My husband went into our local Santander branch to set up the transfer of a maturing fixed rate Cash ISA into a Santander 123 Exclusive 2 year fixed rate Cash ISA paying 2.3%. Although we are happy to carry out most of our banking online, we prefer to organise the Cash ISA transfer paperwork face-to-face, to ensure that the forms are correctly completed and there are no issues with delays/losses using the postal service.
In the Santander branch, my husband was informed that he’d need to make an appointment with the financial adviser to arrange the transfer. The first appointment he could get was one week later, although he has a very flexible schedule. Goodness knows how long you’d have to wait if you had a lot of commitments. We thought it was poor customer service that you had to wait a week to open an account, especially as best buy savings accounts are often withdrawn at short notice.
Three days before his appointment, there was a phone message from the Santander asking him to call them back on 05511431126.
There seemed to be a lot more offers on Nationwide’s ‘Simply Rewards’ than on the very similar Halifax Cashback Extras. The last time I was logged into the Halifax site, there was only one offer: a 10% discount on Hertz car hire.
‘Simply Rewards’ was offering up to 30% off IHG hotels. I checked the price of a Friday night stay at the Holiday Inn Express Perth. The ‘Simply Rewards’ price, via the link on the offier page, was £57. I found the room for £64 on ebookers through the HotelsCombined price comparison site. I could’ve earned 12% cashback through making the booking on ebookers through the link on the TopCashBack.co.uk site. That would’ve brought the ebookers price after cashback to £56.32, less than the £57 price available through Nationwide’s ‘Simply Rewards’. However, as cashback is never guaranteed, it’s safer to go with the ‘Simply Rewards’ £57 rate; a bird in the hand.
While this is good news for workers, meaning that more cash will remain in their pension pots instead of being paid out in charges to fund managers, I don’t understand why the charge cap doesn’t apply to all defined contribution pensions.
As a self-employed person, I have a stakeholder defined contribution personal pension. The maximum charges allowed in a stakeholder pension are an annual 1.5% for the first ten years and 1.0% in subsequent years. I feel that I desperately need protection from the erosion in the value of my pension pot inflicted by charges.
As I don’t have the mandatory employer contributions paid into the auto-enrolled defined contribution National Employment Savings Trust ( NEST) workplace pension scheme, my pension pot is already smaller than an employee’s. If I then factor in that I have to pay higher charges, I’m a lot worse off.
Energy supplier SSE has announced that it’s freezing its prices until January 2016. The price freeze applies to all customers who are on, or move onto, the Standard Tariff between 26 March 2014 until 1 January 2016.
The great thing about the SSE price freeze is that there are no exit penalties, so if a better deal did appear on the market, you could switch without paying any fees.
I requested a quote for the SSE Standard Tariff. Although I live in Northumberland, I was told that according to my postcode I lived in Scotland so was redirected to the Scottish Hydro website.
The price quoted for the Hydro Simple Energy tariff (which I assume is the Hydro version of the SSE Standard Tariff), was 8% higher than we are currently paying on the EDF Fixed Price 2015. However, that EDF tariff expires on 30 June 2015, so I will look at SSE then.
When I was looking at the longest 0% interest on new purchases credit cards, two cards offered an 18 month period, one from Tesco Bank, the other from Santander.
As neither credit card had an annual fee, I opted for the Tesco 0% on new purchases card because there was the extra benefit of earning additional Tesco Clubcard points, especially on fuel purchases at Tesco.
I’m not keen on the new option, available from April 2015, to withdraw as much of my personal pension pot as I wish in cash (subject to tax, if more than 25% of the value of the pension pot is taken as cash). Income drawdown (taking an income from your pension pot) is already an option for some retirees; an option which I think is being oversold. Yes, income drawdown does have the advantages that if you die your remaining pension pot can be passed onto your family and it has the potential to yield a higher income than an annuity. However, there are no guarantees of future income from drawdown. If the fund in which your pension pot is invested grows you could do well, if the value falls, you’re stuffed.
As soon as that discount was processed, I went online to sign up for BT Line Saver. By paying in advance for 12 months line rental, you save £50 over the year. Monthly line rental usually costs £15.99, which comes to £191.88 for a year. You pay £141 upfront for Line Saver. That brought our monthly landline, calls, broadband and WiFi package down to £30 a month.
Update 20 March 2014 – I wrote the review below a few days ago and scheduled it for later publication. However, I read on he BBC site this morning that Ovivo Mobile has shut down, which highlights that my concerns about paying £20 upfront for Ovivo SIM card were well founded.
I was tempted to sign up for the ‘Ovivo Freedom 0′ deal giving a 500MB monthly allowance (plus 300 minutes and 300 texts) for free, in exchange for watching some ads. Although I wasn’t that keen on the ads, I thought it was a reasonable trade-off for free mobile broadband connection. I don’t need more minutes or texts, but I prefer to keep the SIM card in my phone so I do things like check my emails and upload photos on my phone and switch on tethering when I want to get online on my netbook.
I thought that the Ovivo deal would be a good back up to my Vodafone 1.5GB monthly data allowance included in my 24 month contract. I always like to have at least two different mobile broadband suppliers, in case one supplier has a poor signal when I’m out of the office and/or the office broadband goes on the blink. My current back up is a T-Mobile 30 Day Data SIM which gives me 1GB of data for £5 a month.
When I discovered that Ovivo piggybacks on the Vodafone network, I knew that it was of no use to me at present, but I decided to have a look at the Ovivo packages.