Bean is being acquired by BGL Group

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Today we’re excited to announce a new chapter in Bean’s story, and a new chapter for the story of the future of personal finance.


Subject to regulatory approval, Bean is being acquired by BGL Group, a leading digital distributor of insurance and household financial services, and owner of brands including comparethemarket.com and life insurance provider Beagle Street.


We started Bean over 2 years ago with a simple vision to help people sleep safe in the confidence that they aren’t wasting their hard earned cash. More than £600 millions of pounds of tracked spending later, Bean is used by everyone from families saving a bit of extra cash for their next holiday to students trying to get a grip on their spending for the first time. We’ve ‘bean’ humbled and excited to see the number of use cases for Bean across the country, and we build the product each day proudly knowing we’re helping people save money.


What Happens Next

We’re excited about partnering with BGL Group because we both share a philosophy of empowering people to take control of their finances in a simple way, so they can enjoy their lives. As part of BGL Group, Bean will be able to leverage investments in R&D that will enhance the product in meaningful ways, as well as leverage Bean’s technology across BGL to help make life simpler for consumers in more ways.


In short: once the deal is approved, you can expect Bean to become even more awesome and useful than it is today. We’re as committed to our original vision as we were on launch day but we now have more firepower to fulfil that mission.


Thank you to all the Bean users out there who have helped make Bean what it is today. Without you, we’d all still be stuck with piles of paperwork everywhere. We hope you are as excited as we are about our journey ahead.

How to cancel your UK political party membership

As with most things, it is harder to cancel a political party membership than it is to set one up, but if you really want to do it, this is everything that you need to know.

 

Bean is here to stop you wasting your money on things that you don’t want or use. Now that the election is over, a number of our users have decided to cancel their political party memberships and donations. However, information and advice around how to cancel a political party membership has proven to be more elusive than most services and subscription plans.

How do political party donations work?

UK political parties are allowed to accept donations from individuals if they are considered to be a “permissible source”. To be a permissible source, you need to be registered on a UK electoral register (including bequests). There are no rules limiting the amount of money that individuals can give, as long as the donation is declared and the donor is permissible.

 

There are two ways in which individuals can provide financing to political parties. These are:

  • Membership fees; and
  • Donations.

Recurring donations are simply you handing over cash to a party; there is no binding contract. So, to cancel a regular donation, all you need to do is cancel your payment plan with your bank.

 

Memberships means that you are part of the party and bound by their terms and conditions. The benefits include being able to vote on party matters, like the party leadership. However, if you break these terms and conditions, you can be expelled by the party.

Cancelling your political party donations and memberships

After extensively reviewing the websites of all major political parties in the UK, NO party offers any guidance whatsoever in their membership section about how to legitimately cancel your membership.

Although there are numerous acts that can trigger your suspension from the party, when you delve into the detail, their rulebooks contain no specific guidance on how a member can voluntarily leave the party. 
We have poured over the websites and rulebooks of all major parties and contacted each party to create the definitive guide to getting out of a UK political party below.

How easy is it to cancel a political party donation?

The first recommended step to cancel a political party membership or regular donations is to cancel your direct debit or standing order to the party with your bank. As the majority of recurring membership payments are taken through direct debit, you are covered by the direct debit guarantee. This guarantee allows you to directly cancel any payment to your political party. This will stop the party being able to collect your money. In a similar way, if you are paying through a standing order, you should first cancel the payment directly with your bank.

 

Once you have cancelled your payment, we recommend that you contact your party directly in writing to let them know that you would like to leave and that you have cancelled your payment. This way they will stop sending you any direct communications and they will immediately remove you from their membership register.

 

When you write to your party you should provide them with your name, address and membership number.

Cancelling your political party membership

How to leave the Conservative Party

To cancel your Conservative membership, write to the party at the following address:

Conservative Campaign Headquarters, 4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9HQ.

Email: Membership@conservatives.com

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave the Labour Party

To cancel your Labour party membership, write to the party at the following address:

To submit an email form, click here.

The Labour Party, Labour Central, Kings Manor, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6PA.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave UKIP

To cancel your UKIP membership, write to the party at the following address:

UKIP, Lexdrum House, King Charles Business Park, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6UT

Email: mail@ukip.org

Alternatively, you can call: 0333 800 6800.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave the Liberal Democrats

To cancel your LibDem membership, write to the party at the following address:

Liberal Democrats, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Email form.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave the SNP

To cancel your SNP membership, write to the party at the following address:

Scottish National Party, Gordon Lamb House, 3 Jackson’s Entry, Edinburgh, EH8 8PJ, Scotland.

Email: info@snp.org

Or call membership services: 0131 525 8925.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave the Green Party

To cancel your Green Party membership, write to the party at the following address:

The Biscuit Factory, Unit 201 A Block, 100 Clements Road, London, SE16 4DG.

