It's not easy to make your money pay. Interest rates are currently stuck at historic lows and many of the best accounts right now involve long-term sacrifices that are enough to make anyone think twice.
But while the days of 5% returns are over, interest rates are forecast to rise very soon – meaning savings deals are slowly creeping up.
While that's not something to shout about – as almost all accounts are still paying well below inflation – it does mean you'll get a little more for your cash to help mitigate rising costs on things like food and fuel.
But, a word of warning, if you have debt, it's worth considering paying that off first. That's because the interest you're paying on loans will almost certainly be higher than what you'd earn on your savings.
"The eroding power of inflation on cash savings is getting worse but savers should not be discouraged to switch if they are on a poor rate,” explains Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.
"Fixed rates may offer the highest returns on a standard savings account, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic's influence on the everyday finance of consumers, some may wish to have their cash more accessible just in case."
On the plus side, when it comes to savings, there are options, and many of them.
Savers can choose from investments, easy access, fixed rates, ISAs and that's before you factor in specialist accounts for buying a house, retiring or building a nest egg for a young child.
Here are some of the best buys right now.
Are you getting the most out of your cash?
Savings best buys – our top picks
Best easy access accounts right now
Shawbrook Bank: 1.67%, minimum £1,000 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online only.
Cynergy Bank: 0.66%, minimum £1 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online only.
Marcus Online Savings Account: 1.6%, minimum £1 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online only.
Saga: 0.6%, minimum £1 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online and by phone only..
You can view more easy access accounts at Moneyfacts or see our full guide on easy access accounts online.
Best easy access cash ISAs
Shawbrook Bank: 0.67%, minimum £1,000 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online only.
Cynergy Bank: 0.65%, minimum £1 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals (min £500), no penalties, online only.
Paragon Bank: 0.65%, minimum £1 at opening, no withdrawals allowed, online only.
Marcus Bank: 0.6%, minimum £1 at opening, no notice period, unlimited withdrawals, no penalties, online only.
For more, head over to our dedicated page on the best cash ISA rates.
Best 1, 2, 3, and 5 year fixed rate cash ISAs
See more top paying accounts right now, here or view our full guide on ISAs explained.
Best junior cash ISA accounts
Loughborough Building Society: 2.5% variable, until the age of 18, £1 minimum, available by post or in branch only.
Bath Building Society : 2.5% variable, until the age of 18, £1 minimum, available by post or in branch only.
The Family Building Society: 1.65% variable, until the age of 18, £1 minimum, available in branch and by post only.
For investment ISAs, Moneyfacts.co.uk has a list of the best buys and any incentives you can earn when you join.
For child trust funds, more ISA tips and other ways to save for your child see our children's savings accounts page.
Best fixed rate bonds
We've outlined the top payer for each time frame below, for many more options, see our guide on the best fixed rate bonds instead. To find out more about any of the products below and to unlock the exclusive deals.
Best regular savings accounts
Existing customers only, Cambridge Building Society: 5% interest, open with £250, one year, available in branch, by post and over the phone only.
Existing customers only, Natwest: 3.04% interest, open with £1-£50, one year, available online and over the phone only.
Open to all: Monmouthshire: 1.1% interest, open with £1,000, one year, available online, in branch or by post.
Open to all: Coventry Building Society: 1.05% interest, open with £500, one year, available online, in branch or by post.
View more best buys at Moneyfacts or find out more on regular savings accounts, here.
How to choose a savings account
Different accounts cater for different needs, and high interest in the current climate is likely to come with a catch, so here are some handy tips and questions to bear in mind to get started.
1. What exactly are you saving for?
Whatever you're saving for, there's an option out there
This is crucial. While in theory, they're all savings accounts, some are designed to help you reach a specific goal, such as buying your first home.
If you're hoping to get on the ladder, the Lifetime ISA can help you save up a deposit.
Lifetime ISA's are also tax-free, offering under-40s the chance to get their hands on as much as £32,000 absolutely free from the Government.
Savers between 18 and 40 can pay in up to £4,000 a year which will then be topped up by 25% at the end of the tax year. This can then go towards buying your first home or your retirement.
If you're saving for a child, however, a junior ISA may be the best way forward. You can pay in up to £4,368 a year tax-free and teach your child the basics of saving and money as you go along.
2. Will you need to access your money?
If you know for a fact that you'll need access to your money, avoid fixed rate bonds as these come locked for at least six months – and breaking free will cost you.
Easy access, or 'instant' access may be a smarter move as you have peace of mind that if you ever need it back, ie for a sudden car repair, you can withdraw it.
If you know for a fact that you won't need your money, consider a fixed rate bond. These pay well but mean locking your money away for a contracted term. If you have a smaller amount to save and can promise to make regular, small deposits, which you won't need to withdraw, consider a regular savings account instead.
Some current accounts also pay good money – and you have access to it 24/7. Bear in mind though that these often come with a cap on how much you can earn interest on.
3. Consider switching rewards
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If you don't have much to save and can't find a way around it, you may be able to get an instant bonus instead by switching your bank account instead.
To get this perk, you'll have to switch using the Current Account Switch Service and transfer your wages and direct debits over, too.
Doing so could unlock a quick win and give you access to better savings rates later down the line, because you're an 'existing customer'. See our guide on bank accounts you can get paid to join to find out more.
On that note, if you switch to a bank account for the introductory rate, remember to switch again once it ends.
4. Is your money safe?
These let you take your money out as and when you need it
If you've large amounts to stash away, remember, you're only protected to the value of £85,000 a year PER banking group.
These are rules set up by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to safeguard your savings if the worst happens.
It means your money is safe but only per company. For example, First Direct is owned HSBC, so only £85,000 is protected by the compensation agreement.
In short, don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Find out which banks are owned by whom in our guide.
You may also want to consider NS&I – the government owned savings scheme – which offers 100% protection on every penny you save.
5. The majority of us are NOT limited to ISAs
Saving your money in an ISA is tax-free but new rules mean you can now save your money anywhere tax free, providing you're not earning more than £1,000 in interest (or £500 if you're a higher rate tax payer). This is in line with new rules introduced in April 2016.
This means that instead of following just ISAs, you can now follow the best rates across the whole market.
If you have small amounts to save, or want to start saving, shop around and follow the highest rates.
However, if you have a large amount and are on track to exceed the £1,000 (or £500) tax-free limit, you should still consider an ISA.
That's because ISAs don't count towards your personal allowance, they're in addition to it.
In short, it means you can save £20,000 in a stocks and shares or cash ISA tax free AND earn £1k interest in another account on top.