Interest rates are rising. While that may be bad for borrowers or home-buyers, it's good for savers, and especially savers with money in the right high-yield savings accounts.
The average annual percentage yield (APY) across all savings accounts is just 0.08 percent, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, while many major banks out there offer yields as low as 0.01 percent. But you can do better than that — more than 200 times better, in fact.
"What should I be making on my savings?" CNBC's Tyler Mathisen asked Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, on Thursday's "Power Lunch." "How dumb am I if I'm not?"
You should be making at least 2 percent, McBride responded.
Northfield Bank's platinum savings account, for instance, offers 2.25 percent, and that's with no monthly fee as long as you maintain a balance of $2,500. Let's say you deposit $5,000 into that account, add $200 every month and never incur any fees. In one year, you'll have $7,543, and you'll have made $143 in interest. After 20 years, you'll have about $68,520 and will have made $15,520 in interest.
With a standard account earning 0.08 percent interest, by contrast, after 20 years you'll have $53,468 and have made $468 in interest.
High-yield savings accounts help prevent your money from losing purchasing power over time thanks to inflation. They're especially useful when you want money to remain accessible, like when you're building an emergency fund or saving for a big purchase.
Online banks tend to offer better rates than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. VIO Bank's high-yield online savings account was CNBC Make It's pick for the overall top savings account, in an analysis that accounted for factors beyond interest rates, such as ease of use and fee structures. VIO now offers a yield of 2.11 percent at no monthly cost, and you only need $100 to open an account.
McBride added that there's no reason to fear an online bank just because you haven't heard of it: "They're regulated. They're federally insured just the same as any other bank. With a lot of them, what you're seeing is the online banking division of another existing bank." VIO is the online division of MidFirst Bank.
Most banks also offer certificates of deposit (CDs), which can earn you even better rates, but only under the condition that you can't touch the money for an established number of months without paying a penalty. Committing to an account for three years can get you rates higher than 3 percent, but McBride recommended steering clear of any long term commitments right now, as interest rates are rising.
"I like better the idea of staying in something shorter," he said. "Give yourself the flexibility to reinvest 12 months down the road."
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