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Hot money deals, 26 July 2011

Which? experts round up the best finance deals

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Use our credit card balance transfer calculator to see how much money you could save by switching

This week our experts take a look at the full range of savings accounts and cash Isas, and hunt out the best credit cards for use abroad. We also examine this week’s best rate loans and mortgage deals.

This week’s best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Derbyshire BS offers the best instant-access deal at 3.11% (including a 2.11% bonus payable for a year). However, you will need to review this account once the bonus period ends as the rate drops to just 1% so will no longer be competitive
  • One-year fixed rate savings: FirstSave offers a top-paying 1-year fixed rate account at 3.5% on balances of at least £1,000.
  • Two-year fixed rate savings: Bank of Ireland UK offers 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: Barnsley BS, Birmingham Midshires and Saga offer top-paying 5-year fixed rate accounts paying 4.65%. The Saga account is available to those aged 50 and over.

The market’s best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: Santander’s Flexible Isa Issue 3 offers the best instant-access deal paying 3.3%. 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: Chelsea BS offers a top 1-year fixed rate account at 3.3% on balances of £100 upwards.
  • Two-year fixed rate cash Isa: The Post Office  tops the 2-year fixed rate table with their branch-based or postal account paying 3.75%
  • Three-year fixed rate cash Isa: Northern Rock offers the best 3-year fixed rate account paying 4.01% on balances of at least £500
  • 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 customers of all ages, the Halifax Clarity MasterCard is good value for use abroad as it too doesn’t charge foreign loading fees or cash withdrawal fees. The card comes with a reasonable 12.9% APR on purchases and cash withdrawals. However, there is no interest-free period on cash withdrawals, so you’ll pay interest from the moment you take out the 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 6.50%, 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 two year tracker deal, our best rates this week are:

  • High loan-to-value: Skipton BS offers a deal with an initial rate of 4.88%, tracking 4.38% above the base rate for two years. For the remainder of the term it reverts to the lender’s standard variable rate, currently 4.45%.
  • Low loan-to-value: RBS and Natwest Mortgage Services offer a tracker with an initial rate of 2.29%, tracking at 1.79% until August 2013. It comes with free valuation, valuation admin and legal fees, and has no arrangement fees.

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

With many credit card providers charging APRs of around 20%, owing even a modest amount on your plastic could prove a significant drain on your budget. Taking out a new 0% balance transfer card will allow you to pay off your debt much more quickly.

Use our handy credit card balance transfer calculator to find out how much you could save. To find 0% balance transfer deals of up to 24 months, read our credit card reviews.

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