MILLIONS are missing out on better savings rates.
Banks are dragging their heels over passing on interest rate rises to savers and with inflation soaring, it means your hard-earned cash is losing value day by day.
Money expert James Daley of campaign group Fairer Finance believes the lag between the Bank of England raising rates and banks boosting what they pay savers, is part of a strategy to push up their profits.
He says the behaviour is a “kick in the teeth” for savers who have endured low interest rates for many years.
Those who leave their cash lingering in accounts with big name banks can end up receiving the lowest interest rates.
With inflation now at 11.1 per cent and eating away at savings in real terms, it makes sense to track down deals with the best interest rates.
Rosie Murray-West explains where it’s best to stash your cash.
SAVINGS RATES AREN’T RISING FAST ENOUGH
RECENT increases in the Bank of England base rate mean that banks are making more money than they used to.
Last December, the Bank of England base rate was at a record low of 0.1 per cent.
It has been rising since then and is now at three per cent, as the Bank tries to dampen high inflation from soaring energy, food and other prices.
Many economists believe it will rise further.
Laura Suter, head of personal finance at investment firm AJ Bell, says mortgage rates have shot up in line with the base rate but savings rates have not.
“Banks make money on the difference between what they charge those borrowing money and what they hand over to savers — the bigger the difference, the bigger the profits,” she says.
The average cost of a two-year fixed rate mortgage is 5.92 per cent, while the average rate on an easy access savings account is 1.51 per cent, according to financial data group Moneyfacts.
Based on those rates, for every £1,000 borrowed on a mortgage you’d pay £60 in interest each year, whereas for every £1,000 in a savings account you’d get just £15.
RISING prices combined with low savings rates, means that money kept in the bank for a long time can lose what’s called its “purchasing power” so the same amount buys you less.
Inflation is running at 11.1 per cent, which means that £1,000 now would be worth the equivalent of £890 in a year’s time.
There are no savings accounts currently paying more than inflation, but it’s still important to hunt for the best rates to protect the value of your money.
TRACK DOWN BEST DEALS
TO GET the highest possible rates, consider whether you can lock away your money for a fixed period of time.
You could also pay into a regular saver account, which offers high rates if you put away a fixed sum of money each month.
Challenger banks, which do not have high street branches, and small building societies, often have better rates, too.
You might also want to consider Islamic banks, which are run according to Muslim values, paying a “profit rate” instead of interest.
These banks are otherwise regulated in the same way as other financial companies and your money has the same protection.
This means that if a bank were to go bust, the first £85,000 of money that you hold with it will be repaid by an official compensation scheme.
Finally, consider switching your current account to a bank that pays interest on your balance as well as on linked savings accounts.
URGENT ENERGY VOUCHER WARNING
CUSTOMERS with a prepayment meter risk missing out on £400 this winter.
They have been urged to check if they’ve received their energy bill discount codes.
The discount is split into six monthly instalments of around £66 paid between October 2022 and March 2023.
Almost half of the 4.5million households on prepayment meters have non-smart meters, which can’t be credited with the discount automatically.
Instead, these households have to take action to apply the discount on their bills.
But, thousands of vouchers sent by text, email or post in October and November have not yet been redeemed.
Energy secretary Grant Shapps wrote to energy suppliers to ensure that customers know how to redeem these vouchers.
In the letter, Mr Shapps said: “The data indicates £1.8billion worth of payments were delivered in October, which represents 97 per cent of households, and that all prepayment meter vouchers were dispatched.
“However, the same dataset shows 41 per cent of prepayment meter vouchers have not yet been redeemed.”
If you’re on a traditional prepayment meter, your energy supplier will send you a discount voucher or message in the first week of each month.
Customers will then need to redeem these at their usual top-up point.
If these customers don’t redeem their vouchers within 90 days of their issue date they will have to request a new one from their supplier.
National Energy Action chief executive Adam Scorer said: “One of the least surprising outcomes from the Energy Bills Support Scheme is that people on older prepayment meters are the most likely to miss out.
“They may not know that the scheme exists, be reluctant to open letters from suppliers, miss the email or be unable to print off the voucher.”
Those on new smart prepayment meters have the discount applied automatically to their meter and don’t need to take any action to get the bill discount.
THOUSANDS of low-income families are in line for a £25 cash boost after cold weather payments were triggered in hundreds of postcodes this week.
The payments are made automatically to those on certain benefits in locations where temperatures drop below zero for seven consecutive days between now and March 31.
Households in areas such as Exeter, Nottingham and Rochdale will all benefit from the cash.
To find out if you could qualify, check your postcode on the Sun Money’s list at bit.ly/3FgUJ0y.
Customers will have the payment credited to their bank account within 14 days of their postcode becoming eligible.
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