Sainsbury’s and Virgin Money have failed to pass on savings rate rises

I was going through my annual bank statements and realised my Sainsbury’s variable-rate cash Isa is paying only 0.35% interest, while my Virgin Money easy-access saver is giving me only 0.25% despite this year’s rate rises.

Sainsbury’s told me higher rates of interest were applied to accounts if the customer requested them. It asked if I would like a higher rate and I said yes, and it has been increased to 1.3%.

When I queried the rate with Virgin, I was informed this postal and telephone account had been discontinued, and the rate had, in effect, been frozen. The new, higher rate is only available on online accounts.

However, no one told me.

RS, Bath

You wrote to us before the Bank of England upped interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 1.75% but they had already moved several times. This should be good news for savers but only accounts where the interest rate is linked to the base rate will move automatically, and in full, after a rate increase, and these aren’t.

When you opened the Sainsbury’s Isa in 2019, it offered 1.45%, and you were notified of the cuts reducing it to 0.35%. You are surprised it has not increased in line with events, and that you would need to call them. However, high street banks can be slow to pass on increases, although Sainsbury’s says it is now reviewing its rates.

Virgin Money confirms your account type has been discontinued but says the rate has not been frozen, and is the same as the equivalent new product.

Virgin still offers accounts that can be managed by phone but you are leaving it and complain the choices for customers who don’t want to bank online are dwindling.

Your experience is a reminder to keep an eye on your savings and, if the rate is poor, consider moving.

Helen Morrissey at the investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown says existing customers are often on different rates to those used to attract new business. If your provider is offering better rates than the one you are on, ask if they can move you to the better rate, she advises.

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