Savings Jargon Buster

Financial jargon can feel like it's own language sometimes. Our jargon buster will help you get to grips with what some key savings terms actually mean.

This is the amount of money in an account. This could be a credit balance (money you own) or a debit balance (money you owe, for example an overdraft on a current account).

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and shows what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and added to the capital balance each year. The higher the AER, the better the return you will receive.

This means Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services and it’s simply a way to electronically process financial transactions. It is a UK scheme and there are also BACS Direct Debits and BACS Direct Credits.

This is the amount of money in an account. A positive balance refers to the amount you have in your savings account. A negative balance refers to the amount you owe, for example an overdraft on a current account.

By Bank of England Base Rate we mean the Bank of England’s official dealing rate (the Official Bank Rate) as set by the Monetary Policy Committee.

A beneficiary is an individual that has the right of enjoyment from the funds in the account and this remains with them throughout the period the money is deposited.

An Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a savings account where you don’t pay tax on the interest you earn. As your earnings are tax-free, this means you get to keep everything that you invest and earn.

This stands for Clearing House Automated Payment System. It is an electronic payment system which provides for same-day transfers of funds between accounts. CHAPS is a chargeable service so please refer to the charges section for further information.

Interest that is calculated on the original amount saved, as well as any interest already earned.

The customer permits someone else (recipient) to instruct the account provider to transfer money from the customer’s account to that recipient. The account provider then transfers money to the recipient on a date or dates agreed by the customer and the recipient. The amount may vary.

A dormant account is one which has had no money withdrawn from it, or money added to it for a long period of time

The FSCS can pay compensation to depositors if a bank is unable to meet its financial obligations. Most depositors are covered by the scheme. And here at Harpenden Building Society we are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).


This is the official independent complaints service which works to resolve complaints between consumers and businesses that provide financial services. If we cannot resolve the complaint to your satisfaction you have the right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

An interest rate that stays the same for a set period of time i.e. it doesn't move up or down within a set period of time.

Gross rate interest is the interest payable without taking account of any tax payable. If you earn interest over your Personal Savings Allowance you will be required to pay any tax due yourself directly to HM Revenue and Customs. If you would like to read more about your Personal Savings Allowance, please visit the Government website

This is the money that you earn on a credit balance (e.g. money in your savings account), or the money that you are charged on a debit balance (e.g. an overdraft).

The percentage figure used to calculate how much interest you earn on a credit balance, or how much you are charged on a debit balance.

Inheritance tax may be payable in the event of death if the estate is over the threshold specified for that tax year.

If you open a fixed rate account, such as a Fixed Rate Bond or a Fixed Rate Cash ISA, at the end of the fixed term the account 'matures' and you will be presented with further options.

This is the time you have to give to notify the bank or building society that you want to withdraw your money without paying a penalty. 60 , 90, 120, days are common notice periods.

Arranged overdraft

The account provider and the customer agree in advance that the customer may borrow money when there is no money left in the account. The agreement determines a maximum amount that can be borrowed, and whether fees and interest will be charged to the customer.

Unarranged overdraft

The customer borrows money when there is no money left in the account (or when the customer has gone past their arranged overdraft limit) and this has not been agreed with the account provider in advance.

Per annum (once per year). It is often used to describe interest rates.

The numerical figure that shows you how much interest you earn on a product, for example 1.50%.

A Standing Order is an instruction someone gives to their bank to pay a set amount at regular intervals to another account. This is also known as a Banker's Order.

A summary box is the key product information about a savings account.

A charge you pay to the government – there are different types of tax but income and inheritance tax are the ones most people may be aware of.

A tax year runs from 6th April one year until 5th April the following year.

Interest rates offered by banks and financial institutions on loans or deposits which are liable to change according to circumstances. For example, a movement in the Bank of England Base Rate which is set by the Monetary Policy Committee.

A withdrawal simply means to take money out of an account.

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