Regular Savings Accounts

Earn up to 5% on your savings

Believe it or not, it's possible to earn 5% interest on savings tax-free. Regular savings accounts are a hidden species that pay big if you feed them every month – we've all the best buys in this guide, plus tricks to maximise your interest.

What are regular savings accounts?

The clue's in the name. Most regular savings accounts require you to put money away each month with interest paid yearly (unless otherwise stated). They offer blockbuster interest rates, but tend to impose rigid terms and conditions, such as limiting the amount of withdrawals you can make, or forcing you to make a deposit every month.

How can they pay such huge interest rates?

Often these accounts only last a year, and limit the amount you can save. Banks commonly use them as advertising tools, promising eye-catching interest rates (the top ones pay 5%) to grab your custom – many of them are linked accounts, meaning to get them, you need to have the bank's current account too.

Once it ends, your cash usually sweeps into a bog-standard account – so ditch 'n' switch to a better deal.

How does the interest work?

All interest from regular savings accounts is now paid tax free due to the personal saving allowance. Basic-rate taxpayers can earn £1,000 tax-free and higher-rate taxpayers £500. Additional-rate taxpayers get no allowance.

On regular savings the interest received will be around half the interest rate of the account as the money is being saved monthly rather than in one lump sum. To maximise your overall interest, use the drip-feeding technique below.

When are they worth using?

As ISA rates have dropped and all savings interest is now paid tax free, start by filling your high-interest current account(s) up to the limit (usually around £2,000-£5,000), then trickle your money into regular savings (for more info, see the Where to Start Saving guide).

Rather watch than read? This helpful little video gives you the regular savings lowdown...

Video player requires JavaScript enabled. You can watch this video here:

How safe are your savings?

After the calamities that hit several big banks such as Northern Rock, RBS and the Lloyds group, every saver should ask: "Is my money safe?" The answer is simple. Provided your money is in a UK-regulated bank or building society account, it's protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Here's the golden rule.

The first £85,000 per person, per financial institution is guaranteed.

For full info, read the full Are My Savings Safe? guide.

How to maximise safety

With most regular savers, limits on the amount you can deposit mean the balance gets nowhere near £85,000, so there's no problem.

Yet for regular savers which let you deposit more than that, or if you have savings in other accounts with the same bank, don't put more than £85,000 in any one institution – spread it around. See how to get 100% safety.

Top-rate linked accounts

The top-paying regular savers come with a big 'but' attached – you must also hold or switch to the same bank's current account. Happily, at the moment many of the top current accounts for new switchers also offer the highest regular saver rates.

Get 5% if you have (or switch to) its 1st account – top service + £150 Expedia vch or £120 Amazon Echo etc for switching

The First Direct regular saver pays 5% AER fixed for one year and you can deposit between £25 and £300 each month (if you miss a month, your account will be closed and you'll earn just 0.05% interest on anything you've already saved).

To open the account, you'll need to have a First Direct current account, which is one of our top picks as it has won every bank service poll we've ever done, with 89% of its customers rating it 'great'. Plus, new customers switching to it get a choice of a £150 Expedia voucher, a gadget such an Amazon Echo or a Fitbit, or an online course.

Rate: 5% AER fixed for 12 months
Min/max deposit: £25/£300 per month (can carry over remaining allowance) 
How to open/access: Online or by phone 
Missed payments allowed: No  
Withdrawals allowed during term: No, unless closing the account
Savings protection: Shared with HSBC. 

Get 5% if you've switched to M&S Bank – which offers a £125 gift card + £5/mth for a year

The M&S Bank Monthly Saver pays 5% AER fixed for a year and you can save between £25 and £250 each month (if you miss a month or deposit less than £25, your account will be closed and you'll earn just 0.35% interest on anything you've already saved). 

To get the account, you must have switched to M&S Bank's current account using M&S's switching service and have two active direct debits. The M&S Bank current account is one of our top picks as you get a £125 M&S gift card for switching, which can be boosted by £5/month for a year, plus a £100 0% overdraft – good if you occasionally dip in and out of the red.

