Best and worst: Instant Access

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The Independent Online
WHILE potentially high-yield investment products often tend to hog the headlines, most people still leave large chunks of their savings in bank or building society accounts.

Yet the difference in interest rates paid by various institutions means that in some cases the real value of savers' money falls for as long as they keep it in those accounts. Among those that generally pay the lowest interest rates are the ones offering instant access.

Some instant access postal accounts pay reasonable levels of interest. For a saver keeping pounds 2,000 in a Birmingham Midshires First Class postal account, the return is 5.5 per cent gross. And savings in both the Britannia and Buckinghamshire building societies' instant accounts attract 6 per cent.

But others are far less generous. Hanley Economic, based in North Staffordshire, offers a miserly 0.75 per cent in its Ordinary Share account. Frank Hayes, Hanley Economic's general manager, said: 'It is used very much as a bank account, mainly in the industrial areas around Stoke-on-Trent.

'The money is paid in on a Friday night and taken out during the rest of the week. By comparison with banks, it is quite competitive.'

Norwich & Peterborough pays 1.35 per cent to savers in its High Rise account. Ken Hughes, the society's deputy general manager, said: 'It is true that this account does not pay out as much as some. But we have a range of others that pay much more. Our Postmaster postal account pays out 5 per cent on deposits over pounds 2,000.'

Paul Loveday, a general manager at Melton Mowbray, admitted his building society's 2 per cent payable on its instant access account was low: 'There are two things you also have to look at though. A lot of societies only pay interest on accounts four days after they have received payment. We pay instantly. So for someone using their account a lot, this facility is worth a lot.'

Melton Mowbray is highly competitive in other areas, such as its Tessa account paying 7.35 per cent. Children also appear to do better than their elders: the society's Sunny Bond account pays 7.2 per cent gross on investments of pounds 250 or more.

Leeds Permanent is joining other societies in scrapping its out-of-date savings accounts and moving about a million savers to accounts that pay higher rates, mostly its Liquid or Solid Gold accounts.

----------------------------------------------------------------- BEST INSTANT ACCESS ----------------------------------------------------------------- The best % 1 Britannia Capital Trust . . . . . . . . . .6.00 2 Buckinghamshire Chiltern Gold . . . . . . .6.00 3 Manchester Money-by-Mail . . . . . . . . . 6.00 4 Birmingham Midshires First Class . . . . . 5.50 5 Bradford & Bingley Direct Premium . . . . .5.40 The worst 66 Melton Mowbray Instant Access . . . . . . 2.00 67 Norwich and Peterborough High Rise . . . .1.35 68 Yorkshire Building Society Instant Access 1.25 69 Bank of Ireland (GB) Instant Saver Plus . 1.25 70 Hanley Economic Ordinary Share . . . . . .0.75 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Savings rates are for pounds 2,000 in instant access accounts on 20 April 1994. Selection from top 70 building societies and leading banks. Moneyfacts (0692 500677) -----------------------------------------------------------------