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Easy access accounts

Probably the simplest and easiest of all savings accounts is the easy access account. It's very simple; you pay your money in, earn interest, and can withdraw it whenever you like.

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That's why many people use easy access accounts for their rainy-day fund - it means that their money is within reach at all times.

You may have heard them called 'instant access accounts' or 'no-notice accounts' but they are all the same thing - a flexible, accessible way to save.

Are there any downsides to an easy access account?

It's advisable for everyone to have some money saved in an easy access account.

As your savings build up, they'll grow faster - even if you're only paying in the same regular amount. Each time the interest earned on your money is paid in it starts earning interest, too
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But it won't always be the best way to save larger amounts.

These options don't always pay the very best rates of interest.

As a general rule, the more restrictive a savings deal is, the higher the rate of interest you will earn.

Compare a full range of savings accounts to help you choose the right one for you.

Can you open a tax-free easy access account?

If you haven't already used your cash Isa allowance, then it's worth considering an easy access cash Isa account.

There's no difference between an easy-access Isa and a standard easy access account, except that the taxman can't take his cut of your interest.

Is an easy access account right for you?

There's a lot to think about when choosing a savings option and the right one depends on you. For example, if you're trying to build up a savings habit then a regular saver account might be better.

Piggy-bank

If you have a lump sum and you want to earn as much interest as possible, then a fixed-rate bond might be more suitable.

Bear in mind that everyone should have some cash stored where it's readily available in an emergency.

That way, if the boiler breaks or an unexpected bill arrives you can get your hands on the money straight away.

Could you earn a higher rate?

There are some easy access accounts that do pay a higher rate than others, but have a few restrictions.

Many banks and building societies pay a 12-month bonus rate, meaning you earn a lot less after the first year

For example, you might have to agree to a limited number of withdrawals in a year in return for a better rate.

Other options may be online only, meaning you can't manage them in a branch or on the phone.

Because that means your account is less work for the bank or building society, it will pay you a higher rate.

You can find out more about a particular product when using our comparison page.

Are there any catches?

If you've carefully compared easy access savings accounts then you'll have chosen one that's paying a top rate of interest.

However, that won't necessarily last. Many banks and building societies pay a 12-month bonus rate, meaning you earn a lot less after the first year.

It's a good idea to make a note of when you open the account and consider switching around your first anniversary.

That way, you're regularly comparing accounts and can be confident you're earning a top rate.

How much do you need to save?

If you're using an easy access savings account to stash your emergency fund, then it's a good idea to save between three and six months' worth of your salary.

But if you can't afford to put quite that much aside then just save what you can. Any savings are better than none. Think of it as a cushion - the thicker the better!
 
Some of the top-rate easy access accounts require a minimum deposit, sometimes as high as £1,000.

If you dip beneath that amount then you won't earn the advertised rate of interest. But there can be very good options with a minimum deposit of just £1, so think carefully about how much you plan to keep stashed away.

Then compare a range of easy access accounts so you can be sure you've chosen the right product and that it's paying the best rate possible.

By Felicity Hannah