11 Jul 2018  M&S Bank is urging holidaymakers to take steps to protect their homes against opportunistic thieves before heading off on holiday this summer, as research* shows that nearly a third have had their current home broken into, with 15 per cent having been burgled more than once.

The M&S Bank research revealed that of those Brits planning a holiday in 2018, more than half are planning to go away for a week or more, while 29 per cent have plans to go away for a fortnight or more.

Paul Stokes, Head of Products at M&S Bank said: “With the peak holiday period approaching, our research shows that the average holidaymaker is planning to go away for 10 days, meaning many Brits could be leaving their homes unoccupied for extended periods over the summer months.

“While many of us look forward to the summer holiday period, and rightly so, unfortunately so do opportunistic thieves. That’s why it’s important to ensure that securing the home by taking certain security precautions, such as moving expensive or desirable items out of sight and away from windows, becomes a routine part of every household’s holiday preparations, just as buying holiday money or that new swimsuit is.”

Of those who had previously been burgled, seven per cent said that the thief smashed a window and six per cent said access gained to their home was by breaking a door lock. But four per cent admitted to accidentally leaving a door unlocked and three per cent a window unlocked.

Positively, more than two in five Brits currently have an alarm system (43 per cent) and 46 per cent having security lighting in place. These security features protect the home and act as a deterrent, yet nearly a third (32 per cent) of Brits have neither or don’t know if they have these security measures in place.

It’s important for holidaymakers to take a little time to prepare their home by taking some simple security precautions before they depart. The most popular security measure taken before going on holiday is asking a neighbour, friend or family member to keep an eye on the property (61 per cent), followed by locking the shed or outbuilding (50 per cent) and ensuring any objects in the garden, such as a lawn mower or BBQ, are securely locked away (45per cent). Nearly one in ten won’t, or don’t know if they will, take any security precautions for their home before going away (9 per cent).

Top tips to help secure your home this summer:

  • Inform a trusted neighbour, friend or family member that you’re going away – ask them to keep an eye on your property
  • Ensure windows are locked but keep curtains and blinds open – so it’s not evident that the home is unoccupied
  • Don’t leave expensive items in view – keep laptops and other desirable goods out of direct sight
  • Be cautious about who you tell – don’t broadcast the fact that you’re away, especially when using social media
  • Lock your shed / outbuildings – ensure expensive items, such as garden furniture, tools and BBQs are securely locked away
  • Install a reliable alarm system – security lighting can also be used to deter unwanted visitors.

06 Jul 2018  New research by credit experts TotallyMoney suggests Britons will pay an estimated £23.8 million solely on interest and transaction fees from using credit cards to gamble on 2018’s World Cup.

Credit card payments used for gambling are treated by lenders as a cash advance. This usually means the borrower is charged a transaction fee, a higher interest rate, and will start paying interest from the moment they transact.

The Free Credit Report company’s research follows a recent report by The Times that suggests Britons will wager £2.5 billion on 2018’s World Cup. Of all gambling deposits, it’s thought that 10–20% are made up from credit card payments.

TotallyMoney used data from Defaqto to calculate an average cash transaction fee of 3.23% and an average cash advance interest rate of 28.13%. Using these figures, they revealed that close to £23.8 million will be spent on interest and fees alone.

Knowledge is Power

Lack of knowledge is thought to be the main reason for incurring such costly fees. A TotallyMoney survey of 1,000 people revealed that only 1 in 10 are aware that lenders treat gambling with a credit card as a cash advance.

Often, gamblers won’t be aware of how much their bets have truly cost them until their credit card bill arrives. Even then, it’s easy for borrowers to miss these fees among the transactions listed.

Convenience may play a part in hiking up the total spend on interest and fees. Many save credit card details on their internet browsers for simple online purchases, making it quick and easy to place bets using the same information.

The research has also sparked concerns over the increased potential for borrowers to spend more than they can afford from using a credit card, which could compound their problems with debt.

The Gambling Commission has already suggested banning the use of credit cards for online betting. However, others have suggested this might not be necessary if gamblers are aware of the true cost of gambling with credit.

Dangerous Play

“Borrowers usually get an interest-free grace period on regular purchases, which doesn’t apply when a credit card is used to gamble,” TotallyMoney CEO Alastair Douglas said. “It’s easy to see why people think they have time to pay off their gambling debts without paying interest.

“Hopefully, knowing the true cost of placing a bet online will make people think twice before gambling with credit.”

04 Jul 2018 With summer holidays just around the corner, Metro Bank, the revolution in British banking, is continuing its quest to make customers’ holidays a little easier on the purse strings, with its fee free European transactions, as well as competitive exchange rates on purchasing Euros from its network of 56 stores.

