Day-to-day Finances

Bankers are just like anybody else, except richer. Mervyn King

Current accounts are central to managing your money on a day-to-day basis. They were once the exclusive preserve of the banks. But since the Building Societies Act 1986 opened the way for building societies to offer many new services, the distinction between banks and building societies has become increasingly blurred, especially in the area of personal banking. What you might expect from a current account is also changing: standard services include not just the usual cheque book, cash card, standing order and direct debit. There are new electronic services as well, including home banking and new ways to pay in shops.

What's on offer is widely promoted. Less clear sometimes are the potential costs involved in using some of these services, and the rights and obligations of you, the customer, and of the bank or building society. This Section looks at the main problem areas and tells you how to avoid or mitigate their effects.

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Trading Checks

Where from? Trading check companies.

How they work A trading check is a document with a value normally between £4 and £60 which can be exchanged for goods in specified shops. Each purchase is deducted from the value of the check. `Vouchers' are similar to trading checks but may be valued up to £1000 and can usually be used only to make specific, more expensive purchases in specified shops.

Trading checks are delivered to the borrower by an agent who then calls each week to collect repayments. These are fixed at the outset and are usually spread over a period of... see: Trading Checks

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