Top Savings Accounts

Top Savings Accounts

0.8% easy access or up to 1.5% fixed

With the Bank of England's base rate at an all-time low, savings rates have been hit. Yet there are still decent deals to be had, all of which smash the pitiful returns offered on most existing accounts. Whether you've £1 or £1 million, take action now to ensure you're getting every possible penny of interest on your savings. Below we take you through the maze of accounts to find the most profitable home for your cash – and keep it safe.

Key savings account need-to-knows

  1. What is a savings account?

    It's simply an account for you to put money in and earn interest. Where bank accounts have more bells and whistles, letting you withdraw cash, pay bills and use a debit card to spend, savings accounts are solely there for you to earn interest.

  2. Up to £85,000 per person is protected in UK-regulated financial institutions

    Every bank 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 is some providers, such as HSBC and First Direct, share licences so you only have £85,000 protection across both banks. See the Are Your Savings Safe? guide.

    • To be UK-regulated, a savings or current account needs to be registered as a deposit taker with UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority.

      Many banks are foreign-owned, such as Santander, which is owned by Spain's Banco Santander. However, Santander has UK headquarters and is authorised by UK regulators, so it is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

      However, some banks that offer products in the UK are not headquartered here – and rely on another country's deposit compensation scheme. A good example of this is Ikano Bank, which is headquartered in Sweden, so you'd be reliant on the Swedish government's compensation scheme if Ikano went bust.

      If you want to read more about how savings are protected, see Are Your Savings Safe?

  3. Interest from savings is tax-free for most

    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.

  4. You can split money across different accounts to get a mix of benefits

    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.

11 tips for 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. Before we get to the top savings accounts of each type, here are some tips to help you decide if saving is the right choice, and if so, where to put your money...

  • If the interest cost of your debt is more than you'd earn on savings, 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%, you'd earn £20 a year, so you'd be £180 a year better off repaying the card. See Should I Repay Debts With Savings?

    Quick questions

    • Well, if your debt is free, the urgency isn't there to pay it off. But debt at 0% tends to have an end date.

      So long as you meet minimum payments, there's nothing wrong with saving while the debt is at 0%, but then paying it off when the intro deal ends. This way, you'll have the best of both worlds – you'll have paid off the debt without paying any interest, plus you'll have earned interest on the savings while you had them.

      A low rate is different. You need to examine whether you're actually paying more interest on the debt than you're getting on the savings.

    • It is important to have access to an emergency fund in case the worst happens, but that doesn't mean you have to actually have a pot of cash. If you pay off an expensive credit card, then keep the card for emergencies.

      If nothing untoward happens then you never need to use the card, but if something goes wrong, then you could always use the card and you'd be no worse off than had you not paid it off anyway.

      A practical example of why this works: Johnny Comelately

      Johnny Comelately currently has £5,000 saved up – earning 2% interest – in case of emergency, yet he also has £5,000 on credit cards at 18%. Thus while his savings are earning him £100 a year, his debts cost £900. Overall, he is paying out £800 a year.

      Now compare what happens if he pays off his debts with his savings vs not doing so:

      Situation A: No emergency happens

      No change. Keeping both debts and savings costs Johnny £800 a year.

      Pay off debts with savings. Johnny now neither earns nor pays any interest, thus is relatively £800 a year better off, and all the new cash he puts aside can go towards genuinely saving.

      Situation B: After a year he has to pay £5,000 for an emergency roof fix

      No change. Johnny uses the savings for the emergency. This leaves him with no savings and £5,000 of credit card debt at 18%.

      Pay off debts with savings. As Johnny has no savings, he has to borrow the £5,000 on his credit cards. This leaves him with no savings and £5,000 debt on his credit card at 18%.

      In other words, Johnny is in exactly the same position in situation B, regardless of what he does. Yet before the emergency, he was £800 a year better off by paying off his debts with his savings.

      So overall, whether an emergency happens or not, the best result is to pay off your debts with your savings. The only time to beware of this is if you're not sure you'd be able to reborrow the cash.

