If you’re still with the same old bank you’ve been with for years, you may be losing out on money. Indeed, while the average savings account is still paying a lousy yield, some high-yield savings accounts are paying more than they have in a decade.
“The top-yielding, nationally available savings accounts are paying above 4%, and banks are still very much in the mode of increasing their payouts. Not only are these accounts available nationwide, but many of the accounts yielding above 4% require no minimum deposit, so they’re literally available to everyone” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. (See the best savings account rates you may get now here).
Today’s savings rates
While you can score choice rates on some high-yield savings accounts, most savings accounts and MMAs aren’t paying that well. Below are the latest average rates on savings accounts, according to data from Bankrate released on January 25. And then we chat with experts about how much you should be saving (yes, even in this high-inflation environment), where to put the money, and more.
|Account||Average rate paid|
|Money Market Account||0.38%|
|Higher Yielding Savings Accounts||0.83%|
How much do you need in savings?
Even in periods of high inflation, you need an emergency fund in the event of, well, an emergency like a job loss or an urgent car repair. And while there’s no exact number of how much savings you need, pros generally recommend keeping anywhere from 3-12 months of essential income in an emergency fund.
Factors like your age, marital status and career all play a part in exactly how much emergency savings you need. “Married couples still in their careers want between 3 and 6 months of savings, but likely closer to 6 if the income is lopsided,” says certified financial planner Curtis Crossland of Suttle Crossland Wealth Advisors. Though some may consider it excessive, some experts advise having 12 months of emergency savings. “It may only be appropriate if you’re looking to switch careers and you expect to be unemployed for a few months,” says Alvin Carlos, certified financial planner at District Capital Management.
Where should you put it? “A high-yielding savings account is the perfect place for your emergency fund — accessible but just far enough out of reach that you’re less tempted to raid it for discretionary spending,” McBride says. See the best savings account rates you may get now here.
In addition to an emergency fund, you may also want to have additional accounts where you save for short-term goals, like buying a home in the next six months, or taking a vacation in the near future.
Where to put your money: Savings account vs MMAs
Experts unanimously agree that you should put your emergency fund money somewhere safe, like a high-yield savings account or money market account. Here are some of the top-paying high-yield savings accounts now, and many have no minimum or something very low (like $1). See the best savings account rates you may get now here
There are many perks of savings accounts, but the biggest include flexibility, ease of saving, earning interest and knowing your money is protected. There can however be drawbacks of having your money in high-yield savings accounts too, like withdrawal limits that incur fees when you’ve exceeded the number of withdrawals in a month.
Money market accounts (MMAs) are savings accounts that have debiting and check-writing abilities accompanied by higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. MMAs frequently have higher minimum balance requirements and usually have subpar interest rates compared to high-yield savings accounts, but if having the option to spend directly from a savings account is something that’s important for you, a MMA offers decent rates with the flexibility of writing checks or using a debit card attached to the account.
What to know before opening an MMA or savings account
Before opening a savings account, make sure you have the protection of federal deposit insurance, that you’re able to meet any balance requirements to avoid any monthly fees and that you can easily get money into and out of the account when needed. “Often, linking the account to the checking account at your current bank or credit union is an easy way to move money back and forth,” says McBride. (See the best savings account rates you may get now here.)
Before opening a MMA, make sure you’re able to meet the minimum balance requirement and compare the interest rate with that of a traditional savings account and a high-yield savings account to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
McBride also recommends reading the fine print and taking note of any balance limitations on earning a higher yield, any direct deposit or monthly transaction requirements to earn that yield and any geographic limitations or membership requirements. “Make sure you’re dealing directly with a regulated, federally-insured financial institution and not a third-party solution,” says McBride.
The future of savings rates
One thing McBride says we can expect from the February 1 Federal Reserve meeting is another rate hike. “This will sustain the push toward higher yields so we’ll see banks continuing to increase yields, with the top-yielding, nationally available accounts moving above 4.5% in short order,” says McBride.
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to say exactly where interest rates will go, but with rate hikes potentially looming on the horizon, savers can expect an improvement in returns for savings accounts particularly at online banks, smaller community banks and credit unions. “We haven’t seen the peak in savings account yields. There will continue to be upward momentum with the Fed’s rate hikes ongoing,” says McBride.
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