Finance Money News

MSE’s Money Tips: Boost savings 50x, Nando’s hacks, HSBC cheque alert, ‘I made £2,500 selling crisp bags’, Martin’s credit score myths

19 MAY 2021Email not looking great? View online – – – – –CARDSRECLAIMUTILITIESBANKINGDEALSTRAVELINSURANCEMORTGAGESSHOPPINGINCOME THE TOP TIPS IN THIS EMAILSavings masterclass – boost interest 50xShift debt to 29mths 0% AND bag £25 cashback ‘I made £2,500+ in 6mths selling old crisp bags on eBay’New. Martin video: ‘You DON’T have a UK credit score, so if yours drops, the impact is oft near-meaningless’10 Nando’s hacks, incl save £10+ & free delivery trickWarning: Don’t bin post from HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank – Jane received a £7,000 cheque 2m Premier Inn rooms £29/nightEnergy prices rise again – but you can still save a typical £240+/yrBarclays customer? Most can get an easy £36/yr backNew. Megafast Virgin b’band & line ‘£19.79/mth’FREE 24-pack of Aldi newborn nappies‘Just got self-employed income support – only applied after reading MSE’6 bottles of wine £33 all-in (norm £75)100,000s missing out on £1,000s/yr in employment & support allowance – can you claim? ALL shops in Eng must charge 10p for plastic bags – how to cut costsAmigo guarantor loan reclaim delayed by its court case? A decision’s expected today This week’s best buys, incl free £100 bank bribe, 12GB Sim ‘£6.67/mth’, top car insurance comparisonsShould I challenge my neighbours over damage to my car? BEST BUYS & TOOLSCheap Energy Club, incl Pick Me A TariffMSE Cheap Mobile FinderCredit Club incl free credit report0% Balance TransfersCompare Broadband dealsCheap Car InsuranceBest Bank AccountsTop Savings AccountsCredit Cards for Bad CreditCredit Card Eligibility CalculatorLoans Eligibility CalculatorMortgage ComparisonFree online complaints tool – ResolverCompare Travel MoneyBest Sim Only Deals
  Savings are still in crisis, but there’s a sliver of hope – rates are up. Our masterclass shows how many can boost their interest 50x Don’t let money languish at lousy 0.01% ratesNever before in the UK has so much been saved by so many. Lockdowns meant many of us spent much less than normal, and Bank of England data shows that’s resulted in an extra £180 BILLION sloshing about in current and savings accounts. And while interest rates are still pitiful, we have seen things turn a corner over the last few weeks. Rates are up compared with what they were just two months ago, some by almost half again…
 TodayMarch ’21Top easy access0.5%0.4%Top 1yr fix0.85%0.58%Top 3yr fix1.01%0.9%Top 5yr fix1.35%1.25%
These rises are on the back of City predictions of long-term interest rates creeping up, likely due to a predicted post-pandemic economic bounce back (let’s hope). Plus some smaller players need to raise cash to fund booming mortgage lending. And that makes this the right moment to check what you’re earning – especially because, as Martin says…‘Many savings accounts have cut rates to 0.1% or less, in other words, diddly-squat. The fact it was once a best buy or has ‘high interest’ in its name means nowt. Check what rate it pays today.’
Once you know what rate you’re getting now, compare it with what you can earn. Many on the very worst rates – which can be as low as 0.01% – can increase their interest fifty-fold or more, just by shifting to the top easy-access accounts. How to sort your savings – and make every penny countThe days of money happily idling in one account earning decent interest for years are long gone. You need to become an active, aggressive (but polite) saver, monitoring accounts and ditching and switching when rates become pants. Here’s how…(All accounts listed here have the full UK savings protection on up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution.)NOT A PENNY SHOULD EARN UNDER 0.4%.We’ve benchmarked this rate, as it’s what the top standard online easy-access accounts pay. These let you add and withdraw money whenever you want. In fact, you should store cash here even while you work out if you can earn more elsewhere. And thankfully easy-access rates have crept up too (though they’re all still variable, so can change)…

– New. Top 0.5% easy-access savings. App-only Atom Bank (no min pay-in) is the top payer at 0.5% AER interest. Yet we know many prefer online accounts – here Marcus* and Saga* (min £1 deposit), provided by investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, pay 0.4% AER. Full info and more options in Top Savings.

