Hot money deals, 5 January 2012Which? experts round up the best money deals

05 January 2012

Piggy bank with padlock, savings safety

Be sure your savings are secure: make sure you understand the FSCS rules

This week, we track down the best savings accounts and cash Isas, as well as the leading credit card and loan deals. We also help savers to ensure their money is safe.

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 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 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: 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 0% balance transfers

If you owe money on your credit card and need some breathing space to pay it off, these providers offer the longest 0% balance transfer deals: 

  • The Barclaycard Platinum with Extended Balance Transfer Visa has the longest 0% deal on the market at 24-months. The card comes with a representative APR of 17.9% and a 3.2% balance transfer fee.
  • Halifax offers a 22-month 0% deal on the Balance Transfer MasterCard. The card comes with a high balance transfer fee of 3.5% and a representative APR of 17.9%. There is also a shorter 20-months 0% deal on the 20 Month Balance Transfer MasterCard which has a lower transfer fee of 3%. For both cards you must be earning more than £20,000 to apply.
  • Which? Recommended Provider First Direct has a 20-month 0% deal with 2.9% transfer fee and 16.9% representative APR. However, to be eligible for the deal you will need to be a 1st Account (current account) holder.
  • Virgin Money currently offers one of the best deals on the market on its Credit Card MasterCard. The card has a 20-month 0% balance transfer period, a 16.8% APR on new purchases and balance transfer fees of 2.99%.

With the exception of First Direct, none of the cards listed above score very well for customer service in our recent member survey. If the deal length is less important to you and you want a cheaper deal than those listed above, the Barclaycard Platinum Low BT Fee Visa is currently offering a 16-months 0% deal with a reduced 1.6% (min £7.25) handling fee if you transfer a balance within 60 days of opening the card.

Take a look at our 0% balance transfer table for a round up of the best deals on the market each day. 

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

Research carried out by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) reveals that four in five savers questioned are unaware of  the savings compensation limits. On 31 December 2010 new rules were introduced across Europe which increased compensation limits to €100,000 (£85,000). To find out more and to check if your money is protected by the FSCS, check out our guide - Are my savings safe?