It's important to identify the right savings vehicle for your needs, in order to make sure that you are really getting the most out of your money. All banks and building societies have different account options with varying interest rates, and it can easily feel overwhelming when it comes to choosing what's right for you.
Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of the most popular ways to save your money in order to help you make the best decision for your savings.
1. Standard Savings Accounts
- These are usually flexible, meaning you can access them online or through mobile banking and you can withdraw money from them at any time without being penalised.
- They’re accessible, as you can often open these accounts with as little as only £1, making them ideal for those who are just starting out.
- Although the interest rates they offer aren't high, they do still offer you some percentage growth on your money. (Some banks offer ‘Monthly Savers’ which are a variation on the theme. You usually have to deposit a set amount per month, and they are less flexible with withdrawals, but the interest rate is much higher, some climbing to 2.0% or even 2.5%.)
- You need to pay tax on your savings. (Depending on your taxable income, you will receive a Personal Savings Allowance of up to £5,000 which will be tax free.)
- The interest rates are not as high as the rates you can get on other accounts, infact, many of them are below the rate of inflation.
- Because they’re easily accessible online it’s really easy to keep dipping into them and withdrawing money throughout the month.
2. ISA (Individual Savings Accounts)
- You don’t need to pay tax on any interest you earn on your money.
- There are currently four types of ISA which are designed to help you save for different things.
- The interest rates are higher, some climbing to 2.75%
- You can’t save infinitely. There is a limit on the amount you can put into ISAs each tax year. Check this year's limit here.
- They’re famously not flexible about withdrawing your money part way through the tax year. Some are better than others so it’s worth checking with your provider.
- Depending on which type of ISA you get you are tied into using that money for the specified purpose, otherwise you forfeit the benefits earned.
3. Fixed Term Bonds
- It has a fixed interest rate over a fixed term, usually 1 or 2 years, meaning that you can "count" on that money coming to you at the end of the term.
- The interest rates are usually higher than those of a regular savings account.
- The money is not easily accessible so you can’t keep dipping in and out of your savings, slowly eroding them over time.
- It’s not easily accessible and if your circumstances change and you need your money in a hurry you can’t get to it.
- You usually need a large amount to deposit in the first place. (£1,000 or £2,000).
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a summary of what is available to you at most banks and building societies. Ultimately, it’s your money and you know your needs better than anyone else.