Cheapest energy in seven months, £16 Amazon Echo dot, Tesco Clubcard discounts, free tennis and sailing sessions, and Costco membership. 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.
Cheap energy now CHEAPEST in seven months: save £350/year over the price cap
If you’re wondering why I’m talking about energy now (as it’s counter seasonal), well I have a very good reason; energy prices are now the cheapest it has been in seven months. That means if you haven’t switched in over a year, and are on your provider’s standard tariff, now’s a very good time to sort it.
And while you may be thinking isn’t there a price cap anyway, so aren’t I protected? Well, in April, the price cap for 11m people on standard tariffs jumped by an average 10%, a rise of £100 a year for those with typical usage, and it will remain unmoved until October. Yet perversely, at the same time, wholesale prices - those which energy firms pay - were plummeting. That's allowed firms fighting for new customer to slash the cost of tariffs for switchers.
While someone with Big Six typical usage pays £1,254/yr, the market's cheapest deal is now £880/yr which is £100 less than it was in January for the same usage. So it's worth everyone doing a 5-min comparison using Martin’s free ‘Cheap Energy Club’ or any Ofgem-approved site to see if you can save. And if you’re worried about switching, don’t be! It’s the same gas, electricity and pipes – only the service changes.
Yet, when you do a comparison, the cheapest are generally new firms, with no track record (and possibly little financial backing, hence 9 going bust in the last year). So for ease and safety, it's best to scroll down a little to find more reliability – and still make huge savings. There are firms like Bulb, which now has over a million customers, has strong customer service ratings, will save someone typically £200 a year, and is 100% renewable.
Or if you want to stick with a big 6 firm – British Gas’ Energy Plus Protection Green May 2020 tariff has a fixed rate till May 2020 and on typical usage costs £980/year - a no-brainer if you're loyal to BG or prefer a big name. But it's only available via comparison sites (like Martin’s one above, which also gives extra cashback) - you can't call BG and ask for it. Most also get 12 months' 'free' central heating, plumbing, drains and home electrical cover, but do note: the insurance auto-renews after a year, even if you switch energy (though you can cancel it any time). Yet the best way is do a comparison.
Trick to get a £50 Amazon Echo Dot for £16 (or 99p if you've an Amazon Music Family Plan)
Until 8.59am Friday 24 May (or while stocks last), new sign ups and existing subscribers to Amazon’s £15-a-month Music Unlimited Family Plan (allows up to six people within the same household to get Amazon's music streaming service), can get its Echo Dot ‘Alexa’ voice-activated smart speaker for 99p, which would normally cost £49.99.
You won’t be able to get it straight away though, you need to have paid for one full month of the Family Plan before claiming the 99p Echo Dot. If you're given a 30-day free trial first, you'll have to wait until after your first payment has been taken (so in the second month – you will still be allowed to do this as long as you signed up in time). Amazon will then email you instructions on how to claim your promotional code within seven days, so don't forget to look out for this. Once you've got your promotional code, you can then add an Echo Dot to your Amazon basket, and enter the code at the checkout stage by Friday 30 June, and it’ll be reduced to 99p.
So you'd be getting two-months' music streaming (or one month if you've previously had a free trial) and an Echo Dot for £15.98 all in – much cheaper than you'd normally pay for the Echo Dot alone. If you don't want to keep paying £15 for the Family Plan, remember to cancel or downgrade after your first payment has been taken.
If you already have the family plan, when you sign into your Amazon account, it should have the option for you to click ‘learn more’ and you’ll then receive your promotional code within seven days. Amazon hasn't said how many 99p Echo Dots are available, but has said the offer "is valid while supplies last", so go quick if it's something you want as it could end this promotion early. It means there's an element of risk as Amazon has the right to pull this offer at any time, though you would still get a month or two's music streaming.
If this sounds familiar, it is very similar to a Google Home deal via Spotify I talked about previously.
Tesco Clubcard discounts: Tesco’s is mixing up its loyalty reward scheme and is giving its Clubcard holders (you can join for free) between 15% - 50% off almost 200 products in all of its UK stores and online.
Early analysis shows the Clubcard-exclusive offers were good deals, with items cheaper than rival stores, though it's always worth doing your own comparison before you buy. For example, out of 36 prices checked, all but one of the items were cheaper at Tesco than other supermarkets (though in some instances it was only cheaper by a penny). However, 17 of the items we've seen prices for are Tesco own-brand, which makes it impossible to do a direct comparison with other supermarkets - items like Tesco own-brand crisps and Tesco own-brand BBQ tools are exclusive to Tesco.
But as an example of the discount available, Heinz tomato ketchup 250g is usually £1.20 in Tesco, but for Clubcard holders there’s a 50% discount, making it 60p. The cheapest elsewhere is £1 in Asda. Also Nescafé Alta Rica instant coffee 100g is £5 in Tesco, or £2.50 after the Clubcard discount – the cheapest elsewhere is £2.25 in Waitrose.
To get the discount just shop as normal and scan your Clubcard at the till and the discount will be applied automatically. If shopping online, the discount will be added at the checkout stage automatically.
While at first glance this may seem like a simple discounting promotion from Tesco, I’ve a suspicion it may be an attempt to trial a much larger change to its rewards-based movement. This could be a start of Tesco effectively saying 'we're a member's organisation, you've got to play our game and give us your data or we won't give you the cheapest prices.' Similar to what Amazon has done with Prime - people who pay for Amazon Prime tend to spend far more at Amazon than others. All companies want that and this may be Tesco dipping its toe in the water and saying 'we're going to start to operate as if we're a membership club too. Let’s see how this promotion pans out.
£33 Costco membership, get £37ish worth of freebies: For many avid MoneySavers, giant discount wholesaler Costco is a shopping Disneyland. So the fact it's giving away a basket of freebies with its normal membership is like fiscal fireworks. Go to daily deals site Groupon, and until 11.59pm Monday (13 May) it has a deal where you pay £33.60 for a 12-month Costco membership, and you’ll also receive a large carrot cake (costs £9.99), two whole fresh chickens (£7.49 for two) and a 48-pack of AA batteries (£9.99), plus a £10 voucher to spend in store – total worth is about £37.
Once bought you must activate your membership in-store by Friday 31 May. It’s also worth noting not everyone can be a member, you need to work (or have worked in) certain professions for example, medicine, civil service, finance/banking, or for an airline. You can call Costco on 01923 830477 to check if you’re eligible.
Free tennis and sailing sessions: As part of the Big Tennis Weekends, organised by the Lawn Tennis Association, you can get free tennis sessions or coaching at over 1,000 venues across England, Wales and Scotland, between May and September (the majority are spread over three weekends - 18-19 May, 20-21 Jul and 28-29 Sep). Events and activities vary between venues, but will include cardio tennis, coaching and free play. It's aimed at young families, but everyone is welcome - all ages and abilities (though under-18s must be accompanied by an adult). Rackets and balls will be provided. It’s best you book online first, but you can just turn up to some.
Plus, throughout May you can get free or low-cost sailing and windsurfing taster sessions at your local sailing club, as part of the Royal Yachting Association's Push the Boat Out open days. There are more than 350 venues taking part, majority are free, though some may charge a small fee (£5-£20). It's best you contact the venue and book beforehand as places are limited.