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!
Is a student account worth it?
I was just wondering – I don’t have particular need for an overdraft, would there be any benefit to taking a student bank account?
Callum, via Instagram
Since student current account overdrafts can be interest-free you could take the money out of the student overdraft and put it in a savings account. As long as you don’t spend it, that money cab sit there earning interest, and when you need to repay the overdraft you still have the cash to clear it one go.
Should I top up my National Insurance?
I’m 40 years old, so assuming that I will get my state pension from 2050 when I turn 68. This leaves me with 28 years to pay into the system to get my full state pension, having checked my pension summary it says that I need to contribute National Insurance for another 16 years before 5 April 2049 (having already 16 years of full NI contributions). I’ve got 2 years where my NI is not full.
My question now is if I make up for those 2 years and pay in another 16 years (which would be 2038), am I running a risk that I ‘overpay’ from 2038 as I would be paying NI (assuming I’m still working then) but my state pension would not increase further (apart from inflation adjustments)?
Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on my query!
Chris, via blog comment
No, I’d say if you think you’ll work those 16 years or be happy to voluntarily pay after this, you’ve plenty of time to reach it – so I wouldn’t top up now. And, yes you’re right, if you pay more than the 35 (or however many years) required you don’t get any extra State Pension. Here’s more about topping up your NICs.
Watch new videos every week on the Andy Clever Cash channel, plus a regular live Q&A
Are American Express ethical?
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?
Rishi, via email
Great question. Sadly I don’t have a full answer. However, looking at ownership online it seems the shares are largely owned by the big investment firms (mainly Berkshire Hathaway – 19%, but also the likes of Vanguard).
Ethical Consumer gives them a score of 9.5 out of 20, which isn’t great, but also not awful. I think this is mainly based on Berkshire Hathaway’s other investments.
Sadly they don’t seem to have a credit card guide to compare them to other options – though this is better than the main banks get (eg Natwest, HSBC, Santander and Chase all get between 2 and 3 out of 20), and not far off Monzo, Nationwide and Starling (each scoring 12 out of 20).
How can I maximise Avios points on a big purchase?
Recently discovered your YouTube channel as I was looking for some advice re. getting a rewards/airmiles credit card.
Over the next 18 months I will be spending approx. £25,000.00 + on a bucket list holiday for my partner and I to OZ/NZ/Hawaii/and the U.S.
We will be booking business class flights with multiple airlines; a cruise and quality hotels (probably using a travel agent for everything) and we would like to make our money work for us in the form of airmiles/rewards plus anything else that would be of use.
Trouble is – I just don’t know where to start with selecting the right card or cards to maximise our spending – can you help please?
I believe I have a decent credit score and I will be paying off my balances at the end of every month.
If you could provide us with some advice Andy – it would be greatly appreciated.
Kevan, via email
Hi Kevan. Sounds like a great trip! So, here are my “best buy” tips, though it could be you won’t be able to get all the cards, or get them in time. Plus some extra offers come and go.
So I’d certainly be looking at American Express to earn both rewards/ points and a welcome bonus.
You can only get the welcome offer on most cards if you’ve not had a card in your name in the last 24 months (I’m assuming that’s the case). But if you choose the “right” first card, it’s possible to get another one or two welcome bonuses after this. And then you could even get your wife to do the same. So potentially there are six cards where you can get the bonus.
Sometimes there are boosted offers (you’ve just missed some of these, but should return), but they may return if you’re not making all the payments in the next few months. I go into detail here, but in an ideal world, I’d go for
Nectar American Express: earn 20,000 points (which can be converted to Avios or spent in Sainsbury’s) when you spend £2,000 in three months
OR (NOT BOTH) Amex Platinum Cashback: earn 5% back on first £2,500 spend in first three months (worth £125)
Both come with a £25 annual fee, so go via a cashback site to cover this for year on
THEN Platinum Amex: earn 30,000 Reward points (Can be swapped to Avios) when you spend £3,000 in three months (ideally wait for a boosted offer worth double). This has a huge £575 annual fee, but can be refunded pro-rata once you trigger the bonus (make sure you transfer the points first).
THEN BA Amex Premium Plus: earn 30,000 Avios points when you spend £3,000 in three months (again, ideally wait for a boosted offer worth double). This has a £250 annual fee. You’ll also get a 2-4-1 voucher if you spend £10,000 on the card in a year
THEN Barclaycard Avios: earn 25,000 Avios points when you spend £3,000 in three months. The fee is £20 a month, so ditch once you’ve got the bonus, though you’ll get an upgrade voucher if you spend £10k over 12 months
Assuming you get all four cards and only spend enough to trigger the bonuses, that’s a spend of £11,500.
So you could then get your wife to do the same and you’re still below your overall spend. Combined you’d earn more than 230,000 Avios points (though factor in those annual fees).
It’s important you do an eligibility check first of all before applying for the cards so test your chances of getting accepted. It makes sense to spread these out, so perhaps you get one card for you, then one for your wife, back to you, back to your wife and so on. Though you might need more than one.
For anything beyond this you could look at the Chase debit card which offers 1% back for 12 months, (though you might want to save that for when you are away).
It might be better just to keep one of the Amex cards (perhaps the Avios ones to earn the companion/upgrade voucher) or there are other cashback / reward cards you could look at.
Lots to take in there, but I hope it helps.
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.
When should I cancel NOW TV?
Is there a cutoff point when you should cancel by? e.g. If my next monthly Sports membership payment is due on 15th June, can I cancel on 14th June and avoid paying for the next month or do NowTV need a certain amount of cancellation notice?
Ali, via blog comments
You can cancel anytime in the month and still get the service. There’s no notice period. The only time to be careful is if you have a deal for more than one month, or a prepaid gift card for multiple months (there are rare nowadays). If you cancel before they end you will miss out on the remaining time. Here’s more on cancelling NOW for extra savings.
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.