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Fixed rates near best

Increasing rates and now paying highly competitive returns among fixed rate bonds of all terms is Masthaven Bank. Requiring a minimum deposit of £500, 18 Month Flexible Term Saver now pays 2.15% upon its anniversary, while its 30-month counterpart rises to 2.35% and the 48-month option increases to 2.45%. At the same time, its short-term 1 Year Fixed Term Bond now pays 2.00% on maturity, while the two-year and three-year options rise to pay 2.30% and 2.40% respectively upon the accounts’ anniversaries.

Additional deposits are welcome for seven days after these online-only bonds are opened, via a nominated account, but early access to funds is not allowed. If you’d prefer to secure a regular income from your savings, versions of all the bonds paying a slightly lower annual rate on a monthly basis are available too.

Easy access rate rise

Raising rates and nearing the top of the easy access charts as a result is Shawbrook Bank. From a minimum investment of £1,000, Easy Access Issue 14 pays 1.43% on its anniversary, without the added complication of a short-term bonus. Additional deposits are allowed at any time (up to an overall maximum of £85,000), and there are no restrictions on withdrawals, other than they must be made via a nominated account and are for at least £500.

At the same time, Shawbrook Bank raised the rate on its easy access cash ISA so that it now offers a near marketing-leading rate. Requiring a minimum deposit of £1,000, Easy Access Cash ISA - Issue 5 now pays 1.43% yearly, bonus-free. Transfers in are welcome and additional deposits are allowed at any time. The only restriction on withdrawals is that they must be made via a nominated account and for a minimum of £500, while transfers out can be made penalty-free. Both accounts must be opened online, but can then be managed by telephone as well.

Fixed rate ISA increase

Increasing the rate on its three-year fixed rate ISA this week and now highly competitive as a result is Skipton BS. From a minimum deposit of £500, 3 Year Fixed Rate ISA Issue 78 has no opening restrictions and now pays 1.76% on a yearly basis. Transfers in are welcome and further additions from a minimum £1 are allowed within seven days of account opening or while the issue remains open, whichever is longer. However, earlier access to funds is only allowed on closure of the account and with a 240-day loss of interest, with the same penalty applying if transferring out.

Another highly competitive fixed rate ISA to enjoy a rate increase this week also came from Skipton BS. From a minimum deposit of £500, 5 Year Fixed Rate ISA Issue 78 rises to 2.05% upon its anniversary. Once again, transfers in are welcome and additions from

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

Business savings

If you run a business and are looking for a home for spare funds, many providers offer accounts that are open to non-personal customers.

The top-paying variable rate business account on the market this week is from Al Rayan Bank. From a minimum investment of £250, 90 Day Notice Account pays an expected annual profit rate of 1.50% on a monthly basis, with further deposits allowed at any time. Although there are no restrictions on withdrawals, there is no early access facility, meaning that 90 days’ notice must be given on all withdrawals. The account can be opened and operated in branch, by post, over the phone, online and by mobile app.

£1 are allowed within seven days of account opening or while the issue remains open. The only way to access funds prior to maturity is by closing the account and foregoing 365 days’ interest, a penalty that also applies if transferring out. Both ISAs can be opened and managed in branch and by post, although online-only versions paying the same rates are available too.

Highly competitive ISAs

Improving rates and making an impact on the fixed rate ISA sector as a result is Leeds Building Society. The near market-leading return of 2.12% yearly on its 5 Year Fixed Rate ISA (Issue 84) makes this one of the best long-term fixed rate ISAs available this week. The account, which requires a minimum deposit of £100, has no opening restrictions, while transfers in are welcome too. Further additions are allowed for the 2018/19 tax year until 1 April 2019 and early access to funds is permitted on the loss of 365 days’ interest, with the same penalty applying if transferring out.

At the same time, Leeds Building Society is now offering a highly competitive rate on its 1 Year Fixed Rate ISA (Issue 118), which pays 1.55% on maturity from a minimum deposit of £100. Further additions can once again be made for the 2018/19 tax year, and transfers in are allowed. It is also possible to make withdrawals prior to maturity and transfer out on the loss of 60 days’ interest. Meanwhile, its three-year counterpart – Issue 72 – now offers a rate of 1.90% yearly, also from a minimum deposit of £100. Transfers in are welcome and additional deposits are allowed until 1 April 2019, while early access to funds is possible on the loss of 240 days’ interest, with the same penalty being applied for transfers out. All of the accounts can be opened in branch, by post or online and then managed in branch or by post.

Bond on the rise

Raising rates and improving its competitiveness as a result is this two-year fixed rate bond from ICICI Bank UK. Requiring a minimum deposit of £1,000, the Raisin UK 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit now pays 2.20% on maturity. Neither additional deposits nor early access to funds are allowed with this bond, which must be opened online through the Raisin UK platform, but can then be managed by post and over the phone as well. As an added incentive, Raisin UK is offering a bonus of up to £100 (depending on the amount invested) for those opening a savings account through its platform.

