Savings - Guide page - Easy access guide

Easy Access accounts

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As the name suggests, easy access savings accounts allow you to access your money whenever you need it, without having to give notice to your provider. For this reason, they are ideal for rainy day savings which you should keep in case of an emergency. It's a good idea to build up a nest egg of three to six months' income. 

This type of account is often called an instant access or no-notice account and you can open many of them with just £1 so they are a handy way of getting you into the savings habit. 

Easy access accounts are also the most flexible type of savings account because as well as being able to get at your money at any time, you can also pay into them whenever you want.

Shop around for the best rate

Interest rates vary so it's important to shop around to find the best deal. Generally speaking, the best interest rates will be found online. However, other accounts can be operated in branch, by post or by phone so you should decide which option works best for you. If you choose an account that has to be operated in branch, make sure there is a branch near where you live. 

It’s important to note that easy access accounts usually have variable rates of interest – this means that your bank can change the rate on your account at any time. As a rule, rates tend to change when there is movement in the Bank of England base rate. However, your interest rate won't necessarily follow this pattern so it's important to keep an eye on it and move your savings to a better account if the rate on your account is no longer competitive.

Interest on some easy access accounts is paid monthly, while for others, it's paid annually. To compare how much you'll receive on a like-for-like basis, look at the annual equivalent rate (AER) which indicates what the rate of interest would be if the interest was compounded. If interest is paid monthly, the AER will be higher than the gross rate. If it's paid annually, both the AER and gross rate will be the same.

What to watch out for 

Although easy access accounts are fairly simple to use, there are a few catches to be aware of. For a start, even though they are called 'easy access', some accounts restrict the number of withdrawals you can make each year. Some accounts will limit this to just one withdrawal per year, while others will allow four or five a year. If you make more than this, you'll be penalised – usually through losing interest.

Other savings accounts will also have a minimum or maximum withdrawal limit or they will require you to keep a minimum balance at all times. This could be as much as £1,000 and if your balance falls below this you risk your account being closed.

 

Easy access accounts are also the most flexible type of savings account because as well as being able to get at your money at any time, you can also pay into them whenever you want.

You should also be aware that many easy access accounts come with a bonus rate that typically lasts 12 months. This isn't necessarily a bad thing – particularly in a low interest rate environment - as most bonuses are fixed, so should interest rates fall, you know your savings rate can't drop below the bonus rate for 12 months. For example, if you had an account paying 3% with a 2% bonus for 12 months, you know the rate can't fall below 2% for the first year. However, do watch out for variable rate bonuses as these don't offer the same guarantee.

However, because the bonus is temporary, you need to be aware that the interest rate will drop significantly once it comes to an end. You therefore need to be prepared to move your money to a new account at that point.

Not all easy access accounts include a bonus, so if you don’t want to keep having to switch your savings every year, you may prefer this type of product. You will have to accept a lower rate of interest and it is still important to keep an eye on the rate. Even though there is no bonus, the rate could still erode over time and is not guaranteed to remain at the level it was when you opened the account.  

Finding the best deal

By using MoneySupermarket's free independent comparison service you can search for the best easy access account to suit your needs. We search through hundreds of different deals to help you find the right one at the click of a mouse.

Easy access - featured accounts - Ordered by interest rate (AER)

Apply for the accounts below today or see all easy access accounts

  1. Great for
    Quick and simple online access
    Additional funds can be added to the account
    Choice between monthly or annual interest
    • Provider/Product name GE Saver Issue 6

      GE Capital Direct

      GE Saver Issue 6

    • Interest rate (AER) 1.10% Variable
    • Min/Max opening amount £500 to £250,000
    • Notice / Term Notice Period: none
    • Account type Easy Access Account
    • Access Internet Post Telephone In Branch
    • Go to site

    Great for
    Quick and simple online access
    Unlimited penalty free withdrawals

Easy access - featured accounts - Ordered by interest rate (AER)

Apply for the accounts below today or see all easy access accounts

  1. Great for
    Quick and simple online access
    Additional funds can be added to the account
    Choice between monthly or annual interest
    • Provider/Product name GE Saver Issue 6

      GE Capital Direct

      GE Saver Issue 6

    • Interest rate (AER) 1.10% Variable
    • Min/Max opening amount £500 to £250,000
    • Notice / Term Notice Period: none
    • Account type Easy Access Account
    • Access Internet Post Telephone In Branch
    • Go to site

    Great for
    Quick and simple online access
    Unlimited penalty free withdrawals
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