Money Mensch

Money Mensch: Play your credit cards right on holiday

By Martin Lewis, May 14, 2009

Spending overseas on some cards can be very expensive. Yet pick the right card and you can smash down the charges.

To get the best deal, you have to prepare in advance. Right now, in fact.

It’s all about stealth charges
The cheapest way of spending abroad is using the right card. Most charges levied when you use a card overseas are hidden. You do not know about them, and they are not broken out in your statement. The biggest ruse is foreign exchange “loading”.

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Money Mensch: How to reclaim your forgotten money

By Martin Lewis, May 7, 2009

There is a staggering £850m sitting in dormant accounts. Reclaim it.

Millions of pounds are lying lost in unaccessed bank accounts across the UK that could belong to you or a deceased relative. This is because once an account has become inactive for a number of years, or if statements from the provider are repeatedly returned to them, it is classed as dormant. This means that unless you have an inkling that you had an account with a provider, it is unlikely you will ever find out about it.

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Money Mensch: How to drive down your petrol costs (literally)

By Martin Lewis, April 29, 2009

The government’s 2p-a-litre hike in fuel duty means petrol prices are creeping near the pound-a-litre value again. Yet you can cut the annual cost of petrol and diesel by a third. It is all about combining three easy steps.

Find the cheapest petrol station
Savings of 3 to 5 per cent are possible by switching from the most expensive retailers to the cheapest. Using fuel to drive around and find the cheapest forecourt somewhat defeats the point, so the best way to do this is online.

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Money Mensch: Beat the hike in prescription charges

By Martin Lewis, April 23, 2009

Prescription charges in England rose from £7.10 to £7.20 on 1 April (in Wales prescriptions are free, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland they have dropped to £4 and £3 respectively). Yet fear not, there are simple ways to cut the cost.

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Money Mensch: The Nationwide card is no longer plastic fantastic

By Martin Lewis, April 14, 2009

Many long-term readers of this column, or my site, will be holstering a Nationwide card specifically to cut the cost of spending when abroad. Yet sadly, this card has decided to stop being plastic fantastic. From May 6 for credit cards and June 1 for debit cards, Nationwide will start charging new and existing customers a 0.84 per cent “load” on spending outside Europe, rising to 1 per cent in July. That means spend £1,000 worth of US dollars on it and it will cost you £1008.40 in May and June, then £1010.00 from July.

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Money Mensch: Mums-to-be can now claim a £190 pregnancy grant

By Martin Lewis, April 7, 2009

It is not just a bulge you get if you are pregnant. There is now a financial boon too.

Expectant mums can claim a new Health in Pregnancy Grant (HipG) worth £190. The idea is that you must be having regular check-ups with a midwife or doctor to get it, and they need to sign a form to confirm this.

Its aim is to keep people fit and healthy in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Anyone with a due date on or after 6 April 2009 can claim it once they are 25 weeks’ pregnant.

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Money mensch: Time for direct debit spring cleanout

By Martin Lewis, April 2, 2009

It is time to seek and destroy wasted direct debits. Many thousands of people across the UK let cash seep from their accounts in direct debits for things they do not use. By tracking these down, you could discover long forgotten payments you have been shelling out for over years.

Do not get me wrong — regular payments can save you cash. For example, paying by fixed monthly direct debit saves around 10 per cent on energy bills, and credit card direct debits mean you cannot be hit by late or missed payment fines and the ensuing hit to your credit score.

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Money mensch: New grant for mums-to-be

By Martin Lewis, March 26, 2009

It is not just a bulge you get if you are pregnant; there is now a financial boon too. Expectant mums can now claim a new Health in Pregnancy Grant (HipG) worth £190. The idea is that you must be having regular check-ups with a midwife or doctor to get it, and they need to sign a form to confirm this. Its aim is to keep people fit and healthy in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Anyone with a due date on or after April 6th 2009 can claim it once they’re 25 weeks pregnant. It’s paid as a one-off tax free payment, which is not means tested, so all women are eligible.

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Money mensch: How to get the best broadband deals

By Martin Lewis, March 19, 2009

It is now much cheaper than before to get online, with a couple of dirt-cheap stand-alone home broadband packages that cost not much more than a fiver a month.

There are two main types of broadband: ADSL, where your broadband goes through the phone line; and cable, where the broadband is provided by the cable operator. Cable usually means Virgin, and the broadband comes as part of a package. Yet the real competition is for phone-line broadband.

New to broadband?

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Money mensch: Charity credit cards are a hideous scam

By Martin Lewis, March 12, 2009

I want you to stop donating to good causes… if you are using a charity credit card. I’m not being mean. I know as well as anyone that charities need all the help they can get these days, as donations dry up.

Yet the reason I say get rid of your charity credit card is that they give only a paltry amount to the charity itself.

There’s a way to give more to charity that won’t cost you a penny more. In fact, it is possible to increase the donation tenfold or more.

Charity cards are poor value

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