Top savings accounts
0.72% easy access or up to 2.1% fixed
Although the Bank of England's base rate inched up in December, we've not seen a corresponding rise since in the rates paid to existing customers. Yet, most are far better switching to the top-pick accounts in this guide rather than waiting. So whether you've £1 or £1 million, take action now to ensure you're getting every possible penny of interest on your savings.
This is our main savings guide, but there are other options that can pay even more...
Lifetime ISA: 25% bonus for first-time buyers aged 18-39
Help to Save: 50% bonus on savings if you're on a low income
Cash ISAs: The likely winner if you pay tax on savings interest
Regular savings: Up to 5% interest if you can save monthly
Children's savings: Earn up to 3.5% on kids' savings
Current accounts: Earn up to 2% on smaller sums
What is a savings account?
A savings account is simply an account for you to put money in and earn interest.
Savings interest is paid tax-free and most won't pay any tax on it at all. Basic-rate taxpayers can earn £1,000/year tax-free and higher-rate taxpayers £500, so it's only those with very large amounts of savings who would need to worry about this – and that's less than 5% of us. Find full info in our Personal Savings Allowance guide.
Your savings are safe - up to £85,000 is protected per bank or building society
Every bank or building society we mention in this guide is fully UK-regulated, which means you get £85,000 per person protection in the event it goes bust (£170,000 for joint accounts). The only thing to watch out for is some banks are linked to others, meaning this protection is shared. See Are Your Savings Safe? for full info.
Help choosing the right savings account
There are many different types of savings account and if you're not sure what each one does, the choice can be confusing. This guide focuses on the top-pick 'standard' savings accounts, but there are other ways to boost your return. Here are our tips to decide where's best to put your money...
If you've expensive debt, it always pays to clear it before saving. For example, £1,000 in top savings earns up to £20/yr, while £1,000 debt on a credit card with an APR of 18% costs £180/yr. Clear the debt with the savings and you're £160+ better off. See Repay debts or save?
Easy access accounts let you make withdrawals at will (though some do limit the total number you can make per year). They tend to pay lower rates than many other types of account, but are a good place to keep your money if you're going to need it soon (or frequently)
Make sure you keep an eye out for introductory 'bonus' rates. 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 remember the end date for the bonus and switch as soon as it ends, so you don't languish on a rubbish rate.
A fixed-rate account is just a 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, but if normal savings rates were to increase during that time you'd be unable to ditch and switch to a better payer until your fixed term ended.
The Lifetime ISA (LISA) scheme gives first-time buyers a 25% boost to their savings, and should be your first port of call if you're saving for your first home.
Anyone aged 18-39 can open a LISA and save up to £4,000/tax year into it, as a lump sum or by putting cash in when they can. Then the state adds a 25% bonus on top. So save £1,000 and you'll have £1,250.
First-time buyers can use the money and bonus towards the deposits for any residential property costing up to £450,000 once they've held the LISA for 12 months. But be warned – there's usually a 25% withdrawal penalty if you take the money out for anything other than purchasing a first home or for retirement aged 60+ (though this penalty has been temporarily cut). Full info in our LISA guide.
The Government's Help to Save scheme is designed to encourage people claiming universal credit or working tax credits to save. It pays a 50% bonus on the amount saved, up to a maximum bonus of £1,200 over four years.
Our Help to Save guide has full info on the scheme, including when you should and shouldn't go for it.
The personal savings allowance (PSA) means that most people don't pay tax on their savings. This means that deciding whether or not to put your money into a cash ISA is usually just a question of which account pays the highest interest rate.
If you've used your personal savings allowance (£1,000 in interest if you're a basic-rate taxpayer, or £500 for higher-rate), then it's worth considering a cash ISA as you never pay tax on the interest paid on that.
Read our Top Cash ISAs guide for the current best buys and a full analysis on whether or not you should open one.
Not sure how much interest you'll get? Find out with our Savings Calculator. Simply plug in the rate, and how much you'll save (and if you pay tax on savings interest), and it'll tell you how much you'll earn.
Surprisingly, some banks' current accounts pay a higher rate of interest than their savings accounts, though you tend to only get interest on the first £1,500 or so. Unlike savings accounts, you'll need to pass a credit check to open one.
The Best Bank Accounts guide has the highest paying options.
These are a specific products that let you save around £50-£500 every month (maximum deposits vary by account). The main advantage is they tend to pay higher rates of interest than standard deals. For more details and best buys, see the full Regular Savings Accounts guide.
