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I’ve been searching for the best deal on a hotel for our trip to Santander in northern Spain next month. I found a 15% discount code for ebookers – HOTELUK15, which saved me almost £57 on the price of the hotel. I don’t know for how long the code will be valid, but it’s a great offer.
I always prefer to pay the lowest possible price, rather than depend on cashback which is never 100% guaranteed. However there are two very good cashback deals on other hotel booking sites for the next few days:
I’m glad that we acted fast in opening Cash ISA accounts at the start of the new tax year earlier this month. I though that the rates weren’t great on the 6 April, but we plumped to put our annual allowances of £5,760 into a Halifax ISA Saver Fixed Account which was paying 3%. When I went to the Halifax site to log on yesterday evening, I noticed that the interest rate paid on their 3 year fixed rate Cash ISA has now plummeted to 2.25%.
If you want to build up your tax free savings and are a Santander 123 customer, i.e. hold a Santander 123 Current Account or 123 Credit Card, I’d grab their 123 Exclusive Major ISA two year fixed rate account, which is currently (24 April 2013) paying 3%. I have the feeling that rate won’t last for long.
The other highest paying two year fixed rate Cash ISAs I could find were:
If you’re a Co-op customer you can get 2.6% on a Britannia Fixed Rate ISA.
Coventry are offering 2.55% but the minimum deposit is the current tax year’s full allowance of £5,760.
I’ll be able to access my stakeholder pension next year. I couldn’t believe that I won’t have the option of a taking a 25% tax free lump sum from my stakeholder pension and leaving the rest invested. With a stakeholder pension, I am forced to buy an annuity if I want to take the 25% lump sum. To follow my desired course of action, I’d have to transfer my stakeholder pension pot into a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). If I want to protect the value of my pension pot by putting the remaining 75% into a savings account rather than stockmarket-based investments, I’d have to pay annual charges for having SIPP pension pot in a savings account. This ridiculous situation of paying fees to have a savings account prompted me to start formulating a better personal pension set-up which would benefit the average person.
Here is my proposal for a Cash ISA Pension Account (CIPA).
A CIPA would combine the benefits of a personal pension, by giving holders the benefit of 20% tax relief on their contributions and the benefits of a Cash ISA, with any interest and income from the CIPA being tax free. I’d cap the tax relief at 20%, I don’t see why higher rate taxpayers should get more benefit from personal pensions.
A CIPA would be a tax free wrapper, you would be able to put the money built up in a CIPA into any available savings account. You’d need to do your own research to select the savings account(s) into which you were going to put your CIPA cash, just as you do currently with a Cash ISA. For security, you’d need to limit the amount on deposit with any financial institution to £85,000, the maximum covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Interest rates on savings accounts seem to be falling on a daily basis. The bonus rate period on our Santander eSaver, currently paying 3.2%, expires in June and our Halifax Reward Saver, currently paying 2.5%, expires in August. I’m also aware that the 3% variable rate being paid on balances between £3,000-£20,000 in the Santander 123 Cashback Current Account could drop at any time.
Therefore, I’m on the lookout for any semi-decent instant access savings account, which has at least some element of fixed interest rate and unlimited withdrawals, as a ready-to-go backup option in case the rate paid on the Santander current account drops after the Halifax Reward Saver matures.
There’s certainly nothing great on offer out there. Santander’s eSaver Issue 10 is paying a derisory 1.25% (variable). When I had a quick look on the Halifax web site, I saw their Everyday Saver paying an interest rate of 1.5%, made up of a 12 month 1% fixed rate bonus plus a 0.5% variable rate. There are no withdrawal limits on the account and you can open it with as little as a £1 deposit.
I decided to open a Halifax Everyday Saver. As an existing customer, it only took around two minutes to apply for the account. I may never use the account, if either Santander maintain the 3% paid on the 123 Current Account, or if I can find another instant access account which pays more than the 1.5% on the Halifax Everyday Saver.
>#ukpf is the new hashtag for UK personal finance blog posts and articles. Adding the #ukpf hashtag to tweets will make it easy for bloggers, writers and readers to find a diverse pool of information on all aspects of UK personal finance e.g. money saving tips, financial product reviews, personal experience/insights, pensions and debt.
