Way to savers' hearts is through their bank accounts
Having just decided to paint British towns Santander red over the next 18 months by rebranding Bradford and Bingley, Abbey and Alliance & Leicester and no doubt keen for some accompanying good publicity, the Spanish banking group has gone for the easy route to consumer popularity - one so far undiscovered by many others in the personal banking sector.
It works like this: give the people whose money you use to bugger about taking chances on the world's stock markets a reasonable return on that cash, a kind of "thank you" if you like. Already riding high in best buy tables, the group's Alliance & Leicester and Abbey brands are now offering 6% interest on three of their current accounts, which knocks those offered by the likes of Barclays (0%) Nationwide (0%) and HSBC (0%) into a cocked hat. I'll just repeat that: 6% interest. On. Some. Current. Accounts. The ones to get the gold stars are A&L's Premier Direct Current Account, its Premier 50 Current Account and Abbey's Preferred In Credit Account.
The best part about this sort of deal for the pathologically cynical is the small print, though this latest one's actually not that bad. You only get the bait-rate for the first £2,500 of your money, after that, it's an industry-standard paltry 0.1%. And you have to pay in either £500 or £1,000 per month. And after a year the rate falls to 1.0% so keep your eye on it. And if you have a Premier 50 account they charge you £10 a month up-front.
Still, if you're the sort of person who doesn't mind faffing on with all things financial and happen to have a LloydsTSB current account too (with Vantage mind, not just any old rubbish,) you could get 4% interest on your money if you keep your balance between £5,000 and £7,000. This apparent outbreak of generosity might just signal the start of higher rates for people who don't spend their time and their cash on things like four Chumbys in different colours. But then again, don't hold your breath.