14TH ANNUAL CHOICE
10 OCTOBER 2019
On the surface, the Bankwest Kids' Bonus Saver account's 5.75% interest rate is a great way of teaching children the benefits of saving money. But look a little deeper, and it soon becomes clear that a very different lesson is being imparted: don't trust the banks, Johnny and Daisy, they may give with one hand, but they take with the other.
Sure, the bank offers the highest interest rate on the market for young savers, but the account comes with one big, fat asterisk. That 5.75% rate is a teaser, valid for 12 months only. After paying a decent rate for a year, Bankwest sweeps all but $1 into a low-interest account paying just one per cent for amounts below $3000. And to make matters worse, they spin this bit of dastardly action as a positive for the kids. Apparently, it's "so they can start their savings all over again".
But the bad news doesn't end there. Bankwest is quick to punish young savers if they make any withdrawals, with the interest dropping to a mere 0.01% in that month. To say nothing of the $25 minimum monthly deposit that puts young savers and their parents under pressure to keep topping up to get that shiny headline rate.
Sucking kids in with teaser rates before slapping them with dramatic interest rate cuts is a far cry from rewarding and encouraging children to save. But if all Bankwest wanted was to teach kids that banks aren't their friends: job done.