Majority of top easy-access savings rates come with restrictions

Uneasy-access: How best buy savings tables are dominated by bonus rates, withdrawal limits and other penalties for accounts that should be simple

  • Majority of easy-access savings deals come with restrictions
  • Quarter of the top 100 best rates come with at least two hurdles
  • One expert says it’s ‘disappointing’ how many top deals come with strings attached

The majority of the top 20 easy-access savings deals in Britain last year came with bonus rates, withdrawal limits or other restrictions, research shows. 

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of the top 100 rates came with two or more hurdles, according to analysis of the easy-access market by personal finance website Moneycomms and Investec.

Savers are increasingly having to put up with more rules in order to access the best returns on their money, the data highlights.

Navigation skills needed: Research has found the easy-access tables last year were a maze of restrictions and bonus rates 

Many will see it as ironic that savers looking for the best easy-access rates may have to sign up to restrictions on the number of withdrawals they can make a year.

The founder of Moneycomms, Andrew Hagger, said: ‘It’s disappointing to see how many best buy savings deals come with strings attached.

‘Savings providers are seemingly looking for new ways to play the best buy tables.’

The research found that just six of the 20 best-paying easy-access accounts were pure easy-access accounts which did not have bonus rates or restrictions on savings access.

Of the 100 best rates, 42 came with some kind of catch.

Last October, after a top easy-access deal from Coventry Building Society came with both a restriction on withdrawals and a bonus rate, This is Money’s own research found five of the highest-paying easy-access accounts came with bonus rates, while another three had withdrawal restrictions.

While easy-access rates have fallen from 1.46 per cent to 1.31 per cent in the four months since them, some things haven’t changed.

Of the top 10 easy-access accounts currently available in our tables, five have bonus rates, withdrawal limits or are members only

Of the top 10 easy-access accounts currently available in our tables, five have bonus rates, withdrawal limits or are members only

A glance at This is Money’s easy-access tables found four of the top five rates, and five of the top 10, either come with bonus rates, a restriction on withdrawals or, in one instance, are open only to members of the AA.

And as frustrating as it can be for savers having to shop around following the expiry of time-limited bonus rates, it is possible proposed reforms to the easy-access market could make them even more abundant.

This is due to the fact that banks and building societies could be forced to offer one rate across all easy-access savings deals, but could still offer limited bonus rates.

James Blower, founder of website The Savings Guru, said: ‘The irony is that the proposals may well incentivise providers to start using bonus rates, after most of the sector stopped using them.

‘It will be interesting to see how the new basic savings rate shapes up but my expectation is that it won’t provide the change that the FCA hope for and will create some unintended consequences, potentially including greater use of bonus accounts from providers who have previously avoided them.’

Whatever happens, savers can find the best easy-access rates around in This is Money’s best buy tables, and we will also let savers know if an account comes with a bonus rate, withdrawal limit, or another hurdle for them to jump over.


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