Loose change

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The Independent Online
First Direct, the telephone bank, is raising rates on its Tessa to 7.25 per cent on 11 August, which it claims is one of the best rates among major banks and building societies. Call 0800 482448.

Alliance & Leicester has for first-time buyers a mortgage package offering a fixed rate of 6.8 per cent until September 1999, plus a 1.5 per cent cashback on loan to values of 90 per cent or less. Arrangement fees of pounds 150 apply and there are no valuation fees. A pounds 50 store voucher is given for each completed application. Call 0800 412214.

Nationwide Building Society is launching a five-year World Guaranteed Equity Bond, linking returns to the world's biggest stock markets in the UK, USA, Japan, Germany, France and Switzerland. Repayment of the original capital is guaranteed. Minimum investment is pounds 5,000, with bonuses added for investments made up to 14 September. Call 01793 482296.

NatWest and Gartmore, its investment management arm, are launching a discretionary portfolio management service aimed at people with pounds 50,000 or more to invest. The service will use Gartmore and NatWest unit trusts. Charges are related to the amount invested. Call Paul Barlow on 0171-895 5011 or Roger Bartley on 0171-782 2701.

Ivory & Sime, the Edinburgh fund manager, is launching a phased investment option for its investment trusts to protect against potential stock market falls in the next six to 12 months. Investments are held in a deposit account and drip-fed into shares. Call 0131-225 1357.

The Automobile Association is offering members who use its credit card pounds 10 off the cost of upgrading their car cover, or pounds 20 off the cost of gift membership. The card has no annual fee and charges 19.9 per cent APR. Call 01222 725978.

Norwich and Peterborough has increased rates paid across its savings accounts. For example, rates for HeadStart, its children's account, begin at 6 per cent gross up to a maximum of 7 per cent for pounds 1,000 or more.

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