By  Thu Jun 7, 2012

The Battle Between the 1% of Savings Accounts

the great 8 / Flickr source

Depressingly-low interest rates continue to stifle the growth of Americans’ savings. Although there are thousands of savings accounts, few are able to tout an interest rate of 1% APY or higher. Using one of these accounts can gives savings a boost, regardless of how little it may be.

Why is the 1% level so important? Since 2007, when the financial crisis took root, rates on deposit account began their descent — finding a high-yield savings account with 5% APY wasn’t a challenging feat back in the day. Today, most savings accounts struggle to that 1% level.

On a balance of $10,000, the difference between 1.00% APY and 0.99% APY may just be $1 but the mental perception is impactful. It is a major reason that retailers and other businesses price items pennies below the dollar to instill the idea of a “lower price.”

Here are the savings and money market accounts (available nationwide) that belong to the “1%”:

Bank Type of Account Rate (APY) Balance to earn APY Monthly fee (if any)
TIAA DIRECT Savings 1.25% All balances $0
TIAA DIRECT Money Market 1.25% All balances $0
UFB DIRECT Money Market 1.15% $5,000 - $250,000 $10 (balance under $5,000)
AmTrust Direct Money Market 1.15% $5,000 and up $10 (balance under $1,000)
CIT Bank Savings 1.05% $25,000 and up $0
EverBank Money Market 1.01% (1st yr.) All balances $8.95 (balance under $5,000)
Incredible Bank Money Market 1.00% $2,500 - $ $10 (balance under $2,500)
Barclays Bank Savings 1.00% All balances $0

There’s no surprise that the list is filled with relatively new online banks, which tend to offer better rates and lower fees because they don’t have physical branches. TIAA Direct, CIT Bank and Barclays are recent entrants to the online banking market — they’re using high rates help to attract new customers and deposits. UFB Direct’s money market account just launched in May.

Also, money market accounts dominated the list because they usually offer higher rates in exchange for higher balance requirements to avoid monthly fees. (Money market accounts also offer additional perks including check-writing and online bill pay capabilities.)

Despite the Federal Reserve’s projections of low interest rates until late 2014, some big-name online banks have increased rates in recent weeks. EverBank’s money market rate is one example (was 0.91% APY prior to June 1).

Last month, American Express Bank increased its savings rate from 0.75% APY to 0.85% APY. And, Discover Bank boosted its money market rate from 0.70% APY to 0.75% APY.

They didn’t make the list of the 1%, but it is a good sign for savers.

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Add Your 2 Cents

  • jrwells5

    But serious savers might want to consider more generous yields offered by several prepaid card programs. NetSpend has offered a 5% savings account since 2004. H&R Block has offered a 5% savings account since 2005. And the Mango card offers a 6% savings account. All balances are FDIC-insured.

    • http://www.mybanktracker.com Simon Zhen

      Savings programs through prepaid cards certainly provide enticing offers when it comes savings rates. But, the attractive rates are limited to a certain balance amount and maintaing the prepaid card may entail a shift in finances to avoid the fees.

      If a saver is willing to do that extra work, prepaid cards’ savings programs are worth considering but the APY-balance cap does hinder the effect of compounding.

      • Mike

        Dear Mr. Zhen, Great article! And you’re right about the prepaid card programs. They are capped at very low balances, so they provide no real interest income for high balances. Love the 1% pic!