Rate: 5% AER fixed for 12 months
Min/max deposit: 
£25/£250 per month (can carry over remaining allowance) 
How to open/access:
Online, phone or branch 
Missed payments allowed: 
Withdrawals allowed during term: 
No, unless closing the account
Savings protection: Full

Decent 5% rate for Nationwide main current account customers

Nationwide's Flex regular online saver pays 5% AER variable and you can save between £1 and £250 per month. Unusually for a regular saver, while the account's got a 12-month term, its rate is variable so could drop at any time – keep an eye on it and move away if it does.

You can get the regular saver with the FlexDirect or FlexPlus current accounts, among others, both of which are best buys – for example, the FlexDirect pays 5% interest on up to £2,500 of savings. Alternatively, you can open a FlexAccount or FlexOne (over-18s) and switch to it, or open one of these and pay in £750+ per month for three months.

Rate: 5% AER (variable) for 12 months
Min/max deposit: £1/£250 per month (can't carry over remaining allowance) 
How to open/access: Online
Missed payments allowed: Yes
Withdrawals allowed during term: Yes (can replace withdrawn cash in same month)
Savings protection: Full

Get 5% if you have (or switch to) HSBC Advance or Premier

The HSBC regular savings account pays 5% AER fixed for a year and you can save between £25 and £250 each month. Do be mindful that you can't miss a payment or HSBC will close your account, and you'll earn 0.05% interest instead.

To get its regular saver, you must have HSBC's Advance account or Premier account. Plus, you can get up to £200 if you switch to the Advance account and stay for a year. Alternatively, if you have (or get) the HSBC Bank Account or Graduate Account, you'll be eligible for a slightly lower 3% regular saver. These accounts are free to hold, though you must pay in at least £500 a month to the bank account.

Rate: 5% AER fixed for 12 months
Min/max deposit: £25/£250 per month (can carry over remaining allowance) 
How to open/access: Via online banking, phone or branch
Missed payments allowed: No
Withdrawals allowed during term: No, unless closing the account
Savings protection: Shared with First Direct

'Best of the rest' linked accounts

A few other bank accounts have linked regular savers, though they pay less than the 5% accounts above. All accounts below have £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.

Club Lloyds Monthly Saver 3% AER fixed for 12 months £25/£400 (1) Online/phone/branch None Must have a Club Lloyds account
Santander Regular eSaver 3% AER fixed for 12 months £1/£200 Online/branch None Must be a Santander 123 World and/or Select customer
Bank of Scotland Monthly Saver 2.5% AER fixed for 12 months £25/£250 (1) Online/phone/branch None Must have a Bank of Scotland current account
TSB Monthly Saver 2% AER fixed for 12 months £25/£250 (2) Online None Must have a TSB current account
(1) Can miss payments, but payments below £25 will be returned. You can only make one deposit per month by standing order, which must arrive by 25th. (2) Can miss payments, but payments below £25 will be returned. You can only make one deposit per month

The top open-to-all accounts

If you don't have the current accounts necessary to unlock the big-paying accounts above, check out the top open-to-all accounts that aren't linked to other products. These accounts are increasingly rare, and tend to be offered by small, local building societies as branch-based accounts. Check if there's a decent account near you.

Get 4.5% if you've children – though you can only save £100 a month

The Halifax Kids' Regular Saver pays 4.5% AER fixed for a year, but you can only save between £10 and £100 a month. There's no penalty if you miss a payment.

You must open the account on behalf of your child, in their name, who must be aged 15 or under. Your child usually won't have to pay tax (see a full explanation of tax on kids' savings).

Rate: 4.5% AER fixed for 12 months 
Min/max deposit: 
£10/£100 per month
How to open/access:
Open online or in branch/manage online, in branch or by phone
Missed payments allowed: 
Withdrawals allowed during term:
 No, unless closing the account
Savings protection: Shared with Bank of Scotland, (some) AA Savings, Saga and Birmingham Midshires

Good 3% rate with unltd withdrawals, but you must open in branch

The Virgin Money regular saver pays 3% AER fixed until 1 September 2019 and you can save from £1 to £250 each month. The account allows unlimited penalty-free withdrawals and there's no penalty if you miss a monthly payment. 