Fixed rate on the up

Improving rates on this short-term bond this week to see it become highly competitive as a result is Ikano Bank. From a minimum investment of £1,000, Fixed 1 Year Saver now pays 1.95% on its anniversary. Additional deposits can be made within 14 days of the bond being opened, but early access to funds is not allowed. A monthly version of this online-only bond, paying a slightly reduced rate of 1.93%, is also available for those looking to supplement their income.

ISA rates improved

Increasing the rate on its short-term ISA this week while retaining its highly competitive medium-term options is Barclays Bank. From a minimum deposit of £1, Premier 1-Year Flexible Cash ISA Issue 7 pays 1.30% on maturity, while the three-year version pays 1.80% on maturity. Transfers in and additional deposits are both welcome, while three withdrawals for up to 10% of the balance (at the time of the withdrawal) are permitted during the term on both accounts. Any further withdrawals will then require the account to be closed, with 90 days’ interest being lost on the one-year ISA and 270 days’ interest being lost on the three-year ISA. The interest penalties also apply if you wish to transfer away from these ISAs, which can be opened in branch or by phone and then operated online and through a mobile app as well. Importantly, the ISAs can only be opened by new or existing Premier Banking customers.

Bank and Building Society Reviews

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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.

Why do some accounts pay expected profit rates? Are the rates not guaranteed?

The accounts that pay expected profit rates are Sharia’a-compliant savings accounts, which do not pay interest due to this being against Islamic law. Instead, depositors’ funds are invested into Sharia’a-compliant activities, avoiding prohibited businesses such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling, which go against Islamic principles. As there is always an element of risk with investments, Sharia’a banks cannot therefore guarantee a rate of return. However, the banks mitigate this risk in many ways, so that the customer’s deposits and return do not suffer. For instance, Bank of London & The Middle East (BLME) states that if a customer’s deposit is not producing the agreed profit rate, the account can be closed early without penalty, the original deposit will be returned in full and the profit at the original Expected Profit Rate will be paid anyway. In addition, to date, Al Rayan Bank states that it has always achieved the expected profit rate offered to its customers.

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 0.64%
Notice 1.10%
Cash ISA 1.30%
1 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.48%
2 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.65%
3 Year Fixed Rate Bond 1.88%
4 Year Fixed Rate Bond 2.16%
5 Year Fixed Rate Bond 2.14%
12 February 2019

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Wizard Squirrel

Alternative sources of income

NS&I lowers Premium Bond investment level

Premium Bonds are now accessible to more people than ever after National Savings and Investments (NS&I) earlier this month lowered the minimum amount required to invest in a bond for the first time in the product’s 63-year history.

As a result, those aged 16 and over can now invest in the ever-popular bonds from just £25, compared with the previous minimum requirement of £100. In another move aimed at encouraging regular saving, customers will be able to set up standing orders to purchase a minimum of £25 to save on a regular basis (the current minimum is £50). Parents and grandparents are also able to purchase a minimum of £25 for under 16s, as well as setting up a standing order. At some point in the future, NS&I will also be allowing all adults to purchase Premium Bonds for under 16s.

One in three people in the UK hold Premium Bonds, which give savers the chance every month to win tax-free prizes ranging from £25 to £1 million. Every £1 bond number has a separate and equal chance each month of winning a prize of any value, with the prize pool currently on offer translating to an estimated interest rate of 1.4%. Importantly, savers are guaranteed never to lose their original investment, and funds can be withdrawn at any time.

However, what savers must remember is that a win, and therefore a return, is not assured – the odds of an individual £1 bond number winning any prize is 24,500 to 1. The absence of regular wins would leave the original investment vulnerable to the effects of inflation and could see its purchasing power erode over time. That money held with NS&I is 100% secure, by virtue of its Treasury-backed status, is a decisive factor for many people who hold Premium Bonds. The maximum that a saver can now hold in Premium Bonds is £50,000.

“I am delighted that people up and down the country can start a savings habit more easily by investing just £25 in Premium Bonds,” said Ian Ackerley, chief executive at NS&I. “Investing in Premium Bonds provides the opportunity to win tax-free prizes, while ensuring that your money is 100% secure. Lowering the minimum investment on Premium Bonds is part of how we can support a stronger savings culture across the country and help those who want to be able to save little and often, and for those who want to give the gift of savings to their loved ones.”

Michael Mercieca, CEO of the financial education charity Young Money, added: “It is crucial for young people’s futures that they can manage their finances appropriately, and this includes striking a balance between spending and saving. This reduction in the investment threshold enables young people to access this long-standing NS&I product more easily.”

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