Article updated 10 June 2014
Most savings and current accounts have been paying dismal rates of interest for at least five years now. So we were delighted when Nationwide grabbed the headlines in March by upping the rate on its FlexDirect current account to a heady 5%. Up until then, the rate had been just 2%.
At the time, the retail price index (a measure of inflation) was running at 2.5% for March. So, with a 2% interest rate, FlexDirect account holders had actually been losing money in real terms
But then more good news followed. TSB, perhaps hoping to ingratiate itself with customers following its public split with Lloyds, trumpeted the arrival of its Current Plus account, also offering 5% interest. Ed Bowsher covered this in detail.
Not only could savers now comfortably beat inflation, but they could choose with whom they did it. Better still, TSB customers only have to deposit £500 a month to win their coveted 5%, compared to the £1,000 a month Nationwide demands.
If you’re not keen on the TSB account, Lloyds has its Club Lloyds account which pays 4% if you have a balance of between £4,000 and £5,000.
After these three front-runners, interest rates fall to 3%.
Tesco Bank has launched a current account that pays 3% on balances up to £3,000, and lets you collect Clubcard points on your debit-card spending, at Tesco and elsewhere. It’s free if you pay in over £750 a month, otherwise you’ll have to pay £5 a month.
For £2 a month, you can earn 3% a year with the Santander 123 account, or you can get the same rate with Bank of Scotland as long as you have a balance of at least £3,000.
Of course, there’s more than just interest rates to consider when choosing where to park your cash. Overdrafts, benefits and signing-up rewards are all important too. But to keep things simple, we’ve made interest rates our focus. We’ve also excluded children’s accounts that tend to offer more generous rates of interest.
One thing you will want to look out for is whether that headline interest rate is for a limited time only. In true Cinderella style, Nationwide’s shining 5% morphs into an ugly 1% after the first 12 months. So, you may want to think about switching accounts after the first year.
In the table below, we list the top six current accounts currently on offer ranked by their interest rates. We haven’t included Halifax here, because its Reward Account doesn’t offer interest as such. But it does pay you £5 for every month you pay in £750.
|Name||Interest rate||Minimum amount to be paid in monthly|
|TSB Classic Plus||5% up to £2,000||£500|
|Nationwide FlexDirect||5% up to £2,500 – 1st 12 months||£1,000|
|Club Lloyds||Tiered: 1% to 4% up to £5,000||£1,500|
|Tesco Bank Current Account||3% up to £3,000||£750. Otherwise £5 monthly fee|
|Santander 123 Current Account||Tiered: 1% to 3% up to £20,000||£500. Also pay £2 monthly fee|
|Bank of Scotland Classic with Vantage||Tiered: 1.5% – 3% up to £5,000||£1,000|
|Clydesdale / Yorkshire Bank Current Account Direct||2% up to £3,000||£1,000|
So, that’s a quick round-up of the best current accounts for earning interest. We plan to update this article regularly.