Sainsbury’s Bank is launching mortgages especially designed and developed for the Sainsbury’s customer. The bank will offer residential home purchase mortgages and remortgages for first time buyers, lending into retirement for certain customers and for the self-employed, across the whole of the UK.

The range of fixed and variable rate products offers flexible features that allow overpayments, underpayments, and payment holidays.

Sainsbury’s Bank are also introducing a mortgage that comes with an added shopper reward. Both home purchase and remortgages include a unique reward scheme for supermarket customers. The mortgages reward the customer loyalty of Sainsbury’s shoppers, by letting them earn up to £200 a year (in vouchers) off their shopping, for two years.

The new range, which can be seen in detail at sainsburysbank.co.uk initially includes a two (fee and no fee options), and five-year fixed rate product, and a two-year tracker with loan-to-values (LTVs) of up to 90%, and it will also consider customers aged up to 70 years old.

Customers can contact the Bank direct over the phone and speak to our team of mortgage advisers, or apply through initial intermediary pilot broker partner, L&C Mortgages. Direct, non-advised online applications will be launched later this year.

Catherine More, Head of Mortgages Sainsbury’s Bank said: “Mortgages and grocery shopping are some of our customers’ biggest household expenditures and we’re uniquely placed to help them out with both.

“We’ve built our new mortgages in response to our customers’ needs, they told us they wanted to feel supported through the whole process, that they wanted the flexibility to pick the advice that suits them, and to receive a good deal.”

The launch marks the start of our expansion into the mortgage market. Over time we will review and add to our mortgage range, this will include launching buy-to-let as well as refining our entry product offers.

The intermediary channel is a preferred route for many of our customers and crucial to our expansion, so we’re also partnering with Legal & General’s Mortgage Club with a view to welcoming more brokers on board over the next twelve months.

Mortgage pricing has been set to ensure Sainsbury’s Bank products are competitive and affordable with rates starting from 1.34%. The range includes fee-free products. Remortgage customers will benefit from free-assisted valuations and legal advice.

Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: “It is good to see a provider entering the mortgage market with such a competitively priced range of products across the full range of LTVs. The added bonus of a shopper reward is an innovative move that makes the deal even more appealing for Sainsbury’s shoppers – the option to earn up to £400 vouchers off shopping over two years is not to be sniffed at.”

David Hollingworth of L&C Mortgages, said: “We welcome more competition in the mortgage market and particularly from those entrants that have put real customers at the heart of their design. We’re delighted to be working with Sainsbury’s Bank as initial intermediary pilot partner.”

Customers applying over the phone can call 0345 111 8005 between 8am and 9pm Monday to Friday or between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays and 10am to 1pm on Sunday.

Does it annoy you that your bank doesn’t pay you interest when you’re in the black, or that it charges you the earth if you go slightly overdrawn? – If the answer’s yes then maybe it’s time to up sticks and sign up for a more suitable bank account.

With the official Current Account Switch Service now bedded in, it’s much quicker and easier to take your custom elsewhere – just choose your new bank and they’ll look after the rest.

The process will take a maximum 7 working days and there’s also a guarantee that you won’t incur any charges during the switch over.

Too many of us have put up with sub-standard products and poor service for too long, but now it’s much less hassle to vote with your feet and switch to an account that mirrors the way you manage your money.

Although each bank and building society has its own tariff and rate details clearly displayed in marketing literature, working out which account is best can be a big headache.

There is not one account that works out as the top choice for everybody, it’s more about weighing up the individual elements of an account that are most important to you.

For some a low cost overdraft will be the priority, while for others interest on credit balances or a debit card offering low cost transactions abroad will be key.

Personal Finance Expert, Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms.co.uk carried out some research to try and establish which accounts are strongest in each of the different areas.

If it’s a cheap overdraft that’s most important, then take a look at First Direct (first £250 interest free), M&S Bank (first £100 interest free) or the FlexAccount from Nationwide Building Society.

If you’re looking for interest on your credit balances, then consider TSB which pays 3% up to a maximum balance of £1,500 or Tesco Bank 3% up to a maximum £3,000.

For larger balances Santander 123 is tops, paying a very competitive 1.5% gross up to a maximum balance of £20,000.

If you’re seeking a cheap debit card for use overseas then Metro Bank offers this facility for free in Europe whilst Nationwide Building Society is much cheaper than the main banks wherever you travel in the world.

Picking the wrong bank when it comes to debit card costs abroad can cost far more than you’d imagine.

