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The best instant-access savings rates

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Last updated on

29 June 2015

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18 Comments

Instant-access accounts mean you can get your hands on your money easily, but many rely on big bonuses to boost the initial rate of interest. Here are the top ones right now.

It’s hard to know where to put your savings to get the best return on your money at the moment.

Savers have been suffering from the effects of the record-low base rate for a few years now, but locking up your cash to get a decent rate is not a sacrifice many are willing to make with such an uncertain economy.

The trusty instant-access savings account could be your best bet if you need your cash in a hurry and have reached your Cash ISA limit (currently set at £15,240).

But even rates on these accounts have been falling in recent times, due in part to the Government's Funding for Lending scheme meaning banks and building societies are less dependent on raising cash by attracting savers.

So it's worth looking at the whole of the savings market before you open an account as you could get a higher rate in a fixed-rate savings account – if you're happy with having your money locked away.

With an instant-access savings account, you can add to your savings pot and (usually) withdraw the money at any time. Because of this flexibility banks typically offer lower rates compared to fixed-rate accounts, but you still get a better return than if you did nothing.

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Bonuses

When it comes to instant access saving, you can either go for an account with a bonus, which boosts your interest rate (usually for about a year), or opt for a gimmick-free account with no bonus, just an upfront interest rate.

The bonus rate makes the advertised offer look that little bit juicier. But as soon as the period is up banks will dump you onto a far less attractive rate.

It's not a problem if you are happy to shop around and switch accounts regularly but if you can't be bothered, then an instant-access savings account with no bonus is a better option.

Top instant access accounts with a bonus

Account

Interest rate (gross AER)

Minimum deposit

Withdrawal limits

Bonus

BM Online Extra 

1.50%

£1,000

None

Rate includes 1.00% bonus fixed for first 12 months.

Tesco Bank Internet Saver

1.35%

£1

None

Rate includes 0.60% bonus fixed for first 12 months.

Saga Telephone Saver*

1.35%

£1,000

None

Rate includes a 0.85% bonus fixed for 12 months.

AA Internet Extra 

1.25%

£1,000

None

Rate includes 0.75% bonus for the first 12 months.

Post Office Online Saver Issue 14

1.20%

£1

None

Rate includes 0.55% bonus fixed for first 12 months

*Available to savers aged 50 or over.

So there are no accounts that come close to breaking through the 2% mark; in fact, they all pay well below this threshold.

That said, all of these rates will beat inflation (the Consumer Prices Index stands at 0.1% currently) whether you’re a basic rate taxpayer or if you pay the higher rate.

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Top instant access accounts without a bonus

Account

Interest rate (gross AER)

Minimum deposit

Notes

RCI Bank Freedom Savings Account

1.50%

£100

Online

Kent Reliance Branch Easy Access Savings

1.45%

£1,000

Branch based

Virgin Money Defined Access E-Saver

1.41%

£1

Online

The West Brom Limited Access Saver

1.40%

£1

Branch based. Six penalty-free withdrawals a year

GE Capital Direct Saver 

1.30%

£500

Opened and operated online. Maximum investment of £250,000.

The main benefit of opening an account without a bonus is knowing that 12 months down the line you're unlikely to see your interest rate plummet. However, your interest rate could be cut anyway as they are variable, so make sure you keep an eye on your account.

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Current account alternatives

At the moment some of the best rates on easy access savings can actually be found in a current account.

The TSB Classic Plus Current Account is paying a market-leading 5% on balances up to £2,000.

The Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account also pays 5% but on account balances between £1 and £2,500. However, you should bear in mind that the rate on this account drops to 1% after 12 months.

Elsewhere Lloyds Bank offers the Club Lloyds Current Account which pays 4% on balance between £4,000 and £5,000. While the Bank of Scotland Classic Account with Vantage pays 3% on balances between £3,000 and £5,000.

There’s 3% AER on balances up to £3,000 with the Tesco Current Account

You can also get 2% on balances up to £3,000 with the Clydesdale Bank or Yorkshire Bank Current Account Direct. What's more, these accounts pay a £150 welcome bonus.

For larger pots the Santander 123 Current Account pays 3% in-credit interest on balances between £3,000 and £20,000.

This article is regularly updated to reflect the latest rates.

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More on savings:

The UK's best Cash ISAs

The top fixed rate savings bonds

The best regular savings accounts

Where to earn most interest on your cash

 

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