Wait before pouncing on Isa deals
How do you find the best rate for your Isa? And is the fall in bank complaints simply the calm before the storm? Adam Jourdan rounds up the week's personal finance news.
If you're looking for the best rate for your cash individual savings account (Isa), then you're probably better holding off until the weekend. Over the next month, up until 6 April, banks will compete for top spot in the weekend Isa tables that feature in the Sunday newspaper supplements.
As a result, many of the best deals don't come out until late in the week, in abid to pip competitors to the post, says Defaqto banking analyst David Black on Thisismoney.co.uk.
Could financial firms be improving their level of customer service? At first glance, it may look like it. The number of complaints made to the Financial Ombudsman fell by a third in the second half of 2011, from 150,000 to 100,000, with the worst offenders being Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group. A drop in payment protection insurance (PPI) claims accounted for the bulk of the fall, with PPI complaints more than halving to 46,700 against the first half of the year.
However, it may be a matter of the calm before the storm the financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), said the drop was down to banks being given more time to deal with the backlog of PPI cases. The ombudsman service expects to receive a record 165,000 PPI complaints in 2012/2013.
Trust in pensions as a method for saving for retirement is at an all-time low, writes The Daily Telegraph. A survey by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) showed that 54% of workers do not feel confident about pensions compared to other ways of saving (the lowest since the survey was launched in 2007). A third of workers plan to opt out of auto-enrolment when it starts later this year.
For mortgage borrowers looking for a new loan in the wake of various banks hiking their standard variable rates (SVR), one of the cheapest five-year fixed-rate deals on offer comes from Nottingham Building Society at 3.19% (on a maximum loan of 75% of the property's value), while HSBC offers one of the top trackers at 2.09 percentage points above the Bank of England rate for the life of the loan, so the current rate is 2.59%. However, you need to have at least 40% equity in your house to qualify for this rate. At 25% equity, you can get a tracker at 2.89% from First Direct.
Is Santander's new 123 current account the best in Britain? asks Thisismoney.co.uk. The account offers users 3% interest and up to 3% money back on utility, council tax, phone and internet bills paid for by direct debit from the account. So, what's the catch? There is a £2 monthly fee for account holders, and there must be at least two direct debits paid from the account, with a monthly value of over £500.
The interest rate also drops to 2% for savers with a balance of less than £3,000, and to just 1% at balances of under £2,000. Customers who slip into the red will "feel the sting of its flip side", with unauthorised borrowing charged at £5 a day up to £95 in a month.