If you've got children aged under 18, then you can get a specialist savings account for them. Though they tend to mirror adult accounts (in that you can get easy-access, fixed-rate, ISAs etc), some of the current rates actually beat their grown-up counterparts. Plus it can be a great way to teach your kids the merits of saving early.
If you've lots to save, you can open several different savings accounts. For example, if you had £20,000 and you needed £5,000 of it in two months' time, you could stick £5,000 in the top easy-access account, and then put the rest into a one-year fix.
If you don't yet know what you want to do with your cash, just stick your money (up to the protected £85,000) in the top easy-access account while you're deciding.
The main idea with easy-access accounts is that you pay cash into them, 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. And since the rates are variable, it's worth checking your rate regularly to make sure you're getting the best possible returns.
Family Building Society pays the top standard easy-access rate of 0.72% (min £1,000), though strangely you can only add funds until Mon 7 Feb. So while it has unlimited withdrawals (min £100 each time), you've only a short window to save into it. If that's not for you, Shawbrook Bank offers a straightforward 0.67% or Allica Bank (via savings app Chip) pays 0.7% – though you'll need to use its app and connect it to your current account via Open Banking.
Alternatively, if you're new to the savings platform Raisin and saving £10,000-£55,500, take a look at Brown Shipley. It pays a lower rate of 0.61% but you can claim £50 cashback on top, beating the return of the accounts above. This assumes you'll save for a year or less, so diarise to review the rate later on.
Bizarrely, if you've got £1,500 or less to save, you can get much higher rates with certain banks' current accounts – Virgin Money pays 2.02% on up to £1,000, and Nationwide pays 2% on up to £1,500. Plus, if you're willing to switch your existing current account, you can get up to £125 free cash if you switch to Nationwide, or choose from an experience day gift card or wine case if you switch to Virgin.
|Top standard easy-access rates. Here are the highest paying traditional accounts.|
|Family BS (1)||0.72%||Yes (2)||£1,000/ £250,000||Online||£85,000|
|Shawbrook Bank||0.67%||Yes (3)||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Paragon Bank||0.65%||No, 3/yr (4)||£1/ £500,000||Online||£85,000|
|Marcus*||0.6% (5)||Yes||£1/ £250,000||Online||£85,000 (6)|
|Easy-access accounts via savings platforms. Pay higher rates, but require a little more effort.|
|Allica Bank via Chip (7)||0.7%||Yes||£1/ £85,000||App||£85,000|
|Brown Shipley via Raisin (7)||0.61% + £50 cashback for some||Yes (3)||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Easy-access savings via current accounts. Even higher rates, but can only save small amounts.|
|Virgin Money M Plus||2.02%||Yes||None/ £1,000||Online||£85,000 (98)|
|Nationwide FlexDirect||2%||Yes||None/ £1,500||Online||£85,000|
Remember, cash in all the accounts above is protected up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution. If you've more than £85,000 it's best to spread savings across several different banks just in case one gets into difficulty.
We include them because they often have the best rates, and these accounts may suit some people who might not need to access their savings from one month to the next. But we will always include the top accounts with unlimited withdrawals as well, so you can pick the one that works best for you.
If you have an account that limits withdrawals, check what happens if you make too many. Some will drop the interest they pay if you make too many, others will close the account and transfer it to another account with a worse interest rate.
Bonus rates are temporary interest hikes to attract new customers, so the rate will DEFINITELY plummet after the term ends, so ditch and switch then.
Bonus rates can be a good thing, as they effectively act as a minimum rate guarantee during the introductory period, promising you at least some interest. Though the rate could still fall during the bonus period if the non-bonus element drops.
Clean rate accounts don't pay a bonus. They are completely variable, so you could end up taking one out, and the provider drops the rate it pays on the account a couple of weeks later.
In our experience, all savings account rates – if you hold the account long enough – become rubbish accounts. But active savers can avoid this by shifting the cash to a better payer once they see their rate has dropped.
Notice savings accounts
Notice accounts are good for people who know they'll need their money, but don't know when. A good example might be if you are a first-time buyer. You know you'll need your saved cash for the deposit, but you might find your dream home in two months or in 10. A (shortish) notice account would let you get a boosted rate, but would also let you access your cash in time to exchange.
If you're sure you won't need instant access to your cash, some notice accounts pay more than the top easy-access account at 0.7%.
Shawbrook Bank pays the top rate of 1.08% on its 120-day notice account, and Secure Trust Bank pays a slightly lower rate of 1.02% but with a shorter notice period of 90 days. Both accounts can be opened online with £1,000 or more.
