Hot money deals, 7 December 2011Which? experts round up the best money deals

07 December 2011

a stack of credit cards

If you are thinking of spending more than £100 on a item then consider making it on your credit card so you are protected under 'Section 75'

This week, we track down the best savings accounts and cash Isas, as well as the leading credit card and loan deals. We also show you how to protect yourself if you are buying expensive presents this 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: AA, Clydesdale, Krbs 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: Northern Rock offers the top one-year fixed rate account at 3.35% on balances of at least £500.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Northern Rock offers the best three-year fixed rate accounts paying 4%.This online account requires a minimum investment of £500.
  • 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%.

Best credit cards for cashback

There are currently several good cashback deals on the market from Capital One, American Express and Santander:

  • The World MasterCard from Which? Recommended Provider Capital One offers the highest introductory cashback level on the market of 5% for the first 3 months (max £100). You then earn 0.5% on an annual spend of up to £5,999, 1% on amounts between £6,000 and £9,999 and 1.25% on amounts above £10,000. The card comes with a relatively high APR of 19.9%.
  • The Platinum Cashback Card from Which? Recommended Provider American Express pays 2.5% cashback for the first 3 months (max £100), followed by a standard cashback rate of 1.25% on all spend. The card comes with an annual fee of £25 a year, so is only suitable for big-spenders. If you spend in excess of £10,001 within a year, you are eligible for 2.5% cashback during the anniversary month the following year.
  • The Creation MasterCard offers 1.5% cashback on supermarket and petrol spend and 0.5% on all other spend, up to a maximum of £200 per year. The card has a 18.9% representative APR and has no annual fee.
  • The Santander 123 Cashback MasterCard offers 1% cashback on shopping at selected supermarkets, 2% cashback at selected department stores and 3% cashback at selected major petrol stations. The card charges an annual £24 fee, so is only suitable if you use it a lot.

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 7.9% 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: M&S Money, Sainsbury's and Tesco all offer a rate of 6.4%. However, the best rate on the market - 6.1% - is offered by Nationwide. You need to have a Flex Account to qualify for it - but worth a look if you do.

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

If you are buying items this Christmas that cost over £100, pay for them on your credit card so you can benefit from Section 75 protection. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 makes your credit card issuer jointly liable with whoever you're paying if something goes wrong. This can come in useful if you have a problem with the item you bought and you can't get the retailer to resolve it, or you paid in advance for a product or service and you didn't receive it - for example, because the company has gone bust. 

Section 75 also applies to items purchased abroad or if you shop online. It even applies in full if you have only paid a deposit towards the item with your credit card and paid the balance with cash or on your debit card. For more information visit our guides to Section 75 and the Consumer Credit Act.