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The stock market may be tanking lately, but at least savers are getting paid more to park their money.
Goldman Sachs is the latest bank to boost interest rates for savings products. Its Marcus consumer finance arm will pay online savings account users a 2.25 percent rate starting Friday, an increase of 20 basis points. The rate on its 1-year certificate of deposit rises 10 basis points to 2.75 percent.
Banks are jockeying for deposits because they're a cheap form of capital to make loans. But after three years of Federal Reserve rate increases, competition among online banks and smaller institutions has grown fierce, and some analysts worry that that could threaten the industry's profitability.
If the Fed continues to hike rates, top accounts could yield almost 3 percent by year-end, according to Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride. A year ago, it was about 1.5 percent, he said.
"There's definitely a price war among the most competitive banks," McBride said. "Banks are leapfrogging each other to be at the top of the heap. If it gets more people saving, that's a good thing."
Still, the national average interest rate is a fraction of what Goldman and other online banks are paying. That's because big lenders like J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America have kept retail customers' rates low, instead relying on sign-on bonuses to lure fresh deposits.
Goldman's new rate is among the highest for accounts with no minimum balance or other requirements. For instance, CIT Bank pays 2.45 percent on savings accounts, but to earn that rate users need a $25,000 balance or monthly direct deposits, according to Bankrate.com.
In little more than two years, Goldman has attracted more than 2 million customers to Marcus by offering better-than-average interest rates on savings or personal loans. The business had $27 billion in deposits, according to a November presentation.
As part of its push into consumer finance after spending its 150-year history serving institutional investors, governments and the wealthy, Goldman is presenting itself as an unbiased advocate for ordinary consumers. The bank's newest Marcus campaign encourages consumers to get "financially fit " by choosing one of four profiles, each with tips on saving money and boosting investments.