Money insider: Nationwide takes notice of savers’ unrest

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The Independent Online

It's not just poor rates of interest that upset savers in this country: complex products, interest rate mismatches between ISA and non-ISA accounts, and accounts exclusively for new customers all appear high on the list of consumer gripes.





Customers just want a decent rate of return, clear and concise terms and conditions and a little extra now and again in return for their loyalty.



This unrest has not gone unnoticed with Nationwide Building Society, the third largest provider of retail savings in the UK, launching seven savings promises.



While some of the promises are not anything new, at least it has now been put in black and white how Nationwide intends to keep its savers well-informed.



Among the promises that are worthy of a mention is "We will not offer brand-new customer-only savings products", further evidence that existing loyal customers are starting to be given the recognition and rewards they deserve. On a similar theme, existing customers will be pleased to hear that they will be offered exclusive savings deals.



Nationwide's current exclusive offer for savers who've been with them for at least three months is a three-year bond paying 4.5 per cent fixed on sums between £1,000 to £5,000. This represents a good deal when you realise the next best rate for this term is 4 per cent from the Post Office.



Another of the pledges that caught my eye is that Nationwide BS Fixed ISA rates will match the equivalent fixed bond rates, a long overdue move that will enable customers to make the most of their tax relief allowances.



Let's hope this openness and transparency is adopted across the whole retail savings market, as it's the very least that savers deserve.



Barclays extends'Great Escape'remortgage package with higher-LTVs



On Tuesday, Barclays increased the loan-to-value on its popular Woolwich-branded "Great Escape" package, an attempt to encourage more borrowers to switch from their existing standard variable rate mortgages.



"The Great Escape" loan to value is being extended from 70 per cent to 75 per cent LTV. The original tracker deal at 70 per cent LTV is still priced at base plus 2.18 per cent (2.68 per cent); however for those with only a 25 per cent deposit, a new tracker deal at base plus 2.48 per cent (2.98 per cent) has been introduced. These rates are highly competitive and allow customers to switch to a Woolwich fixed rate mortgage at any time without penalty.



The package is aimed at borrowers worried that it would cost them too much to move to better rates elsewhere. They come with the benefit of no application fee, free legal work and valuation and £300 cashback to cover the cost of a borrower's exit fee for leaving their present lender.



It's not surprising that this deal has been successful, particularly with customers able to benefit from a tracker rate while base rate is very low now, but retaining the flexibility of being able to switch to a fixed rate should they wish to at a later date.



ING Direct is also targeting the remortgage market and has trimmed its two-year tracker product by 0.2 per cent to base plus 1.94 per cent (2.44 per cent) for loans up to 75 per cent LTV with a fee of £945 payable.



In the first-time buyer end of the market, Co-operative Bank and Britannia have cut the rates of their two-year fixed rate loans at 90 per cent LTV by 0.4 per cent. The new deals are far more competitive, at 5.69 per cent with no fee; however the HSBC equivalent at 4.99 per cent and £99 fee is still the cheapest in this particular market.



Personal loan madness



I was shocked to read research from Sainsbury's Finance this week which revealed that one third of people checked out just one loan quote before choosing their loan provider.



With interest rates varying widely between some lenders, particularly on smaller loans, this failure to shop around could have easily cost customers more than £100 per year extra on a three-year loan of £5,000.



Don't be fooled into thinking that it's only your current account provider that will offer you a low-rate personal loan.



Shopping around via an online comparison site only takes you a few minutes from the comfort of your armchair and could save you a packet. Don't join the ranks of apathetic customers paying over the odds for their cash; after all, I'm sure you don't want the bank to inflate its profits further at your expense.



Andrew Hagger is a money analyst at Moneynet.co.uk

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