Martin's warning: Want solar panels? Get them ASAP!
Want solar panels? Get them ASAP, free £200 for switching bank, ‘free’ MOT and ‘free’ carvery meal. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Quick Deals.
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.
Warning - want solar panels? Get them ASAP
Solar panels have been a fantastic investment for some. While bill reductions from generating your own electricity are relatively small, the real whoop is 'Feed In Tariff' (FIT) payments you get for generating electricity (whether you use it or not). A few years ago these were lucrative, and many still get good sums as the rate is locked in for 20-25 years. Panels cost £5,000 - £9,000 and the payback depends on a range of factors, such as where in the UK you live, the direction of your roof, size of the panels and more. For full help on see Martin’s ‘are solar panels worth it?’ guide.
Whatever you do though, do it quickly. The Government has recently announced proposals to end the Feed In Tariffs to those who get panels installed and registered after March next year. This sounds a long way away but you’ll need to do your research to see if it is right, find a company and arrange a fitting - even after that it can take around three months until you get the crucial installation certification that counts. So if solar panels are right for you, you need to get your skates on.
Free £200 for switching banks is back
Free cash for switching bank accounts has mostly disappeared in the last few months, but the biggie from HSBC’s Advance Account is back, paying new customers up to £200, which is £150 upfront plus another £50 if you stay with it a year. To qualify you need to use the switching service to move to it (with a minimum of two direct debits) and pay in £1,750+/mth, effectively a way of saying pay you salary in if you earn over £26,000. It also requires you to register for online/mobile banking.
If the monthly pay in is too high, you can jimmy it by simply withdrawing cash (or moving it to another account) then paying it back. E.g. if you get £1,000 a month, just withdraw £750 each month and pay it straight back in (if you’re organised you can do it via standing orders).
Alternatively First Direct, which has won every customer service poll I’ve done, and gives free gadgets such as £170 Bose headphones, or £150 Expedia voucher. Or switch to M&S Bank you can get a £125 gift card, plus on going £5/mth gift card for year. With both there’s minimum criteria you need to meet, so read the details online before you apply.
In practice switching accounts is easy. Within seven days your old account is closed, any direct debits and standing orders are moved across and any payments going to your old account is auto-forwarded to your new one. Though note, when opening a bank account you will be credit scored.
‘Free’ £55 MOT at Halfords
Until Sunday 14 October, buy anything online or in-store from a Halfords and you can get a voucher code for a free MOT for your car, which normally costs up to £55. The cheapest item I spotted that qualifies was a £1 car air freshener, and as you've got until the end of October next year (2019) to claim the free MOT, even if your MOT isn't due until next year, you can still take advantage. You’ll need to book the MOT online at your nearest Autocentre and add your voucher code (which you’ll get via email or in your paperwork at delivery) during the checkout process.
This is best for those who are pretty sure you’ll pass your MOT. If you’re going to need repairs the MOT centre at Halfords Autocentre may not be the cheapest for repairs.
'Free' £10ish pizza or carvery at Stonehouse restaurantsDownload the Stonehouse app and register your details on it by next Saturday 22 September, and in the “my wallet” section, you’ll find a code which will get you a free classic pizza or standard carvery (norm up to £10ish) when you dine in and purchase a drink (from £2ish). You have 28 days to use the code before it expires, and you can use it Mon–Sat from 11.30am at any of the 97 Stonehouse restaurants in England, Scotland and Wales (find your nearest).