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  • 16/08/2021 | Savings News

    We've launched our online, fixed-rate e-Saver accounts

    We're delighted to announce that we've launched our first savings account to the general public - our 2 year online Fixed Rate e-Saver Account.

    We're delighted to announce that we've launched our first savings account to the general public - our 2 year online Fixed Rate e-Saver Account.

    We've been providing customers with a safe home for their money for almost a decade, and having made savings accounts available to existing customers from the end of 2020, we're now making our online e-Saver accounts available to existing and new customers alike. New customers can apply for the 2 year Fixed Rate e-Saver through our website at www.castletrust.co.uk/savings, whilst existing customers can also apply through their Self Service Portal account, or via the bank’s mobile app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play. New customers are required to open a Self Service Portal account as part of the application process, which provides them with a quick and convenient way to manage their money online.

    We expect to extend our range of online fixed rate savings accounts, to include ISAs, over the next few months.

    Read more
  • 18/05/2021 | Group News

    Our latest financial statements - September 2020

    Castle Trust has published its latest financial statement, as at 30 September 2020.

    Castle Trust has published its latest financial statement, as at 30 September 2020. The full detail of the statement can be found in the FY 30 Sept 2020 CTH Financial Statements and you can download a copy of the following summary of Castle Trust Bank's Financial Strength.

    The financial year ending September 2020 was a pivotal year for Castle Trust as we achieved our ambition to become a bank. Converting all our investment accounts into savings accounts was a key step on this journey, with an overwhelming majority of these customers voting in favour of the proposals. The PRA and FCA granted our full banking licence on 15 June 2020.

    The Group is strongly capitalised with total equity of £79.2 million, total assets of £742.1 million and liquid assets of £153.8million . In the financial year to September 2020, Castle Trust Bank made a profit before tax of £0.8m. Castle Trust Bank now has an even stronger platform to offer a greater range of services to both our savers and our borrowers. We are a provider of savings, mortgage and consumer lending products, employing over 200 people across our offices in Basingstoke and London. Our principal shareholder is the leading private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co., which currently manages circa $6 billion in assets.

    Savings
    As at 30 September 2020, our c20,000 customers held just under £650 million of fixed term, fixed rate savings with us. Existing customers have been able to save into new accounts since November 2020.

    Lending
    As at 30 September 2020, Castle Trust Bank’s total property finance loan book stood at over £450 million. The introduction of the TermTen product which combines fixed rates and refinance options, and the Bridge to Let option which combines a bridging loan and TermTen into a single arrangement have proved very successful within the market.

    Retail Finance
    Working with over 1,500 retailers and 160,000 customers, as at 30 September 2020 the retail finance loan book for Omni Capital Retail Finance (‘Omni’) stood at over £115m.

     

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  • 01/02/2021 | Group News

    Castle Trust Bank recruits new Sales Director

    Castle Trust Bank has recruited Robert Oliver to become the specialist lender’s new Sales Director.

    Castle Trust Bank has recruited Robert Oliver to become the specialist lender’s new Sales Director.

    Robert has more than 20 years’ experience in intermediary lending, having previously held roles with Northern Rock, Virgin Money, Capital Home Loans and most recently with Together, where he was Head of Intermediary Relationships.

    Castle Trust Bank offers bridging loans and term finance for a variety of investments, including holiday lets, HMOs, portfolio loans and property refurbishment. It also has a popular Bridge to Let proposition and a specialist development finance offering.

    Barry Searle, Managing Director of Mortgages at Castle Trust Bank, said: “I’m really pleased to welcome Robert as our new Sales Director. He has extensive experience in intermediary lending, and is well known in the industry. He has an important role to play in making our specialist Buy to Let and Bridge to Let loans, and development finance proposition available to even more intermediaries, through our growing distribution network.”

    Robert Oliver, Sales Director at Castle Trust Bank, said: “What a great time to be joining Castle Trust Bank. In the last year I’ve read a huge amount about the certainty it’s able to deliver to brokers, with BDMs providing instant terms on term loans up to £500k and the Bridge to Let proposition providing a guaranteed exit route. These features are going to be in high demand in 2021, and I am excited to now have the chance to lead the team that is taking them out into the market.”

