Find out how to get your hands on a free crate of wine, a fashion makeover and surf lessons just by switching credit cards.
And, with more than 300,000 students heading off to uni in September, Martin has the best student account deals on offer, plus free Clinique products.
Free wine with 0% card, top student bank accounts, reclaim lost music, free £40 Clinique serum and more. These are Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Deals of the Week.
Remember, deals can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these deals will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.
Web exclusive: 'Free' £10 East Coast train credit
Buy The Sunday Telegraph (£2) on Sunday 18 August and follow the special link printed in the paper to get £10 no-minimum spend credit to use at East Coast. There are 5,000 vouchers available and it's first come, first served, so you might have to get up early on Sunday morning to make sure you get one.
Free wine with 0% card
A balance transfer is when you get a new card that pays off the debts on existing cards for you, so you owe it instead at a lower rate - meaning more of your repayments clear the actual debt, though these cards do require having a decent credit score.
As a balance transfer price war continues, Virgin Money has just launched a whopping freebie. You can shift existing debts to the card at 26 months 0% for a 2.99% fee (18.9% representative APR after) - very close to the top deal on the market - plus accepted cardholders get a mixed case of six bottles of wine (RRP £55, please be Drinkaware) or, for non-drinkers, there’s a choice of experience days such as a fashion makeover, paintballing for two or learning to surf.
While mixing freebies and debts may sound a worry, as this is about cutting the cost of existing debts, not new borrowing, it’s not so bad.
To contrast this with other new customer 0% deals, Barclaycard is the longest at 0% for 28 months, but there’s a 3.5% fee. Or, if you can repay quicker, NatWest is 0% for 15 months, but with just a 0.9% fee. Ensure you can repay or shift debt again before the 0% ends or these respectively jump to 18.9% and 16.9% representative APR after.
As always, remember the balance transfer golden rules
a) Repay at least the set monthly minimum, or you may lose the 0% rates
b) Aim to clear the debt or shift again before rates rocket
c) Don't spend on these, it isn't usually at the cheap balance transfer rate
d) You get credit scored to decide acceptance and applying leaves a mark on your file - use Martin’s Balance Transfer Eligibility Checker to see which cards you can get without marking your file.
Top student accounts 2013/14
Parents and students are forever tweeting me and sending Facebook messages asking: “Martin, what’s the best student account?”. Well, all the banks have now announced their packages for the new academic year, so you can start comparing and working out which is right.
Santander's Student Account has a £1,500 0% overdraft, which it says most applicants will get. While not quite the biggest, it's coupled with a 4-year 16-25 Railcard (RRP £120) that gets 1/3 off rail fares.
If the railcard isn’t for you, then focus on the biggest 0% overdraft. It's likely the best's the Co-op Bank, which gives a £1,400 year-1 overdraft, £1,700 in year-2 and £2,000 in year-3. It says the vast majority of applicants will get this. Meanwhile Halifax and HSBC advertise up to £3,000 0% overdrafts, my feedback is that people rarely get close to this, especially in the first year. In fact, they only guarantee £1,000 and £500 respectively.
Also remember these need-to-knows:
a) A UCAS offer letter and ID is enough to open an account
b) You'll be credit-scored, but as long as there are no glaring problems you'll usually get the standard offer
c) An overdraft is a loan. While it's 0% during studies, it'll jump to 10-20% after and will need repaying
d) Never bust your overdraft limit. That can cost £25 a transaction and cripple your finances
e) Forget loyalty. At graduation, switch to the new best graduate deal.
- Reclaim 14 YEARS of lost music. Buy CDs or vinyl from Amazon and its Autorip service now let’s you get them free as MP3s too. What’s more, the service stretches back for anything bought since 1999, meaning you can recover years’ worth of music from CDs you may have lost, damaged or thrown away.
Just check 'Your Music' in Amazon Cloud Player to see if you have any albums or songs from your past that you can stream or download. It can take a while for it to find the music, especially if you’ve a musical treasure trove like one of my team who had 150 albums going back 13 years!
- Free £40 Clinique serum. Head to any Clinique before Thursday 22 August and register your details to get a free 15ml sample of Repairwear Laser Focus Smooths, Restores Refines serum (it’s quite a mouthful so perhaps write it down).
You'll be asked to return to the counter for a follow-up consultation with your empty bottle of serum about two weeks later, when you'll receive a second 15ml sample. It’s not available to buy yet, but the 30ml bottle is due to retail at £40 - whether this little serum is worth that is up to you.
Clinique has said there are samples at every counter, although some larger stores will have more than others, so be warned that stock is limited.
- Free Sea Life tickets for teachers. Registered teaching professionals at nursery, primary or secondary level working in a recognised educational establishment can complete this Sea Life registration form and present it at any UK Sea Life Centre (excluding London Aquarium) until Saturday 31 August to get two free tickets.
Remember to take your proof of status with you as you will need to show it. Walk-up tickets usually cost £13-£22 each (£8-£15 online), so this is a great offer.