Top savings accounts: where to find the best rates for your cash


Updated on 12 October 2021 | 10 Comments

Savings rates have recently improved so it could be worth finding a new home for your savings. We reveal the best places for your cash – but be warned you probably won't be able to beat inflation.

It's no secret that savings rates are pretty awful.

They've been that way for much of the last decade thanks to the Bank of England keeping the Base Rate of interest near record lows since the financial crisis hit.

The situation is just about bearable when inflation is also low, but that's no longer the case with the CPI measure of inflation currently at 3.2%.

That's the highest it's been since 2012 and analysts are warning it could remain above its 2% target well into 2022.  

No open-to-all savings can currently match inflation

With the best savings account that's open to everyone paying around 2%, that means it's currently impossible for everyone to earn a rate on their savings that can keep pace with the rising cost of living. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't even bother trying to find the best home for your savings: switching to an account paying 2% is far more rewarding than the 0.1% you'll be offered by most High Street banks, after all.

So let's look at the best rates currently available, starting with regular savings accounts. 

Please note the top accounts we're going to cover in this section are only available to customers of those banks and building societies. We thought they were worth mentioning in case any readers happen to be one, but for most, they won't be an option. 

Willing to take on some risk? You could earn far better returns by investing your money (capital at risk).

Regular savers: up to 3.5% (if you're a member)

Regular savings accounts are generally best for new savers as they don't allow you to deposit a lump sum up-front: instead, you make regular monthly contributions and the money is returned to you with interest after one year.

However, if the rates are generous enough (and you are eligible) then they can also work for savers with a pot already built up. All you do is put your funds in the best-paying access account and filter money into the regular saver each month.

So what rates can you get? Skipton Building Society currently has a regular saver that pays an inflation-beating 3.5% and allows a fairly generous £250 monthly contribution.

The reason we didn't make mention of it earlier is that it's only available to existing Skipton members who joined before August 16, so it'll be out of reach for the vast majority of savers.

Elsewhere, RBS and NatWest offer a Digital saver that pays existing customers 3.04% interest for a year, but the maximum amount you can deposit each month is capped at just £50.

If you aren't a customer you could theoretically open a current account with one of the banks to qualify, but that seems like a lot of effort given the absolute maximum interest you could earn over a year is under £10. 

The best regular savings account we could find that truly is open to everyone comes from Coventry Building Society, but the 1.05% rate is pretty uninspiring and you'll probably be better off with one of the other options below.

Savings made simple: the best savings platforms

Current accounts: earn up to 2.02%

Perhaps the biggest savings cuts have been seen in the current account market, which has long been a popular option for savers with small pots of money.

At the start of last year, there were a number of accounts paying a whopping 5%, but now Virgin Money offers the best rate of just 2.02%, and even that is only available on the first £1,000 held in the account.

It’s worth stressing that, like most current accounts, the rate is variable so it can be changed at any time.

Nationwide’s FlexDirect account offers 2% on the first £1,500 in your account, with the rate falling to 0.25% after 12 months. To qualify, you'll need to pay in at least £1,000 a month.

Best fixed-rate savings

Fixed-rate savings accounts have improved in recent months, but the rates are still pretty miserly.

Back in April, the best rate out there on a five-year savings account was just 1.3%, but you can now earn 2% from the likes of Recognise Bank.

You’ll need to deposit at least £1,000 to open an account.

JN Bank offers the second-highest rate of 1.95% on its five-year bond (minimum deposit is £1,000.) You can make up to 11 deposits of at least £1,000 within 14 days of account opening.

Of course, five years is a long time to not have access to your funds, so you might want to consider a shorter fixed-rate deal (which will sadly come with a lower rate).

Gatehouse Bank currently offers the best one-year fixed rate on the market, with an expected profit rate of 1.51% (up from a top rate of 0.65% in April); you'll need a minimum deposit of £1,000.

Al Rayan Bank offers the second-best one-year fixed rate, with an expected profit rate of 1.45%; the minimum deposit is £5,000.

Note that these bonds are offered by Shariah-compliant banks, which means they pay an expected profit rate rather than a guaranteed savings rate.

That said, such firms have an excellent track record when paying interest, and your savings are still covered by the FSCS, which protects funds up to £85,000.

Alternatively, Allica Bank offers 1.4% on its one-year fixed-rate bond, but you’ll need to deposit at least £10,000.

