09 July 2019 Customers can register today for a new savings account, Kepe, which promises to end the ‘loyalty penalty’ by automatically moving cash savings to get better interest rates.

Kepe plans to do for people’s cash savings and cash ISAs what auto-switching has begun to do for household energy bills. It removes the need to manually search for, and switch to, new accounts once initial preferential rates have expired.

Customers will be able to sign up to one account, just once, and from then on their money will be automatically moved to different savings accounts best suited to meet their specifc savings needs and offering the best rates available to each saver.

An initial panel of partner banks will be offering highly competitive rates across a range of easy access, notice, fixed term and cash ISA products. 

A ‘super complaint’ lodged by Citizens Adviceto the Competition and Markets Authority last month (June 2019) estimated savings customers had lost out on more than £800 million since September 2018. It claims this happens because higher rates are only offered to attract new customers.  

Kepe intends to tackle this by automatically moving money to get people better offers.

“There are several issues with the savings market at the moment, not least the loyalty penalty which is unfavourable to people who don’t actively manage their cash savings,” explains Karteek Patel, CEO of Crowdstacker, the financial platform behind Kepe.

“Also the FCA’s 2018 report ‘Price Discrimination in the Cash Savings Market’identifies people’s apparent unwillingness to switch accounts as one of the main reasons why they are losing money on their cash savings and cash ISAs,” Karteek continues.

“And it goes so far as to suggest providers are capitalizing on this by offering the lowest rates to the longest standing customers.”  

Kepe’s own research found that despite less than one in five (19%)  savers saying they are confident they are getting the best interest rate on their savings, a large majority of two-thirds (66%) say they are unlikely to bother switching.

The FCA report estimates that £117 billion of the money held in easy access cash savings accounts, and £21 billion held in cash ISAs, has been in accounts opened for more than five years.  Yet Kepe’s own research also reveals the number one criteria considered by savers when looking at account options is the interest rate offered.

“So that doesn’t make a lot of sense, people want better rates but they aren’t doing anything about it.  A lot of money is obviously just sat there not working as hard as it could,” Karteek continues.

“This customer inertia is owing to misplaced brand loyalty, and probably confusion caused by multiple product offerings and unclear communications.

“Kepe tackles all of these issues by automating the process of switching accounts so that money is never left in an account paying a lower rate of return than is otherwise available to each particular saver. 

Kepe customers will be able to select the terms they are happy to accept such as whether the cash is held in instant access accounts or not.  Similarly they will be able to set savings goals according to what they are savings towards.  

Each time a customer’s money can be switched to a better deal it will automatically be done removing the need for researching or form filling.  Customers will be notified when this happens and up to the minute information on the status of their cash can be viewed via their dashboard.  

In line with the priorities identified by Kepe’s market research the core offering will be protection provided by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (97%), better interest rates (96%) and up to date information about account status (90%).

Anyone interested in opening a Kepe account can pre-register now at https://www.crowdstacker.com/kepe/register  to enjoy a range of early-bird benefits.  The full service will launch later in 2019.

04 July 2019 New research from TotallyMoney and Moneycomms reveals 1 in 12 Brits wouldn’t notice a rogue £20 entry on their bank statement, potentially costing a total of £108m.

  • 1 in 12 (5.4 million) people wouldn’t spot a rogue £20 entry on their main current account
  • Assuming each person has one bank account, losses could be up to £108m
  • 1 in 7 people only check their bank account once per month — or less
  • 50% of people haven’t got their free credit report, an easy way to detect possible fraudulent activity
  • To help customers stay alert to fraud, TotallyMoney has created a simple five-step plan.

Online statements and mobile banking apps make it easy to check your account. But, people don’t always pick up on some signs of possible fraud.

Recent survey results show that 1 in 12 people wouldn’t spot a rouge £20 entry on their statement.

There are 65 million active personal current accounts in the UK. So, assuming one person owns only one account, a staggering £108m, across 5.4 million bank accounts, could potentially be lost.

Banks and lenders are under increasingly more pressure to up their security. In the meantime, there are some things you yourself can do to detect fraud — and limit potential loss.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, said: “For some people, a £20 transaction they don’t recognise isn’t the end of the world. But, it could be tell-tale of a bigger issue.

