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Bonds now best

Raising rates and now offering four market-leading fixed rate bonds as a result is Al Rayan Bank. Requiring a minimum deposit of £1,000, the 12-month version of Fixed Term Deposit now pays an annual expected profit rate of 2.10% quarterly, the 18-month option rises to 2.30%, the 24-month bond now pays 2.40% and the 36-month increases to 2.50%. Neither additional deposits nor early access to funds are allowed on these bonds, which can be opened and operated in branch, by post, over the phone, online and by mobile app.

Fixed ISAs go top

Improving rates and moving top of two fixed rate ISA charts as a result is Aldermore. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA now pays 1.70% on maturity, while its three-year counterpart rises to 2.05% yearly. Transfers in are welcome and additional deposits are allowed for 14 days after an account is opened. It is also possible to access funds early on the loss of 90 and 180 days’ interest respectively. The same interest penalties apply if transferring away from these online-only ISAs. If you’d prefer to secure a tax-free regular income from your savings, versions of the ISAs paying the slightly reduced rates of 1.69% and 2.03% on a monthly basis are available too.

Top bond access widens

Lowering its deposit requirement to £1,000 and making its range of sometimes market-leading fixed rate bonds accessible to an even wider audience is Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME). The six-month version of Premier Deposit Account pays an expected profit rate of 1.75% on maturity, the near-top rate for its term, while the five-year pays a market-leading 2.70% yearly and the seven-year pays 2.75%, while the 18-month option paying 2.25% yearly sits in second place. Further additions and withdrawals are not allowed on these Sharia’a compliant bonds, which must be opened online and then managed by post, and require a BLME transfer account to either be held or opened to hold funds before they are invested.

Notice these top accounts

Revisiting its range of notice accounts this week and now offering two market-leading returns as a result is Charter Savings Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, the new online-only 30 Day Notice Issue 8 pays 1.37% yearly, while its 95-day counterpart – Issue 21 – rises to 1.90%. Additional deposits are allowed at any time, but there is no option to access funds early, with the relevant notice period always having to be served.

At the same time, Charter Savings Bank made improvements to its range of fixed rate bonds and ISAs. All requiring an opening deposit of £1,000, the one-year Fixed Rate

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

Children’s Accounts

If you want to encourage your 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 2.96% on a monthly basis on deposits of up to £3,000, before dropping to 0.75% 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.

Bond rises to 2.03% yearly, while the newly introduced three and five-year bonds pay 2.38% and 2.49% respectively, all highly competitive over their respective terms. Additional deposits are allowed via a nominated account for 14 days after opening, but it is not possible to access funds early.

The newly-improved 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA now pays a highly competitive 1.67% yearly, while the two-year version becomes the near market-leader with a rate of 1.87%. Further monies can be added for 30 days after opening and transfers in are welcome too. It is also possible to access funds early on the loss of up to 180 days’ interest, depending on the term in question, with the same penalties applying if transferring out. Online-only and postal-only versions of the bonds and ISAs are all available.

Fixed rates lead the way

Raising rates and now offering two market-leading shorter-than-usual fixed rate bonds as a result is OakNorth. From a minimum deposit of £1,000, the six-month version of Fixed Term Deposit now pays 1.76% on maturity, while the nine-month option rises to 1.86%. Neither additional deposits nor early access to funds are allowed on these internet-only bonds.

Easy access now best

Increasing rates and moving joint-top of the market for easy access accounts as a result is Cynergy Bank. Requiring an opening deposit of just £1, the purely internet-based Online Easy Access Account – Issue 21 now pays a joint market-leading 1.50% yearly. The inclusion of a short-term bonus of 0.50% for 12 months makes a review of the account’s competitiveness a must in a year’s time. However, additional deposits are welcome at any time and unlimited withdrawals are allowed restriction-free via a nominated account.

At the same time, Cynergy Bank raised the rate on its short-term fixed rate ISA, so that it now offers the second-best return for its term. From a minimum deposit of £500, Fixed Rate Cash ISA pays 1.68% yearly. Although additional deposits of at least £100 are allowed, a variable rate will be paid. Early access to funds is also possible on the loss of 180 days’ interest, the same penalty as applies if transferring out. The ISA must be opened online, but can then be managed by post, over the phone and in branch as well. For existing customers of six months or more, a loyalty version of the ISA paying an increased rate of 1.69% yearly is available too.