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  • 25/01/2021 | Group News

    Castle Trust Bank recruits new CTOO

    Castle Trust Bank has recruited Nick Bennett as its new Chief Technology & Operations Officer (CTOO).

    Castle Trust Bank has recruited Nick Bennett as its new Chief Technology & Operations Officer (CTOO).

    Nick has more than 15 years’ experience in technology and banking, having worked at Tandem Bank for the last three years and Santander for 11 years previous to that. He has led strategic organisational and transformational programmes and has a wide range of knowledge and experience in leading technology, change and operations in the financial banking sector.

    He will join Castle Trust Bank on 29 March to lead the bank’s strategy and continuing investment and focus on technology, digitalisation and change. In the last year, Castle Trust Bank has supported its specialist Buy to Let and Bridging proposition with enhanced broker portal features, including full online case management, secure message and automatic certification of uploaded documents. Nick will lead the delivery of new developments to the bank’s property lending platform, savings offering and point of sale business, Omni Capital Retail Finance.

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer at Castle Trust Bank, said: “At Castle Trust Bank, we have already launched a market leading savings app enabling savers to manage their money through the latest face and fingerprint recognition technology and Nick will play a key role in continuing the digital transformation of our business. This will include further developing our savings technology, delivering new point of sale finance products to our network of over 1500 retailers, and building on the success of our Bridge to Let proposition to increase our lending through our growing network of intermediaries.”

    Nick Bennett added: “I’m delighted to be joining Castle Trust Bank at such an exciting time for the business, following the receipt of its banking licence. I can’t wait to start working with the team to build on the amazing work they’ve already done and deliver on the next stage of Castle Trust Bank’s digital transformation.”

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  • 19/06/2020 | Group News

    Castle Trust rebrands as Castle Trust Bank

    Following the receipt of a full banking licence and the successful conversion of all of its existing investments into savings accounts, Castle Trust is pleased to launch its new brand identity.

    Following the receipt of a full banking licence and the successful conversion of all of its existing investments into savings accounts, Castle Trust is pleased to launch its new brand identity.

    The firm will now operate as ‘Castle Trust Bank’, with a new logo and revamped website to showcase the new offering.

    The company will initially offer savings products to existing customers reinvesting maturing funds and expects to launch new savings products for new customers in late July.  The existing specialist property lending and Omni Capital Retail Finance arms will continue to offer the same services, with enhanced offerings to come later this year. The business expects to grow its specialist lending arm significantly as the market emerges from Covid19, working with brokers to respond to borrower needs and reaching more brokers through clubs and networks.  There are also plans to expand the Omni Capital Retail Finance offering later in the year.

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer said: “This was a natural next step for us.  Castle Trust has come a long way since the company was founded, growing to serve 200,000 borrowers and savers so we already benefit from a loyal customer base, who have indicated that they would like to do more business with us as we enhance our product range.  As we step into the banking world, it seemed fitting that our brand would evolve to reflect that change too. Becoming ‘Castle Trust Bank’ sets out our stall as a fixture within the banking industry and gives us a platform from which to launch our new propositions.“

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  • 15/06/2020 | Group News

    Castle Trust granted full banking licence

    Following a period of authorisation with restrictions, Castle Trust Capital plc (Castle Trust) has been granted full authorisation as a bank by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    Following a period of authorisation with restrictions, Castle Trust Capital plc (Castle Trust) has been granted full authorisation as a bank by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    After being authorised with restrictions in March 2020, Castle Trust undertook extensive testing of its new savings system and asked its customers to vote on proposals to convert their existing investments into bank deposits. Castle Trust’s customers voted in favour with an overwhelming majority and the conversion will take place later this month.

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer said: “Being granted a full banking licence signals the start of the next phase of Castle Trust’s growth.  Our first priority is to convert our 30,000 existing investment accounts into savings accounts, after which we look forward to launching our exciting new range of savings products in late July.

    “The full banking licence opens up many new opportunities for the business, which we expect to benefit our specialist property finance and retail finance offerings. We already have 200,000 customers and look forward to helping even more in the future. 

