%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%A major bank is to scrap "teaser" rates on savings products to make its deals more transparent and reward customer loyalty.
HSBC has launched a new "loyalty" cash Isa which will give customers a variable rate of between 1.4-1.6%, with no introductory bonus.
The deal has become HSBC's only on-sale cash Isa and it has stopped actively offering two other products - the variable rate cash Isa, which was previously available in branch and by phone and the online cash e-Isa. The variable rate cash Isa had a 1% bonus but savers on this deal could eventually end up on a rate of 0.2%.
HSBC said it has stopped offering introductory bonuses on savings accounts as part of moves to simplify deals for customers.
HSBC's new cash Isa is only available to customers who have one of its current accounts or choose to open one. The rate they get will be between 1.4-1.6% depending on which current account they choose.
Customers taking out its new loyalty Isa need to pay at least £1 into it every 12 months to keep getting their rate, which will drop to a standard rate of 0.5% if the 12-month period runs out without any more top-ups being made.
If they then make another payment into their Isa, they will start earning the "loyalty rate" again.
Customers can also transfer funds in from existing Isas and withdrawals are free of charge.
The bank will send out reminders to customers to top up their accounts and write every six months to confirm their rate. HSBC said all existing Isa customers can transfer to the loyalty Isa if they wish.
Oliver Cook, head of savings at HSBC, said: "Our customers have told us they always want to receive the best rate we have to offer, without having to switch Isas every year."
He said that the move to remove introductory bonus rates, coupled with the new Isa, gives customers "peace of mind" about the returns they will be getting.
The use of teaser rates generally to pull in customers has attracted controversy, and consumer group Which? has raised concerns about "zombie" accounts that attract people in with high introductory rates which then plunge - often without the customer realising.
But some pundits have argued that in the current low interest rate environment, any bonus is better than nothing.
Rachel Springall, spokeswoman for financial information website Moneyfacts, said: "Despite there being dark clouds over introductory bonuses, savers who play the market right can use these deals to boost to their savings.
"Customers who would prefer a more transparent savings account without the need to create various diary notes will prefer these types of bonus-free accounts, so they are not caught out after the introductory deal ends. The responsibility is always on the customer to keep an eye on these deals."
According to Moneyfacts' "best buy" tables, Britannia Building Society offers an easy access Isa paying 1.75%, but this rate only applies for someone who does not make more than two withdrawals in a year.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched an investigation last year to find out more about how often customers who have been given an introductory rate switch their account.
Other banks have also been slimming down their choice of Isa products.
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) recently shifted their Isa customers onto newer deals so that everyone now earns at least 1% interest, whereas some older accounts had been paying 0.5%.
RBS/NatWest, which now only offer one variable rate cash Isa per brand, previously said the move would put an end to ''new customers only'' offers and ensure pricing is fair and consistent.
Kevin Mountford, head of banking at the MoneySuperMarket website, said: "HSBC's decision to remove bonus rates on all savings products is more of a reflection on the current market, where fewer saving products include teaser rates. These bonus rates were more prevalent when savings rates were higher."
Mr Mountford added: "The reality is most savings rates drop over time, even on accounts without teaser rates, so it pays to be vigilant and check your rate frequently rather than wait for your provider."
Mortgage rates are low at the moment, but even if you feel that your mortgage is a pretty good deal already, for a lot of borrowers there are better rates to be had. It's crucial to get the sums right – high upfront admin costs from a new lender or large early repayment fees from your existing mortgage provider could wipe out any savings. But, says David Hollingworth of brokers London & Country: "If you have an average standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.75%, a borrower with a £150,000 repayment mortgage over 20 years would pay £969.34 each month. Switching to a two-year fix with Norwich & Peterborough BS at 1.99% with £295 fee, free valuation and free legal work for remortgage would cut the payment to £758.11 a month, saving £211.23p.m." Over a year, that would mean a saving of £2,240, even with a £295 up front fee, and £2535 in following years. Potential saving: £2,535
Your home and contents insurance may be costing more than it needs to. Gocompare.comdata shows that 25% of customers who provided their buildings and contents insurance renewal price saved up to almost £160 by changing to a new provider. Potential saving: £160
With today's high cost of fuel, running a car is an expensive business. For a lot of people, particularly where public transport is sparse, giving up a car altogether is too big a challenge. But perhaps you could use it less, and take steps to bring down the cost of driving when it's unavoidable. The Energy Saving Trust says that just keeping your tyres pumped up correctly can save £31 a year, and turning off the air conditioning can save £77. Follow all the advice on the Energy Saving Trust's app, such as lift sharing and keeping your speed down, and the organisation claims you could save as much as £554 a year for a medium car covering medium mileage. Potential saving: £554
If you haven't changed car insurer recently, the chances are you could save a lot of money by doing so now. According to research from Consumer Intelligence for Gocompare.com, in October 2013, 51% of consumers could save up to £242.55 by moving to a new insurance provider. There are plenty of comparison sites to try, including AOL Compare, so it really doesn't take long to find a cheaper deal. Potential saving: £243
Start by finding out whether you could get a cheaper deal from a different energy supplier. If you haven't changed in the past, you probably can. According to gocompare.com, you could save around £309 a year just by switching to a cheaper deal (based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx poweredGocompare.com platforms between 1 July and 30 September 2013).
