The interest offered by many banks is an insult. On a $10,000 balance, you might earn 0.25%. Yes, a whole quarter of a percentage point. A whopping $25 a year for keeping your 10 grand tied up. When you factor in inflation, you're losing money.
Throw in all the ATM and other fees, and I feel like I'm paying them to take my money.
However, plenty of banks want your business, and they're paying to get it. More and more financial firms are offering high-yield savings accounts online.
How does 5.25% sound? And that's not a typo!
I speak from experience. In our household, we have two online savings accounts: one at ING Direct and another at HSBC Direct.
Why two? They each have their own benefits, and since the accounts are online, there's very little hassle. The ING account earns 4.4%, which is not bad, and the bank's website is stellar. The HSBC account pays 5.05% and offers ATM access to boot. We keep both just in case one decides to cut that rate someday.
Neither has a minimum balance. There are no hidden catches or requirements. And you do get phone support. Plus, both are FDIC-insured, just like any checking account.
We still have a checking account because we need the check-writing and online bill payment, but we try to keep as little as possible in checking. In fact, we've set up a monthly sweep from checking into both savings accounts.
Thankfully, a lot of other banks are jumping on this bandwagon. E-Loan, the online lender of the Puerto Rican bank Banco Popular, just launched an online savings account that pays 5.5%. Countrywide Bank, a division of mortgage company Countrywide Financial, and Amtrust Direct, both have online savings accounts yielding more than 5%.
Do the math and the attraction is obvious: $10,000 in one of these accounts for a year pays out $500 a year, or more.
$25 from that measly checking account buys you a few lattes. $500 bucks? That's two round-trip plane tickets.
Now that's the ticket!