Since 2013 consumers have been squeezed with savings rates hovering near zero percent. Many banks still aren't paying much more than 0.05 percent even today on savings, despite several recent interest rate hikes by the Fed.
No banks are yet paying the 5 percent rates seen in early 2000s to the recession on money market or savings accounts.
Consumers may not realize is that it's relatively easy to get a 2 percent return or even 2.4 percent Annual Percentage Yield (APY) without a $25,000, $10,000 or even $500 balance. How do you do it? Usually, you have to go online or through the personal savings arm of major credit cards such as American Express, Citi or Discover.
Don't let your savings or emergency account sit idle making squat. If you move $500 in an account making 2 percent interest a year, you'd make $10 in interest the first year instead of the quarter. Yes, you only make a whole quarter at 0.05 percent in a year. If you have $5,000 in savings, you're making $100 annually at 2 percent instead of $2.50 at 0.05 percent.
Here are some of the higher current offerings with balance minimums of $1 to $500 that will pay you more, according to Bankrate. The rates quoted may increase or decrease as the Feds change rates, but the latest Fed guidance is that they expect to leave rates alone for a while. All banks listed provide accounts insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per account. Credit unions are not included because none that we know of are paying rates above 2 percent. Why? Credit unions and banks with brick and mortar locations typically have more overhead than online sources and therefore pay less interest.
- 1. Mysavingsdirect 2.4 percent APY. It's an online bank, a division of Emigrant Bank, founded in 1850. No minimum balance required, Interest compounds daily. Downside: No ATM access or mobile app.
- 2. Citibank Accelerate 2.36 percent APY. Anyone who has a Costco membership probably already has a Citi credit card. "Citi Accelerate is the only high-yield savings account at a major bank with no minimum deposit," according to a Citi spokesperson. Offered in 41 states, including Minnesota. Downside: A $4.50 monthly fee unless the balance is $500 or more. Possible marketing for other Citi products.
- 3. Synchrony Bank 2.25 percent APY. "Its savings account and other depository products are consistently among the top-paying accounts," according to Bankrate. Highly-regarded customer service and perks such as free ID theft resolution and travel discounts. Downside: No checking account option.
- 4. American Express National Bank 2.1 APY. This is surprising, considering that many American Express products can be fee-heavy. But this is a competitive interest rate without any monthly fees or minimum balances. Downside: No physical banks, no checking account option, no mobile check option except for Amex credit card customers. Possible marketing for other Amex products.
- 5. Discover Bank: 2.1 percent APY. Discover Bank also offers checking accounts and other consumer products. Plus there's a bonus. Get $150 if you sign by May 20, 2019 with a $15,000 balance or more. There is no minimum balance requirement to receive the 2.1 percent. Downside: No physical locations, so cash deposits not possible. Possible marketing for other Discover products.
FYI, those looking for higher rates with very little risk can also check out certificates of deposit (CDs). The highest rates are between 2.7 percent to 2.75 percent for dollars locked in for 1-2 years with minimum deposits of $1 to $500.