– Prefer an ISA? Get 0.45%. Most don’t need the tax advantages of an ISA, as they don’t pay tax on savings interest anyway. But if Atom Bank’s not for you, and you’ve less than the £20,000 annual ISA allowance to save, then Kent Reliance’s cash ISA is actually the next best payer at 0.45% AER (min £1,000), beating Marcus and Saga. See more options, incl fixes, in Top Cash ISAs.

– 0.67% if you can wait for your cash. Charter Savings Bank pays a higher 0.67% AER (min £5,000), but you need to give 120 days’ notice to withdraw.Now read on to see if you can earn even more. You can have lots of different accounts, so put every penny where it earns most…You can earn 1.25% easy access, via a special code, in a not-so-standard account. Newbies to autosaving app Chip can get a higher rate on up to £10,000, plus some can get £10 cashback on top. Yet it’s complex, so read our full 1.25% savings help first.Can you lock cash away? Earn 0.85% fixed for a year. For money you’re willing to lock away without access, open a fix (also known as a savings bond) to lock in a rate. Full options in top fixes, but in brief:

– Top 1yr fixes. App-only Atom Bank (min £50) pays the top rate at 0.85% AER. Or if you prefer to open a savings account online, PCF Bank  pays a smidgeon less at 0.79% AER (min £1,000).

– Top 2yr fixes. HereZopa’s* 0.9% AER (min £1,000) is the top rate. However, newbies to savings platform Raisin may be able to earn more. Via Raisin, FCMB Bank pays 0.88%. Yet newbies saving £5,000+ can claim £5-£50 cashback on top. For those saving between £5,000 and £12,000 (and some higher amounts), the cashback means overall returns beat Zopa. 

– Top 3yr fixes. Again Zopa* tops the charts paying 1.01% AER (min £1,000). And again, newbies to Raisin may be able to earn more. Via Raisin, FCMB Bank pays 1% on its 3yr account. Here, cashback means newbies saving between £5,000 and £15,000, and those saving £40,000+, can beat Zopa’s 1.01%.

Is this a good time to fix? It’s a tough call. Fixed rates are on the up, so it may seem perverse to suggest locking in now if rates might go even higher. Though without a crystal ball, we don’t know what’ll happen.

We do know that fixes pay higher rates than easy access and give certainty. So the more you value certainty and the easy life of being able to put money away and leave it, the more you should fix. Then, if rates do move after, as Oasis wisely said, don’t look back in anger. Though in such uncertain times, we’d hedge towards shorter 1-2yr fixes.GOT DEBTS OR A MORTGAGE? OVERPAYING OFTEN BEATS SAVING
If you’ve expensive debt, it always pays to clear it before saving. After all, £1,000 in top savings earns up to £10/yr, while £1,000 debt on an 18% credit card costs £180/yr. Clear the debt with the savings and you’re £170+ better off. See Repay debts or save? Plus see if you should overpay:

– Mortgages: Similar logic, but there are a few catches – see Overpay my mortgage with my savings? and the Mortgage Overpayment Calc.

 Student loans: It’s complex – see Martin’s ‘Should I overpay my Plan 1 student loan?’ video (if you started uni in 1998 to 2011 plus NI students after 2011) or his  ‘Should I overpay my Plan 2 loan?’ guide (Eng/Welsh students who started after 2011). Or see Plan 4 info (for Scottish students who started in 1998+). Earn 1%+ with easy(ish) access when you save regularly. As the name suggests,  regular savers are for putting money aside each month, not lump sums. They pay higher interest, but generally only on smaller sums for a short time…

– Top open-to-all regular saver. Coventry BS pays 1.05% AER variable for 12mths and lets you save up to £500/mth (though you can miss monthly payments without penalty). But withdraw cash before the 12mths are up and you lose 30 days’ interest on the withdrawal.

