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    Welcome to the graveyard


    BBEY has become the latest lender to close one of its savings accounts, in a move it says will ‘simplify’ its range.

    The Instant Saver passbook account will be closed to new customers but not to existing account holders. They can switch to an account paying a higher rate of interest or leave their savings where they are.

    If they fail to act they might as well put their cash in a coffin and bury it six feet under.

    The Instant Saver pays interest of just 0.3%. This means on a balance of £100 you would earn just 30p in a year, or £3 on a balance of £1,000. In fact, with inflation at 2.7% customers are actually losing money.

    This compares to an annual equivalent rate (AER*) of between 1.55% to 2.80% on Abbey’s Flexible Saver account, depending on whether you bank by branch, post, internet or phone.

    Alternatively the Branch Saver account pays interest of 2.75% – providing you don’t withdraw any money. Make up to four withdrawals from the account and interest is paid at 2.25%, falling to 1.5% for between five and 12 withdrawals.

    Abbey’s announcement highlights how important it is to keep a close eye on bank and savings accounts.

    Abbey says it will be writing to Instant Saver customers, to advise them of the change and choices open to them.

    But surely it would have been easier, ‘simpler’ and fairer just to transfer everyone with an Instant Saver account to a higher paying account?

    Not according to Abbey. ‘It is not our policy to force people into accounts, especially if people have had an account for a long time when they may be attached to remaining with that particular account,’ it says.

    This suggests that Abbey believes its customers actually want to leave their cash in the savings graveyard where many other closed accounts lie mouldering.

    A more appealing choice, for anyone prepared to bank online or by phone, is ING Direct’s savings account, which pays interest of 4.3% – 14 times the rate of interest paid by Abbey on its Instant Saver account.

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