Your two week summer holiday could easily see you shelling out an extra £50 or more in charges – for many of us that will saving will more than outweigh the total interest you’ll earn on your bank account in a whole year.

Yet for some of us, all we really ask is for the ability to talk to a human being at a UK call centre 24×7 and to receive a consistently good level of customer service. Current top performers for service continue to be First Direct and The Co-operative bank.

The decision to switch is not something people undertake lightly or want to do on a regular basis, so it’s important to do your homework and pick an account that reflects the way you run your finances.

M&S Bank research reveals that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of those with a garden shed admit to leaving it unlocked, with nearly one in five (17 per cent) saying they never secure it, despite the contents of a typical shed being valued at £567. Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents revealed that their shed contained more than £1,000 worth of gardening goods and equipment.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of shed owners say either they and/or someone they know has fallen victim to theft or damage to items stored in their shed; rising to 35 per cent for those in the Midlands. Nearly half (47 per cent) of shed owners with home insurance said items stored in their shed either weren’t covered by their home insurance, or they didn’t know/hadn’t checked their current policy to see if they were covered.

It isn’t just sheds that are targeted by thieves or vandals; more than one in ten respondents with a garden (14 per cent) say either they and/or someone they know, has had their garden greenery damaged or stolen.

Despite the average garden containing £424 worth of plants, bushes, trees and shrubs, it’s perhaps surprising that two thirds (66 per cent) of garden owners didn’t know or haven’t checked whether their garden is insured. Only eleven per cent were confident that their plants, bushes, shrubs and trees were covered under their home insurance.

In addition, nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of those with a garden estimate that they typically spend between two and four hours per week on its up-keep during the spring and summer months (March to August). Just over one in ten (11 per cent) spend more than ten hours per week maintaining their garden during this period.

Paul Stokes, head of products at M&S Bank, said: “People often invest significant time and money into their garden, and the value of items, whether in the shed or in the garden itself, can quickly mount up.

“That’s why it’s surprising that a significant proportion of homeowners still don’t know whether they have adequate cover for theft or damage to both the shed and garden, should the worst happen. As we head into spring, we would urge households to review what measures they may need to secure their garden, as well as what is included within their policy, to ensure they are covered.”

M&S Home Insurance Premier cover provides unlimited cover for theft of property from a shed or garden, as well as cover for loss or damage to plants, bushes, shrubs and trees in the garden. In addition, customers purchasing a new M&S Building and Contents Insurance policy will receive a £40 M&S gift card.

Cautious over-55s are putting hard earned pensions at risk by ignoring inflation and placing money in cash, Fidelity International’s Class of 2015 research reveals.

Two years since the pension freedoms began, Fidelity spoke to people who had accessed their pension since April 2015 to see how this group had made use of the new flexibilities; particularly the cash lump sum.

Fidelity found that the Class of 2015 had used their cash lump sum for everything from paying off debt to financing holidays, the most popular choice by far was stashing money away in a current account with over two fifths (41%) choosing this option.

Yet, these actions didn’t seem to tally with concerns as nearly three quarters of those who’d accessed cash and gone into drawdown (73%) went on to say that low interest rates were far and away the biggest worry for their pension monies.

With even market leading accounts only offering a maximum of £122.25 in interest payments for just £2,500 in the first year only the biggest risk is not taking any risk with overly cautious retirees guaranteed to lose out as UK inflation continues its march upwards.

 

Maike Currie, Investment Director at Fidelity Personal Investing comments:

“Rising inflation and low interest rates is a toxic combination for retirees. Beyond the rise of day-to-day living costs like food and fuel, inflation also wreaks havoc with your pension savings. It erodes the spending power of future interest payments and chips away at your capital.

“It’s concerning that retirees worry about low interest rates but then still choose to leave their hard-earned pension savings languishing in cash. Most soon-to-be retirees look forward to their 25% tax-free cash lump sum with anticipation and excitement, and should enjoy this pension sweetener as they see fit, however, leaving it dwindling in a cash account could leave them short changed in the future.

“Considering that a healthy 55-year old could expect to live for another 30 or 40 years, most retirees can afford to give their tax-free cash sum room to grow by moving further up the risk spectrum, investing in bonds issued by companies rather than the Government or moving into stocks and shares. Putting this money into a stocks and shares ISA will also protect any future income payments and capital growth from the tax man.

