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CNBC Select wants to help you find the right financial product for your life. To that end, our team of journalists review hundreds of financial products offered by banks, financial institutions and credit unions that allow anyone to join. While we aim to evaluate as many products as possible, we may not examine all offers available.
Here is the specific methodology for each type of financial product we review:
We compare cards based on a range of features, including rewards (e.g., cash back, travel perks), annual fees, welcome bonuses, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fees and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit score.
To compare cards that reward specific purchases, we use consumer spending data provided by the location intelligence firm Esri to create a sample annual budget of approximately $21,800 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
In many of our credit card reviews, we use this sample budget to help determine each card’s reward potential. For example, $5,019 spent on groceries x 6% cash-back rate = $301 in rewards.
We then estimate how much the average consumer will gain over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year return, since it is common to hold onto a credit card for several years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.
It’s worth noting that while the five-year estimates are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits. We seek to provide comprehensive information to make a decision that is right for you.
To determine which high-yield savings accounts offer the best return on your money, CNBC Select analyzes dozens of U.S. savings accounts offered by online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions.
We also compare each savings account on a range of features, including APY, ease of use and account accessibility, as well as factors such as insurance policies and customer reviews when available. We also consider users’ deposit options and each account’s compound frequency.
All of the accounts included are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Note that the rates and fee structures for high-yield savings accounts are not guaranteed forever; they are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. Your earnings depend on any associated fees and the balance you have in your high-yield savings account. To open an account, most banks and institutions require a deposit of new money, meaning you can’t transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.