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Maximise Rewards on Your Credit Cards

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Credit card rewards are, at the very least, extremely nice to have. They can also give a genuine boost to your finances or be that factor that makes you choose one provider over another. But you don’t have to just passively accept the rewards as they come. With a little extra effort, you can maximise the rewards in order to draw the very greatest benefits from your card.

Combining With Separate Offers

Get a little extra reward in the first instance by looking at other offers and types of reward that you can combine with your card. For example, it may be possible to make your application through a cashback website. This will give you cash upon your application being accepted, above and separate from whatever rewards may come with the card. It is possible there may also be special offers for taking out a credit card with the bank you already hold a current or savings account with.

Making the Most of Cashback on Spending

Many cards offer rewards in the form of cashback on spending. Often, this reward is only valid for spending up to a certain value or for a certain time after you first take out the card. It is important, therefore, to make the most of this offer by spending the full value if at all possible, and doing so while the cashback offer is still in effect. If you have any big purchases coming up like car insurance renewal and you were planning to pay cash for them, it can instead be worth putting them on your card in order to get cashback. You can then quickly repay the balance with the cash you were going to use for the purchase, and therefore avoid interest.

Gift Vouchers and Material Gifts

If you are given a gift voucher for a shop you do not normally use, then it might be possible to get more benefit out of it than you would from simply going to the shop specifically to use the voucher. It might be possible to turn the voucher into cash that you can spend wherever you like by selling it to somebody who does shop their regularly. Ideally, you will be able to make a deal with a friend or family member to exchange it for its cash value directly. They lose nothing because they shop there anyway, and you gain flexibility in your spending. However, it may even be worth selling it for slightly less than the credit is worth. For example, if a card comes with a £100 M&S gift voucher and you do not normally shop there, it is likely you could do more with £90 or £95 in cash at your normal shopping destinations than you could with the voucher, and you may well find somebody willing to pay this much. There are also companies that buy your vouchers, but they tend to pay disappointing rates.

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Spending with cards reaches £500bn

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Recently a report stated that consumers’ annual spending on cards has topped £500 billion for the first time across 2013.

The trade body UK Cards Association has found out that debit and credit cards were responsible for three in every four pounds spent in shops. Just 10 years ago, the figures looked different- only two in every four.

1The above mentioned report on UK Card Payments found that British people spent £520 billion on UK goods and services using their debit and credit cards last year. Comparing to the same time in 2012, there was only £488 billion spent. Thus, this year’s figures mark a 6.7% increase.

If we add up the spending by overseas visitors as well, we end with £534 billion of total value of purchases on debit and credit cards in 2013. What this means is that spending on cards now comprises one third of the total GDP of the United Kingdom. Again comparing with earlier data, the spending on cards accounted for only one quarter in 2003.

Furthermore, nowadays 91% of UK adults have a debit card which adds up to a total of 47.5million cardholders. In 2012, there was half a million less cardholders. The increase in debit card owners has been mainly due to the fact that in recent years there have appeared many bank accounts on the market which automatically issue a debit card. What is more, around 38% of the debit cards holders have two or more cards.

Further statistics from the report show that over 80% of all credit and charge card spending in 2013 was made by cardholders who repaid the balance in full. From 2005 to 2013, outstanding borrowing on credit cards has fallen by 15.6%. in 2005, the monthly average of outstanding borrowing was £67.4 billion, while in 2013 it was £56.4 billion. This reflects the desire of people to pay down debt where possible even in tough economic times.

Future expectations are that the annual value of card payments will be lifted from £520 billion last year to around £874 billion in 2023. It is expected that young adults will boost this figure because they have been used to debit cards while they were growing up. The growth in technology will also account for some of these changes, because contactless payments are introduced every day, plus there is a constant rise in internet shopping which often includes payments being made by debit cards.

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The credit card that offers you the most benefits

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Nowadays, you can receive many things from your credit cards. Such advantages include interest-free periods on balance transfers and purchases, as well as cashback and free of charge withdrawals when you are abroad.

With a good credit rating, you might have two or three credit cards. However, if you wish to carry only one credit card, you need to choose between the best credit cards that are offered on the market. Here we take a closer look at one of those cards.

