The Bank of England may have voted to leave interest rates unchanged this month, but the best savings deals are disappearing fast.
The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee voted by 6-3 to leave the base rate at 5.25% on Thursday, the fourth consecutive time it’s held rates at this level. However, many commentators believe that it’s only a matter of time before we see interest rates fall, and recent weeks have seen several savings providers remove some of their top deals.
Lucinda O'Brien, savings expert at Money.co.uk, said: “At the time of the Bank of England’s last decision in December, the top interest rate for a one-year fixed-rate account was 5.70%, whereas this week the top rate for a similar account is 5.16%.
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“The monthly average for all savings accounts also stood at 4.3% in December, whereas now it’s 4.1%. This clearly illustrates that although the base rate has remained the same, providers are reducing their rates, so we could see a similar pattern in February. Fortunately, it’s still worth savers moving their money if it’s currently sitting in an account earning little to no interest, as there are many accounts offering rates above inflation. If the interest rate is above inflation then it gives your money more purchasing power - a key motivation for savers.”
You’ll need to get your skates on to secure the best deals as they might not be around for long. According to financial website MoneyfactsCompare.co.uk, average fixed bond and fixed individual savings account (ISA) rates experienced the biggest month-on-month cuts in almost 15 years at the start of January.
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Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at Bestinvest, said: “The best easy-access and fixed rate deals may still be topping the 5% mark – comfortably above CPI inflation at 4% - but this is significantly down on the bumper deals seen last summer.
“With talk of interest rate cuts getting louder, savings rates are likely to ease further from here. Savers with money sitting idle in accounts offering dismal returns should lock in a top fixed-rate deal while they still can.”
The current best one-year fixed rate savings bond at the time of writing is from Smart Save and pays 5.16% on a minimum investment of £10,000. If you don’t have this much to put away, Investec Bank pays 5.15% on a minimum deposit of £5,000, while Hampshire Trust Bank pays 5.10% on a minimum balance of just £1.
If you’re looking to save into a tax-efficient cash ISA, Shawbrook Bank is paying 4.98% on a minimum investment of £1,000 held in Issue 87 of its One Year Fixed Cash ISA Bond.
Some variable rate savings accounts pay even higher returns, although unlike a fixed rate account, you won’t have peace of mind that your interest rate won’t change for a set period. For example, Moneybox’s Cash ISA pays 5.09% on balances of £500 or more, while Zopa’s Easy Access ISA pays 5.08% on a minimum opening balance of £1.
Mark Hicks, head of active savings at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “If you don’t need the cash for a year or more, you may be tempted to hold it in a variable rate account for a higher return in the short term. However, in the coming months, there’s a high chance that rates will fall, so if you don’t need the cash right now, fixing and guaranteeing the return for a year or more may well prove more rewarding."