    “We’ll be revealing details of our enhanced specialist property lending proposition shortly, which will build upon our existing offering to meet the needs of Buy to Let landlords and High Net Worth Individuals.  Our new status enables us to work with a wider range of property brokers. 

    “The banking licence also offers great potential for growth within Omni Capital Retail Finance, which will help more retailers and small & medium sized businesses to provide their products and services to more consumers.”

    Tim Hanford, Managing Director of J.C. Flowers & Co., Castle Trust’s majority shareholder said “Castle Trust’s achievement of a full banking licence is the culmination of a great deal of work over an extended period of time. The licence is the endorsement of the quality of this business at many levels. We have a terrific board and an exceptional team of people who deliver innovative products to our customers supported by a technologically advanced infrastructure with robust processes and controls. We look forward to continuing to be part of Castle Trust’s development and success, and remain excited by the opportunities for a nimble competitor in the UK banking market.”


    Following full authorisation on Monday 15 June 2020, all existing investments were converted into savings accounts at 7am on Monday 22 June 2020. This is known as the 'Effective Time'. as required under the scheme documents, this is a notification to all scheme creditors that the Effective Time has now occurred. All customers will receive a letter by the end of June confirming their investments have been converted.

     

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  • 21/03/2020 | Group News

    Castle Trust receives banking licence and appoints new Chair

    Following its application for a banking licence at the end of 2019, Castle Trust Capital plc (Castle Trust) was advised on 20 March 2020 that its application for a banking licence has been successful and has been approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    Following its application for a banking licence at the end of 2019, Castle Trust Capital plc (Castle Trust) was advised on 20 March 2020 that its application for a banking licence has been successful and has been approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    Castle Trust is now authorised with restrictions as a bank and enters into a mobilisation period.  During this period it will be required to undertake a number of actions (including the ‘Friends and Family’ testing of its new savings system) which have been agreed with the PRA and the FCA and are aimed at protecting both Castle Trust and its customers. Castle Trust is well advanced with the process and is aiming to apply for the restrictions on its deposit taking to be lifted in time for it to start to take deposits from the public later this Summer. Castle Trust has also now commenced three Schemes of Arrangement pursuant to which it intends to convert its existing Fortress Bond and Housa customers into deposit holders following the lifting of its restrictions.

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer said: “The granting of authorisation with restrictions marks an important moment in Castle Trust’s story.   

    “Our customers are at the heart of our drive to become a bank.  We already have 200,000 customers and by making the transition, we expect to be able to extend an enhanced offering to both them and future customers for whom we’ll be the bank of choice.”

    Tim Hanford, Managing Director of J.C. Flowers & Co. Europe, Castle Trust’s majority shareholder said “We have seen Castle Trust develop from its inception in 2012, building its customer base and product propositions to the point where a banking licence became the obvious next step.  The company’s strong performance and robust management have been demonstrated throughout, establishing a strong foundation for continuing its success as Castle Trust Bank.”

     

    The company also announced the appointment of Richard Pym CBE as Chair.  Richard is an experienced financial services Chair, whose most recent role was with AIB Group plc, where he chaired the company through the initial public offering in 2017 and led the board through the recovery from financial crisis.

    Richard said: “I’m delighted to join Castle Trust.  The company is growing at pace and the granting of authorisation with restrictions heralds the start of great opportunities for the business to flourish.”

    Speaking of Richard’s appointment, Martin Bischoff said: “Opportunities to recruit someone of Richard’s calibre are rare.  His extensive experience as Chair of some of our most recognised financial institutions makes him the ideal person to lead Castle Trust into the banking world and we are thrilled that he has agreed to join us.”

    Tim Hanford praised Richard’s appointment: “At J.C. Flowers & Co. we have known Richard for many years and have always admired his leadership. I am confident that Richard is an excellent complement to the Castle Trust management team and I look forward to working with Richard to deliver the business’ plan and continuing its success as a bank.”

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  • 21/03/2020 | Group News

    Castle Trust makes key new appointments

    Castle Trust has appointed two new Non-Executive Directors.

