Instant Access Account

An account where you can withdraw immediately from a bank or building society branch. Most pay more for larger account balances. Some banks and building societies with better value accounts ask you to open them by post but you can then use their branches for transactions.

There are many obsolete accounts such as Bank 7 Day Account, Bank Deposit Account. Building Societies and former Building Societies also have accounts with similar names to new accounts which pay very poor interest. Ensure your account is not obsolete. If it is, transfer to another account or close it but leave £100 in, if it is with a building society which has not yet converted to become a bank as you may benefit from a windfall if it does.

How worthwhile Bank and Building Society Postal or Phone Account usually pays better interest but you have to pay-in and out by post. Non-taxpayers and higher rate taxpayers also consider Offshore Bank Instant Access Account. Also consider Bank and Building Society Cash Card Account.

Who can invest Anyone.

Minimum £500 to £2,500 to get a reasonable interest rate.

Maximum £100,000 to £1 million.

Suitable Lump sums. Regular savings.

Money back On demand: Usually at any branch for building societies, former building societies and some other banks. Cash £250 to £500 usually. The amount repayable by cheque varies and is available usually only from building societies and former building societies, from£20,000 up to £100,000. Remainder in a few days but many societies say at a few month's notice in rules. Banks may require you to withdraw large amounts from this type of account through your own cheque account.

Interest Variable. More interest usually paid for large amounts, e.g. over £5,000, £10,000, £25,000, £50,000, £100,000. No interest if balance less than £100 C&G. £1 charge for each transaction when balance under £100 at Britannia.

Interest paid Usually yearly. By cheque, direct to a bank account or left to accumulate. Some also pay monthly, see Bank and Building Society Monthly Income Account.

Tax 20% tax is deducted from the interest. Non-taxpayers can reclaim the tax from the Inland Revenue (or have interest paid with no deduction). Higher rate taxpayers have to pay extra tax; basic rate taxpayers don't.

Fees to pay None. But watch out for interest penalties where you can lose 10 days interest on every withdrawal. Also sometimes fees payable where there is a low balance, e.g. Alliance & Leicester (Instant Access) which charges £1 for an over the counter withdrawal if balance under £1,000

Passbook Or receipt. Statement usually sent yearly.

Children Under 7: parents must sign. Over 7 (or when society thinks child responsible, say 10 or 12): child can withdraw on own signature. Bank and Building Society Children's Account usually gives better interest, especially for small amounts.

Risk 90% compensation scheme 100% on first £2,000, 90% on the next £33,000 for each investor in each bank or building society licensed by the Financial Services Authority.

How to invest Go to a bank or building society with a cheque or cash.

Where from The best rates are all from postal, phone or internet accounts. See the subscriber only pages for other types of bank and building society account with a quick link to the best rates updated daily