11 Oct 2018 Tandem Bank, the UK’s leading digital bank, announce the launch of a second credit product, the Journey Card, available through application via the Tandem website.

Tandem Bank obtained its banking licence in January 2018 and launched shortly after with their Cashback Credit Card and three market-leading Fixed Saver accounts, along with an advanced app that aggregates bank accounts to give users full visibility and insight into their finances. Tandem is now adding its second competitive credit card offering to its product suite, this time to a market that Tandem believe is underserved.

The Journey Card is a way for those who haven’t had credit before to build up a strong credit profile. When paid on time, and without going over their credit limit, customers can use the Journey Card to achieve better financial health. Increasingly people are realising the importance of credit scores for building a better future, be that helping them to get car loans, mortgages and better credit rates in the long-term.

One of the worst things about travelling abroad is constantly having to worry about being stung with fees when you get home, but from today, customers signing up to the Journey Card can make purchases overseas without incurring fees and will receive real time in-app updates as they spend, leaving out the nasty surprises. Following the success of the Cashback Card, it’s clear that Tandem’s customer base loves to travel and the Journey Card offers the same great overseas features plus the advantage of a smooth application even if you are new to credit.

The Journey Card offers:

  • ZERO transaction fees on any purchases
  • ZERO transaction fees on cash withdrawals
  • 56 days interest free on any money spent
  • 24.9% APR representative, variable
  • Receive all updates and communication via the App (forget documents being lost or exposed account information)
  • Powerful in-App budgeting tools

03 Oct 2018 NatWest is offering a new offer, £125 to new and existing customers switching their main bank account. The limited time offer runs from 3 October 2018 until 3 December 2018.

Customers switching to a NatWest Reward current account will also benefit from 2% Rewards on their household bills with an average of £83 received each year. A customer switching to NatWest could therefore receive over £200 just for switching bank accounts.

Additionally NatWest is enhancing the benefits on its Reward Silver, Platinum and Black accounts from 1 October. Customers will now be able to benefit from no foreign purchase fees on debit card purchases made outside of the UK, up to 40% off cinema tickets and (for Reward Platinum and Black customers) personal car breakdown cover which will cover customers for vehicles they own and will also cover a vehicle if a customer is travelling in it.  The NatWest Reward range has no minimum sign up period – meaning customers can try account benefits and cancel at any time if it doesn’t meet their needs.

Switching bank accounts is simple and can be done through the Current Account Switch Service. Payments, such as Direct Debits, Standing Orders and Bill Payments, will be automatically transferred to the newly opened account within seven days.

Switchers are required to use the Current Account Switch Service, close their existing account with their current provider and transfer their main current account to NatWest. Customers will then receive the payment by 8th February 2019.

It is simple for customers to obtain the £125. £1500 must be paid into the account and customers need to log into either online or through the award winning mobile app before 7January 2018. Customers must be 18 or over and not have already taken advantage of a cash offer from NatWest after October 2017 for opening a new current account and switching. Customers can apply on natwest.com or in any NatWest branch.

03 Oct 2018 New research by credit experts TotallyMoney reveals exactly what goes into credit scores and how they’re calculated, allowing customers to understand better the reasons for any changes to them. 

TotallyMoney generates credit scores and reports using data provided by credit reference agency Callcredit. However, what goes into your credit score has largely been kept under wraps until now.

Payment Behaviour (48%)

According to the research, payment behaviour comprises 48% of your credit score and is the biggest contributing factor overall.

It considers on-time payments, late and missed payments, and how recently the payments occurred across all credit accounts. Bad behaviour in this segment is therefore likely to have the biggest negative impact on credit scores.

Credit Usage (21%)

Credit usage comprises 21% of your credit score, and considers a person’s total available credit and how close they are to their limits. It’s thought that keeping credit usage below 25% of an individual’s available credit can help keep a credit score healthy.