“In the past, we had to rely on monthly paper bank statements. Now, thanks to mobile apps, our bank accounts are at our fingertips, making it easier than ever to check our outgoings.

“Spotting and reporting anything you don’t recognise — no matter how small — could stop an incident of fraud in its tracks.

“Another way to keep an eye out for fraud is by getting your TotallyMoney free credit report. You can see any financial activity made in your name, as well as see your balances and payments — so you can spot and report anything you don’t recognise.

“To make it easier to spot any of the potential signs of fraud, we’ve pulled together some of the best ways to get in the know.”

The TotallyMoney five-step plan

  1. Use Online Banking Download your bank’s mobile app, or use online banking, to check your statement every couple of days. You can often even set up alerts to get notified every time a transaction is made.
  2. Hold on to Receipts
    Keep tabs of your contactless card transactions, by keeping the paper receipts until the money is taken out of your account.
  3. Check your Direct Debits
    Be aware of future direct debits and regular payments due before payday, so you know how much ‘spare spending money’ you’ve got available — a good way to avoid hefty overdraft charges, too.
  4. Review your Statements
    Don’t ignore your monthly credit card and bank statements. Check that everything is as you’d expect.
  5. Check your Free Credit Report Ensure you recognise everything on your credit report — especially credit searches.

03 July 2019UK drivers can save themselves £20 by making one simple change and avoiding motorway refuelling stations. 

New research has exposed a disparity between the price of petrol stations on the roads and on the motorway, revealing how motorists can save themselves a money by making a simple detour and using alternative fuel stations.

The study by fuel price information service and app, PetrolPrices.com has revealed that UK service stations are charging up to 37p per litre of fuel more than their nearest station, taking advantage of the captive market.

The research by found that Leicester Forest East services is charging 37p per litre more than nearby station Sainsbury’s Fosse Park which is 2.1 miles away.  Bridgewater services on the M5 in Somerset is charging up to 29p per litre more than Sainsbury’s Bridgewater, which is just 2.5 miles away.  This equates to £16.38 and £12.18 more per tank respectively, when filling up the 42L tank of a Ford Fiesta, which is the best-selling car in the UK. Bridgewater, Cherwell Valley, Exeter and Lancaster services featured in both lists of stations that charged much more than their nearest cheapest station for both diesel and unleaded.

The study found that a five-hour journey from Maidstone to Cornwall would cost £150 if the driver filled a 50-litre tank at Clacket Lane services on the M25 and then Exeter service station on the M5. However, drivers could save £20 by pulling off the motorway and refilling at the Shell pumps in Godstone, Surrey, and the Tesco Extra in Exeter Vale. 

Says Kitty Bates, consumer spokesperson at the company said “Our research shows that many motorway service stations are pricing their fuel well over the odds with some stations charging up to 37p per litre more than their nearest forecourt operator.

“Motorway Service Areas have long been overpriced because operators know that motorists have to fill up there, and they have a captive audience, so they charge a similar rate year round, regardless of the fluctuations in the wholesale industry. Their argument is the costs are higher, which is something the government has been saying that it wants to investigate for quite a few years now. However, until this takes place, we would encourage drivers to find the best fuel deal local to them, or along their intended route, before they set off using an such as PetrolPrices.com which will help them to avoid being ripped off on the motorway. For too long millions of UK motorists have been stung by extortionate motorway service area fuel prices.”

02 July 2019 Our expectations of ‘everyday’ living are growing rapidly. As mainstream technology advances at an exponential rate, more and more items are moving from luxury to necessity in our lives. The good news is once unthinkable technologies are now readily accessible, indeed affordable for most people in the western world.

Not everything is getting cheaper, though. In fact,
some of the most fundamental parts of life are costing us more than ever. Here,
we discuss some of the key everyday items in life that have moved in both
directions.

More affordable: televisions

The humble television has been on quite the journey
since first going on sale in 1928. Naturally it began as a very exclusive item,
ask previous generations of their memories of watching the Queen’s coronation,
or even the moon landing, and you’ll hear stories of watching it at someone
else’s house because the TV was still a household rarity.

