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

Savings rates are slowly improving, so it could be worth finding a new home for your cash if you haven't looked for a few months.

It's no secret that savings rates are rubbish, having been that way for much of the last decade.

While recent Base Rate hikes have breathed some life into the savings market, even the best rates still fall pitifully short of inflation.

The official CPI measure sits at an eye-watering 9%, which is a 40-year high.

Switching your cash is still worthwhile

But even though it's currently impossible to earn a rate on your savings that can keep pace with the rising cost of living, that doesn't mean you shouldn't even bother trying to find the best home for your savings.

Switching to an account paying, say, 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.

We'll start with current accounts and regular savers, which tend to offer by far the best rate.

The catch is they're only available on small sums of money (usually under £2,500), so if you're looking for a home for a larger pot then scroll straight to the section on 'best fixed-rate savings'. 

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

Regular savers: up to 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 easy access account and filter some money into a regular saver (or savers) each month.

So, what rates can you get? Cambridge Building Society currently has a regular saver that pays 5% and allows a decent £250 monthly contribution.

The trouble is you need to have been a member of the society for at least three years to qualify. If you’ve been a member for at least a year, then you can still bag a 3% rate.

Elsewhere, first direct offers a regular saver account that pays existing customers 3.5% interest and allows you to deposit up to £300 a month. If you aren't a first direct current account customer, it could be worth switching as you can also snag a £150 welcome bonus.

RBS and NatWest offer a digital saver account that pays existing customers up to 3.30% interest for a year (depending on your account balance). The maximum amount you can deposit each month is capped at £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 to earn a maximum of £11 interest.

The best regular savings account we could find that truly is open to everyone comes from Saffron Building Society, which offers 2% interest for a year, but the monthly contribution is capped at £50.

Savings made simple: the best savings platforms

Current accounts: earn up to 2.02%

Over the last few years, the biggest savings cuts have been seen in the current account market.

While a host of banks used to pay 5% on your savings, the best you can currently get is 2.02% from Virgin Money, and even that is only available on the first £1,000 in your account.

You will at least get 20,000 Virgin Points when you switch and access to a linked savings account paying 1% on balances of up to £25,000 and 0.5% on any additional savings.

While 1% isn't terrible, it's worth stressing there are numerous access accounts paying a more generous rate that don't drop after £25,000, which we'll cover further down in this article.

Elsewhere, 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 also need to pay in at least £1,000 a month.

All in all, the fact that rates have been slashed so significantly in recent years means you're having to put in a lot of effort for limited reward.

While switching banks has certainly gotten easier, it's still more of a faff than opening a savings account. And it could hurt your credit rating, too. 

Consider this: out of the two most 'generous' accounts we discussed above, the most interest you could earn over a year is £30 by holding the maximum-allowed £1,500 in the Nationwide FlexDirect account. 

If you held the same amount in the best instant access savings account that's open to all and allows unlimited deposits and withdrawals, you'd have earned a little over £17.

Switching banks to bag an extra £13 probably won't appeal to most readers.

That's why, given the state of the current account market, it's probably only worth doing if the bank in question also throws in a generous welcome bonus.

Handily, Nationwide is offering £125 to new customers at the time of publishing, which certainly makes the switching process more rewarding.

Read our roundup of the best bank accounts for switching bonuses

Best fixed-rate savings

While still miles off inflation, we have seen signs of life being breathed back into the fixed-rate savings market in recent months. 

Back in January, the best rate available on a five-year fix was 2.18%.

Now, Tandem Bank is paying 2.85% interest on its five-year fixed-term account and you only need £1 to open an account.

Hodge Bank offers the second-best rate at 2.83% with its five-year fixed-rate account.

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).

The best one-year fixed rate account is from Shariah-compliant bank Al Rayan, which offers an expected profit rate of 2.27%, but you’ll need a minimum deposit of £5,000.

Alternatively, Tandem Bank and Secure Trust Bank offer a 2.26% rate with their 12-month fixed-rate accounts.

You’ll need £1 to open the fixed rate account with Tandem or a minimum deposit of £1,000 for the account with Secure Trust Bank.

If you opt for a longer term of two years, the top rate is 2.75% with Market Harborough Building Society, although there's a hefty minimum deposit of £10,000.

Alternatively, you can get an expected profit rate of 2.70% with Al Rayan Bank (minimum deposit £5,000) or a 2.62% rate with Vanquis (£1,000).

Best easy/instant access savings

The best rates on easy access savings have improved markedly over the last few months.

The best rate in January was just 0.7%, but Chase offers double that at 1.5% on balances of up to £250,000. Sadly, you'll need to open a current account with the bank to qualify (you can read our review here to see if you're interested).

Alternatively, Atom Bank and Aldermore offer 1.25% with their easy access accounts but Atom’s account limits you to two withdrawals a year and you need to deposit at least £1,000.

If you want a true instant access account - one that you can open from just £1 and make unlimited withdrawals - your best bet is Ford Money's Flexible Saver, which pays a rate of 1.15%. 

Notice accounts: get up to 1.65%

Notice accounts are effectively a halfway house between fixed and access accounts. 

You'll need to wait a few months before accessing your funds, but the rates are slightly more generous than those offering instant withdrawals.  

The top-paying notice account currently comes from Oxbury Bank and delivers a rate of 1.65%. However, you will need to provide a pretty significant 180 days of notice.

The account can be opened with £1,000.

If you want to give 120 days’ notice, then the best rate is 1.60% from OakNorth, which has a minimum deposit of £1.

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

Cash ISAs: earn up to 2.20%

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 2022/23).

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 today is 1.15% paid by Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Saga – you’ll only need £1 to open either account.

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 in to a fixed-rate deal.

Unfortunately, in the current savings environment, fixed Cash ISAs offer returns that are only a little higher than an easy access ISA and require you to lock your money away for a while.

The best one-year fixed rate ISA comes from Aldermore, with a rate of 1.65%, while over two years you can get a rate of 2.11% from Castle Trust Bank.

Lock your money away for five years and you can get a 2.20% rate from Furness Building Society, Secure Trust Bank and UBL.

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).

Provider

Type

Interest rate

Minimum/maximum deposit

Cambridge Building Society

Regular Saver (members only)* 

5%

£100, can save up to £250 per month for a year

 Virgin Money

Current account

2.02% on up to £1,000

N/A

Tandem Bank

Five-year fixed-rate bond

2.85%

£1

Al Rayan Bank

Three-year fixed-rate bond

2.80%**

£5,000

Market Harborough Building Society

Two-year fixed-rate bond

2.75%

£10,000

Al Rayan Bank

One-year fixed-rate bond

2.27%**

£5,000

Furness Building Society

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

2.20%

£1,000

Secure Trust Bank

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

2.20%

£1,000

UBL

Five-year fixed-rate ISA

2.20%

£2,000

Castle Trust Bank

Three-year fixed rate ISA

2.21%

£1,000

Castle Trust Bank

Two-year fixed-rate ISA

2.11%

£1,000

Aldermore

One-year fixed-rate ISA

1.65%

£1,000

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Easy access Cash ISA

1.15%

£1

Saga

Easy access Cash ISA

1.15%

£1

Oxbury Bank

180-day notice account

1.65%

£1,000

Chase

Easy access account

1.5%***

N/A

 *Must have been a member for at least three years
**Islamic finance provider so delivers anticipated profit rate rather than paying interest (read more here)
***You’ll need to open a current account with Chase to gain access to its easy access account.

What's clear from the above is that if you want a better return on your money in the longer term, you'll likely be better off looking beyond traditional savings accounts.

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

Open a Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks & Shares ISA today and enjoy tax-free investing with a household name

*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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