If you’ve put away some savings, it’s high time to get that money working for you if it’s not already.
If you know money expert Clark Howard, you know that he’s not a fan of big banks. And one look at the paltry savings rates they’re currently offering is enough to get Clark riled up.
“If you have money in a savings account or a CD at any of the giant monster mega-banks or even a big regional bank, it means you hate yourself. Something happened to you as a child that makes you punish yourself. Do. Not. Do. It,” Clark says.
Why such strong advice? Because if your savings rates aren’t rising right now, even though the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, it may be because you’re with one of those “giant monster mega-banks,” as Clark calls them.
Savings Account Rates
To explore Clark’s point, let’s compare the savings accounts at a big bank to one of Team Clark’s best online banks.
|Bank of America||Ally Bank|
|0.01% APY||2.35% APY|
As you can see, Bank of America’s Advantage Savings Account annual percentage yield (APY) is much, much lower than the rate of Ally’s online savings account. And we’re not just picking on Bank of America. All of the major banks have similar rates, Clark says.
And Bank of America’s Advantage Savings Account has other disadvantages:
- $100 fee to open the account
- Minimum daily balance of $500
- Account may carry an $8 monthly service fee.
The Ally account has no maintenance fees and no minimum opening deposit.
Returns at the majority of big banks for Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are pretty low as well, but I was able to find one exception: Citibank. The financial institution’s best one-year CD rate is 3.75%; that figure is as of October 20, 2022.
Are CD rates going gangbusters at the other big banks, or is Citibank’s just an anomaly? CD rates at Chase Bank are 0.01% APY for a 12-month term. Wells Fargo’s CD rate is 0.30%. Bank of America’s 1-year CD rate is 0.03%. You get the picture.
While the rates mentioned are just snapshot examples, they serve to underscore how important it is to put your savings dollars somewhere they can grow.
What To Do With Your Money Right Now
Clark says it’s time for savers to act because inflation is eating away at the value of that money. “The opportunity is there now, after these 10 years of suffering from puny, punishing savings rates, for savers to start to be rewarded,” he says.
With inflation rising, Clark says you want to put your money in the following places:
Let’s explore each of those options briefly.
Series I Savings Bonds
“If you have up to $10,000 that you can set aside for a year or longer, buy the Series I savings bonds with it,” Clark advises.
According to TreasuryDirect.gov, the current rate for Series I savings bonds is 9.62%. To lock that in, you’d better hurry: The interest rate is set to change on bond purchases made after October 28, 2022, according to the Treasury Department.
Clark says he’s been hearing from people that buying from TreasuryDirect.gov is a bit too complicated. Here’s an alternative:
The rates won’t be as good as those found on the Treasury website, but Clark says, “You’re still able to park your cash earning (depending on where you go to put it) about 2.3 to 2.8% on money in a U.S. Treasury money market fund.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Series I savings bonds, here are five things to know about them.
Clark prefers online banks as the place to stash money you need to be able to access quickly.
With online banks, you typically get:
- Lower rates and hardly any fees
- Mobile app reliability
- 24/7 access to your money
I mentioned Team Clark’s list of the best online savings accounts. Here are some of the best high-yield online savings accounts.
Clark loves that credit unions offer very competitive interest rates and personalized customer service, which are some things he says you won’t get at many big banks. Read about the differences between credit unions and banks.