Welcome to the MoneyPlus Newsletter.
This month, we’re focusing on July Gems – those little shiny nuggets of helpful information and useful tips that are either just what you’ve been after, or great to keep around for a rainy day.
Things like which banks have been voted the best by their customers (thinking of a switch?), or where to go for the best foreign currency exchange (hello holiday!). Whatever your situation, July Gems has something for everyone…
It’s July, it’s summer, and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Let’s kick things off by finding out which bank has the backing of its customer base when it comes to their savings products – something to keep in mind if you’re thinking of opening a new ISA.
1. Savings stalemate.
Customer service is an important factor when choosing a savings account, but how do you find a bank or building society that combines great rates with great service?
Consumer watchdog Which? asked thousands of savers to rate their providers and analysed thousands of savings products, giving each provider an overall score out of 100.
So, who came out on top in terms of service and product?
- Principality Building Society
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs
- M&S Bank
- Atom Bank
- Ford Money
- Metro Bank
- Skipton Building Society
If you can’t see your current provider’s name, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be better off elsewhere. The lowest score given was still over 50 (the highest was 75), so if your provider is giving you what you need, great – but it never hurts to shop around.
For more information on the different types of ISAs, read our blog post.
2. Getting the most from your mortgage.
You don’t need to be watching the news to know that the current UK housing market is, well, just a bit much right now.
For a moment, renting was actually cheaper than buying, and even still, more buyers are paying over the asking price for their home than ever before (in January, 37% of homes were sold at or above asking price – up from 25%).
Most of this madness was down to the stamp duty holiday put in place during the pandemic, but now that’s over, things are somewhat cooling down.
Still, as mortgage rates remain low for the time being, you may be thinking about a move in the near future, so here’s some solid tips that can help you bag a better mortgage deal.
Watch out for ‘honeytrap’ mortgages.
These are deals that tempt you in with a seemingly low rate, but end up costing you quite a lot in fees – always read the fine print!
You don’t need to close your credit accounts.
Having open credit accounts that aren’t carrying any balances over from month to month won’t impact your ability to get a mortgage, or your borrowing amount. Quite the opposite, actually – actively using your credit and paying it off in full each month will look good to lenders.
You could still get a mortgage if you’ve had a payday loan or DMP.
Lenders don’t generally like payday loans or debt products, but the good news is that they don’t stay on your credit file forever. Each lender has different rules around this, but as a golden rule, the longer ago it was, the better (if you’re on a Debt Management Plan, you’ll need to wait at least 6 years from your default/settlement date for it to be removed from your credit score).
Debt can reduce your borrowing potential.
Imagine that a couple has a combined annual income of £44k. Without any existing debt, the couple’s borrowing potential would be just over £193k. However, if that couple had a £350 car finance payment each month and owed £2.5k on their credit card, their borrowing potential drops to just over £157k – a difference of around £35k. So before applying for a mortgage, aim to pay down any existing debts. Calculate your borrowing potential here.
Build an emergency fund.
Most lenders like to know that you have some spare cash in the bank that could tide you over in the case of, say, a global pandemic. Plus, if anything goes wrong that isn’t covered by your insurance, you’ll be on the hook for the costs, so it’s always good to have a back-up plan.
3. Come fly with me.
Freedom Day has come and gone, and we’re all looking forward to a well-deserved (yet still safely socially distanced) holiday abroad. But when it comes to getting the best rates for your currency, there can be a lot of conflicting information out there.
In a nutshell, there are two main options: high street banks and foreign exchange (FX) services.
The former may appear like a good place to begin with, as they are trusted to you – but banks generally don’t offer the best rates and can charge quite high fees (up to £30 per transaction), which can add up if you’re looking to exchange a lot of money.
On the other hand, FX (foreign exchange services) tend to offer better rates with lower fees (in some cases, zero fees).
But, like most consumer products, you’re best-off shopping around. Here’s some tips on how to get the best exchange rates on the market…
Buy before you fly.
Airport exchanges are known to offer extortionate fees, so always plan ahead and buy your currency elsewhere. If it can’t be helped, you can always pre-order your currency for collection at the airport, which may get you a better rate.
Pay in local currency.
It’s always best to pay in the local currency rather than in pounds if you use your credit or debit card abroad. This is because the retailer you’re purchasing from will choose the exchange rate, which is usually a lot more expensive than the rate of your card provider.
Amy Armstrong – Group Receptionist
Amy says: “I’ve been working for MoneyPlus for just over 3 years now, and I’m currently our front-of-house receptionist, which allows me to collaborate with everyone in the business and see the hard work that our team does each day.
I work alongside many different departments at MoneyPlus, offering a helping hand where I can. This can be anything from the day-to-day running of our reception, to the various fundraisers and (virtual) company events that need planning – it’s very varied!
The past year has been extremely hard for many people during the pandemic, and more people are seeking help with the financial difficulties that COVID-19 is leaving behind. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the work our teams are putting into supporting individuals and families is helping so many people with their unmanageable debts.
We always have our customers at the front of our mind with everything that we do. There’s no fancy jargon here, we’re all about getting to know our customers as individuals – it’s what sets us apart from the rest.”
We love reading our customer reviews – and showing them off to the world!
This month’s review comes from a very valuable MoneyPlus Advice customer.
Take a look…
In case you didn’t know, every Friday is #FeedbackFriday on our social media, so if you’d like to see more great reviews, head over to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
We like to keep our followers up-to-date with the latest industry news, advice, and offers, so we highly recommend following our social media channels so you can stay in the know…
WIN a FREE beautiful bouquet from Bloom & Wild!
We’ve partnered with Bloom & Wild to give 5 of our social followers a monthly chance to win a free bouquet! To be in with a chance to win this month’s bloom, just do the following:
1. Like our Facebook page
Simple! (Don’t forget to set your shared post to ‘public’, otherwise we won’t be able to see who shares it!)
Winners will be announced at the beginning of next month, so stay tuned to our social to see if you’ve won. (T&C’s apply – https://bit.ly/2uhOyZx).
Here for you, in more ways than one.
At MoneyPlus, we offer a range of services that help you to make the most of your finances and live better. Take a look below to see if you could benefit from one (or more) of our other offerings…
Debt solutions that suit your lifestyle.
If your personal circumstances have changed and you find yourself struggling to manage your finances, give MoneyPlus Advice a call on 0161 837 4000, or email us at email@example.com, and we’ll help you find the best solution to get your finances back on the right track.
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We’re a fully regulated law firm acting for tens of thousands of people who are rightfully claiming back the money they’re owed from their PPI. Click here to start your PPI check today.