Home insurance price rises have slowed with increased competition limiting annual price rises to just 1.6% taking average costs to £119, new analysis from insurance market research experts Consumer Intelligence shows.

Consumer Intelligence’s analysis – which is used by the Government’s Office of National Statistics to calculate official inflation statistics – shows premiums were virtually unchanged in the past three months.

Its quarterly Home Insurance Index shows prices were still nearly 10% lower in July compared with February 2014 despite concerns the Insurance Premium Tax increase in November last year would send costs soaring.

Instead relatively low claims for storm and flood damage and increased competition for business has kept prices flat.

Homeowners aged 50 and over have seen average increases of 2.1% in the year to July taking best-buy premiums to £111 while the under-50s have seen annual increases of 1% taking average costs to £126.

However prices in the past three months have fallen on average by 0.2% and are unchanged since December 2015.

Consumer Intelligence’s research monitors the five most competitive home policies across price comparison websites and direct insurers highlighting the need for homeowners to review their premium at their next renewal.

One in three people would unwittingly transfer money to an unknown account if they were telephoned by someone posing as their bank according to new research from Nationwide Building Society. This is despite more than two thirds (67%) of people worrying about becoming a victim of fraud.

The poll was conducted as part of the Society’s ongoing campaign to help people protect themselves from the growing threat of fraud. Despite criminals employing increasingly more sophisticated techniques to dupe their victims, there are a number of simple precautions and steps people can take to avoid becoming another statistic.

The research of 2,000 UK adults, shows that around a third of Brits (31%) could potentially become victims of vishing by stating that they would transfer their money to another account if they were called by someone purporting to be from a trusted organisation, such as their bank, building society or the police. Criminals often use this tactic, requesting their unsuspecting victims to transfer money into a ‘safe’ account due to suspected fraud.

Despite the terms and conditions of current accounts telling people not to share their PIN with anyone, half (50%) have disclosed their PIN to their partner. However, around one in 15 would share their PIN with their bank or building society (7%) or the police (6%). While no legitimate bank or building society employee or police officer would ask for this information, fraudsters often pretend to be from these organisations as a way of coercing the information out of their victims.

The poll also reveals that while older people may be seen as an easy target, younger generations are twice as likely to be caught out in a scam. More than half (52%) of those aged 18 to 24 would transfer their money to another account if they were convinced that either the police, their bank or their building society was asking them to do so, compared to just one in five (22%) aged 55 and over.

Equally, a fifth (20%) of 18 to 24 year-olds would share their PIN with their bank or building society and one in six (16%) would share the same information with the police. By comparison, just one in fifteen (6%) and less than one in 20 (4%) of those aged 55 and over would be willing to share the same information.

Generous grandparents are making it possible for the whole family to go away together as one in seven over 50s have been on holiday with their children and grandchildren and a third have paid for the whole trip, according to Saga Travel Insurance.

Intergenerational holidays are popular with the whole family. Not only do children have their choice of people to play with but parents have a built-in babysitter as grandparents are keen to spend time with their grandchildren. This could be why one in ten over 50s say they are planning a holiday with children and grandchildren for next year.

Analysis of data shows the most common countries for family getaways are Spain, USA and France.

However, paying for the whole family to go abroad is not cheap as intergenerational holidays costs around £4,000 on average.

Even if parents can’t make the trip grandparents and grandchildren aren’t missing out on some holiday fun. One in six grandparents say they have taken their grandchildren overseas without their parents in the last five years and a further one in ten are planning to do so in the next year.

Saga understands that its customers may want to go on holiday with younger family members. This is why its travel insurance customers can add anyone under 50 years old, including children, on their policy. Furthermore, the whole family doesn’t have to travel together to be insured.

A Spokesman for Saga, commented: “It’s great to see so many families going away and spending quality time together. A lot of over 50s are making this happen by being so generous and paying for the trip.

“Going on holiday with the whole family is great for everyone. Not only can parents recharge their batteries and enjoy some adult time together as their parents are on hand to babysit, but grandparents can create precious memories playing games by the pool with grandchildren. The real winners of these holidays though are the kids as they get to spend time with all their favourite adults.”

Halifax has increased its balance transfer credit card offers giving 0% interest for up to 25 months with no fee, and 0% interest for up to 41 months with a 3.5% fee.

Both cards also offer 0% interest on purchases made during the first six months from account opening.

To qualify for these offers, customers must make a minimum balance transfer of £100 within the first 90 days of account opening. The offers are available exclusively online.

Andrew Hagger, Personal Finance Expert said – “41 months is currently the joint longest 0% balance transfer deal available, but a 40 month card from Tesco Bank, MBNA or Sainsbury’s Bank will cost you far less in terms of the one off balance transfer fee, so longest isn’t necessarily always the best.”

A spokesman for Halifax, said: “Our latest balance transfer offers rank amongst the best offers in the market today, making the cards a great choice for those looking to use a credit card to bring their credit arrangements into one place.”

