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Is it worth getting a savings account with an introductory bonus?
We all know we should have savings. Every bit of advice on personal finance on the web tells us that. But what savings account should you get?
Surely once you've paid off your (bad) debts, and started putting money into savings you can relax? Right? I'm afraid not. You have to make sure that your money is earning what it should. And that means choosing the right savings account.
And not just choosing it. Keeping an eye on it regularly to make sure you're getting the best deal.
How do I choose a savings account?
You need to find a savings account that works for you. But generally most savings accounts have the same broad features so the key things are the interest rate and the notice period - that is how long it takes to get your money out. You also need to watch out whether there are any penalties on withdrawal.
You can compare savings accounts on sites like MoneySupermarket.com or the moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Newspapers sometimes also have listings but they are not usually so comprehensive as comparison sites.
Then, once you have decided what notice period you need (basically how quick you need your money back) and if you care about penalties on withdrawal. All that remains is to choose the account with the highest rate, right? Well, it's not quite so simple.
Why? Because a lot of those accounts will have introductory bonuses. That means that you get a higher rate for the first however long your have the account before it drops down again.
So is it worth getting an introductory bonus?
Accounts with an introductory bonus will almost always come top of the comparison table with the highest headline rate. But if the rate quickly drops down and you don't switch to another account you may end up worse off.
If you don't mind switching accounts regularly and are the sort of organised person who will actually do it, then it is worth getting the extra interest. If not, it might be better to get a market leading account without a bonus rate.
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that your account will still be paying a competitive rate in the future, even if it is currently top of the table. Also the rate can be changed, although your bank would usually have to notify you before they do. This means that you should review the rate you are getting on your savings regularly, in any case.
An introductory bonus is worth it if you are organised enough to review your savings accounts regularly. If not you may be better off taking a market leading non-bonus account. But you should try and review your savings accounts regularly because there is no guarantee they will stay a good deal, even if they are now.