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BLOG: To switch or not to switch?

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Headline rates on best buy tables may tempt savers but there's often more to the story, writes Joanna Faith.
BLOG: To switch or not to switch?

There was once a time when you could put your cash in a savings account and leave it there until you needed it.

Those days are long gone.

Saving is a full time job; even the slightest change in rate could make the world of difference to the amount of money savers make – so keeping your eye on the best buy tables is essential.

One name you’re unlikely to see high up in these tables is NS&I, which has announced it will be cutting rates on its income bonds, Direct Saver and Direct ISA from September, to reflect the low interest rate environment.

It’s no great surprise that these market leading rates will be cut – it was never a case of if, it was always when.

And while this move may well deter new business, existing customers should remember the rate cuts apply to them too.

The natural instinct of NS&I customers – or any savers who are no longer in competitive products – may be to jump ship immediately and give their money to one of the stars of the best buy tables.

In many cases this is the right move. Cash sitting in accounts making pathetic returns is a waste.

However, moving your money without doing the appropriate research could potentially leave you worse off.

Regular, easy access savings accounts are far from straightforward and headline rates are just one part of a much more complicated puzzle.

A look at the best buy tables on the Savings Champion website, for example, will show you the most competitive rates out there. But they also give you info on the accounts’ terms and conditions.

For example, Nationwide e-Savings Plus currently offers a market leading 1.70%. However, you only get five free withdrawals a year and you must have or open a Nationwide current account to set up the account.

Or the Derbyshire NetSaver – Issue 11 which also offers a headline rate of 1.70%. However, this rate includes a fixed bonus of 1.20% until next June.

Is it worth your while switching?

Anna Bowes, director of SavingsChampion, says savers need to check with their current provider what rate they are actually getting before they make any decisions.

“This is something you won’t be able to find out on the internet. You can use tools like SavingsChampion’s Rate Tracker if you have your issue number or just ask your provider,” she says.

Whether you switch accounts or not, the key is not to rest on your laurels and leave your cash lying in dormant or post-bonus accounts making abysmal returns.

As Simon Rose of Save Our Savers says: “Financial institutions don’t show any loyalty to their savers so savers shouldn’t show any loyalty to them.”


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