Customers can check their eligibility for a Halifax credit card using the online eligibility checker. After a few simple questions are answered, the checker will indicate to interested customers how likely they are to be accepted for the product without impacting their credit rating.

 

 

 

With the new 66 registration cars out on 1st September plenty of people will be looking for a new set of wheels, but whether you’re buying brand new or second hand it’s worth shopping around to check out the cheapest finance options.

Andrew Hagger, Personal Finance Expert from Moneycomms said: “Consumers spend many hours seeking out the car they want including the perfect colour, specification and mileage so why not be equally choosy when it comes to sorting the finance for their vehicle?”

Until recently consumers have tended to take out a personal loan from their bank, however Money Transfer credit cards have become more mainstream and are a flexible low cost alternative that can save you hundreds of pounds.

Three of the biggest card providers Virgin Money, MBNA and Tesco Bank offer money transfer cards at 0% interest for at least three years – and enable you to transfer funds from your card limit to your current account.

There is a one off money transfer fee to pay (2.39% to 3.94%) but as you will see from the tables below that despite this, these cards are still way cheaper than even the best buy personal loan deals.

Hagger added: “We’re not talking just a few pounds difference, the potential savings run in to hundreds of pounds and could help cover the cost of your car insurance, road tax or a good few tanks of fuel.”

For example on a £7,500 sum a Virgin Credit Card Money Transfer will save you £503.55 in interest when compared with a loan from Metro Bank at 5.9% APR.

On a smaller loan the savings are more significant – for example an MBNA Money Transfer works out £956 cheaper than a £5,000 loan over 3 years from TSB at 13.9% APR.

If you go down the money transfer route – ensure you make your repayments on time each month otherwise you’ll lose your 0% promotional rate, but providing you do this it’s an easy way to get an even better deal on your new car.

Asda Money says ‘reward apathy’ is leading to millions of people accumulating benefits they never use, and ultimately missing out on cash and rewards they’re entitled to.

Reward credit cards were designed to offer consumers incentives to manage their money efficiently whilst accumulating rewards that would benefit them in the long term. Asda has revealed that 13.1 million credit cards holders do not use the benefits and rewards they’re earning and are entitled to.

The research reveals that nearly three quarters of Brits (that’s 37 million) own at least one credit card, with 18.6 million owning two or more.

Those aged 55 and over are the most likely to have multiple credit cards with 42% of this age group owning two or more cards.  Of those with a credit card, the main reason for using them is to protect their purchases (34%), whilst over a fifth use it to earn reward points.

As part of the research Asda Money looked into the main reasons for using credit cards across the country.

The 18-34 year old age group say that they mainly use their card to tide them over (16%) as well as a chance to improve their credit history.

The over 55s however use cards to protect their purchases (45% of card users).  On the whole the UK use credit cards to pay for big purchases (23%) and spread the cost (21%). It is no surprise that the main credit card purchase nationally is on holidays and breaks with an average amount of £416 a year put on a credit card.  Yet there is an additional average of £221 on holiday spending and travel money per person per year.

Over the last few years the Santander 123 current account has been the only decent option for many savers – paying 3% with instant access up to £20,000 – it was too good to be true in the current depressed savings market – the only surprise is that this decision to trim the rate didn’t happen before now.

The rate will be cut from 3.00% to 1.50% with effect from 1st November 2016.

This oasis in the savings desert is about to disappear and the reality of the UK savings rate crisis will now hit home for people who have pinned their hopes on the 123 account to earn a reasonable interest income from their nest egg.

There will undoubtedly be plenty of anger and frustration from customers who now will be faced with scratching around for a 1% return, if they’re lucky, from an instant access savings account or 1.50% for a one year bond with no access to their balance.

Clearly the economics no longer stacked up for Santander but with base rate teetering towards zero it may not be the last bank to lower its ‘in credit’ current account rate.

There are other current accounts paying above average rates on credit interest however the low maximum balance limits make them much less attractive – e.g TSB Classic Plus 5% up to £2,000, Tesco bank 3% up to £3,000 and Lloyds Bank (Club Lloyds) 4% between £4,000 and £5,000.

The Santander 123 rate reduction doesn’t kick in until 1st November so it may be worth customers checking what’s still on offer nearer the time rather than rushing to switch away now.

ENDS

The Co-op Insurance is offering young drivers up to 20% off their insurance premium price in their first year if they can prove they drive well, using its ‘Young Driver’ app.

Since it launched in 2011, the Co-op Insurance, which was the first major insurer to bring telematics to the mainstream market, has saved its Young Driver policyholders over £7.4m in their first year of driving, an average of £120 each.

With the new app, young drivers can check that the policy is the right one for them before committing to it.

