Savers must rise to the challenge or face low interest rates

While the new generation of “challenger” banks are offering best buy rates online, rates on the high street can be derisory. Yesterday it emerged that long-suffering savers, reluctant to use online accounts, may struggle to get a decent return even if interest rates finally start to climb after a decade in the doldrums. If you or an older relative are unwilling or unable to bank online, your options include shopping around for the best rate from a branch-based or postal account, or checking what is available from local building societies.

SMART MOVE

One in three easy access accounts have no branch access and Andrew Hagger, personal finance expert at MoneyComms.co.uk, said choice is dwindling and older savers who prefer not to transact online because of security concerns are getting a “raw deal”. 

“High street accounts pay a fraction of the rate on best buy internet-only deals and I fear it is only going to get worse,” he said.

However, there are exceptions, with Hagger singling out Charter Savings Bank as one challenger that offers competitive rates with an option to open your account by post: “It is not as convenient as using a branch but may still be worth it to secure a best buy rate.” 

Charter accepts paper applications for its fixed rate bonds, which offer competitive rates, but its easy access and notice accounts are only online.

Charter’s one-year fixed-rate bond pays 1.9 percent on £1,000, while its 18-month bond pays 2 percent, only slightly behind Aldermore’s market leading online-only bond at 2.1 percent.

BRANCHING OUT

Savers reluctant to use an online or app-based account will struggle as the top six easy access accounts with introductory bonuses are all internet-only.

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ICICI Bank pays a leading headline rate of 1.55 percent, but the top rate with branch access is just 0.75 percent from Post Office Money. 

You might find branch-based accounts that do not pay a bonus are almost as competitive.

Moneyfacts.co.uk finance expert Rachel Springall said: “Yorkshire Building Society pays an attractive 1.41 percent on easy access with branch access.”

Sainsbury’s Bank’s Defined Access Saver pays 1.45 percent on £1,000 and although this is an online account you can also open and operate it by telephone.

Al Rayan Bank offers best buy rates with post and branch access but has just five UK branches.

THINK LOCAL

David Black, banking specialist at DJB Research, said that it is worth checking out what local building societies offer, as they may have one-off deals to compete with the best.

He also urged savers to consider other options, such as regular savings accounts: “They offer some of the most competitive rates although typically on a limited sum over a one-year term.” 

For example, Saffron Building Society, which has 11 branches in Hertfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, pays a generous 3.5 percent on between £10 and £200 a month over one year, with branch and postal access.

Kent Reliance, which has nine branches in the south of England, pays 3 percent on between £1 and £500 a month. 

Yorkshire, Monmouthshire, Nottingham, Newcastle, Leek and Cambridge building societies all offer leading regular monthly accounts with branch access, so check what is available in your area.

SILVER SHOCK

Springall said that some silver savers wrongly believe they will get better rates through specialist over-50 accounts: “Saga’s telephone access saver, designed for the over-50s, is available nationally but pays just 0.70 percent.”

Only six banks and building societies offer dedicated over-50s accounts, led by Earl Shilton paying 1.3 percent. 

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She added: “However, this restricts withdrawals to just four per year and is only available in specific postcode areas.”

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Daily Express :: Finance Feed
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