Low interest rates are great news for borrowers but for savers, they can have a devastating effect. With inflation currently running far in excess of base rates, even though the value of your capital may be safe, you need to keep a close eye on the interest rates you are earning to stop, or at least limit the rate at which the buying power of your money is being eroded.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with Cash ISAs. In a recent survey for watchdog, Consumer Focus, over 80% of Cash ISA holders were found to be earning less than just 0.5% a year on their savings. In most cases, the attractive introductory rates which lured savers in had come to an end and been replaced by very low “standard” rates. In some cases this change had even gone unnoticed.
Whilst it is true that, whatever the conditions in the market, most people should hold at least some money in an easy access, readily available deposit account, simply to make sure they can cover unforeseen emergencies and short term needs, any saver with longer term plans should be alarmed by findings like this. At the very least, you should do a review of the market and see if you can find an account paying more.
In response to the findings, Consumer Focus suggested that: “…customers who have not switched their [ISA] savings may be losing one to two per cent in interest. In total this could amount to as much as £1.5 billion to £3.0 billion per year…” With those potential gains at stake, it is certainly worth shopping around.
In our opinion with inflation close to 5%pa there will certainly be some bank account savers who have lost 10% on their Cash ISAs, in real terms, over the past few years. It is essential everyone reviews their deposit holdings to ensure they maintain their real value.