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


Updated on 01 October 2020 | 10 Comments

As interest rates continue to fall across savings accounts, we look at what’s now on offer with the top accounts.

The Bank of England's decision to slash interest rates to a record low and the economic fallout of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer savers desperate to earn a decent return on their cash.

Earlier this year, there were a handful of banks and building societies willing to pay you up to 5% on your cash, but they have disappeared.

Nationwide’s decision to significantly slash the generous 5% interest rate on its current account to just 2% a few months ago was particularly noteworthy, but in truth rates have been tumbling across the board.

The only crumb of comfort for savers is that, with inflation at a five-year low of just 0.2%, it is at least possible to keep ahead of the rising cost of living – for now at least. 

Here, we round-up the best savings rates available today. Be warned: it makes for painful reading.

Savings made simple: the best savings platforms

Current accounts: earn up to 2.02%

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

As we mentioned earlier, rates of 5% were available at the start of the year. Now, Virgin Money offers the best rate of just 2.02%, which is available on the first £1,000 held in the account.

It’s worth stressing that this rate is variable, so it can be changed at any time.

Nationwide’s FlexDirect account offers 2% (down from 5%) 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.

TSB's Classic Plus account currently pays 1.5% on balances on up to £1,500 but any credit interest is being removed from 2 December – so we think it’s not worth considering.

Best fixed-rate savings

If you're willing to lock your money away for a while, Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME) offers a rate of 1.6% on its five-year bond.

That's right, the best fixed-rate on the market today is just 1.6%. Just five months ago, you could at least have locked into a 2% rate.

Note that the BLME product is offered by a Shariah-compliant bank, which means it pays 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.

If you want a more traditional account, Hodge Bank offers 1.51% on its five-year bond.

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 an even lower rate).

Gatehouse Bank currently offers the best one-year fixed rate on the market, with an expected profit rate of 1.26%; you'll need a minimum deposit of £1,000.

Not interested in a Shariah-compliant bank? Atom Bank offers a rate of 1.18%.

Gatehouse Bank also offers the best two-year fixed rate, with an expected profit rate of 1.36%; the minimum deposit is £1,000.

Alternatively, Hodge Bank and Kent Reliance both offer 1.25% on their two-year fixed-rate bonds, but you’ll need to deposit at least £1,000.

Instant access savings: get up to 1.1%

In April, the top easy access account offered 1.31%, but this has now fallen to 1.05%.

You can get that rate at Coventry Building Society via its Double Access Saver, but it’s arguably not an easy access account as you can only make two withdrawals a year before you are hit with charges. 

Cynergy Bank’s Online Easy Access account offers 1% (including a 0.55% bonus for 12 months), but you have to be an existing customer.

NS&I’s Direct Saver offers the same rate (1%) but this will be cut significantly to 0.15% from 24 November, so this account isn’t worth considering.

Alternatively, Yorkshire Building Society offers a rate of 0.95% and unlimited withdrawals, but you’ll need a minimum balance of £10,000 – otherwise you’ll get a lower rate of interest.

Notice accounts: get up to 1.1%

Similar to other savings accounts, notice accounts have suffered rate cuts as the top rate available is now 1.1%, down from 1.6% in April.

Both Aldermore and BLME offer that rate, but you’ll need £1,000 to open an account with either and up to 90 days (with BLME) or 120 days (with Aldermore) to access your money.

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

Cash ISAs: earn up to 1.4%

While the Personal Savings Allowance has effectively made all savings accounts tax-free, you should still consider using your tax-free ISA allowance (which is £20,000 for 2020/21).

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 available from Cynergy Bank offering 1%. You’ll need £1 to open the account.

This is lower than the top rate (1.21%) available in April.

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

The best one-year deal can be found with Gatehouse Bank, which offers 1.03%, a sharp drop from the top rate available (1.35%) on offer earlier this year.

Surprisingly, the top rate for five-year Cash ISAs hasn’t changed at 1.40% (since April), although you can now get this with UBL and Hodge Bank, instead of Paragon Bank. 

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).

Account

Type

Interest rate

Minimum deposit

Virgin Money

Current account

2.02% on up to £1,000

N/A

BLME

Seven-year fixed-rate bond

1.6%*

£1,000

BLME

Five-year fixed-rate bond

1.6%*

£1,000

BLME

Three-year fixed-rate bond

1.45%*

£1,000

Gatehouse Bank

Two-year fixed-rate bond

1.36%*

 £1,000

Gatehouse Bank

One-year fixed-rate bond

1.26%*

£1,000

Coventry Building Society

Instant access account**

1.05%

£1

Cynergy Bank

Easy access Cash ISA

1%

£1

UBL

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

1.4%

£2,000

Hodge Bank

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

1.4%

£1,000

Gatehouse Bank

Three-year fixed-rate ISA

1.12%*

£1,000

BLME

90-day notice account

1.1%*

£1,000

Aldermore

120-day notice account

1.1%

£1,000

 Gatehouse Bank

Two-year fixed-rate ISA

1.08%*

£1,000

Gatehouse Bank

One-year fixed rate ISA

1.03%*

£1,000

NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland

Regular savings account***

3.04% AER (variable)

Can save between £1 and £50, on balances of up to £1,000

*Anticipated profit rate (read more here)
**Restricted to two free withdrawals per year
***Must have a linked current account

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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