Comic Relief's Little Red card is issued through US-owned People's Bank - call 08000 569 569. RBS Advanta has launched an introductory offer, at 5.9 per cent until March 2000. This makes it the lowest rate on offer in the UK. Call 0800 077 770.
The Association of Investment Trust Companies (AITC) is running free investor forum evenings for those who want to find out more about these funds. Each event will be run by an expert panel taking questions from the audience. Panels will include representatives from investment trust firms, stock brokers and analysts. The next date is 6 May in Cheltenham, followed by 23 June in central London. Call 0171-431 5222 for more information and a free ticket.
Chartwell Investment Management, Bath, a firm of mainly fee-based independent financial advisors, is offering a flat-rate annuity service. The firm will search the market for the best annuity deals and charges pounds 495. Any extra commission received is rebated to the customer. Chartwell believes a customer with a pounds 250,000 pension fund would save pounds 2,000 by using its services. Many people have more than one pension fund, and transferring each extra fund to an annuity contract costs pounds 195. Call 01225 321710 for more details and a copy of Chartwell's Guide to Retirement Options.
Many elderly people want to raise an income using the equity they have in their homes, but don't know how to go about it. A free guide to Home Income Schemes from RK Harrison Financial Planning outlines the options for taking out a reversionary interest in their property. This will give a tax-free lump sum amounting to between 40 per cent and 48 per cent of the value of the property. Call 01234 305555.
American Express has started to sell financial services in the UK. Its World Express Fund offers a range of investments, depending on how much risk you want to take. A balanced portfolio is made up of 50 per cent equities, 30 per cent bonds and 20 per cent cash. It's set up as an open-ended investment company (oeic) and already available in Italy, France and Germany. There is a 3 per cent initial charge plus an annual management fee of up to 2 per cent. Call 0800 358 0202.