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26 Apr 2019

Best savings rates of 2019: nearly 300 accounts beat inflation

Find out the top rates for every kind of savings and cash Isa account

While the frenzy of competition for savers' deposits is dying down, you can still benefit from more than 297 savings accounts and cash Isas that equal or exceed the March inflation rate of 1.9%.

Nonetheless, there has been a significant drop in inflation-beating accounts since February, when there were more than 375 to choose from.

This may be due to the end of so-called 'Isa season', during which many providers up their rates to encourage savers to use up their remaining Isa allowance before the tax year ends on 5 April.

As the competition eases off, data from Moneyfacts suggests that several rates have already been cut or withdrawn - but there are still accounts out there that can help grow your savings.

Here, we reveal the top-rate accounts for this month for every cash Isa and savings category.

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How many fixed-term savings accounts beat inflation?

If your cash is earning a rate lower than inflation, you may be losing money in real terms, as you'll be able to purchase less with the same amount of cash.

As the graph below shows, January this year was the first time since November 2016 that savers saw average savings rates exceed inflation.

Since then, the average savings rate has fallen to just below inflation. In April, savings and cash Isas averaged 1.87% and 1.62% respectively, while March's CPI inflation figure remained at 1.9%.

Yet hundreds of accounts can still beat CPI - and lower price growth and better offers mean that locking your money away for half a decade is no longer your only option.

The best-rate savings accounts

Which? analysed more than 1,450 accounts using data from Moneyfacts, and found 154 fixed-term savings accounts with AER interest of 1.9% or above.

All accounts require a minimum initial investment of £5,000 or less, and all duplicate accounts have been stripped out (for instance, those that have slightly different terms but are essentially the same account).

Top short-term savings

It's still possible to grow your savings over the course of just one year, but the choice of accounts has shrunk since February.

There are 14 one-year fixed-rate savings accounts that can match or beat inflation, whereas there were 23 just a couple of months ago.

See below for the three top-rate accounts.

  • Bank of London & The Middle East one-year premier deposit account, 2.2% Expected Profit Rate (EPR)
  • Al Rayan Bank 12-month fixed-term deposit, 2.17% EPR
  • My Community Bank 12-month fixed-term deposit, 2.05% AER

All accounts require a £1,000 minimum initial deposit.

Highest rates for long-term savers

The longer you lock your money away for, the higher rate you generally earn. The top-rate long-term savings accounts are:

  • Gatehouse Bank five-year fixed-term deposit, 2.75% EPR
  • Bank of London & The Middle East five-year premier deposit account, 2.7% EPR
  • Paragon five-year fixed-rate account, 2.5% AER.

Again, you'll need an initial minimum deposit of at least £1,000.

What are the best Isa rates?

There are 24 cash Isas that can currently match or beat inflation - this is down from 46 accounts in February, but still up from January when there were just nine.

You'll need to lock up your money for at least two years to beat inflation with a cash Isa.

Only one two-year fixed-rate cash Isa currently matches inflation, and none exceed it:

  • Santander two-year fixed-rate Isa, 1.9% AER, £500 minimum initial deposit

Note that you must be a Santander 123 World or Santander Select customer when you open the account to get this rate.

If you're willing to lock up your money for longer, the top Isa accounts are:

  • Shawbrook Bank five-year fixed-rate cash Isa bond, 2.3% AER, £1,000 minimum initial deposit
  • State Bank of India five-year cash Isa fixed deposit, 2.15% AER, £5,000 minimum initial deposit
  • Metro Bank five-year fixed-rate cash Isa, 2.1% AER, £1 minimum initial deposit

Don't forget about cash Isa tax benefits

While cash Isa rates are consistently beaten by top-rate savings accounts, their tax-free status may outweigh the small interest gap.

Any interest earned within an Isa is tax-free, and therefore doesn't count towards your personal savings allowance, whereas interest earned in a savings account does.

You're restricted to paying in £20,000 each tax year, known as the Isa allowance, and it's the same for everyone.

The whole sum can be deposited into a cash, stocks and shares or innovative finance Isa, or it can be split between several types of Isas.

Table-topping regular savings accounts

In addition to the Moneyfacts data, we found 29 regular savings accounts that have inflation-busting rates.

However, most require deposits to be made every month, and often come with significant caveats - so make sure you can commit before you open one.

The three top rates are:

  • First Direct regular saver account, 5% AER (requires deposits of £25-£300 per month).
  • M&S Bank monthly saver, 5% AER (requires deposits of £25-£250 per month).
  • HSBC regular saver - preferential rate, 5% AER (requires deposit of £25-£250 per month).

All providers require you to hold another account before you can open a regular saver.

First Direct's AER lasts for 12 months, when it drops to just 0.15% - at which point you should consider moving your savings elsewhere.

You must keep your account for at least a year with M&S Bank to receive the 5% interest, as closing early will mean you'll only earn 0.2% AER.

To receive the preferential rate from HSBC, you must hold an HSBC Premier or HSBC Advance account. Both require a fairly high minimum deposit to be paid in each month, so those with low salaries will not be able to use them.

The rate will also drop to 0.2% AER if the regular saver is closed within 12 months.

Top-rate Junior cash Isa accounts

There are 36 Junior cash Isas that equal or beat inflation, unchanged from earlier this year.

You can deposit up to £4,368 into a junior Isa during this tax year, and all savings growth will be tax-free.

The three top-rate accounts are:

  • Coventry Building Society Junior cash Isa, 3.6% AER
  • Danske Bank Junior cash Isa, 3.45% AER
  • Darlington Building Society Junior cash Isa, 3.25% AER

Two of these accounts have location restrictions. Danske Bank's account must be opened in-branch, and all branches are in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, only customers living in certain postcodes can open accounts with Darlington Building Society.

The best Help to Buy Isas

Help to Buy Isas are savings accounts specifically to help first-time buyers save for a home. Whatever you save receives a 25% government bonus (up to £3,000) if you meet the criteria.

There are 25 Help to Buy Isas that exceed the rate of inflation, the same number as earlier in the year. The top three rates are:

  • Penrith Building Society Help to Buy Isa, 3% AER
  • Tipton & Coseley Building Society Help to Buy Isa, 2.95% AER
  • Vernon Building Society Help to Buy Isa, 2.85% AER

There are regional restrictions on all of these accounts. You must have a Cumbria postcode to bank with Penrith Building Society; Tipton & Coseley specify a handful of eligible postcodes; and Vernon Building Society customers must live within 25 miles of Stockport.

The highest rate that's available nationwide is 2.58% AER from Barclays.

If you want to take advantage of these accounts, you'd better move fast - Help to Buy Isas will be closing to new customers on 30 November 2019.

High interest children's savings accounts

There are 24 children's savings accounts that match or beat inflation. The three top rates are:

  • Nationwide Future Saver (existing customers), 3.5% AER
  • Melton Mowbray Building Society Wild Ones Young Savers, 3.04% AER
  • Nationwide Future Saver, 2.5% AER

The Nationwide account is limited to one withdrawal a year. If you take money out more frequently, the rate will drop to 0.5% AER.

We also found some regular children's savings accounts that pay high interest:

  • Halifax kids' monthly saver, 4.5% AER
  • Saffron Building Society children's regular saver, 4%
  • Barclays children's regular saver, 3.5%

You have to deposit between £10 and £100 each month into the Halifax account, while the others accept £5 to £100.

No withdrawals are allowed from the Halifax account, whereas any month a withdrawal is made with Barclays will cause the AER to drop to 1.51%.

Why should your savings rates beat inflation?

CPI inflation tracks the prices of an imaginary shopping basket of more than 700 goods and services.

Each month's inflation figure shows how prices have changed since the same month in the previous year. So, as CPI measured 1.9% in March, it means everything in the basket is 1.9% more expensive than in March 2018.

If your savings aren't growing by at least the same rate, your money's value will diminish as it won't be able to buy you as much.

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? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.