    To support the next stage of its development as it becomes a bank, Castle Trust Capital plc (Castle Trust) has appointed two new independent Non-Executive Directors, one of whom will take up the role of Audit Committee Chair.

    The new Senior Independent Director and Chair of the Audit Committee has been confirmed as Eric Anstee FCA.  Eric has extensive experience across the financial services industry and has chaired Audit Committees for the likes of OneSavings Bank plc, Sun Life Financial of Canada Limited and Paypoint plc.

    Eric said “Castle Trust’s credentials are very strong with a proven track record.  I look forward to being part of the business as it goes through such a significant period of development.”

    Richard Pym, Castle Trust’s Chair added: “Eric brings a wealth of Audit Committee experience to the role and was a natural choice.  We’re confident that the Committee is in safe hands with Eric as Chair.”

    The firm has also appointed Melba Montague as Non-Executive Director. Melba, the European Banking and Financial Markets leader at IBM Global Business Services, brings a wealth of financial technological experience to help drive Castle Trust’s change agenda.

    Speaking of her new role, Melba said: “The company has big plans and being part of the team taking Castle Trust through the launch process and into the next phase of its development is particularly exciting.”

    Richard Pym also welcomed the appointment: “As a recognised leader in the world of IT, Melba brings a unique set of skills to the Castle Trust board.  Her expertise within the technology field will support our drive to optimise our customer journeys.” 

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer said of the appointments: “This is a pivotal moment in Castle Trust’s story and making such prestigious appointments really sets the direction of travel into the banking world. 

    “This is an exciting time for the business and with such solid support, I look forward to seeing Castle Trust become a leading force within the banking community.”

    Tim Hanford, Managing Director of J.C. Flowers & Co. Europe, Castle Trust’s majority shareholder said “We are pleased to welcome these new directors to the Castle Trust board.  With the support of such high calibre members and their respective skills and experience, we are confident that Castle Trust will continue to develop as a successful specialist bank providing an array of sophisticated financial products to its customers.”

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  • 24/02/2020 | Savings News

    What is ATOL protection and how can it help me protect my holiday?

    How can you best secure your flight bookings and stop money being lost in unforeseen circumstances? We discuss how ATOL protection can protect your holiday money.

    If you are booking a holiday in the near future, or already have a trip planned, it is a good idea to check how you’re protected if the worst should happen to the airline or tour operator you have booked with.

    What is ATOL protection?
    The Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) offers you protection when you’re booking holiday travel via air with UK companies. All UK tour operators and travel agents selling flights are vetted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to ensure that businesses providing travel are not at risk of failure.

    These companies are also required to pay into the CAA financial guarantee scheme. This means that money is provided to cover customers, should an airline or tour operator go under. Though this might mean that the cost of your holiday is higher when booked with a travel agent, you are ensuring that you have additional holiday protection should things go awry.

    What does ATOL protection cover?
    If your holiday is affected by airline or tour operator insolvency, ATOL protection may be able to help.

    ATOL protection covers flights booked within a package holiday offered by a travel agent. There is also ATOL protection for individual flights booked through most tour operators; you can check the status of the tour operator by looking for the ATOL logo on their website and checking the CAA database.

    Check the ATOL details of your travel company using CAA’s ATOL Holder Search facility.

    If the airline you have booked a flight with fails, the travel operator you have booked a flight through must arrange for you to get home via another flight. They must also cover any costs of extra accommodation needed as a result.

    If you have a flight booked for a holiday that has not yet occurred, your tour operator should offer you a full refund on your holiday or offer you the chance to rebook.

    If the tour operator fails, the CAA will refund you for your planned trip, or book you a flight home if you’re already on your holiday.

    It is worth speaking to the tour operator you are booking with about their particular policy.

    What if I’ve booked with the airline directly?
    If you book a flight only directly with an airline, you are not covered by ATOL. You will also not get ATOL protection if you only book accommodation with a travel company.

    Many airlines are now operating sister companies, such as British Airways Holidays or EasyJet Holidays, that sell package holidays including flights and hotels. The finer details will differ from company to company but generally speaking, they are package holidays so will therefore be covered, and you will receive an ATOL certificate at the point of payment. There are some quirks to this, such as if you book a flight or hotel in separate transactions, so it’s worth enquiring with the holiday company to know the protection afforded to your booking.

