Are you in for a nasty savings surprise?

Updated: 
Savers with fixed rate accounts ending this year are set to lose a total of £1 billion when reinvesting the money.

This year around 5.3 million fixed rate savings accounts will come to an end, 2.8 million of which have already closed.

If savers put their money back into similar long-term fixed rate accounts they will face a massive fall in the interest rates on offer.

People who have already seen their savings accounts end this year will have seen average losses of £1,570, £970 and £814 on three-, four- and two-year accounts respectively.

This is because interest rates have fallen dramatically – up to 2.47% on some account terms – research from HSBC shows.

Those looking to reinvest will face falls in income of 52% for three-year bonds, 50% for five-year bonds and 45% for two-year bonds.

7 ways to improve your retirement

7 ways to improve your retirement


Falling interest rates
There are many reasons for the dismal savings market. One of the main culprits is the Government's Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). Although this has helped borrowers who want to get onto the property ladder, thanks to falling mortgage rates, it's had a significant detrimental effect on savings accounts.

Providers are now able to access cheap money from the Government and therefore have less need for savers' deposits.

The top savings accounts
Rates are dire at the moment and currently there are no savings accounts or cash ISAs which negate the effects of inflation.

When it comes to instant-access accounts the best you can hope for is 1.75% from ICICI Bank's HiSave SuperSavings account (minimum deposit of £1), while for a one-year fixed bond you cannot get a rate better than the 2.05% on offer from Kent Reliance BS (minimum deposit of £1,000).

The highest rates around come in the longer-term bonds, such as 3.50% available with the Skipton seven-year limited edition fixed-rate branch bond or the 2.90% which comes with the five-year fixed-rate bond from FirstSave.

But as interest rates will improve at some point, if you open up a long-term account, remember that you're stuck on the rate until the account matures. During this time, as rates (presumably) rise you'll be locked into an account on a lower rate and unable to benefit from new accounts opening offering higher returns.

Peer-to-peer lending
With rising inflation and low interest rates, there is little incentive to put cash into savings accounts.

Instead of waiting until the situation improves, one alternative is peer-to-peer lending which effectively cuts out the middle man allowing individuals to lend to each other.

This is a great way for savers to earn a healthy income as the average returns are around 5% - far above that from any current savings accounts.

These products are not yet included in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

However, protection is being introduced next year and many sites, such as RateSetter, have provision funds to cover any shortfalls.

Compare peer-to-peer lending rates

Investments
This year the allowance for an ISA is £11,520, which can be invested tax-free. This entire lot can be put in a stocks and shares ISA or you can put up to half in a Cash ISA.

The stock market is risky but having a diversified portfolio reduces the risk and is likely to produce better returns then you would get in a savings account.

However, to get a decent return you need to be invested for at least five years, so this is more of a longer-term option.

Compare stocks and shares ISA

Overpay on your mortgage
If you have an interest rate of 2% or above on your mortgage, it may well be worth overpaying it instead of looking for a savings account. Some mortgages allow you to make a lump sum repayment, up to a certain amount, while others will let you increase your monthly repayments.

You could also switch to an offset mortgage. This uses your saving pot against your mortgage amount. So if, for example, you have a mortgage of £130,000 but £30,000 in savings, you only pay interest on £100,000.

You do need to make sure that the interest rate on the offset mortgage isn't much higher than your current one, otherwise it will wipe out the savings you're making by offsetting.

Get expert mortgage advice

Current accounts
Another option is using a current account to earn some interest.

Several providers have started offering in-credit interest which is higher than the average savings account and instant access.

The Santander 123 account, for example, pays tiered rates of interest including 3% on balances of between £3,000 and £20,000. For savers with less money, Nationwide will pay 5% on balances up to £2,500 on its FlexDirect account for a year. However, you need to pay in at least £1,000 a month to qualify.

Compare our top savings accounts

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