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Feb 2013

Hard times for cash ISA savers as many 12 month bonus rates deals end

It's well-known that cash ISA providers often use attractive bonus rates to entice new savers. While these high rates can offer a good deal in the short term, it's absolutely vital to keep an eye on when these preferential rates end.

According to, some cash ISAs opened a year ago are set to suffer up to an 85% fall in rates as their year-long bonuses end.

Move it or lose it

Thousands of cash Isa savers who took out best buy deals this time last year will need to be on their toes and ready to hunt down new deals - or face leaving their savings to languish in accounts offering poor rates. For example, this time last year, Halifax's online ISA offered a 3% rate, 2.75% of which comprised a 12-month bonus rate. This means that savers who stick with the account will find that their rate suddenly plummets to a measly 0.25% - an incentive to switch accounts if ever there was one.

Keeping ISA options open

It's essential to shop around for the best deal. True, the current financial climate isn't exactly bursting at the seams with cash ISAs offering high interest rates, but that's no reason not to seek out the best deal you can, relative to what else is on offer at the moment.

Structured deposits offer an alternative

You may be tempted to try a fixed-rate cash ISA instead, motivated by the received wisdom that locking cash away equals better returns. It used to be the case that fixed-rate cash ISAs offered a superior rate for savers, but unfortunately this isn't necessarily the case at the moment. Very few cash ISA providers can boast one, two or three year fixed rate bonds that offer significantly better rates than those available for instant access ISAs. If you are happy to tie up your capital for more than three years, a structured deposit plan may be worth a closer look.

These plans offer the benefit of capital protection up to the FSC limit of £85,000 combined with the opportunity to earn returns linked to the stock market (e.g. the FTSE 100). While the linked return is not guaranteed, there is the potential to earn more than might currently be available via a fixed rate bond. For savers who are seeking a return as a matter of priority, this type of investment is unlikely to be suitable. As with all savings and investments, it's best to consult an independent financial advisor before making a decision.

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