Credit Experience (21%)

Credit experience comprises 21% of your credit score, and looks at a person’s credit accounts and how long they’ve been using them.

Sensibly using credit products over a longer period could increase credit scores, whereas those new to credit or those who have limited experience using it might find their scores are lower.

Desire for Credit(5%)

Desire for credit comprises 5% of your credit score. It looks at credit account openings and closures, and when these openings and closures took place. Closing a credit account suggests there’s less desire for credit and could increase a credit score, whereas opening new accounts suggests more eagerness for credit and could lower a score.

Credit Types(5%)

Lastly, credit types comprise 5% of your credit score. This refers to an individual’s experience of managing different types of credit, such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, and even gym memberships.

Sensibly handling a variety of credit products could improve a credit score.

The research has also debunked the myth that getting rejected for credit lowers your credit score, which is not true for credit scores provided by credit reference agency Callcredit. However, this only applies to the number. Since lenders can see when you’ve been rejected for credit, it could lower your Borrowing Power, or your ability to get accepted for credit.

Andrew Hagger, Personal Finance Expert from moneycomms.co.uk said:

“We’re constantly nagging customers to check their credit score and telling them how important it is but fail to help them understand how it works.

Explaining which behaviours and actions have the biggest impact on your score is vital if we really want people to take credit scores more seriously.

There’s been too much smoke and mirrors in this industry for years, so it’s good that customers are being given a greater insight which will help them manage their score more effectively.

I’d highly recommend signing up for a service where your score is emailed to you every month – that way you always know where you stand as it’s always at the forefront of your mind.”

TotallyMoney CEO Alastair Douglas said:

“For a long time, people have had to rely largely on guesswork and anecdotal advice on how their credit score is calculated and what they can do to improve it.

“Hopefully, this research will help customers better understand their credit scores, so they can home in on what makes their score rise and fall.

“A good place to start is with TotallyMoney’s Free Credit Report. Once you find out what your score is, you’ll be in a better position to improve it from there.”

 

01 Oct 2018 After upping the ante on the funeral price war earlier this month, the UK’s leading funeral and probate provider Co-op Funerals and Life planning has now announced another wave of measures to further support thousands of bereaved families financially.

Co-op is leading  the way in tackling funeral costs, including through its guarantee to beat like for like funeral quotes, reducing the cost of its most affordable funeral, the Simple funeral by £100 and increasing discount for Co-op’s 4.7 million members to £200 (or 5% if greater) on all core funeral options.

Now Co-op is going further by extending its guarantee to beat competitor prices on a like for like basis across its funeral plans and on probate fees.

With over 207,000 funeral plans and more than 250,000 grants of probate every year across the market, the move will have a significant impact.

According to Co-op’s data, the average cost of a funeral now stands at £3,900. Coupled with the average cost of administering a grant of probate at £4,500, the cost of dealing with a loved one’s affairs for the bereaved now totals £8,400.

The new measures are in response to recent findings from Co-op’s biggest ever survey on death and bereavement, which received an overwhelming response from over 30,000 UK adults. The survey revealed that as many 81% of people haven’t saved anything towards a funeral.

Robert Maclachlan, Managing Director of Co-op Funerals and Life Planning said: “Every year, thousands of families are having to find significant sums to arrange the funerals of their loved ones and are seeing any inheritance left, reduced by probate fees.

“Last year, 70,000 funeral plans were taken out with the Co-op, giving more people peace of mind that their families won’t be left to cover the costs of their funerals.

“By introducing these new measures, we hope that more people will plan ahead with confidence and families who are left to deal with probate can trust that they’re getting the best price.”

27 Sep 2018 Car insurance price cuts are speeding up with drivers seeing premiums drop by 9.1% in the past 12 months, new analysis from insurance research experts Consumer Intelligence (CI) shows.

Its data shows average car insurance bills have fallen to £766 with black box technology – so-called telematics – which rewards safer driving adding to the increased competition across the market. 