With customers now able to open a Current Account online in a matter of minutes from the comfort of their own home, the whole of the UK can benefit from the bank’s travel money service. In fact, Metro Bank is the only high street bank to offer both its Current Account and Credit Card customers fee free transactions across 33 European countries – with no non-sterling transaction or purchase fees.

What it costs to make purchases abroad

  Inside Europe Outside Europe
Original transaction value (equivalent in GBP) £100 £100
Non-sterling transaction fee Free 2.75%
Non-sterling purchase fee Free Free
Total that you will be charged £100 £102.75

 

What it costs to withdraw cash abroad

Inside Europe Outside Europe
Original transaction value (equivalent in GBP) £100 £100
Non-sterling transaction fee Free 2.75%
Non-sterling purchase fee Free £1.50
Total that you will be charged £100 £104.25

04 Jul 2018 Two thirds (68%) of those with an overdraft have no idea how much it’s costing them, according to research by personal finance comparison website finder.com.

And with a quarter of Brits going into their overdraft during the past 12 months, this means almost 8.9 million people are potentially being hit by fees they aren’t aware of or don’t understand. An additional 725,000 consumers aren’t even sure whether they have gone into the red or not.

The average amount people borrowed from their overdraft last year was £721, putting Britain’s overdraft debt at more than £9.4 billion over the past 12 months. While a similar number of men and women take out overdrafts,  men are the biggest borrowers, spending £166 more on average than women in the past year (£808 vs £642).

Regionally, Scotland and London have the highest proportion of people dipping into their overdraft, as almost a third of residents were overdrawn (31% and 30% respectively) last year. This was closely followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (29%), while the lowest proportion of people going overdrawn was in East Anglia (18 percent).

Region

 % that have gone into their overdraft over the past 12 months

East Anglia

18%

East Midlands

24%

London

30%

North East

21%

North West

27%

Northern Ireland

26%

Scotland

31%

South East

22%

South West

23%

Wales

20%

West Midlands

27%

Yorkshire and the Humber

29%

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people aged between 18 and 34 are much more likely to borrow from their overdraft. Two in five (40 percent) did so at some point last year, more than three times the figure for those aged 55 and over (13 percent). Younger people are also likely to borrow more than their older counterparts at an average of £863.70 each, compared to £485.45.

To view the full results of the research, complete with an interactive map of the number of overdrafts per region, please visit:https://www.finder.com/uk/overdraft-fees

Commenting on the findings, Jon Ostler, UK CEO at finder.com, said: ‘‘Although the Financial Conduct Authority is looking to regulate overdraft fees and enforce greater transparency, it is very concerning to see many consumers continue to pay fees unwittingly. Daily charges for unarranged overdrafts are typically between £5 and £8 so, with additional interest and monthly charges on top, it can add up quickly.

When considering borrowing money it’s worth looking at all your options. Banks are now required to send a notification if you’re about to go into the red, however many still come with excessive fees and can rack up debt easily. If borrowing money is unavoidable, consider taking out a personal loan from friends or family, or a zero percent credit card so you know exactly how much you owe at any given time. As with any debt, it is important to set yourself a budget and plan to pay it off in order to avoid accumulating more fees.”

 

29 Jun 2018  As the summer holiday season gets into full swing, Sainsbury’s Bank has announced that Nectar customers can now get better rates on all currencies in-store so they can enjoy more value on currencies from New Zealand dollars to Norwegian Krone plus over 50 more currencies when purchasing travel money from Sainsbury’s Travel Money Bureau. 

From this week, as part of the Bank’s new offering across all available currencies, Nectar customers will also earn 10 Nectar Points per £100 spent in bureau and five Nectar Points per £100 spent online.

As an added bonus, Travel Money customers who take out travel insurance with Sainsbury’s Bank can get up to 30% off the cost of their policy when they buy their Travel Money online or from their nearest in-store travel money bureau. 

Customers can order currency online or by telephone on 0345 355 2463 and collect from a travel money bureau, and can also receive free home delivery for orders of £500 or more or buy in store at over 250 travel money bureau.

For more information please visit www.sainsburysbank.co.uk,/travel/holidayshop2018

26 Jun 2018 Almost half (46%) of UK parents have taken their children out of school to go on holiday, according to a new study released by Co-op Insurance.

Parents that are willing to let their children miss school say that financial strain is the leading factor in their decision, with two thirds saying that family holidays are too expensive when schools break up for summer.

For over a quarter, getting time off work within school holidays is difficult and so say they resort to going on holiday in school time.

A further quarter (23%) say they take their children out of education for a ‘quieter’ holiday, and over a tenth (13%) feel as parents, this decision ultimately is theirs to make.

