Global savings: Comparing interest rates across countries
We look at savings interest rates around the world and how they compare to the UK.
Interest rates on easy access savings accounts offered by major banks in the UK aren’t keeping up with the base rate set by the Bank of England. We looked at how global savings rates fared against the local base rate in 10 countries around the world.
- The UK’s biggest banks offer rates that are just 31% of the base rate (1.6% vs 5.25%).
- In a study of 10 major countries, all but one European country offered better rates than the UK compared to their central bank rate.
- Globally, only Germany, Canada and the US are behind the UK when it comes to savings rates.
- Norway has the best ratio, as the average interest rate (2.82%) is two-thirds (66%) of the country’s base rate (4%).
- Those saving in the US have the worst deal, as the average interest rate (0.12%) is a just 2% of the central bank rate (5.5%).
Global savings rates vs central bank rates
In collaboration with the smart money app Plum, we looked at the average easy access savings rates, or the closest equivalent, from large banks around the world in 10 countries. We then compared these with the local base rate in each country to see the influence it has on savings rates there.
|Country||Current base rate||Average easy access savings rate||% of base rate|
European interest and savings rates by country: How do they compare to the UK?
5 of the 9 other countries in the study had higher easy access interest rates than the UK, includes 3 of the 5 European countries in the study. Despite some banks having short-term promotional offers, these were not counted as not all countries had these, and the average baseline variable interest rate taken was comparatively low.
The country that topped the list was Norway, where the average interest rate available from major banks is 2.82%. This is two-thirds (66%) of the country’s base rate, which currently sits at 4.25% as of October 2023.
Another Scandinavian country, Sweden, placed second in the rankings, with an average interest rate of 2.6%. The Swedish base rate is 4%, making the average interest rate 65% of the base rate.
France, which follows the European Central Bank’s (ECB) base rate of 4%, takes fifth place. The average interest rate from the main banks that offer easy access savings is 1.83%, which is just under a half (46%) of the base rate.
Spain also follows the ECB’s 4% base rate. So, despite the country having a marginally lower interest rate (1.59%) than the UK, this still equals 40% of the base rate, which is higher than the UK.
The UK’s average easy access savings rate is 1.6%, which is only 31% of the 5.25% Bank of England rate.
|Country||Central bank interest rate||Average easy access savings rate||% of base rate|
Which other countries have higher interest rates than the UK?
As well as falling behind most other European countries, the UK’s savings rates compared to the base rate were also much lower than 2 countries down under: Australia and New Zealand.
The base rate in New Zealand is the joint highest in the study, sitting at 5.5% as of November 2023. However, it also has the highest average savings rate in the study, meaning it comes in third place as the average savings rate is over half (54%) of the base rate.
As of November 2023, Australia’s base rate sits at 4.35%, while its average easy access savings rate is 2.26%. This means that the average savings rate is just over half (52%) of the base rate.
Which countries have lower interest rates than the UK?
Only 3 countries in the study had worse average interest rates vs the local base rate than the UK, and 2 of these were in North America: Canada and the USA.
Despite having the joint-highest base rate of 5.5%, the USA came last in the interest rate comparison table. The average interest rate available from 5 of their largest banks is a miserly 0.12% – just 2% of the base rate.
Its North American neighbour, Canada, fares slightly better but is still near the bottom of the table. Here, the average savings rate available is 1.14%, despite the base rate being almost 5 times higher at 5%.
The only European country worse off than the UK vs the local base rate was Germany, which came ninth in the comparison table. Like France, Germany follows the ECB’s interest rate of 4%. However, they only offer average interest rates of 0.89%, which is over 4 times lower than the ECB base rate.
Finder.com’s UK & US CEO, Jon Ostler, said:
“There has been a growing number of organisations and politicians calling for the UK’s top banks to pass on higher interest rates to customers and this research will only add to this clamour. Even if the UK was towards the top of the global comparison table it wouldn’t be acceptable, however our banks are offering significantly lower interest rates vs the base rate than all but one of the European countries we looked at.
“As a consumer, there are a few things you can do to combat low interest. There are savings and investment platforms that offer much better savings rates on products that are regulated by the FCA. You can also take advantage of a range of generous switching offers from the big banks, which can help make up for the lower interest you will earn.”
Plum’s CEO and Founder, Victor Trokoudes, said:
“While the UK’s big banks have been quick to increase interest rates on loans and mortgages, they have been far slower in boosting interest rates on savings accounts, effectively devaluing people’s hard-earned savings. The cost-of-living crisis shows little sign of abating, making it all the more disappointing that not only are many banks not sharing more of the base rate with customers, but they appear to be sharing less than their European counterparts.
“Borrowers are paying more while savers see minimal benefits, highlighting that the business models of the major banks are inherently misaligned with the interests of their customers. That’s why it’s so important that the public know that there are other options out there. We’ve recently launched Plum Interest which allows people to earn higher returns that are more closely aligned to the Bank of England base rate”.
Analysts from finder.com and Plum found and logged the easy access savings rates (or local equivalent) from 5 of the largest banks in 10 selected countries. This was then correlated with the local base rates or the European Central Bank’s rate in the case of France, Spain and Germany.
The largest banks in various countries don’t always offer the equivalent of easy-access savings accounts, particularly in Spain. Where this was the case, easy-access savings accounts were found from other banks.
We took the underlying rate on the easy access savings account on 09.11.23, ignoring any promotional or bonus period offered by the bank.
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