Two decent saving bonds

Two savings bonds offering decent returns have recently been announced. Ruth Jackson has the details, plus the rest of the week's personal finance news, including why Monarch Airlines is dropping debit-card surcharges, where to find the best priced petrol in your area, how to claim back on that gym membership you never use, and why now is the time to think about replacing your boiler.

Sainsbury's Finance has launched a best-buy savings bond. Their one-year bond pays 3.4% interest, making it a decent choice for anyone who can afford to lock their money away for 12 months. The only drawback is that the minimum investment is £5,000. Barnsley Building Society also offers a 3.4% rate on a one-year bond, but the minimum investment on that account is £1,000.

Monarch Airlines has broken ranks with other budget airlines and scrapped debit-card surcharges. The airline is currently undergoing a major rebranding and is making moves to win business from rivals Ryanair and Easyjet. By scrapping charges on debit cards and announcing a flat £10 charge per booking for credit-card payments, the airline is making a clear move to distance itself from its rivals. Hopefully the move will prompt more companies to end the practice of using processing fees to boost profits.

Visits to petrol stations have dropped by 12% since August last year, according to the AA. People may be reducing the amount of fuel they buy, but soaring oilprices mean the average amount spent at a petrol station is up by 17% from £38.65 to £45.10. Find the cheapest petrol in your area with

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If you've got a gym membership that you never use then there was good news from the High Court this week. It has ruled that the minimum contract length (and a number of other key terms) in 300,000 gym contracts are unenforceable. The contracts in question were drawn up by Ashbourne Management Services Ltd, which designs membership agreements and collects payments for over 700 local,independent gyms. The High Court has ruled that the firm's contracts were unjust because of long minimum contract terms that exceeded 12-months and hefty cancellation fees. If you have one of these contracts, consult the Office of Fair Trading's website to find out what to do.

As the weather starts to warm up, it's a great time to think about replacing your boiler. British Gas has relaunched its boiler scrappage scheme, which offers consumers a £400 discount on a new, energy-efficient model. Households in England, Scotland and Wales are eligible for the discount if they trade in an old boiler with an efficiency rating of G' for a new Worcester Bosch model, which is A' rated. "An inefficient boiler is one of the biggest sources of wasted energy and money in the home. It's really important to ensure that your boiler is in a good condition and working efficiently during the warmer months so that there are no nasty surprises when temperatures drop," says Charlie Brown of British Gas in The Daily Telegraph. But do get a second quote from a good local plumber before committing to British Gas.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings accounts and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping, among many other titles both online and offline.