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Jasmine’s top product picks
Are you on the lookout for a new credit card? Thinking of ditching your current account? Or perhaps you’re after a savings account that really does make the most of your money? The whole ‘switching’ business can be a bit of a financial minefield. It’s all very well spending hours trawling comparison sites, but how can you really tell if you’re getting the best deal?
That’s why at Moneymagpie, we’re taking a slightly different approach. From now on, you can find Jasmine’s own selection of the best financial products on the market – all in one place.
Every product listed here has Jasmine’s personal seal of approval. And each recommendation comes complete with a summary of the details – and a need-to-know guide – so you can decide whether it’s right for you. That way, you’ve got all the information at your fingertips. And because Jasmine reviews her choices regularly, you can be sure you’re getting up-to-date advice.
So, without further ado, here are Jasmine’s top picks:
- Top credit card for 0% balance transfers
- Top credit card for lifetime balance transfers
- Top credit card for 0% new purchases
- Top cashback credit card
- Top easy access savings account
- Top fixed-rate savings bond
- Top cash ISA
- Top shares ISA
- 0% on balance transfers for 20 months
- 0% on purchases for three months
- 2.99% balance transfer fee
- Representative 16.8% APR
Need to know:
- If you haven’t cleared your balance by the time your 0% deal comes to an end, remember to search for another 0% card. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying interest on your debt at 16.8% APR.
- You can also get 15 months interest free on your balance transfers transferred within 30 days of you opening your account with the HSBC Credit Card.
- Typical 7.9% APR
- Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of applying (2.5% balance transfer fee).
- No annual fee
Need to know:
- Lifetime balance transfer cards are a good option if you have a large balance to clear. With this deal, you’ll pay a low interest rate (7.9%) on the balance until it’s completely gone – no matter how long it takes.
- You can also use this card to make purchases – you’ll only be charged 7.9% APR on all such ‘new purchase’ debt.
- Be warned that if you do have a poor credit score, you might be offered a less competitive rate of 10.92% or 12.92%.
- 0% on purchases for 16 months
- 0% on balance transfers for nine months
- 2.9% fee on balance transfers
- Typical 16.9% APR
Need to know:
- This card has the longest 0% new purchase periods on the market and a pretty good balance transfer deal to boot. You must transfer any balances withing the first nine months of opening the account.
- As well as interest free purchases you’ll also be able to collect Clubcard points as you spend – 1 point for every £4 spent (more if you’re buying in Tesco stores).
- Make sure you don’t use this card abroad as their foreign transaction charges are particularly high.
- Beware: if you have a mediocre credit rating, you may be offered a higher interest rate.
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- Earn 5% cashback for the first three months (up to a maximum of £100)
- Thereafter, earn up to 1.25% with no limit on how much you earn
- 0% on purchases for the first six months
- 18.7% typical APR
- £25 annual fee
Need to know:
- This card requires a household income of £30,000, so if you don’t fit the bill look for a non-Amex alternative.
- After the initial three month period you earn 1.25% cashback for all spending on the card.
- A cashback credit card is really only suitable if you pay off your balance – in full – every month. If you don’t, you’ll have to shell out for hefty interest charges which will far outweigh the benefit of any cashback you’ve gained.
- As with many others, this cashback card offers a bonus cashback rate for a limited period (just three months). So if you have any big purchases to make, do your best to put them on the card during this initial period.
If you’re reluctant to take a credit card abroad a prepaidcard is a real alternative, and this one can work out really very cheap. You simply pre-load the card in Sterling, and use it in Euros or Dollars as you would a normal debit card.
- Completely free for foreign transations
- Cash machine charge: €1.50 or $2 per withdrawal
Need to know:
- Although they do charge for cash withdrawals, FairFx often has the best exchange rate. You can choose your rate too, by keeping an eye on the exchange rates for a few weeks before you travel and loading your card on the day when it’s the best. That rate will be fixed for each time you use the card to spend that money.
- The card is completely free to use at any outlet that accepts Mastercard, free to top-up (as long as you don’t use a credit card) and free to check your balance online.
- Pays 1.85% AER (guaranteed for 12 months)
- £1 minimum deposit
- Unlimited withdrawals (remember this account is operated online).
Need to know:
- Watch out as after 12 months the rate drops, so you’ll need to switch.
Because the only way interest rates can possibly go is up, I’ve recommended the best one-year fixed-rate bond. Fixing for longer periods means you’re likely to miss out when interest rates do start to rise.
- 3.05% AER
- No withdrawals permitted for the term of the bond
Need to know
- You can apply for this account online, but do bear in mind you’ll need an inital deposit of £1,000 to open it.
- No withdrawals or additional deposits are allowed – but that’s how you get the higher rate of interest.
- 2.25% AER for a three-year, 2.15% for a two-year and 2.10% for a one-year.
- Minimum deposit £1
- Transfers in from other ISAs allowed
- You can open in branch or online
Need to know:
- This is effectively a fixed-rate savings bond ‘wrapped’ in an ISA, so it’s just like the bond above but completely tax free.
- While you can’t make any withdrawals for the year, you can make further additions to the account (up to your yearly cash ISA allowance of £5,340).
You can put the entire ISA allowance (now £10,680) into a Stocks and Shares account – these have the potential to make you a lot more money than cash in the long-term but you need to be prepared to lock your money away.
- Legal & General are one of the biggest providers of index-tracking investments in the UK
Need to know:
- Index-tracking ISAs (sometimes called trackers) aim to produce a return in line with a market or sector (eg, a geographical region, commodities or technology).
- You can put up to £10,680 into a shares ISA each tax year.
- Trackers are designed as medium to long term investments of, ideally, at least five years. Although in the short-term the stock market can go up and down wildly, in the long-term it just goes up (in a wiggly line). In fact, it goes up at such a rate that you make much more money with your investment than you would if you just kept it in a savings account.
- Just remember, once you put the money in tracker you can take it out again, but you can’t then put it back in during the same year, or open up another one.
- Index-tracking (tracker) funds are relatively cheap: They work by computer, and computers don’t need payment. It’s rare to find a tracker fund that charges more than 1% a year to manage your money, which is a good rate.