Under-25s are the biggest beneficiaries and can expect annual premium quotes of £1,608 after prices fell 15.4% in the past year. The over-50s only saw prices drop 6.8% in the past year but they have the comfort of annual bills of £392.

Across the market 22% of all the top five cheapest quotes came from telematics providers. For under-25s around 60% of the most competitive policies are telematics while just 7% of the most competitive for over-50s are telematics. 

All parts of the country are benefiting with the biggest annual price cuts in the North West at 14.9%. Drivers in London still see the highest annual bills at £1,150 – more than double the lowest at £510 in Scotland.

But premiums are still 20.4% higher than February 2014 when Consumer Intelligence – whose figures are used to calculate official inflation statistics – first started collecting the data.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence pricing expert said: “The trend in quoted premiums is down which may be partly due to insurers passing on the anticipated benefits of whiplash reforms now.

“It’s another sign of the increased competition for business and it is likely premiums will continue to fall unless there are any major shocks in claims or tax rises.

“The influence of telematics is a major factor with increased use of it by the over-50s and a 3% rise since March according to our data.

“Generally over-50s experience the biggest price rises as a percentage and the smallest price cuts so older drivers should explore telematics if they want to beat the demographic trend.”

26 Sep 2018 New research from Charter Savings Bank shows grandparents are collectively worth over £5 trillion – the equivalent of £350,634 each – and expect their children and grandchildren to be as well off as them when they reach the same age.

Despite owing much of their wealth to being part of the property-owning generation the study found 52% of grandparents believe that their children will accumulate more wealth than them compared to a quarter who think the younger generation will be worse off.

Grandparents acknowledge that they are worth more now than their parents were at the same age; over half (56 per cent) believe this to be the case versus 25% who think they’re worth less now than their parents.

In a sign of how many pensioners are sharing their money with younger generations during their lifetimes, four in ten grandparents are either already gifting cash to their children and grandchildren or plan to do so.  Three-quarters (74%) and half (50%) of grandparents plan to pass down their wealth to their children and grandchildren respectively.

The main source of grandparents’ wealth is their home worth an average of £225,623 which accounts for almost two-thirds of the value of their assets.  Their pension pots (£32,652), investments (£32,013) and bank savings (£29,725) are the other major sources of wealth.

Grandparents are not entirely debt-free – around one in five (19%) still have mortgages on their main home and one in three owe money on loans and credit cards. On average,  they have £14,810 in liabilities predominately due to outstanding mortgages of £11,130 with £2,211 in unsecured debt through loans and credit cards.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “Baby boomers may be the richest generation ever, but they are optimistic that their families will in time be better off than them.  This may be difficult to believe for millennials struggling to reach the property ladder but much of their grandparents’ wealth will eventually find its way to them either through gifting or inheritance.

 “While houses are the biggest source of wealth, the savings accumulated by the average grandparent almost match the size of their pensions and investments, demonstrating the role that a healthy savings habit plays in any balanced portfolio.

“Whether you are lucky enough to be expecting to inherit all or part of your parents or grandparent’s wealth or not, it’s important for people of all ages to make regular cash savings and seek out the best rates to live the lifestyle you aspire to have in later life.”

21 Sep 2018 Holidays should be a time of rest and relaxation but some find the summer months expensive and hectic, so for many Brits, going on holiday after the summer rush is the preferred option. New research from Sainsbury’s Bank reveals 12% of Brits prefer to take their main holiday in September, equating to 6.2 million holiday makers taking a post-summer break.

Over half of Brits holidaying in September choose it because it is a quieter time of year for a getaway, with holidaymakers from across Europe and the world having already had their summer break. Two in five holidaymakers are savvy spenders, citing good offers and deals meaning September breaks are good for both wallet and wellbeing. Furthermore, 20% of holidaymakers choose September as their nearest and dearest are available to come with them.

