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Hot money deals, 22 February 2012

Which? experts round up the best money deals

Don't pay over the odds on transaction fees

Don’t pay over the odds on transaction fees

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 to save money on holiday.

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Santander’s eSaver Issue 4 account tops the best instant-access savings table at 3.1%. The rate includes a 2.6% bonus payable for a year. However, this provider has a very poor customer satisfaction rating of 38%, so we advise caution.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: Aldermore and Vanquis Bank offer the top-paying one-year fixed-rate savings accounts at 3.55% on balances from £1,000.
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: Vanquis Bank offers the best three-year fixed-rate savings deal at 4.01%. Interest is paid yearly on initial balances of at least £1,000.
  • Five-year fixed-rate savings: BM Savings currently leads our five-year fixed-rate savings account table paying 4.65% from balances of £1.

The market’s best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: Cheshire Building Society’s Direct Cash Isa offers the best instant-access cash Isa deal paying 3.06%. However, this account does not allow transfers in from other providers. If you want to transfer in previous years’ funds, then Marks & Spencer Money’s Advantage Isa is the best option paying 3%.
  • One-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Aldermore offers the top one-year fixed-rate cash Isa account at 3.35%. This account can be operated via the internet by post or telephone.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Governor Money’s Saffron BS account currently tops our three-year fixed-rate cash Isa table paying 4% on initial balances of at least £100.
  • Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa: BM Savings Fixed-Rate Isa account currently leads our five-year fixed-rate cash Isa table paying 4.25%.

0%-on-purchases credit cards

This type of deal provides an introductory period ranging from three months to currently 18 months interest free. Make sure you repay any debt by the end of the introductory period as the card will then revert to its headline rate.  

The best credit card for 0%-on-purchases is currently being offered by Which? Recommended Provider Nationwide with 0% for 18 months on the Select Visa with a representative APR of 12.9%. This card is only available to Nationwide FlexAccount current account holders and comes with some great additional features that include 0.5% unlimited cashback on all sterling transactions, as well as unlimited commission-free purchases abroad.   

Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Halifax currently offer the next best deals with 15 months interest-free, followed by representative APRs of 15.9%, 16.9% and 17.9% respectively thereafter. Cards from both Tesco and Marks & Spencer also come with reward schemes. Barclaycard is not far behind, offering 14 months interest-free with a higher 18.9% standard APR, together with membership of its own Freedom reward scheme.

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 offers a market-leading rate of 6% APR.

And finally… this week’s hot money tip

If it’s likely you’ll need to use your debit card abroad, it’s prudent to check beforehand that you’re not going to be charged an arm and a leg for doing so. Check your bank’s terms and charges – particularly if you have a number of cards you might choose from. Alternatively, go to our website to see our table of how twelve banks compare.

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