Notice savings accounts give you a better rate, but you don't get instant access to your money. Long term notice accounts for those who plan ahead.
What are Easy Access Accounts?
Easy access accounts allow you to access your money in a savings account whenever you choose to, without having to give previous notice to your provider and without having to pay a penalty or losing some of your interest.
This is also why easy access accounts are frequently called instant-access or no-notice-accounts. Instant access or no-notice accounts can differ slightly, as the instant-access-account allows you to withdraw money immediately, while with no-notice accounts, it can take just a few days until your request is processed.
The ability to get hold of your money whenever you need it has made Easy Access Accounts a popular type of savings account among those planning to build up an emergency fund. Furthermore, Easy Access Accounts are a good way to learn how to handle savings accounts, and in order to open them, it does not require you more than £1. Moreover, there is no regulation on how much money you need to put into the account regularly.
Easy Access Accounts are considered the most flexible type of savings account, as you can pay into them whenever you want, can save money at your very own pace and you can choose the time when you want to retrieve your money. Due to the easy access to your money, you are also running a very low risk with this type of savings account.
How do Easy Access Accounts work?
Easy Access Accounts can be operated in manifold ways, in branch, by phone, by post or online, depending on what suits you best. With standard Easy Access Accounts, opening an account and accessing your money is free of charge. Usually Easy Access Accounts have variable interest rates, which means that your bank is free to change the interest rate up or down at any time, which happens most frequently when there occurs movement in the Bank of England base rate.
Depending on the conditions of your account, interest can be paid monthly or annually. In any case, in return for offering the additional service that you can access and withdraw money at any time, the interest rates for Easy Access Accounts are commonly lower than for other types of savings accounts.
Some accounts tend to have restrictions on the number of money withdrawals that can be made annually, reaching from one to four or five per year. If you exceed the maximum, it is likely that you will be penalized, normally by losing interest. Normally this should not be the case, but with some accounts you may lose interest for the month or months in which you choose to withdraw money.
A further regulation imposed by some banks is that they can require you to keep a minimum balance in your account at all times, which can go up to £1,000. If you do not stick to this, your account is at risk of being closed.
How to find the best Easy Access Accounts
Interest rates on easy access accounts frequently vary, so it is advisable and worthwhile to shop around in order to try and find the best deal. This includes looking at the number of annual withdrawals that are offered as well as a minimum balance you may need to keep in your account in order to avoid extra charges.
Be aware of possible hidden restrictions on the accessibility of your account and try to avoid these as much as possible.
Due to the rather low interest compared to other savings accounts, you should consider whether you will need your money any time soon. If you are planning to put money aside for a long time, you should consider other types of accounts.
As interest rates are variable, keep an eye on your rate and take into consideration that you may need to move your savings to another provider if the interest rate is no longer competitive.
Some Easy Access Accounts come with a one-year bonus rate or another type of favorable introductory rate for a predetermined time-span. The advantage of this bonus or introductory rate is that it is fixed, so even if the interests of your bank should fall, your savings cannot drop under the bonus rate for this amount of time. It make sense to look out for such offers to optimize your financial benefits. However, the same is not applicable for variable bonuses, so try to avoid them.
Also, when choosing an account with a fixed bonus rate, pay attention whether the interest rate after the end of the bonus period is still competitive or prepare yourself to move your money to another account. However, if you prefer not to switch at any point and leave your money at a fixed account for a longer amount of time, you should look for Easy Access Accounts without a bonus rate.