Hot money deals, 19 October 2011Which? experts round up the best money deals

19 October 2011

House in scarf

With the October heat wave receding and Christmas looming over your wallet, be sure you're not over-paying on your energy bills.


This week, we track down the best savings accounts and cash Isas (including fixed-term deals), as well as the leading credit card, loan and mortgage deals. We also help you save money on your winter heating bill. 

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Saffron Building Society's E-Saver Issue 3 account offers the best instant-access deal at 3.15%. Interest is paid monthly or yearly.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: Cheshire BS, Derbyshire BS and Dunfermline BS offer the top-paying 1-year fixed rate accounts at 3.55% on balances of at least £100.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Post Office's Online Bond offers the best 3-year fixed rate at 4.21% on balances of at least £500. Interest is paid monthly or yearly.
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Saga offers the top-paying 5-year fixed rate account paying 4.65%. Only available 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 and Principality's e-Isa accounts are the best options paying 2.80%.
  • One-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Barnsley BS, Chelsea BS, Clydesdale Bank, Northern Rock and Yorkshire Bank offer the top 1-year fixed rate accounts at 3.3%.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Post Office offers the best 3-year fixed rate account paying 4%. This account is operated at a branch or by post.
  • 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.

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.

If you are happy to pay an annual fee the Sainsbury's Finance Gold MasterCard could be worth considering. This card has some good perks, including family travel insurance, but comes with a £5 a month fee. The representative APR, including the fee, is 20.1%, but you are only charged 9.94% on purchases. No interest is charged on purchases and cash withdrawals so long as you pay your balance in full and on time each month. 

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.

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 representative rate of 7.9% 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: Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's (for it's Standard product) and Tesco all offer the leading rate of 6.4% APR.

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 remortgaging and looking for a discount deal that lasts for two years, our best rate this week is:

  • Low loan-to-value: ING offer an all round attractive deal of 2.60%. There are no valuation, legal or arrangement fees.
  • High loan-to-value: Mansfield BS offers a deal of 4.59%. It is a good initial deal but reverts to 5.59% at the end of the period.

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

With the October heat wave in rapid retreat, now is a time to be considering the best ways to keep your house warm over winter without wrecking your monthly budget. The first thing to consider is if you're with the right provider. Our Which? Switch comparison tool is worth a look. It's quick and easy to use, and over the year from June 2010 to May 2011 saved customers an average of £237 on their energy bills - no small change given all of the Christmas shopping on the horizon. See our site for nine other ways to keep heating costs down.