Martin Lewis: The three best savings accounts on offer right now
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Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert on his top savings deals.
Millions of people, across the nation have money sitting in high street savings accounts earning diddly-squat, often at 0.1% or less. Many of you are scared to move your money as you want safety.
Yet there’s currently a way you can earn over ten times that amount and it’s 100% safe.
The three top easy access savings accounts are all totally safe
If you want an easy-access account where you can put money in and withdraw when you like, then currently and unprecedentedly, the top-paying easy-access savings all come from by far the safest place - www.nsandi.com (used to be called National Savings), the government-backed savings institution.
• So, there’s really no excuses to be earning anything less than these:
1. NS&I Income Bonds: 1.16% AER (min £500). It’s the highest payer and can be operated online. Deposits and withdrawals must be in chunks of at least £500, and interest is paid monthly into a separate account (so you don’t earn compounded interest – unless you then put it back in).
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2. NS&I Direct Saver: 1% AER (min £1). It’s simple and can be operated online. You have full flexibility on withdrawals and deposits, and interest is paid into the account annually and compounds.
3. NS&I Investment Account: 0.8% AER (min £20). This is similar to the Direct Saver, but is postal only.
An added boon with NS&I is that it’s 100% safe.
While all UK-regulated savings accounts are protected up to £85,000 per person per institution under the UK safe savings scheme, but for those with more, as NS&I is government-backed it’s all protected - even if you’re lucky enough to have millions – which many of these accounts allow you to put in. These accounts also smash the pants of the next top rates. www.ybs.co.uk is 0.8% AER, but minimum deposit is £10,000, for less www.saga.co.uk is 0.75%. And while fixed rates normally smash easy-access, as you have to lock your money away, right now NS&I beats the top 1 year and 2 year fixes. • Have debts? For most it’s better to pay these off first.
If you’re paying interest on credit cards or overdrafts and loans (barring student loans), it’s usually far better to pay those off with any savings, just double check for early repayment penalties on loans. As the interest they charge is much higher than the amount you earn in savings. For example, saving £1,000 at 1% means you earn £10/year. But have £1,000 debt at 20% interest means you’re paying £200/year. So, pay of your debt with savings and you’re £190/year better off.
With mortgages, if your rate is higher than you earn saving – as it will be for most - then you’re usually best to overpay it. Yet check you’re allowed to overpay penalty free, and always keep a cash emergency fund in savings of 3 – 6 months’ worth of bills in savings first.
• Niche ways to boost savings
1) Claiming universal credit or working tax credits - get a 50% boost. The www.helptobuy.gov.uk scheme lets those on low incomes save up to £50/month, and pays a 50% bonus on up to £1,200 after two years – best of all this is paid on the highest amount you’ve had in, so if you saved £500 in, then had to withdraw, you’d still get £250 at the end of two years. And if you’re claiming universal credit temporarily due to the pandemic, then you can still open this, and keep using it even once that stops.
2) Saving for your first home – Lifetime ISAs (LISA) are no-brainers. First-time buyers aged 18-39 saving in LISAs get a 25% bonus added on what you’ve saved (max £4,000/yr) to use towards your first home as long as it’s under £450,000. The top payer is Nottingham BS at 1.25%. For full info see www.moneysavingexpert.com/lisas
3) High interest for regular saving or via current account. Some regular savings accounts where you save a small amount each month can pay more, like Coventry BS 1.85% on up to £500/mth. As can current account incentives like Virgin Money that pays 2.02% on the first £1,000 and as you don’t need to pay into it each month like most current accounts, can just be used for saving.