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.

We lose a staggering £40 a year from unpaid loans to friends and family, equating to £2,500 in a lifetime according to new research released by Nationwide Building Society.

Asking a relative or friend to repay money is often an awkward experience and over two thirds (73%) of Brits don’t trust all of their friends and colleagues to pay their way fairly during group events.

The research of 2,000 UK adults was conducted to discover how we split bills during social activities and attitudes towards borrowing and lending money. A fifth (21%) claim they have ended up paying more than their share because it’s socially awkward to pay separately and 20% have missed out on getting their fair share due to buying rounds.

So, how small an amount is acceptable to ask a friend or colleague for? On average, the smallest amount people would feel comfortable chasing is £4, with over 80% starting to chase before the debt reaches £6. The main reasons for not repaying borrowed money is that they simply forgot (47%), they didn’t have the cash on them at the time (34%) and not having the relevant payment details to transfer (12%).

Head of Payments at Nationwide Building Society, Paul Horlock said: “It is shocking that we are collectively losing this amount of money from lending to friends and family or from splitting the bill when sharing lunch. We can be just too embarrassed or often don’t have money on us to pay back those small debts, it is very socially awkward.”

With advances in online and mobile banking, a mobile number is now enough information to send and receive money securely, to and from friends and family – potentially saving Brits time, money and the effort of chasing down borrowed money, or sparing them the embarrassment of forgetting to repay.

Paul added: “The good thing about Nationwide’s Paym app is that you can exchange money with your mobile phone number – you don’t have to give out your bank details, go to an ATM or write a cheque. This can really help situations such as group meals when not everyone has cash on them and people want to pay by alternate methods. It makes it so much easier to settle those small debts, whilst also ensuring that everyone has the right amount.”

New research from Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards reveals on average, each person planning a summer holiday this year is likely to spend £974 on it. Many people would consider booking the vacation itself as being the most expensive part of the holiday, however the research reveals that it’s just over a third of the total spend.

On average, UK holidaymakers say they’ll spend £288 on spending money; £96 will go on buying new clothes; and £58 getting to and from the airport or train station.

Holidaymakers also say they’ll spend an average of £21 paying for a home-sitter whilst they are away.  Those with pets also face extra costs, as the research reveals an average of £32 will be spent on kennels or catteries.

Around 23% of the total holiday spend will be placed on credit cards. A quarter (25%) of people using a credit card plan to transfer some of their balance to a 0% interest free balance transfer card after their holiday, with these people estimating they will transfer over half (54%) of their spend after their summer holiday. This equates to a total of £2 billion that holidaymakers intend to transfer to an interest free balance transfer cards after their summer vacation.

Simon Ranson, Head of Banking at Sainsbury’s Bank, commented: “The true cost of a holiday is much greater than just the upfront cost of booking it in the first place, with lots of add-ons to consider by the time you’re ready to set off. Holidaymakers choosing to use a credit card should carefully consider their options. Some cards may be more cost-effective for overseas spend, some are better for large purchases, like the holiday itself, and others if you’re transferring a balance.”

1.    Make sure you are on the electoral register. Lenders use the electoral register to help fight identity fraud and confirm a person is who they say they are and that they reside at that address.

2.    Pay bills on time or ahead of schedule, a good credit score needs to be built up over time – lenders will look favourably on this.

3.    If you notice anything on your credit report that could be incorrect or you think you might be the victim of identity fraud, i.e. you think someone has applied for credit in your name, contact the credit reference agency who will work with the lender to try and resolve the issue.

4.    Avoid keeping a high balance on your credit card. Lenders may view it as excessive debt and be concerned about your ability to repay.

5.    Only apply for products when you really need them – applying for more than four forms of credit in a year can lower your credit score.

6.    Do not make multiple applications for credit as this can have a negative impact on a credit record.

7.    Close down out of date credit cards and make sure you cancel old agreements, such as store cards you never use, as these will still appear on your file. Lenders may be wary about the potential size of your debt.

8.    Sever old financial relationships if you are divorced or separated, making sure your former partner’s details are removed from any joint accounts. The credit history of all financial associations such as a spouse or anyone else you have a joint bank account or loan with can affect your credit rating.