1Nationwide Select:

This card offers 0% balance transfers, 0% purchases, you receive cashback, as well as free usage abroad. Furthermore, Nationwide has recently reduced the balance transfer fee on its Nationwide Select credit card. The normal deal that you get is 0% interest on balance transfers during the first 26 months after you receive the card, plus a balance transfer fee of 2.4% of the amount you are transferring. However, until the end of March 2014, you can have the same deal but just for a 0.75% fee.

Some of the other benefits you receive with the Select card include a competitive 15 months interest free on purchases, commission-free purchases abroad and 0.5% cashback on all purchases made in pounds. This really can be labeled as the best all-round credit card on the market. However, it is important to note that the Select card is only available to current account customers of Nationwide. Nonetheless, if you decide to open FlexAccount, FlexDirect or the £10 per month FlexPlus, you will still be qualified to apply for the card.

FlexDirect is an account that really deserves more attention. The reason why is because it offers 5% AER on in-credit balances which go up to £2, 500, plus a free-free overdraft for 12 months.

However, if you do not want to open a new account just to receive the Select card, you can still benefit from the cheapest balance transfer offer which is through the Nationwide Visa, which is accessible to everyone. This card comes together with 0% on balance transfers for 26 months, plus the reduced 0.75% fee which is available until the end of the month.  Also, you will get a three months interest-free on purchases. In addition to that, you will be able to build up a commission-free allowance when you spend abroad from the card.

Thus, if you are looking for a card that offers many advantages, it is worth considering Nationwide Select card.

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What do with do with our PPI refund money?

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Post the fall out of the Payment Protection Insurance scandal, banks have been forced to put aside millions of pounds to compensate the customers who they had wrongly taken money from.  The victims of the bankers were everyday people who had taken out mortgages, loans or credit cards, and had been opted into this additional insurance product without their knowledge, consent or had been told it was a compulsory purchase they had to take with their borrowing. Many were signed up for PPI who were not ever even eligible for the product as they were retired or self-employed and could never have made a claim on the payment protection insurance policy – thereby meaning they were paying premiums for an insurance that was completely useless to them.

The good news however is that for the thousands of people who the banks wrongfully took money from, there is the likely possibility to getting their money back.  They can go to a PPI claim company to get a refund for them or lodge a PPI claim directly with their bank, either way, more than £13 billion has been paid out in refunds from the banks and there are still actual billions waiting to be claimed (many people still aren’t aware if they ever had PPI or may be eligible so its worth checking!).

The average payout in a single PPI claim is £2,750.  And what do us Brits do with the money we receive in compensation? A survey conducted into this very question by online site VoucherCodesPro.co.uk reveals that the most popular thing to do is spend it on a holiday. Just under a quarter of all respondents chose to do so, with buying a new car coming second place at 22%.

The payout money was on average used for spending in some form within three weeks.  Household appliances (19%) and furnishings (13%) were high up in the list, and other items such as clothes, gadgets and shoes were also in the top 10: numbers 7 to 9 respectively.  17% used the money to pay off bills, whilst only 12% decided to save any of the money.

The additional consumer spending that the PPI claims payouts have fostered are therefore responsible for a huge boost to the UK economy, much needed in these austere times. The bankers have, however inadvertently (with all their blunders and misappropriations), actually helped the economy after all.

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Comparing Cashback and Rewards Credit Cards

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The common perception is that most people carry a balance on their card when it comes to credit card usage. However, reality is a bit different. The UK Cards Association reports that 61% of credit card users pay their bill in full each month. Therefore, if you fall in this category, it might be a good idea for you to have a card that will reward you for spending on it.

It is worth exploring the numerous rewards and cashback cards that are available if you really do pay your card off in full each month. In this way, the provider will actually pay you for using your credit card. However, you will need to make a decision whether to go for a card which will help you earn some form of reward points or for a straightforward cashback card.

1Here we will make a quick comparison of some of the leading cashback and reward cards in order for you to see how much you really get back for your spending.

We will make a quick comparison between credit cards and cashback cards. We will use the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday credit card and the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card. For the purposes of this comparison, the following numbers will be used. , £6,000 is spent on each card for the duration of one year, with £2,000 spent in the first three months and £2,000 of the other £4,000 spent in big supermarket chains and petrol stations over the following nine months.