If you’re interested in a two-year fixed rate bond, Al Rayan Bank offers 1.76% expected profit rate (minimum deposit £5,000), while Gatehouse Bank offers an expected rate of 1.75% with a £1,000 deposit.

Want a more traditional account? Allica Bank offers 1.75% but you’ll need to deposit at least £10,000.

Best instant-access savings: earn up to 0.65%

In April, the top rate for a traditional easy access account was 0.4% (down from 1.31% in April 2020).

The best rate is now 0.65% from Coventry Building Society, but you can only take your money out up to four times a year without charge.

If you want unlimited withdrawals, Marcus, Saga and Cynergy Bank offer this alongside a slightly lower rate 0.6%.

Notice accounts: get up to 1.06%

The best notice account rate at the time of writing is 1.06% (up from 0.6% in April) with OakNorth Bank.

You’ll only need £1 to open this account but you’ll need to give 120 days’ notice to access your money.

Alternatively, you can get a rate of 1.05% with Allica Bank and you have to give 95 days’ notice, but you’ll have to put £10,000 into the account.

Manage all your savings in one place with the Raisin UK savings platform

Cash ISAs: earn up to 1.51%

While the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) has effectively made all savings accounts tax-free, you should still consider using your tax-free ISA allowance (which is £20,000 for 2021/22).

That’s because any money you put into an ISA will stay tax-free long term, even if the interest you earn grows beyond the PSA limits.

With the PSA, any interest you earn beyond the £1,000/£500 limit is taxed at your marginal rate.

The best rate on an easy access Cash ISA is now 0.6% with Cynergy Bank, Marcus and Leeds Building Society.

While this is better than 0.4% available earlier this year, it’s still much lower than the best rate of 1.21% back in April 2020.

You’ll only need £1 to open an account with Cynergy Bank and Marcus, but you’ll need £1,000 to open an account with Leeds Building Society.

Savers are normally only allowed to open one Cash ISA account per tax year, which usually means having to choose between the flexibility of an easy access deal and a better rate by locking into a fixed-rate deal.

Unfortunately, in the current savings environment, fixed Cash ISAs offer returns that aren’t much higher than an easy access ISA – unless you lock your money away for longer.

The best one-year deal can be found with Castle Trust Bank, which offers 0.9% (up from 0.45% in April).

The top rate for five-year Cash ISAs is 1.51% with UBL UK. While this is better than the 1.1% rate available in April, it’s still lower compared to last year.

Where to earn the most interest on your cash

Here's a table with all the top deals for you to compare at a glance.

The account you go for will probably be determined by the amount you have to save and whether you want instant access to your money.

Please note that we've only included the highest-paying account from each category (i.e., five-year bond, instant access ISA).

< align="center" td style="width:160px;">Skipton Building Society

Bank

Type

Interest rate

Minimum/maximum  deposit

Skipton BS Regular savings account (members only)*** 3.5% AER (variable) Can save up to £250 a month for a year

Virgin Money

Current account

2.02% on up to £1,000

N/A

Recognise Bank

Five-year fixed-rate bond

2%

£1,000

Al Rayan Bank

Three-year fixed-rate bond

1.81%*

£5,000

Al Rayan Bank

Two-year fixed-rate bond

1.76%*

 £5,000

Gatehouse Bank

One-year fixed-rate bond

1.51%*

£1,000

Coventry Building Society

Instant access account

0.65%**

£1

Cynergy Bank

Easy access Cash ISA

0.6%

£1

Marcus

Easy access Cash ISA

0.6%

£1

Leeds Building Society

Easy access Cash ISA

0.6%

£1,000

UBL UK

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

1.51%

£2,000

UBL UK

Three-year fixed-rate ISA

1.21%

£2,000

OakNorth Bank

120-day notice account

1.06%

£1

Castle Trust Bank

Two-year fixed-rate ISA

1.1%

£1,000

Close Brothers Savings

Two-year fixed-rate ISA

1.1%

£10,000

Castle Trust Bank

One-year fixed rate ISA

0.9%

£1,000

*Anticipated profit rate (read more here)

**You get up to four withdrawals a year without charge.
*** You must be an existing Skipton member who joined on or before 16 August 2021.

What's clear though is that if you want a better return on your money in the longer term, you're better off looking beyond traditional savings accounts right now.

If you are willing to take on some risk for potentially better returns, you could consider investing in the stock market (capital at risk).

Rates are correct at the time of publication; this article is regularly updated.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

 

 

 

 

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