Ask Andy #47: 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 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 live Q&A

Most Tuesday evenings you’ll find me live on YouTube and Instagram answering your questions. It’s probably the best place to ask!

Here’s the latest video:

This week’s extra questions

If you’ve asked me a question elsewhere, you might find the answer below!

Will fixed-interest savings rates get higher?

The 1 year fixed accounts are slowly creeping up, two or three weeks ago they were hovering over 2% now they are 2.25%. Is it going to creep up to 3% this year or when is the Bank of England going to put rates up again this year?

Will, via email

It’s impossible to say for sure! However, it’s widely expected that there will be more interest rate increases from the Bank of England this year, which should mean those fixed rates will increase, potentially to 3%. You can read more about the next Bank of England Monetary Committee meetings and more about rate rises here.

Is it a bad time to start saving?

I’m 18 and I’m about to go to uni, I have a sum of money in my account (prior to getting my student maintenance loan) and was wondering what I should do with it instead of leaving it sitting in an account and not earning much interest.

Should I put a sum aside into a savings account and leave it for a long duration of time (2+ years) or is it a bad time to do this (post-covid etc). Or, are there any alternatives I can put a sum of money into? 

Zac, via email

Hi Zac, it’s never a bad time to save! What you need to think about is when might you need the money. Generally, it’s good practice to have emergency cash available to you in the event you don’t have enough available to pay the rent and so on – usually about three to six months of expenses. Look for the best interest rate in an easy-access account, which right now is 1.5% from Chase Bank. If you don’t think you’ll need the money at all you could lock it away in a fix.

It’s also worth noting that when you get to Uni you’ll be able to open a student bank account and get a decent 0% overdraft. So you could use this for spending and earn interest elsewhere on your savings for as long as possible, then once you start to get charged interest on this overdraft after graduating, you can use those savings to pay it off.

Andy’s YouTube

Watch new videos every week on the Andy Clever Cash channel, plus a regular live Q&A

Should I use Virgin Red when shopping?

I’m not sure if you’ve maybe covered this on the pod before but I know you are a massive fan of Quidco and TopCashback – I just wondered if you have any experience with Virgin Red and how it compares to the cashback sites. I.E. can you stack up points quicker or more of them by going through Virgin Red as opposed to the cashback sites?

Calum, via email

Hi Callum. So there are a few key points. 1) What site gives the highest rate? and 2) How easy is it to redeem the points/cashback?. Most of the time cashback wins as you can spend it how you wish. But if there are Virgin points you want to collect and the return is higher (for the product or service you’re buying), it might be worth considering. Personally I’d stick with TCB and Quidco.

Does being a Halifax customer stop me switching to Lloyds?

I am abroad atm and have tried to find the answer to my question via the chat facility on the Lloyds app as I have a credit card with the bank about the switch offer they are offering atm. I have already got the switching incentive from Halifax for their Reward Account. So I was wondering if I did switch an outside bank account to Lloyds would I be eligible for their incentive?

Will, via Instagram

Yes, as long as you meet all the criteria you’ll be fine! There’s no rule that blocks Halifax customers, whether they’ve had switching cash from them or not. Here’s more on the latest Lloyds Bank switching deal.

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

How should I exchange my money into Euros?

Andy do you have any recommendations for exchanging euros? Companies to use/avoid/look for? Needing 6500€ out for our wedding suppliers needing cash. Thank you as always!

Heidi, via Instagram

I’d use the comparison site Travel Money Max (part of Moneysavingexpert) to get the best exchange rate. Don’t use credit cards for the swap as extra fees will be added, and be wary of “0% commission” Bureau De Changes – they’ll add charges in elsewhere.

Of course, that’s if you need to change money in the UK. If you can take money out of an ATM overseas with a fee-free card you’ll get a much better rate, though there could be some local ATM charges (see if you can research this before you go).

But you’ll also have to bear in mind that there’s often a daily, weekly or monthly cap on withdrawals. That’s a lot of money you need to get so it could be you need to use multiple cards over a number of days. Here are my picks of the best ones.

How to ask me questions

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

Just post your question any time, or ask me in my live fortnightly Q&A every other Tuesday (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. I tend to look once a week at all the messages, but it can take longer – so you might have to bear with me for a reply.

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