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Exclusive: hundreds of top-rate savings accounts disappear after less than two weeks

Find out how these vanishing acts could affect your cash

One in 10 cash Isas and savings accounts launched over the past 18 months have been withdrawn within two weeks of being launched, with several lasting just one day.

Which? Money used data from Moneyfacts to analyse when instant-access and fixed-term accounts were first introduced, and when they were pulled from the market.

Of the 2,414 accounts launched during 2018 and 2019 so far, 231 were withdrawn within 14 days – and many of these had market-leading interest rates.

Here, we reveal the banks with the worst track records for short-lived offers  and what this could mean for savers.


Which banks have the most short-lived accounts?

The graph below shows the number of instant-access and fixed-term accounts that were withdrawn within two weeks of being launched over the past 18 months.

All the data is sourced from Moneyfacts.

OakNorth Bank most frequently launches short-lived offers, with 32 of its accounts withdrawn within 14 days in the period we looked at. Of these, just over half were fixed-rate savings accounts, and the remainder were fixed-rate cash Isas.

Its cash Isas were particularly short-lived, offered for an average of four days, while three closed after just one day.

Skipton Building Society had a total of 24 cash Isas and savings accounts that lasted for less than two weeks, while Charter Savings Bank had 17.

More fixed-rate accounts quickly disappear

According to our analysis, fixed-rate accounts are more likely to quickly vanish than instant-access options.

Of the accounts that launched in the past 18 months, just over 9% of all fixed-rate savings accounts and cash Isas were withdrawn within two weeks, equating to 191 accounts altogether. By contrast, only 6% of instant-access savings accounts were pulled after such a short time.

This may be due to the nature of the accounts themselves. Instant-access account rates are variable, meaning providers can cut or increase them at any time, rather than withdrawing the offer and launching a different product.

What are the current top-rate accounts?

Some of the quickest accounts to disappear from the market were those offering market-leading rates.

In one example from October 2018, Nottingham Building Society introduced an instant-access savings account that paid 1.55% AER, placing it at the top of best-rate tables at a time when competition for the top spot was particularly fierce. This account was withdrawn after just two days.

But this isn’t the case for the majority of accounts, with many market leaders that stuck around for months.

Some of the top rates around today have been on the market for months.

The table below shows the best rates for fixed-rate and instant-access cash Isas and savings accounts, in order of term. The links will take you through to Which? Money Compare.

Account AER Terms
Bank of London & The Middle East five-year fixed-rate savings account 2.75% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
Metro Bank five-year fixed-rate cash Isa 2.1% £1 minimum initial deposit.
Bank of London & The Middle East four-year fixed-rate savings account 2.45% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
United Trust Bank four-year fixed-rate cash Isa 1.9% £15,000 minimum initial deposit.
Bank of London & The Middle East three-year fixed-rate savings account 2.55% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
Charter Savings Bank three-year fixed-rate cash Isa 1.87% £5,000 minimum initial deposit.
Bank of London & The Middle East two-year fixed-rate savings account 2.35% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
Al Rayan Bank two-year fixed-term cash Isa 1.8% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
Bank of London & The Middle East one-year fixed-rate savings account 2.1% (EPR*) £1,000 minimum initial deposit.
Cynergy Bank one-year fixed-rate cash Isa 1.61% £500 minimum initial deposit.
Cynergy Bank instant-access savings account 1.5% £1 minimum initial deposit. AER drops to 1% after 12 months.
Virgin Money instant-access cash Isa 1.46% £1 minimum initial deposit. Only two withdrawals allowed per year, unless you want to fully close or transfer your account.

*Expected Profit Rate. Source: Which? Money Compare. Correct 21 August 2019.

Currently, Bank of London & The Middle East holds the top spot across all fixed-rate savings accounts, and has for several weeks now. As it’s an Islamic bank, it pays ‘Expected Profit Rate’ (EPR), rather than AER.

Due to this, there is a small chance that the rate you receive will be different from the one advertised – however, this hasn’t happened with any UK Islamic banks to our knowledge.

There is often a lot of movement with top-rate accounts, which could be withdrawn, have their rates reduced or simply be beaten by a new product at any time – but that’s no cause to panic.

We outline the things you should consider before opening a new account further down the page, explaining why it’s not all about the interest rate.

What makes banks withdraw accounts?

Banks and building societies tend to increase rates when they want more money to come in, which can then be used to fund mortgage and credit card lending.

Providers will often have targets in mind, and table-topping accounts are likely to attract customers quickly. Once their quota has been filled, the account will be closed.

There has been criticism that some banks and building societies knowingly launch accounts that they can’t afford to keep open for a reasonable length of time to attract positive publicity. They may only need a handful of customers to sign up before closing the account.

What does this mean for savers?

There are no regulations preventing providers from closing savings accounts to new customers, but it could mean that many savers miss out on the best rates as they can’t be expected to open one on the day it’s launched.

That’s not to say you should rush into choosing a new home for your savings though, as it’s not just about the interest rate.

Before deciding on a new account, ask yourself:

  • Can you afford the minimum initial deposit? This is the amount of money you’ll need to pay in when you first open the account; commonly, the top rates stipulate a minimum of £1,000, but there are also options that require much more, and others that can be opened with just £1.
  • Can you commit to the terms? Before opening any account, you should check the terms carefully. If you’re opting for a fixed-term account, are you certain that you definitely won’t need the money until it’s over? Can you access money earlier, and is there a withdrawal penalty? Even instant-access accounts have their quirks; some only offer competitive AERs for a limited time, while some only permit a certain number of withdrawals each year – don’t get caught out.
  • Can you manage the account easily? For some people, the idea of saving their money with a bank that doesn’t have any branches is enough to bring them out in a cold sweat, but for others it’s the height of convenience. Think about how you like to contact your provider, and make sure any new accounts can offer this.
  • Is the provider right for you? Is the mobile banking site or app easy to use? Does it have good customer service? Is it covered by the FSCS? Have a think about these before taking the plunge.

You can search through hundreds of cash Isas and savings accounts with Which? Money Compare.

Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Money Compare is a trading name of Which? Financial Services Limited.

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