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9

Earn 5% on Your Cash

If you're earning less than 4% on your cash, you're not trying hard enough.

Kelli Grant said so in a recent Smart Money article, and she's absolutely right. I can tell that interest rates have been rising in recent years just by glancing at my checking account's interest rate -- it's nearly 1%! I'd be silly to leave too much money in that account, though, when there are so many more attractive options.

These options have most often been found on the Internet, but this online competition is forcing more traditional banks (and brokerages) to ratchet up their rates as well.

Big players, big interest
Grant noted that three major banks offer high-yield savings accounts, with rates of roughly 5% or more, to customers who apply for and use the accounts online: Citigroup's (NYSE: C  ) Citibank, HSBC (NYSE: HBC  ) , and Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM  ) .

Online, providers such as ING (NYSE: ING  ) , UFBDirect.com, and Capital One (NYSE: COF  ) Bank recently offered money-market or savings-account rates of 5.3% or more. In a recent issue of Money magazine, I saw that FNBO Direct, out of Nebraska, offered 6% (with a $1 minimum) on money-market accounts.

Brokerage interest
Meanwhile, don't forget to consider your brokerage -- it may also double as a bank. E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC  ) , for example, recently offered a 3.25% checking account, provided that you maintain a $5,000 balance. Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW  ) offered 4.25% with no minimum.

These rates will all fluctuate over time, of course, and various institutions will occasionally offer something new and better. It can pay to shop around. Bankrate.com is one place to seek out compelling rates and good deals. Our own Savings Center can also offer critical guidance on the best ways to sock away your short-term money. It recently highlighted a 5.23% rate for a six-month CD, for example.

Charles Schwab is a Stock Advisor pick. Washington Mutual is an Income Investor recommendation. Bankrate is a Rule Breakers selection. Try any one of our investing services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (9)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2008, at 6:06 PM, vb123 wrote:

    Ther are good savings rates out there. I think UFB at 4% is about the best. There is also dollar direct (a part of Emigrant bank which also has 4%. Most of the ones you quote over 4% have a lot of restirctions or are not over 4% that I have seen, at least for savings acounts. There is a 4.5% 1 Yr CD (Chorus bank). I am having trouble getting more than 4% FDIC insured and without other bad restrictions. There are a lot of 6% savings but you have to have 10 debits, direct deposit and sometimes additional restrictions.

    Any >4% 1 Yr or less (for CD) that you know of that are available today?

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Selena Maranjian
TMFSelena

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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