Don't fear internet banks
Online banks are a good bet for higher yields. With the help of Bankrate.com, you'll find rates as high as 1.4 percent APY on savings and money market accounts -- far better than the near-zero rates at the nation's biggest banks.
One option is Ally Bank, which pays 1.15 percent APY on any balance with no monthly maintenance fee.
Don't feel that you're locked into a bank long term. Open an account to take advantage of a good rate, then do your research again in 12 months. Don't be scared to jump around.
Your money is perfectly safe in an online bank as long as it's FDIC-insured. But do your due diligence on any institution you're unfamiliar with.