Hot money deals, 11 January 2012Which? experts round up the best money deals

11 January 2012

Tenancy deposit protection

Before signing the letting agreement, check that your deposit will be safeguarded.

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 crucial checks to make before renting a property.

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, this provider has a very poor customer satisfaction rating of 35%, so we advise caution.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: AA, Clydesdale, Shawbrook Bank and Yorkshire Bank offer the top-paying one-year fixed rate accounts at 3.6%.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Shawbrook Bank offers the best three-year fixed rate deal at 4.45%. Interest is paid yearly on initial balances of at least £5,000.
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Shawbrook Bank offers the top-paying five-year fixed rate accounts at 4.8%. This account can be operated at a branch or by post.

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 Virgin Money's  Easy Access Isa or E-Isa accounts are the best options paying 2.85%.
  • 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: Saga offers the best three-year fixed rate account paying 3.9% from balances of £1. However, this account is available to savers aged 50 and over.
  • 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 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 7.8% 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 offers a market leading rate of 6% APR.

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

If you're looking for rented accommodation, it can be easy to fall for a property and rush to move in a matter of days. You should always check the letting agreement beforehand to find out which tenancy deposit protection scheme will hold your deposit once you've handed it over. There are several types of scheme, and they ensure that your deposit is safeguarded until the tenancy agreement ends. 

They also provide a free dispute resolution service in case you and your landlord disagree on how much deposit should be returned - potentially saving a lot of money and hassle when it's time to move. If your deposit is not protected by one of these schemes, then you should think very carefully before renting. 

For more information, including a list of the Top 10 questions for the landlord or letting agent, see our online guide on Renting a home.