For better or for worse, I’m not tech-savvy and would rather do my banking in a branch with a human than in a call center or via a smartphone app.
Since interest rates have risen, I want to move my savings to a better interest rate. How do I find the best branch savings account? MO, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Ruth Jackson-Kirby responds: The good news is that savings rates have risen steadily throughout the year thanks to repeated hikes in the Bank of England’s base rate. The highest-paying money market account now pays 1.9 percent.
Smart saver: Almost all Best Buy tariffs are reserved for online-only or smartphone-based accounts
But many of us still have money in savings accounts that deposit only 0.1 percent. So you’re right to be looking for a new home for your savings.
Unfortunately, almost all Best Buy plans are reserved for online-only or smartphone-based accounts. One of the reasons for this is that these accounts are less expensive for banks and building societies to manage – for example, there is no need to pay an employee behind a branch counter.
The other reason you need to be internet savvy for some of the best courses is that they are offered by challenger banks that simply don’t have a high street presence. Many of the new banks, like Starling, Atom, and Chase, require you to have a smartphone app.
This has created a disconnect between rates for tech-savvy savers and those for savers – like you – who prefer to manage their accounts through a branch, over the phone or through the post.
For example, of the top 20 one-year savings bonds, only one is available offline, according to research by interest rate auditor Savings Champion. Similarly, of the top 20 easy-to-access accounts, only five offer savers an option other than the web or a mobile app.
“It’s tough for traditional savers,” says Anna Bowes, co-founder of Savings Champion. “You are missing out on the best interest rates available as more and more banks are taking the online-only approach. Even old favorites like NS&I are now offering online-only accounts.’
This all means that if you cannot open an online account, you will get a lower interest rate. For example, if you are looking for an instant access savings account, the best rate is 1.9 percent from Al Rayan Bank, but it must be opened online.
If you’re willing to open and maintain your account over the phone, you could get 1.86 percent from Shawbrook Bank.
But for branch access, the best rate drops to 1.6 per cent from the Monmouthshire Building Society on sums of £25,000 or more in their Escalator Instant account – but they have no branch near Huddersfield (their 22 branches and agencies are located mainly in Wales).
Rachel Springall, financial expert at Rate Scrutineer Moneyfacts, says, “If someone doesn’t have online access, it would be wise for them to ask their family or friends to get them online so they can claim the maximum rates.”
A friend or relative could help you apply for an online account, as many of these accounts can then be managed over the phone or through the mail once set up. For example, if someone could help you to open the account online, you could get the best buy instant access account from Al Rayan Bank for 1.9 percent. You could then manage the account over the phone or by mail.
Likewise, Tandem Bank’s one-year fixed-rate savings bond pays 3.3 percent interest and can be serviced over the phone once you’ve opened the account online. If you don’t get help opening an account, don’t despair. There are several accounts that can be opened in other ways and still offer decent interest rates.
Bowes says: “The hitch in the trade when using a postal account is often not as severe as some fear – especially if you avoid using the main banks. There are some providers who still offer postal, branch or telephone account openings. That means they might be vendors you’re not familiar with.”
For example, if you are looking for a cash Isa, UBL UK offers the best rates across the board. All accounts can be opened in a branch, by mail or online. You can get an interest rate of 2.51 percent on a one-year fixed-rate Isa, rising to 3.1 percent for a five-year contract.
Bowes adds: “Savers may need to take a well-informed leap of faith. But as long as their chosen provider is part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or European equivalent, there’s no reason not to try an unfamiliar name.’ The FSCS secures savings of up to £85,000 when a business fails.
The best non-ISA accounts with postal and branch opening options are offered by building societies. For example, Buckinghamshire offers a fixed rate, one-year savings bond at 3 percent interest.
It also offers a three-year bond that can be managed in-branch or by mail, which at 3.35 percent fixed rate is just behind the best buys.
Mansfield has a postal savings account with 90 days notice and an interest rate of 2.25 percent.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/business/how-do-i-find-the-best-branch-operated-savings-account/ How do I find the best branch savings account?