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Student Banking

Best savings accounts 2024

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Forget sticking your money under the mattress and hoping for the best. If you want the biggest bonuses, you need the best savings account. Here are the smartest ways to save.

Hand putting pound coin into piggy bank

Credit: 5 second Studio, Jeanette Teare (coin) – Shutterstock

While we can't promise you'll be rich by the end of your first term, a high-interest savings account can earn you free money on any spare cash you might have.

Interest rates on savings accounts may not be keeping up with inflation right now, but something is better than nothing. Since some accounts only require a £1 deposit to open, you don't have to wait until you're earning big money to get started.

Whether it's money from a part-time job, birthday cash from your folks or Maintenance Loan leftovers, you can put it to good use with the best student savings accounts.

All recommended accounts in this guide are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) so up to £85,000 of your savings will be protected if anything happens to the bank.

Things to do before opening a savings account

Before you decide which savings account to go for, there are five important things to think about:

  1. Work out what sort of saver you are

    Be realistic about the kind of saver you are. Do you struggle to stick within budgets and often need to dip into emergency funds? Or can you afford to stash some cash away and not touch it for a few years?

    Some accounts come with an early withdrawal penalty. If you're too ambitious when choosing your account, you could end up losing the money you've gained in interest if you have to take money out early.

    With that in mind, be honest with yourself before choosing which account to go for.

  2. Make sure your savings are protected

    Thanks to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), any money (up to £85,000) you put into a savings account will be protected if everything goes down the pan at the bank that holds your money.

    You'll get your money back within seven days if the bank goes bust, and the process is automatic so there's no need to claim.

    Whichever bank you pick, make sure they're backed by the FSCS.

  3. Don't get incorrectly taxed on your savings

    monopoly income tax

    Credit: Images Money - Flickr

    The 'savings starter rate' means that you don't have to pay tax on your savings' interest until your total income (of your salary and interest) is £5,000 above the income-tax threshold of £12,570 (so £17,570).

    As your first £1,000 of interest on savings is also tax-free, you might not need to pay tax on your savings until the combined income of your salary and interest is up to £18,570.

    Note: If you have a higher Personal Allowance (e.g. you receive the Blind Person's Allowance), your minimum total income before paying tax on savings will be adjusted accordingly above £18,570.

    Alternatively, if you're in it for the long haul (e.g. planning on saving long-term for a deposit on a house or something similar) you could go for a tax-free ISA or Lifetime ISA instead.

    Stumped when it comes to tax? Our guide to tax facts for students has the answers.
  4. Try an automatic savings app

    If you struggle to commit to saving cash regularly, look into automatic savings apps.

    You'll need to give these apps access to your bank account. But once you do, they'll be able to assess your incomings and outgoings and save an appropriate amount of money accordingly.

    This cash will go into a virtual savings pot and is only meant to be as much as it reckons you can afford at that time. Sometimes it's a couple of quid, sometimes the price of a meal. It depends on how much its software has calculated you can spare.

    You can find the best automatic savings bots and apps in our guide.

  5. Consider switching accounts for more interest

    Some easy-access savings accounts tempt you in with generous interest rates that include a one-year bonus, or a variable rate that could plummet at any moment.

    Being savvy with your savings is all about staying in the loop. Keep an eye on interest rates, because unless you go for a fixed-rate option, these will fluctuate. And, if you find a better rate elsewhere, switch!

    Bookmark this page so you can return to it when looking for a new account.

    It's your money, so make sure you're getting the most from it.

We know how to save money. Those tips, combined with the interest of a savings account, could help you save a hefty amount of cash.

What kind of savings account should you get?

There are loads of savings accounts to choose from, and each one has its own benefits.

Note that if you're earning £17,570 or more a year, you'll pay tax on any interest you earn above £1,000.

If your total taxable income for salary and interest is below £18,570, you might not need to pay tax on your savings. Keep an eye on this, and if the bank accidentally taxes you when you're earning below that amount, look into claiming a refund.

If you're worried about getting taxed on your savings, consider getting an ISA. More on this below.

Main types of savings accounts

woman putting pound coin into purse

Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva – Shutterstock

These are the main types of savings accounts:

  • Easy-access savings accounts You can withdraw money straight from the account with no notice, but tend to get stuck with lower interest rates in return. Easy-access savers are a good option for those who don't have loads of cash to spare but want to make a bit extra without locking away emergency funds.
  • Fixed-rate savings accounts These accounts offer a slightly better rate of interest, but you'll usually need to fix your money in them for anything from three months to five years. Fixed-rate savings accounts often have a higher minimum deposit amount. In most cases, withdrawing money early means you'll forfeit the interest.
  • Current accounts – Some current accounts come with a savings account as part of the package. We've got the best picks below.
  • Cash ISAs All interest from savings in ISAs is tax-free. You can deposit up to £20,000 into ISAs each tax year, either into one account or by splitting the amount across multiple ones (if you happen to have £20,000 to put away). ISAs can be good long-term approaches to saving. The top options are covered in our guide to the best ISAs for students.
  • Lifetime ISAs Also known as LISAs, these accounts could give you up to £1,000 in free money every year if you use them to purchase your first house (or for retirement). Start saving now to get the maximum bonus.

