Choosing the right savings account can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time. And let’s be realistic, it’s not often we start our savings journey with a significant amount of money, especially in challenging financial times.
For most people that would consider themselves ‘savers’, goals and dreams are achieved through putting money away little and often – be it a wedding, a new home, travel, early retirement, or even those outrageously priced shoes you can’t live without!
It’s about setting aside money you can afford after your essentials are covered. It involves occasionally resisting treats, cutting back on luxuries you can live without. So, before considering what account suits you best, realistically evaluate what you can afford each month, your overall goal, and what you have at your disposal to open your account with.
For more tips on planning your savings and overcoming barriers, visit our Savings Week Tips.
Considerations When Shopping for Your Savings Account
With a clear and realistic objective, you’re now ready to shop for the perfect savings account for you. Consider the following:
The interest rate is your reward for entrusting a financial institution with your money.
- Variable vs Fixed Rates: Understand if the rate is variable, which can change with the Bank of England’s rate or market competition. Alternatively, a fixed rate offers a guaranteed return but won’t increase if market rates do.
- Bonuses: Sometimes providers will offer a higher rate on an account if you adhere to certain terms, such as regular payments in or restricted withdrawals. You should carefully assess if any bonus offered comes with terms you can realistically adhere to. Often a bonus rate is higher than the rate you would receive if you don’t adhere to the bonus terms.
How can you deposit and withdraw your savings? Can you pay in as often as you like? Are those deposits limited to an amount or frequency? And if so, do those conditions work for you? Can you make withdrawals? Are there limits to how often, or how much? Is there a fixed period when withdrawals aren’t permitted at all?
Be clear on the detail! And if you’re not sure, ask. Staff are trained to explain accounts to ensure you, the customer, understands exactly what you are getting.
Does a company’s ethics matter to you? Are they a good corporate citizen? Do they do good in your local area or contribute to projects you care about?
Is the provider owned by its members or shareholders? This can impact the decision making of the organisation.
Do they offer a service you’re happy with? Are their customer reviews positive? Can you access your savings in way which works for you? Do you have easy access to real people via the phone or a branch, or is online access more important to you?
Making sure your provider is a good fit for you can, and will, ensure your savings journey is what you expect. Taking a few minutes up front to check out a company’s particulars is, in our opinion, time well spent!
Types of savings accounts the Society offer
- Young Saver: Ideal for teaching children about savings, often with flexible terms for paying in and withdrawing.
Top tip: You may find that young saver accounts offer higher rates than similar accounts for adults however, they also may be limited to how much you can save.
You may wish to choose a provider who has a branch in your local area so the young person in your life can visit and hand over their money personally!
- Easy Access: Suitable when the convenience of being able to withdraw money at any time, without notice or penalty, is more important than the interest rate.
Top tip: If you have no savings to get started with, this could be a suitable place to make your first payment. But remember, keep an eye on that balance and ensure you don’t forget – there could be higher rates on offer with other accounts!
- Regular Saver: Often offers higher interest rates than Easy Access accounts in return for regular deposits. The withdrawal terms can vary; however, this type of account can often come with a requirement to give notice for withdrawals or be limited to a certain number of withdrawals per year.
Top tip: It’s worth considering setting up an automatic monthly payment to be credited to this account, which means you’ll never miss a payment! If you choose a standing order, you can change the amount as and when you need to, ask us if you’d like to know more.
- Notice Accounts: Requires notice for withdrawals and may require a substantial initial deposit. Ideal for long-term savers.
Top tip: Our notice accounts do not allow withdrawals outside of the notice period, therefore you should think carefully about what other accessible savings you hold before committing to this type of account.
- Savings Bonds: For those with a lump sum to invest, offering higher fixed interest rates but no withdrawals until the term ends.
Top tip: Savings bonds can offer some of the best rates you’ll find, but this is a reward for leaving your savings untouched for the fixed term. Savings rates continually move, so if you are looking at longer term accounts this should be a consideration.
- Cash ISAs: Tax-free savings accounts suitable for those over 16 years of age. The amount you can pay into a Cash ISA each year is called your ISA Allowance is determined by the government. For information about the current ISA allowance please visit https://www.gov.uk/individual-savings-accounts/how-isas-work
Top tip: These accounts benefit from the fact the interest you receive does not count towards your Personal Savings Allowance.
Ready, set, go!
We hope you have found this information useful and you’re feeling inspired and ready to start your savings journey. Whether it’s for a short term goal or building a pot for early retirement Click here to read more about our current range.
We’re a member-owned Building Society with over 150 years of heritage, our customers are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we’re rated 4.79 out of 5 by our savings customers on Smart Money People and we’re able to use our profits to support local community projects rather than pay dividends to shareholders. Find out more about us and our mutuality here.