Focus on: West Brom launches 3.22% savings exclusive

Published:
21 June 2012
Topic:
News,Money,Savings,Product review

The base rate may still be on hold at its record low of 0.5%, but rates on easy access accounts have been climbing steadily in recent weeks - and West Bromwich has now entered the fray with a competitive new deal paying 3.22%.

This comes just days after Santander launched its Online Saver paying 3.20%.

So if you're looking for a savings account that offers a great rate coupled with a sprinkling of discipline, the West Brom offering could be the answer.

What's the deal?

West Bromwich's Direct Bonus 4, exclusive to MoneySupermarket, offers a competitive rate of 3.22% on its easy access savings account, paid on a minimum balance of £10,000.

This includes a 1.71% bonus until 31 August, 2013, after which the rate will drop to 1.51%.

Customers can choose to have interest paid annually or monthly, which is useful if you're looking to supplement your income.

The account can be accessed over the phone and by post. The application process is completed online, but downloaded application forms have to be returned by post.

The maximum that can be held in this account is £100,000, but if you plan on investing this much, bear in mind that only the first £85,000 is protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Only one account, either single or joint, is permitted per customer.

Any catches?

This high rate of 3.22% does come with a handful of restrictions, including a hefty minimum deposit requirement of £10,000.

Further, in contrast to many easy access accounts which allow unlimited withdrawals, only four are permitted penalty free with the West Brom.

If you make any further withdrawals, you will be charged 90 days' interest on the amount withdrawn. This will be deducted from your interest when it is paid.

Also note that transfers to other accounts are viewed as withdrawals, except where you have arranged to have monthly interest paid to another account.

The rate trumps Santander's 3.20% Easy Access eSaver (issue 5) which permits unlimited free withdrawals.

A difference of 0.2% might not seem like a lot, but this disparity could translate into quite a big difference if you are investing at least £10,000 in either account.

The account may also be less appealing to savers who value being able to access their account online.

Verdict

The West Brom account has a higher rate than Santander's and at 1.71%, the bonus is significantly smaller than the hefty 2.70% bonus with Santander.

This means that if you forget to move your money when the bonus period expires, less harm is done than forgetting to move your money out of the Santander account at this point.

The rate drops to 1.51% with West Brom - compared to just 0.50% with Santander.

The West Brom account may also suit the kind of saver who needs a bit of a helping hand to get into the savings discipline, as the restriction on penalty-free withdrawals means you cannot just withdraw money you have squirreled away if you have the urge to go on a spending spree without paying a penalty.

Top tip

Even though the bonus on this account is not as big as the bonuses on some of the other 'best buy' easy access savings accounts, it is still worth noting down when this expires - to ensure you remember to move you money again at this time.

If you don't think you'll remember to do this - or think it's too much hassle - you may be better off choosing a 'clean' easy access account that does not come with a bonus.

Rates may not be quite as competitive on these accounts, but there are still some decent rates on offer.

Virgin Money, for example, is paying 2.60% on its Easy Access ESaver Issue 2 on a minimum of £1. You can make unlimited withdrawals on this account and choose to have your interest paid monthly or annually.

Alternatively, West Bromwich Building Society is offering a 'clean rate' of 2.56% on its WeBsave Plus 2 account, so long as you invest a minimum of £1,000.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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About This Author

Esther Shaw

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Financial journalist

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