Bond on the rise

Raising rates and improving its competitiveness as a result is this one-year fixed rate bond from Paragon Bank. Requiring a minimum deposit of £1,000, the online-only 1 Year Fixed Rate Savings Account now pays 2.01% yearly. While additional deposits are allowed for five days after the account is opened, it is not possible to access funds early. If you’d prefer to secure a regular income from your savings, a version of the bond that pays the slightly lower annual rate of 1.99% on a monthly basis is available too.

New bonds compete

New this week and offering a competitive choice for those seeking a medium-term home for their money is ICICI Bank UK. Available through the Raisin platform, 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit pays 2.46% on maturity, while the two-year pays 2.12%. Both accounts have to be opened online with a minimum deposit of £1,000, but can then be managed by post and phone as well. Further additions and withdrawals are not permitted, but as an added incentive, Raisin UK is offering a cash bonus of up to £100, depending on how much is invested.

Bank and Building Society Reviews

Visit our Review Pages to read the savings experiences of others and share your own

The reviews are the opinions of our readers and not of Savers Friend.

How safe are your savings?

Our guide to Depositor Protection tells you what guarantees apply if your bank or building society goes bust, while our guide to Who Owns Whom? tells you where your bank or building society is licenced.

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.

I have savings with both Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money. Given the recent merger, what is the position regarding the £85,000 protected figure?

In October 2018, CYBG – the group that owns Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and B – announced that it had completed a deal to buy Virgin Money. The move means that all CYBG’s retail customers will move over to the Virgin Money brand over the next three years. As it stands, you can have £85,000 invested in Virgin Money and the same amount invested in Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank, and will still have full protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, given that all CYBG’s operations will be rebranded to Virgin Money over the coming years, it’s likely that the £85,000 protection limit will eventually apply to all brands in the group – which means that you may need to move some of your savings to a new provider if your combined total breaches the limit. Customers will be kept informed of the move however, and for now it’s business as usual.

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 0.65%
Notice 1.10%
Cash ISA 1.30%
1 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.48%
2 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.66%
3 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.89%
4 Year Fixed Rate Bond 2.14%
5 Year Fixed Rate Bond 2.15%
15 January 2019

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Wizard Squirrel

Alternative sources of income

Bank switching incentives entice current account customers

The start of a new year can herald a new beginning for people’s finances, with the excess of the festive period inspiring many to take a closer look at their outgoings – and some consumers inevitably consider moving their current account in the process. Given that cash perks and switching incentives are returning to the banking sector, now could be a great time to do so!

Current accounts can be easily overlooked, with some consumers feeling it would be too much of a hassle to switch – but they could miss out on free cash or a nice monthly perk because of this. Indeed, current account providers have been upping their game recently, with some of the best deals offering far better perks than were available this time last year.

This includes Halifax’s Reward Current Account, which is offering £50 upfront to those who switch, plus another £85 in six months’ time, compared with the flat cash perk of £75 that was offered in January 2018. Similarly, NatWest is offering £150 upfront, compared with the £125 on offer a year ago, so providers are still looking to entice new customers – and that extra cash could easily be funnelled into a savings account for the new year.

“A new year can bring a new attitude when it comes to finances, and starting afresh with a new current account could be a consideration for many consumers,” said Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk. “Coincidently, January tends to be a popular time for providers to launch tempting free cash incentives to entice consumers to switch.”

However, Rachel points out that, “while any free cash perk is tempting, customers looking to move their current account must be sure that a short-term financial incentive isn’t the sole reason for leaving their existing provider, as the new account may be more expensive for dipping into an overdraft or it may not pay any credit interest, for example.” This is why it’s so important to compare the finer details of any account thoroughly before making the switch, taking factors such as overdraft fees into account.

A particularly important consideration for many savvy savers would be the in-credit interest available, alongside any additional cashback perks. These accounts can often be a valuable addition to consumers’ savings portfolios, with the FlexDirect account from Nationwide (for example) offering an in-credit interest rate of 5% on balances of up to £2,500, while Santander’s 123 Current Account pays monthly interest as well as cashback. Such accounts may not be suitable for a significant amount of savings, but for those looking to maximise their income streams for the year, they could be worth considering.

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