Do you remember Allo Allo's Officer Crabtree's, "Good moaning, I represent the British Air Farce"?

With him malapropisms (misused and confused words) were comedy; with financial terms it can be tragedy.

But do you know your ISA from your elbow? Try my quick 'Do you know the difference between?' quiz.

  • "Secured" and "Unsecured" loans?

    While secured sounds better, it's not. It's actually your lender who gets security, not you, as the debt's secured on your home. So if you can't repay, it can take your house. Where possible always go for unsecured (see the Cheapest Loans guide).

  • "No Notice" and "Instant Access" savings?
  • Both are easy-access savings types, but with instant access you can get cash on demand (ie. make ATM withdrawals or get cash out from branches there and then).

    With no-notice you needn't warn of withdrawals but they're internet, phone or postal accounts, so in practice it takes a few days to actually get the cash (see the Top Savings Account guide).

  • "0% Deals" and "Interest Free Period" on credit cards?
  • The appallingly, confusing phrase "interest-free period" used on credit card summary boxes doesn't refer to short term 0% spending or balance transfer deals. Instead it's a 55-day "interest free period", which means you've that long after making a purchase to clear the card to avoid interest.

    If it says no "interest-free period", you're charged even if you repay in full (see the Balance Transfers guide).

  • "Life Assurance" and "Life Insurance"?
  • You insure against something that may happen. You assure something that will happen... and death is assured. Yet as some policies only pay out if you die within a set time limit, so these may be called life insurance (see the Cheap Life Insurance guide).

  • "Megabytes (MB)" and "Megabits (Mbit or Mb)"?

    Both measure amounts of data. An MB is used for things like memory stick storage capacity (and means just over one million bytes of information) while Mbits measure data transfer speeds, for example for broadband.

    For nerds an Mb is 1/8th the size of an MB, so an 8 Mb per second (Mbps) connection, at top speed, would download 1MB of data per second (see the Cheap Broadband guide).

Further reading/Key links

Don't be financially confused: Cheapest Loans, Top Savings Accounts, Balance Transfers, Cheap Life Insurance, Cheap Broadband

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Financial malapropisms