Fix your finances in 2016

As the new year begins make the most of your money with advice from the experts at MoneySuperMarket

young businessman counting his...

Resolved to get your finances in order for the New Year? Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of your money.

Credit cards

credit cards stack on white

Balance transfer cards

If you spent a little too much on your credit card over Christmas, it pays to shift your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card and enjoy up to three years' interest-free.

The Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card with Extended Balance Transfer, for instance, offers 37 months at 0% interest with a balance transfer fee of 2.54% (refunded from an initial 3.5%), so long as transfers are made within the first 60 days.

Similarly, the Halifax Balance Transfer Card, Virgin Money 37-month Balance Transfer Card, MBNA Platinum Credit Card and Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers all offer 37 months at 0%, subject to fees of 2.55%, 2.59%, 2.89% and 2.9% respectively.

Remember, you can't transfer a balance from one card to another issued by the same provider, and once the introductory interest-free period is up, all of the above cards charge a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable) so try to clear your balance before then.

Purchase cards

If you're looking at making a big-ticket purchase in the January sales or beyond, it's worth checking out the range of 0% purchase cards out there, as you can enjoy more than two years of interest-free spending with the top cards.

If, however, you always pay off your credit card balance in full, it could be time to consider a cashback card and get rewarded for your spending.

And if you can't wait to escape the winter weather or you're looking to hit the slopes, then avoid getting hit with expensive surcharges for using a standard credit card abroad and take one out designed for overseas spending.

It's worth checking out MoneySuperMarket's Smart Search tool before you apply as this will give you an idea of the cards you are more likely to be accepted for without leaving any evidence on your credit file.

Compare a full range of credit cards here.


Money management

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to kick-start the savings habit, opening an individual savings account (ISA) should be at the top of your list as any interest you earn is yours to keep, tax-free.

In the current tax year (until April 5), you can invest up to £15,240 into an ISA and you can compare a full range of ISAs at MoneySuperMarket.

Regardless of whether you choose to put you money in an ISA or not, the key consideration when opening an account is what exactly it is you're saving up for.

If it's a long-term goal, such as saving for your kids' university tuition fees, a fixed rate bond makes the most sense as locking your money away usually offers the highest returns.

If, on the other hand, you've got a short-term savings goal and want to get your hands on your money at a moment's notice, an easy access account will be more suitable.

And if you want to set aside a certain amount each month, it's worth checking out the returns offered by a regular savings account.

Compare a full range of savings accounts here.

Current accounts

Smiling man put his credit card

If you think a current account is just there to get your wages paid in and your bills paid out, think again. While savings rates have been dwindling over recent years, competition in the current account market has improved dramatically and you can now take advantage of top interest rates, cashback on your household bills and even cash rewards.

If you regularly stay in credit, it makes sense to take advantage of some of the great interest rates on offer.

The TSB Classic Plus Account, for instance, pays 5.00% AER (variable) on balances up to £2,000 and also gives you access to a Monthly Saver Account earning 5.00% AER fixed for 12 months on monthly deposits of between £25 and £250.

This account could also net you £60 a year thanks to its offer of up to 5% cashback on your first £100 of contactless payments every month until December 31, 2016. However, to get all these perks you must credit your account with a minimum of £500 each month, register for internet banking, paperless statements and paperless correspondence.

Nationwide's Flex Direct Account also offers 5.00% AER fixed for 12 months on balances up to £2,500. After that, the rate falls to 1.00% AER (variable).

Alternatively, the Santander 123 Account offers up to 3.00% AER (variable) on in-credit balances of between £3,000 and £20,000 and pays as much as 3% cashback on household bills. This account does, however, come with a monthly fee of £5 (as of January 11, 2016).

Similarly, the NatWest Reward Accountoffers 3% cashback on household bills with no limit on the rewards you can earn on the seven eligible household bills, provided they are paid by direct debit.

You'll also be able to earn at least 1% on debit card payments at selected retailers and an additional 1% Rewards on contactless purchases. This account comes with a £3 monthly fee.

If you want some cash up front for switching, First Direct's 1st Account comes with a £100 switching bonus, and also gives you access to a 6.00% AER regular saver account.

Compare a full range of current accounts here.


Couple signing contract

It's been a great couple of years for borrowers, with interest rates on loans hitting an all-time low.

If you're looking to borrow between £7,500 and £15,000 over one to five years, Sainsbury's Bank is offering loans to Nectar card holders at just 3.4% APR representative – but this deal ends in mid-February so don't hang around if you're interested.

If you're looking to borrow between £5,000 and £7,499 over the same period, the rate jumps to 4.2% APR representative, while the rate on borrowing of between £15,001 and £20,000 is 4.7% APR representative.

For loans of between £15,001 and £25,000 taken out over three, four or five years, Zopa offers 3.9% APR (representative) and all successful applications made through MoneySuperMarket will get £50 knocked off the price of the loan.

Before you take on any type of credit you should check your credit score to make sure you're eligible as a rejected loan application can damage your credit score. It's worth checking out MoneySuperMarket's Smart Search tool as this allows you search for a loan and gives you an indication of which lenders are likely to accept your application without affecting your credit file.

Compare a full range of personal loans here.

Gas and electricity

woman hand adjusting the...

It's been a relatively mild winter... so far. But it still pays to make sure you're on the most cost-effective energy tariff.

So as well as doing the routine things to save energy, such as plugging up drafts, getting your loft insulated and dropping the thermostat by a degree – this alone can save as much as £65 a year - you can help to save a packet on your heating bills by switching provider.

And the whole thing will probably be a lot easier than you think!

Simply set aside five minutes, fire up the laptop and grab a copy of your latest bill, then compare gas and electricity tariffs from every UK supplier at MoneySuperMarket.

Once you've landed on a deal you like, sign up and you'll be switched within 17 days. And remember, your gas and electricity will still be supplied in the same way it always has, meaning there's no need for any new pipes or wires to be installed.

Compare gas and electricity tariffs with MoneySuperMarket.

Car insurance

crashed car

If you've got a car, you need to have it insured.

But accepting your insurer's renewal quote, or letting them auto-renew on your behalf, can see you pay far too much so it pays to shop around for the best price a couple of weeks before your renewal is due.

And make sure the policy you choose comes with everything you need, whether that's legal expenses or breakdown cover, as it's not all about the cheapest price.

It takes a matter of minutes to get a range of quotes with MoneySuperMarket, and over half of UK drivers could save up to £212 on the cost of their car insurance.

See how much you could save on your car insurance with MoneySuperMarket.