If we were to say it’s been a relatively turbulent summer for finances (by the standard of the normally quiet summer holiday period), we’d really be talking about Brexit and the Bank of England taking interest rates to all time lows.
But mostly it’s been business as usual for the great British holiday season. Which for many of us meant having fun and spending a bit too much. So as Britain goes back to work it’s worth taking a look at the state of your finances.
To help we run through a few quick steps you can take to clean up your finances, make your money work harder and save a bit of cash.
Check your credit report and score
A good place to start if you want to get your finance in good order is checking your credit report. It’s what lenders will look at when deciding your eligibility for the best deals for mortgages, overdrafts loans and credit cards.
Are your finances in good shape?
Check your credit report to make sure you're in good shape to apply for loans, credit cards, overdrafts, mortgages and mobile phone contractsCompare credit reports
There are three main credit referencing agents in the UK that lenders will refer to – Experian, Equifax and CallCredit. It’s worth checking your full report with one of these agencies, but there are several other agencies who will offer you access to your credit report.
But even if you don’t check your report there are few things you can do to quickly improve your credit score:
- Make sure you’re on the electoral roll
- Build a history of responsible borrowing (ie meeting all repayments)
- Get your name on household bills
Stop paying interest on existing debts
If you’ve overspent on your existing credit cards this summer and don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the balance in full, a 0% interest balance transfer card can help you avoid interest charges.
Compare balance transfer credit cards
Find a balance transfer credit card and stop paying expensive interest payments on your balance.Compare credit cards
Watch our short video to find out more on how balance transfer cards work, or read our guide on the best balance transfer cards for autumn 2016.
Similarly, if you’ve got an expensive overdraft, you could clear this with a 0% money transfer credit card which allows you to transfer credit to your current account.
Compare money transfer cards
Find a credit card that will let you transfer money into your current account.Credit builder cards
- Read about the art of stoozing – how to exploit 0% credit cards to make money
Borrow for free
If you want to make a big purchase such as a new sofa or a new kitchen, consider a using card with a 0% purchase period.
If you spread repayments over the course of the 0% period you can effectively borrow for free.
Compare 0% purchase cards
Find a credit card with an interest free period for purchases.Find a 0% purchase card
Watch our video to find out more about how 0% purchase cards work.
Get rewards or cash back for your spending
If you do all your monthly spending on groceries and other households purchases with a reward or cashback card you can get money back or useful reward points that can get you free flights, hotel stays or store discounts.
Reward credit cards
Compare reward credit cards for an alternative to store cards.Reward credit cards
If you’d like to know more about how reward cards work, watch our short video below.
Though, before getting a reward or cashback card make sure you plan to pay off your card balance in full each month, as these cards typically have relatively high interest rates and don’t tend to offer any 0% periods.
Get a better bank account
It’s simple to switch bank account. In 2013 the government created the switch guarantee which makes it possible to change banks in seven working days, with all in and outgoing payments transferring automatically to the new account.
Could your current account pay you more?
Find a current account that will pay a higher rate of interest on your depositsCompare high-interest current accounts
There a few things to look out for when looking for a new bank account:
- You can get cash incentives to switch current accounts –get up to £100 to switch to a new bank
- Savings rates are at lows and are likely to fall further, but there are still a few high interest current accounts available
- Several current accounts offer cashback on household bills
Switch to a better mortgage rate
If you are on your lender’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) it’s likely you could switch to a far cheaper deal. Especially at the moment with some rates on the market under 1% available.
Could you get a better mortgage rate?
Compare mortgages rates and see if you could switch to a better deal if you think it could be time to remortgageCompare mortgages
As a rule you should always make sure to remortgage after your initial or fixed rate period expires. Whilst there will be fees to take into account, you could end up better off to the tune of several thousand pounds.
Around the date of the Bank of England’s base rate cut, some of the best fixed rate deals became lower than the best variable rate deals, with the lowest ever fixed rates appearing.
So it’s looking like a good time to consider fixing your mortgage rate, if you’d like to get some certainty in your expenses and plan ahead.
Thinking of fixing your mortgage rate?
Enjoy fixed monthly mortgage costs for a set period, whatever happens in the financial marketsCompare mortgages
But remember, don’t get wowed by the lowest rates on the market, fully consider the lifetime cost of a mortgage and all the associated fees.
- Would you struggle to pay an unexpected bill? Research from YouGov has revealed a third of people wouldn’t be able to pay an unplanned bill of £500, we look at the ways to borrow if you’re forced to pay a bill you can’t afford