Co-op’s Young Driver Insurance works by rewarding policyholders for safe driving. It prices discounts based on:

  • Speed – keeping within limits
  • Acceleration and Breaking – not accelerating/ breaking suddenly
  • Cornering – driving in a controlled manner around corners
  • Time of driving – certain times can be risker to drive at

App users are asked to drive 200 miles, over 10 journeys on separate days which generates a personalised driving score.

Based on the driver’s final overall score a personalised quote link is sent to them via email, or by clicking on ‘Get a Quote’ button on the app. Any discount will be automatically applied to the quote, which could be up to 20% lower than if the Young Driver app hadn’t been used. The drivers who display the safest driving will receive the discount.

However, if a young driver drives particularly badly, the Co-op could decide not to offer a discount.

Steve Kerrigan, head of telematics at the Co-op Insurance, said: “We recognise that insurance policies priced on ‘how’ somebody drives are not for everyone.

“This is why we have developed this app, to not only give drivers the chance to try before they buy but for them to gain a unique insight into their driving style.

“At the Co-op we are keen to help keep the roads safe and believe that telematics policies which honestly tell you how you are driving can play a role in this.

“Young drivers who drive well using the app can expect a discount on their quote of up to 20%, which can be a significant price saving, into the hundreds of pounds, for them.”

In addition the latest data from the Co-op Insurance has found that on average its Young Driver policyholders receive £120 back in their pockets in the first year of taking out their policy.

The app is available on Android via the Play Store and via the App Store for iphones by searching ‘Co-op Insurance Young Driver’.

Banks are shutting the door on more than 4.2m people in the UK who are looking for mortgages and credit.

However, many could be being unfairly judged as more than a third (34%) of people who’ve checked their credit score have found glaring errors on their report.

The research of over 2,000 individuals from Amigo Loans finds that over 4 million people have credit score of less than 720.  This is judged as a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ by the banks and as a result, their computers will say no.

While most people strive to stay on top of their finances, very few are as diligent with nurturing their credit score – a key factor in securing a mortgage or loan.  In fact, only one in eight people in the UK have ever checked their credit score.

Of those who have, 76% have a score of less than 720.  This puts them in the ‘poor credit rating’ category and deems them ‘untrustworthy’ by the banks.

 

Industry figures* show that more than half of the UK general public – over 20 million people –  are at risk of being declined credit, yet the vast majority (88%) have never checked their score and are completely oblivious to this pending sting in the tail.

This means there could be an additional 16 million unwitting borrowers who could be shunned by their local branch for a mortgage, credit card or loan.

Glen Crawford, CEO at Amigo Loans, which commissioned the study said:

Whether you’re male or female, from Penzance or St Ives, there is a computer says no culture that runs rife within UK financial services. Once your credit record is tarnished, high street lenders will close the door on you, regardless of who you are, what you do for a living or how much you earn.

This is a pandemic credit gap.  Over 20 million people in the UK could have a poor credit score.  And what’s worse, the majority have no idea.  The issue here, lies in education.  I’ve heard countless people say that if you have a poor credit score you don’t deserve to borrow money.  That’s a completely flawed argument.  Some people have never borrowed before, some people have errors on their credit records, and some people have been out of the country serving with the forces.  They could all be completely trustworthy but could be turned down because of a number on a computer screen.  Judging someone on a credit score alone is like deciding to marry someone based on their dating profile picture – it’s not enough information.”

 

British holidaymakers are starting to feel the effects of Brexit and weaker exchange rates on their holiday spending according to a survey of summer holidaymakers.

The average holidaymaker heading to the EU is £51 worse off per person, per week, according to the survey undertaken by Prepaid International Forum (PIF), the not-for-profit trade body for the prepaid financial services sector.

This is based on the average UK holidaymaker spending £241 per week while on holiday and exchange rates plummeting 17.5% (from a high of 1.43 to 1.18) since the vote to leave the EU.

This means an average family of four, taking a fortnight’s holiday in the EU, needs an extra £408 to match their spending on the same holiday last year.

As if to rub salt into their wounds, it is ‘Remain’ voters who are hardest hit, according to the survey.  54% of those suffering from weaker exchange rates on foreign summer holidays are ‘Remain’ voters, compared to 46% ‘Leave’ voters.  ‘Remain’ voters also reported spending more while on holiday (£258 per person, per week compared to £221) further increasing their post-Brexit losses.

According to experts, increased holiday spending costs are encouraging travel money providers to look at new ways to help holidaymakers get better deals.

Alastair Graham, spokesperson for PIF, says:

“Holidaymakers have always been subjected to poor exchange rates and extra charges when spending their money abroad.  The recent fluctuations in exchange rates have made them even more aware of such costs and are increasing appetites for alternative solutions.

“Prepaid financial services companies are seeing increased demand from travelers wanting to store travel money at times when rates are favourable, locking in their holiday spending sometimes months ahead of time.

“Using prepaid travel money cards to store currency is a popular way to guarantee the price of holiday spending in advance.