Despite the fall, those now exiting a fixed deal will find average savings rates are higher than at the start of 2023.
The average rate paid by a one-year fixed bond fell for the third consecutive month to 4.87%, down from 5.13% in December 2023. This is the first time this rate has dipped below 5% since July 2023.
Meanwhile, the average longer-term fixed bond (with terms over 550 days) dropped to 4.46% from 4.76% the previous month – falling for the fourth consecutive month. In both instances, this was the largest month-on-month fall since February 2009.
Caption: Graph showing average one-year and longer-term fixed savings rates saw their biggest month-on-month falls since February 2009.
It’s a similar picture within the fixed ISA market, where average fixed rates experienced their biggest monthly drop since March 2009. The average one-year fixed ISA now pays 4.72% on a first of month basis – down from 4.99% in December. As for the average rate paid by a longer-term fixed ISA, this fell to 4.32% from 4.65% within the same period.
“This will no doubt come as a shock for savers who use these accounts to earn a guaranteed return on their hard-earned cash,” commented Rachel Springall, Finance Expert at Moneyfactscompare.co.uk.
However, Springall was quick to highlight that, despite the falls, “average rates are higher than they were at the start of 2023” so many coming off a fixed rate will find better returns available compared to this time last year.
Caption: Graph showing average one-year and longer-term fixed ISA rates saw their biggest month-on-month falls since March 2009.
Average rates are a good indicator of whether you’re receiving competitive returns on your savings. They can also provide an overview of how the market is performing. If your account is paying a below-average rate, it may be time to compare other savings options.
Nevertheless, like their fixed counterparts, rates in these markets remain much higher than they were a year ago.
Savings rates rose gradually last year in response to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voting for consecutive increases to the base rate as it attempted to tackle chronically high inflation.
With the rate of inflation lessening significantly towards the end of 2023, the MPC voted three times in favour of maintaining the base rate where it currently stands, at 5.25%. As a result, savings rates have seen a steady decline.
As some experts anticipate a cut to the base rate in the not-too-distant future, it could be that savings rates remain on a downward trajectory.
“Savings providers will no doubt be aware of the ongoing murmuring of the Bank of England base rate coming down in 2024, but even if this doesn’t occur for the next few months, variable rates can still change,” said Springall.
“Providers will be looking closely both at their interest margins, the swap market and their own position in the top rate tables against their peers. Swift movement can take place if they are sitting way ahead of their competition or if they are drawing in too much in deposits.”
However, with a new ISA season fast approaching and ISA reforms coming into effect from the new tax-year, the savings market may still see a flurry of activity. Therefore, it’s important savers regularly review top rates.
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