The best set-and-forget savings accounts


Ready to take a more laid-back approach to your savings? An account without rate conditions could tick the box.

It's fair to say that a savings account is one of the simpler ways to grow your money. You deposit your savings in an account which suits your needs and let compound interest work its magic. Easy right?

The reality is that earning an interest rate isn't always as straightforward as that though because many of the high interest savings accounts on the market come with bonus rates which are only activated once one or more monthly requirements are met.

best high interest savings accounts october 2023

These include making a minimum deposit into a savings or transaction account with the same bank, using a linked debit card a set number of times, making sure there are no withdrawals from the account, or increasing the balance of the account.

As Peter Marshall, banking and rates expert at financial comparison website Mozo explains, banks have adopted these conditions more frequently in recent years, partly as a way to hang on to customers.

"When it comes to bonus savings rates, it's becoming more common for new accounts to have minimum transaction requirements. That is, if you want to open a savings account with a high bonus rate you'll need to actively use a linked transaction account," he says.

"As it can be difficult to manage two accounts, especially where direct debits are concerned, it's likely new customers will close their existing transaction account to move over the one linked to the high bonus rate.

"Essentially this means that banks are offering high bonus savings rates in exchange for securing new transaction account customers."

Are there savings accounts without monthly conditions? 

The good news for savers who aren't interested in jumping through hoops every month is that there are a number of savings accounts that don't come with any strings attached to their rates.

Even better, some of these are relatively competitive with the returns they're offering.

The highest unconditional savings account rates currently being tracked in the Mozo database, for instance, range from 4.25% all the way up to 5% with Unity Bank's MoneyMAX Account which is available on balances from $1 and higher.

"While 5% isn't as high as the leading 5.65% bonus savings rate on offer, if it means a customer is able to earn interest every month without meeting pesky conditions or opening new transaction accounts, it might be a smarter option than a bonus rate savings account," says Marshall.

Where else can you get 5% interest on your savings?

As Marshall notes, bonus rate accounts are typically more generous though, so savers who are prepared to meet a few monthly account conditions won't have any difficulty finding interest rates of 5% or more at the moment.

Marshall does warn that being able to tick off any conditions with these accounts is a must though, because the alternative, in most cases, is a much lower rate.

"Bonus rates are higher because of all the conditions savers have to meet and keep track of, but if you don't end up meeting those conditions you can miss out on earning most of the bonus interest payment.

"Most of the time, bonus rates will revert back to a very low base rate (some as low as 0.1%) if the conditions are not met, so before you decide it's important to think about whether you're diligent enough to earn that bonus rate every month."

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Tom Watson is a senior journalist at Money magazine, and one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He's previously worked as a journalist covering everything from property and consumer banking to financial technology. Tom has a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Technology, Sydney.