Claim £6 a week tax back for working from home
Three savings accounts that are totally safe, 40% overdraft rates starting, claim £6/week tax back for working from home, MOTs testing restarting and £55 No7 items for £12. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Tips 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.
Savers: THREE accounts that are totally safe and top the best-buy tablesMillions have money sitting in high street savings accounts earning diddly-squat, often at 0.1% or less, and are scared to move it as they want safety. If that's you, STOP IT. Currently, and unprecedentedly, the top-paying easy-access savings all come from by far the safest place, NS&I (used to be called National Savings), the Government-backed savings institution. And it’s just been told to increase its fundraising from £6bn in March to £35bn now, so its rates are likely to stay strong providing you certainty. Here’s a brief look at its top three accounts…
- NS&I Income Bonds: 1.16% AER (min £500). It's the top payer. While the name's strange, Income Bonds are just easy-access savings and can be operated online. Deposits and withdrawals must be in blocks of £500+, and interest is paid monthly into a separate account (so you don’t earn compounded interest). Max savings is £1m/person.- NS&I Direct Saver: 1% AER (min £1). The Direct Saver is simple and can be operated online. You have full flexibility on withdrawals and deposits, while the interest is paid into the account annually and compounds. Max savings is £2m/person.- NS&I Investment Account: 0.8% AER (min £20), post only. The Investment Account works like the Direct Saver, except you operate it by post - including withdrawals. Max savings is £1m/person.It’s also top for other accounts too including 3.25% junior ISA and 0.9% direct cash ISA. Importantly, its rules say it must tell you 2 months in advance of rate cuts which adds some comfort. And compared to the best of the rest Yorkshire BS pays the next-best easy-access rate, at 0.8% AER variable if you deposit £10k+ (0.9% if you deposit £50k+). For smaller amounts, Saga pays 0.75% AER variable and can be opened with £1. And while fixed rates normally smash easy-access, as you have to lock your money away, right now NS&I beats the top 1 year fix and is equal to the top 2 year.Plus, money in NS&I is as safe as savings get - even if you're lucky enough to have millions. All UK-regulated savings accounts are protected up to £85k per person per institution under the UK safe savings scheme, but for those with more, NS&I is an easy winner, as it's Government-backed so it's all protected.
Automatic 0% coronavirus overdrafts ending for many
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, banks were instructed by the regulator to give everyone struggling up to the first £500 of their overdraft interest-free. This has been extended till 31 October 2020. So, if you need one you can get it till then.
But crucially, while back then many banks were automatically giving up to £500 fee-free to everyone, now many are making it only for those who are struggling and who request it. Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, and TSB have all already done that and Santander and Nationwide are due to end it in the next couple of weeks. So, if you need it, ASK.
Plus, back in April, after a regulatory change, almost all banks' overdraft rates were set to increase to a hideous 40% APR – double a high-street credit card, making overdrafts the new danger debt. And whilst at the start of the pandemic, the FCA put a temporary halt on these cost changes and said for three months no one would pay more under the new 40% cost system than before when the overdraft help was extended, that 'no one should pay more' has become 'no one struggling from the pandemic should pay more'.
And as many banks (the same ones listed above) have reintroduced their 40% overdrafts, if that means you'll pay more, and you're struggling due to the financial impact of coronavirus, speak to your lender to get it lowered.
Were you working from home? Claim TAX back on added costs: If your employer required you to work from home, as many have done in recent months, and that means you've had increased costs, eg, heating and electricity, you're entitled to claim either tax-free extra cash from your employer or, a tax break. And you don't need receipts for expenses of up to £6/week. So, you can have that bit of your earning without tax on it.The perfect time to claim is when or after you return to work see Martin’s ‘Claim tax back for working from home’ blog with full help on how to do this and fill in the Govt’s P87 form.MOT due after 31 July? Compulsory testing restarts next week for many. During the coronavirus pandemic, MOT testing was paused, and if your MOT was due between 30 March and 31 July, you automatically received an extra 6 months, eg, 24 July becomes 24 Jan 2021. But from 1 August, compulsory MOT testing will restart in England, Wales and Scotland - meaning if your MOT's due from then onwards, you'll need to sort the test as usual. In Northern Ireland testing's still on hold, and MOTs have been extended 12mths.
£55 worth of Boots No. 7 beauty products for £12: Buy two selected No7 items from Boots (online and in-store) and you can get a free 'Kiss & Cheek' palette worth £20. The cheapest combo of two decent No7 items are the No7 'Aqua Perfect' foundation compacts (currently on offer for £6, normally £17.50 each) and if you were to get two of these, plus the free £20 palette, you’d have £55 of beauty products for £12. But, it works with other items including £6 foundation bottles (normally £16.50 each), £6 nail polishes or £5 pencil sharpeners. There’s no specific end date, just when stock runs out, so go quick if it's something you'd like.