Money blog: Savers have a rare opportunity - but it might be the last hurrah; major credit card cutting minimum repayments – and why that could cost you a lot (2024)

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Barclaycard cutting minimum repayments - but it could cost you a lot of money

Barclaycard is cutting the minimum amount its customers have to repay each month.

While the move may sound like good news on the surface, it could well mean you're in debt for longer and end up paying more interest.

At the moment, most Barclaycard customers have a minimum repayment of 3.75% of their balance, 2.5% of their balance plus interest, or £5.

But, from 22 July, that will change to the highest amount out of:

  • 1% of their balance
  • 1% of their balance plus interest
  • £5

This means if you are currently only paying the minimum on your card, you'll likely repay less each month.

But, minimum amounts are designed to keep people in debt for as long as possible, and lowering them just makes this period even longer.

MoneySavingExpert says the change means it could now take a customer with a £1,000 debt an extra decade to pay it off, if they only pay the minimum amount.

On average, it says it will take 19 years and three months to clear and the interest will total £1,655.

Founder of MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis says the change is "worryingly under the radar" and urged customers to check if their repayments are set to the minimum amount.

"Minimum repayments have always been credit card firms' secret weapon. Letting people repay little looks appealing – hence why Barclaycard says this is about 'flexibility'. Yet it takes flexibility to kick your own backside, and this will hurt some just as much," he said.

A Barclays spokesperson told Sky News: "We regularly review our products and from July, some Barclaycard customers will see changes to their minimum monthly payments, alongside adjustments to the APR.

"Customers will benefit from a reduction in their minimum monthly repayment and the vast majority have no change to APR, while some will receive a decrease.

"We have made these changes to increase flexibility for our customers and have been clear in our communications that paying more than the minimum can help customers clear their balance sooner and pay less interest."


M&S to launch clothing repair service

Marks and Spencer is to launch a clothing repair service next month.

The retail giant has teamed up with clothing repair and alterations experts SOJO, which was founded in 2021 by Josephine Philips, to give clothes "another life".

From August, M&S customers will be able to book a bespoke repair service through a new online hub, "M&S Fixed by SOJO".

Repairs will start from £5 and be carried out by SOJO's in-house repair team.

The items will then be returned directly to the customer's doorstep within seven to 10 days.

Richard Price, managing director of clothing and home at M&S, said: "Through the launch of our repair service, we're making it even easier for customers to give their clothes another life, whether they are using our new repair service or long-standing clothes recycling scheme."


Savers have a rare opportunity - but it might be the last hurrah

This week, Savings Champion research and development managerDaniel Darragh givesan overview of the savings market right now and reveals the best rates on offer across a range of accounts…

On the topic of savings rates, he says...

It is great to see that rates have remained steady throughout the year, despite frequent speculation over when the Bank of England would be decreasing the base rate.

This means that, with inflation slowly dropping month on month (and finally hitting the Bank's target of 2% in May) there are now more accounts that beat inflation than ever before, meaning savers have a rare opportunity to really increase the purchasing power of their money.

That being said, the Bank of England has signalled that it will cut the base rate at some point in the year, and with the election result looming in the next few days, the decision may be taken sooner rather than later.

Such a decrease will see borrowing and savings rates likely fall – so this may be the last hurrah for savers to get some of the best rates seen in years.

This explains why longer-term fixed rates are lower than shorter term – called an inverted curve, which indicates that we can expect interest rates to fall over the next few months and years.

So, while locking your money away for, say, five years, may earn you a lower interest rate now than a one-year term could currently earn you, that might not be the case in a year's time when and if interest rates fall as predicted – meaning your hard-earned funds increase much more in value over a five-year term than they would in renewing one-year terms every year.

That being said, the last few years have shown us how unpredictable and quickly economic conditions can turn!

Another interesting and important shift we have seen of late is that ISA rates, particularly on variable rate ISAs, have kept pace with, and in some cases outstripped, those of non-ISA accounts.

As an example, the best non-current account linked, non-ISA easy access account is paying 5.07% via the Flagstone platform, versus the best non-current account linked ISA account paying 5.17% with Plum on new ISA funds.

