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Hot money deals, 21 December 2011

Which? experts round up the best money deals

energy-bill With rising energy costs putting pressure on household budgets, visit Which? Switch to make sure you’re not paying over the odds

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 you save money by switching energy provider and finding the best energy-saving products.

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: AA’s Internet Saver Issue 5 account offers the best instant-access deal at 3.2%. The rate includes a 2.7% bonus payable for a year.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: AA, Clydesdale, Krbs 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, Krbs 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: Governor Money’s Saffron BS Fixed Rate Isa offers the best three-year fixed rate account paying 4% from balances of £100.
  • 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 borrowing

A card with a low typical APR can come in useful if you only want to hold one card and not switch too often. Whether it’s to spread the cost of a big purchase, enjoy Section 75 cover or simply for use in case of emergencies, our Best Rate everyday credit card deals offer great value:

  • Sainsbury’s Finance Low Rate MasterCard – This card offers the lowest representative APR on the market of 6.9%. You will need to be a Nectar card holder to be eligible for the card.
  • Barclaycard Simplicity Visa – 7.9% representative APR. The card comes with the Freedom rewards scheme that allows you to earn cashback on purchases with participating retailers. To apply you need to be 21 or above and earn a minimum salary of £20,000.
  • Capital One Click MasterCard – 9.9% typical APR. This card also offers discounts at a range of retail groups for online purchases. For the first six months, you can get 30% off Zavvi.com, 25% off Travelpack.com, 20% off and free delivery with Tedbaker.com, and 50% off Viagogo.co.uk. To apply you need to be 21 or above and earn a minimum salary of £20,000.
  • Co-operative Bank Platinum Fixed-Rate Visa – 9.9% typical APR (fixed for 5 years and reverting to a representative APR of 12.9%). To apply you need to be age 25 or above and earn a minimum salary of £25,000

Both Capital One and Co-operative Bank have very good customer scores of 71% and 79% respectively and are Which? Recommended Providers. Sainsbury’s just misses out on being a Which? Recommended Provider with an above-average customer score of 67%.

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, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all offer a rate of 6.4%. However, the best rate on the market at 6.3% is offered by Nationwide but you need to have a FlexAccount to qualify for it. Tesco also offers a top rate – 6.3% to their existing customers.

And finally… this week’s hot money tip

Make your home more energy efficient by visiting our energy guides. You could save money searching for a cheaper energy provider using Which? Switch, also we include reviews of the best energy saving products as well as guides to help cut energy costs around the home.

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