Don't let your savings account leave on a honeymoon

Don't let your savings account leave on a honeymoon

February 4, 2011

When the internet started an online savings account revolution, it changed the way we saved. Interest rates on these accounts have gradually increased, so it’s not surprising that recent Reserve Bank of Australia data reveals household savings mimics that of the mid-1980s.

While savers are reaping the benefits of the high rewards of online savings accounts, they are being warned to be careful of honeymoon rates.

RateCity research shows online savings account interest rates steadily began their upward climb in February 2009, in an effort for financial institutions to entice savers to deposit, as a means of recovery from the global financial crises.

As funding costs on wholesale markets are high, local banks prefer to raise their capital from deposits. This spells good news for savers as the banks tussle with one another to crown the most impressive deal.

In fact, over the past year, banks have been so eager to chase your spare cash that interest on online savings accounts skyrocketed above the cash rate by an average of 150 basis points. And since October 2010, online savings accounts rose by an average of 29 basis points, with the average rate now sitting at an inviting 5.35 percent per annum.

Make the switch
Whether you have some money tucked away or you’re making 2011 the year to save, compare online saving accounts at RateCity that can earn you a higher rate of interest than your everyday transaction account.

One of RateCity’s current best-rate online savings accounts is 1.16 percentage points higher than the average online savings account: 6.51 percent with Ubank (backed by NAB). If you were to deposit $3000 into this account and then deposit $200 each month for one year, you could save around $5400 and earn $274 in interest.

Using RateCity’s comparison tool, UBank’s USaver account leads the pack with Virgin Money‘s Virgin Saver, while Citibank’s Online Saver account comes in at a close second with 6.45 percent.

Strike while the iron is hot
While there are some deals with very appealing introductory rates such as Virgin Money‘s Virgin Saver at 6.51 percent, it has a honeymoon rate that reverts to 5.35 percent after three months.

Experts predict deals like this won’t be renewed and these increases may be short-lived.

“Financial institutions may be losing money on some of these types of accounts and it’s unlikely to be a long-term strategy,” RateCity CEO Damian Smith says.

Whether you have to maintain a minimum balance, make regular deposits or restrict your withdrawals, compare these features on online savings accounts at RateCity today and reach your goals sooner.



Related Savings Account Links

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?



Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By signing up, you agree to the Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy


Learn more about savings accounts

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details