It’s quite annoying when you end up paying almost as much to park the car at the airport as you do for your flight. We’re flying from Edinburgh to Santander in northern Spain next month. Our tickets cost £54 return each. The flight departs at 06.20. There’s no way we could get to the airport by 04.20, the recommended two hours before our flight departure, by public transport. That means we have to drive to the airport.
Before I book airport parking, I try a price comparison site, check out the cashback on sites like topcashback.co.uk and do a search for discount codes. My Barclaycard World Mastercard offers a 15% discount on an airport parking site.
To save a bit more money, pay for your parking by cashback credit card, as long as there’s no addtional fee for this method of payment and you pay off your credit card balance in full every month.
It’s worth looking into airport hotel prices. Some can offer up to 15 days parking in their ‘Park & Fly’ rates, which may not cost much more than paying for 15 days parking and also avoid you having to leave home at some crazy time like 03.00 for an early flight.
Be sure to check the exact location of the car park. There can be so many different car parks, e.g. there are 16 different Gatwick parking options and you don’t want to waste time by going to the wrong car park by mistake. If the car park is not located right at the airport, a transfer of a couple of miles on busy roads around Heathrow airport could take ages.
The best deal I could find for the eight days of our Santander trip for £28 at an NCP car park close to the airport. I found this through a 20% discount offer on a voucher code site. I had to pay by debit card, as the credit card fee was higher than the cashback I’d receive.
The National Trust is offering free entry to many of their properties/sites in England this weekend, 20-21 April 2013. This is a great money saving offer, as adult entry to some of their sites costs more than £10. You need to download the free entry voucher on the National Trust website. The weather forecast for the weekend is looking quite good, so why not plan your day out now.
After the final day of the Write on Finance Blog Up #2 in London, four of us decided to go out for a some food. Eating out in central London can be pretty expensive, especially after they add on the 12.5% restaurant service charge. I was hoping to get a reasonable meal for under £10. I’d spotted that the All Bar One just up from Embankment tube station had a 2 course meal offer after 5pm from Sundays to Thursdays, so we decided to go there.
Although it was a Sunday night, we found one free table in the bar. The dishe choice available on the £10 two course offer was quite limited. We all stuck to Classic Burgers served with Chips. I fancied the Sherry Trifle but they’d run out, so had to plump for Chocolate Brownie served with Ice Cream.
You have to go to the bar to order your food. It took around 20 minutes for our main courses to arrive. I was happy with the quality of the burger and the portion size. The Chocolate Brownie was very good.
Time flies. Although it only seemed a few months since I was negotiating the renewal of my pay monthly contract with Vodafone, that 18 month contract was due to run out in 30 days. Therefore, I either had to cancel it or start a new contract. I’d been paying around £13 a month for 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500Mb of data.
I was keen to stay with Vodafone for two reasons. Their mobile broadband coverage in the UK is very good and their Euro Traveller allows me to use my UK plan abroad for an additional £3 a day (still far too expensive, but cheaper than most other options). I’m relatively happy with my Samsung Wave 2 S8530 mobile phone, so I thought I’d go for a pay month Sim only deal.
I logged onto my Vodafone account to look at the upgrade options. The Sim price for a 12 month deal on my current package of 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500Mb of data was £15.50. I phoned Vodafone to ask for a discount on this price. They told me that they couldn’t offer a discount on a Sim only deal. The only way to get a loyalty discount would be to sign up for a new 24 month contract with a free phone. The lowest price for my current package was £10.50 a month (a 50% reduction on the standard £21 a month price) with a choice of three free budget phones.
I was drawn into starting a personal pension for two reasons. I’m self employed, so it’s the only pension option open to me and I’d get 20% tax relief on my pension contributions (as I’m a basic rate taxpayer). Getting that 20% boost makes a personal pension sound like a no brainer. Annual charges on a stakeholder pension of between 1%-1.5% didn’t sound that bad, compared to a 20% top up into my pension pot.
Between annual charges and profits on annuities, personal pension holders are getting very little, or even no, benefit from tax relief, as it’s being swallowed up in charges and annuity profits.
It therefore appears to me that the UK Government is offering an indirect subsidy to the personal finance industry. A huge proportion of tax relief received by people paying into personal pensions is being channelled into income for personal pension providers.
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