– Earn 3.04% if you bank with NatWest/RBS. If you’ve either bank’s current account, you’re eligible for its linked regular saver paying 3.04%, but only on a max £50/mth.

– Earn 3.5% if you’ve savings, a mortgage or a share plan with Yorkshire BS. Currently Yorkshire BS’s regular saver pays the top rate of 3.5%, but to open one you’ll need to have a savings account, mortgage or employee share plan with it that was opened before 2 Jan 2020.Earn up to 2.02% via current accounts, but only on smaller savings. Our top picks…

– Virgin Money pays 2.02% AER variable on up to £1,000. You don’t need to switch to it, though there is a wine and charity donation switcher offer if you do.
– Nationwide* pays 2% AER fixed on up to £1,500 in year 1, 0.25% after. You need to pay in £1,000+/mth to get the interest.

More options and full eligibility criteria in interest-paying current accounts.CHECK IF YOU QUALIFY FOR MUCH HIGHER RATES ON THESE SPECIAL ACCOUNTS – On a low income & claiming universal credit/tax credits? Get a 50% savings boost. For those who qualify, Help to Save is unbeatable – it can add 50% on top of savings of up to £50/mth.– Saving for a first home? The state will add 25% to your savings. If you’re aged 18-39, you can open a top Lifetime ISA, which gives you a 25% boost on up to £4,000 saved a year (so a max £1,000/yr boost).– Check credit unions. Occasionally they have rates that’ll beat the savings accounts above. See how to find your local credit union.Are Premium Bonds, at 1%, worth it? While the ‘prize fund’ is an average 1%, for each £1m winner, many must win a lot less than the average. Yet with savings rates so low, for those saving £5,000+ and/or those who pay tax on savings interest, Premium Bonds can be a decent option. See Are Premium Bonds worth it?Should you invest instead? With savings your cash is protected; with investing you hope that it grows quicker, but at the risk of losing some or all of your money. See Investing for beginners.  DON’T believe the fake ‘Martin Lewis’ or ‘MSE’ ads
Lots of scam ads litter social media and even newspaper websites – some of these lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning  The top balance transfer’s just got better
Shift debt to 29mths 0% (2.75% fee) AND now bag £25 cashback tooCan’t afford to clear credit or store card debt? You can’t afford not to try shifting it to 0%A balance transfer is the first thing anyone paying interest on credit or store cards should try. It’s where you get a new card that repays debts on old cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest for a set period. Your repayments then go towards clearing the debt rather than paying interest – often saving £100s or £1,000s. This week, the longest 0% card’s added cashback – use these two rules to see if it’s your top card…– Go for the lowest-fee card within the 0% period you need to clear the debt. If unsure, play safe and go longer.
– Don’t just apply – find out which cards will accept you first. Our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc will help.TOP-PICK NEWBIES’ 0% BALANCE TRANSFERSCardKey infoWho’s it best for?New. HSBC
It’s best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.- 29mths 0%
 2.75% fee (min £5)
 £25 cashback if shifting £100+ in first 60 days
– After the 0%, it’s 21.9% rep APR interestThe clear top-pick if you need the longest 0% period or are shifting less than £900. All accepted get the full 29mths at 0%, plus the cashback essentially reduces the one-off fee. If you’re shifting £100-£900, the cashback is bigger than the fee, so this card then beats even Santander’s top no-fee card below.MBNA
It’s best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.- Up to 26mths 0%
– 1% or 3.49% fee
– After the 0%, it’s 20.9% rep APRA much lower transfer fee, so cheaper than HSBC if you’re shifting £1,430+ and you can clear it in 26mths. Though it’s an ‘up to’, so some accepted may get just 14mths at 0% and/or the higher 3.49% fee unless pre-approved – use our eligibility calc to check.Santander
It’s best to check acceptance odds first. Or apply*.- 18mths 0%
– After the 0%, it’s 20.9% rep APR

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