‘Thrilling’ 5% savings account pays highest easy access interest rate since 2009 | Personal Finance | Finance

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Banks and building societies are falling over themselves to offer higher variable rates of interest, giving savers some of the best deals seen since 2009. Yet too many savers fail to take advantage and are still getting an invisible return on their hard-earned cash. It’s time to act.

Savers have much to celebrate as the Bank of England repeatedly hikes base rates, with more increases expected by the end of the year. Too many are missing a great opportunity.

After hiking rates at 14 successive meetings, the BoE’s monetary policy committee (MPC) has now lifted rates to 5.25 percent.

Analysts reckon they’ll increase to 5.5 percent next month and if they’re right, rates on easy access accounts will swiftly climb, too.

It’s a different story with fixed-rate savings accounts, where rates now appear to have peaked. Banks are reluctant to offer more generous long-term deals in case inflation and interest rates fall sharply next year.

That is less of a problem with variable rate easy access accounts, as the headline interest rates can be cut at any time.

Anna Bowes, founder of savings rate tracking service Savings Champion, says that with another base rate increase due shortly, it’s no wonder the variable rate market is looking really positive today.

Just one week ago, Shawbrook Bank’s offered a market-leading account paying 4.63 percent, but it was quickly knocked off the top of the best buy tables, Bowes says.

Now four easy access accounts beat that rate.

Both Aldermore Bank and Post Office Money pay 4.70 percent a year, rates unthinkable just a few months ago.

However, the Post Office account’s headline rate is inflated by a bonus of 3.15 percent, which will disappear after 12 months at which point savers should be ready to move on.

Beehive Money’s Bonus Saver beats them both paying 4.80 percent. Again, this is inflated by a temporary bonus.

That is worth 2.15 percent a year and will continue until August 31, 2024, which is roughly 12 months away.

Now they’ve all been beaten by another challenger bank. Bowes says Tandem Bank has made a big increase to the rate on its app-only Instant Access Saver. 

Tandem lifted the account’s underlying rate to 4.65 percent but it also offers a top-up bonus worth another 0.35 percent.

“That takes the total amount to five percent, which is the highest easy access rate since 2009 in a thrilling development for savers,” Bowes says.

This triggered a flurry of rate increases from rival challenger banks such as Cynergy Bank, Oxbury Bank and Paragon.

Yet none have matched Tandem’s five percent rate, Bowes says.

Savers who are tempted should not hang around, though, because Tandem withdrew the account over the weekend, only to reinstate it.

This is increasingly common practice among banks. Best buy accounts are often heavily oversubscribed as savers dash around grabbing the highest possible interest rates, swamping popular accounts.

READ MORE: SmartSave offers ‘excellent’ 6.01% interest on fixed savings account

Now another provider has joined the fray, Bowes says. “Furness Building Society has made the bold move of launching its Triple Access Saver (Issue 1) account that also pays five percent, but with limitations.”

As the name suggests, savers can make just three withdrawals per year. “Any more and your cash will be moved to a lower paying account.”

Today, the vast majority of best buy accounts are only available online, but the Furness deal is an exception, Bowes adds.

“The account must be opened and managed either in branch or via post. Some will see that as a positive but others will view this as a negative.”

Happily, with so many accounts to choose from, any easy access saver who considers this or the triple withdrawal limit a problem can still get a good deal elsewhere.

Bowes says £270billion is now sitting in current accounts earning next to nothing, which means its value is being eroded even faster by inflation. “Hopefully, some of those who are allowing their cash to languish will switch to earn some meaningful interest.”

Savers can still get around six percent from best buy fixed-rate savings bonds, but lately providers have been competing to lower rates rather than hike them.

Recognise Bank is yet to be knocked off its perch as the most generous fixed-rate bond, paying 6.10 percent over a year for two years. 

RCI Bank pays 5.8 per cent a year, fixed for five years.

A big advantage of fixed rates is that savers who lock will continue to get a high return even if interest rates peak and fall. Whereas easy access rates will drop the moment the BoE stops hiking rates and starts cutting them instead.

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