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Online the way forward for top returns

Online the way forward for top returns

Category: Savings
Author: Leanne Macardle
Date: 08/02/2019

Thanks to intensifying competition recently, savers will no doubt have seen an improvement to easy access account rates in the Best Buys. However, those that do not have online access – which could include many "silver savers" – may not be able to take advantage of the top rates. At the same time, banks are closing high street branches, so it seems inevitable that branch access will become increasingly scarce, and savers could end up paying the price.

Indeed, the latest research from Moneyfacts.co.uk reveals that a third of the easy access market (34%) offers no branch access, up from 29% five years ago, so those savers who have yet to get online will be missing out. Meanwhile, the number of accounts offering internet access is growing: 62% of accounts can now be accessed online, a rise of 9% in the last five years, and these online-accessible accounts typically offer better returns too*.


Savings market analysis


Easy access market*


Feb 2014


Feb 2017


Feb 2018


Feb 2019


% of deals without branch access


29%


31%


34%


34%


Best rate with branch access £10,000 gross


Kent Reliance (krbs) 1.60%


Virgin Money 1.01%


Kent Reliance 1.21%


Yorkshire BS 1.41%


% of deals with internet access


53%


61%


61%


62%


Best rate with internet access £10,000 gross


Kent Reliance (krbs) 1.60%


RCI Bank UK 1.10%


AA 1.32%


ICICI Bank UK 1.54%

*Percentage of market and the best deals shown may include those available via other channels, but are not restricted to existing customers or locals. Source: Moneyfacts.co.uk

"Online savings accounts have clearly made their mark over the years, so much so that 62% of the easy access market now offers online access (up from 53% in February 2014)," said Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk. "Those savers who have yet to jump on the internet craze may be disappointed to find out that a third (34%) of the easy access market provides no branch access.

"As savers may have already noticed, some of the biggest bank brands are in the process of closing hundreds of branches, including Lloyds Banking Group, RBS Group and even Santander. With thousands of branches set to close, and the percentage of deals offering branch access decreasing, this may pose a problem for those who rely on them to manage their money. These growing signals of a changing landscape on the high street are steering more consumers to bank online, regardless of their age or circumstances."

The problem comes when customers don't want to or are unable to bank online, such as older savers who may be unfamiliar with the online world, or simply those who don't trust online banking after the spate of high-profile IT glitches in recent years. It's particularly concerning as some silver savers may assume they'll be getting better rates on over-50s savings accounts, but in reality, this is no longer true.

"The best easy access account rate is currently offered by ICICI Bank UK at 1.54% (gross), which requires customers to apply online and does not offer any branch access," said Rachel. "On the other hand, the best account with branch access comes from Yorkshire Building Society and pays 1.41%, while SAGA's telephone access saver, designed for the over-50s, is available nationally but pays just 0.70%.

"Only six providers** currently offer a dedicated over-50s account, the best rate of which comes from Earl Shilton Building Society paying 1.30%, but it restricts withdrawals to just four per year. The account is only available to savers living in a specific postcode area, and on the fifth withdrawal, the rate plummets to 0.25% – not ideal for those who require frequent access to their funds.

"As it stands, savers who have yet to get online will be missing out on the best interest rates on easy access accounts, which is bad news for those who may rely on their savings income – inevitably leaving them feeling left behind."

*Percentage and averages include deals available via other channels.

**Providers that currently offer over 50s easy access accounts: Chorley Building Society, Danske Bank, Darlington Building Society, Earl Shilton Building Society, SAGA, West Brom Building Society.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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