Best 1 year fixed rate bonds in the UK 2021
Happy to lock your savings away for a year in return for a better rate? Here's what you need to know about bonds.
Updated . What changed?
If you’ve got some savings and are looking to get a better interest rate than many of the pitiful deals around, it’s worth considering fixed rate bonds – but only if you’re sure you won’t need to touch the money for a while. If that’s you, then you’ll want to know the options and features to consider before you make your choice. So we’ve covered these here.
What's in this guide?
- Compare 1 year fixed rate bonds
- What are 1 year fixed rate bonds?
- What types of bonds can you choose for 1 year?
- How to choose the best fixed rate bonds for one year
- How much money do you need to open a 1 year fixed bond?
- Is your money safe in a 1 year fixed rate bond?
- What happens at the end of the year?
- Pros and cons of 1 year fixed rate bonds
Compare 1 year fixed rate bonds
What are 1 year fixed rate bonds?
A fixed rate bond is a type of savings account. When you deposit your money in a fixed rate bond, it’s locked away; you typically can’t add to it or access it. Or if you can access it, there will be a hefty fee for doing so. The rate of interest you get doesn’t change for the period of the bond.
In return for the certainty of having your money for all that time, banks offer a better rate of interest than you’d typically get on an easy access savings account, where you can take out the money any time.
There are fixed rate bonds for longer periods than one year – two, three, four and five years or more – and a few for just six or nine months. Generally, the longer the period, the higher the rate.
Bonds can be a good way to ring-fence a chunk of money for a special event that’s a year or more away. But if you think you might need access to the money sooner, then there are other options.
These days, some current accounts can pay interest that rivals savings accounts, so before you head straight to a bond, see whether there are other types of account that offer more, including those that don’t tie up your money. The advantage of a bond over a current account is that many current accounts cap the amount of money that they’ll pay decent interest on. So if you have more than a few thousand pounds, and can lock away the money, it’s worth considering a bond.
What types of bonds can you choose for 1 year?
Bonds have different features and eligibility criteria. Here are some key differences.
- Minimum deposit. The minimum deposit for a 1 year fixed rate bond can vary from £50 up to £25,000 or more.
- Existing vs new customers. Banks offer certain bonds only to existing current or savings account customers, but there are plenty available from providers offering bonds to new customers, and the transfer is typically to and from a “nominated” current account.
- Online only. Some bonds are web only – you must apply online and operate them online. Other bonds can be opened online but you have the option of managing them via an app.
- Initial top-up payments. Some bonds allow you to top-up your deposit within the first few weeks; with others, you open with one lump sum and then can’t add any more.
- Interest payments. Interest can be paid monthly or on the anniversary of the bond.
How to choose the best fixed rate bonds for one year
1. First, be sure you won’t need to access the money for the period in question (a year, in this case). If you have any doubt, it’s best to go for a shorter time period, or look at alternatives such an easy access savings account or an ISA or a current account that pays interest.
2. Compare deals for your deposit amount. Some accounts have a minimum deposit of several thousand pounds, but others allow far lower amounts. Don’t assume a higher minimum deposit always gets you a higher interest rate, though this is often the case.
3. Check for the rate, when interest is paid, and, if you need this, whether you have the flexibility to make additional top-ups in the first few weeks.
4. Look out for incentives – some providers, such as Raisin, have been known to offer decent sweeteners to attract your custom.
5. Interest will be paid tax-free, usually on the anniversary when the bond matures. Remember that if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer, you can earn up to £1,000 in interest each year tax-free. For higher-rate taxpayers, the figure is £500. Interest from money deposited into an ISA up to the annual limit is tax-free.
How much money do you need to open a 1 year fixed bond?
The typical minimum deposit for a bond is £1,000, although there are a few bonds with a minimum of £500 or less. The maximum deposit can go into millions.
Banks typically ask you to pay the minimum deposit within 30 days of opening the account – and will close the account if you don’t. Some accounts allow you to make the minimum deposit and top it up in the first few weeks.
Is your money safe in a 1 year fixed rate bond?
If you deposit money in a bank (meaning it has a banking licence) that’s regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, your savings will be covered to the tune of £85,000 if the bank goes bust under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. For a joint account, it’s double that figure, so £170,000. There are a few banks which rely on a “passport” to operate in the UK and are regulated in their home country. If those went bust, you’d be relying on regulatory arrangements in the bank’s own country.
Many people don’t realise that the £85,000 is per institution, so if you have accounts in two banks that are in the same group – say, HSBC and First Direct, or RBS and NatWest – then the total cover is just £85,000 across both accounts.
What happens at the end of the year?
Hooray – you can access your money again! The bond has now “matured” and the provider will typically pay you the interest at this point. You can now choose whether to have your money paid into your current account, or renew with the same provider by choosing another deal that it’s offering, which may have a different rate.
Pros and cons of 1 year fixed rate bonds
- Rates are typically higher than on easy access savings accounts
- Reassurance of knowing the rate can’t drop
- Many providers covered by Financial Services Compensation Scheme
- Can’t touch your money for a year
- If rates go up during the fixed period, yours won’t
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