Lynne Blundell takes a look at what it is that makes the top online savings accounts stand out from the crowd.
Online savings accounts are rapidly growing in popularity. But with an increasing number on offer what should you look for when opening an account? RateCity lists the top five star rated online accounts to make the task easier.
At the time of writing (October 20, 2009) the top five online saving accounts rated by CANSTAR CANNEX were as below. T he list changes regularly so make sure you check it on RateCity.com.au.
- ING Direct Savings Maximiser – 5.00%
- Nab iSaver – 4.65%
- Westpac eSaver – 4.55%
- ANZ Online Saver – 4.25%
- RaboPlus Savings Account – 4.00%
Another account to watch, which is too new to be rated as yet according to CANSTAR CANNEX, is UBank's USaver account. It has many of the same features as the top five.
The interest rate is obviously the key feature when selecting an online account. All the top accounts have attractive rates. Some of the top five also offer a bonus interest rate for an introductory period, boosting your savings during that time.
But be careful about offers of “bonus” interest rates – some accounts offer a bonus rate if you don't make any monthly withdrawals. That means even a tiny amount withdrawn will lower the interest rate return for that month on your whole balance.
With others the interest rate varies depending on the account balance. The top five accounts offer the same interest rate regardless of the account balance.
Monthly account and transaction fees really add up and eat into your savings. Check the fees before signing up to an account. None of the top five star rated accounts have account keeping fees or transaction fees.
A top rated account has a high degree of flexibility. The last thing you want to worry about is how many transactions you've had or whether your balance has fallen below the minimum.
All of the top five allow unlimited deposits and withdrawals with no impact on the interest rate you earn. None of them has a minimum opening deposit – you can have as little as one dollar.
Easy access to your money and the ability to transfer funds across to a regular savings account or transaction account whenever you need to is important. But remember it takes a couple of days for funds to be available unless your account is with the same bank.
It may be worth signing up for a regular savings account with the same bank so that you have immediate access. Some of the top five require you to have a regular savings account with the same bank, which gives you access to their ATM network and phone banking and immediate access to your money.
A high level of online security is vital. The top rated accounts offer a higher level of internet security through "secondary authentication", so that to access the account you will need to remember your password and will also be shown a changing password that you have to key in. Check on the bank's online security before you sign up.