Breaking with savings apathy: How to pick the right savings account

The last few months haven’t been too friendly to savings accounts. Since the back-to-back RBA rate cuts of June and July, we’ve seen a flurry of activity on the deposits front, with the average ongoing special rate for savings accounts dropping from 2.25% p.a. all the way down to 1.82% p.a.

Right now, if you have your savings parked in an account with one of the big four banks, you might be feeling pretty anxious. Setting aside introductory and bonus rates, the major banks offer between 0.01% and 0.60% p.a. on their savings accounts. Include them and you’re looking at an average rate of 1.77% p.a.

And with many analysts forecasting another RBA rate cut by the end of the year, things are only set to get worse for savers. Rates are already edging towards zero; another reduction would leave many of us feeling hung out to dry.

What are the alternatives to the big banks?

If you’re looking for an alternative, online banks are a good place to start. They don’t have anywhere near the same amount of overhead costs as the major banks, freeing them up to offer much higher rates than their competitors. In fact, of the top ten best value savings accounts without age restrictions in our database, five were offered by online banks.

Many high interest savings accounts come with a set of conditions you’ll have to meet if you want to earn the full rate. More often than not this will take the form of a minimum monthly deposit or withdrawal limit, as with the following savings accounts:

  • UBank’s USaver with Ultra Transaction Account, which offers rates of 2.41% p.a., requires a deposit of at least $200 each month.
  • Move Bank’s Bonus Saver, which offers rates of 2.30% p.a., requires you to deposit at least $200 a month and make no withdrawals.

Others require you to make a minimum amount of purchases with your card each month to be eligible, as in the case of the following high rate savings accounts:

  • The Up Bank Saver Account, which offers rates of 2.50%, requires you to make at least five purchases per month with your Up debit card and digital wallets.
  • MyState Bank’s Bonus Saver, which offers rates of 2.50% p.a., requires a deposit of at least $20 and a minimum of five Visa Debit transactions using your linked Everyday or Glide accounts over the month.
  • The ING Savings Maximiser, which offers savers 2.30% p.a., requires a deposit of at least $1,000 and a minimum of five purchases with an ING credit or debit card over the month.

Why should you make the switch?

There’s a world of difference between the lowest and highest savings account rates at the moment, but unfortunately it’s not something many people give much thought to. In fact, a recent report from AMP found that 43% of Australians don’t even know how much interest they’re earning.

“We can probably chalk this up to apathy in a lot of cases. Banking isn’t terribly exciting for most people, and it isn’t all that common for Australians to be proactive when it comes to their savings accounts,” said Mozo’s banking expert, Peter Marshall.

“That’s a shame, because interest earned on your savings is one of the easiest ways to make money, and by sticking with a subpar rate, you could be missing out on hundreds.”

That point bears illustrating. Let’s say the current interest rate on your savings account is 1.15% p.a. (the ongoing bonus rate currently offered by the Commonwealth Bank GoalSaver). If you have $50,000 in savings, and are able to commit to a $500 monthly deposit, you’ll be looking at $610 in interest earned over one year. 

Now imagine you made the switch to a bank that offers a much more attractive rate - let’s put it at 2.44% p.a. (the average ongoing bonus rate among the ten highest earning savings accounts in our database without age restrictions). Your $50,000 in savings, along with that $500 monthly deposit, would score you $1,301 in interest over a year — $691 more than in the previous scenario.

How to find the perfect savings account

If those numbers have wrung the apathy out of you, we’re off to a good start. The next step is to find a high interest savings account that suits you and your goals. Head over to our savings account comparison page for a look at the kinds of rates currently on offer, or check out the list of Mozo Experts Choice Award winners to see the ones we’re big fans of. To help whittle down your choices, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

Pay attention to conditions

Along with the interest rate, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for any conditions. If there’s a minimum monthly deposit necessary to score that bonus rate, you’ll need to be confident you can meet it every time. If it seems a bit too steep, it’s probably best to look for a savings account with looser requirements.

Don’t get suckered in by intro rates

Keep your wits about you when it comes to introductory rates, too. There’s no point getting drawn in by a stellar intro rate only to find that once those first few months are up you’re stuck with something in the 0% to 1% range that’s giving you negligible returns. 

Avoid those fees

Finally, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any fees, which can seriously chip away at your savings over time. While it’s rare to encounter savings accounts that cost you money nowadays, many require you to link a transaction account, and sometimes this is where those fees will rear their ugly heads. Steer clear, and you’ll be on your way to savings account heaven.

Savings account comparisons on Mozo - last updated 16 June 2024

Search promoted savings accounts below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure
  • Savings Account

    5.35% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    4.75% p.a.(for $0 to $1,000,000)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Bonus variable rate is available for the first four months.

    Competitive introductory variable rate for first 4 months (on deposits up to $250,000). No account keeping fees to pay. Multiple 2023 Mozo Experts Choice Award winner.

    Compare
    Details
  • High Interest Save Account

    5.10% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.10% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Deposit at least $200 to either Spend, Bills or Save account from an external source each month.

    No monthly fees on any of your save accounts. Split your money with up to 10 Save accounts. Set savings targets and track the progress of all your Save accounts. Deposits guaranteed up to $250K per customer.

    Compare
    Details
  • PremiumSaver

    5.45% p.a. (for $0 to $250,001)

    1.50% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Increase balance by $200 by the end of each month

    Reward yourself with a higher rate for your good savings habits. Rabobanks’s PremiumSaver is simple - receive the maximum rate when you grow your balance by at least $200 each month (T&Cs apply). Plus, your savings help our Aussie farmers produce the food we love to enjoy.

    Compare
    Details
  • Mozo Expert Choice Badge
    Savings Maximiser

    5.50% p.a. (for $0 to $100,000)

    0.55% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    For customers who have an Orange Everyday account, deposit $1000 into a personal ING account, make 5 eligible transactions and grow their nominated Savings Maximiser account each month.

    Great variable rate every month when you grow your balance each month in addition to other eligibility criteria. No ING fees to pay. Save even more with ING Everyday Round Up. Mozo Experts Choice Awards Everyday & Savings Bank of the Year winner for 2024.^

    Compare
    Details

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Savings Account Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.