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Don't let the Bank rip you off
|Savings accounts used to be
simple. But nowadays banks and building societies make millions out
of hidden charges, restrictions and rate cuts - and customers rarely
realise. To help them the Sunday times has listed the most common
tricks used to boost profits at your expense. Savers, says the
paper, should check accounts every six months, switching the balance
whenever necessary to ensure a good return.
when banks and building societies introduce a new account, they usually make it the most competitive on offer. Existing savers with older accounts are often unaware that they are now getting a lower rate. for example, the Alliance & Leicester's Instant Direct, Cheltenham & Gloucester's Instant Transfer and Bristol & West's Postal deposit all pay lower rates than new accounts.
When accounts are closed the balance is usually moved into a "comparable" account. But the rate is often lower. If you are informed that your account is being moved, check.
Banks and Building Societies have been cutting rates by more than the Bank of England base-rate cuts. Abbey National, for example has cut its Instant Saver rate by 2.65%, though the base rate has fallen by only 2.5%.
Temporary bonuses are often offered to get accounts into best buy tables. Move your account when the bonus period ends.
Many of the higher-rate accounts penalise savers for making withdrawals. If you need to take money out, close the account and open another one somewhere else.
Shifting or introducing tiers that pay different rates of interest is another trick.
They may increase the minimum balance you need to qualify for the advertised rate. with the Halifax's Instant saver, for example, the interest rate is cut from 4.5% to 1% if your balance goes below £500.
Money and Finance