Start 2019 with a “spring clean” of your finances, but how?

BALANCE TRANSFER DEALS?

Now that the dust has settled on the Christmas and New Year festivities, for most of us it is back to reality with a bang. As those credit card bills begin to land, it is time to take control and try and minimise where you can to ensure your finances are ship shape.

According to price comparison website www.moneysupermarket.com the average Christmas credit card bill is estimated to be around £323, with already existing debt of £417 making the average person some £740 in debt in January 2019. However there are things that you can do to get yourself on a better financial footing.

Balance transfer deals are not surprisingly very popular at this time of year. In January 2018, 1.63billion was switched in 31 days, the busiest time period in 12 years. So could you switch to a lower rate deal, or even a 0%? The main benefit of a 0% deal is that it accrues no interest payment, so you pay the outstanding balance off much quicker. However there is often a small fee to pay, which is added to the total cost of borrowing, usually around 3% of the balance being transferred.

Currently MBNA are offering 0% interest for 33 months on balance transfers, with a 1.99% fee, which works out at £19.90 per £1,000 transferred. Similarly, Post Office Money is offering 0% for up to 32 months, with a 2% fee.

However not all deals involve paying a balance transfer fee. Santander has a card offering 0% for 27 months with no fee.

Website www.gocompare.com has worked out that if the average credit card was paid within the interest fee 27 month period, it would save around £880. So if you take the average credit card debt of £2,663 and transferred this to the Santander 0% balance transfer card with the interest-free period of 27 months, you would need to repay £100 per month to ensure the balance was clear within the interest free 0% period.

Always ensure that you can afford the repayments, and remember there are severe consequences if you miss a payment, such as additional fees and charges.

BETTER OVERDRAFT DEAL?

Authorised overdraft fees vary massively and if you are not getting a good deal, now may be the time to switch. The Financial Conduct Authority are proposing a significant shake up of overdraft fees as it is fundamentally a very high cost for what is essentially an unsecured loan, all be it for sometimes just days or even hours. Therefore as of December 2019 the FCA are introducing a single interest rate to simplify the rather confusing amounts of fees and charges that the banks charge now.

A lot of the banks have overdraft calculators and tools on their websites that enable you to check and compare each financial institution, so it is definitely worth having a look.

DEBT CONSOLIDATION?

If you are juggling various debts with high interest rates then a lower rate unsecured loan may be a good option, as its one regular payment every month.

Some best-buy personal loan deals at the moment include less than 3% from the likes of M&S Bank, Clydesdale, Zopa and Cahoot. As ever though, only those applicants with a clean credit record are likely to get these headline rates. However, there are now more and more lenders in the market offering unsecured loans for those with less than perfect credit such as Everyday Loans and Amigo loans.

TIME FOR A NEW BANK ACCOUNT?

Earlier this week the battle for new bank account customers kicked off with HSBC offering a £150 cash incentive for those looking to switch via their “current account switching service”. You can now pocket £75 if you sign up for a bank account or £150 if you sign up for the advanced bank account. Likewise, First Direct is currently offering switchers £100 cash and a £250 interest-free overdraft as standard.

If you keep your account in credit there are some good interest-paying current accounts available. Nationwide pays 5% AER via is Flex Direct account on balances up to £2500

Nationwide’s FlexDirect pays 5% AER on balances of up to £2,500 for the first 12 months, and 1% after that. TSB’s Classic Plus account pays the same rate on balances up to £1,500, while Tesco Bank’s current account offers 3% AER on balances up to £3,000. In all cases, terms and conditions apply.

 




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