New Bank Loot hopes to become the new standard for UK’s ‘neobanks’

There’s a new modern bank about to be launched in the UK.

Dubbed a “neobank” Loot is the kind of innovative new banking service that will potentially challenge the big incumbents. It will take time, but their aim is to provide a service that is SO much better, targetted squarely at millennials.

People can now sign up for one of the first 25,000 Loot accounts that will open later this summer at


A bank for the smart-phone age

Loot’s aim is to help you get the most out of life – without getting into debt or worrying about money – all from the palm of your hand.  The new Loot will be opened to customers in tranches of 25,000 people at a time, so those keen to be first should register as soon as they can.

Loot’s philosophy is “life is too short to miss out”.  So – using market-leading technology – it has created a banking experience that shows customers what they can do, when they can do it and how much it will cost them, all without going into debt.  Loot gives customers unprecedented clarity and control over their money and spending, helping them to make the most out of life without worrying about money.  It can even show you, anonymously, how your spending compares to your peers.

 How It Works

Loot works by using a prepaid, contactless MasterCard debit card connected to the app. Each customer has their own Loot account number and sort code, and the underlying banking and money transmission licenses and service are provided by major UK issuer Wirecard Card Solutions Limited.

Loot has no interest in its customers going into debt and so deliberately does not offer any overdraft or borrowing facility. The Loot philosophy is all about helping customers to make optimum use of the money they have, by having unprecedented visibility and control over their spending.

Money can be paid into the Loot account electronically by money transfer, free of charge.  Using the Loot debit card, money can be spent anywhere accepting MasterCard card payments, including online, and cash can be withdrawn from any ATM.

The magic of categorisation

The powerful thing about Loot is the app/bank automatically categorises all of your spending, as it happens, and showing you how much you still have available to spend to stay on budget.

Being about to compare your spending to your peers (anonymously of course) is also a fun feature that will make you more aware of your spending choices.

 Loot Abroad

When you arrive in a new country Loot can show you your balance in the local currency so you know how much money you have to spend.  As you make a purchase, Loot uses a competitive exchange rate, allowing you to spend money abroad.  Loot will provide you with spending summaries upon arrival and departure, ensuring you never lose track of your spending – whatever the currency.


In Control

Being tied to an app also offers other benefits. If you lose your card you can simply block and unblock in the app on your smartphone.

What’s the catch? 

All services are provided free of charge other than foreign exchange from which Loot will earn a fee from the exchange rate, although this rate will be very competitive.  In time, Loot will also earn revenue from partner retailers etc when Loot customers take up special deals and discounts offered to them.


Smartphone users can sign up NOW for the new Loot version 2.0 by registering at or later this week download the new app from the App Store.

Are you tempted to try a new bank designed for the 21st century?

Travel insurance warning in the busiest week for holiday bookings

Delaying arranging your travel cover could prove a costly mistake

Over five million* people will make their summer holiday bookings before the end of February with the third week in January traditionally being the busiest for those wishing to combat the winter blues**. However, is warning holidaymakers not to leave arranging their travel insurance to the last minute or risk losing some valuable cover.

Although many travellers would say their main reason for buying travel insurance is for the medical cover or to protect their luggage, travel insurance can also provide protection against events affecting you before you even leave your home. Around 34% of travel insurance claims made by UK holidaymakers in 2012 were for costs related to cancellations with an average claim value of around £700, second only to the average medical costs claim of £900***.

However, because travellers are only covered for events they didn’t know about before buying their insurance, the sooner they buy the policy, the more likely it is they’ll be covered if something goes wrong before their holiday starts. found that cancellation cover is standard on 96% of the 452 single trip travel insurance policies with some comprehensive policies covering up to £10,000, with some even offering unlimited cover per insured person. Cancellation cover would allow the holidaymaker to reclaim the costs of their holiday, up to the cover limit and minus any excess, should certain circumstances arise before taking the trip. These may include a serious illness or injury affecting someone in the travelling party or a close relative, such as a parent, child or sibling, who isn’t travelling but with whom they would like to remain at home.