The main decision you need to make at this point is: will you need access to your savings instantly, or can you bear to lock them away safely for a year or more to earn some decent interest? If the latter, you can usually get better rates with a fixed-rate savings account.

If you have a regular income, you might want to compare current accounts with in-credit interest.

Best easy-access savings accounts

Easy-access accounts (sometimes also known as instant-access accounts) generally pay reasonable interest rates. Although some limit the number of withdrawals you can make each year, you don't have to wait fixed periods of time to take out money.

Another major bonus is that they tend to have low minimum deposit amounts. Just make sure to ditch and switch when bonus rates disappear after 12 months.

These are the best easy-access savings accounts:

  1. Tandem Instant Access Saver (4.9%)

    tandem bank logo

    Minimum deposit: £0

    Access: Apply and access via the app

    Withdrawals: Unlimited.

    Open a Tandem account »


  2. Chip Instant Access Account (4.84%)

    chip logo

    Minimum deposit: £1

    Access: Apply and access via the app

    Withdrawals: Unlimited.

    Open a Chip account »


  3. Yorkshire Building Society Internet Saver Plus Issue 14 (4.80%)

    yorkshire building society logo

    Minimum deposit: £1

    Access: Apply and access online

    Withdrawals: Unlimited, subject to daily withdrawal limits.

    Open a Yorkshire account »


  4. Marcus Online Easy Access Account (4.75%)

    Marcus Savings Account logo

    Minimum deposit: £1

    Access: Apply and access online

    Withdrawals: Unlimited, subject to their online limits.

    Open a Marcus account »


  5. Atom Bank Instant Saver (4.11%)

    Atom Bank logo

    Minimum deposit: £0

    Access: Apply and access via the app

    Withdrawals: Unlimited.

    Open an Atom account »


Not sure how automatic savings apps and bots work? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Best fixed-rate savings accounts

If you can afford to put some money away for a while, you'll usually make the best interest on your savings with a fixed-rate account.

Just make sure you can actually afford to stow this cash away. Some banks will take away your interest completely if you withdraw early, or even charge you a fee.

Here are two good examples of fixed-rate savings accounts:

  1. Tandem One-Year Fixed Saver (4.85%)

    tandem bank logo

    Deposit: You can only add money to the account within the first 14 days from when the account opens, and you must make at least one payment into it to keep the account open.

    Interest paid: At maturity.

    Access: Apply and access via the app.

    Open a Tandem account »


  2. Tandem Two-Year Fixed Saver (4.56%)

    tandem bank logo

    Deposit: You can only add money to the account within the first 14 days from when the account opens, and you must make at least one payment into it to keep the account open.

    Interest paid: Annually.

    Access: Apply and access via the app.

    Open a Tandem account »


If you haven't already, check whether you have a Child Trust Fund.

Best combined current and savings accounts

If you're sensible with your cash (and disciplined enough to have your savings sitting in your current account) you could earn some decent interest by choosing a current account with an attached savings pot.

The only condition is that you usually need to pay in a set amount every month to these accounts. This could be from a part-time job, your Maintenance Loan or parental support. But for the average student, this would probably still be a challenge.

However, if you do happen to have a chunk of savings in an easy-access savings account, you could potentially set up a standing order to deposit cash from there each month to get higher interest. Remember, you can transfer money out of these accounts whenever you need it.

  1. Nationwide FlexDirect (5%)

    Nationwide logo

    Minimum you have to pay in each month: £1,000

    Withdrawals: Unlimited

    Interest rate: 5% AER fixed interest on balances up to £1,500 (no interest paid on anything above that) for the first year

    Extra info: You need to deposit at least £1,000 each month to retain the rate, and not from other Nationwide accounts or Visa credits. After 12 months, the interest rate will drop to 1% AER on balances up to £1,500.

    Open a FlexDirect account »


  2. Kroo current account (4.35%)

    kroo logo

    Minimum paid in each month: No minimum

    Withdrawals: Unlimited

    Interest rate: 4.35% AER variable on balances up to £500,000.

    Open a Kroo account »


  3. Virgin Money (2.02%)

    virgin money logo

    Minimum paid in each month: No minimum

    Withdrawals: Unlimited

    Interest rates: 2.02% AER variable interest which is paid monthly on your current account balance up to £1,000 (no interest paid on anything above that). The current account is linked to the M Plus savings account which has 2.5% AER variable interest on balances of up to £25,000 (2% on balances over £25,000), paid quarterly.

    Open a Virgin Money account »


Banks change their interest rates very frequently, so this article will be updated as regularly as possible to keep up with the available rates. Please double-check rates on the websites by following the links.

Already thinking about saving for your first home? The Lifetime ISA could see you benefit from a 25% bonus from the government.

Katie Paterson

WRITTEN BY Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson is an accomplished writer from Glasgow. She studied English Literature at the University of Strathclyde, then went on to do a Research Masters in Literature at the University of Amsterdam. As Lead Editor for Save the Student, Katie has covered topics from career tips to ways to make money go further as a student.
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