Back in the early 80s, a 26” Sony colour TV cost between £570-£800
which, inflation adjusted, equates
to roughly £1975-£2775 in today’s money
. Today, you can find 50”
Sony Smart TVs for under £400.

Less affordable: further education

Student loans are the bane of many millennials’ lives.
For many, their loan will be never be paid off, simply down to their earning
potential never matching up to their level of debt.

Up until the late 90s, higher education was virtually
free in the UK, thanks to state paid tuition fees and maintenance grants. In
1998, annual tuition fees of £1,000 were introduced. In 2006 that rose to
£3,000, before shifting to £9,000 a year in 2012.

More Affordable: air travel

Even though airfares still represent a significant
cost to travellers, things are much better than they used to be. Of course,
when plane travel first became a truly commercial matter in the 1950s, costs were
sky high. Domestic
US flights could cost comfortably over $1,000, with trips abroad consistently
in the multiple thousands
.

Typically, flights that cost thousands then only cost
hundreds or even tens nowadays. There is somewhat of a trade-off though — early
commercial flights were spacious, with plenty of free booze and food. That
certainly isn’t the case now.

Less affordable: housing

Thanks to the UK government’s Help
to Buy scheme
, hundreds of thousands of people have
managed to get on the property ladder. However, costs have continued to rise in
both the buying and rental markets.

According
to Nationwide
, the average cost of a house in the UK
sits at £212,694, as of Q1 2019. The property market fluctuates, but prices
have been consistently on the rise since the start of 2013. Back then the
average was £163,056. At the turn of the millennium, it was £77,698. Even in
inflation-adjusted terms, the cost of house prices has risen by just under
£100,000 in the last 20 years.

With the typical one-bed
home in the UK costing £600 a month
, renters aren’t faring
much better. The
BBC dubbed two thirds of the country ‘unaffordable’ for young renters
,
with a salary of £51,200 required to afford a mere one-bed in London.

Overall, there’s an interesting contrast of
expenditure facing today’s society. As technology advances and production costs
drop, we’re enjoying more affordable access to better gadgets and general
electronics than ever, as well as cheaper travel around the world. However,
where some of life’s more fundamental costs are concerned, there’s a different
story altogether.

The stark rise in key spend areas like housing and
education is a wider indictment of the rising cost of living against stagnating
wages. For those looking to make
the right financial choices
, it appears many of life’s most
important expenditures will pose the biggest challenges.

02 July 2019 More than half the population are prepared to insure their mobile phone, gadgets, and other possessions before themselves, according to new research by Co-op Insurance.

The insightful data shows that less than half (48%) of UK residents have purchased life insurance but have taken out cover for objects they own.

Of those who don’t have life insurance, almost a fifth (18%) say that they have never even thought about taking out life insurance, despite the majority having insurance for things such as mobile phones and other gadgets.

Insurance policies held by people who don’t have life insurance:

  Insurance policy %
1 Home 63%
2 Travel 23%
3 Mobile phone 9%
4 Warranty on electrical items 6%
5 Gadget 4%

The survey also highlighted the need for insurers to be more flexible in the design of their products. Four fifths (80%) of people say that insurers should do more to help people who fall into financial difficulty, with three fifths of these (58%) thinking that insurers should offer extended payment holidays of more than one month.

Co-op Insurance recently re-entered the life market alongside its partner Royal London with a life policy, which offers extended payment holidays. This distinctive feature was designed in conjunction with Co-op Members, who were keen to ensure that policies did not lapse un-necessarily during the term.

The product offers a level term, decreasing term or monthly income benefit and:

·         Includes the option to take two six month payment holidays throughout the lifetime of the policy after a 12 month qualifying period, allowing their policy to remain in force

·         Customers can also opt to reduce their cover level rather than pay back any shortfall at the end of the payment holiday window

Charles Offord, Director of Co-op Insurance, said: “It’s hard to imagine that many people will insure their possessions ahead of their own lives, but that is the reality.

“Our research has shown that the inflexibility of life products is a clear barrier to people insuring their lives and protecting the futures of their dependants. Our extended payment holidays provide the peace of mind our customers and members are looking for to ensure their policies remain in force throughout the term.”