Money: Loose Change

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FirstMortgage, a direct mortgage provider, is offering three- year fixed rate mortgages at 6.50 per cent until January 2000 on up to 75 per cent of the property valuation, 7 per cent on higher loans. The arrangement fee is pounds 295, the valuation fee on an average mortgage is pounds 155, and the redemption penalty is 6 per cent until January 2002. Two-year fixed loans cost 4.25 per cent and variable rates 5.95 per cent.

Northern Rock has reintroduced its 6 per cent cashback offer on mortgages and remortgages with effect from next week. The maximum rebate is pounds 9,000. The offer is conditional on taking the lender's house and contents insurance, however, and anyone who makes their own arrangements can only get a 5 per cent cashback. Interest is charged at Northern Rock's current standard variable rate of 6.99 per cent, which is near the top end of the market range. The cashback must be repaid on amounts redeemed in the first six years.

John Charcol is offering a two-year fixed rate mortgage at 5.99 per cent, available on up to 90 per cent of valuation on purchases and remortgages. A valuation fee of pounds 150 is refunded on completion, legal fees including VAT are pounds 300 on purchases and pounds 150 on remortgages. There are no penalties for early redemption.

Nationwide is offering 7 per cent gross interest fixed for three years on the new Fixed Rate Bond 9 accounts. Minimum investment is pounds 1,000.

Chelsea Building Society is launching a five-year guaranteed growth bond, which pays 6 per cent gross interest for the first year, rising in half per cent steps to 7.5 per cent in the fourth year and then 9 per cent in the fifth and final year. Interest is paid annually in arrears and cash can be withdrawn after one year but is subject to 120 days loss of interest. Minimum investment is pounds 2,500.

Market Harborough Building Society is offering a three-year escalator bond paying 6 per cent gross in the first six months rising in quarter per cent steps to 6.75 per cent in the fourth half-year period, then 7.5 per cent and 8.25 per cent in the final two periods. Interest is paid half-yearly and money can be withdrawn subject to 90 days loss of interest. Minimum investment is again pounds 2,500.

Baronworth Investment Services with Generali are launching a guaranteed annual income bond offering 7.5 per cent gross indefinitely on a minimum investment of pounds 10,000. There is no fixed life for the bond and no age limits on the investor. Call 100 and ask for Freephone Bondline for details.

Albany Life has launched an insurance policy which pays out in the event of a critical illness, diagnosis of a terminal illness or death, whichever comes first. Policyholders can opt for a fixed sum or an escalation clause which increases the benefit by 7.5 per cent a year. A non-smoking couple aged 29 would pay pounds 26.45 a month for pounds 50,000 worth of cover payable on the first claim. Children get cover at no extra cost.

Alliance & Leicester will be offering a range of buildings and contents insurance policies exclusively with Eagle Star from next year, replacing its current arrangements offering policies with Royal & Sun Alliance and Eagle Star.

Bank of Scotland Direct is offering unsecured personal loans of up to pounds 3,000 over three years at a fixed rate of 13.9 per cent targeted at holidaymakers who have overspent. A deferred option allows a three month holiday before the first payments are due. Loans are available for periods from one to five years.

Norwich Union is offering readers a free 64-page glossary of investment terms explaining the jargon. Ring 0345 606677.

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