Of course, funding of ISA accounts is limited to the current limit of £20,000 per tax year, but this shift shows that ISAs have become increasingly popular again, as more savers find they are breaching their Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) with smaller and smaller amounts.


Hawksmoor seeking funding | Major bank pulling £150 deal | Rent hits record high | Higher welfare standards for chickens

Hawksmoor is reportedly looking at funding options which could see the steak restaurant chain valued at around £100m.

Investment bank Stephens has been hired to run the process for the business, which is currently seeking opportunities to expand outside the UK.

Hawksmoor currently has three restaurants outside the UK, which are located in New York City, Chicago and Dublin. It has 10 other sites, including seven in London.

Private equity firm Graphite Capital owns 51% of Hawksmoor. If new investment comes in, co-founders Will Beckett and Huw Got are expected to retain their minority stake and continue to run the business.

Beckett said: "We've got a great relationship with Graphite, and together we are getting to know the US investment community in more depth. As that continues, an opportunity may emerge that we wish to explore together."

The Co-operative Bank is withdrawing its switching deal this week, leaving people just days to get £150 for free.

New customers, who switch using the CASS system, can bag £75 upfront for opening a standard current account or an Everyday Extra account.

They can then get paid £15 a month for five months if they also open a Regular Saver account.

Anyone making the switch will receive the initial £75 within seven days of meeting all the qualifying criteria.

This includes setting up two direct debits, depositing at least £1,000, making a minimum of 10 card transactions and registering for online or mobile banking.

All of these tasks need to be completed within 30 days of making the switch.

To qualify for the extra £75, you have to open a Regular Saver account before the last day of the month you receive the free cash incentive and deposit £50.

The offer is due to be withdrawn on Friday 5 July.

The average monthly rent being asked outside London has hit a record high of £1,316, according to Rightmove.

The new record across Britain means that average advertised rents outside the capital are around 7% higher than a year earlier, the property website found.

London has the highest rent prices in the country with an average of £2,652 per month, it said.

The South East has the second highest at £1,836, which is a 6% rise since last year.

The cheapest region is the North East, which typically costs £894 a month.

Rightmove has urged the next government to accelerate housebuilding and incentivise landlords to invest in more homes for tenants.

A budget supermarket chain has announced higher welfare standards for its chickens.

Aldi has said it will introduce improved stocking density requirements for its fresh chicken suppliers, which will mean the birds have 20% more space than the industry standard.

The extra space will let the chickens engage in "natural behaviours" such as stretching their wings, dust bathing and roaming, it said.

"Animal welfare is of paramount importance to us," said Aldi's managing director of buying, Julie Ashfield.

"We're already one of the UK's largest providers of responsibly farmed chicken and we've been working hard with our suppliers to reduce stocking density to help us improve the living conditions of these animals even further."

The move is due to be completed by October 2024.


Younger Britons find financial jargon harder to learn than new language - survey

Younger adults find financial jargon harder to learn than a foreign language, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 adults by Klarna revealed that 64% of Gen Z (people born from 1997 onwards) consider picking up basic foreign words easier than understanding terms such as "APR", "capital gains" and "compound interest".

When it came to millennials (people aged between 28 and 43 in 2024), 57% said learning a new language was harder.

Survey respondents said the top three most confusing finance terms were "AMC" (asset management company), "IFA" (independent financial adviser) and "adverse credit".

"AER" and "compound interest rate" also made the list of the jargon people find most baffling.

Klarna is now calling for the winner of Thursday's election to "prioritise financial inclusion" in the school curriculum.

A spokesperson for the buy now, pay later service said: "Whilst foreign languages of course open up opportunities and cultural experiences, financial inclusion is just as important."

We're aiming to help you bust the jargon of complex financial terms through our Basically... series. Here are just a few examples...


Greece becomes first EU country to introduce six-day working week

Greece has controversially introduced a six-day working week for some sectors.

The legislation, which came into force at the beginning of July, aims to boost productivity and employment.

Employees of private businesses that provide around-the-clock services will have the option of working an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift.

The change means a traditional 40-hour week could be extended to 48 hours per week for some companies.

Food service and tourism workers are not included in the initiative.

The pro-business government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said the measure is both "worker-friendly" and "deeply growth-orientated".

