Once you’ve found the right checking account, you’ll want to start looking for the right savings account. After all, you’ll only want to keep the minimum balance plus any money you need for bills in your checking account. The rest of the money should be earning interest!
That’s exactly what a savings account is for. Money in a savings account earns a much higher interest rate than a checking account, but at the cost of less liquidity. In order to get at your money in a savings account you have to physically go to the bank, or transfer it to a checking account, which usually takes a couple of days.
Almost every bank in the country offers a savings account, and they all differ in one way or another. This makes it very difficult for consumers to be sure that they have the best savings account for them.
Fortunately, finding the right savings account is a little easier than finding a checking account because there are really only two aspects of savings accounts to consider: the interest rate and the minimum balance.
The higher the interest rate the better!
The interest rate is the amount of interest that the bank will pay you on the balance in your savings account. When you’re shopping for a savings account you’ll see the interest rate quoted both as an APR and APY. One of the first things you’ll need to do is understand the difference between APR and APY. In short, APR is the amount of interest the bank will pay over a year, and the APY is the amount of interest you will earn including the interest you earn on interest.
Some banks charge a fee if you go below a certain balance, and others will just lower your interest rate. You’ll want a savings account with a low minimum balance so that if you ever need a large portion of your money you won’t be charged fees or miss out on your rate. If you plan to have a large sum of money in your savings account, you may be able to learn a higher interest rate with a tiered account (one that pays a higher rate to accounts with large balances). However, just make sure there is enough buffer between your balance and the balance that pays a lower rate.
The highest interest rates and lowest minimum balance can usually be found online. These banks don’t have to pay the overhead of rent and can pass this savings on to its customers. One of the best online banks is ING Direct. They have no minimum balance and pay an interest rate higher than some CDs at brick-and-mortar banks.