Having a major incident such as a serious fire or flood at home may be another genuine reason why you might want to cancel or postpone your holiday, but may be covered for under your travel insurance policy. Also, being called up for jury service isn’t something you can usually turn down just because you’re off on your holiday but if you didn’t know about it before you arranged your insurance you may be able to reclaim some or all of the costs of cancelling or postponing your trip.


Caroline Lloyd, travel insurance expert at, said: “Holidaymakers have to bear in mind that they cannot insure themselves against an event taking place or circumstances arising which they were already aware of. If a family member becomes seriously ill in the lead up to your holiday you cannot then take out travel insurance with the intention of cancelling your trip. Likewise you cannot hear about potential serious disruption to your travel plans, such as that caused by striking airline staff and expect to be able to claim if you subsequently decide to change your plans. The insurer will check when you could have first become aware of the potential disruption to your holiday before deciding whether your claim is genuine.


“So even though it may be several months from when you book your holiday to when you actually travel, it’s a good idea to take out your travel cover soon after you book your holiday rather than leaving it until just before you go. That way you’ll benefit from any cancellation cover provided by your policy as soon as you buy it, giving you several months of valuable protection in the lead up to your trip rather than just the week or two of your actual holiday if you leave it late. It’s a false economy to delay arranging your travel insurance.

“Cancellation cover is a frequently overlooked benefit of travel insurance compared to say medical costs cover. But as figures from the ABI show, it helps hundreds of thousands of consumers reclaim cancelled holiday costs every year. Cover levels vary greatly from policies offering no cancellation protection at all to unlimited cover per insured person so make sure you choose the right travel cover for you based on the protection you want rather than the policy with the lowest premium.

“One final money saving tip – don’t be so rushed that you buy your holiday operator’s packaged cover though. It’s usually one of the most expensive ways to get travel insurance and you should be able to find a better value deal quickly by comparing policies online.”

Could you cope if you got sick?

retirement healthWith millions taking out loans to pay for the festive excess, and three-quarters of workers suffering ill health over Christmas, leading not-for-profit insurer PG Mutual warns UK professionals of the risk of trying to cover the Christmas debts in the event of having to take long-term sick leave. 


The cost of Christmas to UK families has been a subject of much research and media attention since the start of the recession. Recent figures estimate the average family in the UK was due to spend around £1,134.00 on Christmas in 2013,* with additional research showing that up to 7 million people were planning to take out loans to cover the extra expense** – many of these just to cover basic costs such as heating and food.


Taking out extra credit has become an increasingly common way to cover the cost of Christmas, but with 4 million people still paying off the cost of Christmas 2012 in November 2013,*** it appears many people are being left with long-term debt – debt that they would struggle to cover should they lose their income unexpectedly due to an illness or injury that forced them onto state sickness pay, which currently stands at just £86.70 per week.^


Leading insurer, PG Mutual, has warned that many UK professionals could find themselves struggling to meet the cost of their debt repayments in the event of having to take sick leave. With recent research showing three-quarters of UK workers were likely to suffer from ill health over the Christmas period†, PG Mutual believe that it has never been more important for those who rely on a regular monthly income to take preventative measures to ensure that they can keep up their financial repayments – even in the event of ill health resulting in a loss of pay.


PG Mutual Chief Executive, Mike Perry, explains, “In the current economic climate, many people are not only dipping into their savings; they are resorting to credit cards and loans in order to cover extra expenses such as Christmas. While many people will manage their debt sensibly and make regular repayments, unfortunately an unexpected illness or an accident can throw even the most organised person’s finances into chaos.

“By insuring your income, you are making sure that even if you did have to take sick leave, and this significantly reduces your pay, you will still receive a regular monthly payment from your policy – which could be the difference between paying off your debt, and it spiralling out of control.


“We are always surprised at the number of people who don’t have income protection insurance in place – we would advise people who are juggling a lot of financial obligations after the festive period to look into taking out cover. Once you’ve fallen ill or suffered an accident, it’s too late to get insured, but you’ll still need to meet your repayments somehow – something most people would struggle with on state sickness pay.”


