Find the best savings accounts

It's crucial for your money to work as hard as it can for you and it's important to make sure every pound is earning as much as it could.

Your savings aren't going to grow very much if you leave your money lying idle in a low interest account.

It's up to you to make sure that your savings aren't languishing in some account that pays little or no interest. You can forget earning 6% on your savings, as was possible before the financial meltdown. In January 2011 the average variable rate account paid a measly 0.94%* gross, so 10,000 invested at this rate would earn just 94 in interest over a year, which is nothing to shout about.

The Monetary Policy Committee's decision to keep the Bank of England base rate at 0.5% is bad news for savers. "You've got accounts paying 0.1%. Three or four years ago you'd have thought nothing of an interest rate being 0.4 points below the base rate, but that's because base rate was 4.75%," explains David Black, banking specialist for data provider Defaqto.

Eventually the base rate will have to rise again, but when is anyone's guess and it's unlikely to make a significant leap.

The most important criteria when looking for the best savings accounts are good rates of interest and easy access to your money when you need it.

Most of the highest interest rates offered by high street banks are limited to certain groups such as pensioners, loyal customers or those who are willing to accept restrictions, but there are good deals out there if you shop around.

Through this website you can get a summary of some of the best savings rates available and you can compare deals on many different accounts, to see who offers the highest interest on savings.

You should monitor your savings rate on a regular basis and be prepared to switch your cash to a better account if your bank slashes their rates.

You should regularly review your accounts and make a note of when fixed term accounts are coming to an end. Choosing between fixed rate bonds and variable rate accounts doesn't just come down to interest rates though. Ask yourself how often you'll need to access the money and what you're saving for. Another issue with fixed rates is that things change - while 4% sounds like a decent deal, who's to say whether in five years' time you could get more for your savings?

Mini-Cash ISAs

And don't forget about your mini-cash ISA allowance; this allows us to save up to 5,340 this year, free of tax.

* Figures from Defaqto
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