Easy access savings accounts are as simple as they sound – they allow you to access your money without having to give advance notice to your provider, and they can usually be paid into at any time. They're the most flexible type of savings account and can be the perfect place to build up that emergency fund, or for those who aren't sure if they'll need to dip into their pot.
They can be ideal if you're not sure what will happen to interest rates in the near future, and can be just as suitable if you've got short-term savings goals, or even if you simply want to get into the habit of saving. As they don't require a big commitment, easy access accounts can be a great starting point for any saver. Competition has been ramping up recently, too, which means those wanting to keep their cash accessible can enjoy higher rates than they've had in ages!
However, there are a few things to watch out for. Most providers don't want too much cash that is easily accessible, as these funds mean uncertainty for them, which is why the best rates tend to disappear rather quickly. So, if you see an account you like, don't hesitate. There's also a growing number of accounts that only allow a certain number of withdrawals per year, so watch out for deals that will penalise you for withdrawing money if you require regular access to your cash.
Make sure you carefully consider accounts that come with bonuses, too: most only last for a 12-month period, after which the rate will drop considerably. That said, given the current state of the market, you may want to review your account after a year regardless of whether it comes with a bonus or not, so the security of a guaranteed bonus element could actually be an asset.
It all comes down to finding an account that works for you, which means you should always check the terms and conditions to ensure it suits your financial and lifestyle needs. With that in mind, here are the current top-paying easy access accounts, looking at both those with and without an introductory bonus.
Comfortably taking the top spot is ICICI Bank UK, with an account that pays the market-leading variable rate of 1.55% AER on a minimum deposit of just £1. Unlimited additions are permitted, as are withdrawals, with the only stipulation being that all access must be made via a nominated account. Savers should note that the rate includes a bonus of 0.30% for 12 months, making a review of the account a must in a year's time.
In second place sits Family Building Society, with a deal that pays a near market-leading 1.51% to those who can invest at least £15,000. It allows further additions at any time, together with restriction-free withdrawals, offering the height of accessibility.
Virgin Money completes the top three with this account offering a variable rate of 1.50% on investments of at least £1. This online-only deal allows unlimited further additions (up to the £250,000 maximum), but only two withdrawals per calendar year, making it more suitable for those who can plan their access. However, the lack of a bonus means it could be a decent long-term home for emergency funds, as long as you don't have more than two emergencies per year.
Virgin Money secures another place in the charts with an account that mirrors its predecessor, the key difference being that this one offers savers the chance to enter a monthly prize draw that's ideal for Manchester United fans – savers will receive 10 entries into the prize draw for every month account is open and one extra entry for every £50 held in the account, with prizes including matchday tickets, signed shirts and hospitality tickets. Twice a year, an entry will also be put into the Man Utd Mega Draw.
Next up is the online-exclusive easy access account from West Brom Building Society, which offers a rate of 1.50% to those who can deposit at least £1,000. Further additions are allowed without restriction, but while withdrawals are also permitted, it should be noted only two will be allowed per account year – with a lower rate paid if this limit is exceeded – making careful planning a must.
Completing the top six is this account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs, a deal that attracted headlines when it launched and only misses out on a higher place in this run-through because its gross rate is slightly lower. It pays a rate of 1.49% monthly (1.50% AER), including a bonus of 0.15% for 12 months, and permits unlimited further additions and withdrawals – provided all access is through a nominated account – making it a true easy access deal that could be perfect for an emergency pot.
Information and rates correct as at: 24.01.2019
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