To find out how little income protection could cost you per month, or for more information, visit

Brits resolve to get fit and sort out their finances


  • 13 million* people plan to make New Year’s resolutions
  • Fitness, exercise, healthy eating and losing weight top the nation’s New Year’s resolutions
  • Top financial resolutions include saving money on outgoings, putting more money on deposit and getting out of debt or reducing loans and credit card balances.
  • A fifth (21%) say they usually break resolutions within a month


A survey of New Year’s resolutions has revealed that getting fit tops the nation’s New Year wish list with millions of people resolving to exercise more and lose weight.  Money matters also feature high in the nation’s 2014 ‘to do’ list with a third of those making a New Year’s resolution to sort out their finances and reduce their outgoings.


28% of the 2,000 UK adults quizzed revealed that they are planning to make resolutions in 2014, many (46%) will do so because they genuinely want to change their behaviour.  However, the survey also revealed how hard it can be to keep resolutions, with 21% of people admitting they have usually broken their resolutions before January is out.


   Rank The UK’s top ten resolutions for 2014 %
1. Get fit/take more exercise 54
2. Eat more healthily/change diet 49
3. Lose weight 46
4. Sorting out finances/reducing outgoings 33
5. Take up a new hobby, sport or interest 27
6. Spend more time with friends/family 26
7. Looking for a new job 25
8. Stop/reduce smoking 22
9. Stop/reduce drinking 17
10. Stop/reduce time spent on social media sites 7



Financial resolutions for 2014 concern both reducing spending and increasing savings:


Rank Top financial resolutions for 2014 %
1. Save money on outgoings 38
2. Save more in a deposit account 32
3. Get out of debt or reduce loan and credit card balances 21
4. Shop-around for a better energy deal 17
5. Buy a house or move home 12
6. Invest some money 11
7. Shop-around for insurance 10
8. Put more money into a pension 6
9. Re-mortgage 3



Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, commented:

“For many of us, a new year represents a fresh start – a time to think about things we want to achieve or behaviour we want to change.  But, despite beginning the year with good intentions – our survey suggests that most people fail to keep their resolutions.


“Resolving to make a change is always a good start, but good intentions on their own aren’t sometimes enough.  If you really want to sort out your finances and reduce your outgoings you need to start taking action.  The good news is there are easy and practical steps you can take to change your finances for the better.  By using comparison sites like, it’s never been easier or quicker to shop around for the best deals on your energy bills, insurances, credit cards and other financial products.”

photo by: simplyla

Utility statements top Britain’s most baffling bills

Electricity bills top the nation’s list of the most baffling bills with 36% of people saying that they find them hard to understand, closely followed by gas and water bills.  While household utility bills head the list of daunting documents, most people find bank and credit card statements the easiest to read and understand:



Hardest to understand (%)

Electricity bill


Gas bill


Water bill


Council tax bill


Home insurance renewal


Landline/telephone bill


Car insurance renewal


Mobile phone bill


Credit card statement


Bank statement



The survey of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by, found that one in ten people don’t understand most of their bills, while 17% tend not to read bills which they find confusing.  Most people (59%) surveyed believe that companies deliberately keep bills unclear.


Companies’ use of technical calculations, jargon and abbreviations contribute to baffling bills.  The main reasons given for not understanding bills were:

  • complicated calculations (68%)
  • not understanding the terminology used (36%)
  • too much information (31%)
  • language used is confusing or not plain English (29%)
  • they include too many abbreviations (19%)


When asked if they were able to explain the meaning of different terms and abbreviations used on bills and other financial documents most people felt confident in explaining debt (71%), credit (70%), balance brought forward (64%) and tariff (59%).  But found other commonly used terms such as calorific value, compound interest, APR perplexing:



Percentage of people able to explain (%)

Volume correction factor




All risks




AER (annual equivalent rate)


Inclusive allowance


Calorific value (CV)


Compound interest


Kilowatt hours


Recommended repairer


Vatable charges


Economy 7






APR (annual percentage rate)


Credit score


Dual fuel




Standing charge





Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, commented: “Bank and credit card statements, household bills and insurance renewal documents aren’t riveting reading and are often criticised for being overly complicated.  But, it’s important that you take the time to understand them because collectively they provide essential information to help you manage your finances, helping you balance what you earn against what you owe.


