A quick glance at the most recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp bank savings rates numbers reveals an interesting point - despite multiple Federal Reserve interest rate hikes in the past six months, bank rates remain at historic lows.
Here's a look-see at the most recent rate picture:
- One-year CD rates: 0.06%
- Interest checking: 0.04%
- Money market accounts: 0.08%
- Bank savings: 0.06%
All in all, bank rates remain a bleak picture for savers, just as they have for the past ten years.
"Deposit rates have been slow to respond the recent Fed rate hikes, even as competition for deposits has started to motivate a few banks to increase their deposit rates," notes Ken Tumin, founding editor of The Bank Deals Blog at DepositAccounts.com.
Tumin says that higher bank savings rates are out there, but you need to game plan the process first.
Job one is to recognize the "sneaky" techniques some banks are using to attract deposits, Tumin says. "By understanding the games banks play and by taking the time to do your homework, you can get a higher rate on your checking or savings account," he notes.
To actually start your rate-hunting campaign, Tumin offers a few ideas.
"Check to see if your bank is advertising higher rates on a new account than on your existing account," he advises. Tumin says that, instead of raising rates on all accounts, some banks have been creating new accounts that offer top rates. "The new accounts are intended to attract new customers," he explains. "Existing customers with old accounts will be earning lower rates. Banks hope that many existing customers will be too busy to notice that their existing accounts are lagging behind."
Another tip - If your bank is advertising higher rates for new accounts, ask a customer representative (or better yet, a bank manager) to increase the rate of your existing account to match the advertised rates. "You'll have better luck if it's a brick-and-mortar bank where you can talk with a branch manager," Tumin notes. "Show the manager rates offered by the bank's competitors. That can help motivate the manager to increase your rate."
It's also a good strategy to focus your search on digital-based accounts. "I'm a big fan of online savings accounts," says Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a money coach based in New York City.
Gerstley says there "are many free options" that offer 1% interest and that are also customer friendly. "1% isn't an extremely exciting rate, but it's 100-times better than what we're earning from our brick and mortar savings accounts," she says.
"I also find that it's easier for people to save in an account that's completely separate from their checking account -- rather than as a part of the same login," she adds. "Out of sight, out of mind."
Brandon Yahn, founder of Northern California-based Student Loans Guy, says consumers can find online accounts run by GS Bank or Ally Bank that currently generate 1.05% annual interest, as opposed to in-branch savings accounts which are typically less than 0.10%.
"Online savings accounts' interest rates will likely increase with rising federal interest rates," Yahn says. "These accounts allow your money to grow with zero risk."
Bank savings customers can also gain higher savings rates by bundling their bank savings with one financial institution.
"You can consolidate all of your savings into one account with one bank, and guarantee yourself a higher interest rate," says John Liston, strategy and operations manager at All Set, a home services provider based in Boston. "Many common banks also have different perks available to customers who retain higher balances across all of their accounts. Consolidating is the only way to know what your bank has to offer and can significantly increase your interest rate in the current environment."
One last tip. If you find that your bank is lagging behind on rates or playing games with promotional accounts, it may be time to move your money, Tumin says. "If you don't want to keep chasing the highest rates every few months, look for banks with a history of competitive rates," he explains. "The best ones have accounts that have non-promotional rates that have remained competitive for the last several years."
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