I'm starting college, so who will give me the best loan?

Credit unions look like your best bet for a long-term sizeable loan, depending on what rate your local one offers. Bill Tyson.

If you're lucky enough to live in Mountmellick, for example, student loans are available from 4.1%. The average is 6.2% — or around two thirds of bank rates. However, you have to have savings on deposit, which does effectively bump up the cost of credit.

For overdrafts and short-term finance, AIB and BoI come in to their own.

AIB has a €1,000 interest-free over draft on its student account – potentially rising to €1,500 in years three and four.

BoI has a 1% loan over 12 months for travel and living expenses, where payments can be deferred for up to three months.

Students in the final three years of medicine, dentistry, veterinary, pharmacy, accountancy, science (IT & Telecoms) and engineering (non-civil) are also eligible for a BoI preferred faculty loan' at 0%–which says a lot about the earning prospects in these professions!

And there's also a BoI post-graduate loan at 5.6% APR.

Our mortgage protection cover is up for renewal next month. It seems a bit pricey. Where can we find the best rates?

You're right to look into this. Almost half of people never shop around for mortgage protection insurance and some people may even assume they have to stick with whatever deal was arranged by their lender.

Yet the average non-smoking Irish household can save €190 annually by switching – with smokers potentially saving twice as much (because they pay so much more to begin with), according to comparison site Bonkers.ie

The best deals are found online through broker sites that can forego commission and charges if they get enough business to get special deals from insurers.

Bonkers.ie recently launched a service that claims to find the cheapest quote and cut extra charges and commission.

There's also a team of financial advisers to provide guidance.

Elsewhere on the site, you can compare and switch life insurance and serious illness cover (see bonkers.ie/compare-insurance)

You previously wrote about how to calculate the depreciation on a Renault Megane. Does this apply to all cars?

The Automobile Association reckons you lose around 40% of a car’s value in year one. ‘This varies a lot, though, and the best may lose as little as 10% (depending on the car); it says.

‘If you do 10,000 miles a year, the average car will have lost around 60% of its value by the end of its third year’.

The AA recommends buying a nearly new car instead of a new one to minimise depreciation. Even better value is a reliable three-to-five-year-old car with low mileage.

If you go for one much older than that, depreciation will be minimal but the risk of shelling out for pricey repair bills rises.


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