Time for a financial spring clean

It may have been late coming but we’ve finally seen some spring sunshine, and with summer rapidly approaching it may well be time to give those finances a dusting down in time for the holiday season.

Whether it’s switching to a better deal on your credit card, or shopping around for cheaper car insurance, MoneyExpert.com can give some top tips on how to give your finances a thorough spring clean.

If you’ve got it…

With the array of products available on the financial shelves so vast these days, providers are positively falling over themselves to offer incentives to would-be customers. Consequently there are a massive number of freebies, from air miles to petrol vouchers, to take advantage of. The new "Airmiles Mortgage" from Lloyds TSB is a prime example – offering at least a lump sum of 6,000 air miles to new customers.

Research from MoneyExpert.com, though, has found that around 83% of customers are failing to make the most of well earned reward points. 20% of us have neglected to make use of airmiles worth an average of over £150 alone.

Those reward cards may have found their way into a dusty corner, but digging them out could be well worth the effort.

Drive a hard bargain

When it comes to renewing our car insurance many of us simply stick with our existing provider rather than shop around for a better deal. But with competition rife amongst insurance providers there’s a great chance you could find a cheaper alternative by getting online and comparing the market.

With car insurance in particular it’s vital to shop around as providers offer their best deals to new customers, bumping up the premiums of their existing ones in the hope that they won’t make the effort to switch. Loyalty for car insurance customers simply isn’t rewarded so don’t tie yourself to one provider.

It may also be worth having a rethink about the structure of your car insurance policy. Most providers will offer a lower premium if you opt to pay a higher excess, the amount you pay before the insurer covers the cost of any damage, so if you haven’t made a claim for a number of years it could be time for a change.

Get your cards in order

When it comes to organising your finances switching your credit card debt to a card that offers a zero percent rate is at the top of the list. Card providers, though, are getting wise to the so-called rate tarts and are increasingly charging sizeable balance transfer fees making a switch less appealing.

That’s not to say it’s not still a wise move, however, and there are plenty of cards still out there offering excellent zero per cent rates. The Tesco Personal Finance credit card offers a decent enough zero percent on balance transfers for 13 months with a relatively low transfer fee of 2.5%. If you can face paying a slightly higher fee, 2.9%, then the Barclaycard Platinum card offering zero % for 14 months is a good bet. It also offers 0% on new purchases for three months and a competitive APR of 14.9%.

If it’s a total ‘no-fees’ card you’re after, though, the Abbey Zero card should be your prime target. It still offers 0% on balance transfers as well as new purchases for six months, but won’t charge you any transfer fee. What’s more, it won’t charge a fee when you use it abroad, either for purchases or for cash at an ATM.

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