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Saving money is a smart financial habit to develop. Whether you're stashing away cash for emergencies, building a down payment or planning for a dream vacation, saving can have long-term benefits. But putting money in a savings account and forgetting about it might not always be the best move. The good news is that with a little extra planning, you may be able to make your money work for you and grow at a faster rate.
Check out the five low-risk strategies below that might help you earn more money on your savings.
1. High-Yield Savings Accounts
Savings accounts don't qualify as investments like 401(k) accounts or other retirement vehicles. Nonetheless, a high-yield savings account might still help you grow your money a bit faster—potentially at a high enough rate to at least fight inflation.
Rising interest rates aren't great for financing, but they could work in your favor with savings rates. When the Federal Reserve hikes the federal funds rate, the interest you earn on savings (aka your annual percentage yield or APY) tends to increase as well.
At the time of writing, many of the best high-yield savings accounts have APYs just under or even beating 5.00%. But if you leave your cash in a tradtional savings account account, you might miss out on high interest rates. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the average APY on savings accounts in November 2023 was just 0.46%.
Depending on the account, other possible benefits of high-yield savings accounts include:
- No monthly fees
- Low or no minimum balance requirements
- Free ATM access
- Great mobile apps and online tools
Because there are so many options, it's important to shop around to find the best fit for your situation before you apply for a new high-yield savings account. Popular high-yield savings accounts to consider include UFB Direct High-Yield Savings Account and CIT Savings Connect Account.
2. High-Yield Checking Accounts
In general, checking accounts aren't known for helping consumers earn returns on their cash, but some stand out from the crowd in terms of potential earnings. And since you probably need a checking account to manage your monthly bills and other financial obligations anyway, it could make sense to consider one that offers you higher interest-earning potential. (Why wouldn't you want to get the most bang for your buck?)
At the time of writing, some of the best high-yield checking accounts come with APYs around 1.00%. That's a significant improvement over the current national average of 0.07%. But before you choose a bank, review other factors, like monthly fees, debit card capabilities, branch and ATM availability and anything else that matters to you.
3. Money Market Accounts
Money market accounts can also potentially earn more interest on your funds. This account is like a hybrid of a savings and checking account. Depending on the bank or credit union you select, the account may be FDIC insured (or NCUA insured for credit unions) for up to $250,000.
Be sure to verify features with your financial institution before you sign up, but your account might allow you to access the funds via:
- Debit card
- Electronic transfer
- Up to six withdrawals per month
Perhaps the biggest appeal of money market accounts is that they sometimes offer to pay you more interest on your money. At the time of writing, some of the best money market accounts offer their customers APYs over 3.50%.
4. Certificates of Deposit
Certificates of deposit, also known as CDs, offer the chance to earn an almost guaranteed rate of return in exchange for leaving your money in savings for a fixed period of time. A bank or credit union may potentially offer you a higher interest rate if you agree to lock a lump sum into a CD for six months, one year, three years or other terms lengths.
As with any financial product, it pays to shop around for the best CD rates before you open a new account. It might seem easier to simply open a new account with the bank you already use for checking and savings. However, if you don't find a bank that offers high APYs, you could cheat yourself out of potential earnings.
If you're in the market for a certificate of deposit to park your cash for the foreseeable future, here are a few CD accounts you might want to consider:
- CIT Bank
- Bread Savings
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
- Capital One
- PenFed Credit Union
- Sallie Mae
- First National Bank of America
It's worth pointing out that if you remove money early from a CD, you could face steep early withdrawal penalties. But there are also no-penalty CDs if you're interested in accounts with more flexibility. Just be aware that you may have to sacrifice earnings in exchange for the freedom to make early withdrawals.
5. New Bank Account Bonuses
There's one more low-risk way to earn more money on your savings that's worth exploring—new bank account bonuses and promotions. Banks and credit unions compete for your business, and as a result, some offer cash incentives to open a new account.
If you open a new account in an effort to qualify for a bonus, pay attention to the fine print. Make sure you meet all of the qualifications within the promotional period. Otherwise, you might miss out on the extra cash and your effort will be wasted. Another good rule of thumb is to do your research to make sure your bank is safe and that your funds will be FDIC insured.
There are plenty of low-risk ways to grow the funds in your short-term savings accounts. So don't be afraid to get creative. You might even consider using more than one of the resources above to help earn extra cash in a few different ways this year.