      Usually with credit cards it's fine, as they're a readily available source of credit, but if your debt is a personal loan, there's no guarantee you will be able to get another – in which case, an emergency fund is sensible.

  • This is the same principle as above: if the mortgage rate is higher than the savings rate 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

    • Whether you can overpay your mortgage or not depends on your mortgage provider and the type of mortgage you've taken out.

      The vast majority of mortgages allow you to overpay, though there's usually a limit – commonly £10,000 a year or 10% of the value of your mortgage debt each year.

      It's important to check how your lender plans to use your overpayment. Some will reduce the term of your mortgage, so your monthly payments stay the same but you'll pay the mortgage off more quickly. Some lenders will use your overpayment to reduce your next monthly payment (especially if you overpaid a small amount), which only saves you a few days' interest. Ask to reduce the balance to really see the benefit.

      Find full information on the pros and cons in the Should I overpay my mortgage? guide, or see how overpaying affects your mortgage with the Overpaying my mortgage calculator.

    • Some mortgages allow you to borrow back overpayments. However, this practice is far less common now than it used to be, so it's unlikely you have this. Check your mortgage terms carefully.

      Some lenders will allow you to take a payment holiday if you've overpaid – essentially while you're not paying, they'll take money from the overpayment reserve you've built up. It's like a borrow back facility, but means you can only use the cash for mortgage payments. Again, check your terms carefully to see if this is allowed.

      Of course, if you have an offset mortgage, where you build up savings to reduce/offset the amount of debt you pay interest on, you can access these savings when you need to. Not sure how this works? Imagine you had a £100,000 mortgage and £20,000 in savings. In this case, with an offset mortgage, you only pay interest on £80,000 of your mortgage debt.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 £3,000 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.

  • This is a specific product that lets you save around £200-£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.

  • 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 a 25% withdrawal penalty if you take the money out for anything other than purchasing a first home (or for retirement aged 60+). 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.

  • 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.

    You can open a junior ISA and lock cash away until they're 18. If that's not what you want, see the Kids Savings guide.

  • Except where noted, each of the accounts below can be set up as a joint account – so if you're looking to save with someone else, just scroll down for 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.

Easy-access savings

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.

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Easy-access accounts – what we'd go for

Currently, Yorkshire BS and Leeds BS pay the joint top rate of 0.8% – but both restrict withdrawals and require fairly high minimum deposits. Yorkshire BS allows six penalty-free withdrawals per account year (min £10,000), while Leeds BS gives two penalty-free withdrawals per calendar year (min £5,000).

These restrictions won't be an issue for some, but if you're saving a smaller amount, or want an account you can more easily dip in and out of, have a look at Atom Bank – it has no minimum deposit and gives full flexibility on withdrawals.

Alternatively, you can beat normal easy-access rates with a cash ISA from Cynergy Bank, paying 0.95%. You can open it online with £1 and deposit up to £20,000 (less if you've already paid into another kind of ISA since April).

PROVIDER RATE (AER VARIABLE) UNLIMITED WITHDRAWALS? MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard accounts. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
Yorkshire BS 0.8% (1)
Max 6/yr (2)
£10,000/£500,000 Online £85,000, shared (3)
Leeds BS 0.8% (4)
Max 2/yr (5)
£5,000/£1m Post/branch £85,000
Atom Bank (6) 0.75% £0/£100,000 App £85,000
Principality BS (6) 0.7% £1/£250,000 Online £85,000
Top cash ISA. Beats accounts above on rate, but max deposit is lower.
Cynergy Bank 0.95% £1/£20,000 (7) Online £85,000

(1) Pays 0.85% if you deposit £50,000+. (2) Allows withdrawals on six days per account year. Can also close account at any time. (3) With Barnsley BS, Chelsea BS and Norwich & Peterborough BS. (4) Pays 0.05% if your balance falls below £5,000. (5) Account closure counts as withdrawal. 30 days' interest penalty on further withdrawals. (6) Can't be opened as a joint account. (7) Max deposit will be lower if you've already paid into another kind of ISA in this tax year.