    How can I check if my holiday booking has ATOL protection?
    When booking a holiday, you should check any brochures or websites for the ATOL logo and corresponding licence number.

    When booking through a travel agent, you should ask if your entire holiday is covered by ATOL, and to see the ATOL number.

    You should also be provided with an ATOL Certificate by the travel company you’ve booked with. This is the case even if you have only paid for a deposit.

    You can also check the names of any travel firms you’re using on the CAA website.

    Check if your travel company is covered by ATOL protection

    What else can I do to protect my holiday when booking flights?
    Whether you decide to make your own independent holiday without booking flights through an agent, or would just like to know there is further protection for any money spent, there are ways to protect your holiday investment.

    1. If you paid over £100 for a flight with a credit card
      You are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you have paid over £100 for a flight on a credit card, as this ensures the card company is liable if your flight is cancelled because the airline goes under. You can claim your money back under this rule, but only if you booked directly with the airline.
    2. If you paid less than £100 for a flight, or didn’t use a credit card
      You may still be able to claim money back if you spent less than £100 on a flight or paid by debit card. Your card provider may offer you a repayment through the chargeback scheme, though this is provider-specific and not a legal requirement.
    3. Book through an organisation with other protections in place
      Travel associations, such as ABTA or the Travel Trust Association, provide financial protection for any bookings made through their member companies. This includes holiday bookings that do not include flights. You can verify members of their organisations on their websites.
    4. Take out travel insurance
      It is sensible to take out travel insurance to cover any holiday expenditures that may be at risk. However, it would be prudent to check the small print, as some insurance providers do not cover any costs associated with airline insolvency.

    Find out more about how to book your holiday and keep your money safe with Money Saving Expert

    Read more
  • 04/09/2019 | Group News

    Castle Trust invited to apply for a banking licence

    Castle Trust has been working closely with the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority on our banking licence application, which we submitted in early September 2019.

    September 2019

    In April 2018 we announced our intention to become a bank. Since then, we have been working closely with both UK regulators, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, on our banking licence application. We were recently invited to submit our application, which we did this week.

    This is a natural next step in Castle Trust’s journey that started when we were founded in 2012 with a simple mission: to help both investors and borrowers achieve their financial goals. Becoming a bank is an exciting milestone but it won’t change our focus on doing what’s right for our customers. In fact, it means we’ll be able to offer a broader range of products in the future.

    This stage of the rigorous application process is expected to take until spring next year. There is nothing existing customers need to do now and we’ll keep customers updated on a regular basis.

    Speaking about the application, Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer said:

    “Being invited to apply for a banking licence by the UK regulators is testament to the strength of the careful planning and preparations we have put in place. Castle Trust has always been proud of being different, and now we’re in the process of becoming a different kind of bank. We’re very excited about the opportunities that come with a banking licence to better help our customers achieve their financial goals.”

    You can find more information about our banking application on our Q&A page.

    Read more
  • 21/06/2019 | Savings News

    How to avoid falling victim to bank transfer fraud

    With banks being asked to do more to protect customers from bank transfer scams, we take a look at some common tactics fraudsters use and how to avoid them.

    A bank transfer scam, also known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam, is when money is transferred from your bank account to a fraudster. It could be due to a payment that you sent in good faith or money that was taken without your knowledge. There were over 84,000 cases of bank transfer fraud last year in the UK, with around £228m stolen from individuals.

    What are banks doing to protect their customers?
    Until now banks were not always able to reimburse customers if they had fallen victim to an APP scam, but from 28 May 2019 a new voluntary scheme came into force. More victims of fraud will be reimbursed, but both banks and customers have to take certain steps to stop fraud happening in the first place. For example, your bank must give you information to help you keep your money safe, and you have to do all you can to be sure the person or organisation you are paying is genuine.

    Most UK banks have signed up to the scheme, but not all of them.

    Find out if your bank has signed up

    How you can protect yourself against bank transfer fraud
    Most people assume they would never fall for an APP scam, but scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. Techniques they use include:

    • Telling you you’ve been a victim of fraud to make you panic and gain your trust.
    • Knowing some personal information about you, such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name.
    • Giving a time limit or a deadline within which you need to take action.

