Ask Andy #20: Your money questions answered

My regular round-up of your personal finance questions.

I love hearing from you, whether it’s on the blog, social media, YouTube or on email. Often you’re asking me questions about your finances, and I’m always glad to help if I have the time.

But I realised that my answers could also be useful to other followers. So I’ll be putting my responses to the best questions into regular articles here on the blog.

Keep reading for some of the questions I’ve been asked, plus the video live from this week with even more!

Watch the latest Q&A

Watch my answers to questions in the weekly Q&A on YouTube, including

  • What to do when Nationwide FlexDirect interest ends
  • Whether the Natwest Reward credit card is any good
  • Where to save £350
  • and much more.

Is Starling safe?

Is Starling safe to use as a main current account?

LS, via YouTube

Yes, definitely. It’s fully covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which means your cash is protected up to £85,000 back if it went bust. It’s also likely to be one of the most secure apps as it’s been built from the ground up to work on mobiles.

However I’d always recommend you have a second account with some money regardless of which one you use as a main account. And ideally have that at a bank with a branch near you.

Can I sell after using a Lifetime ISA?

What happens if you use LISA to help get more money towards a home, buy the home then sell the home? would you lose the cash or something?

 Benny via YouTube

Hi Benny, so technically you can do that with no problem. People’s circumstances change all the time which might require you to sell or rent it out. And there’s no set policy that I can find which says you must be there for say 6 or 12 months before a change is allowed.

However there is always a chance that if somehow they (and I’m not sure who “they” would be) found out you’d done this and decided it was always your intention to not live there yourself they could ask for the money back. I think it’s an unlikely scenario though.

Should I ditch my First Directory account?

Andy, can you help? I have a first directory product with first direct which they have now stopped offering. Should I stick with this product for £15 a month or is Nationwide’s Flex Plus better than first directory? I can’t find any info anywhere to help me!

Thanks in advance if you know anything that will guide me

Jon, via Instagram

Hey Jon. That’s a tough one. Really you need to look at what you get with the FD account and see how those insurances compare with FlexPlus.

I’d certainly check if there’s any existing cover for travel that hasn’t changed due to COVID with your FD account as that would likely be better than a new account elsewhere. But they could easily have changed the terms to reflect this. It looks like there’s specific covid travel advice here.

It’s also worth thinking about if you need all the coverage, especially since travel still isn’t back to normal.

Hope that helps

Can I avoid fees for receiving money from abroad?

Hi Andy

I read your blog regularly and subscribed to it. It is so useful! Thank you very much!

I have one question to ask, is there any UK money account that does not charge fee for receiving foreign currency?

I asked this as I receive regular foreign currency payments from a country outside the UK (where they do not use GBP or Euro). Not a big amount each time, just like living cost fund each month. My bank (which is a high-street bank) charges me a fee for each transaction which causes loss to me. 

My fund sender outside the UK has converted the fund from their local currency into GBP and send it to my UK bank account. But the UK bank still charges me a fee for ‘currency conversion’. The bank customer support team told me any currency received other than EURO will be charged a fee due to Brexit (even it’s received in GBP), which was quite surprising.

So I was wondering is there any money product that can receive foreign currency without a fee? Thank you very much.



Ben via email

Hi Ben, thanks for getting in touch!

Yes, there are banks that won’t charge you to receive in GDP from abroad, including Starling.

However, you could also look at a bank called Wise (formally Transferwise). You can have a multi-currency current account that will accept payments in 10 different currencies. If this includes the country you’re being paid from then this might work out better to be paid in that currency and covert it to pounds yourself.

I use this for payments that I sometimes receive and make in dollars and it’s far cheaper than other options such as Paypal (which also lets you receive in a foreign currency and convert into pounds)
Hope this helps

Will the Halifax switching hack work?

Hi Andy, how certain is you can downgrade the Halifax Ultimate reward account to a standard current account after you receive the incentive?

I am trying to find something relevant to that effect on Halifax site to no effect. Have you personally done this and if yes how? Thank you for the great video and as always up to date news

Daniel via YouTube

Hi Daniel, yes you absolutely can. I did this myself a year ago with a similar offer and it took me seconds. The £17 charge never came through, though if it had I’d still have been up £83. Here’s more on how the switching hack works.

Should I have a digital and traditional bank account?

Hi I’ve got a question. Is it better for me to have two current accounts from a traditional bank and one banking app or two banking apps and one traditional bank?

Charlotte, via YouTube

Hi Charlotte,

Great question! I think it doesn’t matter on the combo, but I’d certainly suggest having one of each. The digital banks are fantastic but having a bank with a branch near you could be handy if things go wrong. Then if you want a third account (or more), it could be any kind. I’ve written more here about why I think it’s worth having more than one account.

Is Monzo better than Starling?

To me, it looks like it’s Starling Vs Monzo.. which one is the MVP?

Bradley, via YouTube

Totally! I think it’s down to personal taste. Monzo has some great features, but I’ve gone with Starling because it has the edge ethically. But I think I’d be happy with either. Here’s my Monzo review, and here’s my Starling review so you can check them out in more detail.

How to ask me questions

The best ways to get in touch is in the Andy Clever Cash Facebook community

Just post your question any time, or ask me live in my weekly Q&A each Wednesday (which is on Instagram and YouTube).

You can also comment on individual blogposts and videos or ask me questions via these channels:

I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer all questions but I’ll do my best.


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