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Mortgage discounts with a free-fee alternative

FirstMortgage is offering discounts of 3.25 per cent for two years, and 2.25 per cent for three years, relative to the average standard variable rate of the top five building societies (currently 7.98 per cent). A fee- free alternative is on offer to borrowers who take a 1 per cent lower discount. Loan periods are a minimum of 10 years, a maximum 75 per cent loan to value and the discount is repayable in full for redemptions within five years.

Alliance & Leicester has extended the 5.5 per cent discount on its standard variable mortgage rate until January 1997, its 2.75 per cent discount until January 1998 and its 2 per cent discount until January 1999. Rates apply to a maximum 75 per cent loan to value. Discounts for higher loans to value are slightly higher. They come with a pounds 200 cashback, free valuation until 16 December and a year's free unemployment insurance for loanscompleted by 31 December.

Royal Bank of Scotlandnow offers loans up to 95 per cent of valuation at 5.75 per cent until 11 February next year, 6.45 per cent until 11 February 1998, 7.19 per cent until 1999, 7.95 per cent to 2001 and 8.75 per cent until 13 February 2006, with penalties in the first four, five, five, six and 10 years respectively.

Fixed rates in an offshore Guernsey account

Birmingham Midshires is offering investors fixed rates of 7.25 per cent gross until end-January 1999, 6.75 per cent to 31 January 1998; 6.5 per cent to 31 January 1997 in its offshore Guernsey account. Interest is taxable for UK residents; minimum investment is pounds 5,000.

Johnson Fry is launching a new Venture Capital Trust investing at least 75 per cent of its assets in shares traded on the Alternative Investment Market. The target yield is 5 per cent tax-free, which grosses to over 20 per cent for investors who can take advantage of all VCT tax reliefs.

Swiss Life is offering three, five and seven-year guaranteed income bonds giving 5.7,6.2 and 6.5 per cent respectively on amounts between pounds 5,000 and pounds 50,000; extra 0.2 per cent for larger amounts.

CU care plan offers

guaranteed benefit

Commercial Union is offering guaranteed lifetime benefit to over-65s who buy its long-term care plan with a single premium. Until now long- term care insurance has hada review clause that entitled the insurer to review premiums and benefits if claims experience warranted it.

Royal Bank of Scotland is offering an interest and charge-free pounds 300 overdraft for the first two months for anyone moving a current account from another bank.

NatWest Bank is offering a free fact sheet, "Pensions for Women", outlining state pension entitlements for women and the pros and cons of company and personal pensions. Call 0800-255200.

Loose Change on 28 October referred to a new Gold credit card from Bank of Scotland. That should have read Royal Bank of Scotland.

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