More than 16,000 people failed to get on the property ladder last year because of their poor credit score, according to a study from Amigo. Most affected are those who embarked on higher education who are 10% more likely to be rejected for a mortgage because of poor credit scores than those with just A-levels

In 2015, there were around 310,000 successful first-time buyers – however 5% of all applicants were rejected for a mortgage because of their shabby credit rating.

Common reasons for being turned down include previous unauthorised overdrafts and blank credit histories, but the late payment of a bill dating back years is also enough to produce a rejection – even if the money owed is just a few pounds.

According to the research, a staggering three quarters (76%) of all first time buyer applicants admit they were turned down by at least one provider because of their poor score.

While most went on to be successful with other providers, the vast number of initial rejections highlights a major lapse in knowledge when it comes to the credit scoring system.

Each mortgage rejection can damage an applicant’s score, meaning those that apply to several lenders could be hampering their prospects of getting on the property ladder.

The lack of understanding around credit scores is most profound among 18-24-year-olds – with a third (33%) claiming they were unaware that having no credit history could affect their chances of getting a mortgage.

Interestingly, higher education seems to lessen your chances of being granted a mortgage. The research shows that Undergraduates, Masters and Doctorate graduates are 10% more likely to be rejected because of poor credit scores than those with just A-levels, possibly a result of the higher levels of debt associated with student life.

Broken down by family status, those with one child were 30% more likely to have suffered mortgage rejection because of a poor credit rating than those with no children.

Glen Crawford, CEO at Amigo Loans, which commissioned the study said: Owning your own home is an aspiration many people have, but actually getting on the property ladder is becoming more and more unachievable. Ensuring people are aware of what can affect their chances has never been so important, as this is difference between having the key to your dream property and being declined for a mortgage. What many people don’t realise is that having no credit history can be just as damaging as having missed payments on your record, this is why it’s paramount that people begin using credit responsibly at the earliest possible stage.”

 

Over one in five people who have hired a car (21%) said they had found damage on the car which was not highlighted on the check-out sheet, according to a new YouGov survey, commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com, the leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance.

Any damage to a hire car, even if it isn’t your fault, can lead to the hirer having to pay the first part of the cost of repair, up to the excess amount, which can be as much as £1200.  

The survey found that whilst half (57%) of hire car drivers always check their car for damage before they drive it, and almost a quarter (24%) have taken a picture of the hire car to prove it was damaged before they used it, only 38% check the condition of the wheels and tyres, despite the fact that these items can account for approximately one in five charges for minor damage made at the rental desk.  

Claims for damage to wheels and tyres, for instance, can cost from €120 to €400 so they are just as important as the rest of the car to check before driving the car away.

It isn’t just on pick-up that drivers need to be vigilant.  A quarter have had to return their hire car without seeing a hire car representative.  With 7% of renters believing they have been wrongly accused of damaging a rental car, not getting it signed off by a company representative is a risky move that could end up costing a small fortune.

The survey found that one in ten drivers have returned a rental car with damage which wasn’t their fault, and 6% have returned a rental car with damage which was their fault.

Excess insurance can be bought to protect drivers from paying for damage, but the rental company policies cost up to £17 a day, five times more expensive than a policy from iCarhireinsurance.com (from £2.99 a day).  Rental company policies also often exclude damage to windows, tyres and undercarriages, areas that are most likely to be damaged, but iCarhireinsurance.com policies automatically include these vulnerable areas as standard.

“When you pick up a hire car always check it thoroughly. Make sure that you note down every mark, no matter how insignificant on the checkout sheet, including damage and scuffs to the wheels. We hear of many people getting charged for minor damage, which they say was on the car when they picked it up, but which they didn’t mark on the paperwork. Sadly in the modern world of vehicle rental this can be tantamount to writing a blank check to the rental desk,” said a spokesman for iCarhireinsurance.com.

He added: “Many people protect themselves by buying a stand-alone excess insurance policy in advance. These policies are usually much better value than those offered by the rental companies and, in addition to the bodywork, they also cover tyres, wheels, roofs and windscreens, which are often excluded from the rental desk policies. It’s still important to check the car for damage though, as whilst claiming is easy it’s always easier not to have to claim at all.”