5 facts about your money that no-one tells you
These 5 tips from Finder experts could be the difference between losing money and not losing it.
Almost 1 in 3 Brits say that financial stress over the last year has harmed their mental health, according to new research from personal finance comparison site finder.com.
The poll of 2,000 adults, which was carried out in September, reflects the strain on households brought about by the cost of living crisis, and builds on previous Finder research showing how millions of people don’t feel confident about basic money topics.
Being well informed about money can help you avoid paying over the odds, and reduce uncertainty and stress. Finder’s published many guides explaining money topics, and we’ve put together 5 facts about money that we believe everyone needs to know. Each of these could be the difference between losing money and not losing it.
1. You can complain about financial firms to the Financial Ombudsman. Unhappy with how your insurer treated you? The ombudsman can look into complaints about a wide range of financial services companies, from banks and insurers to credit card firms. It can also look into fraud cases if you think your bank didn’t do enough to help you. But in all cases, you have to complain to the company first.
The ombudsman covers complaints from consumers, but can also look at most complaints from small businesses, charities or trusts. It’s in the interest of a financial services company to resolve your complaint rather than see you escalate it to the ombudsman, because after the first few complaints, companies get charged a case fee by the ombudsman.
2. Buy now, pay later (BNPL) still isn’t regulated like other types of credit. Despite promising to regulate BNPL in 2021, the government still hasn’t done it. This means you’re not protected as much as you would be with, say, a credit card. You might not get clear information upfront about late fees or other key parts of the agreement and you won’t be able to complain to the ombudsman.
3. Not all accounts are bank accounts. If you put your money in a bank – that’s an institution which has a banking licence – then up to £85,000 of your cash is protected if the bank goes bust. But if it’s an “e-money” account with a pre-paid debit card, you don’t get the same level of protection. That’s because the Financial Services Compensation Scheme doesn’t apply. More in Finder’s guide to the FSCS.
4. You can get extra cover from your credit card. If you pay with plastic for an item that costs more than £100 and less than £30,000, you get extra protection if things go wrong. That’s because your card provider is just as liable as the retailer. That applies even if you buy an item abroad. It also applies if you put a deposit of less than £100 on the card for an item that costs more than £100. More in Finder’s guide to credit card refunds.
5. Some accounts have inactivity fees. Also known as a “dormancy fee” and slightly less popular than a weasel on a crowded train, an inactivity fee is a penalty for not using your account during a period of time specified in a company’s terms. For example, PayPal charges £9 if you don’t use your account for more than a year. And the prepaid travel card provider Caxton charges a £2 “account management fee” every month if you haven’t used the card in the previous year.
Guides and reviews on sites like Finder can help you understand what to look for when you’re choosing a product. But wherever you get your info about financial products, it always pays to be informed before you make a choice.
About the author
Liz Edwards is editor-in-chief at finder.com. She’s been a consumer writer and editor for more than 20 years, led award-winning teams at the campaigning publisher Which?, and has covered a range of consumer rights and personal finance topics including pensions, credit, banking and insurance. Liz has appeared frequently in national media such as The Sun, Metro, HuffPost and The Independent. She loves to cut through waffle to give consumers the real lowdown.