Whether we just have a small amount of money passing through our bank account each month or have a lot of money that we want to invest, finding the best place to put it can be tricky. We will probably want to be able to get the best return on our money but there are other things that will restrict who we can choose from. It is worth thinking about these factors and this will help you to be able to more easily search for the right place for you.
For many of us the return is a big factor. We want to make sure that we get a good return on the money that we have put into the account. It can be a good bonus for us, as savers to get some money back and with interest rates at a record low at the moment, it can almost seem a bit pointless. However, if you are saving for a long time or have a lot of money to save, the interest rate can make a significant difference. You will also find that there are big differences in the return that you can get form different accounts and if you calculate how much that means in monetary terms over years, then you can see what an impact that might have. Therefore, hunting around for good rates can be worthwhile.
If you are investing it gets more complex as a higher rate tends to come hand in hand with a higher risk (something you do not see with normal savings) so you will need to find a balance and a place to put your money where you are happy with the level of risk and the potential return. With an investment you effectively buy something with your money and hope the value goes up. If the value goes down you will lose money and in some cases you could lose all of your money so it is important to really know what you are doing or get professional help with this.
Many people will want to choose a place that they trust. This often means to put it into a bank or building society that they know well or have heard good things about. You may already use some that you like or you might want to find out more to see if you can find one that you can trust but pay a better interest rate. Try asking people that you know as they may be able to make recommendations. If not you will be able to visit the websites of the lenders and find out more about them that way and get a feel for what they are like. You may also want to look at some reviews but make sure that you go to a trusted website for this as anyone can say anything online!
It might be that you are looking for an account that you can get easy access to your money from. This might be in the way of being able to draw cash using an ATM, do immediate online transfers or even with the same bank as you have a current account to make it really quick. It is worth noting that if you tie your money up for a certain time period, it will generally allow you to earn more interest and so instant access accounts are likely to be the lowest paid with regards to interest. However, there will be some of us that will need quick access to our money and therefore will not be able to take advantage of this. It may be worth considering having an instant access account and one where we tie our money up for longer if we have quite a lot to save.
Some people will look at a banks or building societies ethical policy when deciding whether to use them. For some this will be their record of investment and lending and if they are involved in industries that they do not approve of. For vegetarians this might be the fur industry, for environmentalists this might be the oil industry and for pacifists this might be arms. We all have differing opinions and ethics and so who we like and dislike will vary. We also might feel that some banks and building societies are kinder to their customers as well and this could influence our opinion. For example, we may feel that because a building society has no shareholders it will put more money back into the business or reduce its charges to the benefit of customers. You may feel that this is better than putting money into a bank which will do everything it can to make profit for shareholders. You may also look at what they do for the local community as some places will have projects where staff can have paid days where they do work for local causes and charities. For some none of these things will matter, it really depends on how strong your opinions are in these sorts of areas.