However, unions have criticised the move, saying it bucks a global trend of workforces exploring a shorter week.

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer in European and international politics at Loughborough University, told our US partner site CNBC it was a "a major step back" for a workforce that is already working the longest hours in the European Union.


Families can save 20% on new school uniforms with M&S offer

Marks & Spencer is offering 20% off its new school uniforms to help parents get ready for the new school year.

The average cost of school uniform in England has dropped by 4% in 2024, according to a survey by The Schoolwear Association.

However, the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform and sportswear items for a child starting secondary school in England is still £92.35 per pupil.

That can be a big expenditure, especially for families with multiple children.

M&S's discount excludes footwear, hosiery, underwear, outerwear, accessories, school bags and lunch boxes.


Itsu looking at plans to double number of UK stores

Asian-inspired eatery Itsu is looking at plans to double the number of its stores in the UK.

The chain is considering opening 80 new restaurants and has appointed Savills to advise on its expansion plans.

Itsu is looking to strengthen its foothold in London, where the majority of its restaurants are based, as well as growing its presence in new locations with flagship stores in big cities.

Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Belfast are among the UK cities currently without an Itsu store.

Kate Thompson, property director at Itsu, said: "At Itsu, we are focused on making the joy of delicious, health[ier], Asian-inspired food available to everyone across the UK and beyond.

"We look forward to working with Savills to help us deliver on our plan for growth."


RAC says people who fail driving test should be charged more for re-test

A motoring research charity says a case should be made for raising driving test fees for learners who repeatedly fail.

The RAC Foundation said this would encourage prospective drivers to wait until they are ready to pass, easing the "unacceptable" backlog of tests in the UK.

Last month, AA Driving School said it obtained Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) figures suggesting the average waiting time for a test at the start of February was more than 18 weeks.

A ban on driving tests during COVID lockdowns plus a driving examiner strike has led to a bottleneck of demand.

Before 2020, the average wait time was six weeks, from booking online to turning up at the test centre.

One way of addressing the issue, according to RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding, is to consider additional fees for those with several previous failures and even to offer a rebate to first-time passers.

"Forget about all the traffic jams out on the road, there is now an unacceptable amount of congestion in the test system with learners often waiting many months for a slot," he said.

"In part these jams are being caused by people who have failed multiple times and come back to take a test that might be their fourth, fifth or sixth attempt, or even greater."

Government figures show 93,204 practical car driving tests taken in the year to the end of March were at least the candidate's sixth attempt at passing.

Under the current pricing plan, practical driving tests cost £62 during weekday daytimes and £75 during evenings, weekends, and bank holidays.


Marks & Spencer knocked off top spot as new grocer of the year named

Marks & Spencer's title as Britain's grocer of the year was taken away yesterday as Sainsbury's took the crown for the first time in nearly two decades.

At a lavish ceremony held at the Royal Albert Hall, Sainsbury's took home the top prize in the Grocer Gold Awards ahead of M&S, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and social enterprise The Company Shop.

The supermarket was praised for being the only "big four" supermarket (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons) to have gained shopper spend from both Aldi and Lidl amid the cost of living crisis.

"Restoring growth while increasing profits is not an easy thing to do at the best of times, but especially with the highest inflation in decades, and the discounters - and other rivals - also opening a significant number of new stores," said Adam Leyland, chair of the judging panel.

"But Sainsbury's has given shoppers permission to enjoy its wide range of food and drink through much more competitive pricing, most notably the launch of Nectar Prices last April, and its impressively rapid rollout."

Other awards handed out on the night included Britain's favourite supermarket, which was won by Tesco for the 10th year in a row.

Tesco also took home the award for employer of the year for its "pioneering" work in supporting diversity and inclusion as well as its support to young people, competitive pay, and step up in maternity and paternity benefits.

The award for customer service was won by Waitrose, while the Grocer Cup went to Greggs CEO Roisin Currie, recognising the success Greggs has had going from a high-street bakery chain into the UK's biggest fast food chain.

Money blog: Savers have a rare opportunity - but it might be the last hurrah; major credit card cutting minimum repayments – and why that could cost you a lot (2024)
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