Hot money deals, 9 November 2011Which? experts round up the best money deals

09 November 2011

home insurance documents and keys

If you're making an extended visit to see relatives this Christmas, make sure you have a home insurance policy that covers you while you're away. 

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 ensure your home insurance covers you for extended holidays over Christmas.

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Santander's eSaver Issue 4 account offers the best instant-access deal at 3.1%. The rate includes a 2.6% bonus payable for a year.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank offer the top-paying 1-year fixed rate accounts at 3.6% on balances of at least £2,000.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank offer the best 3-year fixed rate deals at 4.3%. Interest is paid monthly or yearly.
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank offer the top-paying 5-year fixed rate accounts at 4.7%. Both accounts can be operated at a branch or via the internet.

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: Northern Rock offers the top 1-year fixed rate account at 3.35% on balances of at least £500.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Northern Rock and Post Office offer the best 3-year fixed rate accounts paying 4%. The Post Office account can be operated at a branch or by post.
  • Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Halifax's Isa Saver account currently leads our 5-year fixed rate table paying 4.4%. The minimum investment is £500

0%-on-purchases credit cards

If you're thinking of making a start on your Christmas shopping and want to spread the cost of your festive spending interest-free over the coming year, it's worth applying for a new credit card now so it arrives in time.

The best credit cards for 0%-on-purchases from Tesco and Marks & Spencer currently offer 15 months interest-free with representative APR's of 15.9% and 16.9% respectively. Both cards also come with reward schemes. Barclaycard is not far behind, offering 14 months interest-free with a higher 18.9% representative APR, together with membership of its own Freedom reward scheme.

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: Sainsbury's offers a rate of 6.2% - presently the best rate on the market. Nationwide also offers this rate to its customers, so worth a look if you have a Flex account.

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 tracker rate deal that lasts for 5 years, our best rates this week are:

  • Low loan-to-value: Cumberland BS offers a deal of 2.75%. It tracks at 2.25% above the base rate, although it won't go below its present rate. It has no arrangement fees and is available direct from the lender only.
  • High loan-to-value: Yorkshire BS offers a deal of 3.99%, which is collared at this rate. It is only available direct from the lender, has an arrangement fee of £800 and a booking fee of £195.

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 hot money tip

Planning on taking an extended trip over the festive period? If so, you should double check that your home insurance cover will be intact while you're away - just in case the worst were to happen. Your policy will probably include an extended absence clause, stating that the cover will be invalidated if your home is unoccupied for a certain period of time.

This period of time varies between insurers; for many, anything over 30 days will be considered an 'extended absence'.

If you're planning a long trip to visit friends or relatives, find out what your current policy defines as an extended absence. If it doesn't meet your needs, you may need to switch to one that allows you to be away for your chosen period of time.

For more advice, see Home Insurance Pitfalls to avoid. We also have a Which? one stop guide to Christmas - with tips and ideas on everything from choosing your Christmas presents to the January sales.