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Savings warning as Britons ‘short-changed’ on closed easy access accounts | Personal Finance | Finance

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Savers have typically been earning lower rates of interest on easy access accounts which are closed to new business than the equivalent rates on “live” deals, according to analysis from a financial information website.

Moneyfactscompare.co.uk, which carried out the analysis, warned that some savers may find they are being “short-changed”.

Assessing data from the last two years, the incentive to switch from a closed savings account to a live deal is said to have grown “substantially”.

According to the comparison site, the difference between the average closed rate and live rate on easy access accounts has widened from 0.08 percent in July 2022 to 0.31 percent in July 2024.

Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfactscompare.co.uk, commented: “Savers are being short-changed if they don’t proactively review and switch from their closed easy access accounts.

“Over the past two years, the average rate on a live easy access account has surpassed the average closed rate, despite base rate rises from the Bank of England and numerous calls for the biggest banks to improve savings rates for existing customers.

“Savers must shake any apathy they have to move their pots, otherwise they will be left disappointed when their loyalty is not rewarded.”

Ms Springall added that, while some of the “biggest” high street banks pay less than two percent on their most flexible live easy access accounts, some of the top rates on the market overall pay around five percent.

Still topping the board of easy access savings accounts offering the highest interest rate is Ulster Bank’s Loyalty Saver with an Annual Equivalent Rate (AER) of 5.2 percent on deposits of over £5,000. Those with deposits lower than £5,000 will be paid a lower AER of 2.25 percent. Interest is paid annually and on account closure, and withdrawals are permitted at any time up to the daily limits.

Chase’s Saver Boosted Rate Offer takes second place with its account paying an AER of 5.1 percent. The interest rate includes a one percent bonus, which will be paid until January 16, 2025. There is no minimum deposit to open the account and interest is paid monthly.

Ms Springall continued: “Despite using a trusted brand, the convenience of leaving cash in an easy access account can mean missing out on higher interest rates elsewhere, so it is imperative savers ditch and switch to a better return.

Building societies and challenger banks continue to work hard to entice new deposits and reward loyal customers so they are worth comparing against the more familiar high street brands.”

Later this month, the consumer duty, which is overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will apply to closed financial products.

The duty, which requires financial firms to put customers at the heart of what they do, including when designing products, comes into force for closed products from July 31.

Closed products under the FCA’s definition were those which were sold before July 31, 2023, but have not been marketed or sold to new customers since.

Ms Springall said: “It will be interesting to see if any savings providers pull closed savings accounts or move customers onto different products as Consumer Duty rules on closed products come into force.

“According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), firms’ closed products and services “will need to be compliant with its expectations under the Consumer Duty price and value outcome” from July 31, 2024. This includes “an easy access savings account which is no longer on sale to new customers”.

As it stands, Ms Springall noted: “Consumers may well have mixed thoughts on how this will impact them, but a recent survey conducted by Moneyhub revealed 36 percent of respondents felt Consumer Duty ‘will drive banks to become more customer-centric institutions’.

“As the FCA’s Consumer Duty deadline for closed products nears, it is worth noting that not every institution has a closed savings account, but if they do, customers need to see if they are getting a raw deal.”

According to the research, the average rate for an easy access savings account that is closed to new business is 2.82 percent, compared to the live easy access rate which is 3.13 percent.

Subsequently, Ms Springall said: “So those with a balance of £10,000 could earn an additional £31 in interest over 12 months simply by switching, based on average rates.”

However, she noted: “But they could be earning £500 a year if they have an account that pays five percent.”



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