Well, we spoke to all our experts here at moneysupermarket.com and asked for their predictions plus their top tips for the year ahead.
Kevin Mountford – Savings
My prediction for 2010 for the savings market. Clearly now, banks, building societies etc are desperate for retail inflow, so I think that we will see a fair amount of competition, albeit the back drop is going to be a fairly flat bank base rate environment. So it’s going to be difficult for the banks to be creative around pricing, but I think that there will be some good deals to be had and I’m sensing that, for the first part of the year, fixed rate bonds will be reasonably strong and then clearly as we get into March – ISAs – and obviously we have got the new ISA allowance kicking in for the new financial year.
So it should be a reasonably good year. And in terms of savings, I definitely recommend you keep a close eye on the rates that you are getting and if you have chosen a fixed rate bond – or an account with a bonus – make sure you make a note of when they either mature or the bonus falls off because very often you will default to a much lower rate so you have got to keep on your toes.
Simon James – Shopping
My prediction for next year in shopping is that price comparison is going to become even more important as retailers become more competitive on prices.
My top tip for next year is that you should never trust a ‘sale’ price that’s advertised. Even though a retailer may say that it is ‘£100 off’ or ‘25% off’, you’re still sometimes going to be able to find that item somewhere else – so always research it.
Tim Moss – Loans
My tip for 2010 for loans is: look before you leap. In other words, have a look at your credit record before the lender does it.
It’s like being given the answers to the exam before you go in. The lender is going to look at your record – so why not find out before they do?
So go and speak to one of the credit reference agencies and have a look on there before you apply. If there are any errors or anything that you believe that is going to stop you getting credit: get it changed, get it altered – before you apply.
Peter Harrison – Credit Cards
My prediction for 2010 is to review your existing credit card.
Decide what interest rate you are paying and whether you think that that is acceptable by using a service like moneysupermarket.com to determine what the best card is for you. Whether that is for a balance transfer, potentially a card for purchases or if you are using your debit card, then potentially there is opportunities to use credit cards potentially for rewards and cash back to reward your spending moving forward in 2010.
Julie Owens – Home Insurance
So, the number of theft and accidental damage claims are unfortunately on the increase due to the recession and home insurers are now also worried about the increasing value and frequency of storm damage claims and flooding.
So, my prediction for 2010 is that unfortunately, due to those facts, home insurance will be pushing up premiums during the course of the year. And my top tip is – as ever – to shop around and make sure you are getting the best possible deal for your money.
The other tip to watch is that home insurers are now actually putting through different types of excesses to help cope with the cost of some of those claims. So, for example, they are now putting through £250 for escape of water claims. Again, check the small print make sure you know exactly what you are paying for and how much you would have to pay in the event of a claim.
Kevin Mountford – Current Accounts
My prediction for 2010 for the current account market, clearly there has been a lot of focus in 2009 with the OFT case and now the Supreme Court has come out on the side of the banks.
I think, if nothing else, it will at least – in part – draw a line in the sand and maybe, maybe we will now see a little bit more innovation. But aside from that, my call would be to the banks and to the regulators and to Government just to make sure that we create a really healthy current account environment whereby consumers are confident that they can switch their accounts without a real problem.
My tip for 2010 is: have a look at all the accounts that are available but don’t just get seduced by the headline rate. Current account is important to make sure it matches you needs, sit down think about how you typically want to transact on your bank account and get one that really suits you.
Scott Byrom – Gas and Electricity
Top tips for 2010 within the energy market: In terms of energy prices, it’s a little unknown as to which way they are going to go at the moment. We have got certain people saying that prices could come down inline with wholesale prices, energy suppliers and the energy regulator – who are also pushing for price reductions – are saying that, potentially, we may even see price increases next year, so: unknown.
Advice for customers is just to make sure that they are extra vigilant, just make sure you keep an eye on the market and look out for those fantastic deals,. They, mainly, will be online products, as we always tend to promote, switch to an online deal and pay by monthly direct debit if you can.
Other top tips: suppliers will be coming out with monthly billing options – we have already seen it for two of the big six – I expect the rest of the market to follow in early 2010. So, if you prefer to have monthly billing – which basically means more accurate bills – get signed up to one of them. But all round, just make sure you are paying as little as possible for your energy.
Tim Moss – Debt
With more and more people falling into debt and with the squeeze on disposable income even greater, the lenders are under even greater pressure with their bad debt levels; so that is the amount of people defaulting on credit agreements at the moment. So what I would say is before you make the decision to write to your lender, make sure you have covered every avenue off; make sure you’ve prioritised every debt you have got, because the lenders are now saying ‘no’ to more and more people who cant afford their payments. They are pressing them and squeezing them, so make sure you have done all the work in the back ground – before you turn to the lender.
Steve Sweeney – Car Insurance
My prediction for 2010 is that prices are going to increase, particularly for young drivers.
So my top tip is: make sure you shop around. If you use moneysupermarket.com, you are going to get the best deal for your car insurance. Make sure you fill in the question set accurately and make sure you include all the information that is going to be relevant to the insurer. If you do that, you are going to get the best deal and protect yourself for the price rises that are coming in 2010.
Hannah Skenfield – Mortgages
My prediction for the mortgage market in 2010 is that it will broadly remain the same in terms of its size and its shape. Lenders will be very competitive in trying to gain the best customers and it’s still going to be quite difficult for first time buyers to be able to gain mortgages
My top tip for 2010 is aimed at anyone who is looking for a tracker mortgage at the moment: I predict we are probably – in the second half of next year – going to have a base rate increase, probably to about 2.5%, so with the average tracker mortgage currently pitched at about 2.7% above base rate, that is quite an increase. So anyone who is looking at a tracker mortgage, either at the moment or into next year, make sure that you factor in what any base rate changes could mean for your repayments.
Sian Harrison – Vouchers
Although the voucher market is relatively new, it has been increasing around 40% year on year and 2010 doesn’t look any different. What we are finding is that more people are becoming more aware of voucher codes; predominantly people would just become aware of it when they got to the retail section or when they where about to purchase something and they saw a promotional code area, and then they would go off and look for the voucher.
Now we are finding that people’s buying strategy is different. They are expecting vouchers on a range of different products; lots of people are searching and the search terms are getting more intelligent. And what I would say is for my tip for 2010 is: retailers are still on board with vouchers, they are using them as a strategic tool to push a lot of products, so I would say always go to a vouchers site and do searches before you make any purchases online or even in restaurants.Clare Francis: Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2010.
Take advantage of our tips and advice to make the most of your money and find a great deal easier.