Email: members@greenparty.org.uk

Or call membership services: 020 3691 9400.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave Plaid Cymru Party

To cancel your Plaid Cymru Party membership, write to the party at the following address:

Plaid Cymru, Tŷ Gwynfor, Anson Court, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff, CF10 4AL.

Email: post@plaidcymru.org

Or call membership services: 029 2047 2272.

CANCEL FOR ME

 

How to leave the Democratic Unionist Party

To cancel your DUP membership, write to the party at the following address:

91 Dundela Avenue, Belfast, BT4 3BU

Email: info@mydup.com

CANCEL FOR ME

 


Looking for other areas you can cut back spending? Join Bean today and see every bill and subscription in one easy to manage place. If you find something you no longer need Bean can cancel that for you. Better deal on your bills? We’ll switch you. Bean takes the guesswork out of managing your recurring costs and helps you save, without sacrificing the things that really matter to you.

 

JOIN FOR FREE

Why 2017 is going to be a difficult financial year.

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The price of the things we buy in the UK is going up faster than how much we are paid for the first time since 2013. There are, however, some things you can do about it.

What is going on?
Are you feeling like your bank balance doesn’t stretch as far anymore, despite pay rises? It looks like we are all in for a tough year financially in 2017, according to the Bank of England. In the Bank’s latest inflation report, it has been forecasted that wages will increase by 2% on average across the UK. However, the average price of the things we buy is expected to increase by 2.8% over the same period. Even if you weren’t top of your maths class at school, you will recognise that this means that our wages will not go as far as they used to.
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Data Protection: Open Banking, GDPR & What It All Means

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If you aren’t in the tech world, it is likely that you’ve never heard of Cloud Expo, but for our tech team it’s a bit like the Ideal Home Show. There are some really cool products and services on display and it’s a great opportunity to meet new companies and exchange knowledge. I spent last Wednesday at the expo – specifically the Fintech, Finance & Banking Technology area, presented by FINTECH Circle – and I wanted to take this chance to share some of what I learned there.

In addition to checking out some great exhibitors (and their expo stand baristas!), I also had the opportunity to be part of a really interesting FINTECH Circle panel along with Peter Lancos and Sonal Rattan (CEO & CTO of Exate Technologies), discussing open banking and data protection. Led by moderator Nicolas Steiner (Digital Ecosystem Director, FINTECH Circle Innovate), we were able to touch on and debate several interesting topics at the heart of financial technology. One major point concerned how incoming initiatives, such as open banking, create both obstacles and opportunities for businesses such as Bean.

As a company at the centre of this world, we are really excited about these advancements, not only because they open new frontiers for us to create amazing products, but because they ensure everyone acts responsibly towards information, such as customer data. However, as with any step forward, there will be considerations that need to be addressed. In particular, open banking creates significant questions around data security and ownership, a highly debated topic within the industry That being said, there are already steps being taken to regulate how companies use data, such as the upcoming GDPR legislation.

What is GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation is basically an add-on to the Data Protection Act. It would bring accountability and governance to the use of personal data by corporations. If you would like to see the full list of requirements and proposed principles, check out the overview, here, but, in short, the GDPR aims to put the consumer back in control of their own personal data and who has access to it. The stringent new guidelines would see corporations fined up to 4% of global revenue for any data mistreatment and/or failing to show their active steps taken to protect their users’ information.

That focus is exactly why we at Bean support it; we agree that you should have complete confidence in how your information is being used. GDPR, along with the regulatory oversight created by Open Banking, will help ensure security will be uniformly enforced across businesses dealing with your financial data.

That being said, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch and we’ve got a way to go before we can all agree on what needs to be implemented. These initiatives are highly complex and, unfortunately, vulnerable to manipulation by large corporations (with even larger budgets) who lobby to protect their interests, rather than consumers. It may be a long road but we here at Bean will continue to put the user first and keep you in the loop regarding any developments we think will help you make informed financial decisions.

If you have a question about GDPR, data protection or anything else, get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @usebean. For more helpful information make sure to check out the rest of our blog and sign up to the waitlist at usebean.com today.

Are subscriptions turning your bank account into a leaky bucket?

A recent Citizens Advice online survey found that 84% of people did not realise they had agreed to a subscription.

These “subscription traps” can turn a spur of the moment free trial sign up into an annual liability costing consumers hundreds of pounds per year.

In the same survey, it was found that more than 16 million people had signed up to Continuous Payment Authorities (CPAs) over a 12-month period. Most of these were set up online.

