Understanding easy access savings accounts

Flexible savings. Full control

  • Enjoy the freedom to withdraw money and top up at your convenience

  • Earn interest on your money whilst having the flexibility to access it when you need to

  • Ideal for short-term savings goals or as a regular saver

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The rundown
  • Variable rate: Easy access savings accounts typically pay a variable interest rate that may fluctuate in response to changes to the Bank of England base rate 
  • Restrictions: Some easy access accounts pay a more competitive interest rate if you agree to certain restrictions, such as limiting the number of withdrawals
  • Taxation: The personal savings allowance means most people won’t pay tax on the interest they earn – any interest over this allowance is taxed at your usual rate

How do banks calculate interest on easy access accounts?

Some easy access and instant access savings accounts pay interest once a year, usually on a set date or the anniversary of the opening of your account. Others, however, pay interest on a monthly or quarterly basis. Exactly how interest is calculated depends on the particular account you have and your chosen provider, so it’s worth checking this before you open your account.

When you’re comparing high-interest instant access accounts, it’s also important to check how often interest is compounded and to note that there’s a difference between the AER and the gross interest rate.

The AER, or annual equivalent rate, is the interest rate most commonly used to make comparisons between savings accounts because it allows you to see how much interest you’ll earn over a full year. Unlike the gross interest rate, it takes into account other factors such as bonuses, compounding and bank charges.

Some easy access accounts might give you the option to have the interest added to your savings or paid directly into a nominated account.

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Does the interest rate on an easy access savings account change?

Most easy access savings accounts offer variable interest rates, meaning that the interest rate you receive could increase or decrease.

There are several reasons why the interest rate on your easy access savings account may change, but it typically fluctuates in line with the Bank of England’s base rate. This means that a lot of economic factors come into play when determining interest rates. A provider may also alter their rate when a competitor bank or building society changes theirs.

Because of this, it’s worth comparing interest rates on easy access accounts to find one with the highest interest rate right now.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with a variable interest rate, you could always consider opening a savings account that pays a fixed rate of interest. Fixed rate bonds pay a guaranteed interest rate, although, unlike easy access savings accounts, your money is locked away for a set term.

How to find the best easy access interest rates

To find the best easy access interest rates, you’ll need to compare accounts from a range of different providers. There are lots of comparison tools online or you can visit the table at the top of this page to compare high-interest easy access accounts on the Raisin UK marketplace.

You may find that the best easy access interest rates are offered on accounts that impose certain restrictions. Although most easy access accounts allow you to top-up and take out money at your convenience, some banks may restrict the number of withdrawals you can make in return for a competitive interest rate.

When you’re searching for the best easy access interest rates, it’s also worth considering the effect of compounding. Arguably, the best easy access and instant access savings accounts are those that compound interest on a regular basis as they can help you to grow your savings faster.

Don’t forget that both easy access savings accounts and instant access savings accounts pay a variable interest rate, which means it could fluctuate. It’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully as some introductory offers, for example, a high interest rate, may expire after a set period. Some banks may also move you onto a lower interest rate if your balance drops below a certain level.

Find out more about how to choose the best easy access savings account for you.

Do I have to pay tax on interest from my easy access savings?

The amount of tax you pay on interest from your savings depends on how much you earn, but don’t worry, most savers don’t pay tax on their savings. 

Low earners with a total taxable income of less than £17,570 can earn up to £5,000 in interest before paying tax. This is known as the 0% tax ‘starting rate’. This rate decreases for every £1 you earn over your personal income tax allowance of £12,570 (2023/24 tax year).

What’s more, thanks to the personal savings allowance (PSA), basic rate (20%) taxpayers can earn up to £1,000 tax-free interest, while higher rate (40%) taxpayers can earn up to £500 per year. Additional rate (45%) taxpayers don’t receive a PSA, meaning you’ll need to pay tax on any interest earned.

Although many people won’t have to pay tax on the interest they earn in an easy access savings account, recent increases in interest rates could mean that more savers may reach or exceed their PSA. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to review your savings strategy regularly.

If you do exceed your PSA (or you aren’t eligible for it), you’ll need to declare it. Any interest that exceeds your PSA will be taxed at your usual rate of income tax. If this applies to you, you may want to consider utilising tax-free saving accounts like ISAs.

Is my money protected in an easy access savings account?

All easy access savings accounts offered by regulated UK banks are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that in the unlikely event the bank fails, the FSCS covers deposits of up to £85,000 per person, per banking group.

Meanwhile, savings in easy access accounts registered in Europe are protected under the European Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS), or the Swedish Deposit Protection Scheme for banks registered in Sweden.

If you want to deposit more than £85,000, it may be worth spreading the funds between notice accounts from different banking groups to maximise your protection.

At Raisin UK, all of our partner banks are covered by the FSCS (or European equivalent), meaning you can rest assured that your money is protected should the worst happen.

Open a high-interest easy access savings account

To quickly and easily apply for an easy access savings account with a competitive interest rate, simply log in or register for a Raisin UK Account today. It’s free to apply and once your account is open, you’ll start to earn interest at a competitive variable rate.

Read our guide on how to open an easy access account or get in touch with our UK customer services team for more information.

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