“As well as giving you an overview of your finances, it’s important to read through these documents to check for overpayments, changes to terms and conditions, errors or omissions.  For example, many people pay energy bills by direct debit and it’s not unusual to overpay during the summer months to offset higher winter bills.  But, often the level of direct debit payment is on the generous side and many people build up a surplus.  These overpayments will be shown on energy bills as credits and customers are entitled to ask for their money back.”


To help people make sense of their energy bills and other financial documents, has produced a range of guides and glossaries which explains commonly terms and abbreviations, as well providing tips to save money:

photo by: reynermedia

2013: a year of ‘Cautious Confidence’ as consumers start spending again

  • Increasing confidence amongst consumers has pushed spending up +3.3% – outstripping inflation for the first time in three years
  • Biggest increases in spending were on entertainment (+9.3%) and travel (+4.9%) as consumer spent more on treats and having fun
  • But sentiment remains fragile with fiscal responsibility and sluggish wage growth continuing to squeeze discretionary spend

After five years of rigid austerity, 2013 was the year when consumers loosened their purse strings slightly and spent more on treats and entertainment.

A review of the year’s consumer spending by Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, indicates that improving consumer confidence has pushed spending up +3.3% so far this year.

Over the course of the economic downturn consumers demonstrated strong fiscal responsibility – paying down debt, seeking greater value for money for everything they bought, and reducing their debt levels and increasing savings. In 2013, they increased their spending above inflation for the first time in three years.

The entertainment and travel sectors experienced the highest year-on-year spend growth, up by +9.3% and +4.9% respectively, as extra spending went mainly on enjoying ourselves and treating the family.

A much lower increase in general household spend (+3.4%) and clothing (+1.6%), suggesting that households are continuing to count the pennies and that having a good time needs to be off-set against spending elsewhere, for example by not updating their wardrobes.

Merging austerity with enjoyment

As consumers felt more confident about spending money on taking the family to restaurants, or going to see the latest blockbuster with friends, spending at restaurants grew +11.8% this year compared to last and spending on trips to the cinema and theatre was up +6.9%.

But budget-conscious consumers continue to seek out the best deals and only spend when they see a price they want to pay. So, whilst the number of trips to restaurants was up, the amount spent per trip was down -6.2% on last year, for example.

And consumers are not willing to give up the hard-won benefits of their prudence from the economic downturn and are resisting the temptation to splurge. A fall in spending on clothes – women’s and men’s clothing spend was down -0.5% and -0.9% respectively – and in department stores (down -3.0%), indicated that spending in one area is being substituted for spending in another.

The weather really does help

The scorching summer and improving economic sentiment meant spend growth was highest in the summer months: June (+4.9%), July (+4.8%) and August (+4.4%). Conversely, the extreme snowfall in the latter half of January saw flat growth of +0.1%, primarily caused by people staying wrapped-up inside, as in-store spend was down -1.9% on 2012.

Come fly with me

Spending on airlines and hotels was up, +7.5% and +4.9% respectively, compared to last year, as the annual family holiday made a comeback – although it wasn’t necessarily taken abroad.

Prompted by the bad weather at the beginning of the year and slow start to the summer, airline spend grew strongest in February (+14%), April (+14.5%), May (+13.9%) and June (+13.3%) – as families looked to escape what looked like another damp summer at home.

However, when the weather turned and one of the best summers in years arrived, spending on public transport (+6.0%) and hotel stays (+5.8%) boomed in July, suggesting that we made more day trips and took advantage of a last minute “staycation” in the UK.

Chris Wood, Managing Director, Barclaycard said:

“Consumers spent more in 2013 than we’ve seen them do for three years, as confidence in both the economy and their own financial situation increased. But they spent on having fun and enjoying themselves, rather than updating their wardrobes or buying new things for the home. Whether it was watching the newest blockbuster, taking a holiday, or enjoying a meal out, as a nation we decided to place a higher value on the things we did, not those we bought.”

