Hot money deals, 29 December 2011Which? experts round up the best money deals

29 December 2011

Christmas gifts

Are you adding to your post-Christmas blues by paying more in interest than you have to? 

This week, we track down the best savings accounts and cash Isas, as well as the leading credit card and loan deals. We also look at ways of dealing with post-Christmas debt. 

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. However, the lender has a very poor customer satisfaction rating of 35%, so we advise caution.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: AA, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank offer the top-paying one-year fixed rate accounts at 3.6%.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank offer the best three-year fixed rate deals at 4.3%. Interest is paid monthly or yearly.
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Clydesdale, Krbs and Yorkshire Bank offer the top-paying five-year fixed rate accounts at 4.7%. All 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: Metro Bank offers the top one-year fixed rate account at 3.25% on balances of at least £1 and can be operated at a branch, by post or telephone.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Governor Money's Saffron BS Fixed Rate Isa offers the best three-year fixed rate account paying 4% from balances of £100.
  • Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Governor Money's Bank of Ireland Fixed Rate Isa account currently leads our five-year fixed rate table paying 4.5%.

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 is worth considering. This card has some good perks, including family travel insurance, but comes with a £5 monthly fee. The APR on purchases is 9.94%. No interest is charged on purchases and cash withdrawals so long as you pay off 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 personal loan 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 7.8% 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: M&S Money, Sainsbury's and Tesco all offer a rate of 6.4% to new customers. The lowest market rate, though - of 6.1% - is currently offered to existing members of First Direct.

And finally... this week's hot money tip

With the new year coming round, so too may your credit card bill be plonking onto the doormat, particularly if you've gone spent a lot over Christmas. Now is the time to take stock of existing debt and how efficiently you're managing it. Consider consolidating any high interest credit card payments onto one 0% balance transfer card or a low rate personal loan. If you think you could use help, see our guide on dealing with debt for free, practical advice and contacts.