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Interest rates on savings accounts have been very low for the past couple of years. Still, there’s a big difference between the rates at many big banks versus the rates at top-yielding institutions.
You won’t make a massive return on any savings account, but you don’t want to earn 0.01 percent when you could earn up to 0.6 percent. Here are some tips to get the best rate on your savings.
1. Research current savings account rates
The first step to get the best percent annual percentage yield (APY) is to understand what’s considered competitive in the current interest rate environment. The best savings accounts today pay around 0.6 percent APY, so aim for something around that mark.
Compare rates at multiple brick-and-mortar banks, online banks and credit unions. Online banks tend to pay higher rates than traditional banks.
Don’t immediately write off big banks, though. While big banks typically don’t pay high rates, they can offer additional perks such as better rates if you use other bank services, such as a mortgage, loan, investment service or checking account.
Local credit unions are another option. These are not-for-profit, member-owned institutions that distribute their profits to their members. This may translate into higher savings rates.
2. Compare high-yield savings accounts online
Doing a more targeted search comparing high-yield savings accounts is an easy way to find the best APYs. Most of these accounts are from online banks (though not all of them), so make sure you’re comfortable banking online. Online banks are just as safe as regular banks.
When comparing accounts, look for features and associated fees. Don’t settle with surface-level information. Make sure you understand all of the costs and fees associated with each account, minimum balance requirements, restrictions and penalties, and past account problems such as data breaches. Also, be sure to understand how you can access and transfer your money.
If the bank has low or no fees and helpful tools, consider that in your evaluation. You may be willing to choose a bank with a slightly lower APY if its tools help you save more money over time.
3. Avoid tiered interest rates
Some banks offer tiered interest rates to reward customers who maintain higher balances. Savings accounts may offer premium rates if you deposit at least $10,000 or $25,000, for example.
However, you can find top-yielding accounts that pay the same yield across all balances. You don’t invest so much in a savings account to take advantage of a good interest rate that you miss a better opportunity to invest some of those funds elsewhere, where returns may be higher. In many cases, excess cash may be better off invested in the market with a target annual return rate of 6 to 8 percent.
4. Avoid teaser rates
The best available interest rates may be short-lived. Banks may offer “teaser rates,” which are attractive interest rates used to get new customers to open a savings account. Banks may significantly lower the teaser rate after just a few months.
To avoid this, stick to banks that have a longstanding reputation of offering competitive rates on savings accounts.
You may also have to maintain a minimum balance and meet other requirements to get the high rate. Always check the fine print explaining the rate’s terms.