Money Mensch

Check if your savings are safe

By Martin Lewis, May 8, 2008

In light of the credit crunch and global market turmoil, every sensible saver should be asking themselves: “Is my money safe?”

The most important thing to understand is that under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the first £35,000 you have in a British bank is protected.

When it comes to savings, savings accounts, cash ISAs and current accounts when you are in credit, the rules are a bit more complicated.


Get more internet downloads for your money

By Martin Lewis, May 1, 2008

Do you download music, videos or television programmes to watch online? If so, great. However, it comes with a major cost. Most broadband packages have an inclusive monthly allowance of data to which you are limited. This tends to be around 1 to 5 gigabytes. Downloading music, software or videos eats up the allowance much faster; downloading a half-hour BBC programme from iPlayer will use around 300 megabytes. So some people will be busting their monthly allowance just by watching three TV programmes and face paying expensive charges for going beyond the limit. The solution?


Should you fit a water meter?

By Martin Lewis, April 17, 2008

On April 1, water bills in England and Wales, increased by an average of six per cent. And, while the market is privatised, it is not open to competition, meaning you cannot switch provider. There is, however, one main way in which you can save money. You can opt to fit a water meter, which ties your bill to your consumption. It also recalculates the sewerage bill.


Ditching and switching your gas and electricity suppliers

By Martin Lewis, April 10, 2008

Now is the perfect time to switch gas and electricity providers in order to save yourself some cash.


How you can call Directory Enquiries for Free

By Martin Lewis, April 3, 2008

It is now possible to get completely free directory enquiries. 118118 has managed to hypnotise the nation into unnecessarily paying a fortune for its directory enquiries. By calling this number, you are charged 69 pence just for connecting, plus an additional 19 pence per minute. There is, however, a provider which allows you to call from a landline for free. Just call 0800 100 100. You will have to listen to a 20-second advert before you are given your number; this subsidises the cost. This number is not free from a mobile phone — you will be charged your operator’s standard rates.


A hassle-free way to get ID Fraud protection

By Martin Lewis, March 19, 2008

The newspapers are full of concerns over ID fraud — the threat of someone stealing your identity and buying goods in your name, with you having to pay the bill. In fact, it is normally the bank which bears the costs. Nonetheless, the huge amount of hassle and time in sorting this out is a nightmare and often means that, in the interim, you are unable to apply for new products yourself. So if you are concerned to gain protection from ID fraud, here is a tip: If you have any Capital One credit card, or apply for a new one, you will get a free subscription to its ID Fraud Alert service.


Where to get top interest rates with 24/7 access

By Martin Lewis, March 13, 2008

You may have seen a recent Barclays advert saying: “Why not get our day-to-day savings accounts, allowing you to withdraw money from a cash machine whenever you want it?” Now although the offer is at a pitiful rate of 4% interest, Barclay’s does have a point. To many people, the idea of 24/7 access to cash is appealing. However, you can do this but at an better rate than Barclay’s.


London to Manchester or vice-versa for ten pounds

By Martin Lewis, March 6, 2008

There is now a way substantially to cut the cost of travelling from London to Manchester or vice-versa. Virgin Trains are running a trial operation which allows you to print your tickets at home and then take them to use on the train. You can do so for fares as low as £1, or, more commonly, anything under a tenner each way. To get these cheap fares, you need to go to a special page on Virgin’s website: As we went to press, tickets were available until April 25, but this could be extended.


Money mensch: Get money back from your mortgage lender

By Martin Lewis, February 21, 2008

There is a quick and easy way to get money back from your mortgage lender, whether you have switched to a new lender or paid off your mortgage in full during the past six years. Phone up and ask how much they said they would charge you as a mortgage exit administration fee (MEAF) in your contract — and what they in fact charged. Then get them to pay you the difference. The regulator says that mortgage companies should not charge you more than stated in your contract when you close your mortgage down. They are required to repay any sum beyond that.


Save hundreds on Phone Bills

By Martin Lewis, February 7, 2008

There is a way to save hundreds of pounds a year on your mobile-phone bill, and flog any upgrade you get to earn some extra in cash on top. It is all about taking advantage of mobile-phone companies’ desire to keep your custom. They will throw serious cash at anyone who threatens to leave their network. But you have to push to get the best deals. If you are close to the end of your mobile-phone contact, call up your network and ask what deals are available. Often, they will just offer you their standard list of accessible tariffs.