Rates on easy-access accounts are edging up. Kent Reliance's new Online Easy Access account pays 1.45% before tax (1.16% after). The new account follows hot on the heels of the arrival of the internet-based Freedom Savings account from French bank RCI, at 1.5% (1.2%).
Virgin Money has also reacted by re-launching its Defined Access Account at 1.41% (1.13%). It's available online and through branches, although you are restricted to making three withdrawals a year to earn this rate.
BM Savings, part of Halifax, also pays 1.5% (1.2%) on its Online Extra issue 17, but the rate includes a 1 percentage point bonus which lasts for the first year you are in the account.
All accounts bar the RCI Bank Freedom account are covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which pays savers up to £85,000 of cover if their bank goes bust.
Your money with the French bank is covered by the European scheme which pays a lower maximum rate of €100,000 (around £73,000) cover.
On fixed-rate deals, top rates for one year come from Charter Savings Bank at 2% (1.6%) and Kent Reliance at 1.95% (1.56%).
For two years you can earn 2.2% (1.76%) with Paragon Bank, while Hampshire Trust's new bond pays 2.5% (2%) for three years.
On tax-free cash Isas the top easy-access rate comes from National Savings & Investments
at 1.5% - but you can't transfer your existing cash Isas into this account. Nationwide
's Instant Isa
Saver 3 pays 1.4% and accepts transfers.
On fixed-rate cash Isas, the best deal for one year is 1.65% from Nationwide and Shawbrook Bank. Kent Reliance and Shawbrook both pay 1.85% for two years. All accept transfers from other providers.
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.