Cheap holidays, rail discounts and boosted January sales
Debt cost cutting masterclass, boosted January sales, 10% off railcards, 40% off National Express and £9.50 The Sun holidays. 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.
Paying interest on credit card debts? STOP IT. Six new best buy 0% balance transfer credit cards launched
If you’ve got debts on credit cards, the heat to help you save is white hot. A balance transfer is where you get a new card(s) that repays debts on existing cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at a far lower cost, for a small fee. And over the Christmas break we’ve seen a raft of new 0% cards launched plus many are now giving cashback too.
To pick the right card for you there are three rules…
Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most cards charge a one-off fee on the amount of debt transferred (so 3% is £30 per £1,000). Calculate how long you think you'll take to clear the debt, add a bit for safety, then pick the lowest fee within that timeframe. Unsure? Play safe and go long.
2. Some cards are 'up to' so you may get a shorter deal.So the cards which don’t’ do that tend to be safer, so you know if accepted you will get the deal promised.
3. Find out before applying which cards are most likely to accept you. Applying marks your credit file. So first use a soft search tool, or a comparison tool like Martin’s free Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc which shows your acceptance odds for most top cards so you can home in on the cards most likely to accept you, minimising applications on your file.
The new MBNA card gives ‘up to’ 43mths 0% - the longest ever - with a 3.29% fee and £20 cashback when you shift £1,000+. Or for one month less Barclaycard is up to 42mths 0% and has a lower 2.99% fee (you also get £20 cashback, when you transfer over £500). Yet these two cards are ‘up-to’ meaning if accepted you may get fewer months. The longest non up-to card from Sainsbury's Bank is 42mths 0% for a 3.5% fee.
If you don’t need quite as long to repay then this Barclaycard is up to 38mths 0% for a low-ish 1.45% fee (again you get £20 cashback) or Sainsbury's Bankgives25mths 0% with absolutely no transfer fee.
Remember to always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules:
1. Repay at least the monthly minimum or the bank can end the 0% deal.
2. Clear the card in full by the end of the deal or the rate rockets to 18.9%-20.9% rep APR.
3. Never withdraw cash or spend on the card as it’s not at the 0% rate.
Boosted January sales
For the past few years the traditional January sales have started earlier and earlier – with some starting on Christmas Eve. Now even by 5th January, we’re seeing many stores increasing discounts on the remaining sales stock.
ASOS, H&M and Topshop have all now increased its sale from up to 50% - 60% off to up to 70% off. While Gap and M&S have boosted its sale from up to 50% off to up to 60% off. All are both online and in-store.
And while Debenhams and House of Fraser haven’t officially confirmed if they’re boosting its sale, based on last year both stores increased its sales to up to 70% off throughout January – so I suspect the same may happen this year. Plus The Body Shop released an extra 30% of code to use on up to 50% off sale items too – so if you’re willing to wait longer, the discounts could get bigger. Yet of course there’s no guarantee and stocks could go – so it’s just a point of seeing what you can get.
10% off railcards: Go online to the National Railcardswebsite and you can get 10% off four of its big annual railcards (usually only individual cards are discounted not all four) – the Two Together (two adults get a third off if they travel together), Family & Friends (up to four adults can get a third off and up to four kids can get 60% off when travelling together), 16-25 (get one third off standard off-peak and advance fares) and the senior railcard (over 60s gets one third off travel). You need to apply online before 11.59pm Wednesday 11 January and enter the code JANMS17, so it’ll be £27 instead of the usual £30. Even if you do one trip worth over £80 – the saving will be worth the price of the card.
40% of National Express: Go online to Groupon and you can buy a discount code (there are around 37,000 available) for £2 that gives you 40% off one coach journey (either single or return) on most UK routes with National Express (excludes airport routes, festival and events packages). The code’s valid for travel until Friday 31 March (with a few exclusions). As long as your journey is going to cost more than £5 – as many standard tickets do (though do check if its ‘fun fares’ is any cheaper which start from £5), the code will save you money.
The Sun‘£9.50’ holidays: Collect 10 unique tokens or codes, printed in The Sun every day (50p weekdays, 70p Saturdays) andThe Sun on Sunday (£1), from Saturday 7 January until Tuesday 31 January, and you’ll be able to use them to book a ‘£9.50’ holiday between 10 February and 27 November 2017. Enter the codes online (£2.30 card fee) or download a booking form to post off (pay by cheque) by Friday 17 February and select four dates and four parks you want to go to (you’re given one on a first come, first served basis, depending on availability). There are over 340 parks to choose from in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) and Europe, including Le Beach Garden and Chateau De Galinee in France, San Vito in Italy and Torre Del Sol in Spain (see thefull list).
It’s worth bearing in mind that you usually have to pay much more than the advertised £9.50, as you must pay for a minimum of four people (even if just two people), so that’s £38 right away, and nearly all parks add on a £20ish service charge for cleaning and gas and electricity, meaning the cheapest holiday is about £60 – still not a bad deal.