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Hot money deals, 19 July 2011

Which? experts round up the best finance deals

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Which? Money experts help your cash work harder with our weekly Hot Money Deals

This week our experts take a look at the full range of savings accounts and cash Isas, to help you find the best home for your savings. We also take a look at the best credit cards for use abroad, to help you avoid hefty fees and charges when using your plastic overseas.

This week’s best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Bank of Ireland UK offers the best instant-access deal at 3.05% (including a 1.25% bonus payable for a year). However, if you are willing to give 90 days notice, consider Aldermore’s 90 Day Notice Account instead as it pays a slightly higher 3.1% on balances from £1,000.
  • One-year fixed rate savings: Norwich & Peterborough BS offers a top-paying 1-year fixed rate account at 3.55% on balances of at least £1,000.
  • Two-year fixed rate savings: Bank of Ireland UK offer the top 2-year fixed rate deal at 4%. This is closely followed by the Post Office’s Online Bond paying 3.96%.
  • Three-year fixed rate savings: Post Office’s Online Bond offers the best 3-year fixed rate at 4.21% on balances of at least £500. Interest is paid monthly or yearly.
  • Four-year fixed rate savings: Aldermore offers the best 4-year fixed rate account at 4.25%. This account can be operated by internet, post or telephone
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Chelsea BS currently tops our 5-year fixed rate table with its internet account paying 4.85%. The minimum investment is £1,000 and interest is paid monthly or yearly.

The market’s best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: AA’s Internet Access Isa offers the best instant-access deal paying 3.35%. However, this account does not allow transfers-in from other providers. If you want to transfer in previous years’ funds, then krbs’s Easy Access Cash Isa is the best option paying 3.01% (including a 2.5% bonus payable for a year).
  • One-year fixed rate cash Isa: Barnsley BS and Chelsea BS offer a top 1-year fixed rate account at 3.3% on balances of £100 upwards.
  • Two-year fixed rate cash Isa: Chelsea BS tops the 2-year fixed rate table with their branch/postal or internet accounts paying 3.7%.
  • Three-year fixed rate cash Isa: Nottingham BS and Saga offer the best 3-year fixed rate deals at 4%. The Saga account is available to people aged over 50 only.
  • Four-year fixed rate cash Isa: Halifax are top with their 4-year fixed rate at 4.3%. The account can be operated at a branch, online, by post or by telephone
  • Five-year fixed rate cash Isa: Birmingham Midshires currently leads our 5-year fixed rate table with its five-year postal account paying 4.65%. The minimum investment is £500 and interest is paid monthly or yearly.

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 all other customers, the Halifax Clarity MasterCard is good value for use abroad as it doesn’t charge foreign loading fees. The card comes with a reasonable 12.9% APR on purchases and cash withdrawals, with no additional charge for withdrawing cash. 

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

  • For those borrowing £5,000 over three years: Sainsbury’s offers a representative rate of 8.1% APR for a £5,000 loan. Alternatively, at 8.6% – a rate that still competes with other lenders in our Best Rate tables – 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 is at the top of our best rate tables with a rate of 6.70%. The only lender that can beat this deal is Nationwide Building Society, which offers a deal of 6.60%, but to existing customers only.

Today’s top mortgage deals

The best mortgage deal for you will depend on your own circumstances. Our unique mortgage finder tool takes account of all fees and charges to help you find a mortgage tailored to your needs.

If you’re remortgaging and looking for a fixed-rate, 5-year deal, our best rates this week are:

  • High loan-to-value: National Counties offers a fixed rate of 5.44%, which will last until 31/03/2016. There are arrangement fees of £595 but no valuation or legal fees and it gives you cashback of £75. You can overpay by up to 10% a year. It is only available to borrowers in England and Wales directly from the lender.
  • Low loan-to-value: Legal & General Mortgage Club offers a fixed rate of 3.94% until 31/08/2016. There are arrangement fees of £495 but no valuation or legal fees. It has flexible repayment features and is only available through selected mortgage advisers and brokers.

For more details and also to see our full selection of fixed, discount and tracker deals, check out our mortgage Best Rate tables. 

And finally… this week’s money-saving tip!

Ever wondered whether it’s worth switching your savings account? Take a look at these numbers and see if they convince you:

If you had £10,000 in Bank of Ireland’s Web Saver account (paying 3.05%), you’d earn £216 more a year than you would in an average-paying account – and as much as £300 more if you had your savings in a poor value account offered by some of the high street banks. 

As you can see, it’s worth keeping an eye on the interest rate you are receiving and moving your money if necessary. For more information on choosing a savings account that will suit your circumstances and pay a competitive rate, read our guide on Finding the best savings account.

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