New figures show that inflation stayed at 3% in the year to October, meaning it's really hard to find cash savings accounts with interest rates that beat the cost of living or even match it.
"While we have nearly reached the halfway point of November, there are some savers who have yet to feel any effect of the Bank of England's rate rise, whereas they will be feeling the full force of inflation eroding their cash," says Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk.
To protect your pot, you'll need to find an account paying at least 3%, provided the interest you earn is within your Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) for the 2017/18 tax year.
The PSA allows you to earn £1,000 tax-free interest a year if you're a basic rate (20%) taxpayer or £500 tax-free interest a year if you're a higher rate (40%) taxpayer.
There’s no PSA for additional rate (45%) taxpayers.
Inflation-beating rates are possible... for some
The good news is it is still possible to beat inflation with your cash savings. The bad news is you'll have jump through a few hoops to do so.
What's more, these accounts are really only suitable for smaller sums of money as the headline rates tend to drop off a cliff after a certain threshold is passed.
If you have a really large pot, we've offered a few alternatives further on in this article, but in short you'll probably need to make do with one of the best fixed-rate deals and lose money in real terms (for the time being, at least) or take on some risk and invest in the stock market in search of a healthier return.
Savings accounts (with strings attached)
Various regular savings accounts can still smash the current rate of inflation, with top accounts paying a whopping 5%.
The catch? There are a few, actually.
First off, the rate is only available for one year, after which point the amount you earn will fall dramatically.
Second, they’re really designed to attract new savers as you can’t put in a lump sum, although existing savers can at least funnel up to £300 a month into them before the rate falls after one year.
Finally, the top-paying accounts – from Nationwide, First Direct, Santander and M&S – are only available to existing customers who have a current account.
Current accounts (with strings attached)
Some current accounts still offer inflation-beating rates and allow a little more flexibility than regular savings accounts.
The Nationwide FlexDirect account offers a top rate of 5% on balances of up to £2,500. However, this will drop to a measly 1% after the first year, so you will need to move your money again.
You’ll also need to deposit at least £1,000 a month to benefit from the top rate.
The Tesco Bank Current Account guarantees to pay 3% on balances up to £3,000 until 1 April 2019, but you'll need to pay in at least £750 a month and set up at least three Direct Debits to earn that rate.
Alternatively, there’s the TSB Classic Plus account, which pays 3% on balances of up to £1,500. Unlike the Nationwide deal, the rate doesn’t drop after a year, and you just need to deposit £500 a month and opt for paperless statements to qualify for interest each month.
An added bonus with this deal is if you switch to the bank using the Current Account Switching Service you can get a £130 switching bonus, but to get this you will have to make the TSB account your main current account.
Other options to consider
If you are saving for a house or your retirement and are under 40 years old, then you could benefit from the new Lifetime Isas (or LIsas).
These allow you to save up to £4,000 of your annual Isa allowance in cash or stocks and shares and, on top of the return, these offer the Government promise to boost what you save by 25% each year.
Skipton Building Society is the only provider to offer a Cash LIsa at present. It pays a measly 0.5%, but that Government – or taxpayer-funded – bonus means you'll get a markedly better rate overall.
With inflation forecast to rise, it might be worth considering moving some of your cash into other places that have more risk but could offer greater rewards.
One option is peer-to-peer lending, where you lend your money to individual borrowers, businesses or investors.
This area currently isn't protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme but could offer far higher returns than a high-street account, plus since April 2016, you can hold some peer-to-peer investments in an Innovative Finance ISA (IFIsa) which means you can save up to £20,000 tax-free.
Lending Works was the first major platform to launch an IFIsa and it it’s offering returns of up to 5.5%.
Meanwhile, Zopa has launched its IFIsa paying up to 6.1%.