Why comparing offshore savings rates is so hard

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With rates and deals changing so fast, finding a reliable source of savings information for expats is hard work.

Many of the best interest rates are not widely advertised, and unless you are one of the ‘in-crowd’, you are unlikely to pick up on the latest offers.

That’s basically why comparison sites cannot set up accurate offshore savings interest rates for expats.

The way savings accounts are structured does not help either.

How offshore savings work

Most financial institutions offer one or both of limited allocation and preferential rate savings deals.

Limited allocation is a capped offer – the finance house wants to raise a specific amount of cash, so a deal is put together offering a blinding interest rate and soon as the coffers are full to the target amount, that’s the end of the offer.

Depending on the competitiveness of the rate, some fill up in a few days, while others may linger for a while. If the rate closes quickly, the finance house has no time to set up any campaign to promote the account – and for most, they don’t even bother spending the cash on marketing because they know they don’t really need to.

Preferential rates are savings deals offered via a broker or intermediary network. Unless you are a client of the group offering the deal, you have little or no chance of getting a sniff of the rate.

Marketing to such a disparate group as expats is costly and time-consuming, so pushing a sweet deal through an intermediary who will do the job for you is smart business for a bank or building society.

Finding the latest offshore savings rates

To source the latest offshore savings rates, look at the following institutions:

  • Lloyds Bank International
  • Skipton International
  • Nationwide International
  • Alliance & Leicester International
  • Britannia International
  • Clydesdale Bank International
  • Permanent Bank International
  • Co-Operative Bank International
  • Bank of Ireland (Isle of Man)

The list is by no means exhaustive, as plenty of foreign financial institutions also offer offshore savings accounts in different currencies to investors.

Offshore banking for expats

Offshore banks provide accounts for expats and UK residents or businesses who might need to deal in other currencies besides Sterling – like the Euro and US Dollar.

These accounts generally have the same features of an onshore current account, like overdrafts and a debit card.

Unlike standard current accounts in the UK, most will charge a fee, demand a minimum deposit and may impose other restrictions, like only dealing with residents of certain countries or customers who earn over a certain amount each year.

Because they are based offshore, any deposits will not have the safeguard of the UK financial deposit protection scheme – but they will be covered in the offshore centre where they are based, like Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Check the levels of cover to make sure your money is safe.

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