Sporadic savers: British saving habits revealed

  • Contrary to popular belief, Britain is a nation of savers, with 80 per cent of the population currently owning a savings account
  • Only a third of people don’t pay into their savings regularly
  • Brits are most tempted by incentives (34.1 per cent) and high rates (33.6 per cent), rather than recommendations from friends (16.8 per cent)
  • People moving away from cash ISAs to easy access accounts 

To mark the start of British Savings Week, new research from MoneySuperMarket, the UK’s leading comparison site, today maps the nation’s attitudes towards saving money and uncovers the regional saving hotspots.

Contrary to popular belief, four in five people in the UK currently own some form of savings product, be it a cash ISA, easy access savings account or even a fixed rate bond. However, far fewer regularly top up their savings, with two-thirds (62.4 per cent) putting money in on a monthly basis and 22.1 per cent just twice a year or even less frequently[i].

Of those who don’t currently own a savings account, 41.5 per cent say it’s because they never have any money to put aside and a further 17 per cent note that putting money elsewhere, such as in a high interest current account, makes better financial sense.

The data also uncovers significant regional differences, with those in Portsmouth the least likely to have a savings account (58.8 per cent), compared to those in Chelmsford (93.2 per cent).

Cities where people are least likely to own a savings account: 

CityPercentage of population with a savings account
Portsmouth58.8 per cent
Birmingham70.3 per cent
Gloucester72.2 per cent
Leeds73.6 per cent
Wolverhampton73.9 per cent

 Cities where people are most likely to own a savings account: 

CityPercentage of population with a savings account
Chelmsford93.2 per cent
Wrexham92.9 per cent
Norwich92.1 per cent
Brighton and Hove89.1 per cent
Cambridge89.1 per cent

When looking at why Brits choose to switch savings account, the impact of personal recommendation pales in comparison with accounts that offer incentives or higher rates of interest. Only 16.8 per cent of the population would choose a savings product based on a personal recommendation from a friend or family member, whereas 34.1 per cent would switch for an incentive and 33.6 per cent say they’d move for an account that offers a high rate of interest. A further 31.9 per cent said nothing could tempt them to switch from their current savings account.

Product clicks from MoneySuperMarket’s savings channel also show that the market is gradually shifting from cash ISAs to easy access accounts. Whilst cash ISAs are still the most dominant in terms of market share, accounting for 37.6 per cent of all clicks on the channel, their share has dropped from 46.5 per cent just two years ago. The biggest rise is with easy access savings accounts, where market share has risen over four per cent in two years (19.8 per cent in July 2016 to 24 per cent now). Fixed rate bonds also remain a popular option, with over 30 per cent opting to explore this type of savings vehicle[ii].

Sally Francis-Miles, money spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “The financial crash of 2008 hit savers hard and the market has yet to fully recover.  £1,000 put into a savings account in the decade leading up to the crash grew to a total of £1,652 on average, whereas money put into a savings account from 2008 to 2018 has grown to £1,149 – a noticeable difference. However, savings accounts are still popular and a great way to grow your money.

“There are a lot of options out there in terms of savings products, from fixed rate bonds to easy access savings accounts, but consider your personal needs and do your research before choosing. Generally speaking, the longer you can lock your money away for, the better return you’ll receive, although this does usually mean sacrificing access to your cash for typically one to five years and you’ll need a lump sum to make it worthwhile. Whatever savings option is right for you, start saving early to make the most of your hard-earned cash, add to your pot on a regular basis and resist the temptation to take it out unless it’s necessary or you have planned for it.”

Visit MoneySuperMarket for more information on which savings products are available in the market, along with tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your money. 

[i]All stats, unless otherwise stated, are taken from a poll of 2,000 nationally representative UK residents, aged 18+, undertaken by OnePoll between 5thSeptember 2018 and 10th September 2018. A full data breakdown is available upon request.

[ii]Internal MoneySuperMarket data taken from 4.5 million clicks on MoneySuperMarket’s savings channel, from July 2016 to July 2018.