Are Irish State Savings Certificates Worth It?

  • By: Walter Dunphy ACCA
  • Date: April 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

With interest rates at all-time lows, it can be difficult to find a safe place to keep your money and earn a decent interest rate at the same time. State savings schemes are one of the safer options available to you in Ireland but are the interest that you earn on these products even worth your time? In this blog post, we investigate.

State Savings is run by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). All State Savings products are 100% backed by the Irish Government and can be purchased by anybody who has a PPSN number.

You can buy any of the State Savings products as follows:

  • Online at StateSavings.ie
  • At your local Post Office

You will need to register for a State Savings Customer Number (SSCN) and present it at the time of purchase.

Savings Products on Offer

PRODUCT TYPE TOTAL RETURNAER% €1,000 INVESTMENT
3 Year Savings Bond 1% 0.33% = €10
4 Year National Solidarity Bond 2% 0.50% = €20
5 Year Savings Certificates 3% 0.59% = €30
10 Year National Solidarity Bond 10% 0.96% = €100
6 Year Instalment Savings 3.50% 0.63% = €35
Book Based Deposit Account N/A 0.05% = €0.50

The overall annual expected return (AER) on all of the products offered is very low, with the highest possible rate available on the 10 Year National Solidarity Bond at 0.96%. On a positive note, any interest that you earn from these products is exempt from tax.

These rates are far and above what you would expect to get from an Irish bank deposit account. If we take AIB for example, the highest deposit interest rate you will get is 0.10% AER and this interest will be subject to Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).

There is an additional product available called a Prize Bond, instead of earning interest you are entered into a weekly draw where you could earn a cash prize. We have a fully dedicated blog post that covers this product if you want to check it out:

How to Request Repayment?

A Repayment form (available on statesavings.ie) must be completed and returned by post to: State Savings, GPO, FREEPOST, Dublin 1, D01 F5P2 or in person at any Post Office counter where our staff will be happy to help you. The investment document, if applicable, must accompany the repayment form.

Even if you have invested your money in a product with a 5 years fixed term, you can still redeem your investment before that 5 year term matures. This is good if you need to access your money early, you will receive your full investment back plus any interest earned to the date of repayment.

Not Enough to Cover Inflation

At the time of writing (February 2022) the inflation rate in Ireland is 5.6% and it doesn’t look like it is going to stop there as the price of oil continues to rise. When your money is growing at a rate that is slower than the rate of inflation then you will be losing buying power.

Even if we were in normal times, the target inflation rate for the economy is 2%, these products still all fall short of helping you maintain buying power.

Alternatives to State Savings Products

As we have discussed the rate of interest on the State Savings products currently do not cut it when it comes to giving you an adequate return on your money. Let’s now consider some other options available to you:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Corporate Bonds
  • Crypto DeFi Yield Farming

There is a strong relationship between risk and return when it comes to investments. As government bonds are the lowest risk, they offer the lowest returns. As a result of this, you will need to invest in riskier assets such as stocks or ETFs etc to aim for higher returns. There are no guarantees that they will net you high returns but historically a basket of stocks or and ETF have performed well.

If you are someone who is not considering in investing your money in the likes of stocks, ETFs or corporate bonds then the State Savings option might still be worth it as you will at least earn more than you will from your bank deposit account.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice.

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