Plain English and talking complex money concepts are never easy. We try very hard to do this, but recent moves within savings are making it tougher. I’d love your help to see if you can come up with a way to make things clearer.
This is all about the use of the phrase "easy access", which is the main term we use in our Top Savings and Top Cash ISAs guides. Many would say "instant access" is a more understandable term, yet actually that phrase has a discrete meaning and very few accounts hit it. Here’s a quick glossary…
- Instant access savings. These are savings where you can literally get your money straight away, either with a cash card or by walking into the bank and making a withdrawal.
- No-notice savings. Here, while you needn’t ask for permission to withdraw, in practice it takes a few days. For example, most online accounts are no-notice as when you request a withdrawal it takes a couple of days for it to get to your bank account.
In practical terms, for most people there’s little difference, so currently we lump both together as "easy access" (but then explain in more detail by account). But recently I’ve found the "easy access" phrase scares people off.
The problem is by merely mentioning that there’s an issue with access, it implies a form of restriction. We don’t call current accounts "easy access" because there’s no ambiguity – if you have a current account, you can get your cash out whenever you want.
So I wanted to make the whole thing a bit plainer by defining things with simple language.
- "Easy access: Get your money whenever you want" accounts.
- "Notice accounts: Takes time to get your cash" accounts.
- "Fixed rate: Your money’s locked away" accounts.
Yet this provides a second hurdle, due to the growth of limited annual withdrawals.
While many easy access accounts let you take money out without notice, you might be limited to just two or three times a year (some ban you from doing it more, while others just give big interest penalties for doing it).
These are still "easy access" accounts, and for many who just see savings as a place to store cash, it’s not an issue. Yet is it fair to call them "get your money when you want" accounts? Is there a better phrase?
Your thoughts are welcome (see below). I want to make our savings guides work for hardcore experienced savers and newbies alike.