    Can you spot fraud? Try the Take Five test

    5 tips for avoiding falling victim to bank transfer fraud:
    1. Never call a number you don’t recognise
    Your bank will never ask you to call a number you don’t recognise. If you receive an email or text supposedly from your bank, call them from the number on their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.

    The same goes for answering calls from numbers you don’t recognise. However, criminals can now disguise their numbers to look like genuine phone numbers, so be aware of that tactic too.

    2. Don’t give out any personal details
    Your bank will never contact you to ask for any personal information such as your password or your PIN.

    3. Don’t click on any unknown links
    Avoid clicking on unknown links or opening unknown files. The same goes for pop-up windows in your internet browser.

    4. Check if a website is genuine
    To check if a website is real, look for a padlock sign next to the website address. If the site weblink starts with “https” this means the site is secure and protects customer details using encryption.

    5. Don’t be rushed into transferring money
    If someone tries to rush or panic you, alarm bells should ring immediately – a genuine organisation would never rush you to make a decision. Do not transfer any money at this stage. If need be, make an excuse such as your doorbell ringing and use this time to gather your thoughts.

    What to do if you think you may have been scammed
    If you think you may have been scammed, let your bank know immediately so they can try to stop the transfer. Criminals rely on you feeling too embarrassed to tell anyone you were duped, but that’s better than losing money to bank transfer fraud.

    More information from Which? on what to do if you’re a victim of a bank transfer (APP) scam

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  • 17/05/2019 | Savings News

    7 tips to cut the cost of holiday cash

    With the promise of sunnier climates on the horizon, we look at the best ways you can make the most of your holiday money this summer.

    According to The Telegraph, UK travellers spend a whopping £1.3bn a year on fees when taking out money abroad. With some careful planning, you could make your holiday cash stretch a little bit further. Here's how:

    1. Check the cost of using your cards abroad
    Be careful of using the same cards as you would do at home. They may be ideal for day-to-day in the UK, but they may have costly fees attached to them when used abroad. Check before you travel and if they do, you may wish to look into alternative cards that are more travel-friendly when it comes to fees.

    2. Be mindful of using your credit card to take out cash abroad
    You may want to be careful of doing this in the UK too, unless there’s an emergency. You’ll be charged interest straight away, on top of all the other fees. Keep an eye out for:

    • ‘Foreign exchange commission’ or 'foreign loading fee' of up to 2.99% of the sum spent, which is applied every time the card is used abroad
    • A cash withdrawal fee of approximately 3% (or minimum £3) when you take money out of a cash machine, as well as the foreign exchange and interest charges
    • Interest charges from the moment cash is withdrawn on the card, often at rates of up to 30% APR – even if the card balance is paid off in full before the end of the month.

    3. Be careful about taking out more than you need
    It may be worth budgeting for what you’ll need and trying to stick to that amount. According to YourMoney.com, the average UK holidaymaker comes home with £70-worth of foreign currency. Often this money is left in a drawer and inevitably forgotten about until it becomes unusable. 

    4. Think about getting currency before you leave – or use a card that doesn’t charge for using it abroad
    Most debit cards will charge you for using a cash machine overseas. They typically deduct up to 3% of what you take out or charge a minimum fee of £2 . Some cards also bolt on an extra flat fee, which can be up to £1.50 for every transaction. 

    All of these small costs seem minimal on their own but will swiftly add up. The best way to get around this is to find a card that doesn’t charge you for using it abroad.

    5. Don’t leave it until the last minute
    Unfortunately, convenience often comes at a price and this is usually the case with airport currency exchanges. Shopping around for the best deal before you go can broaden your options for getting the best rate for your currency. However, if you enjoy the ease of picking up your cash before you fly, you could look to order your cash in advance and then pick it up at the terminal. This may help you mitigate poor rates while still enjoying the convenience.

    All major sellers offer the option of pre-booking your currency for collection at the terminal, in return for a much more favourable exchange. But it’s always worth shopping around for the best rates, and that often isn’t at the airport.

