Abbey launches 7% regular savings account
Putting aside a set amount each month is a great way to build up a savings buffer and ensure you stick to your budgeting resolutions.
Although fixed-rate and instant access savings accounts have attracted the most attention in recent months - thanks in part to their attractive interest rates - regular savings deals should not be ignored.
As a general rule, fixed-rate accounts are ideal if you have a lump sum to lock away for a set period of time, while instant access accounts are a good way to make ad-hoc payments without losing access to your money.
However, if you lack discipline and want to ensure you put aside a set amount each month, then regular savings accounts really come into their own.
Abbey has recently launched a Super fixed-rate monthly saver deal that pays up to 7% AER for 12 months.
When you consider that most fixed-rate deals have interest rates considerably below this amount, and don’t allow payments beyond your initial deposit, this sounds like a good deal.
The account itself requires you to put away between £20 and £250 a month by standing order, and no withdrawals are permitted within the 12-month fixed period.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, to an extend, it is. In order to qualify for the 7% rate savers must take out a regular investment, pension or personal protection plan with Abbey.
If you don’t want to take out one of these Abbey products, however, then there is another option. The bank also offers a fixed-rate monthly saver account paying a more modest 5% AER for 12 months. Again, you can save between £20 and £250 a month, and withdrawals are not permitted.
If you make one withdrawal, the rate falls to 4.59% AER. If you miss a payment, pay in too much or make more than one withdrawal, then you will only earn 0.1% AER on the entire balance for that month.
Reza Attar-Zadeh, director of savings and investments at Abbey, says: "Start the new year as you mean to go on by getting into the savings habit. In a falling interest rate environment savers are urged to lock in while they can.”
Although the Super deal from Abbey does outshine the rest of the pack when it comes to interest rate, the conditions relating to other products may well put you off.
Elsewhere in the regular savings market, Principality Building Society pays 6% AER on monthly deposits between £20 and £500. This interest rate is fixed for 12 months, and making a withdrawal will reduce the interest you earn.
Barclays bank also offers a fixed-rate regular savings account paying 6% AER on monthly deposits of between £20 or £250. If you do make a withdrawal then your interest rate will fall to 3.03% for that month.
Bear in mind, however, that interest is paid monthly with this account so you’ll actually only earn 5.84% interest.
Regular savings accounts
The attraction of these accounts is the high interest rate they pay. They require customers to deposit money each month, without fail. They come with a number of restrictions, such as monthly deposit limits, no one-off lump sum deposits and restricted withdrawal facilities. Although they are marketed with impressive-looking rates, it’s important to remember that as your money builds up gradually, your overall return will be lower than if you’d deposited a lump sum.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.
Where APR is the rate charged for money borrowed, Annual equivalent rate is how interest is calculated on money saved. The AER takes into account the frequency the product pays interest and how that interest compounds. So, if two savings products pay the same rate of interest but one pays interest more frequently, that account compounds the interest more frequently and will have a higher AER.