10 things you should always get for free

Published by Rebecca Rutt on 28 February 2011.
Last updated on 22 July 2014

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1. IDENTITY THEFT INSURANCE

Identity theft has become big news, so there are plenty of firms hoping to cash in with identity theft insurance.

But you don’t need to pay for this. Specialist insurer CPP was fined £10.5 million in November 2012 after being found guilty of mis-selling policies after charging clients £90 a year for ID health checks, access to credit reports and a fraud expert.  

Under the Consumer Credit Act and the Banking Code, you can claim back money from your bank or credit card provider if you are the victim of identity theft without paying a penny. And you can easily access your credit report for £2 through the major credit agencies (Experian, Equifax and Call Credit).

SAVING: £90 A YEAR

2. EXTENDED WARRANTIES

Buy an electrical product and most companies will try to push an extended warranty on you. But these policies are costly - typically around 25% of the price of the product. There are also exclusions such as accidental damage to watch out for.

As you are already entitled to a refund if the product is faulty under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, and most products come with a year’s warranty, these policies tend to be a complete waste of money.

SAVING: £39 A YEAR

3. PAID-FOR CURRENT ACCOUNTS

Packaged accounts, which include standard current account facilities and extras such as breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance or travel insurance cost around £15 a month, but they don’t often save you money.

Banks claims these accounts will save you hundreds a year but this is based on mainly unnecessary costs. For instance, you can add your mobile phone to your home contents insurance for a small fee and an annual travel insurance policy costs from £29 with insureandgo.com.

SAVING: £35 A YEAR

4. PAYMENT PROTECTION INSURANCE CLAIMS

Lots of firms cashed in on the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal by offering to help victims put in their claims in return for a chunk of their compensation. For example, claims firm Gladstone Brookes deducts 25% of any money you receive in return for processing your claim.

With an average compensation payout of £2,750, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service, that means they are pocketing nearly £700 per claim. But the process is very simple and won’t affect the outcome, so make a claim yourself and save a fortune.

How to reclaim your PPI premiums

SAVING: £700

5. CHAPS PAYMENTS

CHAPS sterling payments allow you to transfer money instantly between banks within the UK for a charge of around £20. However, the Faster Payment system works almost as quickly and is free.

Sandra Quinn, spokesperson for the Payments Council, says: “All payments will be completed within two hours and the benefit of Faster Payments is it works all day everyday, whereas CHAPS is a business-day-only service.”

SAVING: £20 PER PAYMENT

6. MOBILE PHONE INSURANCE

Losing your mobile phone can be annoying and costly. Mobile phone insurance can safeguard against this but it costs £7 a month on average and only tends to pay out if your phone is stolen or damaged.

It may also be completely unnecessary as your phone may be covered under your home insurance policy. If not, you can add an ‘all risks’ option to your policy for around £15 a year to include valuables taken outside of your home.

SAVING: £69 A YEAR

7. PREMIUM-RATE PHONE NUMBERS

Premium-rate phone numbers are expensive and can leave you with a huge monthly bill. Some landline providers will waive certain calls to these numbers but if you call them from your mobile, you’ll likely be charged even more.

Calls to '09' numbers are the most costly - prices can rocket to £2.04 per minute and minimum call durations usually apply - and lots of companies charge 35p a minute for calling numbers starting with '08'.

The website saynoto0870.com lists alternative local numbers you can use, which will be included in your call allowance. Many company websites also list a separate phone number to be used when calling abroad. These will start with +44 and will only charge you the local telephone rate.

The most and least expensive phone numbers

SAVING: £2 PER CALL

8. USING YOUR CREDIT CARD ABROAD

Most companies will charge you if you flex your plastic abroad. The charges vary between providers but a 2.75% commission fee is not unusual. So spend £500 on your Barclaycard while you’re away and you’ll end up handing over around £14 for the privilege.

However, some credit cards waive foreign exchange fees, such as the Halifax Clarity Card or the Post Office Platinum Card.

SAVING: £14 PER TRIP

See top credit cards available to you today

9. DEBT MANAGEMENT PLANS

The last thing you need when you’re in debt is another bill but some firms charge extortionate amounts to help you sort out your debts. For example, Debt Free Direct charges up to £100 a month to help people create and maintain a debt management plan.

However, this is a complete waste of money because charities such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and National Debtline offer the exact same debt management service completely free of charge.

SAVING: £1,200 A YEAR

10. BASIC NHS DENTAL TREATMENT

Dentists are currently being examined by the Office of Fair Trading to see if they offer fair service to patients. The main complaint is that NHS dentists are charging customers too much for basic treatment.

There are three standard charges for all NHS dental treatments:
 
Band 1 course of treatment – £18.50
This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if needed, and application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant.
 
Band 2 – £50.50
This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth.
 
Band 3 – £219.00
This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures and bridges

SAVING: £35 PER VISIT

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