With interest rates the highest they’ve been since the 1980s, you have an opportunity to get more out of your short-term emergency savings fund with a high-yield savings account. A traditional savings account won’t keep pace with inflation. But if you need a safe, convenient place to park your money for quick and easy access, you can still earn 3% or more.
You also have choices of CDs for longer term savings, money market accounts, and specialized savings accounts for various purposes. No doubt, choosing a savings account can be confusing with so many options available.
Crediful is here to help you sort through the choices, understand the most important features, and make an informed decision based on your personal financial situation and savings needs.
Types of Savings Accounts
Savings accounts exist in various forms, each with unique advantages and characteristics. Let’s explore the various types of savings accounts so you can make a more informed choice.
Traditional Savings Accounts
Traditional savings accounts are the most common type offered by many banks and credit unions. These accounts offer a safe place to keep your money and earn a small amount of interest over time.
Traditional savings accounts aren’t known for astoundingly high interest rates. But they are stable and accessible. Minimum balance requirements are typically lower than other types of savings accounts, so they are a good starting point for those new to saving money or who want an easily accessible emergency fund.
Most financial institutions provide mobile and online access to these bank accounts, making it easy to check balances, transfer funds, and monitor your savings growth.
High Yield Savings Accounts
For savers seeking to maximize their return, high yield savings accounts provide an attractive option. As their name suggests, these accounts offer higher interest rates compared to traditional savings accounts, sometimes even outperforming the stock market in the short term.
Often found in online banks due to their lower overhead costs, high yield savings accounts allow you to compound interest at a faster rate, accelerating the growth of your savings. However, they often come with more stringent requirements, such as higher minimum balance requirements, monthly fees, or requirements – such as direct deposit – to earn the highest APY.
Here are some of the best high yield savings accounts for 2023.
Money Market Accounts
Straddling the line between checking and savings accounts, money market accounts often provide higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts, plus check-writing privileges and debit card access. This unique blend of features makes them a viable option for those who want easy access to their funds but also want to earn a competitive interest rate.
The primary trade-off with money market accounts is that they often require a higher minimum deposit and balance to avoid fees. However, if you can maintain the necessary balance, a money market account can provide the liquidity of a checking account with an interest rate that competes with other savings accounts.
Here is a list of some of the best money market accounts for 2023.
Certificate of Deposits (CDs)
Certificate of deposits, often referred to as CDs, are time-bound savings accounts that often offer higher interest rates than both traditional and high yield savings accounts. When you open a CD, you agree to deposit a certain amount of money for a fixed period, which can range from a few months to several years.
The appeal of CDs lies in their predictability. When you open the account, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll earn at the end of the term. However, this security comes at the cost of flexibility. Early withdrawal before the end of the term can lead to penalties, which can eat into your earnings. Therefore, CDs are best for those with long-term savings goals and the certainty that they won’t need to access the funds before the end of the term.
Credit unions offer similar savings products, and call them “certificates.”
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, are a form of savings account specifically designed for retirement savings. They come in two main types: Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.
With a Traditional IRA, contributions may be tax-deductible, and your savings grows tax-deferred. You’ll only pay taxes when you withdraw the money in retirement. Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are funded with after-tax dollars, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.
While IRAs can provide significant tax advantages, they come with specific rules. For instance, there are limits on how much you can contribute each year, and withdrawing funds before retirement age can result in penalties. Thus, IRAs are best for those looking to save for retirement and take advantage of tax benefits.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Health savings accounts, or HSAs, are available to those enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). These accounts allow you to contribute pre-tax dollars for medical expenses, resulting in substantial savings. Money in your HSA can be used to pay for a variety of medical costs, from doctor’s visits and prescriptions to certain over-the-counter medications.
Moreover, the funds in an HSA roll over year to year if you don’t spend them, and the account stays with you even if you change jobs. This makes HSAs a flexible, tax-advantaged way to save for healthcare costs.
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, such as the 529 Plan, are designed to help parents, relatives, and students save for education-related expenses. Contributions to a 529 plan are made with after-tax dollars but grow tax-free, and withdrawals for qualified education expenses are also tax-free.
These accounts can be used to cover a wide range of educational costs, from tuition at a qualified college or university to textbooks, and even room and board in some cases. They offer a strategic way to save for education. The drawback, however, is that non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to taxes and penalties.
Fixed annuities are contracts between an individual and an insurance company. You make a lump sum payment or series of payments to the insurance company. In return, the company promises to provide regular payments to you, either immediately or at some point in the future.
The interest rate for a fixed annuity is set at the time of purchase and remains the same for the duration of the annuity contract. This can make fixed annuities a reliable and predictable source of income, particularly for retirees.
