Woolwich current account rates up

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WOOLWICH Building Society is to increase interest rates on its current accounts.

It will pay 3.5 per cent on deposits between pounds 500 and pounds 9,999 and 5.1 per cent on sums above pounds 50,000. This contrasts with its present rate of 1.15 per cent on balances of up to pounds 4,999.

Woolwich's new rates make it the highest-paying building society among the top 10. The rates are above those of the high street banks, which pay 0.5 per cent or under to account holders in credit.

Peter Robinson, Woolwich's managing director, said: 'These rates set a new competitive standard in the personal banking market place. It will give our customers outstanding value.'

Woolwich is cutting its agreed overdraft rate from 9.8 per cent to a new annualised low of 9.5 per cent, making it one of the cheapest in the high street.

The society's rate rise, which benefits customers with moderate sums in their accounts, undermines the banks' arguments that recent reductions in current account overdraft rates were a publicity stunt and affected few customers. Most overdrafts are held at banks.

Banks and other building societies said yesterday they were not planning to follow suit immediately.

A Barclays spokeswoman said: 'I think they are trying to take on other building societies, not us. When people want to save money they simply transfer it to a higher- paying account.'