Top reasons why Brits love September holidays:

Reason

Percentage of Brits who travel in September for this reason

It’s a quieter time of year

54%

It’s a cheaper time of year

40%

It’s the best season/weather for the places I am visiting

31%

My family and friends are available

20%

It’s easier to get time off work

17%

 

Despite the summer months being over, beach holidays are the most popular type of September escape (27%), 17% are family breaks and 14% travel to a country retreat. It appears travellers are also comfortable spending more on their holidays. In September 2017, Sainsbury’s Bank recorded a 7% increase  in the average amount of foreign currency exchanged at their travel bureaux compared to the previous year.

Simon Taylor, Head of Travel Money at Sainsbury’s Bank said:  “Our research shows consumers are becoming savvier – choosing September to take advantage of deals and offers. With this in mind, it’s increasingly important to think about holiday currency and how to make your money go further. A pre-paid holiday card is a good idea because it helps you manage your budget while enjoying your trip and our multi-currency travel money card comes with a handy app to help you keep track of transactions.”

18 Sep 2018 Three in 10 drivers have left themselves short after buying a used car outright, according to research from AA Cars, the AA’s used car website.

Of those that used their own money to pick up secondhand cars and then found themselves in hot water, 55% say they had to dip into savings put aside for something other than a car; 35% say that the purchase left them without a rainy day fund; 33% admitted that buying the car meant they had to cut back on recreational expenseslike nights out and gym memberships; while a quarter said that it meant not taking a holiday.

While only 6% of those buying outright didn’t know that you could get dedicated motor finance (such as PCPs or HP) for secondhand cars, a number of car buyers felt that using their own money had meant they’d run into issues down the line – according to the AA-Populus poll of over 10,000 drivers.

Millennials were by far more likely to express regret at buying a used car outright than other age groups, with 48% of 18-24 year olds running into trouble afterwards, 50% of 25-34 year olds and 50% of 55-64 year olds.

A number of older drivers have taken advantage of the 2015 pension freedom reforms to pay for the car, with 4% of 55-64 year olds saying they’ve dipped into their pensions to buy cars outright. Among those firmly over state pension age (65+), 6% have used their pensions to buy used cars outright.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Carscomments: “Buying a car, whether used or new, is a big financial commitment. Lots of drivers prefer to use their own savings to pick up their next car as they might be reluctant about having any ongoing financial repayments, paying off interest or having a commitment on their credit score – but there can be downsides to relying purely on your own cash to buy your next car.

“Buying a car outright can be a great option for many, but you should be careful not to dedicate all your savings to one single purchase and potentially leave yourself short further down the line. Unfortunately in some cases, spending your cash savings on a car might mean depleting your rainy day fund and having to seek another source of finance should you need to call on emergency rations. This can be problematic as unsecured loans from the bank can be tougher to justify than a car finance loan.

“Before taking the leap and dipping into your hard-earned savings to buy your next car, it’s worth thinking about saving up more funds or shopping around to see if there are better suited car finance deals to be had first. If you do, you can frequently get a much better deal than you would expect that spreads the cost over a long period. More and more providers, such as the AA, host a soft credit check service which won’t leave footprints on your credit record.

“That means you can glance at what you qualify for, see what your total commitment is over the course of the term and then make a call as to whether the option of using your savings is going to save you in the long term.

“Whatever finance you choose, it’s always worth getting a second opinion from someone you trust before committing to the deal.”

13 Sep 2018 First-time buyers are missing out on Government bonuses available through Lifetime ISAs and Help to Buy ISAs despite making major sacrifices to achieve their property dream, new research from The Nottingham Building Society shows.

More than one in four would-be first-time buyers say they’ve moved back in with parents so they can save as much as possible while 30% have stopped going on costly holidays.

Around 61% say they have cut back on socialising while over half have cut general spending on themselves and loved ones. Around one in 12 (8%) have even postponed starting a family or getting married while 7% have sold their car and now rely on public transport so they can maximise their savings.

