Term deposits v savings accounts: What's best for you?

Term deposits Vs savings accounts What's best for you?

Where should one stash their cash: savings accounts or term deposits? Andrea Sophocleous investigates.

September 7, 2009

Saving hasn’t always been fashionable. Before the global financial crisis began taking its toll on years of economic prosperity and consumer hedonism, excessive spending was a national – in fact, global – pastime.

Australia may have escaped the full grunt of the GFC, but the new mood of thrifty restraint appears to be hanging around a little longer. This is the perfect environment in which to begin saving for that next rainy day or home loan deposit. And with interest rates set to rise further, so could your savings.

Higher interest rates won’t just increase your mortgage repayments; on the plus side, they could also increase the interest you earn on your high interest savings account.

Savings accounts differ from day-to-day transactional accounts by being designed to help you save for a long-term goal. While you can access your everyday account for all your spending needs using debit cards, ATMs or the internet, any money you deposit in a savings account remains out of everyday reach and accrues interest on the growing balance.

You can make withdrawals whenever you like, but this would make a dent in the amount of interest you are paid. A more prudent option, therefore, is to make regular fortnightly or monthly deposits but no withdrawals.

A high interest savings account, however, is not your only option if you want to get serious about saving. If you are easily tempted into spending rather than saving, a term deposit may be a more suitable path for you to take.

Like savings accounts, term deposits are a low-risk, convenient way to earn higher interest on your money, but because you cannot withdraw any money during the life of your term deposit, your cash will remain safely tucked away, growing at a healthy rate.

Term deposits require a minimum opening balance – usually at least $5,000 – and can last anywhere from 30 days to five years. The rate is fixed for the duration of the term deposit, so you know exactly how much money you will end up with.

If you already have a few thousand dollars saved, a term deposit is a smart choice because you will start earning a decent amount of money in interest straight away. And if you won’t need access to the money too soon, opting for a longer term makes more sense because depending on the term, you could score a higher interest rate.

For example, a 30-day term deposit with ING Direct will see you pocket interest at 3.25 percent p.a. , while a two-year term deposit will deliver a more profitable 6.00 percent p.a. interest. So $10,000 will earn $26.71 in interest in 30 days, while after two years your nest egg will be up by $1,200.

As with all financial decisions, shop around for the term deposit that suits your needs. And ensure you won’t need the money before your term expires – otherwise you will have to wear the cost in hefty fees. If you are starting from scratch, a high interest savings account is a better option because most do not require a minimum opening balance.

The ING Direct Savings Maximiser account will dish out 4.75 percent p.a to new customers who signs up before November 30. This special introductory rate will last until 31 January 2010. Other generous high interest savings accounts include UBank‘s USaver account, which offers 5.11 percent p.a interest, and Westpac‘s Reward Saver with a 4.70 percent p.a rate.

There are hundreds of savings accounts to choose from, so researching and comparing interest rates and terms and conditions is essential.

 

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Learn more about savings accounts

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.

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 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.

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.

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)

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. 

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.

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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

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.