsbury's Energy' loophole. Ofgem's new 'white label' rule may have backfired, see BG kills Sains loophole.

 

Six tips to slash gym costs

Free gym passes, pay-as-you-go visits, £10/month membership, cutting your existing contracts & more


People aren't just trying to save pounds right now, many also want to lose them. Yet these two can clash. Many sign up to gyms in a fitness fervour, but it's not paying that makes you fitter, it's going. One MoneySaver tweeted: "Paid £270 for a year but only went once. Most expensive swim ever." Full help in Free & Cheap Gyms - here's a warm-up...

Cheap gym1. Free passes at 8 gyms. Never sign up without checking out whether it's a place you'll be comfortable going to. Passes right now include seven-day British Military Fitness, three-day Fitness First and more. See Free Gym Passes.

2. Work out all year at free outdoor boot-camps and classes. Muscle in on free group-fitness classes in local parks, incl yoga, Zumba, Pilates & more. Free classes

3. Pay-as-you-go passes for top gyms. Occasional user? Forget a contract, Pay as U gym lets you buy one-off passes for different gyms (and says it's 10% cheaper than buying direct from any gym on the site). One-off Gym Passes

4. No-frills gyms £10/mth & no contract. If you can live without pools, saunas & jacuzzis, find a No-Frills Gym near you.

5. At renewal, or signing up for a contract... HAGGLE ASAP. Some gym regulars refer to January joiners as 'turkeys', because they don't last much beyond Christmas. That's why premium gyms give deals right now to get people to sign up while they're keen. Yet don't accept even the 'promo' prices, negotiate hard (but politely). Also see What to watch out for in contracts help and know your Gym cancellation rights.

6. Do you really need a gym? DIY workouts. You can run, cycle, do light weights, yoga and a lot more without gym membership. Why not download free online workouts or see if there's a free outdoor gym near you?

 

'£9.50' Sun holidays are back (though really min £38). Collect vouchers and use 300+ UK & Europe holiday parks. See our full '£9.50' Holidays guide. Mail '£15' hols too (though really min £40): 150+ UK parks available - see '£15' Daily Mail Hols.


1,000s of free e-books. If you got an e-reader for Xmas, read how to get 1,000s of e-books free. Free e-books


Last chance: TalkTalk free upgrade offer for all customers. Hurry. Ends tmrw (Thu). Get yours now

 
 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Have you accessed "bereavement benefits"? A group of MPs wants to make sure people who struggle financially after they have lost a loved one get better support. If you would like to share your experience with the MPs, let us know in the MSE Forum by Friday and we’ll pass on your comments.

THE GREAT HUNT

What was your biggest MoneySaving success of 2015? Whether you switched your energy provider and made huge savings, went coupon-mad or finally made it onto the debt-free roll, we want to know what your best personal MoneySaving success was of 2015. Share yours/read others': What was your biggest MoneySaving success of 2015? Past topics: View all
 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Are you richer than your parents were at the same age? Taking into account both wealth and income (and factoring in inflation) how do you think you stand compared with your parents?


Last week, Maltesers were top of the chocs: A sweet 24,616 of you voted on your favourite chocolate. Maltesers had a sweet win with 22% of the vote. Sadly it's too chocoLATE to vote now. See the full results.

 

MONEYSAVING NEWS

- Top story: HSBC customers hit by online banking outage

- Women's state pension changes petition smashes 100,000 signatures

- Boost for airport shoppers as 'tax rip-off' review set for take-off

- Last chance for TalkTalk customers to grab free upgrade

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I pay for my friend's stolen phone? I was on the beach in Barcelona with friends when a couple of them decided to go into the water. One of them apparently asked me to watch their bag, but I didn't hear them. I had my eyes closed and someone took the bag without me realising; now my friend's asking me to pay for their phone that was inside - should I cough up? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I pay for my friend's stolen phone? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES
- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Virtual sealed pot challenge
- Competitions thread of the week: Family villa holiday worth £3,000
- Old-style board thread of the week: January 2016 Grocery Challenge
- Game of the week: Animal Raceway
- Discussion of the week: Frump to Fab in 2016
 
 

MARTIN'S BLOG

- Santander 123 fee's more than doubling - should you ditch?

DEALS HUNTERS BLOG

- Top 10 free fitness videos & smartphone apps

 
 

MARTIN APPEARANCES (WED 6 JAN ONWARD)

Thu 7 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 8 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Fri 8 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm.
Mon 11 Jan - This Morning, Money Monday, ITV, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 11 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon.Subscribe to podcast

TEAM APPEARANCES

Fri 8 Jan - BBC Radio London, 4pm
Fri 8 Jan - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.50pm
Tue 12 Jan - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.30pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: I recently bought a top as a gift for my nephew and asked for a gift receipt (which the cashier said the shop didn't do). She also said that I should know the store only does exchanges - is this allowed? Why couldn't my nephew get a refund if he wanted? Helen, via email.

MSE Megan's A: Normally only the person who bought the item can return it if it's faulty, and so all a gift receipt does is transfer this right. BUT the key word here is if it's faulty. You have absolutely no rights to return something bought in a shop, unless it's faulty.

The fact they are giving you an exchange in certain conditions is generous; the reality is their policy could be that you have to hop on one leg to get any kind of return (again, unless faulty). Luckily, a lot of the time shops will have a more generous returns policy, but this will vary from company to company so always check before buying - and remember it is not a legal right.

It's also important to remember you have many more rights when buying online. See Consumer Rights for more info.

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

 

Dear mummy, school is cancelled this week, yours the headteacher...

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: "My daughter got the post today (it's Sunday), apparently they have another week off school". It's a classic excuse but we're pretty impressed at the lengths this little girl went to. With most of us going back to work this week, we're all probably wishing we thought of it first.

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

 

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