The best savings accounts to beat inflation
With inflation at 2.5%, 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, 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 are typically around £250. What's more, the rates are only payable for a limited time - typically 12 months.
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.
TSB recently increased its 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's Current account pays 3% AER on balances up to £3,000. Tesco Bank has guaranteed its rate until 1 April 2019.
Top 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 1.32% AER, offered by Bank of Cyprus UK.
Paragon Bank and RCI Bank UK offer the next best rates in our table, at 1.31% AER and 1.3% AER respectively. 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.
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 1.9% AER, offered by Milestone Savings. Milestone Savings accounts do not technically offer interest. Instead they pay an 'expected profit rate' in accordance with Sharia law.
Al Rayan Bank and Paragon Bank offer the next best rates in our table, both at 1.86% AER. Like Milestone Savings, Al Rayan accounts do not technically offer interest. Instead they pay an 'expected profit rate' in accordance with Sharia law.
Two-year fixed-rate savings accounts
Secure Trust Bank offers the best two-year fixed-rate savings account in our table, at 2.16% AER.
OakNorth Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.11% AER.
Three-year fixed-rate savings accounts
RCI Bank offers the best rate in our three-year fixed-rate savings account table, paying 2.31% AER. 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.
Vanquis Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.3% AER.
Four-year fixed-rate savings accounts
Vanquis Bank offers the best rate in our four-year fixed-rate savings account table, at 2.52% AER.
PCF Bank offers the next best rate in our table, paying 2.4% AER.
Five-year fixed-rate savings accounts
The best rate on a five-year savings account available in our tables is 2.7% AER, and is offered by Vanquis Bank.
Secure Trust Bank and United Bank UK offer the next best rates in our table, both at 2.65% 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.
Customer scores are based on a survey of an online panel of respondents from the general public who were invited to take part in the savings accounts customer satisfaction survey during January 2018. The final sample size was 6,399.
Overall customer scores are worked out using a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely the respondents are to recommend their savings provider to a friend. Companies need at least 30 responses to be given a rating.
|Customer satisfaction for savings accounts|
|Provider||Customer service||Rates of interest||Regular communication||Transparency of charges/penalties||Product Score||Customer Score|
|RCI Bank UK||n/a||68%||77%|
|Al Rayan Bank||65%||66%|
|Charter Savings Bank||n/a||58%||64%|
|United Bank UK||40%||63%|
|Bank of Scotland||78%||61%|
|ICICI Bank UK||68%||56%|
|National Savings and Investments (NS&I)||58%||55%|
|West Brom BS||n/a||n/a||65%||54%|
|Post Office Money||70%||51%|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||88%||50%|
n/a = sample size too small
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 67%).
Despite First Direct and The AA scoring above the required 70% for customer satisfaction, they are not eligible for WRP status as their product score is below average (currently 67%). First Direct's savings products are also tied to the purchase of its 1st Current Account.
Which? Recommended savings providers
You can also see the scores, and Which? Recommended savings Providers below.
Which? Recommended Providers are companies that are both rated highly by the respondents of our unique customer survey and have products that meet the high standards of our researchers.
To feature as a Recommended Provider, a company must have achieved a top score (at least 70%) in our latest customer satisfaction survey.
- Providers main instant-access account must achieve an above average product score (currently 67%).
- Providers must have a savings account which sits in the top ten in at least one category and another account sitting within the top half of at least one category.
- Providers must be fully covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
- Which? Recommended Providers of savings accounts must offer products which are available nationally and are not tied to the purchase of another product with the same provider.
Which? Recommended savings account providers
|Provider||Which? verdict||Customer |
|Average score of all savings account providers rated by Which? Money||59%|
|RCI Bank UK||RCI Bank's Freedom Savings account has maintained best rate status in our instant access tables, since 2012.|| |
|Coventry BS||Offers competitive rates on its ordinary instant access savings account and instant access cash Isa|| |
Choose the right type of savings account