Fixed rate bonds (otherwise known as fixed term bonds) are savings accounts designed for savers that are willing to take a little bit of a gamble with their money, without the actual risk of losing any of their original investment being lost, subject to the banks performance in line with the compensation limits offered. As long as your investment falls within the compensation limit provided by the bank or building society, the only thing you are gambling with the the interest you make.
Fixed term bonds feature many of the characteristics found in an instant access savings account, but with two main differences. Investors are expected to lock their savings away for a fixed period of time and the interest rate offered upon opening the account will also remain fixed throughout the duration of the bond.
Fixed term bonds usually offer better interest rates than instant access accounts, but this is not always the case, particularly when looking at bonds with longer terms. The reason for this is that these carry more risk to the banks as over the course of the term, the Bank of England could make significant interest rate cuts which would mean they would be paying over the odds for what they borrow.
As instant access bank accounts are generally the first to pass on rate changes, it is very important to be conscious of any changes. On the other hand, fixed term bonds provide peace of mind as rates will remain the same for the life of the bond.
During the last few months of 2008, The Bank of England cut its Base rate on several occasions, bringing it from 5.5% in October, to just 1.5% at the beginning of January 2009. This means that if you were lucky enough to open a fixed term bond account before these changes, you would now be benefiting from rates well above those currently offered on today’s market.
Some economists have predicted that rates will continue to fall over the coming months, so now could be a good time to apply for a fixed term bond account to fix yourself in on the best rate available.
However, there is another side to the coin, and this is where the gamble comes in. As well as the possibility of falling rates, you have to remember that it is equally possible that rates could rise, which would mean that the rate you are fixed at is below rates offered to new customers and instant access accounts. Before deciding on the type of account you wish to use, it is worth considering looking into the direction rates are predicted to take for the near future.
If you decide to put your savings into a fixed term bond, it is always a good idea to keep some of your money aside as backup. Circumstances often change without warning, and making early withdrawals to your bond can be difficult and is likely to incur loss of interest, so having a safety net will help to avoid you requiring access to your fixed term account.
Always ensure you are familiar with the compensation scheme offered by your proposed bank or building society. For more on compensation schemes and protection levels see Which4U’s Top Ten Savings Tips.
There are a some great fixed term bonds available, with rates well above the inflation rate and the Bank of England Base Rate, but these accounts may not be available for much longer, as it is expected that rates will fall further over the next few months.
Compare the best deals at www.which4u.co.uk and apply for your fixed term bond today!