    6. Tell your bank and credit card companies that you’re going away
    Once you’ve decided on which cards you’re using, make sure you’ll be able to use them while abroad. Let your debit or credit card provider know where you’ll be and for how long. That not only means they shouldn’t block your card while you’re away, but they’ll also know to quickly flag its use elsewhere if it’s cloned or otherwise.

    7. Consider paying in local currency – not pounds
    By paying in pounds, you’re converting from the local currency into pounds using the vendor’s exchange rate – which is often more favourable to them, rather than you. We’ve covered this in more detail in a previous article you can read here.

    Read more
  • 19/03/2019 | Group News

    New Managing Director for Omni Capital Retail Finance

    On 18th March 2019, Castle Trust announced a new appointment within Omni Capital Retail Finance.

    Castle Trust Capital plc is pleased to announce the appointment of Ronnie Denholm as Managing Director of Omni Capital Retail Finance, its point of sale finance division.

    Following the acquisition of Omni Capital Retail Finance in 2016, Castle Trust has restructured the operations of the business and has ambitious plans for progress.

    Ronnie is an experienced financial services leader and joins the business from Barclays Bank Plc, where he held various Managing Director roles across the business, including most recently Barclays Partner Finance, one of the UK’s largest point of sale finance companies.  Prior to joining Barclays, Ronnie held several senior leadership roles across the American Express group, with a strong growth record across each of the business areas he led.

    Martin Bischoff, Chief Executive Officer of the Castle Trust Group said: “Opportunities to work with someone of Ronnie’s calibre are rare, so we are privileged to have him on board.  As he’s demonstrated in the past, he is a very capable pair of hands to lead the business as it looks to grow.   We have big ambitions for Omni Capital Retail Finance, which Ronnie is integral to helping us achieve.”

    Speaking of his appointment, Ronnie said: “I am delighted to join Omni Capital Retail Finance.  The company has undergone a lot of changes recently and the prospect of leading the next phase of the company’s growth is an exciting challenge.  I look forward to working together with the team to consolidate the business’ position within the market and expand its operations further. “

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  • 19/10/2018 | Savings News

    Protect yourself against identity theft

    We cover how to spot suspicious activity and ways to stay safe online
    Icons_QuestionWhat is identity theft? 

    Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about someone’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to enable them to commit identity fraud. Identity theft can take place whether the fraud victim is alive, or deceased.

    If you’re a victim of identity theft, it can lead to fraud that can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could also make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved.

    What is identity fraud?
    Identity fraud is the use of a stolen identity for criminal activity, such as to obtain goods or services by deception. Fraudsters could use your identity details to:

    • Open bank accounts
    • Obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits
    • Order goods in your name
    • Take over your existing accounts
    • Take out mobile phone contracts
    • Obtain genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.

    You may not become aware that you have been a victim of identity fraud until you receive bills or invoices for things you haven’t ordered, or if you receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.

    What is phishing
    Fraudsters may try to trick you into revealing personal information by pretending to be from a legitimate source – this is known as ‘phishing’. A phishing scam usually begins with an email (perhaps with a link to a fake website, or with a form attached), a text, or an unexpected call which looks or sounds like it’s from a genuine business. The email or website might even have all the right logos or fonts on it. The scam might ask for personal details like usernames, passwords, PINs, or even ask directly for your bank account details. Alternatively, you may be encouraged to open a document attached to an email, which could in fact infect your computer with a virus.

    Often, the approach is made under the premise of conducting routine maintenance, or to update your security details. A more dramatic approach (designed to frighten you into taking action) can be to tell you that you have already been the victim of fraud, and that the details are required to confirm that you are who you say you are, and to stop any further fraud taking place.

