If you let a $10,000 deposit sit in a standard savings account for a year, you'd earn a mere dollar in interest. That's because most major banks out there offer an interest rate of 0.01 percent. But if you put that $10,000 in a high-interest savings account at an internet bank like Synchrony, Ally or iGoBanking, which offer interest rates between 1 percent and 1.55 percent, your $10,000 deposit could yield up to $155 after one year.
The reason internet banks can offer 155 times more interest is because they don't have to spend money building thousands of branches and hiring people to fill them. The major drawback is convenience: It will take you a couple of days to access your money, whereas you get instant access, and lots of ATMs, with big banks like Chase and Wells Fargo.
You can earn even more if you use a certificate of deposit (CD), a savings account that offers a higher interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal. Again, you're trading convenience for interest. With a CD, you agree to let your money sit tight for a set number of months or years, and if you withdraw your money early, you'll be charged a penalty. If you can be patient, though, you'll be rewarded with returns of about 2 percent or more.
Personal finance site NerdWallet did some number crunching to give you an idea of just how much money you may be leaving on the table if you're not taking advantage of these options.
"Consumers lose out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars by keeping their money in low-earning accounts instead of high-yield savings accounts or CDs," says NerdWallet banking expert Kimberly Palmer. "By earning more money on their savings, savers can stretch their money, and their budgets, further."
NerdWallet's charts below show how $1,000, $10,000 and $15,000 in savings would grow over time in four different places: under the mattress, a low-yield savings account, a high-yield savings account and a CD. It assumed a low-yield interest rate of 0.01 percent, a high-yield interest rate of 1.55 percent and CD interest rates of 1.75 percent for one year, 2.05 percent for three years and 2.45 percent for five to 10 years.
Experts advise that you look at these different vehicles as a better way to earn money on your emergency fund or short-term savings goals, rather than as your entire investment strategy. For long-term investments, you may want aim for higher returns by investing in retirement savings accounts like a 401(k) or IRA and considering low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffett recommends, and ETFs.
But if you want to earn more on the money that's just sitting in your savings account, check out NerdWallet's savings rate tool to find the highest savings rates available to you and CD rate tool to find the highest CD rates.
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