“Our calculations show if you had invested £15,000 into the FTSE All Share index five years ago, you would now be left with £23,288. If, however, you had invested £15,000 into the average UK savings account over the same period, you would be left with a paltry £15,122. That’s a difference of over £8,166.”

A year on from the launch of the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) only one in six adults have started to save or increased the amount they save, new research* for the Nottingham Building Society (The Nottingham) shows.

Its study found that only 17% of adults have taken advantage of the new rules with around two-fifths of them first-time savers. One age group where the PSA has proved to be popular is with 18-24 year olds – with more than a third (40%) of them starting or increasing saving thanks to the new rules.

But more than half (52%) of adults are still not aware of the allowance enabling basic-rate taxpayers to earn £1,000 in interest tax-free a year and higher-rate taxpayers to earn £500 a year which came into effect from April 2016. The survey found that the over-55s were the group most aware of the new benefits – around 58%, with the figure rising to 62% of those over 65.

Savings levels rose among those aware of the Personal Savings Allowance. More than a third of them are saving more with average monthly savings hitting around £85 or more than £1,000-a-year. Around one in eight said they are saving more than £200 a month extra as a result. Half of those between 18 and 24 said they were saving up to £50 a month, 30% said they saved between £50 and £100 and 10% said they save between £150 and £200 a month.

Jonathan Cartlidge, Senior Product Manager at the Nottingham Building Society (The Nottingham), said: “This survey reflects the difficulties that many people face in making a regular commitment to save and it is heartening to see young people really making an effort. We know the sooner you start to save, the better you will prepare for life’s milestones.

Savers have been so desperate to find a decent return on their nest egg that many have, in recent years, made use of generous ‘in credit’ rates available on bank current accounts.

When Tesco Bank announced in February this year that it was guaranteeing the 3% interest rate on the first £3,000 on its bank account for at least two years, it created a problem it hadn’t reckoned on.

Experts were encouraging their readers to exploit this ‘savings loophole’ – particularly as many rivals including Santander, Lloyds, Halifax and TSB had already slashed credit interest deals and rewards offers in the months leading up to this move.

Unfortunately demand was so great that Tesco Bank had to put a freeze on accepting new applications for it’s current account due to the influx of savers looking for a market leading deal – after all 3% and instant access is an amazing deal in today’s depressed savings market.

So today Tesco Bank has announced that anybody wishing to take advantage of the 3% interest rate will need to use the account for what it was intended – i.e. a bank account rather than simply a bolt hole for £3,000 worth of savings.

Customers will now have to deposit a minimum of £750 per month and have three direct debits set up on the account (excluding payments to Tesco Savings) if they wish to enjoy the 3% in credit interest rate.

Personal Finance Expert Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: “I’m in agreement with what Tesco Bank has done to close this ‘loophole’ as current accounts are designed to help us manage our day to day finances and not act as a handy savings account for those who find themselves poorly served by the wider savings market.”

Hagger added: “I can hear the cries of despair from the loophole exploiters from here, but after all is said and done it’s a common sense move from Tesco Bank.”

Gocompare is warning that new rules designed to make insurance renewal notices more transparent and prompt customers to shop around may not go far enough, and as such may not have the desired effect of a significant increase in the number of consumers who ‘switch and ditch’ expensive policies.

From 1 April 2017, insurers will be compelled to tell policyholders how much they are currently paying for their cover when they send out renewal reminders. However, the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules* do not prescribe exactly how the information should be laid out. They simply state that it should be clear and accurate and in a prominent place, so that the customer can easily compare the renewal price with the previous year’s premium.

In an attempt to stop longstanding customers paying more for the same cover than new customers do, insurers will be required to identify customers who have renewed with them for four consecutive years. Renewal notices issued to these customers will have to contain an additional prescribed message encouraging them to shop around: “You have been with us a number of years. You may be able to get the insurance cover you want at a better price if you shop around”.

The new rules will apply to general insurance products including car and home insurance and the FCA estimates that the new renewal process will benefit consumers by £64 million to £103 million per year.

Lee Griffin, chief operating officer of Gocompare.com: “Five years with the same provider is too long. There is a real possibility that these customers will be paying too much for the convenience of allowing their insurer to simply roll their policy over, year after year. We’d like to see a renewal process where customers are actively encouraged to shop around EVERY year.

National Rail has announced an ‘egg-citing’ Easter sale – offering £5 off its 16-25 and Family & Friends one-year Railcards.

The sale, which will run until Monday 24 April, means 16-25 and Family & Friends Railcards will cost just £25 with the code EASTER5, for a year’s unlimited usage.

