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Hot money deals, 07 September 2011

Which? experts round up the best money deals

House in scarf

As the weather takes a turn for the worse this week, get ready for the winter now by following out tips to cut the cost of heating

This week our experts recommend the best savings accounts and cash Isas, and hunt out the best 0%-on-purchases credit card deals. We also examine this week’s best rate loans and mortgages and help you prepare for the autumn weather.

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 to 30 November 2012). However, you will need to review this account once the bonus period ends as the rate drops to just 1%
  • One-year fixed rate savings: Skipton BS offers a top-paying 1-year fixed rate account at 3.45% on balances of at least £500. This is an internet-only account
  • Two-year fixed rate savings: Nottingham BS 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: Secure Trust Bank offers the best 4-year fixed rate account at 4.4%. This account can be operated by post or telephone
  • Five-year fixed rate savings: Saga offers the top-paying 5-year fixed rate accounts paying 4.65%. However, Saga savings accounts are available only to those aged 50 and over

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’s and Principality’s e-Isa accounts are the best options paying 2.80%
  • One-year fixed rate cash Isa: Metro Bank offers the top 1-year fixed rate account at 3.25% on balances of £1 upwards. You can operate this account at a branch, by post or telephone
  • Two-year fixed rate cash Isa: The Post Office tops the 2-year fixed rate table with its branch-based or postal account paying 3.75%
  • Three-year fixed rate cash Isa: Nottingham BS and The Post Office offer the best 3-year fixed rate accounts paying 4%. Both accounts can be operated at a branch or by post
  • Four-year fixed rate cash Isa: Halifax is top with its 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: Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank currently lead our 5-year fixed rate table with their accounts paying 4.5%. The minimum investment is £2,000 and interest is paid yearly

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 joint-longest 0% deal on the market at 22 months. The card comes with a representative APR of 17.5% and a 3.2% balance transfer fee, although this is reduced to 2.9% if you make a transfer within the first 60 days of taking out the deal. Barclaycard also offers a shorter 20-month deal with a reduced handling fee of 2.6% on transfers in the first 60 days.
  • Halifax offers a 22-month 0% deal on the Balance Transfer MasterCard but this is only available for for transferring balances up to £3,000. The card comes with a high balance transfer fee of 3.5% and a representative APR of 17.9%. 
  • Which? Recommended Provider First Direct has a new 20-month 0% deal with 2.9% transfer fee. 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 19-month 0% balance transfer period, a 16.8% APR on new purchases and balance transfer fees of 2.85%.

With the exception of First Direct none of the cards listed above score very well for customer service in our recent member survey. 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 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 great representative rate of 8.1% 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: Sainsbury’s offers a leading representative rate of 6.3% APR. Alternatively, at 6.9%, borrowers can instead opt for two years of doubled Nectar points and a £25 gift card.

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 moving house and looking for a tracker deal that lasts for the term of the mortgage, our best rate this week is:

  • Low loan-to-value: ING Direct offers a rate of 2.49%. Available only direct from the lender and with a minimum 40% deposit. There are arrangement fees of £750 and a £195 booking fee.

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

As the nights start to draw in and the weather turns cooler, it’s worth getting your home ready for winter. For example if you live in an older house and have an uninsulated (or poorly insulated) hot water tank, you are wasting money every time you switch on your hot water system. Wrapping it up in a British Standard cylinder jacket (75mm thick) can reduce heat loss by 70 per cent. Jackets are available for as little as £5.

Read our guide Ways to save on heating for more details on cutting your household fuel bills.

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