What you earn from the Platinum Cashback Everyday card is around £100 which is about 5% on up to £2 000 spent in the first three months. For the next £4 000 that are spent, the cashback is earned at 1% which adds £40 more to what you have received.

Now we will see what you get for the same amount of money with the Preferred Rewards Gold card.  It should be noted that the first three months give you an introductory bonus of 20 000 American Express Membership reward points. These points can be easily converted into £100-worth of gift vouchers for a lot of shops and big brands. This means that you have 5% return which is the same as the introductory bonus on the Platinum Cashback Everyday card.

So it might be the case that rewards cards prove to be better than cashback cards in terms of value. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring your options carefully before choosing which one you will go for.

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Cash Back on Your Holiday Shopping

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With the festivities oh Bonfire night and Halloweeen having been out behind us, we are yet to celebrate the biggest one of them all, Christmas! The key question for shoppers however remains one of finance and how much you are willing to spend this year on the daddy of the festive holidays. There are a number of credit cards out in the market which, depending on where you chose to do your Christmas shopping, can offer cashback and rewards of up to 15% which is definitely worth considering.

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The Santander 123 is just one of the latest credit cards to offer cash back, which will give back 1% to its customers on all Amazon online purchases which lasts until the 31st January 2014. The offer also includes a 1% cashback reward when spending money in major supermarkets, as well as 2% cashback when using the card in all big name department stores and 3% cashback on purchases at major petrol stations across the UK and purchases on London underground and National Rail. The promotion is available to both existing and new customers and provides shoppers with a great little treat around the holiday season. However, there are some downsides to the 123 credit card the first of which is the cost it comes at. In order to benefit from the cashback offer you will need to pay a £24 annual fee for the 123 credit card which also charges a 22.8% APR. The good news is that this is now waived to the first year meaning that new and existing customers do not have to pay the charge if they are holders of the account until the 31st December 2013.

Another rewards card scheme which seems innovative has been released by Lloyds. The bank says that it is giving 1000 current account holders who have set up internet banking a refund of purchases worth up to £500 every week. The selection is made randomly and is a great way of saving money around the holidays if you are one of the lucky selected account holders. The cashback scheme is valid on purchases made in retailers such as Homebase, Morrisons, Argos and Ocado with more major stores set to sign up to the scheme in the coming weeks before Christmas. Halifax is also currently offering cashback to its Reward current account holders once again the industry average of up to 15% with its partners including major brands such as Argos and Morrisons.

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Advice on getting your first credit card

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Credit cards are the king of convenience and there are many benefits to owning a credit card, like building up an essential credit rating or paying for something in an emergency such as a new washing machine. The best thing is they provide great financial insurance, so if the company that you bought your product off goes bust; the card issuer repays the amount, something impossible with a debit card.

Yet they can leave you in financial ruin if they aren’t respected and used wisely.
So to help guide you into the intimidating choice of credit cards here are a few useful tips to consider to make a credit card a beneficial asset.

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Pay it off monthly and pay it in full

If there’s only one thing you take away from these tips make sure it is this one. If you fail to adhere to this you will start to accumulate heft interest charges. Additionally there are also penalty fees for late and missed payments so be sure to pay your monthly fees and pay them in full.

Don’t have it on you all the time

It’s so easy to pay for things on credit card that it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending. If you know yourself to be a shop-a-holic then you should get into the habit of leaving it at home when casually shopping and instead use it for vital purchases such as repairs or travel tickets.

Pick the right card

With so many options out there picking the right credit card can be hard, especially your first one. Cards that charge 0% interest on purchases are ideal if you are looking to spread the cost of a purchase whereas cards that offer 0% on balance transfer are a better option if you have already built up a debt on another card.

If you are looking to stay with the same card long term then you may prefer a card that offers a low lifetime rate for both purchases and balance transfers. These are ideal for people who frequently travel as they incur a low charge to use abroad.

Optimize your finances

By maximising your income, reducing your spending and most importantly budgeting you can afford to make the necessary repayments you need to as well as live the lifestyle you want.

