I stayed at the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place for one night in February 2014. I booked the room three weeks in advance of my stay. At the time, the price was £32 on a Flexible Rate, which you can cancel free of charge up to the day of arrival, or £30 on the non-refundable Saver Rate. As I had a £5 discount code, which was only redeemable on the Flexible Rate, it cost £27 to book the room, £3 less than booking on the Saver Rate.
Waterloo Place is located at the eastern end of Princes St; a few minutes walk from Waverley, the main rail station. The St James Centre is just around the corner. If you feel like some fresh air, the hotel is close to Calton Hill, which has great views over the city towards the Forth Estuary.
There’s no Bar Cafe at this Traveloge. The lobby doesn’t even have any seats, only a couple of vending machines.
With cashback earned on a couple of my credit cards falling, I’ve been investigating if I could earn more by going for a 0% balance transfer card with a long 0% period and a low transfer fee.
Every month, I either pay off the credit card balances in full, or for my 0% interest on new purchases cards, I set aside the money spent that month into a savings account. Therefore, if I transferred a balance from a 0% on interest oon purchases credit card onto a 0% on balance transfer card, I’d have the sum to cover the outstanding balance on my 0% on purchases credit card in a savings account earning interest.
I decided to work out if I should do a balance transfer.
My Nationwide Select Credit Card offers 0% on balance transfers for 26 months, with a transfer fee of 0.75% (minimum fee of £5). Initially, I worked out that if I transferred a balance of £1,000, I’d pay a fee of £7.50. But that fee would be more than offset by putting that £1000 into a two-year fixed rate account paying around 2% per annum, which would pay me gross interest of around £40. Even if I paid 20% tax on the £40 interest, I’d still be more than £24 better off.
There’s a new kid on the block in the railcard stable – the ‘Two Together’. This new rail discount card offers two people travelling together one-third off most rail tickets on off-peak services for an annual fee of £30.
The ‘Two Together’ railcard is not transferable, as it has photos of both holders on the railcard. It’s aimed at passengers aged 26 -59, as there’s already a railcard for 16-25 year olds and one for seniors aged 60+.
I wondered how many people would be able to save money with the ‘Two Together’ railcard?
The ‘Two Together’ railcard is only valid after 09.30 between Monday to Friday, so not much use to most people working full-time.
Barclaycard is withdrawing my current World Mastercard Card (formerly an Egg card), which pays a very straightforward 1% cashback on all purchases, with no annual fee. It’s being replaced with a two card set-up; a Barclaycard Cashback American Express Card paying 1% cashback and a Barclaycard Cashback Visa Card paying 0.5% cashback. It’ll be one account, with no annual fees and both cards using the same PIN.
Now how Barclaycard can claim that the new arrangement is ‘reassuring straightforward’ when it means that I’ll have to carry two cards instead of one and mess around finding out if the retailer at which I wish to use the card accepts American Express and/or charges an additional fee for payment by this method. If the retailer doesn’t accept, or charges higher fees for, American Express, I’d need to pay with the Visa card, which would only give me 0.5% cashback, instead of the current 1% cashback on all purchases. Surely this is complication for the customer?
The Nationwide Regular Saver Cash ISA account, paying a variable interest rate of 2.5%, allows you to save up to £1,250 per month. If you deposit the maximum every month, then you’ll reach the new ISA (NISA) limit of £15,000, to be introduced on 1 July 2014, by the end of the current tax year on 5 April 2015.
You can make unlimited withdrawals from the Nationwide Regular Saver Cash ISA. However, once you withdraw money from a Cash ISA, you can’t later replace it.
The Nationwide Regular Saver Cash ISA isn’t appealing to me, I’d prefer to put a lump sum into this tax year’s Cash ISA to earn interest on the whole amount. If you pay into a regular savings account you only earn interest on money in the account. As an example, it I put £1,200 into a savings account paying interest of 2.5%, I will receive £30 in interest after 12 months. If I put £100 a month into a regular saver account, after 12 months I’ll receive interest of around £15.
I logged into the Halifax site as wanted to check if the annual interest had been paid on the three-year fixed rate cash ISA which I opened at the start of the last tax year. At the top right of the account details, the current tax year’s unused Cash ISA allowance of £5,940 was displayed.
Initially I thought great, I can add this tax year’s allowance of £5,940 to that existing account and earn 3% interest. This is a higher rate of interest than the Coventry Building Society Fixed Rate Cash ISA (issue 21) paying 2.75%, which we’d selected for our new Cash ISAs.
You can save up to 20p per litre on fuel for your car, with the Tesco Clubcard Fuel Saver. All your spend at Tesco is added up and every time that you reach a total of £50 during a single month, you earn 2p off a litre of fuel (as long as you scan your Clubcard). The fuel savings are stored on your Clubcard and you just need to scan your Clubcard when buying fuel to be given the option to redeem the savings. The maximum discount redeemable in a single fuel purchase is 20p per litre, which would require a spend of £500 during a month. The promotion runs until 30 September 2014.
At first glance, the new Fuel Save sounded like a better deal for us than most of Tesco’s previous money off fuel offers, which required a single spend of £50. We usually spend around £20 on a Tesco shop.
Now although Tesco claim “It’s simple, the more you shop, the more money you save on fuel”, in typical Tesco CLubcard fashion, it’s not that straightforward. Any fuel savings earned expire at the end of the following month, so you need to remember to use them, or you’ll lose them. You can’t combine savings from different months, e.g. points earned in April can be redeemed up until the end of May, but can’t be combined with any fuel savings earned in May.
With only four days until you can open a tax-free Cash ISA savings account for the year 6 April 2014 to 5 April 2015, I’m researching what’s on offer. As the annual subscription limit will increase from £5,940 to £15,000 on 1 July 2014, with the introduction of New ISAs (NISAs), I need to know that I will be able to top up my Cash ISA in July.
As I’m uncertain when interest rates will start to increase, I’m looking for the best fixed rate accounts for period of two to three years.
The Leeds Building Society 5 year fixed rate Cash ISA (Issue 157) paying 2.8% looks like one of the best flexible deals. You can access up to 25% of the cash originally invested without penalty, any further withdrawals incur a penalty of 180 days loss of interest. According to Money Saving Expert, if you hold the Leeds account for one year you’ll earn interest of 1.75% (current highest rates on a one year fixed rate Cash ISA are 1.7% with Britannia and 1.95% for Co-op Bank customers); if you hold the Leeds account for two years you’ll earn interest of 2.28% (current highest rate for two-year fixed rate Cash ISA is 2.5% with Santander but only open to 123 customers, highest open to all account is 2.05% with Britannia). If interest rates don’t increase within two years, you’ll earn 2.28% on the Leeds account in year three (the highest four-year fixed rate Cash ISA is 2.25% with the Nationwide). In year four you’ll earn 2.54% with the Leeds account (the highest rate four-year fixed rate Cash ISA account is 2.4% with both the Nationwide and Halifax). However, if you were to hold the Leeds account for five years, which would give you 2.8% annual interest, you would earn a higher rate of 3% with the Skipton five-year fixed rate Cash ISA.