Sky TV to hike fees from September

Prepare to pay up to 10% more for your Sky TV package from September. The specific costs aren't known but it looks increasingly likely the cheapest package will start from around £23.50 a month.

The news will disappoint many given the presence of competitor BT on the pay-TV block. So not much of a price war - so far. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Sky high?

Last year Sky hiked prices by 5% for sport bundles and around 7.5% for entertainment packages. The news of the increase was stuck on Sky's online shop web site. "Sky TV price will increase on 1 September 2013 by up to 10% in accordance with our standard terms," it said in a legal note at the bottom of the page.

Last week BT, having promised broadband subscribers its TV channels would be free, said it was hiking the price of its line rental saver plan by 10%, climbing from £129 a year to £141. With BT you can watch Premier League for free (though BT can't match Sky for sport output: cricket, golf, etc; Sky shows around three times as many Premier League games).

Shares in broadband players have come under pressure recently on fears that new competition would eat into profits. But it's still expected Sky will shortly slash prices for its broadband packages (though there is little detail currently) in an attempt to keep up the pressure on BTSport.

Package changes

"Many sports fans have broadband through us and their TV through Sky," said Peter Oliver, commercial director for BT Consumer, quoted in the Telegraph. "Our channels will be free for those households, so we'd be happy seeing their monthly bills reduced by Sky."

Oliver added: "We think Sky customers are grossly overcharged and welcome any cuts they make to their package."

Sky charges consumers almost £620 a year - including the price of line rental - for complete access to all its sports channels, plus 2GB of downloads a month. For the moment, it look like Virgin Media is keeping out of the fray though it's thought Virgin is interested in offering BTSport content.

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Sky TV to hike fees from September

It is reasonable to assume that if you take out a mobile phone contract at £30 a month for 24 months that's exactly what you'll pay unless you exceed the tariff. Yet mobile phone providers have come under fire for a snag buried in the small print – a clause to allow mid-contract price rises.

Prices are rising by a median of 81p a month and 70% of consumers are completely unaware off this sneaky move, according to Tesco Mobile, so be sure to check any new contracts before you sign the dotted line.

Financial service providers always refer to 'typical APR' in advertising to attract customers with favourable rates of interest.

Yet the typical APR on loans and credit cards is only available for those applicants who have a squeaky clean credit record, everyone else could end up with a much higher rate. For example, under EU rules, credit card providers only have to provide the typical APR advertised to 51% of applicants.

So always consider this when applying for accounts and products, and if approved – look out the actual APR that you will be charged.

The highest paying savings accounts on the market tend to come with a string of strict terms, which if you fall foul of, result in a drop in interest. Common requirements include paying in a set sum each month and not making withdrawals during a set period.

Make sure to fully understand these terms before opening a savings account and if you choose an account with a six or 12 month bonus, remember that this will plummet when the bonus period ends.

Cashback credit cards that pay you a small percentage each time you spend on the card are full of loopholes in the small print. All have a maximum spend, but many have a minimum spend too.

For example, the Sainsbury's Cashback Low Rate card advertises that it offers users 5% cashback for the first three months. However the 5% cashback is capped at £50 a month. A further 5% cashback is subject to you spending £500 a month on the card (£250 of that at Sainsbury's).

Attempt to repay your mortgage early and you may be greeted with a hefty fee in the form of an early repayment charge. These penalties vary from lender to lender and even deal to deal, but are typically be around 10% of the outstanding balance.

Details of any early repayment charges should be clearly outlined in your mortgage contract but it is worth double-checking with your lender before you try to make a payment.

Insurance is an incredibly complex area of personal finance and different forms of cover are riddled with different hitches that make it crucial to read the small print. Failure to do so could lead you to pay for a product you would be never be able to claim upon, or unknowingly do something that invalidates your claim.

Always buy the right level of cover for your needs and pay close attention to any exclusions in the policy wording. For example, many travel insurance policies for winter sports won't pay out for treatment of injuries incurred while under the influence of alcohol.

Think a credit card can't do any damage at home in your drawer? Think again. Some credit and store cards charge a dormancy fee if you don't use them regularly.

For example, all Santander-issued store cards, including Topshop and Laura Ashley cards among others, charge a fee of £10 if you remain in debit for three consecutive months.

Exceed the monthly usage allowance in your broadband deal and you could be hit with a huge fee. Common with the cheapest broadband deals on the market, penalty charges for going over your contracted limit can push your bills up even higher than if you paid for a deal with unlimited usage.

According to Talk Talk, some households are being forced to pay an additional £40 per month for exceeding their usage allowance. BT for example, charges £5 per every 5GB extra used.

Familiarise yourself with the download limit in your package and the penalties for exceeding it, decide whether you are better off with an unlimited deal.

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