Over the long term, there are plenty of ways to bring down bills that involve a relatively large outlay up front, such as ensuring your home is properly insulated. But just cutting your current energy use can have a huge impact on your energy bills. Some of the steps you can take are just a question of habit changing, such as switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby. The Energy Saving Trust reckons the average household could save £50 and £90 a year just by unplugging or switching off at the socket. And turning down the washing machine temperature to 30 degrees, using a washing up bowl instead of leaving the tap running and only putting as much water in the kettle as you need can save you as much as £55 a year. Draught-proofing will save another £55, and proper 270mm loft insulation could save you up to £180 a year – taking into account the cost of fitting it the savings will take a couple of years to kick in. Potential saving: £689 (far more if you take all the right steps in the home)
Or at least, make your own. If you work in a town or city, the temptation to pop in and get a coffee can be strong. There's something comforting about sipping a hot coffee from those nice warm paper cups as you gear up for the working day. But if you stop to add up what it costs (including the cup), it may leave you cold. A Starbucks medium (OK, tall) latte costs £2.60 on the Strand in London. If you have one of those five days a week, 46 weeks a year (allowing for four weeks holiday), that means you are spending close to £600 – a tall price for a caffeine fix. If you make your own, a Bodum coffee maker costs £20 and a kilo of coffee costs around £13 and will make roughly 120 – 140. Missing the cup for the walk to work? Buy a Thermos mug for around £10. For £43, plus the price of milk, you can have coffee on the go all year round. Potential saving: £557
It's a familiar scenario for many well-intentioned would-be gym bunnies. You sign up super motivated. You buy new workout gear, perhaps you work out regularly at the start. But then something – a holiday, a nasty cold, late nights at work – breaks your momentum and you stop going to the gym. Eventually your workout clothes lounge around in the cupboard while the gym keeps your bank balance trim by taking that direct debit each month. Gym memberships vary, but if you pay £80 a month for full membership, that's £960 a year's worth of good intentions. Invest in some proper running shoes – you can spend a fortune but specialist shop Run and Become has decent shoes for £50 – and hit the road. Need motivation? Download a free app such as Couch to 5k to get you started and track your progress as you get fitter. Potential saving: £910
The range of mobile tariffs can be baffling. Many people end up on the wrong deal, perhaps paying for call time or extras they don't really need or use. There are a number of online tools and apps you can use to check your bill is not too high, such as Billmonitor and Mobilife. Enter your existing details and see if you could save money. In 2012, Billmonitor reckoned 26 million consumers in Britain were paying over the odds by as much as £164. The savings you could make will vary hugely, but it's certainly worth taking a look to see what you could save.
Apps like Viber and Whats App are also worth a mention as they allow you to text and call (Viber only) other users for free who have the apps on their smartphones. Whats App has ayearly subscription fee of around 65p, but the only other cost is the data on your smartphone plan if you're using 3G.
And when it comes to your broadband and home phone, it pays to find out if you are on the best deal. Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at broadbandchoices.co.uk says: "Our own analysis has highlighted time and time again that a high proportion of customers do not actually switch broadband regularly enough to benefit from better pricing, which is crazy when you consider that switching can save you over £200 from your annual bill. Switching levels for broadband are woefully low when compared with energy or insurance services." Potential saving: £364
In the UK, households throw away an estimated 25 meals each month, worth a total of £60 a month or £720 each year. Avoid buying too much food, even when it seems like you are saving money. Try not to 'take advantage' of bulk buy deals you may not use, make good use of your freezer for fresh foods rather than putting them in the fridge and forgetting them, and change a few of your shopping and eating habits and you may save money.
Make a list and stick to it. Shopping online can help you avoid temptation, and if you do your shopping on Mysupermarket.co.uk, you could save even more. Enter your items as you would on a supermarket site, and it will find the cheapest supermarket for your needs saving on average £17 a shop, according to the site. On a weekly basis that makes £884.
Growing your own vegetables can also save money, although the set up costs can be relatively high if you are starting from scratch. But some foods are cheap and easy to grow, even if you have little space. If you are in the habit of buying bagged salad, you could easily save a significant sum by growing your own. Jane Perrone, gardening editor of the Guardian and author of The Allotment Keeper's Handbook, says: "The materials to grow your own probably cost something shy of £20 a year, for seeds and compost mainly - I usually use recycled containers." A standard bag of salad from a supermarket costs around £1, so if you would usually buy one bag a week, you would spend around £52 a year. Potential saving: £1,636
A Sky Sports bundle costs £43.50 a month, that's £522 a year. It's enough to take you somewhere sunny on holiday. It's enough to buy a whole new wardrobe full of clothes. Or, more importantly, several weekly food shops. Whatever else you could do with that money, it's certainly enough to make you think twice about whether or not you want to keep paying those subscription fees. Potential saving: £522
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