With inflation far outstripping most savings rates, are any providers managing to keep their customers happy right now?
Which? decided to find out, asking almost 4,500 UK savings account holders for their opinions on their bank or building society. Our survey delved into savers' experiences of everything from how easy the application process was to customer service and, of course, the all-important interest rate.
We also asked about people's saving habits and found that three in 10 do not have enough savings to cover three months' essential spending.
Here, Which? reveals the best savings providers of 2021, plus tips on how to choose the best savings account for you.
In September 2021, we surveyed 4,469 savings account holders about their savings providers to see how the UK's biggest banks and building societies fared on factors like communications, complaint-handling and fees.
We then asked the savers how satisfied they were, and whether or not they'd recommend the provider. This was used to calculate an overall customer score.
The product score is the result of Which?'s statistical analysis of the accounts the providers offer. Among the nine elements taken into account, we weighed up how competitive the interest rates were, whether there were any opening restrictions, and whether the accounts require a high minimum initial deposit.
Of the 29 banks in our results, the 10 listed in this table performed the best in terms of customer satisfaction.
|Provider||Customer score||Product score|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs - Which? Recommended Provider||68%||76%|
|Coventry Building Society - Which? Recommended Provider||66%||84%|
|Principality Building Society||65%||66%|
Sample sizes: Monzo Bank (85), First Direct (153), Marcus by Goldman Sachs (70), Coventry Building Society (88), Nationwide Building society (483), Principality Building Society (51), Paragon Bank (50), Aldermore (50), Atom Bank (50), Yorkshire Building Society (70).
Monzo and First Direct received the highest customer scores of all providers surveyed.
Both banks achieved five stars out of five for their application process, mobile banking app and online banking services. However, they missed out on becoming Which? Recommended Providers as their savings accounts did not offer competitive interest rates.
At the other end of the scale, HSBC and Clydesdale Bank, which is now part of Virgin Money, both received the lowest customer satisfaction scores of 46%.
HSBC customers awarded the bank just one star for their interest rate, while customer service, application process and regular communications were among the factors which only scraped two stars.
Only those providers that combine excellent customer satisfaction with competitive interest rates can become Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs).
This year, two brands have been named as WRPs: Coventry Building Society and Marcus by Goldman Sachs.
In order to qualify, a provider must:
Here's what made this year's WRPs stand out from the rest, along with some information about the cash Isas or savings accounts they offer.
Coventry Building Society achieved a customer score of 66%, with savers giving it high ratings for customer service, application process, regular communications, and transparency of charges and penalties. Its online banking service also proved popular.
Among the savings accounts on offer, Coventry Building Society's instant-access saver pays 0.5% AER, but only allows you to access your cash six times a year. Coventry's unrestricted instant-access cash Isa and savings account both pay 0.3% AER.
Elsewhere, its three-year fixed-term cash Isa and savings account both pay 1% AER.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs received a 68% customer score. Savers gave it top marks for its application process, clarity of statement and online banking service. The provider's transparency of fees and charges was also rated highly.
Marcus currently offers an instant-access savings account and cash Isa that both pay a competitive variable rate of 0.6% AER for the first 12 months; after that time the rate will drop to 0.5% AER.
Of the UK savings account holders we surveyed, three in 10 said they didn't have enough saved to cover three months' worth of essential expenses in case of an emergency.
As a rule of thumb, it's recommended that you should set aside enough cash to cover things like your rent or mortgage payments, bills, food and other essential outgoings for three to six months in an instant-access savings account that's ready to withdraw if you need it.
One in four respondents said they had less than £1,000 in savings. Having such a low amount to hand has the potential to leave you vulnerable if, say, an unexpected car breakdown or broken boiler means you have to clear out your entire pot, or be forced into borrowing.
But not everyone is saving for emergencies. Around four in 10 respondents said they weren't saving for any particular reason, while one in seven said they were saving for retirement income. One in 10 were saving for a property deposit.