Review of Al Rayan Bank 24 Month Fixed Term Deposit

Written by Karen Bryan

al rayan bankThe Al Rayan Bank 24 Month Fixed Term Deposit account, paying an expected profit rate of 2.75%, caught my eye. This was around 0.5% more than the interest being paid on other two-year accounts.

You will notice above that I didn’t say an interest rate of 2.75%, but an expected profit rate. This is because the Al Rayan Bank offers Sharia compliant accounts, meaning that the rate is not guaranteed. In Islamic law, the payment of interest is forbidden. Instead, savers earn a share of the profit derived from their deposit.

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Dealing with Council Tax Debt in Scotland

Written by Karen Bryan

scotland-council-tax-homeAccording to recent research, we Scots have the highest level of Council Tax arrears in the UK. And it’s a growing problem. The number of people seeking debt advice because of Council Tax arrears has risen by over 350% in the last five years alone.

So, if you have Council Tax debt, the first thing to say is that you are not alone. The important thing is to get advice and get it now. If you leave it too late or ignore the problem, you run the risk of your wages being arrested or your bank accounts frozen. Organisations such as Council Tax Advisors offer free, independent advice about Council Tax debt. They can also help sort out the problem on your behalf, no matter how serious your situation.

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Review of ShoeStationDirect.co.uk

Written by Karen Bryan

avia mens hiking shoeIt can be hard for me to find comfy shoes for my large, wide feet.  I usually find that men’s trainer type shoes are a better fit for everyday casual wear.

I was so happy with a pair of Avia men’s hiker trainers that I bought in Sports Direct for £17, that I bought a further three pairs.

When I started wearing the final pair from my stock, I thought I’d better check if that specific style was still available.

Initially, I was disappointed that Sports Direct seems to have stopped stocking the Avia brand. Then, I found the same shoe, in the correct half size, on the ShoeStationDirect.co.uk website, for the lower price of £14. There was only the wide size fitting available. I assumed that was what I required, but I didn’t recall any mention of wide fitting when I purchased the shoes from Sports Direct.

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My Money Podcast #131

Written by Karen Bryan

The My Money Podcast #131 features the Help Me To Save articles listed below.

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Higher Fares Since Virgin Took Over East Coast Line

Written by Karen Bryan

virgin east coastI’ve noticed a big increase in ticket prices since Virgin took over the East Coast mainline in the UK.

When the line was run by the Government, I often found £16.50 standard class  Advance ticket for the 09.10 or 10.10 train from Berwick-upon-Tweed to London King’s Cross.

With Virgin, the cheapest tickets I’ve seen for these trains is £30. That’s a whopping increase of  80% in the ticket price in less than one year. All the worse against the backdrop of virtually non-existent inflation in the UK.

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Interest Rates on Savings Drop

Written by Karen Bryan

uk notesToday, 18 January 2015, I have observed that several UK savings account have dropped their rates of interest since last week.

A week ago, I opened an United Trust Bank Three Year Tracker Bond which paid 2.6%, tracking at 2.1% above the Bank of England Base Rate (currently 0.5%), That rate has now dropped to 2.4%. I opened my United Bank tracker bond just in time to secure the higher rate.

Tesco Bank were paying a best buy table topping 1.75% on their one year fixed rate Cash ISA. That rate has dropped to 1.31%.

The rate of interest paid on the Nationwide Flexclusive ISA has dropped from 1.5% to 1.3%.

This isn’t good news as we approach the ISA season in early April. when savers may be looking to open an ISA before the end of the current tax year on 5 April 2016 and/or open a new ISA for the new tax year.

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Self Employed Low Earners Would Be £600 a Year Worse Off Under Proposed Abolition of Class 2 National Insurance Contrbutions

Written by Karen Bryan

fan of £10 notes1My concerns about the proposed abolition of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions have been confirmed by the consultation paper on the topic.

After trawling through the document it appears that self-employed people with an annual profit of less than around £6,000, the Small Profits Threshold, will be adversely affected.

This is because at present the self-employed with incomes below £6,000 can pay around £150 a year in voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions which secures a qualifying year for towards the 35 years required for a full State Pension (from 6 April 2016).


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United Trust Bank Tracker Bonds

Written by Karen Bryan

united trust bankUpdate 8 February 2016 – The rate paid on the United Trust Bank Tracker Bonds has dropped again. The two-year tracker now pays 1.9%, tracking at 1.4% above the Bank of England Base Rate. The three-year tracker now pays 2.1%, tracking at 1.6% above Base Rate.

Update 18 January 2016 – I noticed that the rate of interest paid on the United Trust Bank Tracker Bonds has dropped by 0.2%. The two-year tracker now pays 2.1%, tracking at 1.6% above the Bank of England Base Rate. The three-year tracker now pays 2.4%, tracking at 1.9% above the base rate.

The United Trust Bank Tracker Bonds look like competitive savings options, if you are willing to tie up your cash.

The United Trust Bank Two Year Tracker Bond pays 1.75% above the Bank of England Base Rate (currently 0.5%), so this equates to an interest rate of 2.25%. The highest rate two-year fixed bond I could find from Axis Bank pays 2.27%.

The United Trust Bank Three Year Tracker Bond pays 2.1% above the Bank of England Base Rate, equating to a current  rate of interest of 2.6% The highest rate three-year fixed rate bond I could find, again from Axis Bank, pays 2.55%.

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My Money Podcast #129

Written by Karen Bryan

The My Money Podcast #129 summarises the recent Help Me To Save articles listed below.

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Make Sure That You Check Expiry Dates on Gift Cards

Written by Karen Bryan

M&S gift voucherMany people will have received gift cards as Christmas presents. If you were one of them, make sure that you find out the expiry date of the gift card, and use it before that date. The length of validity of gift cards can vary a lot between retailers.

I received an M&S gift voucher as a Christmas present from our sons. The text on the back of the gift card is pretty small, but it does state that the card is valid for 24 months from the last transaction. Our sons had left the receipt in the Christmas card accompanying the gift card. The receipt stated that expiry was 2 years from receipt date if unused.

What I’d like to see is the initial expiry date printed on the back of the gift card. Even better, would be for the UK to adopt the proposed consumer protection in Ireland under which gift cards will not be allowed to have expiry dates.

Another reason not to leave gift cards lying around is that if the retailer goes bust, you may lose the value of the card.

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