Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.com, which monitors interest rates at more than 8,000 banks and credit unions.
Cash is no longer trash. Yields on bank and credit union deposit accounts soared in 2022, as the Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates seven times—the fastest pace in decades. Banking expert Ken Tumin thinks yields will continue to rise or at least stay elevated this year.
What this means for savers: You can earn thousands of dollars a year risk-free on your cash, rivaling the potential near-term returns of stocks and bonds. Savings and money-market accounts now have annual percentage yields (APYs) of 3.25% or more (that’s $3,250 on a $100,000 deposit)…two-year certificates of deposits (CDs) pay as much as 4%…and a rewards-checking account, 5.11%.
Important: You must be vigilant and take action to get these rates. Yields on deposit accounts at many big banks, which are flush with cash and don’t need to attract customer deposits, have barely budged. A typical Bank of America or JPMorgan Chase savings account still pays an APY of only 0.01% ($10 on a $100,000 deposit).
Bottom Line Personal asked Tumin to select his favorite savings, money-market and rewards-checking accounts and CD offerings and to explain his smart strategies for using them in the current environment…*
Strategy: Use Internet-only, FDIC-insured banks. You can find such accounts with yields as high as 4.1%—but you need to consider more than just the APYs. Reason: Online banks require you to live with certain inconveniences such as making deposits and withdrawals electronically. And the ones with the highest yields come laden with additional drawbacks, including spotty customer service…numerous small fees and service charges…and a risk that they can’t sustain their yields and will lower them in the coming year. Best: Look for banks with a long history of stable, competitive rates, plus user-friendly websites, customer service and fee schedules. Best high-yield savings and money-market accounts now…
Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings. The APY is 3.5% on all balances. There are no minimum or maximum deposit balances or monthly fees. You can use a debit card to make ATM withdrawals. ATM fees charged by other financial institutions are refunded up to $5 per statement cycle. SynchronyBank.com
Sallie Mae Bank Money Market. Known for student loans, Sallie Mae also offers deposit accounts including this one with a 3.2% yield. There are no minimum or maximum balances and no monthly maintenance fees. The account does offer checkwriting capability but not debit cards so all banking must be done through wireless transfers. SallieMae.com
If you prefer a traditional bank with brick-and-mortar locations…
Capital One 360 Performance Savings. All balances earn a 3.3% APY with no minimum or maximum deposit requirements. In addition to electronic transfers, you can make deposits and withdrawals at Capital One physical branches and mini branches called “Cafés.” There are branches and Cafés in Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC. CapitalOne.com
Strategy: Select a high-yield rewards checking account to get the highest rates available on FDIC-insured accounts without having to lock up your money for months or years. Even then, there are caps on how much of your balance can earn premium yields. These accounts are best for consumers who are comfortable doing all their banking online, through wire transfers, paper checks and networks of affiliated ATMs…and who can meet strict usage requirements. Example: Rewards checking typically has monthly minimums such as making 10 to 15 debit card transactions…paying at least one bill online…and having at least one recurring direct deposit.
Best high-yield rewards-checking account now…
Pelican State Credit Union Kasasa Cash High-Yield Checking. The Louisiana bank offers a 5.11% APY up to $10,000 (amounts over that earn 1% APY). If you fail to meet monthly usage requirements in any given month, the APY drops to 0.05% for that month. Membership is open to anyone who joins the ARC Baton Rouge ($5) or Parents Association of Northwest Supports and Services ($5). PelicanStateCU.com
Strategy: Select CDs with mild early-withdrawal penalties. If you think you may need access to your money earlier than planned…or you are worried that APYs on CDs will rise and you’ll be left wanting to invest at higher yields…these CDs allow you to cash out before maturity. Stick with long-term CDs that offer penalties of no more than 180 days loss of interest. Best CDs with six-month early-withdrawal penalties now…
Connexus Credit Union’s 15-Month CD pays a 4.85% APY. The credit union is open to anyone who is a member of the Connexus Association ($5). ConnexusCU.org
CFG Bank offers a five-year CD with a 4.6% APY. CFG.bank
Department of Commerce Federal Credit Union has an 84-month CD with a 4.32% APY. The credit union is open to members of the American Consumer Council ($8). DoCFCU.org
Strategy: Invest in a CD offered by a “fintech.” Financial-technology firms use specialized software and algorithms to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. Some well-known foreign global fintechs have partnered with US banks to offer FDIC-insured CDs. Fintechs are looking to attract new customers to potentially use many of the other services on their websites, so they offer very attractive CD rates now. Best CD offered by a fintech now…
SaveBetter by Raisin is the US offering of a major German fintech. Raisin has partnered with Sallie Mae Bank to offer a 27-month CD with a 5% APY and a 180-day early-withdrawal penalty. Drawback: Unlike most CDs, which distribute interest on a monthly basis, you cannot access the interest on the SaveBetter CD until maturity. SaveBetter.com
Strategy: Purchase an “add-on” CD for protection against falling interest rates. The best time to buy insurance is when you don’t need it. If the US falls into a recession in 2023, the Federal Reserve could start cutting interest rates to stimulate the economy. That means new CDs would likely carry lower APYs than are available now. Add-on CDs solve that problem. You typically can start one with a small initial payment. Then, any time during the term of the CD, you can add to it and still get the initial APY even if rates are falling. If rates rise, you can leave the add-on CD alone and purchase higher-yielding CDs. Best add-on CD now…
Mountain America Credit Union Growth Certificates offers a 24-month CD that pays a 4.5% APY…and a 60-month CD that pays 4%. Minimum initial purchase for the CD is just $5, and you can add money up to a maximum of $100,000. Membership is open to anyone who joins the American Consumer Council ($8). Drawbacks: These growth certificates require an automated monthly deposit of at least $10 per month, which is set up when the account is opened. MACU.com
Strategy: If you are certain you don’t need immediate access to your money, consider six-month US Treasury bonds (recent yield: 4.68%) and 12-month US Treasury bonds (4.68%). They pay much higher yields than comparable short-term deposit accounts. Drawback: If you sell your Treasuries before maturity, you risk substantial losses since the value of the bonds can fluctuate significantly, even over short periods. If you want to lock in a fixed rate for greater periods, longer-term Treasuries aren’t nearly as attractive—a five-year Treasury bond recently yielded 3.62%, so you’re better off with a five-year CD with mild early-withdrawal penalties. You can purchase US Treasuries commission-free at TreasuryDirect.gov after you open an online account and link it to your bank account.