Focus on: NEW 3.01% market-leading easy access account

Savers may not have had much to celebrate after the base rate was held at 0.5% again on Thursday, but the good news is that this hasn’t stopped savings providers from launching some impressive new accounts.

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Along with several competitive ISA accounts, this week also saw the introduction of a new easy access account from West Bromwich Building Society, which pays interest six times higher than the current base rate.

Here, we take a look at the small print to see if this could be the right savings account for you…

What’s the deal?

The WeBSave Easy Access account offers a rate of 3.01% interest on a minimum investment of £1,000. This includes a 2.00% bonus until March 31, 2012.

There are no restrictions on the number of withdrawals you can make, providing you keep at least £1 in the account. The account is available to both new and existing West Brom customers.

The maximum amount you can pay into the account is £250,000, both for single and joint accounts. Bear in mind, however, that if you do plan to deposit a large lump sum, only the first £85,000 will be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Interest on this account can be paid either annually or monthly, which is useful for savers seeking to supplement their income.

Commenting on the account, Kevin Mountford, head of banking at moneysupermarket.com said: “This is the first time since March 2010 that easy access rates have broken through the 3.00% barrier. Although the West Brom product carries a sizeable first year bonus, it presents a great opportunity to make your cash work harder, but you need to be prepared to switch at the end of the 12 months.

“It is widely recognised that the majority of savers are earning a rate equal or less than the base rate. Although the leading savings rates may appear low, the top rate is six times that of the base rate, so for most savers it is a great opportunity to take full advantage and switch to the best deals and put extra money back into their own pockets."

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Any catches?

The account can only be opened and operated online, so it won’t suit savers who are looking for telephone or branch access too. The bonus only lasts for a year, so you will need to move your money then to ensure your savings continue to earn competitive returns.

Verdict

This is an excellent account for savers who don’t want to lock up their money in a fixed rate savings account but who still want to earn a competitive rate of interest. You can make unlimited withdrawals whenever you want, which makes it a good choice for anyone wanting to build up a savings buffer that they can get their hands on easily in the event of an emergency.

Top tip

If you do choose a savings account that includes a bonus for a short period of time, always make a note of when the bonus disappears in your diary, so that you can switch your savings then.

Remember too, that you should always pay into a cash ISA before any other type of savings account, as returns are tax-free. You can invest up to £5,100 in a cash ISA this tax year, which ends on April 5, rising to £5,340 next year.

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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