Back in the day the ISA ad season traditionally kicked off early-January and the Money pages in the weekend papers would grow fat on the additional spend in the run up to the end of the tax year. But continuing the trend of the last few years it seems a bit of a stretch to call it a season these days.
Talk of a season still holds true in coverage terms it seems if the papers at the weekend are anything to go by. The FT Weekend got the ball rolling with a four page guide to making the most out of your allowance with Steve Lodge reporting on market leading rates: 3.5% for an instant access cash Isa and 4.4% fixed on a three-year bond from Santander and Nationwide respectively. Analysts have reported that although Santander’s offering if likely to be very popular, Isa savers can probably afford to take a ‘wait and see’ approach in case a more attractive offer emerges before the deadline on April 5 as they have now set the benchmark and it is up to other banks and building societies to compete.
For a slightly different take on the Santander Flexible Isa there’s Esther Shaw’s report in the Sunday Express – although boasting the highest rate in the market, the account doesn’t permit transfers, so it’s great for those looking for their first account but if you have money accumulated from previous years, you might be better off somewhere else apparently. Rupert Jones in the Guardian was also sceptical, he reported that the big drawback is that after the year is up, customers will go on to the bank’s variable rate, which is currently 0.5% – fine if you are on the ball and move your cash in time, but not so good if you happen to forget.
The Sunday Times, too, reported on the various deals, suggested that savers should be wary of fluctuating interest rates. Research from Defaqto reported that many savers have started to see their rates withdrawn soon after opening their accounts, often to match new, lower rates from the same provider. Although customers will be notified of the changes, analysts say it is important to keep an eye on your rate to ensure you money would not be better kept somewhere else. It’s just a shame the ISA ad spend didn’t match the coverage.
The rest of the scores on the board this week were: