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18 Sep 2019

Inflation plummets to 1.7% in August: should you move your savings?

Find out which savings accounts can match or beat inflation now

The UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation fell to 1.7% in August 2019, the Office for National Statistics revealed this morning.

The rate, which tracks how the cost of a fictional basket of goods has changed over the year, is thelowest since December 2016.

Here we explain why inflation has come down and what impact this will have on your savings.

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Why CPI inflation has dropped

The ONS says the main cause of inflation falling was a decrease in the cost of 'recreational' and 'cultural goods', including games, toys and hobbies, and cultural services, as well as clothing and sea fares.

You can see how CPI inflation has changed since the EU referendum in June 2016 in the graph below.

Inflation peaked in November 2017 when it hit 3.1%, meaning no savings account could beat it.

The Bank of England aims to keep inflation as close to 2% as possible. So far this year, it has hovered close to this benchmark, and is now tracking well below it. This means savers are in a much better position to find an account that can help them match or beat inflation.

What August's CPI inflation rate means for savers

The CPI rate of inflation can affect the value of your cash savings, so it's worth monitoring.

CPI tracks how the cost of a fictional basket of more than 700 goods and services has changed each month compared with the same time last year.

If you had bought all the things in the basket in August this year, you'd have paid 1.7% more than in August 2018.

The rising cost of goods means you can buy less today with the same amount of cash, eroding the buying power of your savings.

You can counteract this by earning interest. But if the interest rate doesn't match or beat the rate of inflation, your savings will still lose value over time.

Can any savings accounts match or beat inflation?

Since inflation has dropped to its lowest level in over two and a half years, there are more accounts that can help protect your savings - and you could earn this by locking up your money for a year or less.

The table below shows the accounts paying the most interest on cash across instant access, notice and fixed-rate deals, according to Which? Money Compare.

As a rule of thumb, the longer you commit your savings, the more you'll earn. This isn't always true however - you can earn more from the top-rate three-year bond than the top four-year bond.

While cash Isas generally pay less, they offer tax-free savings. This might be appealing if the personal savings allowance isn't likely to cover your full earnings from interest.

We've only included accounts open to all UK savers that you can open with £5,000 or less.

Type of accountName of accountRate AERMinimum deposit
Five-year fixed-rate bondGatehouse Five-Year Fixed-Term Deposit2.45% (EPR)*£1,000
Five-year fixed-rate cash IsaMetro Bank Five-Year Fixed-Rate Cash Isa2.10%£1
Four-year fixed-rate bondBLME Four-Year Premier Deposit Account2.25% (EPR)*£1,000
Four-year fixed-rate IsaHodge Bank Four-Year Fixed-Rate Cash Isa1.80%£1,000
Three-year fixed-rate bondBLME Three-Year Premier Deposit Account2.45% (EPR)*£1,000
Three-year fixed-rate cash IsaMetro Bank Three-Year Fixed-Rate Cash Isa1.85%£1
Two-year fixed-rate bondBLME Two-Year Premier Deposit Account2.35% (EPR)*£1,000

*Expected profit rate
Source: Which? Money Compare. Rates correct as of 18 September 2019.

Some of the best rates are offered by Islamic banks, which pay an Expected Profit Rate (RPR) rather than an interest rate (AER).

This means there is a chance you'll be paid a lower rate than the one advertised. However, to date, that hasn't happened with these providers.