Small players beat big in savings accounts

Small financial institutions have again outperformed their big bank rivals in offering the best banking products in 2003. The savings and transaction accounts with the lowest fees, highest interest rates and most flexible access come mainly from credit unions and second tier banks, the Money Magazine Best of the Best awards for this year have shown.

The best online savings account award went to Easy Street Financial Services, the highest-paying online account at call in 2003, offering 5 per cent interest. This was higher than the rates of many term deposits. AMP Banking at 4.8 per cent and ING Direct at 4.75 per cent were also place getters.

The award for best-featured online account went to CPS Credit Union for its monEsaver account which paid 4.6 per cent interest this year. Although this is lower than the 5 per cent of Easy Street, the CPS account offers unrestricted access including ATM and branch transactions. HSBC came in second.

The best everyday transaction account offering both branch and electronic access went to a small NSW regional cedit union, Bananacoast. However, close behind and offering access to all Australians was Woolworths Ezy Banking with 50 free transactions and no monthly fee. CPS credit union came in third. The best widely-available transaction account for the electronic user went to ANZ's Access account which offers unlimited transactions for a flat $5 monthly account keeping fee.

Melbourne's Transcomm Credit Co-Op has won the Money Magazine award for best 180-day term deposit in 2003. Although it did not have the highest headline interest rate on offer, its interest rate on average over the 12 months to October was the highest at 4.85 per cent.

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