Martin's urgent tax credits warning

Urgent tax credits deadline warning, 50% off Alton Towers, Amazon ‘Prime Day’ deals and an amazing adventure for kids. 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.

Urgent renew your tax credits now – don’t delay

If you receive tax credits you should have received a tax credits renewal pack – around 5 million have been sent out - if you haven’t yet received one call tax credits helpline ASAP on 0345 300 3900.

The deadline to return it is Wednesday 31 July. If you fail to renew, your credits could be stopped, or you could end up being overpaid, which sounds good, but can be a nightmare, as you’ll need to pay it back.

You also need to check it even if you DON’T want to claim it anymore as you’ll still need to check if you were correctly paid for the last year. If you receive universal credit you won’t receive this letter. If you haven’t yet been rolled onto universal credit, you’ll continue receiving tax credits until you’ve a change in circumstance (at which point you’ll most likely get rolled over onto universal credit) or until it’s rolled out to you.

The deadline to reply is just a couple of weeks away, and I cannot caution you strongly enough to do it ASAP. Previously I’ve heard stories on how the HMRC helpline can’t cope with caller numbers as the people leave it to the last minute – although there seems to be some improvement, I still recommend you do it ASAP. You can renew online at HMRC, on its mobile app (free download from Google Play or the Apple app store) or call it on 0345 300 3900.

In terms of exactly what you need to do, that depends on the colour of the line underneath your address and reference number on the form (it used to be by the colour of the envelope but that’s now changed):

RED LINE ON YOUR ‘DECLERATION FORM’: Here, you MUST check all the details on the form are correct, and answer a few assessment questions. Then you MUST sign it and send it back, or tell it online, on the app, or call it.

BLACK LINE ON YOUR ‘REVIEW NOTICE’ FORM: This is just a statement for you to look through and indicate if anything has changed. If it’s correct, you don’t need to do anything – your credits will be automatically renewed. If you’ve changes, YOU MUST call the hotline or report it online, as doing nothing could mean you get the wrong amount next year. Keep your NI number, tax credit renewal pack, details of any changes, and total income (including your partner’s) for the last year to hand.

And even not at renewal remember if anything changes, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM. eg, moving in/out with a partner, income, kids, childcare costs. As if there are any changes, and you don’t tell them can cause you massive problems.

50% off Alton Towers, Sea Life and Warwick Castle

Pick up promotional bottles of Carex hand wash (normally £1 from most supermarkets) and you can use the empty bottle to get half-price on-the-gate adult or child ticket at Alton Towers, Sea Life centres, or Warwick Castle until 31 May 2020 (no exclusions as to when you can use it). As adult on-the-gate tickets cost £56 at Alton Towers, this deal could save you £28.

Amazon Prime FLASH sale

From 12.01am on Monday (15 July) until 11.59pm on Tuesday 16 July, Amazon’s running its annual Prime day sale, which means it’ll be pumping out thousands of flash discounts for its Prime members only. Some deals will last for the whole two days, others for 24 hours, and some 'Lightning Deals' will be launched as often as every five minutes and last for a limited time.

In previous years the focus has been on Amazon’s own devices (e.g. its Echo Dot last year was on sale for £24, which is normally £50, its TV Fire stick for £25 normally £40, and its Fire HD 8 tablet was £50 down from £80), but it says there’ll also be offers on fashion, furniture, beauty, electronics and smart home products. And interestingly some of Amazon's rivals including Google, already have deals on that coincidentally (or not) will be around for the duration of Prime Day – for example Google Home Mini is on sale at various retailers for £24 (normally £49) and Google Home Hub is currently £79 (normally £119).

Importantly, don’t get sucked into the hype – only buy things you’d planned for and can afford and always do your own price comparisons to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.

Teen summer activity programme £50 (or free for some)

The summer break is looming and if you want to get your teenager doing something fun and productive, the English and Northern Irish National Citizen Service scheme gets 16-17-year-olds abseiling, canoeing and learning life skills during the summer holidays (including up to two weeks overnight stay and 30 hours’ voluntary work in the community). It’s £50, or even free for some as its subsidised by the Government.

It doesn't matter if your kids are at school or not. Yet if a teenager's been on a course before, they unfortunately can't go again. To apply, enter your details on the National Citizen Service registration page and it will contact you to explain more, or you can also call the centre directly on 0800 197 8010. Register as soon as possible as once places are gone, they’re gone - the cut off is three days before buses depart for your local programme, as long as places are still available.

I’ve had great feedback on this about previous years such as “Teenagers need opportunities to shine, and that’s exactly what NCS gave my daughter."