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Hot money deals, 7 June 2012

Which? experts round up the best money deals

holiday home

A good prepaid card can offer much better value for use abroad than the majority of debit and credit cards on the market. 

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 pick the best prepaid cards for use abroad.

Best savings accounts

  • Instant access savings: Post Office’s Online Saver Issue 5 account tops the best instant-access savings table at 3.17%. The rate includes a 1.52% bonus payable for 12-months.
  • One-year fixed-rate savings: Close Brothers Savings offers the top-paying one-year fixed-rate savings account at 3.45% on minimum deposits of £10,000.  
  • Three-year fixed-rate savings: BM Savings and Close Brothers Savings offers the best three-year fixed-rate savings deals at 4%. The Close Brothers Savings account is operated by post.
  • Five-year fixed-rate savings: Secure Trust Bank currently lead our five-year fixed-rate savings account table, paying 4.45% on balances of at least £1,000.

The market’s best cash Isas

  • Instant access cash Isa: Cheshire BS offers the best instant-access cash Isa deal, paying 3.35%. However, this account do not accept transfers in from other providers. The top account that does accept transfers in is Santander’s Direct Isa, paying 3.30%.
  • One-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Saga offers the top one-year fixed-rate cash Isa account at 3.6%. This account is available to over-50s only and does not accept transfers in from other providers.
  • Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa: Halifax currently tops our three-year fixed-rate cash Isa table, paying 4% on initial balances of at least £500.
  • Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa: BM Savings and Halifax currently lead our five-year fixed-rate cash Isa table, paying 4.25% on balances of £500 and above.

Best credit cards for cashback

There are currently several good cashback credit card deals on the market from American Express, Capital One and Santander:

  • The Platinum Cashback Card from Which? Recommended Credit Card Provider American Express pays 5% cashback for the first three months (max £100), followed by a standard cashback rate of 1.25% on everything you spend. The card comes with an annual fee of £25 a year, so is only suitable for big-spenders. If you spend in excess of £10,001 within a year, you’re eligible for 2.5% cashback during the anniversary month the following year. The card comes with a 14% purchase APR.
  • The Aspire World MasterCard from Which? Recommended Credit Card Provider Capital One offers 5% cashback for the first three months (max £100). You then earn 0.5% on an annual spend of up to £5,999, 1% on amounts between £6,000 and £9,999 and 1.25% on amounts above £10,000. The card comes with a relatively high APR of 19.9%, but charges no annual fee.
  • Which? Recommended Credit Card Provider Capital One also offers the Aspire Elite MasterCard for customers who have an income of more than £50,000 p.a. and own a home. This card offers the highest introductory rate on the market of 5% cashback for the first three months capped at £200. You then earn 1% on annual spend up to £15,000, 2% on amounts between £15,000 and £50,000 and then 1.35% for annual spend of £50,000 and above. The card charges an annual fee of £120 with a purchase APR of 17.69%. The card also comes with some additional benefits that include concierge service, extended warranty and best price protection.  
  • The Santander 123 Cashback MasterCard offers 1% cashback on shopping at selected supermarkets, 2% cashback at selected department stores and 3% cashback at selected major petrol stations. Santander charges an annual £24 fee on the card, so it’s only suitable if you use it a lot.

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 7.6% APR for a £5,000 loan. Alternatively, at 8.5% – still highly competitive – borrowers can opt for two years of double Nectar points and a £25 gift card.
  • For those borrowing £10,000 over five years: M&S Money, Sainsbury’s, Tesco Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank offer a market-leading rate of 6% APR.

And finally… this week’s hot money tip

If you are planning your summer holiday a good prepaid card could offer a good alternative to the majority of debit and credit cards on the market. See our recent news story Revealed: the best and worst cards to take on holiday for more information.

For the best sterling, euro and US dollar prepaid cards follow the links below to see which are rated best.   

  • Best sterling prepaid cards – These are loaded with British pounds before you leave and foreign transactions are converted at the Visa or MasterCard rate at the point of transaction. Sterling prepaid cards can be used in any country outside of the UK that accept Visa/MasterCard networks. Foreign exchange fees are deducted for each cash withdrawal or purchase, and some also apply top-up fees. 
  • Best euro and dollar prepaid cards – You exchange pounds for euro or US dollars where the exchange rate is locked in at the time you load your card with money. The best cards charge no purchase, withdrawal or loading fees.
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