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Leading the way if you are happy to wait three months before accessing your funds is Al Rayan Bank. From a minimum deposit of £250, 90 Day Notice Account pays an annual expected profit rate of 1.50% on a monthly basis. Additional deposits are welcome and unlimited withdrawals are allowed, but there is no option to access funds early, with 90 days’ notice always having to be served. The account can be opened and operated online, by post, over the phone, by mobile app and in branch.

Paying the market-leading return among all fixed rate bonds is Secure Trust Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, 7 Year Fixed Rate bond (28.5.25) pays 2.75% yearly. Additional deposits of at least £1,000 are welcome for as long as the issue remains open, but early access to funds is not allowed. The
bond must be opened online,
but can then be operated over
the phone as well.

Robin Squirrel

Market-leading access

Increasing rates and now offering the market-leading easy access account as a result is Bank of Cyprus UK. Requiring a minimum deposit of just £1, Online Easy Access Account now pays 1.32% yearly, including a bonus of 0.47% for 12 months, which makes a review of the account’s competitiveness a must in a year’s time. Additional deposits can be made at any time and there are no restrictions on withdrawals, other than that they must be made via a nominated account. The account can only be opened and operated online.

At the same time, Bank of Cyprus UK raised the rates on its fixed rate ISAs, moving the one-year option to the top of its chart. From a minimum deposit of £500, Fixed Rate Cash ISA now pays 1.51% yearly for one year, and a highly competitive 1.55% and 1.60% yearly over two and three years respectively.

Transfers in are welcome and additional deposits of at least £100 are allowed, too, although a variable rate will be paid. However, the only way to access funds early is by closing the ISAs and losing 180 days’ interest. The same interest penalty applies if transferring away from these ISAs, which must be opened online, but can then be operated over the phone, by post and in branch as well.

Bond rebrand goes top

Raising rates to coincide with its rebranding and moving top of the chart for one-year fixed rate bonds as a result is Gatehouse Bank (formerly Milestone Savings). From a minimum deposit of £1,000, Fixed Term Deposit pays an expected profit rate of 2.00% on maturity. Neither additional deposits nor early access to funds are allowed on this purely internet-based bond.

Short-term bonds near best

Improving rates and now paying near market-leading returns on two short-term fixed rate bonds is OakNorth Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, the 24-month version of Fixed Term Deposit now pays 2.11% on maturity, while its 30-month counterpart pays 2.12% on maturity. Additional deposits are not permitted and early access to funds is not allowed on these online-only bonds.

Looking for an Easy Access Cash ISA? See Latest Top Rates in left hand column
Savers Friend In Focus

Children's Accounts

For those who want to encourage their children to start saving from an early age, most banks and building societies offer accounts aimed specifically at children.

The top-paying instant access children’s account without opening restrictions comes from HSBC. Requiring a minimum deposit of £10, MySavings pays an annual variable rate of 2.72% on a monthly basis on deposits of up to £3,000, before dropping to 0.50% on deposits exceeding this. The account is available to children aged between seven and 17 years, but the signature of a parent or guardian is required for withdrawals of £50 or more for those under the age of 11. The account must be opened in branch and can then be managed over the phone, online and by mobile app as well.

Easy access options

Reissued this week and paying near market-leading returns on its easy access ISA and easy access account is Shawbrook Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, Easy Access Cash ISA – Issue 4 and its non-ISA counterpart Easy Access – Issue 12 both pay a bonus-free rate of 1.30% yearly. Additional deposits are allowed at any time and the only restrictions on withdrawals are that they must be for a minimum of £500 and made via a nominated account. The ISA also welcomes transfers in and allows transfers out penalty-free. Both accounts must be opened online, but can then be operated over the phone as well. If you’d prefer to secure a regular income from your savings, both accounts have income-paying alternatives where the slightly lower annual rate of 1.29% is paid on a monthly basis.

Bonds near top

Increasing rates and moving ever nearer the top of their respective fixed rate charts are these bonds from Atom Bank. From a minimum deposit of £50, 1 Year Fixed Saver now pays 1.95% yearly, its two-year counterpart rises to 2.10%, the three-year option offers 2.25% and the five-year bond pays 2.40%. With all of these bonds, additional deposits are permitted in the first week after opening, but early access to funds is not allowed. The accounts can only be opened and operated by downloading the Atom Bank app onto your mobile phone. For income-seekers, versions of all the bonds which pay slightly lower annual rates on a monthly basis are available too.

Regular saver appeals

Reissued this week is this online regular savings account from Virgin Money. The online-only Regular E-Saver Issue 11 pays a fixed rate of 2.25% yearly when it matures on 20 June 2019 on deposits of between £1 and £250 each month. However, there is no obligation to make a payment each month, and instant access withdrawals can be made without penalty. Account holders will also be automatically entered into a quarterly prize draw, with the chance to win a range of prizes on offer from other Virgin companies.

