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Last chance to open government-backed 3-year bond paying 2.2%

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The NS&I Investment Guaranteed Growth bond paying 2.2% which launched last April is to stop accepting applications after tomorrow.

NS&I confirmed the last chance to open the bond will be at 11:59pm on Tuesday 10 April – a year after the much-anticipated bond was launched.

Chancellor Philip Hammond first announced the launch of the product in the 2016 Autumn Statement, allowing those aged 16 and over to save between £100 and £3,000 for the three-year term. On the maximum amount saved, holders would receive £202 over the term.

At the time, this was a market-leading product paying 2.2%, supporting savers who had been adversely affected by years of low interest rates.

But digital challenger Atom Bank pipped NS&I to the post by launching its 2.2% three-year bond in March 2017. However, just days later, it cut the rate to 1.9%, and unlike NS&I, savings aren’t 100% capital protected by HM Treasury.

Since then, interest rates have risen from 0.25% to 0.5% and the rates on savings product have also edged upwards.

Currently, the top paying three-year fixed rate is offered from RCI Bank, paying 2.31% on a minimum £1,000, followed by Vanquis Bank’s 2.30% offering (min. £1,000) and BLME paying an expected rate of 2.30%, according to Moneyfacts data.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said while the withdrawal will be disappointing for those looking for a guaranteed return on their cash, it comes at an opportune time.

“Interest rates are widely expected to rise in May, and savers may wish to consider waiting to see whether better rates become available before locking their cash away.

“Even with a rate rise, achieving a real return is going to be challenging with inflation currently at 2.7%, stubbornly above the government’s 2% target. The fixed rate bond market still has some way to go before the majority of rates get anywhere near inflation-beating.”

Smith added that savers sitting on cash have faced more than a decade of low interest rates and pensioners and those reliant on generating a return from their savings have struggled.

“For those able to diversify, equities and other investments offer potentially greater returns, but people need to consider how much risk they can afford to take as these returns aren’t guaranteed.”