    How can I spot a possible phishing scam?
    Phishing isn’t always easy to identify, but there are a number of clues to look out for, for example:

    • Poor spelling or grammar – scams often originate overseas, where the scammers have weak English language skills
    • Non-personal address – the scammer probably doesn’t know you by name, so they might address you as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or similar, or something less formal such as ‘Dear Friend’
    • Unexpected email – try to think whether there is a good reason for this business to be contacting you
    • Suspicious email address – some of the email addresses used in such scams clearly raise suspicion, because they look like a personal email address. Others, however, can look like they are from a genuine organisation, but there may be clues to indicate that isn’t the case – perhaps a letter may be out of place, or a section of the email address (perhaps after the ‘@’ symbol) looks inappropriate
    • The website address that a link takes you to – check that it appears to be genuine, isn’t unusually long, or has letters substituted by numbers (for example, a 3 instead of an E, or a 4 instead of an A)
    • Requests to act quickly – you’ll often be urged to take action immediately, perhaps on the premise that your account will otherwise be suspended, or to prevent any further fraud taking place against you (a double-bluff).

    What should I do if I suspect a scam?
    If you have any reason to suspect whether the contact is genuine – even if it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right – proceed with caution.

    Phone calls
    • Don’t disclose any personal or financial details to the person on the phone
    • Don’t tell them any password or login details
    • Don’t reveal your PIN number, or any of the numbers on your credit or debit card
    • Tell the caller that you will contact their organisation directly instead, and hang up. Don’t be afraid to be authoritative
    • Wait a few minutes, and check that you have a dialling tone before you call any Helplines (sometimes the fraudulent caller may remain on the line).
    Emails
    • Don’t reply to the email
    • Don’t open any attachments
    • Don’t click any links in the message
    • Don’t phone any numbers or visit any website address included in the message
    • Delete the email from your Inbox, then delete it from your Deleted Items folder (sometimes called Trash).
    Texts
    • Don’t reply to the text
    • Don’t click on any links in the message
    • Don’t phone any numbers or visit any website address included in the message
    • Delete the text.

    What should I do next?
    If the contact claims to be from an organisation that you already have a financial relationship with, check previous correspondence you have received from them (a bank or credit card statement, for example), or look up their website address via a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, to find a genuine Helpline telephone number. Call their Helpline, explain the contact you have received and ask them if it is genuine or not; they may be able to help you immediately, or may need to put you through to their fraud department to confirm whether the contact was genuine or not.

    If you do not have a financial relationship with the organisation that has contacted you, there is more reason to be suspicious. Search for their website via a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, and contact their Helpline number.

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    You can download this information in our Protect Yourself Against Fraud guide.

    Read more
  • 10/10/2018 | Savings News

    Should you pay in the local currency, or Sterling when using cards on holiday?

    This handy tip could make your holiday money go that little bit further.

    If you're making a payment abroad using a credit or debit card, you may be asked whether you want to pay in the local currency, or in Sterling. This might seem an innocent enough question, but beware because a nasty sting in the tail awaits those who ask to pay in Sterling.

    Typically you are better off opting to pay in the local currency, rather than converting to Sterling as you make the purchase. If you pay using the local currency, the transaction will then be converted into Sterling at the Mastercard, Visa or Amex own rate. This rate is set daily by Mastercard, Visa or Amex and is linked to the interbank rate, which is a wholesale price agreed between banks. Your card provider will then typically add their own profit margin – usually between 2.75% to 2.99% and the total cost will appear on your statement in Sterling.

    Should you elect, however, to pay Sterling at the point of purchase, a service known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) may be employed which allows the merchant – that is the shop, bar or restaurant – to set their own exchange rate rather than using the Mastercard or Visa official rate. Surveys have shown that this can typically add around a 7% fee; Cash machines seem to be the biggest culprits, with the conversion having been shown to add up to 18% of the cost of the cash withdrawal if you choose to be billed in Sterling, and not the local currency. If you consider how much you may spend on your card during a typical holiday this huge cost can add up to a big, nasty surprise when you open your statement the following month – so beware, and if not offered the opportunity to pay in the local currency, you should ask for it.

    Small differences in the interest rates you are being charged, or the interest rates your savings are earning, can add up. If you want to make the most of your money and you’re interested in fixed-term, fixed rate investments you’ll find more information about Castle Trust’s Fortress Bonds by viewing our Investments Information page.

    For more information on how to make the most of your holiday money, we've covered 7 tips to cut the cost of holiday cash.

    Jeremy Stevens
    Investment Marketing Team

    Read more

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