To open this account, you must visit a Virgin Money branch (find your nearest).

Rate: 3% AER fixed for 12 months 
Min/max deposit: £1/£250 per month (can't carry over remaining allowance)
How to open/access: Branch
Missed payments allowed: Yes
Withdrawals allowed during term: Yes
Savings protection: Full

Local building societies

Local building societies often offer good rates too on branch-only accounts, so keep your eyes peeled if you're visiting or walking past. We've listed a few of the top accounts below, but they're only available if you live near a branch.

South and east England

If you live near a Saffron Building Society branch, you could get its 12-month fixed-rate regular saver. It pays 3.5% AER for 12 months, provided you deposit between £10 and £200 every month. You must open the account in a branch, and these are located in Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. You can check if you live near a branch here. You can also apply by post if you're already a Saffron customer.

Kent Reliance's regular saver pays 3% AER when you deposit between £25 and £500 every month. The account must be opened in one of its nine branches, which are all in Kent, West Sussex and Hampshire.

Ipswich Building Society offers 2.85% AER to residents in selected postcodes near Ipswich, though this rate includes a one year fixed bonus of 2.5% payable when 11 payments have been paid into the account.

Don't believe the bad press

Sadly, regular saver accounts often receive negative publicity due to a flawed understanding. Many people say they've used regular savers, but only received around half the interest they thought they would. Yet that's because they expected the wrong amount, not because they were underpaid. Here's an example...

Mr Matt Mattics and his £3,000 savings

Matt has saved a total of £3,000 in a regular savings account paying 10% interest over a year.

What Matt expects to earn? His simple sum works out that he's put £3,000 in at 10% therefore he should earn £300 in interest

Why is this wrong? Matt only had £3,000 in there for the last month; it took a year to build up to that amount. You only earn interest on money in the account. So after the first month he was earning the 10% on just £250, half way through the year he was earning it on £1,500.

How Matt should work it out? Over the year, his average balance was roughly half the £3,000, in other words £1,500... so Matt should expect to earn around 10% of £1,500 over the year, which is £150.

Drip-feeding: How to maximise the interest

While regular savings account can pay up to 5%, the problem with them is that it takes time to build up the amount of money you have in there. Yet if you have a lump sum of cash, and you want to maximise its earnings, you can still take advantage.

  • Put the lump sum in the top paying current account

    Some current accounts pay higher interest than normal easy-access savings accounts, so put the lump sum you wish to save in one of these high interest current accounts (see Top interest-paying current accounts).

  • Pay the money into the regular saver from the current account

    Now make payments into the regular saver straight from your high interest current account each month. The key is to put as much as you can (up to the monthly limit) into the regular savings account to max the interest.

This technique is called 'drip-feeding', as you're slowly moving your cash across, month by month. This means every penny you want to save is earning the most it can possibly do at any one moment. Here's how it should work in practice. Let's take the same £3,000 savings as in the Mr Matt Mattics example above...

How to drip-feed £3,000 into regular savings

0 £3,000 £0
1 £2,750 £250
2 £2,500 £500
3 £2,250 £750
4 £2,000 £1,000

To get the maximum gain, put as much in as possible in the early months, but always ensure you've enough left to keep up the minimum payments for the account's lifespan. Then you've got as much interest as possible, while meeting the account's terms and conditions.

The Regular Savings Calculator

Below is a special calculator designed to help you work out what you'll earn from regular savings. It assumes your savings are covered by the relevant PSA for your tax rate.

The calculator has two options...

  1. Regular savings only. Choose this if you want to know how much you'll get from a regular saver alone.

  2. Drip-feed calculator. If you want to save a lump sum, and are using the drip-feed route above, this will tell you how much you get, and compare it with keeping the money in your normal savings account.

For the most accurate answer, use the AER (Annual Equivalent Rate) which should be listed on your statement. Remember, most normal savings accounts are variable rates, so the drip-feed calculation will change if the rate does – but it's a good indicator of the returns.