RCI Bank ups savings rate to become the UK’s best-buy account
A handful of banks have raised the rates they pay to savers both on easy-access and fixed-rate deals, with the standout best-buy coming from RCI Bank.
BM Savings, part of Halifax, has launched a new version of its Online Extra savings account, paying 1.6% before tax (1.28% after tax) to new savers. It includes a bonus for the first year, after which the rate drops to 0.5% (0.4%).
But that has been eclipsed by the new French bank RCI raising the rate on its Freedom Savings Account to 1.65% (1.32%) for all savers. RCI was launched in the UK by French carmaker Renault and as such is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Instead it offers deposit protection via the French guarantee scheme, FGDR. This provides protection for €100,000 worth of savers' money, which is around £73,500 – well below the £85,000 per person covered by the UK scheme (though this is falling to £75,000 on 1 January 2016.
Louis Renault built his first 12 cars in France in 1898, and his company grew to the extent that it launched its own bank in 1974 to help customers finance the purchase of Renault vehicles.
Today, RCI Banque Group is still privately owned by Renault and operates in 37 countries across every continent, lending over £8.5 billion a year. In the UK, RCI Banque has been powering the car finance operation with Renault, Nissan, Darcia and Infiniti.
On fixed-rate bonds the best one-year deal comes from Paragon Bank at 2.07% (1.65%), followed by Charter Savings Bank at 2.06% (1.64%). For two years you can earn 2.33% (1.86%) with Secure Trust or 2.25% (1.8%) with Charter Savings Bank.
On tax-free cash Isas rates are also rising. Virgin Money has increased the rate on its Defined Access Isa to 1.51%. The rise puts it ahead of National Savings & Investments Direct Isa at 1.5%.
You can transfer your existing cash Isas to Virgin Money, but not to the National Savings account. Virgin limits you to making three withdrawals from your capital each year.
On fixed-rate cash Isas the best deals include 1.71% for one year or 2% for two years, from both Halifax and Virgin Money.
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.