Finding the best savings account rates involves more than just searching for current yields. It also requires a little bit of diligence on the consumer’s part to make sure fees don’t cancel out savings.

Although savings account rates have been dismally low across the board lately, struggling to stay around the national average of 0.2 percent in the summer of 2010, financial experts and common sense will tell you that getting any return on your money is better than none.

Online banks tend to offer the highest rates of return, in part because they don’t have the overhead of brick-and-mortar banks.

Compare and contrast

Banks offer not only different returns on savings accounts, but also different requirements. Some banks will only offer their best savings account rates to customers who live within a certain geographical area, for example. Other banks offer special rates to teen savers; many open their savings accounts only to checking account customers.

Watch for fees

A survey late last year by the American Bankers Association found that the majority of bank customers pay very little in fees — you want to make sure you’re one of those customers.

The organization offers some tips on how to keep any fees your bank may charge low, by maintaining the minimum balance, for example, and signing up for low-balance e-mail alerts.

The key to taking advantage of no fees or low fees is to make sure you shop around. And don’t become discouraged at the low rates offered. Use a savings calculator at to see what even a low savings account rate will mean to your accumulation of wealth over the years.

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