Martin Lewis warns anyone with savings account to check it immediately – WalesOnline

by MoneySaverExpert

Martin Lewis has warned anyone with a savings account to check it immediately.

Speaking on ITV’s Money Show, the consumer expert warned that now is the time to revisit any rainy day pot, as Mirror Online reports.

The money-saving expert said fluctuating interest rates are the reason to check on your accounts, and gives his recommendations on what to do.

Read more advice from Martin Lewis here.

Martin Lewis told ITV viewers: “The top savings rates have changed massively recently, they have gone up a lot but they’re still not in great shape.

“Back in March, the top easy-access account paid 0.4% now its 0.67% – that’s the same interest but over half as much on top.

“The top two-year fix was just 0.74%, now that pays 1.76% so that’s over double what it did pay,” he explained.

“The reason why some of these rates have gone up is because long term predictions of interest rates have gone up and that’s what these are set on.”

The consumer expert told viewers that despite the increase, rates are not even level with inflation.

He said: “What’s more interesting is that fixed rates are now massively more competitive than easy access accounts were earlier in the year.

“The problem with all this though is that none of these rates are even close to inflation. That means savings accounts are still ‘losings accounts’ but you still want the best possible rate you can get because it mitigates rising prices.

“If you’ve got savings, go and find out what interest rate you are paying and then compare it to the rates below”.

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All of these accounts have the full £85,000 FSC savings protection.

Best buys

For those on a low income, Martin recommends the following accounts right now:

Help to Save

Help to Save is a government savings account available to working people on low incomes who claim Tax Credits and Universal Credit.

If you qualify, you’ll get an extra 50p for every £1 saved, meaning over four years a maximum saving of £2,400 would result in an overall bonus of £1,200.

You’re free to pay in however much you like (up to £50 a month) so even if you part with £5 a month (£1.25 a week) – over two years, you’ll get a £60 bonus taking your total pot to £180. Over four years, this would amount to £360.

The scheme, which is designed to be ‘flexible and secure’ also hopes to get people into a savings habit.

How much is saved and when is up to the account holder, and they don’t need to pay in every month to get a bonus.

Lifetime ISAs

If you’re aged 18-39, you can pay up to £4,000 a year into a Lifetime ISA on any schedule you like, with a 25% bonus paid after 12 months.

Over the lifetime of an account, you can get up to £32,000 in government cash – providing you pocket the £1,000 bonus every year.

Interestingly, LISAs let you invest in the stock market or cash. You can then use the money to buy a home or save for your retirement.

With a LISA you can currently buy homes up to £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside London.

However, if you choose to withdraw the cash, you may face a penalty of 25% of the amount withdrawn.

The top cash Lifetime Isa is currently Moneybox which pays 0.6%.

If two first time buyers are planning to get on the ladder, you can open one each and double the saving.

But Martin warns: “Pay off expensive debts before you save because the interest you’re being charged on loans is a lot more than what you’ll earn in savings.”

What about the best accounts for everyone else?

The best savings accounts right now are fixed-rate savings.

Martin explains: “But with fixed-rate savings, you lock your money away, so you have to be aware of that.”

Here are his top picks:

Top 1 year fixed accounts:

Standard savings – Zopa, 1.35% (minimum £1,000)

Cash ISA – Hampshire Trust, 0.95% (minimum £1) – can withdraw but there’s a 90 -day penalty.

Top 2 year fixed accounts

Standard savings – SmartSave, 1.6% (minimum £10,000)

Cash ISA – Close Brothers, 1.2% (minimum £10,000) – can withdraw but there’s a 150-day penalty.

Sharia fixed accounts:

Al Rayan, 1 year, 1.45% (minimum £5,000), 2 years pays 1.76%

Martin adds: “With a five year fixed you can get over 2%, but with the prediction that interest rates might go up, if interest rates go up in a couple of years time, you might find you’re losing.”

Best accounts if you need flexibility

Top easy access savings accounts – meaning you can withdraw the money whenever you want:

Shawbrook – 1.67% (minimum £1,000)

Cynergy – 0.66% (minimum £1)

Marcus – 0.6% (minimum £1)

Top notice accounts – you can withdraw if you give notice:

Secure Trust – 1.1% – 120 days notice or 0.85% for 60 days notice (minimum £1,000)

Top current accounts:

Virgin – 2.% (up to £1,000)

Nationwide FlexDirect, 1 year 2% fix (up to £1,500)

Top regular savers:

Natwest and RBS 3% (max £50 a month)

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