“Looking ahead, though sentiment is still fragile, economic indicators are generally positive and consumer spending has outstripped inflation for seven out of the last eight months. So we are cautiously optimistic about the consumer spending outlook for 2014”


Growth in spend in 2013 vs. 2012
Category Growth
Restaurants +11.8%
Airlines +7.5%
Cinema\Theatre +6.9%
Public Transport +6.3%
Hotels +4.9%
DIY Stores +3.3%
Family Clothing +3.3%
Electronic Stores +1.9%
Furniture Stores +1.9%
Supermarket +0.7%
Garden Centres -0.2%
Women’s Clothing -0.5%
Men’s Clothing -0.9%
Petrol -1.3%
Department Stores -3.0%

The top family Christmas activities revealed

Parents fork out £45 per child on Christmas trips and treats

  • Trip to see Santa could cost as much as £11 per child
  • ‘Winter Wonderland’ and sporting activities challenge traditional Christmas treats and religious services


For many families a visit to Santa’s grotto is a big part of the magic of Christmas – and this year is no exception.  Most parents of children aged 12 or under are planning to take their kids to see Father Christmas – making it by far the most popular Christmas themed activity.


But, a trip to see the big man doesn’t come cheap.  Parents said that, on average, they spent around £11 per child on a visit to Santa, but a good number had spent considerably more.  Nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed said they had paid between £11 and £20, while 12% had spent over £20 per child.


The new survey*, commissioned by, questioned parents on their plans for Christmas themed trips and entertainment.  On average, parents said that they expected to pay-out £44.55 per child on a range of Christmassy activities, which in addition to seeing Santa, include watching the switching on of Christmas lights, a trip to the Panto or cinema and visiting a ‘Winter Wonderland’ type of attraction:


Top family Christmas activities


A visit to Santa


Watch the switch on of Christmas lights


A trip to the Pantomime


A trip to the cinema to watch a Christmas movie


A visit to a ‘Winter Wonderland’ type of attraction


A traditional carol concert


Winter sports activities (ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, sledging)


A Christingle church service


A religious service


A trip on the Santa Express train


A visit to a Christmas market abroad


A trip to London to watch a West End show


A trip to see Santa in Lapland



Commenting on the research, Claire Peate, customer insight manager from, said, “Christmas is traditionally a time of year when families get together to spend time with each other but, as our survey shows, it is also peak time for businesses to sell us Christmas experiences – from Winter Wonderlands and festive ice-skating rinks to visiting Santa ‘at home’ in Lapland.


“While as parents, we all want to our children to have a magical Christmas, the cost of Christmas presents, treats and activities can quickly mount up.  As a result, it might be wise to consider agreeing a budget for Christmas treats so that spending doesn’t get out of control.”

photo by: Trostle

Trade school days for cheaper holidays

Nearly a quarter of UK families with school age children have or are considering a holiday during school term and could save an average of £664.00 on their holiday spending



Up to 1.8 million* UK families with school age children have or are considering taking them out of school for some or all of their holiday leading to millions of missed school days for British youngsters. The new research, commissioned by, also found that on average, parents willing to take their children on holiday in term time were happy for them to miss up to 6.3 days of teaching.


The research also found that 93% of parents willing to take their children out of school feel that travel companies and airlines unfairly push up prices during the school holiday periods and 65% say they simply can’t afford to take a holiday when schools are closed.


Brit families will spend an average of £1982.00 on their annual holiday but those families taking some or all of it during term time estimate that it knocks an average of £664.00 off of the cost of their holiday.


  • British families spend an average of £1982.00 on their annual holiday
  • Families taking some or all of their holiday during school term time estimate they save an average of £664.00
  • 75% of families taking their children out of school would take the whole holiday in term time to get a better deal


Of the British families which have already booked or are considering taking some or all of their holiday during school term time:


  • 65% say they can’t afford to have a holiday during the school holiday periods
  • 73% would be happy for their children to miss 5 or more school days
  • 23% would be happy for their children to miss 10 or more school days
  • 74% ask the school’s permission to take their children out of school
  • 70% take their children out of school anyway even if the school refuses permission
  • 39% have lied to the school about their children’s absence in order to have a holiday during term time


Just 14% of parents said they only have holidays with their children during school holiday periods. In the survey, 60% of parents who would take their children on holiday in term time said that their children’s school was sympathetic to requests for term time holidays. However, 70% said that they take their children out of school regardless of the school’s decision. More than a third (39%) have lied to the school about their child or children’s absence in order to have a holiday during term time.