Despite taking children out of school without permission being against the law, of the parents who have taken a children out of school, a quarter (25%) have done so for a whole week, and a further one in ten have pushed it for up to two weeks.

Additionally, 27% of parents have owned up to skipping school for a family holiday on more than one occasion.

Colin Butler, Head of Travel Insurance at the Co-op said:  “Having already paid for the holiday itself, travel insurance can be seen as just an optional additional cost, which is why half of families don’t bother getting travel insurance.

“By not taking out cover however, families are risking nasty financial surprises should the worst happen whilst they’re on holiday.

“We want to make sure families are not only safe on holiday, but carry less of a financial burden when considering travel insurance. That’s why, during the summer, we’ll be offering children free travel insurance.”

From 1st June until 30th September 2018, Co-op Insurance will be offering free travel insurance to children under the age of 18 travelling with an adult.

20 Jun 2018 A fifth of parents aren’t saving any money at all for the future, as high inflation, low wage growth, and low savings rates put pressure on families, according to new research from Zopa.

The survey also found that a higher proportion of non-parents (23%) weren’t saving for their future.

Zopa’s research of a matched sample of 500 parents and 500 non-parents uncovers the differing savings behaviours and attitudes between the two groups. The research has found that it’s primarily, although not exclusively, a lack of money holding most parents back from saving for the future. Over half of parents (55%) who don’t put money aside for their children say this is the case.

However, for one in five parents, the reason not to save for their kids’ future isn‘t one of money, rather that they want their children to make their own way in life financially.

Although many parents are struggling to find the money to put aside, they are more likely than non-parents to think long-term. Two thirds of parents that put money aside have an investment timescale of more than 4 years, suggesting they’re in it for the long run, whereas only half of non-parents are investing with a 4-year timescale in mind.

When it comes to parents saving methods, despite the UK’s rock-bottom interest rates, half of parents who are saving money for their child use a savings account through their bank. This is followed by junior ISAs (34%), fixed term savings accounts (15%) and stocks and shares ISAs (9%).

A spokesman for Zopa, commented: “With wage growth slowing, interest rates still low and inflation high, it’s a tough savings environment out there. However, for parents that are able to put money away each month there are options to ensure they are making the most of their money.

“Unfortunately, the British public will struggle to find a savings account paying out interest higher than 2%, and with the most recent UK inflation rate being posted at 2.4%, anyone using one of these accounts as their primary “long term” savings vehicle can most definitely find a better route. Parents in particular, should be looking to utilise a variety of products for their children’s financial future. Investments such as the Innovative Finance ISA* provides a better return than traditional savings products with a bit more risk, so those saving or investing can feel better about their children’s future.”

18 Jun 2018 New figures from personal loan provider, Hitachi Personal Finance, reveal a significant increase in loan applications over the past three years. Applications for motoring, home improvements and leisure loans increased by 31% between 2015 and 2018.

The lending data also showed an increase of 95% in motoring loan applications and 4% in home improvements.

Average loan amounts have also seen an increase across these three categories:

  1. Motoring: +8.67%
  2. Leisure: +7.02%
  3. Home improvements: +1.78%

The figures are from Hitachi’s recent ‘History of Household Expenditure’ analysis, which takes historic ONS data, combined with loans data, to reveal trends in consumer income and expenditure.

With the analysis revealing an increase in the number of loans people are taking out in recent years, the experts at Hitachi Personal Finance have pulled together a simple list of do’s and don’ts that could help achieve, and maintain, a good credit score:

DO…

Register to vote

Being on the electoral register helps potential lenders verify your identity, so make sure you’re registered at your current address. It’s an extremely easy way to improve your credit score, and also quick to do online via https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

 

Know your numbers

Experts say the perfect amount of credit utilisation is around 10-30%, as it shows you can lend responsibly without getting carried away. In other words, if you have a £15,000 limit on a credit card, try not to charge more than £4,500 at any one time.

 

Play by the rules
Sometimes it can be tempting to get out of that gym membership by just cancelling your direct debit, but without proper account closure, you could be making yourself vulnerable to complaints from the company and ‘missed payments’ creeping onto your credit report.

 

Sanity check closed accounts
Certain accounts, such as utilities, can take weeks to even themselves out once you’ve requested closure, which could lead to a missed payment. If you’re moving away, leave a forwarding address, and, just to be safe, give the company a call back after a month or so just to double check there’s nothing left outstanding. A lot of utilities providers and councils also now have apps or online account trackers, which make the moving and/or account closure process a lot easier.

