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How to find the best savings account

We round up the best savings rates on the market in 2018 and explain how to pick the right account for you. 

In this article
What are best savings accounts to beat inflation? What are the best savings deal in 2018? Who are the best and worst savings providers?
Who are Which?'s Recommended Providers? About Which?'s savings account research

What are best savings accounts to beat inflation?

With inflation at 2.4% in September 2018, 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, only a handful 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 and Nationwide 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 are typically around £250. 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% AER after that. 

TSB recently increased its Plus account interest rate on credit balance from 3% AER to 5% AER on balances up to £1,500, generating a maximum return of £75.

Tesco Bank pays 3% AER on balances up to £3,000 and has guaranteed this rate won't change until 1 April 2019.

 

What are the best savings deal in 2018?

Instant-access savings accounts (unlimited withdrawals)

Excluding accounts with limited withdrawals or other restrictions, the best instant-access savings rate in our table is 1.5% AER, offered by Kent Reliance and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. It's worth noting the rate on the Marcus account will revert to 1.35% AER after the first year, so you may need to switch to a more competitive account thereafter.

Bank of Cyprus UK offers the next best rate in our table,, at 1.41% AER. This account includes a 0.41% bonus payable for a year, so you may need to switch to a more competitive account thereafter.

One-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

If you’re willing to tie up your savings for a year, the best rate in our table is 2.2% AER, offered by My Community Bank. However, this account is not available across the whole of the UK.

Atom Bank offers the next best rate in our table,, paying 2.05% AER. .This account is managed using the Atom app, which is available from the UK App Store or the UK Google Play store.

Two-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Al Rayan Bank, Atom Bank and Charter Savings Bank offer the best two-year fixed-rate savings account in our table, both at 2.3% AER. The rate from Al Rayan Bank is the Expected Profit Rate in accordance with Sharia law. The Atom account is managed using the Atom app, which is available from the UK App Store or the UK Google Play store.

Union Bank of India offers the next best rate in our table, paying 2.27% AER. 

Three-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Al Rayan Bank, Atom Bank and Tandem Bank offer the best rates in our three-year fixed-rate table, all at 2.4% AER. The rate from Al Rayan Bank is the Expected Profit Rate in accordance with Sharia law. The Atom account is managed using the Atom app, which is available from the UK App Store or the UK Google Play store.

Paragon Bank offers the next best rate in our table, paying 2.37% AER. 

Four-year fixed-rate savings accounts

Ikano Bank offers the best rate in our four-year fixed-rate savings account table, at 2.45% AER. Ikano Bank is not covered by the FSCS. Instead deposits are protected under the Swedish Scheme which protects up to £85,000.

Hodge Bank, Masthaven and PCF Bank offer the next best rates in our table, all paying 2.4% AER.

Five-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Atom Bank and Ikano Bank offer the best rates in our five-year fixed-rate savings account table, both paying 2.7% AER. Ikano Bank is not covered by the FSCS. Instead deposits are protected under the Swedish Scheme which protects up to £85,000.

Gatehouse Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.68% AER. The rate from Gatehouse Bank is the Expected Profit Rate in accordance with Sharia law. 

Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms & conditions of the savings account provider before committing to any financial products.

Who are the best and worst savings providers?

We know that customer service is an important factor for many people when choosing a savings account. But how do you find bank or building society that pays great rates and provides top-notch customer service?

Which? is here to help. We've asked thousands of real customers to rate dozens of savings companies, resulting in unique Customer Scores to show you how satisfied people are with their provider.

We've also analysed thousands of savings products, generating an overall product score, to see which companies offer consistently competitive rates. 

To be a Which? Recommended Provider, a company must:

  • Achieve an above average product score (currently 62%).
  • Have a savings account which sits in the top 10 in at least one category and another account sitting within the top half of at least one category.
  • Be fully covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
  • Offer products which are available nationally and are not tied to the purchase of another product with the same provider.

The table below ranks the best and worst savings providers. 

Provider undefined Product
score
Customer
service
Rate of
interest paid
Online
banking service
undefinedFirst Direct 78% 56%

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedSkipton Building Society

78% 74%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

undefinedMetro Bank 77% 72%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

undefined RCI Bank 75% 54% -

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedCoventry Building Society

75% 78%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedLeeds Building Society

74% 62%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

-
undefined Shawbrook Bank 74% 52% -

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedNationwide Building Society

74% 72%

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

undefined Paragon 74% 56% -

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

Recommended provider

undefinedKent Reliance

72% 70% -

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefined Aldermore 72% 50% -

5 out of 5

-
undefinedPrincipality Building Society 70% 62%

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

-
undefinedTesco Bank 69% 82%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedM&S Bank 69% 64%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedYorkshire Building Society 68% 72%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedVirgin Money 68% 72%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedThe AA 67% 44%

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedSantander 67% 74%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedThe Co-operative Bank 67% 74%

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedBank of Scotland 67% 76%

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

5 out of 5

undefinedClydesdale Bank 65% 80%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

National Savings & InvestmentsundefinedNS&I 65% 52%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedYorkshire Bank 65% 80%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedLloyds Bank 65% 76%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedHSBC 64% 72%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedBarclays 64% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedHalifax 64% 76%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedNatWest 63% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedRoyal Bank of Scotland 63% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefined Sainsbury's Bank 62% 52%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

undefinedPost Office Money 62% 62%

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedTSB 58% 70%

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefinedICICI bank 56% 64%

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

undefined Britannia 54% 52%

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

-

 

Star ratings: a - indicates that we did not get enough responses on a particular aspect of a provider's service to generate a star rating.  

First Direct (199); Skipton BS (43); Metro Bank (42); RCI Bank UK (44); Coventry BS (155); Leeds BS (44); Shawbrook (35); Nationwide (404); Paragon (40); Kent Reliance (44); Aldermore (30); Principality BS (39); Tesco Bank (202); M&S Bank (59); Virgin Money (154); Yorkshire BS (153); AA (37); Santander (401); Co-op Bank (200); Bank of Scotland (151); Clydesdale Bank (57); NS&I (154); Yorkshire Bank (45); Lloyds (401); HSBC (401); Barclays (399); Halifax (401); NatWest (399); RBS (202); Sainsbury's Bank (79); Post Office Money(169); TSB (201); ICICI Bank UK (42); Britannia (40). Total sample 5,893.

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 62%).

Despite First Direct, Metro Bank, RCI Bank UK, Shawbrook, Paragon, Aldermore and Principality BS scoring 70% or more for customer satisfaction, they are not eligible for WRP status as their product score is either below average (currently 62%) or the provider doesn't offer a top-10 product.. First Direct's savings products are also tied to the purchase of its 1st Current Account.

Who are Which?'s Recommended Providers?

Skipton Building Society

Skipton has the joint-highest customer score this year, receiving 78%. Customers gave it five stars (out of five) for customer service, and praised its online functionality. 

See details about Skipton Building Society's top-paying instant-access account.

Coventry Building Society

One of four building societies achieving our highest accolade, Coventry is now a Recommended Provider for the second year running. 

See details about Coventry Building Society's top-paying instant-access account.

Leeds Building Society

A great customer score, and a decent overall product score, Leeds offers a combination of competitive fixed-rate bonds and variable-rate accounts.

See details about Leeds Building Society's top-paying instant-access account.

Nationwide Building Society

One of the top-performing financial services companies across the products Which? analyses, the UK's largest building society is now a Recommended Provider for savings, credit cards and bank accounts.

See details about Nationwide Building Society's top-paying instant-access account.

Kent Reliance

Formerly Kent Reliance Building Society, the bank scored 72% in our customer satisfaction survey and a product score of 70%.

See details about Kent Reliance's top-paying instant-access account.

About Which?'s savings account research

Which? Customer Score

Which?'s rating for customer satisfaction, based on feedback from real customers. The score is made up of a customer's overall satisfaction with the brand, and how likely they are to recommend that brand.

We surveyed 5,893 members of the general public in July 2018.

Product score

We analyse the key elements of savings accounts, including account management and restrictions to calculate a product rating score. 

Which? Recommended Provider status

A Customer Score of 70% makes a brand eligible for Which? Recommended Provider status, but we’ll only award this if it has an average or above product score.

It must also offer an account sitting in the top 10 in at least one category and another account sitting within the top half of at least one category.

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