Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

The 9 best high-interest savings accounts for 2019

Consumers can benefit from rising rates being applied to accounts in the UAE

Illustration by Mathew Kurian 
Illustration by Mathew Kurian 

UAE consumers might assume that recent US interest rate increases would automatically reflect in the rates applied to their debts or savings accounts.

According to experts, however, the effect takes time to filter through.

“On interest paying accounts, you’re more likely to see a domino effect, where banks wait for a first mover and then follow suit,” says Jonathan Rawling, chief financial officer of UAE financial comparison website yallacompare.com.

With the UAE Central Bank following the US Federal Reserve’s lead on interest rate raises, it has steadily increased its key policy rate. The three-month and six-month Emirates Interbank Offered Rate (EIBOR), or average lending rate, has gone up by more than 50 per cent in the last year, says Ambareen Musa, chief executive of UAE financial comparison website souqalmal.com. This has already trickled down to consumers, she explains.

“With these rates forming the basis of how banks compute the rates on their loans, loans have already become more expensive and may become more so,” Ms Musa says. “That being said, rising interest rates also spells good news for savers. Now may be a good time to supplement your current account with an interest-yielding savings account."

Having a savings account with a more generous interest rate will also help cushion the financial hit you take when borrowing at a higher interest rate, adds Ms Musa.

There are numerous accounts to choose form, some with the flexibility to make withdrawals, while others have restrictions. Many are available online to offer easy access, but often come with no ATM card or chequebook to encourage saving and keep bank costs at a minimum. There are also fixed-term accounts for those that want to park their savings and forget about them – an ideal option for savers needing somewhere to store their emergency fund – often yielding higher returns in the long run.

Here are some of the best high-interest savings accounts in the UAE for 2019:

Flexible savings accounts

1. CBI eSaver account

Annual return: up to 3 per cent

This new online savings account offers a 3 per cent rate regardless of account balance and requires no minimum balance, says Ms Musa. CBI customers can open the account online, while new customers need to first apply for another CBI account. The 3 per cent rate is only valid for new funds. The downside is that the only way to withdraw money is by transferring to an existing CBI account.

2. FAB's iSave Electronic Account

Annual return: up to 3 per cent

This online account from First Abu Dhabi Bank does not require a minimum balance or have restrictions on the number of withdrawals. Be aware, though, that there is a Dh25 monthly fee if the account balance falls below Dh3,000.

For this account, it pays to be a millionaire. “Higher savings translate into higher interest rates,” Ms Musa says. To obtain a return of 3 per cent, you need a balance of more than Dh5 million. Those with a balance of less than Dh50,000 earn only 0.5 per cent annually. In the Dh100,000 to Dh500,000 range, customers earn 2 per cent. The account is only available in dirhams.

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3. ADCB Active Saver Account

Annual return: up to 2 per cent

The interest rates for this online-only account have increased slightly from last year, offering 1.7 per cent for balances of Dh10,000 to Dh500,000, and a maximum of 2 per cent for balances above Dh2m. Previously the rates were 1.5 per cent and 1.65 per cent, and only 1 per cent for balances above Dh10m. ADCB removed that limit in October.

Customers also earn TouchPoints, the bank’s loyalty reward points, every time the balance increases by Dh1,000. TouchPoints are redeemable at various UAE merchants, including retail, travel and hotels, as well as to pay utility bills.

This account also has a sharia-compliant option available from ADCB Islamic Banking, says Ms Musa.

4. Standard Chartered XtraSaver Account

Annual return: up to 2 per cent

The XtraSaver account only needs a minimum initial deposit of Dh3,000 (or equivalent in US dollars) and requires no minimum monthly balance. The return is 1 per cent for the first two months and then doubles to 2 per cent per month after that. For US dollar accounts, the rates are 0.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent.

A contactless debit card is offered with the account, with a limit of one debit transaction per month. Beware, if you do make more than one debit transaction a month, no interest will be earned.

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5. Emirates Islamic e-Savings Account

Annual return: up to 2 per cent

Customers with a balance of Dh5,000 to Dh50,000 earn the highest expected profit rate of 2 per cent for this Sharia-compliant account. Those in the Dh50,000 to Dh3m range earn 1.3 per cent, while balances of Dh3.5m to Dh25m only earning 1 per cent. Therefore it pays to keep less in this account, rather than more. Profit is distributed on a quarterly basis. Also note, the US dollar accounts offer lower returns with the highest rate at 1.25 per cent.

There is no minimum balance requirement and no limit on withdrawals, says Ms Musa, but the account can only be accessed online.

6. RAKBank F@st S@ver Account

Annual return: up to 1.75 per cent

This account also offers higher interest rates for lower balances. Customers with less than Dh200,000 earn 1.75 per cent interest, while Dh500,000 to Dh2m earn 1 per cent. Those in the high income bracket of Dh25 million and above only earn 0.5 per cent. Again, the US dollar rates are much lower, ranging between 0.3 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

There is no minimum account balance and interest is paid on a monthly basis, but there is a minimum salary requirement of Dh3,000, says Ms Musa. There is also a monthly limit of one withdrawal.

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Fixed-term accounts

7. HSBC Term Deposit Account

Annual return: up to 3 per cent

The maximum rate on this account has improved since last year; previously the bank only offered terms up to 12 months, says Mr Rawling. This savings option offers a fixed-term ranging from one month to 36 months. The rates are payable upon maturity.

At the top end is a 3 per cent rate for HSBC Premier customers with a balance of more than Dh750,000 over the longest period of 36 months. In comparison, HSBC Advance and Personal Banking customers with a balance of less than Dh150,000 (the minimum is Dh10,000) can earn 2.48 per cent over that same period of 36 months. For those with a balance of Dh150,000 to Dh750,000, the rate is 2.68 per cent.

For shorter terms, the rates are much lower. The account is also available in US dollars and British pounds, for a minimum deposit of 5,000 in either currency.

8. Noor Bank Wakala Investment Deposit

Annual return: up to 3.7 per cent

Mr Rawling recommends this investment deposit, which comes with some risk but high returns. It is based on the Islamic principle of Wakala, which means the bank acts as an agent for the customer and invests the money in a Sharia-compliant avenue. The expected profit rates are specified at the start, but not necessarily guaranteed. If a loss was incurred, the bank does not guarantee the expected profits except in case of negligence or default.

Noor Bank is offering terms of between one month and 36 months for a minimum deposit of Dh25,000.

For a three-year term with the profit paid at maturity, the rate is 3.7 per cent, while those wanting their profit quarterly earn 3.6 per cent. A monthly profit payment comes with a rate of 3.55 per cent, and upfront 3.5 per cent.

The account is also available in US dollars, but at lower rates.

9. DIB Long-Term Wakala Deposit

Annual return: up to 2.52 per cent

With a minimum deposit of Dh25,000, Dubai Islamic Bank’s long-term Wakala Deposit offers up to 2.52 per cent expected profit paid out after five years, Mr Rawling says. The expected profit for five years is up to 12.6 per cent if you retain the balance for the full term.

The deposit comes with a free DIB credit card that offers services such as roadside assistance and instant enrolment into the bank’s Wala’a Dirhams loyalty programme, which can be used for flights, hotels and shopping with selected merchants.

Updated: January 21, 2019 12:38 PM

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