Australians have a mammoth $1.5 trillion sitting in deposit accounts, but until now that money has earned a next-to-nothing return.
Even allowing for bonus rates, returns on savings accounts have averaged less than 1 per cent for the past two years.
Despite rate hikes in both May and June, Reserve Bank figures show the average rate on cash deposits was still a ho-hum 0.75 per cent in June.
But it is possible to make your spare cash work much harder.
The trick is knowing where to earn a healthy return – and potentially meeting a few conditions to earn bonus interest.
Our table below shows the 10 savings accounts with the highest rates Australia-wide.
There may be a few conditions attached, but a common thread is that the best returns may only be available to new customers.
Under-35s score the top rates
Savers aged below 35 come up trumps for the juiciest deposit rates.
Bank of Queensland’s Future Saver is paying a handy 3 per cent on balances up to $50,000.
But you will need to transfer a minimum of $1000 into a linked BOQ Everyday Account and make five eligible transactions each month to earn the highest rate.
For the rest of us – earn up to 2.6 per cent
For savers aged over 35, the highest ‘base’ rate of 1.5 per cent is available with Macquarie Bank’s Savings Account.
But if you are a new customer you can earn an extra 0.5 per cent for the first four months, bringing the total return to 2 per cent.
No deposit or withdrawal conditions apply but you will need a Macquarie Bank transaction account to open a savings account.
Citi and Rabobank are both paying 2.1 per cent on savings for new customers, though again, only for the first four months.
You do not need to open a new transaction account, and neither Citi or RaboBank have minimum deposit or withdrawal requirements.
For a consistently high rate without the need to make a calendar note of your account’s four-month anniversary, ING’s Savings Maximiser pays 2.6 per cent interest.
You will need to deposit at least $1000 monthly, make at least five card purchases and grow your savings account balance each month.
You also need to have a linked ING Orange Everyday account.
If that all sounds too hard, MOVE Bank pays total interest of 2.0 per cent in the months in which you add $200 to the account and make zero withdrawals.
The deal breaker could be that this rate only applies on balances up to $25,000.
Are term deposits paying higher interest?
If you are prepared to lock your savings away in a fixed-term deposit, the rates can be more generous.
On a 12-month term deposit you could earn 3.15 per cent with FirstMac, 3.05 per cent with My State Bank, or 3.0 per cent with ME Bank.
You will need at least $5000 to get started with each of these term deposits.
Bear in mind that the Reserve Bank has made it clear we can expect further rate rises ahead, so locking all your savings into a term deposit could mean missing out on higher rates in the future.