Having a stable job and decent income go hand in hand with owning a credit card, they are not an option for fast cash and should be avoided if you are already in debt as things can quickly spiral out of control.

If you know it’s going to be a tight month financially then consider cutting back on things you don’t need. Miss the gym that month or perhaps miss that show or two but don’t miss your repayments!

If things do get on top of you consider other avenues of earning more money in the short and long term, for instance its always a good idea to see if you’re owed a tax refund or not, most people don’t realise that they are owed lump sums and firms such as www.riftcapitalallowances.com make it incredibly easy to check.

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New Vauxhall Rewards Card Is Launched

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It’s quite common for buyers to use a credit card to pay for some or all of the cost of a vehicle, but it’s now even more beneficial to do so as a new credit card partnership between Capital One and Vauxhall offers the chance to earn money off the cost of a new car or van via a rewards credit card. It’s worth noting that  there isn’t much point in getting this card if you’re not a fan of Vauxhall vehicles, but you will definitely enjoy this offer if you are. The Vauxhall Rewards credit card could provide you with Reward Points that could shave up to £1,500 off the purchase of a new Vauxhall, depending on the model you go for. In order to gain advantage of this offer and obtain the card, you’ll need to be aged 21 or over, have an excellent credit history and earn at least £20,000 a year.

The Rewards system is actually very simple; every Reward Point earned is worth £1 off the cost of a new Vauxhall vehicle, And similar to many reward and cashback credit cards at the moment, the Vauxhall Rewards card offers a higher initial rate of rewards. In this case, you can initially earn Reward Points worth 6% of the value of what you spend, although this is capped at either £3,000-worth of spending or the end of your first three months of having the card, depending on whichever is reached first. It’s made clear that you can earn a maximum of 180 Reward Points after which the rewards value then switches to 3% of the value of your purchases.

In order to earn the maximum £1,500 discount, you would need to then spend £44,000 on your card before the end of your fourth year, because the points expire at the end of four years. Depending on how much you spend monthly on food, entertainment and holidays, that figure is not entirely out of reach. Membership of the Vauxhall MasterFit Service Club is also offered with the card. In addition, no interest will be required to pay on purchases for the first six months that you hold the card. If you don’t pay off your balance in full each month, the card has a representative APR of 17.9%, and obviously paying interest will soon wipe out the value of the rewards points you’ve earned.

The Rewards Points that you are allowed to spend are capped depending on the model from 500 on the ADAM and Agila to the maximum 1,500 on the Ampera and Insignia. Bear in mind, with Vauxhall’s new ADAM model going for around £10,000, £500 is only a small dent in the price.If you love to spend and also love the idea of a new Vauxhall then this card might be appealing due to its fairly generous rewards points.

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Tesco 0% interest card!

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A new credit card has been introduced by Tesco, which allows customers to transfer their debts to this card without any fees and interest for a whole year. 0% interest also allows customers to purchase goods from the store and online within the 12 month period without any interest. Alongside all these features, clubcard points will also be added whenever a purchase is made with the new credit card.

The Tesco Clubcard With No Balance Transfer Fee is rather unique as no other card in the financial market allows 0% and no fee for a whole year. Clubcard points are common with customers who shop regularly at the store, using the credit card will benefit those who have frequent visits to Tescos as every £4 spent on Tesco petrol will allow 5 extra clubcard points as well as one point for every £4 spent elsewhere within Tesco.

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As mentioned, the new card is one of its kind in terms of its features. For customers who want more than 12 months 0% interest, a different package is available which allows 16 months without any interest as well as 9 months 0% purchases for a fee of 2.9%. The new card can seem beneficial for those who wish to transfer their debts onto the card in order to prevent the build-up of debt or to simply slow the growth of interest.

Using this new card can be ideal for those who wish to take advantage of what it offers, what should be noted however is that any payments due should be paid off within the 12 month period, as anything which exceeds the time limit specified at agreement will incur interest charges. The rates of interest are usually quite high for such cards. Missed payments can also affect individual credit scores. Although there are several different cards offering different rates, not all are suitable for everyone, therefore it is best to find a deal which is appropriate for each person’s situation.

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