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.

Quick questions
  • 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.

  • 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.

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 also let you access your cash in time to exchange.

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Notice accounts – what we'd go for

If you're sure you won't need, or don't want, instant access to your cash, UBL UK pays the joint top standard rate at 1% – and the notice period you need to give is quite short.

Alternatively, BLME (min £10,000) offers 1.1% on its 90-day notice sharia account. This is an 'expected profit' rate rather than guaranteed interest, though the bank has always met its expected rates in the past.

PROVIDER RATE (AER VARIABLE) NOTICE MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard accounts. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
UBL UK 1% 35 days £1/£1m Post £85,000
Melton Mowbray BS 1% 90 days £100/£250,000 Online £85,000
Top sharia account. Pays 'expected profit' and beats the accounts above on rate. See how it works.
BLME 1.1% 90 days £10,000/£1m Online £85,000

Quick questions

  • 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.

Fixed-rate accounts

Most savings rates are variable, so can change at the provider's whim. Yet fixed-rate accounts (aka 'fixed-rate bonds'), offer guaranteed returns for a set time – so if you choose to fix, you can be sure you'll get the advertised rate for the full term.

The big catch is that normally you can't take your money out during the term – so you can't easily get your money if you need it (or just want to shift it to take advantage of any rate rises).

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One-year fixed savings – what we'd go for

At the moment, the top standard one-year fix is from Union Bank of India at 1.05% – though you'll need at least £5,000 to open it. If you've less, Tandem pays 0.95% and lets you save from £1,000.

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with a small element of risk to the 'interest' you get, Al Rayan Bank offers 1.27% on its sharia account. This is an 'expected profit rate' rather than guaranteed interest, though the bank's always met its expected rates in the past.

PROVIDER RATE (AER) INTEREST PAID MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard one-year fixes. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
Union Bank of India UK 1.05% At maturity £5,000/£340,000 Online £85,000
Tandem 0.95% At maturity £1,000/£2.5m Online £85,000
Top sharia one-year account. This pays 'expected profit' and beats the accounts above on rate. See how it works.
Al Rayan Bank 1.27% At maturity £5,000/£1m Online/ phone/ branch £85,000
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Two-year fixed savings – what we'd go for

With two-year fixes, the rates are higher than one-year fixes, but in return your money is locked away for longer. So your choice will be guided by whether you think rates might go down in future – if so, you may want to fix for longer now (provided you're certain you won't need access to your cash).

Currently, new provider DF Capital pays the joint top standard two-year rate at 1.23% along with Tandem. You can open either online with £1,000, though DF Capital only lets you manage it via secure online message as it doesn't have an online banking portal.

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with a small element of risk to the 'interest' you get, Al Rayan Bank offers 1.37% on its sharia account. This is an 'expected profit rate' rather than guaranteed interest, though the bank's always met its expected rates in the past.

PROVIDER RATE (AER) INTEREST PAID MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard two-year fixes. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
DF Capital 1.23% At maturity £1,000/£85,000 Online (1) £85,000
Tandem 1.23% Annually (2) £1,000/£2.5m Online £85,000
Top sharia two-year account. This pays 'expected profit' and beats the accounts above on rate. See how it works.
Al Rayan Bank 1.37% At maturity £5,000/£1m Online/ phone/ branch £85,000

(1) Manage via secure online message. (2) Interest paid out of account and not compounded.

Longer fixes – are they worth it?

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We've included the top three-year and five-year fixes below. You can get a slightly better rate if you lock in for five years, 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.

If you decide you do want a longer fix, UBL UK pays the top standard three-year and five-year fixed rates at 1.4% and 1.5% respectively – but you'll need to open them by post. If you'd prefer to open your account online, Tandem pays 1.3%.

