A half or more of all tax-free Tessa accounts mature in the first half of next year, unlocking up to pounds 14,000 each for savers.
Tessas offer tax-free interest to savers of whatever tax band, so long as the accounts are held for five years.
A total of more than 4 million people have saved up to the maximum pounds 9,000 so far, and January sees the first Tessas come of age.
If you have an account, the bank or building society should write to you when it matures - if for no other reason than to offer to reinvest the money.
A full pounds 9,000 investment could be due between pounds 11,400 and pounds 14,000, as our league table of projected maturity values shows.
The top performer, Bristol & West building society's Capital Maker Tessa, might earn such pounds 9,000 savers more than pounds 5,000 in interest - an overall return of 56 per cent over the past five years. Bottom-of-the-pile Clydesdale Bank Tessas might give savers just pounds 2,400 in interest on their pounds 9,000, which translates into a total return of just 27 per cent. The average Tessa saver, however, has only saved pounds 6,000, so in practice payout figures are likely to be closer to pounds 8,000.
The best returns are set to be from Tessas that offered interest rates fixed at outset. But there were only a few of these, and most have plumped for Tessas whose rates could change once you were invested.
In 1991, when Tessas first became available, fixed-rate Tessas offering interest rates of 11.5 per cent did not look so attractive against variable- rate competition paying up to 15 per cent. Since 1991, however, interest rates generally have plunged and interest on most variable-rate Tessas has halved - and even fell below 5 per cent last year.
In addition, most savers will have missed out by saving with the big high-street names. The top performers among the variable-rate Tessas are all with smaller building societies and banks, and the main high street banks have been particularly bad performers. The TSB has been advertising itself to savers with maturing Tessas as "the bank that came first - top of the bank Tessa performance table". But this only compares it with the other banks - among all Tessa providers. it is set to produce below-average returns, our table shows.
Moneyfacts, which compiled our league table, says interest rates from societies started higher and have not come down as much as those of banks, which have been driven to a greater degree by the falling base rate.
Only 2,500 savers had the foresight or luck to invest in the best-performing variable-rate Tessa - from the small South-eastern building society Kent Reliance. Moneyfacts says the predominance of smaller societies among the top perfomers underlines the tendency for smaller operators to keep rates competitive longer. A number of high street names competed aggressively to get savers to open accounts with high rates, only to drop them after the initial surge.
The better performances from smaller societies and banks also reflect their need to offer higher rates to counter savers' worries of higher risk. Sometimes, the extra return is not worthwhile - one high-paying Tessa provider, the small London bank Wimbledon & South West Finance, went bust a few years ago.
Overall, says Charles Levett-Scrivener, product manager with independent financial adviser Towry Law, the performance of Tessas has been "very patchy" over their first five years.
HOW THEY ALL FARED
Bristol & West Capital Maker (F) pounds 14,036
Confederation Bank (F) pounds 13,357
AIB Bank Fixed Tessa pounds 13,333
Bristol & West Guaranteed (F) pounds 13,243
First Trust Bank pounds 13,128
Kent Reliance BS pounds 12,400
Dunfermline BS pounds 12,343
National Counties BS pounds 12,318
Julian Hodge Bank pounds 12,227
Melton Mowbray BS pounds 12,221
Ecology BS pounds 12,192
Ipswich BS pounds 12,187
West Bromwich BS pounds 12,183
Allied Trust Bank (Premier) pounds 12,172
Exeter Bank pounds 12,162
Saffron Walden BS pounds 12,151
Buckinghamshire BS pounds 12,140
Stafford Railway BS pounds 12,139
Tipton & Coseley BS pounds 12,128
Monmouthshire BS pounds 12,116
Darlington BS pounds 12,106
Bradford & Bingley (High Rtn) pounds 12,093
Cheshire BS pounds 12,091
Lambeth BS pounds 12,088
Derbyshire BS pounds 12,058
Vernon BS pounds 12,058
Progressive BS (NI) pounds 12,054
Marsden BS pounds 12,048
Cambridge BS pounds 12,046
Halifax BS pounds 12,041
Beverley BS pounds 12,039
Bristol & West Bonus pounds 12,019
Londonderry Provident BS pounds 12,013
Woolwich BS pounds 12,012
Mercantile BS pounds 12,002
Harpenden BS pounds 11,979
Leeds & Holbeck BS pounds 11,978
Furness BS pounds 11,977
Dudley BS pounds 11,976
Nottingham Imperial BS pounds 11,967
Mansfield BS pounds 11,963
Yorkshire BS pounds 11,960
Chesham BS pounds 11,959
Barnsley BS pounds 11,958
Nottingham BS pounds 11,952
Stroud & Swindon BS pounds 11,947
N&P BS pounds 11,946
Manchester BS pounds 11,935
Nationwide BS pounds 11,930
Skipton BS pounds 11,929
Britannia BS pounds 11,924
Loughborough BS pounds 11,921
Principality BS pounds 11,917
Hanley Economic BS pounds 11,910
TSB pounds 11,905
Bath BS pounds 11,901
Sun Banking Corporation pounds 11,895
Scottish BS pounds 11,895
Leek United BS pounds 11,884
Northern Rock BS pounds 11,878
Alliance & Leicester BS pounds 11,875
Cheltenham & Gloucester pounds 11,873
Royal Bank of Scotland pounds 11,870
Birmingham Midshires BS pounds 11,856
Norwich & Peterborough BS pounds 11,852
Newbury BS pounds 11,837
Universal BS pounds 11,834
Abbey National pounds 11,829
CLF Municipal Bank pounds 11,820
Newcastle BS pounds 11,813
Chelsea BS pounds 11,808
Portman BS pounds 11,788
Greenwich BS pounds 11,782
Co-operative Bank pounds 11,765
Staffordshire BS pounds 11,745
Northern Bank pounds 11,741
Market Harborough BS pounds 11,697
First Trust Bank pounds 11,696
Natwest Bank pounds 11,661
Yorkshire Bank pounds 11,635
Chorley & District BS pounds 11,599
Robert Fleming/S&P pounds 11,595
Coutts & Co pounds 11,545
Lloyds Bank pounds 11,533
First Direct pounds 11,496
Midland Bank pounds 11,493
Barclays Bank pounds 11,490
City & Metropolitan BS pounds 11,486
Clydesdale Bank pounds 11,419
The table shows the projected maturity values of Tessas, assuming the account was opened at the start of January 1991 with the maximum investment of pounds 3,000 and that maximum top-up investments were made on each anniversary during the five-year savings period. The figures, therefore, are the most savers will be due.
(F) means fixed rate. Other Tessas carry interest rates that have varied. BS stands for building society. Source: MoneyfactsReuse content