NEW YORK – As interest rates move higher, America's savers are gaining richer rewards from their certificates of deposit, money market funds and other cash instruments, but getting them all in one place isn't easy.
Average rates paid on one-year CDs have just hit 4.5 percent and money markets are paying a little over 3 percent with some banks, like Capital One, offering 4.25 percent or more. Finally, online savings accounts paying from 3.8 percent to 4.5 percent are catching on fast.
These are great rates compared with a few years ago, but you might struggle to find them all at one bank. And if you want a free checking account to go with your investments, plus convenient ATMs everywhere, you may end up with monthly statements from several different institutions.
For example, Washington Mutual and Commerce Bank have some of the least-restrictive checking account policies around, but neither has a high-yield online savings account to link to your checking account. Washington Mutual offers good returns on its CDs but pays a paltry 0.15 percent on its money market account. Commerce pays only 0.35 percent on its money market.
In contrast, Emigrant Direct offers an online savings account yielding 4.5 percent and, for account holders, a new CD paying 5 percent. Checking is free with a minimum balance of $2,500, including your savings. But try finding an Emigrant ATM outside the New York area.
Rates vary tremendously so be sure to shop around. Web sites like Bankrate.com allow you to compare quickly in any state.
You may not need a CD, money market and a savings account, but it's not a bad idea to diversify your savings right now. That 5 percent CD rate looks good today. But most experts predict rates will continue to rise, so a combination of liquid holdings — savings and money market accounts — and short-term CDs makes more sense than parking all your cash in five-year deposits, which aren't paying that much more than short-term CDs anyway.
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