Savers can rejoice. Well, at least a little.
After years of historically low rates, you finally have access to higher yields, as some banks and credit unions have begun raising rates. You’ll have to do your homework, though, as not every institution is feeling generous.
There are good deals to be had — just don’t expect to get rich off of your savings account.
There’s not a huge difference between an annual percentage yield of 0.5 percent and 1.2 percent. But even a little extra interest from a bank or credit union can add up over time.
Here are five ways to earn the best savings account rate.
1. Find out what the top rates are
You can’t earn the best savings account rate if you’re not sure what the top rates look like. That’s why you’ll have to do your research.
“It comes down to knowing the market,” says Vince Shorb, CEO of the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC). “What are those competitive rates out there?”
The best savings accounts today pay more than 1 percent APY, with some approaching 1.5 percent.
You’ll know you’ve found a decent offer when it’s well above the national average. The typical savings account with a $10,000 minimum deposit paid just 0.25 percent APY at the end of November, according to Bankrate’s national survey of banks and thrifts.
2. Look beyond your bank
There’s a good chance your bank isn’t paying a top savings account rate. You’ll likely have to check out other financial institutions if you’re looking for a better yield.
Of course, having too many accounts in different places may not be worth the trouble.
Jim Holtzman, a wealth advisor at Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, says he’s seen clients reject having multiple banks for different savings purposes just because of the logistics involved in keeping track of each account.
If you’re willing to open a savings account at a new bank, calculate your potential earnings first.
3. Comparison shop
When you’re eager to earn more interest on your savings, comparing savings account rates is essential.
Start by checking with local credit unions. You may find that these institutions can pay you more because they are not-for-profits.
Next, look to online banks. They don’t have the overhead that comes with operating branches, so many can offer higher yields.
Finally, compare the best savings rates at Bankrate.
4. Bring more money to the table
If you have only a little to save, you may not be able to get in on the best rates.
For some of the banks paying the highest yields, savers must fund their new accounts with at least $5,000 or $10,000. Other banks with tiered rates reward customers willing to pony up more cash.
But if you’re putting too much money in a savings account — like $100,000 or more — Elliot Omanson, president of Sage Financial, a company based in Shawnee, Kansas, recommends investing some of those funds to earn a better rate of return.
5. Check the fine print
To get the best savings account rate, you may have to maintain a minimum balance and meet other requirements.
Also, some of the best savings account rates may be temporary. You could open a new account only to find out months later that the high yield no longer exists.
To avoid these so-called teaser rates, choose a bank with a history of offering savers great rates, Omanson says.