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How to find the best savings account

We round up the best savings rates on the market in 2019 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 2019? 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?

Inflation fell to 2% in May 2019, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), mainly due to lower transport fares and falling car prices.

This is down from April, where inflation measured 2.1%.

While this inflation drop means that popular goods and services are more expensive than in May 2018, the change will also have an effect on your cash savings. If you money is earning less than 2% interest, you may see your savings lose value in real terms.

This is particularly worrying considering recent findings that 26% of Brits have savings pots that would last less than a month if they were forced to use them for all of their outgoings, according to research from Yorkshire Building Society. In fact, 11% of those asked expected their savings to last just a few days.

With so many in a potentially precarious position, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your savings – however large or small – are growing as much as possible.

So we have listed the best accounts to help you to maximise your savings.

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 and M&S Bank 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's Plus account account pays 3% AER on balances up to £1,500, generating a maximum return of £75. 

Tesco Bank pays 1% AER on balances up to £3,000.

 

What are the best savings deal in 2019?

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 Cynergy Bank and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. However, the Marcus account includes a yearly bonus of 0.15% AER, so you may need to switch to a more competitive account thereafter.

Shawbrook Bank offers the next best rate in our table, paying 1.48% AER.

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 Bank of London & The Middle East.

Al Rayan Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.17% AER. 

The accounts from Al Rayan Bank and Bank of London & The Middle East are sharia-compliant products, and so offers an expected profit rate as opposed to interest. 

Two-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Al Rayan Bank offers the best two-year fixed-rate savings account in our table, at 2.42% AER. 

Bank of London & The Middle East offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.4% AER. 

The accounts from Al Rayan Bank and Bank of London & The Middle East are sharia-compliant products, and so offers an expected profit rate as opposed to interest. 

Three-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Gatehouse Bank offers the best rate in our three-year fixed-rate table, all at 2.55% AER. 

Al Rayan Bank offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.52% AER. 

The accounts from Al Rayan Bank and Gatehouse Bank are sharia-compliant products, and so offers an expected profit rate as opposed to interest. 

Four-year fixed-rate savings accounts

Bank of London & Middle East offers the best rate in our four-year fixed-rate savings account table, at 2.5% AER.

MasthavenPCF Bank and RCI Bank offer the next best rates in our table, all at 2.4% AER.

The account from Bank of London & Middle East is a sharia-compliant product, and so offers an expected profit rate as opposed to interest. 

Five-year fixed-rate savings accounts 

Gatehouse Bank offers the best rate in our five-year fixed-rate savings account table, paying 2.75% AER. 

Bank of London & Middle East offers the next best rate in our table, at 2.7% AER.

The accounts from Bank of London & Middle East and Gatehouse Bank are sharia-compliant product, and so offers an expected profit rate as opposed to interest. 

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
First Direct 78% 56%

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

Skipton
Building Society
78% 74%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

Metro Bank 77% 72%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

RCI Bank 75% 54% -

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Coventry
Building Society
75% 78%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Leeds
Building Society
74% 62%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

-
Shawbrook Bank 74% 52% -

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

Nationwide
Building Society

74% 72%

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

Paragon

74% 56% -

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

Kent Reliance

72% 70% -

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

Aldermore

72% 50% -

5 out of 5

-
Principality
Building Society
70% 62%

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

-
Tesco Bank 69% 82%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

M&S Bank 69% 64%

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Yorkshire
Building Society
68% 72%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Virgin Money 68% 72%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

The AA 67% 44%

3 out of 5

5 out of 5

3 out of 5

Santander 67% 74%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

The Co-operative Bank 67% 74%

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Bank of Scotland 67% 76%

4 out of 5

2 out of 5

5 out of 5

Clydesdale Bank 65% 80%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

National Savings
& Investments (NS&I)
65% 52%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Yorkshire Bank 65% 80%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

HSBC 65% 76%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Lloyds Bank 64% 72%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

Barclays

64% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Halifax

64% 76%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

NatWest

63% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Royal Bank
of Scotland

63% 84%

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Sainsbury's Bank

62% 52%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Post Office Money

62% 62%

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

TSB

58% 70%

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

ICICI Bank

56% 64%

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

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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