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with a small element of risk to the 'interest' you get, Al Rayan offers 1.46% on its three-year sharia account and BLME offers 1.55% on its five-year sharia account. These are 'expected profit' rates rather than guaranteed interest, though the banks have always met their expected rates in the past.

Three-year fixed rates

PROVIDER RATE (AER) INTEREST PAID MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard three-year fixes. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
UBL UK 1.4% Monthly, annually or at maturity (1) £2,000/£1m Post/ branch £85,000
Tandem 1.3% Annually (1) £1,000/£2.5m Online £85,000
Close Brothers 1.25% Annually (1) £10,000/£2m Online £85,000
Top sharia three-year account. This pays 'expected profit' and beats the accounts above on rate. See how it works.
Al Rayan Bank 1.46% At maturity £5,000/£1m Online/ phone/ branch/ post £85,000

(1) Interest paid out of account and not compounded.

Five-year fixed rates

PROVIDER RATE (AER) INTEREST PAID MIN/MAX DEPOSIT HOW TO OPEN MAX FSCS PROTECTION
Top standard five-year fixes. Here are the highest-paying traditional accounts.
UBL UK 1.5% Monthly, annually or at maturity (1) £2,000/£1m Post/branch £85,000
JN Bank UK 1.3% Annually £1,000/£250,000 Online £85,000
Top sharia five-year account. This pays 'expected profit' and beats the accounts above on rate. See how it works.
BLME 1.55% Annually £1,000/£1m Online £85,000

(1) Interest paid out of account and not compounded.

Fixed-rate savings quick questions

  • 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 the expected rate 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. Rates keep dropping, and the Bank of England has cut the base rate to a historic low of 0.1% – meaning even more of the top deals are likely to disappear. While it might seem odd to suggest locking in at lower rates, there's nothing to say that just because rates have fallen they'll automatically come back up again.

    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.

    However, if you are thinking of locking in, we'd hedge towards shorter fixes, as then you don't lose out for long if rates do go up during the period of your fix.

    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 rise again 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.

  • No. With fixed savings, you lock away the cash in return for a better reward other than in extremely rare circumstances.

    Think for a second about it from the bank's point of view. If it knows it has your cash for three years, then it can lend that out for a three-year period safe in the knowledge you won't demand it back. It has the certainty of holding your cash, and you have the certainty about the rate you get.

    This certainty is the reason the rate is higher. And this is also the reason that easy-access savings tend to be poor payers in comparison.

The Savings Calculator

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

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.

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...

Savings Q&A

  • 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.

    We've identified the accounts which can't be set up jointly at the top of each section above.

  • 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.

  • We haven't. But sadly there aren't actually any accounts offering inflation-linked savings at the moment.

    In fact, currently most savings accounts don't pay more than the rate of inflation. So you're actually losing money, as prices are increasing faster than your savings are growing.

    Inflation-linked savings work in a similar way to fixed-rate accounts. Your money is locked away, but you're paid the percentage change in inflation. Usually there is also a fixed amount on top of this rate, so even if inflation becomes negative (deflation), you'd still get some increase on your balance over the term.

  • 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.

    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.

  • Deflation is when the rate of inflation goes negative, meaning overall prices are lower than a year ago. This, or very low inflation, can actually be a boon to savers. Look at the contrast between inflation and deflation...

    When inflation's high...

    Suppose inflation is at 5.0% and the best savings account pays 6.5%. Sally Saver has £10,000 in her account, enough to buy a nominal 100 shopping trollies of various goods.

    Calculating over a year for ease, her savings would grow to £10,650. Yet inflation means the shopping basket has increased in price to £10,500. Thus Sally's spending power has only increased by £150, her real interest rate was just 1.5%.

    When there's a deflationary period...

    Deflation has set in, with the inflation rate at minus 2%, while savings rates have further slumped too, offering just 1.5% interest. Here, after a year Sally's £10,000 has only grown to £10,150, yet deflation means the shopping trollies now only cost £9,800.
    This means she could buy them and have £350 left over, giving a real interest rate of roughly 3.5%. So even though her interest's plummeted, she's 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.