Railcard owners save an average of £142.80 a year, more than four times its cost at standard price – and up to six times as much at the discount price.

Daniela Maki, Railcards Product Manager for National Rail, said: “With the Easter break just around the corner, a Railcard can help you save on ‘cracking’ rail journeys during the holidays. Whether you’re delivering Easter treats to family and friends, off to take part in an Easter egg hunt, or going on your next ‘egg-cellent’ adventure, a Railcard will save you 34% on rail fare to help you do all the things you love.”

As well as a third off fares, exclusive discounts are also available to Railcard holders on top attractions, entertainment and UK holiday destinations, including discounts on Virgin Experience Days and theatre tickets.

To purchase a Family & Friends Railcard visit: familyandfriends-railcard.co.uk/sale or for a 16-25 Railcard visit: 16-25railcard.co.uk/sale before Monday 24 April and use code: EASTER5 to take advantage of the discounted price.

Tesco Bank has today announced their support for National Pet Month, a nationwide campaign to celebrate pet ownership;

To help customers protect their cats and dogs, Tesco Bank is offering all Tesco Clubcard holders 50% off Tesco Pet Insurance Accident and Injury cover in the first year when purchased by 2nd May 2017

New research by Tesco Bank has found that the owners of 2.41 million UK cats and dogs would be unable to pay the average cost of an unplanned trip to the vet in the event of an accident or emergency. With the average emergency vet bill totalling £493*, four out of ten pet owners state that the worst thing about owning their cat or dog is worrying when they have an accident or are hurt.

However, despite this worry, the research reaffirmed that we are a nation of pet lovers, with 84% of owners stating that their pet is an integral part of their family, and the most common reasons for owning a pet is for the happiness they bring and their good company.

The new research comes as Tesco Bank announces their support for National Pet Month, a nationwide campaign to encourage responsible pet ownership, and raise awareness of the great benefits that living with a pet can bring your family.

David McCreadie, Managing Director of Tesco Bank, said; “We understand just how important our customers pets are to them, and that’s why we’re supporting this years National Pet Month. Over the coming months, we’ll help customers take better care of their pets by hosting a number of Pet Roadshows at Tesco stores across the UK*, which customers can come along to. These will offer people the chance to see vet-led demos on topics such as brushing your pets teeth and grooming.”

Since it launched in 2011, Co-op Insurance has given back over £11.8m to its Young Driver policyholders for driving well over the average policy lifetime**

Young driver policyholders, aged 17-25, have clocked up over 820 million miles driving since the insurer launched the first mainstream telematics policy back in March 2011 – amounting to 48,000,000 hours of driving.

Latest data from Co-op Insurance has found that on average its Young Driver policyholders receive £140 back in their pockets over the average policy lifetime.

The Young Driver Insurance policy works by rewarding policyholders for safe driving and Co-op was one of the first mainstream insurance providers to bring telematics to the mainstream market. It prices discounts based on four factors:

  • 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

Conversely, policyholders who drive badly may also see an increase in their premium policy price.

Co-op Insurance was also the first insurer to offer young drivers safe driving education modules which they can access online to refresh their knowledge.

James Hillon, director of products at Co-op Insurance, said: “These are challenging times for young drivers when it comes to insurance due to changes by the Government in the Personal Injury discount rate and the level of Insurance Premium Tax, both of which disproportionately affect young drivers and are likely to hit them hard when it comes to cost.

“These added pressures are a risk to a generation of drivers who may be unable to obtain insurance easily, which could have a detrimental impact on their ability to work, or even lead them to drive uninsured which is not something we want to see happen.

“In the current climate, telematics policies could likely become more attractive to young drivers who are keen to keep their costs down. Indeed, ‘pay how you drive policies’ could be an ideal choice for young drivers who can prove they are safe and then benefit from reduced premiums as a result. However insurers can only go so far and more needs to be done to safeguard this group of drivers for years to come.

“At the Co-op we believe that helping young drivers to adopt safer driving habits as soon as possible is key to ensuring the UK’s roads, and the communities they run through, are safer in years to come. Giving consistent driving feedback, especially when somebody has recently passed their test, is a really good way to help driving styles improve sooner, rather than later.”

Young drivers can download the Co-op Young Driver app on iPhone and android device before they take out a policy. If they drive well enough, drivers could receive a discount of up to 20% off the initial policy price they would have been quoted had they not used the App. This is a great way for young drivers to try the app, before committing to taking out a policy.