I was quite confused about whether closing old redundant credit cards would have a positive or negative effect on my credit score. Having a long-standing credit card is supposed to be a good thing, but having too many credit cards is a bad thing.
I like to use credit cards which offer cashback and/or 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers, with low balance transfer fees.
There are three new BT Mobile SIM only deals. They all come on a 12 month contract, offer 4G mobile broadband, unlimited BT WiFi and free BT Sport. There’s a £5 a month discount on each for BT Broadband customers. Everyone living in a household with BT Broadband qualifies for the £5 discount.
As my Vodafone 24 month contract runs out in mid May 2015, I thought I’d take a closer look. We have BT Infinity Fibre Broadband, so are eligible for the £5 discount.
However, if I entered a 12 month BT Mobile contract in May when my Vodafone contract runs out but we changed to a new broadband provider next February when our current BT broadband contract expires, I’d lose the £5 discount for the last few months of the BT Mobile contract.
In January, one of my friends told me that he had found some work through the Elance freelancer work marketplace website. He assisted a hotel in the Middle East with their social media presence. This prompted me to have a look on Elance to see if I could pick up some work in this sphere, based on my social media experience running my websites.
The basic freelancer account is free of change, although there is some attempt to get you to sign up for the premium $10 a month account. On a free account you get 40 Connects, each job proposal you submit uses 1 Connect.
You need to set up your profile and set a rate per hour in US Dollars. Elance add a service fee of 8.75% to that charge. You also have to factor in Paypal and currency conversion fees to change your pay to your local currency.
I was impressed that the monthly statement for my Santander 123 Credit Card clearly stated the end date of the promotional 23 month 0% rate of interest on new purchases and balance transfers. The date was at the bottom of the list of transactions for that month.
I believe that this is really useful for customers, as it’s a monthly reminder of the date by which they need to pay off the full balance to avoid starting to pay interest on what could, after 23 months of spending plus balance transfers, be a large sum.
It’d be pretty easy to get a confused about the exact end date of promotional rates. It’s usually calculated from the date on which you applied for the credit card. It’s quite likely that you didn’t keep a note of this.
We had BT Infinity fibre broadband installed in late January 2015. I’d been thinking about upgrading from standard broadband for some time and took the plunge after BT finally offered a discounted price of £8 a month for BT Infinity 1 Unlimited (with speeds up to 38Mb) on a 12 month contract. I was originally quoted a standard price of £23 a month to upgrade to this product.
An engineer’s visit was required to activate the fibre broadband, which was scheduled for 10 days after agreeing to the new contract.
The engineer was from a company called Kelly Communications, who appear to be a subcontractor for BT. The appointment was for 1pm – 6pm, but the engineer phoned at 12.45 to ask if he could come early.
It seems to me that the average person is pretty bamboozled by the complexity of pensions in the UK. This is borne out by the fact that recent research carried out amongst people aged 55-64 for the financial services company Legal and General uncovered that:
53% of interviewees said that they had received either poor or no financial education.
33% of interviewees said that they didn’t understand annuities (where you use your pension pot to buy an income for life).
26% of interviewees said that they didn’t understand how personal pension plans can be accessed.
I’m a big fan of the HotelsCombined.co.uk price comparison site. It’s my first port of call when I’m looking for a hotel. However, clicking through the link on a hotel entry listed on a price comparison site could mean that you miss out on cashback and/or promotions.
I always check for maximum cashback on the lowest hotel price that I’ve found on the TopCashBack.co.uk site. I’ve earned cashback of up to 12% on hotel bookings. The majority of the time I do receive the cashback, but I’ve had a couple of instances when I didn’t receive the cashback.
Recently, when I was booking hotels for my trip to France, going through the link to ebookers from TopCashBack.co.uk had another benefit. The link from TopCashBack.co.uk took me to the ebookers homepage, where I spotted the code for 20% off selected hotels promotion that weekend. Although TopCashBack.co.uk was offering 11.5% cashback on hotel bookings, getting 20% off the price at the point of purchase was a much better deal.
I was looking for reasonably priced accommodation in a fairly central location for two nights to further extend a one night hosted stay in London. I checked out Expedia’s Secret Saver hotels, where unnamed hotels are offered at a discount; the hotel name is only revealed once you’ve paid for a non-refundable booking.
The cheapest hotel not too far from the city centre was described as a “three star hotel in the Maida Vale/Queen’s Park area”, priced at £84 for two nights including breakfast. I had a suspicion that I was booking at the Comfort Inn Edgware Road, which turned out to be correct. It wasn’t exactly a bargain, as the price to book it as a named hotel was £88 for two nights.
The hotel doesn’t actually get rave reviews, but most of the criticism was for the public areas. I was happy with the location, as it was within walking distance of Kings Cross station for my return journey to Berwick upon Tweed and only a few minutes walk from both Little Venice and Regent’s Park.
The My Travel Health app is designed to support good health and safety for international travellers, with advice on how to prevent and handle illnesses during leisure or business trips.
Let’s face it, we’d all rather avoid being holed up feeling ill in a hotel room and/or spending time and money accessing medical services in a foreign country.
The app has been developed with input from experienced travel medical consultants at the Mayo Clinic, a US-based not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group.
At the planning stage of your trip, you select the country which you’ll visit from the 200 worldwide destinations available on the app.
You can then see the required or advised immunisations. Once you’ve entered that you’ve had the required treatment, you’ll be reminded when any boosters are due.
You can also check if a visa is needed for that country and sign up to receive any new travel alerts. As a UK citizen, I’m so used to visa-free travel within the EU (European Union which offers freedom of movement between members), that it felt strange to have to apply and pay for a visa to visit the US last year.
In addition, you can organise a packing list on the app. I always find a list very useful, as if I don’t make a note of something when it springs to mind, I’m likely to forget it. As I generally have my mobile phone with me, I could quickly make an entry in the app.