CPAs differ from the more widely recognised Direct Debits in a number of ways, however, the most contentious issue for customers is that CPAs allow companies to take payments from their accounts without them being notified and giving explicit authorisation before each payment. Companies are, therefore, able to lure consumers into signing up for monthly, quarterly or yearly contracts using long winded terms and conditions statements (we even know lawyers who don’t read these!) and take payment even if users do not use their service.

A new tactic increasingly used by companies is offering discounts for annual recurring plans. These lengthy plans mean that there is an increased likeliness that a service is forgotten about and not cancelled, before the payment is renewed and paid for in advance. Sneaky, hey?

At Bean, we believe that consumers should not be tricked into signing up for lengthy and costly contracts without realising, effectively creating leaks in their bank accounts. There are a number of initiatives which can be put in place to increase consumer protection from a legislative point of view. We are excited to see what Philip Hammond announces in the Budget later today. However, in the meantime we are busy working away to create the best technological solution to enable consumers to take control of their subscriptions and plug these leaks.

About us

Bean is the UK first consumer subscription management platform. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

Why no one can afford a new house

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House prices are up again and now almost 8 in 10 families in England cannot afford a new house in the area they like to call home, according to Shelter.

To all but a few people who have been living in a hole for the past 20 years, the news that house prices are completely out of balance with what we can pay is not news.

With the UK Government planning on addressing the housing crisis by building one million new homes in the next four years. If no one can afford them, this strategy is pretty pointless.

Shelter’s research shows that this issue is no longer just confined to London and the south-east, affecting the whole of the UK, with the average price of a new home in the UK being £206,950.

We do not want to suggest that there are any simple fixes to the issues facing the housing market in the UK. However, Shelter points out in the report how badly the current system is rigged in favour of housing developers and land dealers. These companies have been put in a position where they can maximize their profits by distorting the market and maintaining the status quo.

In the same week that this report was published, other research outlined how consumers are wasting millions of pounds every year due to ineffective management of their personal finances. Only 7.7m households switched their energy contract in the past year, costing them well over £200 per year. In addition, nearly 42% of households have not switched their broadband supplier in the past five years, at a potential cost of £1,200 over the period.

About us

Bean is the first of a new breed of personal finance management tools. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

4 in 10 people haven’t switched broadband in 5 years, why this is bad

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4 in 10 people haven't switched their broadband

Fresh off the heels of Monday’s announcement that only 7.7m households switched their energy supplier last year, ISPreview.co.uk has released a survey showing that an incredible 4 out of 10 households have not switched their broadband supplier in the past FIVE years. Furthermore, only 29.8% of people have switched once and a further 15.2% have switched twice.

Without context these figures don’t mean much. However, when you consider that 29.6% of households with superfast broadband say that they are dissatisfied with their speeds, it seems that we consumers are not applying enough pressure to the broadband industry.

So, what about the money? Reviewing current broadband contracts, we can see that Origin Broadband is offering a simple broadband contract for £17.99, with no connection fee, vs Sky who will charge £36.99, plus a connection fee of £9.95, for a slower connection but free minutes from your landline. Assuming you don’t use your landline, you could save close to £240 per year if you switched. Therefore, it doesn’t take a maths whizz, thankfully, to work out that the 41.9% of households who have not switched in five years could have saved around £1,200 if they had done so.

To some (lucky!) people, £1,200 may not seem like a significant figure, but given that the news today states that nearly 8 in 10 people cannot afford to buy a new home in their local neighbourhood, there is a clear need for people to optimise their finances in this way.

About us

Bean is the first of a new breed of personal finance management tools. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

What the headlines aren’t saying about energy switching rates

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So, it’s that time of year again. Winter is almost behind us (although this week’s weather doesn’t seem to have got the memo) and we can rely on our boilers a little less.

So the question is, what damage has this cold season brought us? Unfortunately for future generations, it has been another unseasonably mild winter, so perhaps no burst pipes and very few people skidding on icy roads. However, what is going on in our pockets?

A bit of good news crept in today: a record 7.7m people have switched their energy contracts in the past year. This is the highest rate for 6 years (when doorstep energy selling/conning was still legal). On the face of it, a headline like ‘record number of people switch’ seems good but what isn’t highlighted is that actually only a third of UK households switched. That means a staggering two thirds of the UK are paying an eye watering £200 each more than they should be on their energy bills alone, largely due to the inertia created in the market. To the 16m people in the UK with less than £100 in savings, £200 cash in hand would be a vital lifeline.

Due to the consistently low energy switching rate, it seems that our government has created a market environment in which the industry can profit from inertia, therefore failing households in need of help. Having talked to hundreds of these people, we came up with Bean in order to help you track your energy and other recurring contracts, so you can keep that extra £200+ in your pocket.

The scary thing is that with energy price rises around the corner, the issue is about to get a whole lot worse for UK households… Better sign up for Bean then!

