Hot money deals, 31 August 2011Which? experts round up the best money deals

31 August 2011

Child money

You could cut your childcare costs by sharing a nanny with other parents

This week our experts recommend the best savings accounts and cash Isas, and hunt out the best credit cards and prepaid cards to use abroad. We also examine this week's best rate loans and mortgages.

This week's best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Derbyshire BS offers the best instant-access deal at 3.11% (including a 2.11% bonus payable to 30 November 2012). However, you will need to review this account once the bonus period ends as the rate drops to just 1%
  • One-year fixed rate savings: Aldermore offers a 1-year fixed rate account paying 3.42% on balances of at least £1,000
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Saga offers a 5-year fixed rate account paying 4.65%. However, Saga savings accounts are available only to those aged 50 and over

The market's best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: AA's Internet Access Isa Issue 2 offers the best instant-access deal paying 3.05%. However, this account does not allow transfers-in from other providers. If you want to transfer in previous years' funds, then Northern Rock's e-Isa is a strong option paying 2.80%
  • One-year fixed rate cash Isa: Metro Bank offers the top 1-year fixed rate account at 3.25% on balances of £1 upwards.You can operate this account at a branch, by post or telephone
  • Five-year fixed rate cash Isa: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank currently lead our 5-year fixed rate table with their accounts paying 4.5%. The minimum investment is £2,000 and interest is paid yearly

The best credit cards for use abroad

For the over-50s, Saga's Platinum Visa has no foreign loading fees for use abroad and charges a reasonable 11.9% APR on new purchases. The card also includes 55 days interest-free on cash withdrawals, but charges 2% (min £2) for each withdrawal.

For customers of all ages, the Halifax Clarity MasterCard is good value for use abroad as it too doesn't charge foreign loading fees or cash withdrawal fees. The card comes with a reasonable 12.9% APR on purchases and cash withdrawals. However, there is no interest-free period on cash withdrawals, so you'll pay interest from the moment you take out the cash.

For a credit card that matches your needs, read our guide to Finding the best credit card and check out the best credit card deals currently available by visiting our Best Rate credit card reviews.

Best prepaid cards for use abroad

If you're heading abroad, it's worth thinking about taking a prepaid card with you - the best prepaid cards are cheap to use, are Chip and Pin-protected and can help you avoid card fraud, as they aren't linked to your bank or credit card account. 

Prepaid cards for use abroad fall into two main categories:

  • Euro and US Dollar cards. These cards should only be used in countries with these currencies, otherwise you will be charged a foreign loading fee and the exchange rate for converting the money into another currency for that transaction. The exchange rate is set at the time you load the card rather than when you make a transaction, so you can take advantage of good exchange rates before you go. Caxton FX and My Travel Cash currently offer Euro and Dollar cards which are free to top up with a debit card, charge no foreign loading fees, no fee for withdrawing cash and can be reloaded by internet or phone.
  • Sterling prepaid cards (for use in non-Euro/Dollar countries or if you are travelling to more than one country). These cards work differently from their Euro and Dollar counterparts as the money you have loaded onto the card is held in sterling and converted into the prevailing currency when you make a transaction. Currently offering one of the best deals for use abroad is the FairFx £ Anywhere Card which costs £9.95. The card charges a 1.4% foreign exchange mark up on each transaction and charges £1 per withdrawal. There is no top-up fee and the card can be reloaded via internet, phone or text message.

For more information on prepaid cards to use abroad read our online guide to prepaid cards.

The cheapest unsecured personal loans

In our Best Rate tables we show the lowest rates available for loans that aren't exclusive to specific account holders or existing customers of banks or other institutions. 

  • For those borrowing £5,000 over three years: Sainsbury's offers a top representative rate of 8.1% APR for a £5,000 loan. Alternatively, at 8.6% - still highly competitive - borrowers can instead opt for two years of doubled Nectar points and a £25 gift card
  • For those borrowing £10,000 over five years: Sainsbury's has lowered its rate to 6.30% APR, clawing the top spot back from M&S.

Today's top mortgage deals

The best mortgage deal for you will depend on your own circumstances. Our unique mortgage finder tool takes account of all fees and charges to help you find a mortgage tailored to your needs.

If you're moving house and looking for a two year fixed-rate deal, our best rates this week are:

  • High loan-to-value: Mansfield BS offers a rate of 3.89%. It has an arrangement fee of £999 and you can overpay by up to 10% a year. It is only available to borrowers in England and Wales, through mortgage advisers and brokers as well as directly from the lender.
  • Low loan-to-value: Chelsea BS offers an excellent discounted rate of 2.69% until 2013. This has a booking fee of £195 and allows you to overpay by up to 10% a year. It is only available directly from the lender.

For more details and also to see our full selection of fixed, discount and tracker deals, check out our mortgage Best Rate tables.

And finally... this week's money-saving tip

If you're paying for a nanny to look after your children, the costs can soon add up. However, it may be possible to find a nanny-share with a like-minded family. This could halve your outgoings and make a new friend for your child. For some starters on finding advice for this, and nine other suggestions to cut your household costs, check out our guide 10 ways to save by swapping and sharing.

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