Small societies can often offer better rates than their bigger rivals.
Customers looking for the most competitive savings rates should look beyond the big high street banks to the smaller local building societies. Most have not diversified into structured products, sub-prime mortgages, or casino-style investment banking, but have stuck with the basics of home loans, which are largely funded through the savings deposits.
Below we look at some of the best deals available.
Derbyshire BS and Dunfermline BS
For those who can afford to lock their money away for five years, Derbyshire Building Society offers one of the most competitive deals, paying 3.8pc.
Rachel Springer, of Moneyfacts.co.uk said: "This is the best long-term bond rate from a mutual. Customers will find the low £100 opening balance attractive, as well as the flexibility of operating it either online or by phone."
However, to qualify for this rate customers need to already hold a Derbyshire product for a minimum of three months.
Dunfermline which like the Derbyshire is now also owned by Nationwide also offers a five-year bond paying 3.8pc. The same terms apply.
Melton Mowbray BS
More famous for its pork pie, this building society based in this sleepy Leicestershire town also boasts one of the best online notice accounts.
Its (Euronext: ALITS.NX - news) 100-day notice account pays 3.1pc and can be opened with just a minimum balance of £1,000. Unlike many comparable accounts offered by banks, this does not include a short-term bonus rate.
Hanley Economic BS
This tiny building society based in Hanley, Stoke on Trent (BSE: TRENTSL.BO - news) offers the most competitive notice account. It's 180-day postal account pays a rate 3.2pc. Savers need a minimum of £5,000 to open the account and as it is run by post it is available nationwide.
This account is only suitable for those who don't need instant access to their money early access will mean savers forfeit 180 days' interest. However, Andrew Hagger of Moneynet.co.uk said savers still got a good rate, without having to lock their money away for years.
Coventry offers a 18-month fixed-rate bond paying 3.65pc. This is second in the best-buy tables, marginally behind the 3.7pc paid by the Cheshire BS on its 18-month bond. However, this deal is only available to its existing members.
But the Coventry deal is available online, via telephone and in branch. The minimum balance is just £1. The humble building society is aiming to steal a march on its bigger banking rivals. At a time when customers are becoming disillusioned with our high street banks, these mutual organisations owned by their members rather than shareholders claim that they provide an alternative.
As our front page story on discounted mortgage deals highlights, building societies are not whiter than white. However, many regional societies do still offer their local customers market-leading rates for other products such as savings accounts. Check these out because there may be one near you.
Saffron Building Society
When it comes to long-term value for savers, building societies seem to perform far better than the banks.
Fewer mutuals rely on short-term bonus rates to push their savings accounts to the top of the best-buy tables. Andrew Hagger, of Moneynet.co.uk , said: "When you look at the best-paying internet savings accounts that don't have introductory bonuses, you find that eight of the top 10 providers are mutuals." Pick of the crop is currently Saffron, paying 2.76pc on its online savings account. The account can be opened by going to saffronbs.co.uk or calling 0800 072 1100.
Coventry Building Society
Mutuals also tend to be far more competitive that high street banks when it comes to cash-based Junior Isas (parents also have the option of using this tax-free allowance to invest in shares for their children). All of the top five deals are currently offered by building societies, with the top payers being Coventry and Nationwide, both offering 3.25pc on these accounts substantially higher than the 3pc being paid by Halifax and Lloyds TSB (LSE: LLOY.L - news) .
As with all Junior Isas, the maximum that can be deposited in any one year is £3,600.
For more information contact Coventry on 0845 766 5522 or visit thecoventry.co.uk .