But The Nottingham’s research found 32% saving to buy their first home in the next five years have not heard of helpful accounts that can boost their savings, such as the Help to Buy ISA, and less than half (48%) have taken advantage of a Government scheme. Savers aged 18 to 24 are the least likely to know about financial benefits of ISAs that are available with 44% admitting they’re not aware.

HMRC figures show 166,000 Lifetime ISAs (LISAs) worth £517 million and averaging £3,144 per account were opened in the 2017/18 tax year but hundreds of thousands are missing out.

The Nottingham is supporting first-time buyers further by providing free access to its whole of market mortgage service, that usually costs £249, to its LISA savers following the launch last month.

The Nottingham’s Chief Operating Officer, Simon Taylor, commented: “First-time buyers face a lot of challenges getting a deposit together, so it’s important to us to raise awareness of all the help and financial benefits that are on offer with the right accounts.

“Our research shows people are making financial sacrifices to get on the ladder and they deserve some help. Thanks to the significant bonuses available, paying into a government-backed savings account, such as a Lifetime or Help-to-buy ISA, will enable first-time buyers to save a deposit more quickly or put down a larger deposit which can increase their options.

“The help isn’t just for there for first-time buyers either as the Lifetime ISAs can be used by savers wanting to boost their retirement savings also.”

First-time buyers are eligible for up to £1,000 of cash bonuses every year and The Nottingham is one of just two providers to offer the Cash LISA, and the only provider that allows customers to open the account with just £10 face-to-face via one of its 67 branches. As well as the 25% bonus, The Nottingham will pay 1.00% AER interest tax free, on the savings balance every year.

The account was created for those aged 18-39, who are either saving for their first home or retirement (3). Account holders can save up to £4,000 every year, with a 25% state bonus being paid monthly, on funds deposited in the previous month, until the account holder turns 50, when they will no longer be able to make deposits, but interest will continue to accrue.

For example, an individual saving to buy their first home of £184,000[3 (UK average) would need to save a 10% deposit of £18,400. After saving the maximum annual amount of £4,000 for four years a customer would have a balance of over £20,000 in their LISA. A couple saving for a 10% deposit (where both are first time buyers), who collectively add £8,000 to their savings (Sole accounts as LISAs cannot be held in joint names) each year would reach their goal after just over two years with a Lifetime ISA.

10 Sept 2018  New data out today from the UK’s largest funeral provider – the Co-op, shows almost four times as many families are now opting for lower cost funerals.

Figures from the Co-op also show over a third (34%) of people think cost is the most important part of a funeral.  This figure increases with age, with over two fifths (42%) of those over the age of 80 citing cost as the most important factor.

Responding to the changes in the market, Co-op has been focussed on tackling funeral affordability over the last three years and today is announcing a wave of new initiatives aimed at combatting the issue and leading the way on affordability.

Firstly, from Monday 10th September, Co-op will ’guarantee to beat’ other funeral providers on like for like funeral costs.

The funeral provider will be further lowering the cost of its Simple Funeral by £100, undercutting other national providers by taking it to £1,895 plus third party costs and £1,675 in Scotland.

Finally, changes to funeral price will be made to support Co-op’s 4.7 million members. Members will now receive an increased discount of £200 (or 5% if greater) on all of Co-op’s core funeral options.

This will take the member price of a Simple Funeral to £1,695 plus third party costs.

Commenting on the changes, Robert Maclachlan, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare and Life Planning said: “The fact that 4 million Brits have suffered financial hardship after a bereavement is startling. As a member owned organisation, the changes we are making form part of a long term focus we have on leading the market to further assist the bereaved in tackling funeral affordability.

“Funerals are becoming increasingly price sensitive and in the last two years we have seen a huge shift in the number of clients seeking affordable funeral choices. Our new guarantee to beat on price means that families choosing a funeral with the Co-op can be assured that they are receiving a competitively priced funeral, with no compromise on our high standards of care.”