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How to find the best savings account

By Chiara Cavaglieri

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How to find the best savings account

We round up the best savings rates on the market and explain how to pick the right account for you. 

How to beat inflation

With inflation at 3.1%, it's hard for savers to find an account that pays enough to protect their money from losing value in real terms.

Of the 750 savings accounts on the market that are without eligibility restrictions, not one can beat or match inflation. 

Here we round up the best accounts currently available.

The Which? Money Compare savings and Isa tables let you search hundreds of savings accounts from providers large and small to find a great account based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

Regular savings accounts

The best regular savings accounts pay rates that are high enough to outstrip inflation, but to access them, you'll need to have a current account with the same provider. First Direct, HSBC, M&S Bank, Nationwide and Santander all have regular savings accounts that pay a market-leading 5% AER for 12 months, but only existing current account customers are eligible.

Bear in mind that unlike fixed-rate bonds or instant-access accounts, which allow you to deposit a lump sum, you'll be much more restricted on the amounts you can pay in to a regular savings account- maximum monthly deposits range from £250 to £500. What's more, the rates are only payable for a limited time - typically 12 months.

Current accounts

Despite a series of rate cuts on popular interest-paying current accounts, many still offer meaningful returns, albeit only on small balances. You'll also need to make sure you pay in the required minimum monthly amount to qualify for interest.

Nationwide's FlexDirect account pays 5% AER on balances up to £2,500 for the first 12 months, generating a maximum return of £125. The rate will drop to 1% after that.

Tesco Bank's Current and TSB's Classic Plus accounts pay 3% AER on balances up to £3,000 and £1,500 respectively. What's more, Tesco Bank guarantees to pay 3% AER until 1 April 2019.

 

Savings account deals

Instant-access savings accounts (unlimited withdrawals)

Excluding accounts with limited withdrawals or other restrictions, the best instant-access savings rate in our table is 1.3% AER, offered by the Post Office and RCI Bank UK. RCI is not covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but all accounts are covered by the French Deposit Guarantee Scheme, protecting the first 100,000 Euros.

Bank of Cyprus UK and The Nottingham Building Society offer the next best rates in our table, both paying 1.25% AER. 

One-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

If you’re willing to tie up your savings for a year, the best rate in our tables is 1.86% AER, offered by Al Rayan Bank. Al Rayan Bank do not offer you interest, instead it makes Sharia compliant investments on your behalf to achieve expected profit rates.

Milestone Savings offers the next best rate in our table, at 1.82% AER. Milestone Savings do not offer you interest, instead it makes Sharia compliant investments on your behalf to achieve expected profit rates.

Two-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Paragon Bank, The Access Bank UK and the Union Bank of India offer the best two-year fixed-rate savings accounts in our table, all paying 2.05% AER. 

Axis Bank UK offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.04% AER.

Compare two-year fixed-rate savings accounts

Three-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

The Access Bank UK offer the best rate in our three-year fixed-rate savings account table, at 2.25% AER. 

Charter Savings Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.21% AER.

Four-year fixed-rate savings accounts

Masthaven Bank offers the best rate in our four-year fixed-rate savings account table,  at 2.22% AER. 

Ikano Bank offers the next best rate in our table, paying 2.21% AER. Ikano Bank is not covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but all accounts are covered by the Swedish Deposit Insurance Scheme, protecting the first £85,000. 

Five-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

The best rate on a five-year savings account available in our tables is 2.5% AER, and is offered by Paragon Bank

PCF Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.42% AER. 

The best and worst savings providers for customer satisfaction

We know that customer service is an important factor for many consumers when choosing a savings account. That's why the Which? Money Compare comparison tables include our unique customer satisfaction ratings alongside each account.

You can also see the scores, and Which? Recommended savings Providers below. 

It's worth bearing in mind that a fair proportion of the best rate savings accounts are internet-only. If you've got your heart set on a branch-based account, then you will probably have to settle for a slightly lower interest rate.

 

Best and worst savings providers
Provider Customer service Rates of interest Regular communication Transparency of charges/penalties Product Score Customer Score
Skipton BS n/a n/a 83% 77%
Al Rayan Bank n/a 56% 75%
Principality BS n/a 70% 75%
Charter Savings Bank n/a n/a n/a 58% 75%
Metro Bank 70% 72%
RCI Bank UK n/a n/a 68% 72%
Axis Bank 66% 71%
Coventry BS 85% 70%
AA 50% 70%
West Brom BS n/a 68% 69%
First Direct 60% 69%
Nationwide BS 75% 69%
Yorkshire Bank n/a 83% 68%
M&S Bank 70% 67%
TSB Bank 73% 67%
Paragon Bank n/a n/a 65% 67%
Aldermore Bank n/a n/a 63% 66%
Atom Bank n/a n/a n/a 58% 65%
Newcastle BS n/a 63% 64%
Kent Reliance n/a n/a 65% 63%
Leeds BS n/a 68% 62%
Santander 78% 59%
Virgin Money 80% 59%
Co-operative Bank 78% 59%
Lloyds Bank 78% 59%
Tesco Bank 88% 58%
Chelsea BS n/a n/a 80% 57%
Danske Bank 73% 57%
Shawbrook Bank n/a n/a n/a 60% 56%
Bank of Scotland 73% 56%
National Savings and Investments (NS&I) 58% 55%
Yorkshire BS 83% 55%
Saga n/a n/a n/a 65% 54%
Halifax 78% 54%
Clydesdale Bank 83% 54%
NatWest 88% 53%
Post Office Money 65% 53%
Royal Bank of Scotland 88% 52%
HSBC 73% 52%
ICICI Bank UK n/a n/a 68% 51%
Barclays 88% 51%
Sainsbury's Bank 58% 49%
Britannia n/a n/a n/a 55% 47%
Average Score n/a n/a n/a n/a 69% 59%

Table notes:
¹Britannia branded products are part of the Co-operative Bank's range of products
n/a = sample size too small
Skipton BS (40), Al Rayan Bank (37), Principality BS (42), Charter Savings Bank (39), Metro Bank (40), RCI Bank UK (43), Axis Bank (36), Coventry BS (148), AA (73), West Bromwich BS (39), First Direct (198), Nationwide BS (396), Yorkshire Bank (37), M&S Bank (49), TSB Bank (192), Paragon Bank (39), Aldermore Bank (40), Atom Bank (30), Newcastle BS (31), Kent Reliance (42), Leeds BS (42), Santander (384), Virgin Money (149), Co-op Bank (193), Lloyds Bank (391), Tesco Bank (195), Chelsea BS (35), Danske Bank (38), Shawbrook Bank (33), Bank of Scotland (148), NS&I (142), Yorkshire BS (147), Saga (31), Halifax (386), Clydesdale Bank ( 40), NatWest (384), Post Office Money (149), RBS (190), HSBC (392), ICICI Bank UK (40), Barclays (380), Sainsbury's Bank (72), Britannia (38). Average overall customer satisfaction score is 59%
Sample sizes: Total sample size: 5,907.

Product Score

We’ve also looked at the main elements of an instant-access savings account and have introduced a scoring system as a way of comparing each account on an equal basis. For a provider to be eligible for WRP status, it must achieve an average or above score for its instant-access savings account (currently 69%).

 

Which? Recommended savings account providers
Provider Which? verdict Customer
score
Average score of all savings account providers rated by Which? Money 59%
Skipton BS Offers competitive rates on its one-year, two-year, three-year and five-year fixed rate cash Isas

Which? Recommended Provider badge

77%

Principality BS Offers competitive rates on its internet-only ordinary instant access savings account and instant access cash Isa

Which? Recommended Provider badge

75%

Metro Bank Offers competitive fixed-rate cash Isas. Its branches are open 7 days a week (8am to 8pm Mon-Fri, 8am to 6pm Sat and 11am to 5pm Sun).

Which? Recommended Provider badge

72%

Coventry BS Offers competitive rates on its ordinary instant access savings account and instant access cash Isa

Which? Recommended Provider badge

70%

 

Choose the right type of savings account

  • Last updated: 12 January 2018
  • Updated by: Jo Langenhan
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