Best high-interest savings accounts


Which banks actually help you save a bit of money?

Don't settle for a miserly rate


Rates on high-interest accounts are down in line with record low cash rates, but they're still a better option than letting your money languish in stingy online savings accounts from the big banks: 

  • NAB,  Westpac, ANZ and CBA only offer standards rates on their online savings account to just 0.5%. 

Since we looked at online savings account two months ago in early August, two accounts reduced their bonus interest rates:

  • CBA reduced the bonus rate on their Goal Saver account from 2.3% to 1.65% and now pays the lowest bonus rate from the four major banks. Bonus rate conditions: deposit at least $200 and make no withdrawals each calendar month.
  • Rams reduced its bonus rate from 3% to 2.8%, but is still in the Top 5 high interest accounts by bonus rate. Bonus rate condition: $200 deposit and no withdrawals each month.

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While all of them have a deceptively high introductory interest rate for the first few months, don't be fooled.

Instead, it's a much better idea to link your transaction account to one of the best high-interest accounts, or use one of the big banks' bonus saver accounts.

Make your savings count:
  • The best high-interest accounts give you a much better return than one of the big banks' transaction or savings accounts.
  • If you have a home loan, a 100% offset account is the best place for your savings. 
  • If you have a credit card debt, paying it off should be your first priority.

Read on for:

Best high-interest accounts

(Updated 10 October 2018)

Best 3 high interest accounts by ongoing rate

  • Move Express Saver – 2.20%
  • AMP Saver Account – 2.10% (Intro rate of 2.55% for the first four months) 
  • Easy Street Easy Savings account – 2%

Best 5 high interest accounts by bonus rate

  • UBank USaver (with Ultra transaction account) – 2.87% (1.81% standard rate). Bonus rate condition for USaver: $200 deposited into either account in the previous month from an external source and the combined balance of both UBank accounts is less than $200,000.
  • ME Online Savings account (with ME Everyday transaction account) – 2.85% (1.3% standard rate). Bonus rate condition for ME Online: weekly purchase using PayPass Tap & Go on your ME Everyday transaction account.
  • ING DIRECT Savings Maximiser (with Orange Everyday transaction account) – 2.80% (1% standard rate). Bonus rate condition for ING: $1000 deposit (from an account at another bank or, for example, your salary) to any personal ING account in your name (excluding Living Super and Orange One) and at least five ING debit card purchases each month. Available for account balances up to $100,000.
  • RAMS Saver Account – 2.8% (1.15% standard rate). Bonus rate condition: $200 deposit and no withdrawals each month.
  • Australian Unity Active Saver – 2.80% (1.2% standard rate). Bonus rate condition: $250 deposit each month and no withdrawals in the month. Max balance $500,000. Must link to Australian Unity transaction account.
Source: Mozo.com.au
(Updated 10 October 2018)

ANZ

  • ANZ Online saver – 2.55% for the first three months, then 0.5% standard rate.
  • ANZ Progress Saver – 1.71% (0.01% standard rate). Bonus rate condition: $10 deposit and no withdrawals in a month.

CBA 

  • CommBank Netbank saver account – 2.51% for the first three months, then 0.5% standard rate.
  • CommBank Goal Saver account – 1.65% (0.01% standard rate – higher rates for balances between $50,000 and $1 million). Bonus rate condition: deposit at least $200 and make no withdrawals each calendar month.

NAB

  • NAB iSaver – 2.55% for the first four months, then standard rate of 0.5%.
  • NAB Reward Saver – 2.50% (0.5% standard rate) bonus rate. Bonus rate conditions: one deposit and no withdrawals each month.

Westpac

  • Westpac eSaver – 2.51% for five months, then 0.5% standard rate.
  • Westpac Life – 2.3% (1.5% standard rate). Bonus rate condition: withdrawals are allowed but you need to make at least one deposit and have a higher account balance at the end of month. 

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How much interest you would earn if you paid $100 a week for one year into:

  • A transaction account that pays 0.01% interest: $0.26
  • One of the big four's esaver accounts that pay 0.5% interest: $13
  • A high interest account paying 3% interest (bonus rate): $77:
  • A mortgage offset account with a standard variable rate of 5.2%: $140 in the first year (Saving based on a 100% offset account associated with a 25-year $400,000 home loan. NB: savings will continue to accrue over the life of the loan even if you withdraw the $5200 at the end of the year.)

Source: Mozo.com.au.

Introductory rates

Many high-interest accounts offer high interest rates for an introductory period. Often those intro rates revert to very low rates after a short period. For example;

  • St George (Bank of Melbourne and BankSA) Maxi Saver account pays one of the highest rates (2.85%), but once the three-month honeymoon ends, you end up with one of the lowest rates – just 0.5%.

If you're very organised, you could switch accounts as soon as the introductory period ends, but that won't work for long since the intro rate usually only applies to first-time customers.

Tip: Accounts with a bonus rate can work for you if you need a place to park your money for the short-term, as they're more flexible than a term deposit.

Minimum deposits

Many accounts – often called bonus saver accounts – give you a special rate if you make a minimum deposit such as $200 per month. Check the standard rate the account reverts to when you don't meet the bonus rate conditions. For example;

  • the interest rate for Commonwealth Bank's Goal Saver account reverts to a standard rate of just 0.01% if you make a withdrawal or don't deposit at least $200 in a calendar month.

No withdrawals

Minimum deposit conditions are often paired with no withdrawals. Beware of accounts that revert to a low standard rate. For example;

  • CUA's eSaver Boost offers a 2.75% bonus rate, which reverts to just 0.25% if you make any withdrawals or don't deposit $250 each month.

Maximum limits

Some accounts only apply a bonus rate to accounts below a limit. For example:

  • UBank USaver with USaver Ultra transaction account – 2.87%: The bonus interest applies only if the combined balance is less than $200,000. 

Notice periods

Some accounts work similar to a term deposit; you need to give a certain number of days or months notice before withdrawing your funds. For example;

  • Rabodirect offers notice periods accounts with 31, 60 and 90 day notice periods. You won't get your money before the notice period ends. 

Tip: Breaking a term deposit is possible, but not advisable as it usually comes with a fee.

Complex conditions

Some accounts have very complex conditions for their bonus rate. For example;

  • ING Saving's Maximisers pays the bonus rate only for customers who have an Orange Everyday account, deposit at least $1000 from an external bank account to the Orange Everyday account, and make at least five card purchases using an ING debit card each month.

Tip: Make sure you only use such an account if you can fulfil its conditions without going out of your way.

Linked transaction accounts

High-interest accounts normally don't charge a monthly fee, but most need to be linked to a transaction account for deposits and withdrawals. Some will only let you link to an account with the same institution, while others let you use any transaction account. For example;

  • The Westpac Life Bonus Saver account needs to be linked to a Westpac transaction account. If you don't already have one, Westpac will automatically give you a Westpac Choice account with a $5/monthly fee (waived under certain conditions such as a $2000 monthly deposit). 

Tip: Make sure you know what fees and charges apply to your accounts. See our report on the outrageous fees our banks continue to charge.

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