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Dec 08

Don’t be fooled by these 10 sneaky Christmas cons

Reading Time: 8 mins

If you’re on a tight budget this Christmas the last thing you want is to be conned by sneaky sale tactics and unnecessary charges so we’ve but together a list of the top ten sneaky cons you should be aware of this festive season.

Can you guess what they are? Take a look below.

  1. Is this type of insurance worth it?
  2. How to pay less while getting from A to B
  3. Avoid getting sucked in to this type of borrowing
  4. Is this really a bargain?
  5. Tips for purchasing wisely
  6. What are you actually paying for?
  7. Don’t miss the last Christmas posting dates
  8. Why pay for this if you can get it for free?
  9. How safe is your home?
  10. Don’t forget about this sneaky con



1. Extended warranties

sneaky Christmas consCon:

An extended warranty is a form of insurance policy that covers you for repair costs after the manufacturer’s or retailer’s guarantee has expired. But are they really worth it? We here at MoneyMagpie don’t think so (take a look at Jasmine’s video explaining why below).

How to avoid it:

  • When you buy an expensive electrical product you typically get one year manufacturer’s warranty for free. Additionally if you paid by credit card and the item costs £100 or more you will be covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means spending money on an extended warranty is essentially pointless.
  • Instead of purchasing an extended warranty for your electrical items this Christmas we suggest you put money away for your own warranty. Keep a jar (or better still, a savings account) that you top up monthly with a few pounds depending on how much you can afford and if any item should break or falter you can use this money to replace the product. This way you’ll save a whole lot and if you don’t end up using the money you can treat yourself to something nice too.
  • If you really feel a need to purchase an extended warranty don’t go for the first deal that is offered to you. Check out www.compareextendedwarranties.co.uk, a price comparison site where you can compare prices of extended warranties for a variety electrical goods.

For our full guide on everything you need to know about Guarantees and Warranties click here.



2. Travel

Christmas taxi and buses


Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year to travel and cab, train and flight companies know their seats are in demand so ticket prices are often bumped up leading up to the festive season.

How to avoid it:

To avoid hefty travel prices and get the best from your money make sure you book your train and flight tickets well in advance if possible. If you know the date you’re travelling then this shouldn’t be a problem but if it’s a last minute trip you can still save by booking even one day in advance instead of purchasing a ticket on the day.


If you can be flexible with dates and times, train booking site www.thetrainline.com has a best fare finder which locates the cheapest tickets to suit your needs. For more train ticket bargains check out our article on how to travel for less here.


Running and owning a car is quickly becoming unaffordable for lots of people so we suggest you ditch the car this Christmas and instead opt for a car club instead. A car club gives you access to what are essentially pay-as-you-go cars. We recommend you sign up with a car club service like Zipcar or City Car Club and rent one of their cars by either the hour or day or try a lift sharing service like www.blablacar.com.

For some brilliant money-saving alternatives to owning a car take a look at this article.


Whether you’re putting together a holiday by yourself or you’re getting a package, online deals outstrip those available on the high street so for cheap flights the internet is a great place to start.

Expedia and Lastminute.com is a great place to to start when looking for cheap and last minute flights.

For the best deals use our Moneymagpie flight comparison service. This is our fantastic flight comparison tool – it’s very easy to use. Just enter the destinations you want to fly between, the dates on which you would like to fly, and the number of people who are flying. Take a look below…

For more travel deals take a look at these top money-saving travel websites. 


3. Payday loans

Man looking stressed


According to the Money Advice Service 1.4 million UK adults will rely on payday loans to cover the cost of Christmas this year. Although they can be tempting, pay day loans come with a whole set of problems from sky high interest rates, extortionate charging structures and debt stress.

How to avoid it:

  • Avoid getting sucked in by payday loans this Christmas by making a budget and sticking to it. We know it’s easier said than done, but you really must take control of your spending and only use money for things you really need. For help with budgeting take a look at these essential budget tips and advice. Also make the most of our budget calculator here.

For more about the risks of payday loans take a look at this article – Payday loans: Quick fix or big risk?


4. Sale prices and pre-sale prices

Christmas Sale tag


We don’t need to tell you about the con of sales and pre-sale prices as we know you’re smart enough to know a good deal when you see one but we are going to state the obvious here. Make sure everything you buy in the sales is worth the money and most importantly make sure you actually want and will use the item.

How to avoid it: 

  • To avoid the sting of pre-sale prices make sure you keep the receipts of everything you buy, this way when the sales start you can check how much they are and if it’s worth taking the item back you can return them and buy them back at sale price. The only thing is the items must be in good condition and be in their original packaging or you won’t get an exchange or refund.
  • When shopping in the sales make sure you’re getting the best you can out of your money. Ask yourself… Am I really going to use this? Will I really wear this? And most importantly is it really worth it?

Find out how to get the best bargains at the sales here.


5. 3 for 2 offers

Christmas cons


Christmas 3 for 2 offers are popping up in all types of shops from Boots, Superdrug, Debenhams, and even some pound shops, but just because something is on offer it doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal.


How to avoid it:

  • 3 for 2 offers always offer three products for the price of two and you get the cheapest item for free. This means if you buy two things for £8 and the other for £3 you’re not really making much of a saving and more often than not you feel obligated to pick up a third item even if you didn’t want to or intend on buying it in the first place.
  • To make the most of 3 for 2 offers make sure you combine your purchases wisely by buying products of the same or similar value. Also figure out if the deal is really worth it by adding up the cost of the three items and dividing the total by three.

You might also want to take a look at the advantages of bulk buying here.


