Tessa that's got it all

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The Independent Online
One of the highest-paying fixed-rate Tessa deals available to savers with maturing Tessas could also prove a good bet for a windfall.

Last week West Bromwich building society raised the rate on its fixed- rate Tessa to 7.45 per cent, making it the joint highest offer available to savers with maturing Tessa money. This came only days before Birmingham Midshires announced an interest in merging with the society. Midshires said West Bromwich members could be offered a cash windfall, although West Bromwich dismissed the merger proposal as "wishful thinking".

West Bromwich's Tessa deal is available to savers with as little as pounds 3,000 of maturing Tessa money, while most of the highest rates are only available to savers with pounds 9,000.

Bradford & Bingley last week launched the highest fixed-rate deal for maturing Tessa savers, at 7.4 per cent. It requires a pounds 9,000 investment.

Beneficial Bank has launched an English Heritage affinity Visa credit card carrying no annual fee and an introductory interest rate of 13.9 per cent APR. The bank will give pounds 10 to the conservation body for each card applied for, plus 30p for each pounds 100 spent. 0800 161162.

More than 200,000 people could have suffered financially by switching out of the earnings-related element of the state pension, Serps, and into a personal pension plan, according to a report by the Securities and Investments Board. In some cases the loss could amount to the majority of the pension entitlement. But the SIB is taking no direct action to rectify the situation. It says most of the 5 million-plus people who have contracted out of Serps stand to gain from the move.

Help The Aged is offering a free guide to the state pension, Questions on Pensions. Send an SAE to Information Department (Pens), Help the Aged, St James' Walk, London EC1R 0BE.