by David Williams
Many savings accounts seem to have a minimum investment of £500 or more but what if you have £450 and want to put it away for a rainy day into an account where you have instant access and is not online. The online accounts start with low amounts, from £1 and have very competitive interest rates but can they be trusted to work and not be hacked. Many people still like visiting high street branches as this has been the way business has been done since banks first opened. Some local building societies offered accounts of this type but what about the large national institutions, how do they measure up?
So my challenge is to find a national financial institution which offer competitive rates for an over the counter easy access account. The account has to be for adults as there are many children’s accounts which would fit the criteria. Will I find such a thing?
Let's start with the big five. Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Nat West, HSBC, Nationwide and, Halifax. Then the other institutions which are found on many high streets.
Lloyds TSB have Advantage Saver at 1.8% and Easy Saver at 1.6%. Advantage Savers need to have a Gold, Platinum, Premier, Select or Silver Current Account. It has a 0.8% first year bonus. Easy Saver has an introductory bonus of 1.5%.
Barclays have an Everyday Saver at 0.65% it includes an introductory bonus of 0.55%.
NatWest has First Reserve at 0.08%. There are no restrictions or bonuses, it's a simple account.
HSBC has Flexible Saver at 0.05% or Premier Savings at 0.10%. Premier Savings is only open to Premier customers.
Nationwide has Cash Builder Book and Cash Builder Card both 0.10%, and Monthly Income 60+ at 0.55%. All have a opening balance requirement of £100. The only difference between the Cash Builder accounts is that one has a passbook while the other uses a cash card. The 60+ account has an age restriction as you have to be over 60 to open it. The account is created to help people nearing retirement age to supplement their income.
Halifax have Reward Saver at 2.25% and Everyday Saver at 2%. The Reward Saver has a restriction of having to pay £1000 a month into a current account. It has a 2% bonus in the first year and will have reduced interest if you make more than four withdrawals in a year. Everyday Saver has a first year bonus of 1.5%
Bank of Scotland have Exclusive Saver at 2.25% and Access Saver at 2%. To open an Exclusive Saver you must have a Added Value Account, their current account. There is a 1.75% first year bonus. Access Saver has a first year bonus of 1.5%
C & G have Cheltenham Gold at 1.92%. It has a first year bonus of 1.5%. There is a restriction of £1000 cash and £10 000 for cheque withdraws. You can only add a maximum of £1000 a day to the account.
Nearly all of the accounts have bonuses so they are more competitive in their first year than after. Most have restrictions which demand that there is another account open at the bank. If the money is placed with a major national financial institution then your options are limited. To find some of the accounts you really have to dig deep for information. They are not the easiest accounts to find, especially if comparing products on line before going to a branch, as the institutions are looking to people with more to save. Other regional options are available but I restricted myself to places which are common in most high streets.