Top 3 Savings Accounts in South Africa (2020)
While there’s many banks in South Africa that offer savings accounts only a handful of them offer a good yield, here we go over which account is best for each type of person from someone looking to just keep money short-term to long-term to tax-free accounts.
We’ll only cover a few of these accounts, as all the others simply have much lower rates or have troubling financial issues that would make me personally uncomfortable putting in my money in their hands, and thus I wouldn’t want you to do so either.
My Favorite Tax-Free Savings account: FNB's Cash Deposit Account
This is by far my favorite Tax-free account, as not only does it offer pretty much the best interest rate of any South-African institutions, but they’re also one of the only extremely well-capitalized banks in South Africa. Keeping the technical language to a minimum — This bank makes money, performs well, and is pretty much as safe as a bank can be, so your savings will be safe with them while it earns fantastic interest rates.
Currently the Interest rate they offer is above the average inflation rate of South Africa by a significant margin at around 6% annually, compounded monthly which nets you a bit more money in the long-term, however it’s best to check their current interest rates on their signup page.
They have no-fees, great interest rates, a R100 minimum opening balance, no ongoing deposit requirements, are a safe bank, etc, the only downside is that you can only withdraw with a month notice, so you cannot get money right-away from it. Because of this I’d recommend having a normal non-taxfree account as well that you can withdraw from immediately if you need money quicker and can’t wait a full month to get your money out.
The Best for Delay-Free Withdrawals: African Bank's Savings Pocket Account
This is the gold-standard in my opinion and what I’d personally use if you do not have a high networth and just want a simple savings account that beats inflation and provides modest returns — but still allows you to access your money and withdraw it essentially instantly. They’re backed by the central bank of South Africa, so they’re relatively safe and they’ll definitely pay you the yield they promise and not lose your money.
I’m not a big fan of the South African government, but their monetary system is way healthier than most countries, so I do trust that part of the government as it’s separated and lacks much of the corruption that many South African government agencies have.
The only real downside to this account is it’s not tax-free, otherwise it’s a stellar account with a great interest rate above current inflation levels that allows you to withdraw your money essentially same-day. It also has essentially no fees. As always, make sure to check the fees and current interest rate on this page of their website before opening an account.
The Best Account for High-Networth Individuals: Standard's Flexi Account
If you have a very substantial amount of money (500,000 Rand -> 1,000,000+ Rand) then you can get an even higher interest rate than any of the above options if you’re willing to lock-up your money for 6-12 Months. Overall I’d say it’s better to use this account than buy bonds directly through a brokerage, as unless you go out to 5year+ bonds you make about the same amount of interest in this account.
Keep in mind if you have such substantial amounts of money it is important to diversify and buy equities (stocks) as well, maybe gold silver or other precious items, as well as purchase real estate too if you do not have any, as putting all your money into bonds just won’t net the best returns over the long-term and it’s important to hedge against inflation once you’re quite wealthy.
If you do not have the above-mentioned amount of money then this account really isn’t as good as the other two accounts mentioned above, as it really only has a higher rate for such large accounts. If this account sounds right for you can confirm that it’s still no-fee and competitive by going to the signup/marketing page for this account on Standard’s Website.
Which Account Should You Use?
To me it’s pretty clear — start with a African Bank Savings pocket and build up a savings of about 10,000 Rand to 50,000 Rand depending on how much your expenses are (try to aim for 2x your monthly expenses), then get yourself a Tax-free account with FNB and pour money into that until you have 100,000 -> 200,000 Rand, then consider investing in real estate or equities/stocks through a brokerage account.
Or if you’re extremely wealthy already, simply dump a solid 6-12 months of your expenses into Standard’s Flexi Account and forget about it and go on investing with knowledge that those savings will make sure you’ll be safe if you ever lose your job or have some sort of financial emergency.
At least this is what I’d personally do as these savings accounts have the best interest rates of the banks I feel comfortable keeping my money in. There are other banks with other savings accounts, but most are much much lower yielding or their business relies on lending to various private businesses and individuals and thus they’re much more likely to go bankrupt in the long-term.