For those with savings frozen in Icesave, the last few weeks may well have involved the odd sleepless night. Despite Government assurances there has been little confirmation of how and when savers will regain access to their funds.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), though, is now in the process of contacting savers with details of how they should go about reclaiming their money. The process will be staggered to account for the sheer volume of accounts, and for security reasons, but it is hoped most savers will be compensated by the end of the month.
Receiving that compensation, however, isn’t the end of the story for these beleaguered savers. Now comes the question of where to place their hard earned cash, and having had their fingers burned once they’re not likely to plump for the first option that comes along.
MoneyExpert.com gives a run down of where to look for savings accounts that are safe but still pay out.
Recent experience may make an easy access account a tempting option and there are a number still paying a decent rate. Egg’s Savings Account (Internet) currently pays 6.55%, though this includes a hefty 12 month bonus of 1.8%. The same applies to the internet offer from Tesco Personal Finance, paying 6.5% with a 1.5% bonus for the first 12 months.
If switching again after 12 months seems like too much effort, then the Easy Access Issue 2 from Anglo-Irish Bank would be a better option. Paying 6.4% it has no restrictions and is guaranteed to equal the base rate until 2011.
Looking long term
Obviously the longer you’re prepared to be apart from your cash the greater the interest you can earn. Currently the average rates across so-called term products is just over 5.3%, which compares well to a more modest average just over 3% for instant access accounts.
With the Bank of England slashing the base rate by 1.5% this week a period bond that fixes your rate of return can be a good option. Providers, though, are likely to respond to the cut by dropping their rates so time is of the essence.
Topping the table currently is the aptly named Inflation Protector from Newcastle Building Society. It pays an excellent 7.25% on a minimum investment of £500. Any investment there will be locked in until November 2010, which given current trends may not be a bad thing. If you’re looking for a bond lasting a year or less then ICICI, Anglo-Irish, and Saga all offer rates over 7%.
Keep it regular
In terms of eye-catching rates the best option by far is a regular savings account. These accounts, that require minimum deposits each month, pay up to 10% in the case of Abbey’s Super Fixed Rate Monthly Saver, and don’t tend to restrict you in terms of withdrawals.
Others worth looking at include the Regular Saver from HSBC and the High Interest Regular Saver from the Bank of Ireland. Unfortunately the amount of money you can invest is limited, usually to around the £3,000 mark (though there are exceptions), so anyone looking to invest large amounts rescued from Icesave will have to consider other options.
Where else to look
The savings market is currently awash with products and providers as banks look to draw in as much cash as possible, so if none above suits your needs there are alternatives. ISAs offer a tax-free savings option, up to a limit £3,600 per year for cash, and should feature in a sensible savings portfolio.
If you’ve used up your ISA allowance and want a competitive savings rate that will allow withdrawals if absolutely necessary then a notice account could be a decent option. The 7 Day Notice Account from Anglo-Irish requires you to plan only a week in advance and pays a very competitive rate of 6.55%.
Eyes on the prize
There’s clearly a huge variety of savings options in the market and it’s important to establish exactly what your priorities are. You’ll also need to bear in mind how much you have to save, and remember that the Government’s compensation scheme only covers you for up to £50,000 with a single provider.
Whatever you opt for it’s also key to keep an eye on the rate. In this time of major base rate cuts the best-buy tables can shift very quickly indeed!