Plans to ban term time holidays and impose automatic fines on parents who take their children on holiday during school time were floated by the Government in February 2012 but later dropped for fear of a backlash from cost conscious parents.


Jeremy Cryer, head of travel at, commented: “It’s an unfortunate fact that the cost of holidays and flights increase substantially during school holiday periods. This leaves many parents with the difficult decision of whether to take their children out of school to take advantage of lower prices or to bite the bullet and pay the school holiday rates. With an average cost saving of over £600 it’s clear to see why many parents choose to take the saving over the schooling.


“Many parents would also argue that a child’s education should be more than just time spent in the classroom and that travel broadens a child’s horizons, gives them valuable family time and adds to their life experience. If it comes down to a choice between their children missing a few days of school or the family missing out on a holiday altogether, our research shows that millions of parents would choose to take the holiday.”


Fighting back card fraud as methods are getting trickier



Card skimming – the process of electronically copying information from a card’s magnetic stripe and putting it onto an empty card – is fast emerging as the most common form of credit card fraud globally. With the successful adoption of EMV chip and PIN credit cards and card reading devices, countries such as the UKhas recorded a major decline in card fraud in recent years.


According to a new forecast report from Timetric, credit card fraud in the UK has declined at a CAGR of 18.8 % since 2008 to value US$ 491.9 million in 2012. The main reason for this positive trend has been the introduction of EMV chip and PIN credit cards and card reading devices. Although card fraud is much higher in value terms in developed economies such as the US, the UK and France, these countries have been successful in limiting the growth of fraud by adopting advanced security measures, innovative products and strict regulations in order to prevent fraudulent activities. Emerging economies like China and Russia have lagged behind in introducing such measures and have therefore witnessed significant growth in card fraud.


Card skimming is the most common form of credit card fraud

Every year millions of dollars are lost around the world due to credit card fraud – and fraudsters are only getting more innovative and technological advanced in their hunt for credit card information. Card skimming is the most common form of credit card fraud globally, especially in countries where magnetic stripe cards are still in use. Fraudsters carry pocket skimming devices, which is a battery-operated electronic magnetic stripe reader that can be used to swipe customer’s cards to steal information encoded in it. Skimming devices can also be fitted into the swiping area of POS terminals and ATMs. Since cardholders normally feel safe in such payment situations and do not suspect any malicious activity to happen, skimming can be very difficult to trace. According to Timetric’s new report on trends and issues in managing credit risk cycle, the adoption of EMV chip and PIN credit cards has proven successful in preventing card fraud in the UK and other European countries.


China records largest growth in card fraud

Among the developed markets, the value of card fraud was highest in the US, growing at a CAGR of 2.9% to value US$3.55 billion in 2012. Among the emerging markets, the value of card fraud in China increased at a staggering CAGR of 36.3% to value US$173.3 million in 2012. China was followed by Brazil with a card fraud value of US$150.3 million in 2012 while, in terms of growth, Russia gained the second spot with a CAGR of 28.2%.


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Timetric’s report, ‘2020 Foresight: Best Practices in Managing Credit Risk Cycle’ was published on the 29th April 2013

US Investors Not Investing Enough Internationally

U.S. investors said they have just 11% on average of their income producing assets invested internationally.  As measured against investors from 12 other countries surveyed by Legg Mason, the U.S. investor has the least amount invested internationally.

According to the survey, 64% of U.S. investors said that “global uncertainty” was their major barrier to international investing for income, followed by “too much risk” (50%), “currency risk” (45%) and “not enough transparency” (44%).

That said, fully 60% of all U.S. investors said they would be open to considering international for equities and 53% said for fixed income; while 34% of investors who are investing internationally said they were focusing more on international opportunities compared to five years ago.

Where would they invest?

Per the survey findings, U.S. investors inclined to consider international markets are most likely to look for equity or fixed income opportunities in the United Kingdom and Japan, followed by Europe (excluding UK), Brazil, China, and other Emerging Market countries.  They are least likely to consider Russia.