However, fixed annuities often come with fees and surrender charges if you withdraw money before a certain period. Therefore, they are best suited for individuals looking for a steady income stream in retirement and are confident they won’t need to access the funds in the near term.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Savings Account
The right savings account for you is not just about the interest rate it offers. Several other factors play a crucial role in determining how well a savings account aligns with your financial goals and needs. Here’s what to consider:
Interest rates significantly impact how much your savings grow over time. These rates vary widely among different financial institutions and types of savings accounts. High yield savings accounts typically offer superior rates compared to traditional savings accounts. However, remember to factor in elements like account fees or overdraft charges, which can eat into your overall earnings.
You will see the interest rate reflected in two numbers: The simple interest rate and the APY. Comparing APYs of different accounts will give you a more accurate measure of how much you will earn over time.
APY (Annual Percentage Yield)
The annual percentage yield (APY) is a vital metric when comparing savings accounts. Unlike the simple interest rate, APY takes into account the effect of compounding, providing a more accurate picture of your potential earnings over a year.
Compounding happens when the interest earned is added to the original amount, creating a larger base for future interest calculations. The frequency of compounding—daily, monthly, or annually—can significantly affect your earnings.
For instance, two savings accounts might both offer a 1% interest rate, but if one compounds interest daily and the other annually, the daily compounding account will have a higher APY, leading to more substantial growth over the year.
In short, APY provides a truer picture of your earnings potential. When comparing savings accounts, focusing on APYs instead of basic interest rates helps you determine which account will yield the most earnings in a year.
Fees can significantly diminish your savings if not carefully managed. Common charges include maintenance fees, minimum balance fees, and withdrawal fees. Some banks and credit unions may waive these fees if you maintain a certain balance or set up direct deposit. It’s essential to understand all potential fees associated with an account before signing up.
Ease of access to your money is a crucial factor to consider, especially if you anticipate needing to withdraw funds frequently. Look into how you can withdraw money, whether it’s through ATMs, checks, digital wallet connectivity, online transfers, or mobile apps. Online banks often provide robust digital platforms for quick, convenient access to your funds.
Excellent customer service, while not directly impacting your earnings, can significantly enhance your banking experience. This includes everything from resolving issues quickly, providing clear communication, and offering support channels that work for you, such as phone, email, live chat, or in-branch service.
Financial Institution’s Reputation and FDIC Insurance
It’s also important to research the financial institution’s reputation. Online reviews, customer testimonials, and financial health ratings provide valuable insights. Furthermore, ensure the institution is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, ensuring that your money is safe even in the unlikely event that the bank fails.
Comparing Top High Yield Savings Accounts
Comparing the specifics of different savings accounts can give you a clearer picture of which one might be the best fit for your needs. Here’s a snapshot of some of the top high-yield savings accounts currently available. Keep in mind that rates and terms may vary based on your location and the current economic climate.
SoFi offers a high-yield savings account with a lucrative rate of up to 4.50% APY. You could also be eligible to receive a sign-up bonus of up to $250 when you set up direct deposit.
UFB Direct is part of Axos Bank and offers high-interest money market accounts and savings accounts for consumers. Because UFB Direct doesn’t have to pay for a brick-and-mortar location, they can offer much more generous savings rates.
How to Maximize Earnings from Your Savings Account
Making the most of your savings account isn’t a one-time task. Here are a few strategies to help you maximize your earnings over time:
One of the simplest ways to grow your savings is to consistently deposit money into your account. Regular contributions, even in small amounts, can lead to significant growth over time due to the power of compound interest.
You might consider setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account to make this process seamless and ensure you’re consistently building your savings. Some banks provide the opportunity to “round-up” your debit card purchases and transfer the difference into your linked savings account, which is a great way to put spare change to work for you.
Fees can quickly erode your savings, so it’s crucial to understand what fees your account might incur and how to avoid them. These could include monthly maintenance fees, minimum balance fees, and withdrawal fees.
Some banks might waive these fees if you maintain a certain balance in your account or set up a direct deposit. Take the time to research and choose an account that offers favorable terms to keep your costs low.
Just like any other aspect of your personal finance, your savings account requires regular review. Interest rates can fluctuate, and new and potentially better savings account options may become available.
Check in with your account regularly to ensure it still suits your needs and is earning you the most money. If you find a different type of savings account or another financial institution offers a higher yield or better benefits, don’t hesitate to make the switch.
Choosing the right savings account is a strategic move towards reaching your financial goals. The perfect savings account for you not only safeguards your money but also helps it grow, playing a significant role in your wealth-building journey.
Traditional savings accounts, high yield savings accounts, money market accounts, and other specific goal-oriented accounts like CDs, IRAs, HSAs, and ESAs, each have their own benefits and drawbacks. The key is to choose the type of savings account that aligns best with your financial needs and goals.