Money Insider: Use your mobile to beat those bank charges
Saturday 28 January 2012
Anyone who has accidentally slipped into the red on their current account or exceeded their agreed overdraft limit will have experienced the £20 or £30 rap on the knuckles from their bank for their financial indiscretion.
Many people lead increasingly busy lives these days with their work and family commitments, barely giving them chance to draw breath, let alone finding time to make sure their bank account is in good shape.
While there have been endless arguments as to whether the level of unauthorised bank charges are justifiable or not, to be fair, the banks are actually using new technology in order to give customers a better chance of avoiding these fees.
Some offer a text alert service, where you'll get a message sent to your phone when you're getting close to your limit. Barclays charges £2 per month for this service (not on all current accounts), but perhaps it's a small price to pay if you're constantly on the move and don't have the chance to check your account as often as you'd like.
Lloyds TSB offers a similar service, but for free, as part of its mobile banking application where you can set up free text alerts for high balances, low balances and also when you are getting close to your limit.
If you have a smartphone, you'll find that all the main banks offer a mobile banking option for your iPhone or Blackberry. As long as you are already registered for online banking on your PC, you will be able to opt for banking on your phone too.
Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds TSB, First Direct & Santander all offer thisservice. You can see the last few transactions on your account and make payments and transfers when you're on the move, and there's no charge from the bank for these services.
With your bank account at your fingertips, you can take a look at your balance or make a transfer during some of your daily "dead" time – maybe in a spare five minutes between meetings or perhaps on the train journey to and from work.
Last year, Lloyds TSB launched its online service, Money Manager, which is aimed at helping customers take much better control of their money, providing them with a deep level of detail on where their money goes each month by categorising their spending into groups.
It includes an online calendar option so you can see at a glance what payments are due to be made over the coming days/weeks – something that should help those who struggle to keep on top of their finances.
Even if you only use the services on the odd occasion, it's worth signing up for – at least it's another way of helping you avoid being hit in the pocket with unwanted bank charges.
Don't rush in to this year's batch of ISAS
With just over a couple of months until we start a new tax year, those who haven't yet decided where to invest their tax-free cash need to start considering their options.
With cash-based ISA savings, the annual, tax-free allowance is £5,340 per person for the current tax year with the 2012/13 increased cash allowance of £5,640 kicking in from 6 April.
However, as major financial players often leave it until early to mid-March before launching new products, it may be worth hanging on for a few weeks before making your final decision.
In the meantime, you may find following checklist helpful:
1. Is the interest rate variable or fixed?
2. Does the ISA allow you to transfer in previous years' ISA balances?
3. Does the interest rate include a bonus? – if yes make a diary note to switch when it expires
4. Is interest paid monthly or yearly?
5. Is the interest rate only available to existing customers?
6. Do you have to purchase another financial product to qualify for this rate?
Some of the best rates at the moment include: 3.05 per cent from an instant-access account with AA Savings and Newcastle Building Society; a "no-frills", 2.85 per cent from Virgin Money; a fixed-rate ISA paying 3.25 per cent for one year with Metro Bank; and 4.4 per cent from Halifax's five-year ISA Saver bond.
Andrew Hagger – Moneynet.co.uk
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
- 4 Kanye West stops concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
- 5 QS university world rankings: Imperial College London leapfrogs Oxford to join Cambridge as best British university
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
iJobs Money & Business
£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...
£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony