Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Top Savings Accounts

3% easy access, up to 3.1% fixed

In a world of rock-bottom interest rates, you need to make sure you put your money into the right type of savings account with the best possible rate. Yet there are several different types, and bizarrely, the best savings rates are now on current accounts.

This guide will take you through the maze to find the most profitable home for your cash – and keep it safe.

10 need-to-knows before you pick a savings account

A savings account is just a place to dunk cash to earn interest, and save for the future. But don't just go for the headline screaming the highest rate without first examining how it works and what the alternatives are.

  • If you've costly debts, pay them off before saving

    If the interest cost of your debt is more than you'd earn on savings (after tax is deducted) you're better off paying down the debt. If you've £1,000 on a credit card at 20% it costs £200 a year, assuming a constant balance. In savings at 2% after tax, you'd earn £20 a year so you'd be £180 a year better off repaying the card. Much more info in Should I Repay Debts With Savings?

    Quick Questions

    What if I have a 0% card or a really low rate?

    Shouldn't I have an emergency fund?

  • If you've got a mortgage, check if you should overpay it before saving

    This is the same principle as above: if the mortgage rate is higher than the savings rate after tax, and you can spare the cash, overpaying is a solid financial decision. However, there are possible complications, such as penalties for paying too much...

    Quick Questions

    Will I always be allowed to overpay and is there a limit?

    If I overpay my mortgage can I access that extra cash again?

  • Have you used your 2015/16 ISA allowance yet? It allows you to save without paying tax on interest

    A cash ISA is simply a savings account where you don't pay tax on the interest. Anyone aged 16 or over can put up to £15,240 into their cash ISA during the current tax year, with the threshold rising each April in line with inflation.

    So the first place for taxpayers to put a lump sum is often an ISA as you're likely to earn a bigger return than a standard account, and the interest is tax-free. However, as some bank accounts and regular savings deals beat ISAs, it is not always so simple. See the Starting Saving guide for full info.

    Following on from the 2015 Budget, you may have read that you'll be getting a new personal savings allowance, which allows you to earn £1,000 in interest before paying tax if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer, and £500 if you pay higher-rate tax.

    However, this allowance isn’t available until April 2016, so it’s still important to use the cash ISA in the meantime so you don’t pay tax on interest. And after that, there’s still many people who’ll still benefit from saving in ISAs.

    Quick Questions

    Why should I still save in an ISA if I won’t pay any tax on interest?

    Isn't my money locked away in an ISA? (That's a common myth – it's not)

  • Are you willing to switch bank account? You can boost savings rates

    Surprisingly, some banks’ current accounts pay a higher rate of interest than their savings accounts – these are currently the top rates available, other than specialised exceptions. You’ll often need to switch bank account to take advantage, and pass a credit check. For a selection, see our top pick bank account section below, or for a full range of accounts, see the Best Bank Accounts guide.

    Quick Question

    You said to put cash into an ISA, now you're telling me a bank account's best. Which is it?

  • Can you put money aside each month? Consider a regular saver

    This is a specific product for putting £10-£500 in every month (maximum deposits vary by account). If you want to save more, combine a few. The main advantage is they tend to pay much higher rates of interest than standard deals. For more details and best buys, see the full Regular Savings Accounts guide.

  • Can you lock the cash away? Fixed savings give a (slightly) better return

    You may want to consider getting a fixed rate savings account where the amount you earn is set in stone over a fixed time period. However, you can't usually access the cash during that time, and even if you can, the penalties can be large.

    Usually fixed rates are higher than easy access, so they can be good deals. However, if normal savings rates were to increase during that time, you'd be unable to ditch and switch to a better payer. See the full top fixed rate savings section.

    If you're 65+, Government-backed Pensioner Bonds are available, with a 2.8% AER rate for one year, 4% AER for three years, smashing standard fixed savings. Full info, pros & cons in the Pensioner Bonds guide.

  • Up to £85,000 in savings per person is safe in UK-regulated accounts

    Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have had to stress this so clearly. No bank had collapsed in 100 years, but then the credit crunch and global market turmoil hit. After the calamities that hit Northern Rock, RBS, the Lloyds group, Bradford & Bingley, Icesave and Kaupthing, every sensible saver should ask: "Is my money safe?"

    Provided the money is in a UK-regulated bank or building society, it's protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for up to £85,000 per person. Read more in the Are My Savings Safe? guide.

    Quick Questions

    What counts as UK-regulated?

  • You pay tax at the same rate on savings as you pay on what you earn

    Unless your combined earnings and savings interest are under the £10,600 personal allowance (it's higher for over-65s, see the Income Tax Checker), you'll pay tax on your savings interest (apart from cash ISAs and a limited number of other products).

    Interest rates are usually quoted before tax, so basic rate taxpayers need to take 20% off the rate; for higher rate taxpayers it's 40% and for additional rate taxpayers 45%.

  • Ditch and switch after introductory 'bonus' rates end

    These are temporary interest boosts to attract new customers. They're actually a good thing for many, as they effectively act as a minimum rate guarantee during the introductory period, promising you at least some interest.

    But it is vital to diarise the end date and switch as soon as the bonus ends, so you don't languish on a rubbish rate. Always know your account's exact name and the rate it pays as some try to flog you a similarly named deal at bonus-end.

  • In a couple? Put savings in the name of the partner who pays less tax

    If one of you pays a lower rate of tax than the other, it's financially worth considering whose name you save in (but ONLY if you trust them). Put it in the lower rate taxpayer's name and you'll get more interest. There's nothing stopping married couples or civil partners moving money between them.

    If you're not married, there's no tax on giving your partner a 'gift' – though once the money goes across, be aware it becomes their cash, not yours. The only extra issue here would be inheritance tax. If the person who gave the cash dies within seven years the surviving partner may be charged tax.

    Plus, if you're on a low income (under £15,600), including any interest you earn from savings, you can now register to get all savings interest paid gross - that is, the bank won't take tax off before paying it to you. For more information, read our quick tax-free savings briefing.

Best BuysCurrent Account Savings

You used to need to avoid leaving cash languishing in a current account like the plague, such were the pitiful interest rates, but with some accounts, it's a different story. With savings rates so low, and current account providers desperate to seduce new customers, the top rates are in current accounts. But you often need to fully switch to get these rates, which means moving direct debits and standing orders.

Banks offer these as 'loss leaders', which means they throw money at you to get your current account business, after which they'll try to cross-sell you insurance and mortgages, where they make their big profits. But there's no obligation, just ignore the hard sell and max the current account interest.

Important info: Below, are our top picks. But there are alternative bank accounts that pay decent interest, see our Best Bank Accounts guide for them.

Santander

Earn 3% on up to £20,000

£2/mth fee, but cashback more than covers it for most
SANTANDER 123*

If you can save £3,000-£20,000, the Santander 123* current account smashes virtually all other savings accounts out of the water. There’s also up to 3% cashback on household bills. There are catches: you have to set up or switch direct debits and there’s a £2/mth fee. But used right, you could make more than £550 a year in interest before tax, even with the fee, and another £115 in cashback.

Need-to-knows
  • You get 3% AER interest if you’ve £3,000 to £20,000, 2% if you’ve £2,000-£2,999 and 1% if you’ve £1,000-£1,999 (nothing below £1k). You get that rate on your entire balance.

  • You must pay in £500/mth within a month of your statement date to get interest and cashback.

  • You can earn 3% cashback on landline, mobile, internet & TV bills; 2% on energy; and 1% on water bills, council tax & Santander mortgages, provided you pay them by direct debit.

  • You need at least two direct debits paid each statement month to get interest and cashback.

  • You can open two accounts, allowing savings of £40,000 at 3%, but the second must be a joint account. The same pay-in and direct debit rules apply to that account.

  • You’ll need to pass a credit check to get this account.

  • Santander shares its £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with Cahoot
SUMMARY:

Rate (paid on full balance): 3% AER variable if you've £3k-£20k; 2% AER variable on £2k-£2,999.99; 1% AER variable if you've £1k-£1,999.99; 0% under £1k | Fee: £2/mth | Min deposit: £500/mth to get the interest (within a month of your statement date) | Max deposit: None, but interest only paid on £20,000 | Access: Online, mobile, branch or phone | Interest paid: monthly | Withdrawal restrictions: Unlimited

KEY QUESTIONS:

How much cashback could I really earn? You get 1% cashback on water, council tax bills and repayments of up to £1,000/mth on Santander mortgages, 2% on bills from major gas and electricity suppliers, 3% on mobile, home phone, broadband and TV packages. Santander has a list of qualifying suppliers (though it's worth checking with them about your suppliers, even if they're not listed).

We crunched the numbers on how this stacks up for low, average and high bill payers. After the fee, we worked out low users would be up by £47 a year, average users £115 and high users £226, even before savings interest's taken into account.

The cashback works best for those who have a mortgage payment of around £1,000/mth with Santander – but even without the mortgage payment, anyone with high bills will be able to make money from this account, even considering the fee.

Our table details how the account works for low, medium and high billpayers

What will Santander charge me if I go overdrawn? Well, we hope if you're using this for savings that this won't be an issue. But, Santander's overdraft charges are middling. You'll get an interest-free overdraft for four months when you switch to the account. After that, it charges £1/day for arranged overdrafts, and £6/day for if you go over your overdraft limit. There's a maximum charge of £95 in any calendar month.

How does opening two accounts work? You can only open two accounts if one is a single and one is a joint account – think carefully before doing this, as if you join finances, your partner's credit record affects yours.

This is great if you have up to £40,000 in savings and/or you have a second home with separate bills.

You'll have to pay the £2/mth fee on both accounts but the interest gains could make this relatively insignificant. But you'll need still need to satisfy the £500/month pay-in requirement (you need to pay in from outside Santander). You must also have at least two direct debits set up on each account.

TSB

5% interest if you have £2,000 or less

TSB Classic Plus*

The TSB Classic Plus* current account is top if you’ve £2,000 or less to save, as you can get a whopping 5% AER. Unusually for a current account with perks, you don’t have to switch your own account, or set up any direct debits, you can just open this account as an extra.

Need-to-knows
  • You need to pay in £500 per calendar month and opt for online banking with paperless statements to get the interest.

  • If you’ve more than £2,000, you don’t get interest on anything above, so find another savings account for the extra, or check other bank accounts, such as Santander above.

  • You can have two accounts, allowing savings of £4,000 at 5%, but your second account must be joint. You’ll still need to pay in £500 a month to the second account too (and from an outside source, not from your first account).

  • You need to pass a credit check to get this account.

  • TSB has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 5% AER variable on up to £2,000 | Min deposit: £500 per calendar month to get the interest | Max deposit: None, interest only paid on £2,000 | Access: Online, branch or by phone | Interest paid: Monthly | Withdrawal restrictions: None

KEY QUESTIONS:

How much will the overdraft cost me? Well, we hope as you're using this account for savings that you won't be using the overdraft. But, if you do, then TSB gives you a £25 buffer where you won't pay any fees or interest.

Go further into your overdraft, and it charges you 19.94% AER interest on your overdrawn balance, plus a £6 monthly usage fee for any month that you use your overdraft. If you bust your overdraft limit by more than £10, you'll pay £5/day under £25 over limit and £10/day for £25+ over limit, to a maximum of £80 a month. There's also a £10 unpaid item fee (max 3/day) if you try to make more payments when you're over your limit.

Other top-interest paying current accounts

It's not just these two accounts that pay large. Seven bank accounts (below) give you varying levels of decent interest, and the one you pick should depend on how much cash you're likely to be able to keep in your account.

If you really want to max the interest, there's a way to cycle it around several accounts to get interest from all of them. Some who've used this technique get £50 or £60 in interest a month, after tax. See the 5% savings loophole guide for a full how to.

Do note there are bank accounts which will pay you up to £150 to switch, which beat some of the accounts below in the first year. See a full list of accounts that pay you to switch.

The top current account savings interest
For comparison, the top easy-access savings deal open to all pays just 1.4%.
In-credit interest (AER) After basic tax Max
interest /yr (1)
Min monthly pay-in How many can you have?
Santander 123 3% if you've £3,000-£20,000 2.4% £450 (after fee) £500 2 (2nd must be joint)
Club Lloyds 4% if you've £4,000-£5,000 3.2% £157 £1,500 2 (2nd must be joint)
Bank of Scotland 3% if you've £3,000-£5,000 2.4% £118 £1,000 3
Nationwide FlexDirect 5% on up to £2,500 for 1yr (2) 4% £98 (yr1) £1,000 2 (2nd must be joint)
TSB Classic Plus 5% on up to £2,000 4% £78 £500 2 (2nd must be joint)
Tesco Bank 3% on up to £3,000 2.4% £71 £750 2
Halifax £5/mth (3) £5/mth £60 £750 2 (2nd must be joint)
(1) After basic tax if you always held the max balance+. (2) 1% after. (3) Paid regardless of balance, as long as you stay in credit. The £5 is classed as after having paid basic rate tax. So higher taxpayers will lose some of the gain.

Best BuysEasy Access Savings

An easy access account does what it says on the tin. Usually. The main idea is you pay cash into them, and they pay you interest while the money’s in the account. and you can withdraw whenever you want.

But interest rates are usually lower than on notice and fixed savings accounts, because you pay for the flexibility to withdraw your cash at any point.

Quick Questions (show allhide all)

When is an easy access account not easy access?

What's the difference between an account with a bonus rate and one without?

Can I get a savings account that lets me withdraw cash from ATMs?

My building society has a better rate than accounts here. Why isn't it featured?

How can I avoid paying penalties on withdrawals?


Nottingham BS

Top online account that allows unlimited withdrawals

The Nottingham BS – 1.45% AER

If you have at least £5,000 to save, the E-Saver Plus account from Nottingham BS pays the highest straight forward easy-access rate of 1.45%. Plus, as there's a bonus of 0.95% on the account, your effectively guaranteed this rate until 30 June 2016. But, after the rate will drop so you'll need to transfer your savings out if it can be beaten.

1.45,5000
Need-to-knows
  • You can make unlimited withdrawals from the account but don't let the balance drop below £5,000 otherwise the account will be closed.

  • You can only open and and manage the account online.

  • Nottingham BS shares its £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with Shepshed BS.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.45% AER variable (incl 0.95% bonus) | Min deposit: £5,000 | Max deposit: £250,000 | Access: Online only | Interest paid: Annually | Withdrawal restrictions: Unlimited

Mansfield BS

Second best rate but fewer withdrawals allowed

Virgin Money – 1.41% AER

The Defined Access E-Saver account from Virgin Money pays the highest straight forward easy-access rate of 1.41% from £1. But, it only allows a limited number of penalty-free withdrawals per year, and gives you a lower rate if you exceed it. The lack of bonus means the rate is less likely to plummet in a year, but bonus deals are also a minimum rate guarantee – as savings providers often secretly drop rates, bonuses give short-term protection.

1.41,1
Need-to-knows
  • You get three penalty-free withdrawals a year, any more and the rate drops to 0.75%.

  • You apply and manage the account online, but there is a branch version if you prefer.

  • There's no bonus on the account so you need to watch in case the rate drops. If it does, transfer out to a better payer.

  • Virgin Money has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.41% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Max deposit: £100,000 | Access: Online only | Interest paid: Annually or monthly | Withdrawal restrictions: Three/yr

West Brom

Slightly lower rate but allows a greater number of penalty-free withdrawals

The West Bromwich BS – 1.4% AER*

The Direct Limited Access Saver from The West Bromwich BS* pays a decent 1.4% rate and could beat the Virgin Money account above if you think you'll need to access the cash in there more often - you're allowed to make six penalty-free withdrawals per account year here. However, you'll need to be happy to manage the account by phone or post.

1.4,1
Need-to-knows
  • If you make more than six withdrawals, the rate will drop to 0.5% for the rest of the account year (which runs from 1 May to end of April).

  • You need to open the account with a minimum of £1,000 but the balance can drop to £1 afterwards.

  • The rate is variable, so could drop at any time. If it drops transfer your savings out to a higher payer.

  • The West Brom BS has the full £85,000 UK FSCS savings safety protection.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.4% AER variable | Min deposit: £1,000 | Max deposit: £1 million | Access: Post or phone | Interest paid: Monthly or annually | Withdrawal restrictions: Six/acc yr

Got £85,000+? How to spread cash for safety

Remember, cash in all the accounts above is protected up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution. If you’re lucky enough to have more than £85,000, it’s best to spread savings across several different banks in case one gets into difficulty. We’ve picked a selection of the other top payers…

See list of other top paying accounts

Best BuysNotice savings accounts

You can often boost the interest rate from the easy access accounts above if you’re able to wait a little to get your hands on your savings. Generally, the more notice you can give, the better the rate you’ll get.

Quick Question

Do I always have to give notice on these accounts?


Charter Savings Bank

Rate boost if you can wait 120 days for your cash

Charter Savings Bank – 1.95% AER

New player Charter Savings Bank has stormed into the savings market, paying a boosted 1.95% AER rate, if you're happy to wait four months for your cash when you withdraw. While you may not have heard of Charter Savings Bank before, as it only launched at the beginning of the year and has no branch presence (it's online/phone only), it has the full £85,000 UK FSCS savings safety protection.

1.95,1000
Need-to-knows
  • You must apply and manage the account online.

  • You need to give 120 days’ notice if you want to withdraw from the account.

  • If your balance drops below £1,000, you'll earn 0.1% interest until the balance goes back up.

  • The rate is variable, so could drop at any time. If it drops transfer your savings out to a higher payer.

  • Charter Savings Bank has the full £85,000 UK FSCS savings safety protection.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.95% AER variable | Min deposit: £1,000 | Max deposit: £250,000 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Monthly or annually | Withdrawal restrictions: Must give 120 days' notice

Best BuysFixed savings

Most savings accounts are variable, so the rate can change both with the Bank of England's base rate or at the provider's whim – so to keep earning well you need to actively monitor accounts. Yet there is an alternative...

Fixed-rate savings give a guaranteed rate for a set period, and the best buy fixed-rate deals are usually higher than the best buy easy-access rates.

The big catch is you can't take your money out during that time, and you won't benefit if other rates rise in that period. Therefore, they're only suitable for those who are happy to lock cash away for the entire term.

Quick Questions

Is now the right time to fix savings?

I know these are fixed savings, but can I access my cash?

How do I get paid interest monthly?

The best one-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max Deposit How to Open FSCS Protection
NS&I - 65+ ONLYNS&I 1 year 2.8% £500/£10,000 Online/post/phone 100% safe
Charter Savings BankUnited Bank 1 year 2% £1,000/£250,000 Online Full
Kent Reliance BSRaphaels Bank 1 year 1.75% £1,000/£1 million Online/Post/branch Full

The best two-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max Deposit How to Open FSCS Protection
Charter Savings BankUnited Bank 2 years 2.2% £1,000/£250,000 Online Full
Clydesdale BankShawbrook Bank 2 years 2.1% £2,000/£5 million Online, post, phone, branch Full
Shawbrook BankShawbrook Bank 2 years 2.1% £5,000/£2 million Online Full

The best three-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max deposit How to open FSCS protection
NS&I - 65+ ONLYNS&I 3 years 4% £500/£10,000 Online/post/phone 100% safe
Paragon BankParagon Bank 3 years 2.5% £1,000/£100,000 Online Full
United Bank UKAldermore 3 years 2.45% £2,000/£1 million Post/Branch Full

The best four-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max deposit How to open FSCS protection
Vanquis Bank*Vanquis Bank 4 years 2.61% £1,000/£250,000 Online Full
Bank of Baroda*Aldermore 4 years 2.6% £500/£200,000 Online Full

The best five-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max deposit How to open FSCS protection
Paragon BankParagon Bank 5 years 3% £1,000/£100,000 Online Full
United Bank UKAldermore 5 years 3% £2,000/£1 million Post/Branch Full
Close BrothersClose Savings 5 years 3% £10,000/£2 million Post Full

The best seven-year fixed rates

Product Length of fix Rate(AER) Min/Max deposit How to open FSCS protection
First SaveFirst Save 7 years 3.1% £1,000/£2 million Online Full

Best Buys Ethical savings

Ethical savings accounts – where providers claim to behave ethically in terms of the environment, human rights and more – have jumped in popularity. Our main focus is always telling you the top savings rates, but to match demand we've worked with Ethical Consumer to list the top-paying accounts that also rate highly on their ethics.

When giving a bank or building society an ethical rating, Ethical Consumer looks at its track record on various environmental, social and political issues. For banks and building societies, this not only looks at how the business is operated, but also who their investors are, and what they invest in.


Ethical easy access savings

These easy access accounts are just the same as the ones above, but here we list only accounts from ethical providers.

Ethical easy access top pick: 1.25% AER

All the accounts below have the full £85,000 UK guarantee.

Ethical Rating 13/20

1.4% AER – Limited withdrawals,
Phone/post access

The Direct Limited Access Saver from The West Bromwich BS* pays a decent 1.4% rate but only allows you to make six withdrawals a year. You need to open the account with £1,000 but the balance can drop to £1 afterwards. The account can be opened and managed by post or by phone.

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

1.25% AER – Unlimited withdrawals,
online/post/branch access

The Easy Access Savings account from Kent Reliance pays a clean 1.25% AER rate and allows you to make unlimited withdrawals. You need to open the account with £1,000 but the balance can drop to £1 afterwards. The account can be opened and managed online, by post or in branch.

Ethical fixed savings

Again, these operate the same way as normal fixed savings, there's nothing special about what you have to do, but we only list ethical providers here.

Earn up to 2.35% AER fixed in an ethical bank

All the accounts below have the full £85,000 UK guarantee

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

1.75% AER fixed for one year

The Kent Reliance one-year Fixed Rate Bond pays 1.75% AER on balances over £1,000. You can apply online, by post or in branches.

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

1.85% AER fixed for two years

The two-year Fixed Rate Bond from Kent Reliance pays 1.85% AER on balances over £1,000. You can apply by post, online or in branches.

Ethical Rating 12.5/20

2% AER fixed for three years

The Norwich & Peterborough BS e-Bond pays 2% AER from the date of account opening on balances from £1,000. You can apply online or by post. Interest is paid annually.

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

2.35% AER fixed for four years

The Fixed Rate Bond from Kent Reliance pays 2.35% AER for four years on balances over £500. You can apply online, by post or in branch. Interest is paid annually or monthly.

The Savings Calculator

This multifunctional calculator allows you to calculate how much interest you’ll be paid, how long you’ll need to save for something, or tell you how much you need to save each month to meet a goal.

Remember the impact of tax – choose the right level for your income. Also, you might get one rate now, but unless you’ve fixed your rate, it’s likely you won’t get the same rate in a year – so you may need to redo the calculation then.

The calculator assumes you put money in at the beginning of each month, so if this isn't how you do it, the answers will be slightly out. If you don't make regular deposits but put lump sums in, figure out the monthly equivalent for a rough answer. Feel free to play with the results to see how it impacts your savings.

Savings Calculator

Pick your question...


How far ahead do you want to look? &
How much tax do you pay?

How much tax do you pay?

When do you need it by? &
How much tax do you pay?

Q&A Savings

  • What’s the top account for joint savings?

  • Are there savings accounts designed for my business?

  • Haven’t you forgotten about inflation-linked savings?

  • How does inflation affect my savings?

  • What about when there's deflation?