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Stop paying interest on credit cards!

Paying interest on credit cards - STOP! Vodafone warning, last chance Tesco Clubcard double-up, and cheap Odeon. These are our 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.

Urgent. Vodafone customers check your bills now

If you’re one of Vodafone’s 20 million customers I’m urging you to check you phone bill and bank statement for errors asap. Since Vodafone moved to a new billing platform, I’ve had an ever growing number of complaints reported to me. And indeed Ofcom data shows it’s had three times as many complaints about Vodafone than any other network and the Communication Ombudsman has warned an increasing number of complaints. Indeed Vodafone itself has said “We’d like to apologise to any customers who have been affected by our recent customer service issues… many of the recent issues relate to the move of our legacy billing and services platform into one state-of-the-art system”.

So check:

- Your phone bill: Some people have been put on a different tariff to the one requested or charged double or triple.

- Your bank statements: Incorrect direct debits have been set up, and some received requests for payments long after cancelling.

- If either of these are wrong, check your credit files: Some have found erroneous reports of missed payments, which can have a massive impact on mortgage and other applications.

If you’ve spotted a problem contact Vodafone immediately by dialling 191 from your Vodafone phone, call 0333 304 0191 or speak to them on its online chat (and that way you can save a transcript of what’s been sent for evidence should you need it). Hopefully they can resolve the issue immediately.

Ask it to put you back into the position that you would have been in had the issues not happened. For example a refund of any bank charges directly incurred as a result. If it won’t do it, you can take it to the Communications Ombudsman.

Paying interest on credit cards? STOP! New cheapest ever 40 month 0% cardsA balance transfer is where you get a new card that pays off the debt on old cards for you. So you owe the new card but at a cheaper interest rate and clear the debt quicker. And over the last fortnight we’ve seen a price war with three cards launching new 40 month 0% deals – the longest ever – with the lowest ever fees for them.

- The longest 0% deals ever: Last week BOOM, Virgin Money launched the cheapest-ever 40 month 0% balance transfer card with a 2.53% fee (so that’s £25.30 per £1,000 shifted) then on Monday POW MBNA responded lowering its ‘up-to’ 40 months 0% fee to 2.5%, and now yesterday KAZAM Sainsbury’s launched a salvo at 40 month 0% card with a 2.48% fee (you need its free Nectar card to get it). Rather than the lower fee though, the real advantage here is so many competitive cards – as you can’t usually shift debt to a card brand you already have, so with more cards you’ve more choice.

- WARNING: Don’t just apply though that marks your credit file: With only a 50p per £1,000 difference in the fee between the cards, and with some as ‘up-to’ deals, meaning you could get a shorter deal, depending on your credit score, actually more important is which is most likely to accept you. The only way to find that out is by applying, but that leaves a mark on your credit file which can hurt your ability to get other cards in future. Instead then, some firms have soft search tools which let you see what your chances of being accepted are. Or you can use Martin’s ‘Free balance transfer eligibility calculator’ which shows your odds for all the top cards in one go.

If you do balance transfer, remember to always follow the Golden Rules:

  • Repay at least the monthly minimum or the bank can end the 0% deal.

  • Clear the card in full by the end of the deal or the rates of these cards rockets to 18.9%-20.9% rep APR.

  • Never withdraw cash or spend on the card as it’s not at the 0% rate.

Martin’s Quickies:

Last chance. Tesco Clubcard double-up. Tesco’s has said its current Clubcard double up promotion is its last. And it ends this Sunday, so if you’ve got vouchers, now’s the time to use them (and also log in to your Tesco Clubcard account and under the ‘my vouchers’ section to see if you’ve any unused old vouchers, some find £100s – like AnnaV who tweeted: "WOW – I've got £413 of unspent vouchers. Ridiculously excited."

Double up means you can swap £5 of Clubcard vouchers for £10 in 11 categories including toys, entertainment, garden, home, cosmetics, sport and travel, both in store and online at Tesco Direct. Eg, you can get the Lego Elves Market set for £20 in vouchers, currently £40 is cash on Tesco Direct.

Though it’s also worth checking its Tesco Clubcard partners deals where you may be able to get up to 4x their value at things like Restaurants and days out.

£20 for five Odeon tickets: Go to Groupon and buy five Odeon tickets for £20, or two for £10, these can be used by one person or five and don’t need using together – so great for families. They expire on Wednesday 20 July. It’s only for 2D films, and a few prime London theatres and shows are excluded. As a full priced ticket can cost up to £13 it’s a fair saving, but check your local Odeon cinema first as some locations, like Doncaster, the ticket price is only £2.50 on some showings, so may not be worth it.

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