6. Festive menus

Christmas cons


Seasonal menus are really just an excuse to charge you £20 for something that usually costs £10. You’re not really paying for anything you couldn’t get down the supermarket so in essence you’re really just paying for the Christmas experience.

How to avoid it:

  • If you want to go out for a nice festive meal try not to order from a set menu and you should save a few pounds along the way.
  • Or think about going for lunch instead of dinner.  Most of the time lunch menus are almost identical to dinner but at a cheaper price. For the latest festive offers visit Lastminute.com or OpenTable.co.uk
  • Alternatively ask your friends if they would rather wait until January for your festive get together which will mean cheaper menus and less stress to book a table.

Take a look at the latest cheap eats and 2 for 1 deals here.


7. Delivery charges

Red post box in the snow


Whether you’re sending off your Christmas cards or ordering presents online, make sure you know when the last Christmas posting dates are.  The later you leave your Christmas posting the more expensive it will be and you’ll end up paying 1st Class prices when you could have paid less.

How to avoid it:

  • The last thing you want in the build up to Christmas day is that mad feeling of panic that your presents won’t arrive in time so make sure you order or post your packages and letters in advance.
  • To make your life easier we’ve gone through a few of the major online retailers and the Post Office to find their last delivery dates before Christmas! 


8. Santa experiences

Little boy in elf costume whispering to santa


When you’re a child Santa experiences like personalised letters and visits to grottos are very exciting but are they really worth the money? The short answer is usually NO! Why pay for something you can do it yourself for free?

How to avoid it: 

  • If your child writes a letter to Santa make sure you take a sneak peak at what they’ve written and then write a response back – it won’t take you long and will cost you nothing – definitely worth it if you have more than one child to please.
  • Alternatively for a suggested donation of £5, the NSPCC will send you a personalised letter from Santa,  so as well as making your child smile, you’ll also be helping to save children across the UK.
  • Santa’s grottos can also charge a great deal for a simple hello and sometimes a picture or present. Make sure you check out your local shopping centres, supermarkets and local seasonal fairs as they often have festive grottos for free or a small but reasonable fee.


9. Home Insurance

Home insurance site on tablet


Christmas is a time of year when your home is vulnerable towards theft so to play on your fear some insurers may try to scare people into taking out expensive home insurance policies. The truth is most home insurers will increase your limits over the Christmas period so check your policy.

How to avoid it:

  • As always, over Christmas make sure you and your family are safe by locking all windows and doors and drawing the curtains when it gets dark.
  • Once Christmas is over make sure you don’t leave the packaging from your present in plain view to the whole world as this is a perfect advert for burglars making you a potential target.

Take a look at these tips on how to protect your home this Christmas from an ex-burglar and home security expert.


10. The perfect Christmas

Idyllic family christmas


Arguably the biggest con of all and the one we are all probably guilty of being fooled by is the idea of a perfect Christmas.

How to Avoid it:

  • There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas so just take this time off to reflect on the year and have a bit of relaxation time.
  • If you’re on a tight budget let your family know. After all we’re sure they would much rather have a nice (yet cheap) Christmas without knowing you having seasonal debt hanging over your head in the New Year.


Do you know about any other sneaky Christmas cons? What do you think of the cons mentioned above? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below


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darren l
darren l
8 years ago

Great article and I think you have highlighted most things to look out for! Thanks for publishing

8 years ago

The article pretty much covers most things to avoid. My first con is that some Christmas cards that support charities brought in high sttreet stores. They give very little percentage of the price to the charity and sometimes give to many charities. Best to buy them either from charity shops or direct online from the charity of your choice. Better still to make your own and give a donation. Second con. What about store interest free credit? They must be making money by charging high prices. And then there’s a high interest rate if not paid in full by the… Read more »

8 years ago

Recently I did something quite crafty. I was buying some LED’s for a home project that i’m doing. I noticed the information on this website was incorrect – beamled.com For example, I bought some RGB strip LED’s for £28.99 on the webpage, it stated that the LED’s came with a power supply & remote control. On the same page, it stated that the product did not come with a power supply & controller. I knew the product was not meant to come with said power supply & controller, but i purchased it anyway. Then emailed them to point out their… Read more »

8 years ago

If you are shopping online – dont rush through without checking it’s a secure site with the start of the address being https://. If you have had an exciting offer in an email don’t click through on that link in case it’s a scam (and don’t copy and paste either) – it takes seconds to Google the company or type in the Web address. Not heard of the company before? Google them to look for reviews as a flashy website might hide poor customer service or goods. Scammers and con artists rely on people being too busy at this time… Read more »

Marc Crosby
Marc Crosby
8 years ago

Checking sale and pre-sale prices is really important, particularly when the January sales come along.

During the chaos of Black Friday I saw a product ‘reduced’ to £29.99 when the week before it was £24.99. I’m sure they do the same over Christmas and the sales.

8 years ago

Great interesting article here. The competition looks good

8 years ago

Number 5 is so true. I always think i’m gettting a good deal with these 3for2 offers but I end up buying stuff I don’t need or use!
Good article.

8 years ago

Con1. What looks like a bargain on continual cheap shopping deal sites, can be inferior products and postage is high, making savings negligible. I always check products offered on a well known site, that shows other similar products, sometimes a bit cheaper, better quality and most of the time postage is free! Con2. It’s the season, you are made to feel that one has to celebrate Christmas commercially. My thoughts are always with friends & family all the year round, I give my time and treats, whether bought or handmade, all the year round, spreading the cost all the year… Read more »

8 years ago

Number 10 is a great one to remember! Relax and enjoy

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