Hot money deals, 25 April 2012Which? experts round up the best money deals

25 April 2012

Houses in street

Make sure you get all the facts before buying

This week, we track down the best savings accounts and cash Isas, as well as the leading credit card and loan deals. We'll also help you to shop for property.

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Derbyshire BS NetSaver Issue 3 account tops the best instant-access savings table at 3.06%. The rate includes a 2.06% bonus payable to 30 June 2013.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: BM Savings offers the top-paying one-year fixed-rate savings account at 3.5%. Internet or postal options are available.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Halifax offers the best three-year fixed-rate savings deal at 4%, with a minimum deposit of £500. 
  • Five-year fixed-rate savings: Vanquis Bank currently leads our five-year fixed-rate savings account table, paying 4.51% on initial balances of at least £1,000.

The market's best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: AA and Cheshire BS offer the best instant-access cash Isa deals, paying 3.5%. However, these accounts do not accept transfers in from other providers. The top account that does accept transfers in is Santander's Direct Isa, paying 3.30%.
  • One-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Saga offers the top one-year fixed-rate cash Isa account at 3.6%. This account is available to over 50s only.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Halifax currently tops our three-year fixed-rate cash Isa table, paying 4.25% on initial balances of at least £500.
  • Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Halifax's Fixed Rate Isa Saver account currently leads our five-year fixed-rate cash Isa 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 22 months. The card comes with a representative APR of 17.9% and a 2.9% (min £7.25) balance transfer fee if you transfer a balance within 60 days of taking out the card.
  • Halifax offers a 22-month 0% deal on the 22 Month Balance Transfer MasterCard. The card comes with a high balance transfer fee of 3.5% (min £3.50) and a representative APR of 17.9%. There is also a shorter 20-month 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 on the Gold Card Visa. 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 Balance Transfer 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-month 0% deal with a reduced 1.6% (min £7.25) handling fee and a 18.9% representative APR.

Take a look at our 0% balance transfer table for a roundup 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 7.6% APR for a £5,000 loan. Alternatively, at 8.6% – still highly competitive – borrowers can opt for two years of double 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

It's a common - but potentially costly - mistake, for buyers to confuse a mortgage valuation with a house survey. The former is a brief document confirming the value of a property for the mortgage lender. A house survey is a more thorough review which can highlight significant repair or improvement issues not immediately apparent. If you're looking for a new house see our guide on viewing a property for tips. Also, see our newly updated understanding mortgages guide for a mortgage terms glossary and practical advice. 

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