For shorter terms, Secure Trust Bank pays 0.85% with 60 days notice, and Investec pays only slightly less at 0.8% on its 32-day notice account and also offers newbies to savings marketplace Raisin £50 cashback, if saving £10,000 to £85,000.
The short answer's yes. The clue's in the name.
You may find a few notice accounts will allow you immediate (or at least sooner) access to your funds and charge you an interest penalty for 'breaking the rules'. But these are few and far between.
But, in general, if you think you might ever need immediate access to your cash, it's much safer to opt for an easy-access account.
In general, the savings provider will give you enough notice that you can withdraw your money if you want to. So for example, if you were in a 95-day notice account, your savings provider would probably give you 95 days' notice, plus a bit more – often a couple of weeks.
Some providers will choose to change the rate sooner than that, but if they do this, they should give you the chance to access and withdraw your money without giving the full notice period required by the account.
With fixed savings you can't withdraw your money until the end of the term, other than in extremely rare circumstances. And in return, you get a better reward – and the rate is guaranteed. This is because the bank gets the certainty of holding your cash for a set amount of time, and in exchange, you get the certainty of the interest rate they offer. Therefore, you should only lock away what you definitely won't need access to.
Fixed savings rates have been creeping up over the last few months and, following the rise in the Bank of England's base rate, there's a chance they may rise a smidge more. It’s not likely to be a substantial rise in the short term, though you may not want to rush to get one right now.
Zopa pays the top one-year fixed rate of 1.36%, although if you're new to savings marketplace Raisin and saving £10,000 to £85,000, you can beat this rate with Investec's 1.33% account via Raisin – as you can claim £50 cashback. Or, if you prefer to receive your interest monthly, Atom Bank's 1.35% account is the top payer – though it must be opened via mobile app.
Alternatively, Gatehouse Bank's sharia account pays 1.41%, which beats Raisin when saving over £62,500. Although there's a slight risk – as it pays expected profit rather than guaranteed interest – we're not aware of any instance where it hasn't been paid.
|Top standard one-year fixes. Here are the highest paying traditional accounts.|
|Zopa (1)||1.36%||At maturity||£1,000/ £250,000||Online||£85,000|
|Investec (1)||1.36%||At maturity||£5,000/ £250,000||Online||£85,000|
|Atom Bank (1)||1.35%||Monthly or at maturity||£50/ £100,000||App||£85,000|
|Investec via Raisin||1.33% + £50 bonus for some||At maturity||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Top sharia account. Pays expected profit, but can beat above rates. What does this mean?|
|Gatehouse Bank||1.41%||At maturity||£1,000/ £1m||Online||£85,000|
The top two-year fixed rate of 1.62% comes from Charter Savings Bank, though you'll need to saving at least £5,000 (if you've less, take a look at app-based Atom Bank). Alternatively, if you're new to savings marketplace Raisin and saving £10,000 to £82,000, you can beat this rate with Zenith Bank's 1.57% account via Raisin – as you can claim £50 cashback.
Alternatively, QIB UK's sharia account pays 1.6%, plus Raisin newbies can again claim the £50 cashback on top. Although there's a slight risk – as it pays expected profit rather than guaranteed interest – we're not aware of any instance where it hasn't been paid.
|Top standard two-year fixes. Here are the highest paying traditional accounts.|
|Charter Savings Bank||1.62%||Monthly, annually or at maturity||£5,000/ £1m||Online||£85,000|
|Atom Bank (1)||1.6%||Monthly, annually or at maturity||£50/ £100,000||App||£85,000|
|Zenith Bank||1.57% + £50 bonus for some||Annually||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Top sharia account. Pays expected profit, but beats accounts above on rate. What does this mean?|
|QIB UK via Raisin (1)||1.6% + £50 bonus for some||At maturity||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
We've included the top three-year and five-year fixes below. You can get better rates if you lock in for longer, but you'll need to weigh up whether it's worth it. What you gain in certainty you give up in flexibility, since you won't be able to access your money, even if rates rise during the term.
Three-year fix: Zenith Bank pays the top rate of 1.85% and its account can be opened either direct, or via savings marketplace Raisin – which, if you've £10,000 to £85,000 to save, allows newbies to Raisin to claim £50 cashback on top. UBL UK's 1.82% account is top for monthly interest – though you must apply direct to get it (no Raisin cashback).