One-year bond on the up

Increasing rates and now highly competitive among short-term bonds is Habib Bank Zurich plc. Requiring a minimum deposit of £1,000, the 12-month HBZ Fixed Rate E-Deposit pays 1.85% on maturity. Neither additional deposits nor early access to funds are allowed on this bond, which must be opened online but can then be operated in branch as well.

ISAs on the rise

Improving rates and now sitting just shy of the top-paying easy access ISAs is Sainsbury’s Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1, Cash ISA pays 0.50% yearly, but this rises to a highly competitive 1.21%, bonus-free, on deposits of £500 and above. Transfers in and additional deposits are welcome, while there are no restrictions on withdrawals and transfers out are penalty-free.

At the same time, Sainsbury’s Bank increased rates on its Fixed Rate Cash ISA range, making them all more competitive over their respective terms. All from a minimum deposit of £5,000, the two-year option now pays 1.65% yearly, the three-year rises to 1.75%, the four-year now offers 1.90% and the five-year pays 2.00%. Additional deposits are allowed within 30 days of an account being opened and transfers in are welcome too. However, the only way to access funds early is by closing your account and forgoing up to 270 days’ interest, depending on the term chosen. The same penalties apply if transferring away from these ISAs, which, like the easy access ISA, can be opened and operated over the phone and online.

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Rachel Thrussell

Ask Rachel

Working in the financial industry for over 30 years, Rachel Thrussell is the leading independent expert on UK savings products. Her views are constantly in demand from both the industry and the press.

My parents have given me a few thousand pounds which I think I am going to use to help buy a house sometime in the next couple of years. What type of account should I put the money into in the meantime?

If you are definitely going to buy a house with the money, then you could open a Lifetime ISA or a Help to Buy ISA. These are Government schemes which offer generous bonuses to savers, although there are a number of things that you’ll need to consider first – our guide on Lifetime ISAs should help you decide. However, if there is a chance that you will use the money for something else, then a straightforward savings account may be more appropriate. An easy access account (or ISA) may be best if you don’t know when you’ll need the funds, while a fixed rate bond (or ISA) could be an option if you’re confident you won’t need the funds for a certain period of time.

Get your savings questions answered by Rachel by emailing rachel@saversfriend.co.uk We regret we cannot answer emails personally

This week's
average rates

How do your savings compare?
No Notice 0.51%
Notice 0.82%
Cash ISA 1.19%
1 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.30%
2 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.50%
3 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.73%
4 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.99%
5 Year Fixed Rate Bond 2.08%
22 May 2018

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Wizard Squirrel

Alternative sources of income

Savers looking to stock markets for better returns

Sales of stocks & shares ISAs increased by 47% in 2017, after record-low cash ISA interest rates saw a new wave of investors look to the stock market for a decent return. According to Salisbury House Wealth, some 281,000 new stocks & shares ISAs were opened last year, compared with 190,000 in 2016, with the strong performance of equity markets in the UK and globally also helping to push their cause. The FTSE 100 index increased by 7% in 2017 and the S&P 500 index rose by 18%, while in comparison, the average monthly cash ISA interest rate in 2017 was just 0.36%, the lowest it has ever been since the Bank of England began measuring the figure in 2011.

Pointing out that stocks & shares ISAs have outperformed cash ISAs in 12 out of the last 19 years, Tim Holmes, managing director at the advisory firm, said: "Stocks & shares ISAs have become one of the preferred tax-efficient investment vehicles as cash ISA rates remain in the doldrums. Historically, investors have been much better off in the stock market than a cash ISA, particularly as cash savers are currently losing money once inflation has been taken into account."

Meanwhile, separate research has revealed how investor confidence increased in May, with optimism rising in markets both at home and abroad. Yet while sentiment in the UK market rose 16% in March, from a reading of 69 in April to 80 this month, the data shows that it still significantly trails enthusiasm for global stock markets. Indeed, confidence in Asia Pacific (with a May reading of 123), Global Emerging Markets (120) and Japan (107) is surging ahead, while the North American market (95) recorded a notable bounce back of 20% compared with April.

"Lack of confidence in the UK economy is proving a drag on enthusiasm for the UK market", said Hargreaves Lansdown, the company behind the research. "Our survey of private investors highlighted low growth and productivity, debt and political issues as particular concerns: the HL UK Economic Confidence Index fell again from 66 to 62."

For savers thinking of making the switch from cash to stocks and shares, regardless of where you are thinking of investing, it's vital to remember that stock market investing comes with certain risks. While money deposited in cash-based accounts is guaranteed not to fall in value, there are no such assurances when it comes to stocks and shares. Indeed, you could even end up with less than you put in. Seeking advice certainly seems sensible.

The flipside, however, is the potential to earn returns in excess of those available on a traditional savings accounts right now. Crucially, investments are meant to be kept for the long-term, meaning five years is probably the minimum length of time you need to be thinking about committing your money, giving your funds plenty of time to ride out any market volatility.

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