How to Find the Best Savings Accounts

What are some of the best savings accounts? Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of different online banks that offer these types of accounts. The way they work is that you deposit your money into your savings account and you watch your money to earn interest while your funds grow. It is very easy to locate great savings account in your local hometown bank, but if you would like to earn even a better return and pay less fees, you should think about storing your own savings online.

Savings accounts are designed so that you can earn compound interest with your money. Compound interest is what keeps the bank growing – always paying you back with higher interest! The beauty of savings accounts is that you can start with just a little bit, build it up over time, and then stop paying any more money. This allows you to use your cash at any time without having to worry about compounding interest and being paid more than you bargained for.

If you are trying to decide which bank offers the best savings rates, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. First, look at how the bank offers its services. Are they easy to use? Do the transactions take less time than those of other banks? How easy is it to get to your local branch? Does it provide a hassle-free banking experience?

Some banks offer savings accounts with no minimum balance required. Federal Credit Union members are the most popular with this type of savings account, because they have a union standing that protects them from overdraft penalties. However, the national credit union is not the only one that offers no minimum balance savings accounts. You should also be able to find accounts at banks such as Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, and many others.

Another factor to take into consideration when looking for the best savings account is what types of rates you will receive. There are two categories: savings accounts that pay interest only and those that pay interest and dividends as well. With an interest-only account, your rate will never increase. On the other hand, with a dividend-paying account, your rate may increase at anytime. Determine which category best suits your financial situation before you start looking.

The final part of your search for the best savings accounts involves looking for banks that cater to your specific financial situation. Most banks offer online checking accounts for those who are self-employed or do not have a workplace. If you prefer online banking, some banks offer a service that allows you to transfer funds between your checking and savings accounts. If you have a workplace, look for a bank that allows you to make bank deposits by direct deposit into your company account. This way, you will not need to go out to the bank in order to do so. Instead, all you will need to do is turn on your computer and make a few clicks.

Why can’t they be more like First Direct?

This is my last Money comment. After almost four years of musing, sermonising and occasionally ranting and raving, I am moving on to pastures new.

It has been an extraordinary time to be writing about personal finance, given the pace of change that has, thankfully, been mostly for the better. There has been the shake-up of the investment world — the retail distribution review’s yawnsome title belied its radical intent. By sweeping away the backhanded bribes (commission) and forcing intermediaries to charge fees, it has made the cost of financial advice more transparent.

However, there is more to be done. These payments have been banned only on new sales, so if you bought unit trusts or pensions through an adviser before December 31, 2012, the person who sold them to you is probably still receiving an annual commission, even if the advice was rotten. Good advisers should have already offered to switch your funds to new “share classes” that do not pay commission. If yours hasn’t, you should ask them why.

The disclosure of fees, especially to potential clients, also needs to be improved. Advisers, if you have nothing to hide, tell consumers what they want to know and publish indicative charges online.

There has also been the mortgage market review, which has made lives more difficult by making home loans harder to obtain, slowing down the offer process and forcing borrowers to account for all their spending — even how much they shelled out on haircuts and holidays.

Although it has been a big irritant, there is a good deal of sense in the new rules, which are designed to ensure that the rash borrowing and lending that sparked the financial crisis won’t happen again — as long as banks and building societies enact them sensibly.

The third, and perhaps most seismic, change has been the pensions revolution. We are still waiting to see how this one pans out, but by granting those aged 55 and over the freedom to spend their retirement funds as they wish, George Osborne and the former minister for state pensions, Steve Webb, have achieved the impossible — making people engage with their pensions. As a subject it hasn’t quite achieved sexy status, but at least it now has a certain allure.

However, for all the steps forward there has been much that hasn’t improved or has become worse. If you will indulge me one last time I want to hand out a number of awards to those whose service and behaviour have disappointed or delighted over the past four years.

Basil Fawlty award for customer service

Like the character from Fawlty Towers, some companies have excelled at routinely rubbing customers up the wrong way, and in a packed field of contenders the award goes jointly to Npower and Scottish Power. This week Citizens Advice named and shamed Scottish Power as the most complained about energy company, and last month it was voted the worst company in Britain in a survey byWhich?, the consumer group.

Times Money has devoted as many column inches to the appalling customer service of Npower, thanks to the dogged reporting of my colleague Mark Atherton. Poor billing dominated the complaints we received; both companies blamed their IT systems, although they claim they have been working hard to make significant improvements. Customers, it seems, have yet to profit from the results.

Mr Bean pratfall award

I almost feel sorry for HMRC — almost. When I started writing this column the Inland Revenue was in disgrace — it had just shamefully admitted that it had been unable to send out tax reminders because it had run out of paper. Screw-ups were the order of the day and since then things have improved markedly. The online self-assessment system, in particular, now seems to run smoothly.

That improving trend, however, stalled when HMRC introduced the marriage tax allowance this year and we were flooded with complaints from readers who had been foiled by the online application system. As we revealed a few weeks ago (“Try snail mail for the marriage tax break”, September 19), you might have more success by claiming the tax break by post or phone — if you can get through. Frustrated callers have tweeted HMRC more than 11,500 times over the past year to complain about long waits for calls to be answered, Citizens Advice reported last month. Those who took to Twitter had spent an average of 47 minutes on hold.

Gordon Brown award for tinkering

The Tories promised a different approach when they came to power; that tax simplification would be a key priority. Yet George Osborne, the award’s recipient, has been, while in the chancellor’s chair, as guilty as Brown of introducing a “spaghetti bowl of reliefs, exemptions and allowances” to fulfil short-term political motives, and has left the tax system more complex.

Take the plan to increase the inheritance-tax threshold. By failing to make it universal — it goes only to families with children — and paying for it by raiding the pension contributions of higher earners, it muddies the tax system further. The tax attack on buy to let is so complex that even tax advisers can sound baffled.

Walt Disney award for common sense

One of Disney’s most famous quotes is: “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends.” What has worked for the maker of Frozen and Bambi has also worked wonders for First Direct, a bank that is universally praised. Pretty amazing, given that it doesn’t pay any interest on its current account.

Other banks, most notably Santander and the challengers such as Metro Bank, have recognised and attempted to emulate the secret of the bank’s success, which is quite simple: keep customers happy. At last, service for bank customers has started to improve; it’s just a shame that the same can’t be said about interest rates.

Of course, without the input we get from our readers, Times Money wouldn’t have the ammunition we need to call companies to account for their service, rates and returns, and to praise those that deserve it.

I would like to thank all of our readers and encourage you to continue to share your experiences with my successor. We could not do it without you.

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The websites and apps to help you buy a home

Plentific.com offers personal finance management tools as well as a range of other property-related services

Have you ever wished the property-buying process was less complicated? Cem Savas and Emre Kazan certainly used to — so they decided to find a solution. The two entrepreneurs have launched a new website to help anyone looking to buy a property — from first-time buyers to professional landlords — manage the process from start to finish.

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14 apps to get you more financially fit

If you’re planning to make it your new year’s resolution to get on top of your finances in 2016, there is plenty of technology at hand to make the task easier for you to achieve.

From sticking to a budget to saving on travel, a range of apps are available to help, and many don’t cost a penny so you can start saving straight away. Here’s our pick of the best.

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