Five-year fix: Charter Savings Bank pays the top rate of 2.1% and its account can be opened online with £5,000 or more (if you've less to save, take a look at Hodge Bank). However, newbies to savings marketplace Raisin can beat these rates with UBL UK's 2.05% account when saving £10,000 to £30,700 – as you can claim £50 cashback.
Alternatively, QIB UK's sharia account pays 2.1%, plus Raisin newbies saving £10,000 to £85,000 can claim the £50 cashback on top. Although there's a slight risk – as it pays expected profit rather than guaranteed interest – we're not aware of any instance where it hasn't been paid.
Three-year fixed rates
|Top standard three-year fixes. Here are the highest paying traditional accounts.|
|Zenith Bank||1.85% + £50 bonus for some||Annually||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|UBL UK||1.82% + £50 bonus for some||Monthly, annually or at maturity||£2,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Isbank via Raisin (1)||1.75% + £50 bonus for some||Annually||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Top standard five-year fixes. Here are the highest paying traditional accounts.|
|Charter Savings Bank||2.1%||Monthly, annually or at maturity||£5,000/ £1m||Online||£85,000|
|Hodge Bank (1)||2.08%||Monthly, annually or at maturity (2)||£1,000/ £1m||Online||£85,000|
|UBL UK||2.05% + £50 bonus for some||Monthly, annually or at maturity (3)||£2,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
|Top sharia account. Pays expected profit, but can beat above rates. What does this mean?|
|QIB UK via Raisin (1)||2.1% + £50 bonus for some||At maturity||£1,000/ £85,000||Online||£85,000|
Sharia accounts – in accordance with Islamic banking principles – prohibit interest. Instead, they give 'expected profit' rates which, by definition, mean returns aren't guaranteed – though we're not aware of any UK-based sharia banks that have failed to pay their expected rates in the past.
The accounts are open to anyone, of any faith, and the ones above are fully UK-regulated, meaning you get £85,000 per person, per institution savings safety protection. Sharia banks also follow a rule not to invest in areas like gambling and alcohol.
It's difficult to say. The Bank of England's base rate has increased to 0.25% – up from an all-time low of 0.1% – which means top-pick rates may continue to inch up, though it's not likely to be a substantial rise in the short-term.
For larger sums, fixes pay higher rates and give certainty. So the more you value certainty and the easy life of being able to put money away and leave it, the more you should consider fixing.
If you are thinking of locking in, we'd hedge towards shorter fixes, as then – if rate rises continue – you don't lose out for long if you've fixed at a lower rate.
Whatever you choose to do, it's important to go into fixed-rate savings with your eyes open and know the risks. Of course, if rates don't continue to rise in the short term and you pick well, you will earn more in a fix in the meantime.
We list the AER as it's the best way to compare rates, rather than listing some accounts at the AER and some at a gross rate of interest.
The difference comes in the way these accounts pay interest. Most pay interest into the fixed account itself, meaning you get interest on that interest in subsequent years.
But a few banks pay interest into separate accounts, meaning that you don't earn interest on the interest, and therefore the actual rate of interest you get is slightly lower than the AER.
Boost fixed-rate savings interest
With interest rates so low, we've a way of boosting the returns you get – but it's a bit more complicated than opening a standard savings account...
Raisin is a 'savings marketplace', which means it offers savings accounts from various banks it partners with. If you're new to Raisin, you can also get £50 cashback if saving over £10,000 – here's how:
- Sign up to one of the accounts below and then fund it with at least £10,000.
- Email 'firstname.lastname@example.org' from the email you used to register within six months, with 'Welcome bonus' as the subject and include your full name in the email.
- The £50 is then paid within 14 days of Raisin receiving your email (if you choose an easy-access or notice account, you'll need to keep the cash in the account for at least six months – the cashback will be paid within 14 days of the six month period ending).
Our top Raisin picks
- Easy-access: Brown Shipley's 0.61% variable easy-access account*
- Notice: Investec's 0.8% variable 32-day notice account*
- One-year fix: Investec's 1.33% account*
- Two-year fix: Zenith Bank's 1.57% account* and QIB UK's 1.6% sharia account*
- Three-year fix: Zenith Bank's 1.85% account*, UBL UK's 1.82 account* and Isbank's 1.75% account*
- Five-year fix: UBL UK's 2.05% account* and QIB UK's 2.1% sharia account*
All accounts we mention by name above have £85,000 UK savings safety protection and are available to individuals only – Raisin doesn't currently offer joint savings accounts.
Raisin UK accounts are provided by FCA-regulated Starling Bank. When you add money to a Raisin account, before funding your fixed-rate product, your funds will be covered by Starling's £85,000 Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection.
