What are the pros and cons of opening a fixed savings account?

If you’ve savings and you don’t need access to your cash in the short-term, a fixed savings account could be for you. Rates on fixed savings accounts typically beat easy access and locking away cash can be one of the easiest ways to boost returns.

Let’s take a closer look at how fixed savings accounts work, in addition to the pros and cons of this type of savings account.

How does a fixed savings account work?

With a fixed savings account (sometimes known as a fixed-rate bond), your cash is locked away for a set period. This means if you deposit funds into a fixed account, you won’t be able to access your money for the duration of the fixed term. These terms typically range from 1 to 5 years.

With fixed savings accounts, the interest rate you earn is guaranteed. In other words, your savings provider cannot change it for the duration of the fixed term. This isn’t the case with other types of savings accounts - including easy access - where rates are mostly variable.

How can fixed savings accounts differ between providers?

Fixed savings accounts are available from a number of savings providers. Some fixed savings accounts will pay interest monthly, while others will pay interest at the end of a fixed term. It’s also worth being aware that some fixed savings accounts may require a high minimum deposit, while others may allow savers to open an account with as little as £1.

How fixed accounts can be opened may differ between providers. Some providers may allow you to open an account online while others may accept account openings in branch, by phone, or post.

What are the pros of opening a fixed savings account?

Now we’ve touched on what a fixed savings account is, here are three benefits of opening a fixed savings account:

1. Fixed savings rates typically beat easy access.

Stash your money in a fixed savings account and it’s likely you’ll be earning a higher interest rate compared to a normal easy-access account. That’s because savings providers are happy to pay higher rates in return for the certainty of being able to hold your cash for a set period.

2. You’ve a guaranteed interest rate.

With fixed savings accounts, your interest rate is ‘fixed.’ This means it cannot change for the duration of the fixed term. This isn’t the case with easy-access, where a savings provider has the power to reduce your rate on a whim.

3. You can’t spend cash that’s locked away.

If you’re not particularly disciplined with cash, then a fixed account can be a great way to stop you from spending your savings.

If you do open a fixed account for this reason, it’s worth putting aside some sort of an emergency fund to ensure you can still pay any unexpected bills that may arise in future.

What are the cons of opening a fixed savings account?

While fixed savings accounts have their advantages, there are drawbacks too. Here are three cons of opening a fixed savings account:

1. You can’t access your cash during the fixed term.

While locking away your cash may be appealing if you’re a bit of a spendthrift, being unable to access your cash can put you at a disadvantage too.

For example, should your personal circumstances, or priorities, change in future, having cash locked away in a fixed account could be problematic. Likewise, if you face an unexpected expense. For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to avoid putting all of your spare cash in a fixed account.

2. You can’t move your money if inflation gets out of control.

Rising inflation can be detrimental to savers because it essentially erodes the value of cash over time. During times of very high inflation, the Bank of England may try to combat rising prices by increasing its base rate. When this happens savings rates usually start to head upwards.

However, if rates across the market rise while your money is locked in a fixed account, you won’t be able to benefit. If rising inflation particularly concerns you, you may be better off looking for a fixed account period with a short term.

3. You can’t switch account if you dislike your provider.

If you put your money in a fixed savings account and you later become unhappy with your provider, there’s not much you can do about it. In contrast, cash kept in an easy-access account can be easily moved.

What else should I know about fixed savings accounts?

Your savings are safe.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to lock away cash, if you put your savings in a UK savings account, you can be rest assured that your money is safe should your provider go bust. That’s as long as you don’t save more than £85,000 with a single provider. This is all due to FSCS savings safety protection backed by the UK Government.

Sharia fixed savings accounts work slightly differently.

Fixed sharia accounts are very similar to normal fixed savings accounts. The main difference is that these accounts follow Islamic banking principles. As a result, they don’t pay interest but an ‘expected profit rate’ instead. To learn more, take a look at our article that explains more about Islamic Finance.

Fixed cash ISAs give a guaranteed rate AND give you access to your cash

If you’re reluctant to lock away cash but want the certainty of a guaranteed interest rate, then it’s worth knowing that you can get a guaranteed rate and still have access to your cash through a fixed cash ISA. That’s because, by law, providers must allow you to withdraw funds held in an ISA.

However, fixed cash ISAs rarely pay anything close to the rates offered on normal fixed savings accounts. This means they're rarely a great option if you want to bag a decent interest rate on your cash. Plus, if you withdraw funds early from a fixed cash ISA you usually have to pay an interest penalty.

Are you looking for a fixed savings account? To see a list of top-rated accounts, take a look at our best savings accounts guide.

Fixed savings Q&A

1. Can you add money to a fixed rate savings account?

If you have a fixed savings account you typically won't be allowed to add funds during the fixed term. That said, some providers may allow you to add funds a short time after opening your account. However, this grace period is unlikely to last more than a few days.

2. Can I close a fixed rate savings account?

If you open a fixed savings account there's no guarantee you'll be able to close it early. The vast majority of providers simply won't allow it. For the few accounts that do permit early closure, a hefty penalty will almost certainly apply.

3. What is a fixed bond savings account?

A fixed bond savings account is just another name for a fixed rate savings account.

4. How long can a fixed savings account be?

There's no limit as to the length of a fixed savings account. However, the longest fixes offered by the majority of savings providers is 5 years, though some providers offer (or have offered) 7 year fixed accounts.