It’s been a year of upheaval for personal finances: the Bank of England base rate rose to a nine-year high, card surcharges were banned, paper £5 notes disappeared and the number of fraud victims hit record levels.
Which? Money has been there every step of the way, explaining how the news of the day affects your bottom line.
Today, we look back at the year’s most-read Money stories, as well as the most important financial news from the past 12 months.
Exclusive new research from Which?, shedding light on the communities most at risk from losing access to their ATMs, attracted the most readers for January.
The new year also brought welcome news of a ban on credit card surcharges, effective as of 13 January. Plus it was revealed that a data breach at Equifax had left 167,000 British consumers at risk of fraud and identity theft.
The highest-traffic story of February was the government’s decision to push on with changes to women’s state pension age, which would see women qualify at the same age as men.
Also in February, Which? exposed the companies getting around the credit card surcharge ban and continuing to levy fees. Meanwhile, the Scottish government overhauled its income tax system to introduce two new tax bands.
The news that thousands of retirees could be forced by HMRC to repay money to their company pensions was the most-read story of March.
As of 1 March, paper £5 notes were pulled from circulation and ceased being legal tender. And as council tax bills landed in post-boxes around the country, we mapped every single council tax increase in the England and Wales to show who’s paying the most.
The start of a new tax year heralded sweeping changes for your finances. Pensions were front of mind once again, with our round-up of the tax changes affecting pensions proving the most popular story of April.
The start of the 2018-19 tax year also marked an increase to the inheritance tax property allowance, meaning you can now pass on an additional £125,000 tied up in your family home. Thousands of TSB customers, meanwhile, were locked out of their accounts, in some cases for weeks, after an IT glitch brought down the bank’s online systems.
Coins always stir up a frenzy among our readers, with our story on the rarest 50p coins topping the charts in May.
Our research uncovered that state pensioners were at the mercy of a postcode lottery which determined how much they’d be paid. In addition, we found the number of bank branch closures in the UK topped 2,100 as RBS axed an additional 162 branches.
Rare £2 coins proved as popular as 50ps in June, so that our story on the 20th anniversary of the £2 coin attracted the highest traffic.
Later in June, Which? exposed the shady leasehold terms leaving homeowners ‘tenants in their own homes’. But the month brought good tidings for victims of bank transfer scams, who were granted additional protections by the FCA.
The news that tens of thousands of pensioners could see their state pension cut after HMRC uncovered over-payments was our most read July story.
Santander also became the latest provider to scrap fees for unarranged overdrafts, after Which? found the bank charged customers 7.5 times more than a payday loan. We also uncovered some estate agents misleading customers about their in-house mortgage broking services.
Credit card fraud was what interested readers most in August, after new figures revealed 33,000 people had fallen victim in the past six months.
The Bank of England raised the base rate to 0.75%, the highest level in nine years. Meanwhile, Which? research found that loyal home insurance customers were paying 38% more for staying with the same insurer.
You’re not meant to go grocery shopping while hungry, but there was enormous appetite for our top 10 tips for saving money at the supermarket.
Our research found that banks were shortchanging savers while hiking mortgage costs after the base rate rise. We also revealed 250 free ATMs a month were closing around the UK.
This month’s inflation figures announcement determines the state pension in the following year, so that this year’s story on an expected £221 state pension increase proved our most-read piece.
The Autumn Budget statement came early this year with Which? providing up-to-the-minute coverage of how the Budget will affect your finances. We also took a deep dive into the mysterious world of credit scoring and how your decisions affect your rating.
In November, our most popular story looked at Post Office banking, and whether it’s a real substitute for disappearing bank branches.
Exclusive Which? analysis discovered that first-time buyers were being offered cheaper mortgages, despite two base rate hikes. The government, meanwhile, proposed a shake-up of probate fees that would see large estates paying up to £6,000.
Premium bonds remain the nation’s favourite savings product, and the most-read story in December to date.
After prolonged campaigning by Which?, the regulator announced banks would be banned from charging daily or monthly overdraft fees. The 6th of December marked the day the state pension age equalised for men and women, after the women’s age threshold slowly increased over the past eight years.