About us

Bean is the first of a new breed of personal finance management tools. By linking your bank account to Bean, we will find and track all your recurring payments including your utility bills, mobile phone contract and loans. We help highlight contracts that you no longer need such as unused gym subscriptions, online TV streaming contracts and free trials that have overrun, helping you cancel these contracts in one click. Bean will then notify you, at the right time with the right information, if you can get a better deal on any of these contracts.

The 6 biggest things you must know to boost your credit score

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What is your credit score and how to improve it

Don’t mind paying tens of thousands of pounds more than you have to over your life? Then don’t read this.

Credit scores: not fun, not sexy, definitely not easy to understand, but, they are pretty damn important. You may be struggling to care about yours right now, and I don’t blame you, but if you ever want a chance to buy a house, unfortunately they’re one of those things you can’t ignore, no matter how much you may want to, much like laundry, your boss and Donald Trump.

So, we’ve broken down the key things that you need to know.

What is a credit score?

It is essentially a measure of how likely a lender thinks you are to repay money borrowed. It predicts this based on a number of things, the main one being your previous credit payment history. People often assume that they have one, all-encompassing, credit score, but that is not the case. You are scored differently by each lender. They will, however, all look at your same credit file (compiled by credit reference agencies), in addition to any previous dealings they have had with you (and, of course, your application for whatever financial product you are approaching them for).

Why do I, or should I, care about mine?

Your credit score affects your finances in many ways.

Firstly, let’s consider loans. Your credit score can determine not only whether someone will lend you money, but at what rate. If the lender thinks you are high risk, you may be offered that loan (happy days) but well be charged a higher rate of interest (kind of takes the shine off it a bit, doesn’t it?).

Mortgages are loans (and yes, I know that you know that) and so a poor credit score could mean no mortgage and, therefore, no house. That’s pretty serious stuff! With the current economical situation putting getting a foot on the property ladder out of reach for so many anyway, don’t make things harder for yourself by letting your credit score stand in the way of that dream pad.

Want that fancy new iPhone free on contract? Well, tough; if you have a poor credit score that is. It’s sticking with Pay As You Go for you, then.

If you’re applying for a new credit card, your credit score can be important in determining not only whether you are given one, but your APR and whether you are offered any promotions.

How to improve your credit score

Phew, that is the technical stuff out the way. So, are you convinced that you should care about your credit score yet? If so, here are a few tips on how to improve it:

1. Don’t be late with payments.

I know, I know, this is obvious. However, it would be ridiculous not to include it in this list, given that it’s so very important. You may also be surprised at the consequences of just one or two late or missed payments. Setting up direct debits is the easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Plus, it requires no effort from you (always a bonus) and you can’t forget.

2. Register to vote.

If you’re not on the electoral roll, you are unlikely to be given credit. Whilst the credit reference agencies do use the full register which everyone is on, by law, the electoral roll is often also used when determining credit scores. Even if it isn’t, as lenders also use it to help check your details, not being on it could cause you delays when applying for credit.

3. Get a credit rebuild card.

If you have a poor credit history, getting credit is difficult. However, you need to start building a good recent credit history, which obviously involves getting credit, in order to improve your credit score and be offered more credit in future. Tricky. Credit rebuild cards are a good solution here, as long as you use them correctly (otherwise they are a complete nightmare, so take note). They are available for those with a poor credit history but have ridiculously high rates of APR. However, you won’t be charged interest if you never use the card to withdraw cash and pay it off in full each month. Over time, this should improve your credit score.

4. Don’t do too many applications all at once.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave all “life admin” tasks for as long as you possibly can and then try and do everything all in one go – lurching from being horribly inefficient to smugly on top of things (briefly). This is not a good idea with applications for credit as every time you apply for any kind of credit, it is noted on your file for a year. If there are too many then lenders may think you are desperate for credit, leading to rejections.

5. If you do get rejected, check your credit file before applying elsewhere.

Simply applying again leads to more searches for credit which are, again, noted on your credit file and can lead to more rejections, prompting a tedious, and damaging, cycle of applications and rejections. The lender should tell you which credit reference agency it used, so contact that one. You have the legal right to see a copy of your credit report for £2. If you find an unfair default on your file, dispute it. Failing to do so could result in continued rejections for credit. Then also check whether the other two credit agencies have the same default listed too.

6. Cancel store and credit cards you no longer use.

Lender sometimes view you having access to too much available credit as a problem, even if you are not using it. However, if you have any long-term bank accounts which you haven’t defaulted on, these can be good for your credit score (I did say in the intro that credit scores aren’t easy to understand…), so maybe keep a couple of those open, but not too many. It’s a tricky balancing act, as with most things in life!