Financially de-link
If you’ve ever been financially linked to someone that you no longer need to share an account with – whether that’s a friend, a housemate or an ex-partner – it may be a good idea to de-link from them as soon as you can, or their financial behaviour may reflect badly on you. You can find financial disassociation instructions from the three major credit agencies, on the EquifaxExperian and Callcredit websites.

 

DON’T…

Underestimate the effect of a missed payment
A missed payment could stay on your credit report for at least six years, so make sure you pay all of your bills on time.

Be afraid to look
Checking your credit report does not negatively affect your score. In fact, it doesn’t affect it at all, no matter how many times you check it. So, sit back, relax and check away. It’s always better to be informed, so you know what you need to work on.

Forget your past
It’s not always easy to remember every address you’ve ever lived at, especially if you’ve moved around a lot. However, having a full, detailed record of your past addresses is absolutely vital for getting an excellent credit score. If you can’t remember all the address details, check the ‘delivery addresses’ section on your PayPal or Amazon accounts. If you can’t remember how long you lived somewhere, check your online banking for dates of first and last mortgage or rent payments.

Worry too much
Credit reporting is there to help everyone, from businesses to consumers. It’s not used to spy on you and information such as how often you’re looking at products on price comparison sites, your age and your salary is not available for all to see.

A spokesman from Hitachi Personal Finance added: “Small changes can make a big impact to your credit score, so take the time to ensure you are fully informed, and then apply any recommended ‘quick wins’.

“Not missing payments, and not spending above your perfect credit utilisation percentage may take a bit of getting used to, but these practices will be worth the effort in 2018, and beyond.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Jun 2018 As the summer’s biggest sporting events kick off, families heading away on holiday are also getting ready to shake off the cobwebs. Research from American Express reveals nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits have chosen to take an activity holiday this year, with a further one in ten (10%) already warming up for an active trip in 2019.

The most popular activity holidays include sports camps, walking and cycling. Those Brits choosing a sports camp will spend on average £413, including travel, accommodation, activities, food and drink. Walking holidays are a small step behind, costing £391 and cycling trips come a close third (£388).

The main reasons families pick energetic breaks over beach trips and cruises are: to encourage their children to be fit and healthy (47%); to keep their children well occupied (45%) and finally over a third (35%) state it’s a fun way to spend time together as a family.

Type of holiday Average cost per family
Sports camps (football camp, tennis camp etc.) £413
Walking (trekking, hiking etc.) £391
Cycling £388
Activity park holidays £386
Water based activities (sailing, water skiing, surfing etc.) £355
Climbing £306

Maggie Boyle, Director from American Express, said: “Summer holidays are a time parents and children really look forward to. It’s great to see our love for sport feeding into our holiday habits, but it’s wise to also make sure your finances are in good shape in advance of the summer months. Using a credit card that gives cashback or rewards is a great way to ensure there are some perks waiting for you when you return home.”

12 Jun 2018 Motorway speeding convictions will add an extra £101 to the average annual car insurance bill, new analysis from insurance market research experts Consumer Intelligence shows.

The unique analysis of nearly 36,000 insurance quotes over the past year to April found the average cost of speeding for insurance across all speeding offences equates to £50 a year adding to the minimum fine for speeding of £100 plus three penalty points.

It found that drivers without any speeding convictions pay an average £693 a year but that jumps to £743 a year with any speeding conviction. The biggest impact on bills however comes from being caught speeding on a motorway – the so-called SP50 offence, which adds £101 a year to bills taking them to £794 a year.

SP30 offences for speeding on a public road adds an average £36 a year to insurance taking it to £729. Consumer Intelligence’s data looked at the impact for drivers aged 25-plus of speeding and found the cost is higher proportionally for over-50s.

Older drivers caught speeding will see their bill rise by £58 for any speeding convictions but will pay an extra £166 a year for a motorway speeding offence. Speeding on a public road only costs an average £14 extra a year.

Maximum fines for speeding offences can be as high as £2,500 depending on the severity of the offence and how far over the speed limit drivers were caught at.

Most recent Government data shows 1.97 million fixed penalty notices for speeding offences were issued in 2016 and the number has increased 32% since 2011. Not all fixed penalty notices result in fines as some drivers are offered speed awareness courses.

Speeding endorsements remain on driving licences for four years from the date of the offence and insurers ask drivers to declare any motoring convictions within the past five years.

 

The table below shows the average premiums and cost of speeding.

TYPE OF DRIVER COST WITH NO CONVICTIONS COST WITH ANY SPEEDING CONVICTIONS COST WITH SP30 CONVICTIONS COST WITH SP50 CONVICTIONS
All drivers £693 £743 £729 £794
Under-50s £795 £840 £836 £865
Over50s £469 £527 £483 £635