Instant access savings accounts

These are accounts that pay interest and allow you to withdraw money whenever you need it. You can save as little or as much as you want each month. You can often open an account with an initial deposit of as little as £1.

Are instant access savings accounts for you?

Instant access savings accounts are for you if you have spare cash and want to:

  • Earn a better return than from your current account
  • Save at your own pace
  • Be able to withdraw money whenever you want
  • Not take risks with your money 

Money fitness tip

An instant access account is ideal for your emergency savings.  Just make sure you don't dip into it for your day-to-day spending.

If you don't need instant access to your savings, you could earn more with fixed term savings options such as savings bonds or regular savers - see Fixed term savings.

Risk and return

  • Usually offer higher interest rates than current accounts.
  • The interest rate isn't as high as with regular savings accounts or savings bonds, which would lock your money in.
  • Your savings will not hold their buying value in the long run if the interest rate on the account is less than the rise in the cost of living - inflation. See this video on compound interest from the Money Advice Service which explains how your money grows.

Access to your money

You can withdraw money whenever you like.


You won't be charged for opening an account or taking money out.

Safe and secure?

Cash you put into UK banks or building societies (that are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority) is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Money fitness tip

Set up a standing order to pay a regular sum into your savings account on payday and you won't even notice it's gone!

The FSCS savings protection limit is £75,000 (or £150,000 for joint accounts) per authorised firm. 

It is worth noting that some banking brands are part of the same authorised firm. If you have more than the limit within the same bank or aurhorised firm. it's a good idea to move the excess to make sure your money is protected.

How to open an instant or easy access savings account

You can open an instant access savings account directly with a bank of building society - most of them will let you open an account either online, over the phone or by going into a branch.

You may need to have a current account with your bank or building society to open an instant access savings account. Check with them before you get started.

Money fitness tip

Check the AER, which shows you whether an account paying monthly interest is better than one paying interest once a year.


Most people need to pay income tax on the interest they receive so basic rate tax is normally deducted as a matter of course from savings account interest.

A new personal savings allowance of £1,000 will be introduced in April 2016, removing the first £1,000 of savings income from Income Tax. However, higher-rate taxpayers will benefit from a smaller personal savings allowance of only £500.

If you're a non-taxpayer you can ask for interest to be paid without any tax deductions. See the website to find out how. 

Instant access accounts that are cash deposit ISAs will give you tax-free interest so you won’t lose a penny of your return.  

If things go wrong

If you're unhappy with the service from your bank or building society, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman if you can't resolve the problem directly.

Next steps

Comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a savings account tailored to their needs.

We recommend the following websites for comparing savings accounts:

  • Comparison websites won’t all give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
  • It is also important to do some research into the type of product and features you need before making a purchase or changing supplier.

Last reviewed: 25/01/2016

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service