This gets complex, so stick with us. For the accounts above, payments are then automatically transferred via MIM, which passes your money to the bank offering the account you've chosen. It's then covered by that bank's £85,000 FSCS protection.
For the short time MIM holds your money, it's technically held in trust in an MIM client account with RBS. Yet the FSCS has confirmed in this type of structure you still get the UK £85,000 per person, per institution savings safety protection of the account provider (between leaving your Raisin UK account and arriving with the end bank, it's via RBS's protection).
We only feature UK-protected accounts in this guide, but be aware that not all banks Raisin has partnered with are covered by the FSCS – some are protected by European deposit schemes, so it could be harder to get your money back if the bank went bust. For more on how savings are protected, see Are Your Savings Safe?
Raisin will email you about a month before your fixed term ends, asking what you want to do with the money. You can choose to get it paid back to your bank account or to open another product with Raisin – remember, it won't necessarily offer the best rates, so check before opening another account.
Do nothing, and the money will go back to your Raisin UK account until you tell it what to do – so make sure you respond to the email or it'll be sitting earning zero interest.
If you have any issues with your account, you need to contact Raisin directly, which you can do by email, phone or secure messaging when logged in online.
Raisin only has links with a few banks at the moment, so its offering is not whole of market – this means there may be other providers offering better rates. Before you sign up to a new account through Raisin, check this guide to see if the rate can be beaten.
Want to complain about your savings provider?
If your savings provider has given you the incorrect interest rate, or you haven't received your interest at all, then you don't have to suffer in silence. It's always worth trying to call your provider first to see if it can help, but if not...
This is a commonly asked question, but most savings accounts can be held by two people – so actually the question should just be: "What is the best savings account?", which this guide is set up to answer.
Except where noted, each of the accounts above can be set up as a joint account – so if you're looking to save with someone else, just head to our top easy-access accounts, top notice accounts and top fixed-rate accounts.
Where an account can't be opened jointly, we've highlighted this in the relevant table.
MoneySavingExpert.com is a national website serving England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So we try to feature accounts open to everyone, which means you need to be able to open them online, or by phone or post.
Branch-based accounts are more difficult, as – unless the account is offered by one of the big banks – it's unlikely that everyone will be able to reach a branch. For example, Skipton Building Society sometimes offers decent branch-based accounts.
But a person in Brighton would have to travel almost 40 miles to their nearest branch to be able to open it. Similarly, someone in Carlisle couldn't access branch-based accounts offered by Ipswich Building Society as there isn't one close by.
It is always worth looking at local building societies as they can occasionally have a corking branch-based account. But because we're a nationwide site, we just can't feature them all.
If you have a business current account, the chances are it pays 0% interest. So any businesses with cash stored, even just to pay the taxman, are missing out on interest.
If you're a sole trader, you're likely to be able to save the business's cash in a personal savings account. It's best to do this, as you get the best rates. But if you've a limited company, then you'll need to use a specially designed business savings account.
To really know how well your savings are doing, you have to look at it compared to the rate of inflation. Inflation is the measure of the rate at which prices increase, so if savings don't beat inflation after tax, they're losing you money.
Ensure your savings aren't 'losings'...
A savings account that pays less than the rate of inflation is eroding your wealth. An example using simple numbers should help...
Imagine inflation is 5%... Things costing £1 this year will then cost £1.05 next year.
You have £1 in a savings account at 2% interest... By next year, it will have grown to £1.02.
Therefore, saving has reduced your spending power by 3p/pound... It's a 'losings' account, not a savings account.
What about deflation?
Of course, sometimes prices drop – as happened in 2009 – and you get negative inflation, known as deflation. This can sometimes be a positive for savers.
Imagine inflation is minus 2%... Things costing £1 this year will then cost 98p next year.
You have £1 in a savings account. The interest rate has fallen to 1%... Despite the lower rate, by next year your savings will have grown to £1.01.
Therefore, saving has increased your spending power by 3p/pound... Even though the interest rate has plummeted, you're actually better off.
This has remarkable consequences. Far too many have a concrete savings mindset that shouts: "Don't spend your capital!" Yet in a deflationary environment that's too rigid, anyone living off savings interest would face huge cuts in their income, and not spending capital would actually be penalising yourself.
Personal rates of inflation do vary, yet if you're experiencing deflation and need to spend from your savings pot, you can do so without hurting your savings pile. Take the capital out at the rate of deflation and you're not losing anything, as your purchasing power is retained.
Clever ways to calculate your finances