We all know the value of saving money, and building up a nest egg of long-term savings should be a financial priority for any money savvy Aussie. But when you're in it for the long haul, finding the perfect place to stash your cash is super important. So to help you on your search for the right savings account, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions about long term savings accounts in Australia.
What is the minimum amount I need to deposit into my long term savings account?
This will depend on the savings account you opt for, as many banking providers will have their own deposit requirements. The good news is, many online savings accounts come with no minimum balance criteria at all, so you can start from scratch and build up a rainy day fund.
Other long term savings options like term deposits, do generally have minimum deposit criteria which can be as low as $500 up to $100,000 depending on the bank and deposit term. Head over to our term deposits section to compare current long term interest rates and fees.
What is the difference between a standard and bonus interest rate?
Once you start shopping around for a savings account, you might notice on our savings account comparison tables that we publish the standard interest rate and the bonus interest rate attached to the account. A standard rate is the ongoing interest rate you’ll receive as long as the savings account is open.
When it comes to bonus rate savings accounts, there are usually two types: introductory and conditional bonus rates. Introductory bonus rates usually only last between 3-6 months from when the account was opened. At the end of this period, the savings interest rate will then revert back to the account’s standard rate.
A conditional bonus rate offers a higher interest rate as long as you meet certain requirements by the bank. Some common examples of conditions include having a transaction account with the same provider, making a minimum monthly deposit, or no withdrawals in a month.
What features should I look for in a long term savings account?
A good ongoing interest rate - Possibly the most important feature of a savings account is the interest rate! And while the goal is to earn as much interest as possible, just keep in mind that savings account rates are variable, so they can change over time which is why you should regularly review your account to make sure you’re getting the best return on your money.
- No fees - Because there’s no point in stashing away your hard earned savings only to pay pesky fees. And while very few banks charge monthly fees on online savings accounts, some may still charge withdrawal penalties or transaction fees.
- Withdrawal flexibility - While most savings accounts allow you to withdraw money whenever you want - unlike a term deposit - some may drop bonus interest offers for the month when you withdraw or will charge a fee for over the counter withdrawals.
- Other handy tools - Things like online banking and a linked transaction account can come in handy if you need quick access to your cash.
How can I withdraw money from my savings account?
If you’d like to make a withdrawal from your savings account, you will have to transfer the funds from your savings account to your linked everyday transaction bank account. So although savings accounts are designed to make your rainy day more accessible, there’s still an extra step involved.
Something else to keep in mind is that if you do plan on making a withdrawal, you may have to give up your bonus interest rate. On the other hand, knowing this might actually be a great deterrent to stop you from spending your savings and keep your account balance high over the long term.
What happens if the rate on my long term savings account is cut?
One of the many gripes that come with savings accounts is the possibility of an interest rate cut. If this happens you won’t be earning the same amount of interest you once did, which could impact your long term savings goals.
If you plan on using a savings account as a long term strategy, you’ll need to review your options regularly to make sure you’re still getting a good deal.
The great thing about online banking is that if your rate is no longer competitive it is really easy to switch banks. Most savings providers we have listed here on Mozo have online applications and you can have an account set up in a matter of minutes.
Is a savings account a good long term savings strategy?
Yes, a savings account does have the potential to be a good long term strategy so long as you are disciplined to not dip into it for unnecessary expenses. Savings accounts can also come in handy because they are ‘at call’ products so if you ever need quick access to your cash in an emergency you can.
What alternatives are there to long term savings accounts?
But if you think having easy access to your savings stash is too tempting, then you might want to consider a term deposit instead. What makes a term deposit different from a savings account is that once you deposit the funds into the account, it’s hands off until the end of the term, which depending on the term you choose, can be anywhere between 1 month to 5 years.
And just remember that if you absolutely have to make a withdrawal on a term deposit, you will be hit with an early withdrawal fee.