By  Fri Jul 20, 2012

Ally Bank and Sallie Mae Bank Boost Savings Rates

Some of the biggest names in online banking are boosting the rates on their savings and money market accounts — bolstering the incentive to save money in an extremely low interest-rate environment.

Today, Ally Bank increased the rates on its savings, money market and IRA savings accounts. All three accounts received increased from 0.84% APY to 0.89% APY — a 0.05% APY hike. The previous rate update occurred in March, when Ally boosted rates from 0.79% APY to 0.84% APY.

Also, Sallie Mae Bank raised the rate on its money market account from 0.85% APY to 0.90% APY. Its savings accounts remains at 0.80% APY.

On paper, the change may not be significant. For a $10,000 balance, the changes equate to an extra $5 in interest earnings after one year. But, the rise in rates can serve as positive reinforcement for diligent savers, who’ve watch interest rates drop repeatedly in the past few years.

The recent entries by new online banks — such as TIAA Direct, Barclays and CIT Bank — have kept the savings-account market lively. Since new online banks tend to offer highly competitive rates to attract new customers and deposits, they happen to hold the highest rates for savings and money market accounts.

Meanwhile, customers of established online banks like ING Direct and Ally Bank are stuck in a rate disadvantage, unless they switch online banks.

It would be unwise to expect that these rate hikes are a signal that other online banks will follow. The Federal Reserve has reiterated its projections that interest rates are going to stay exceptionally low until the end of 2014 — more than two years from now. Certificates of deposit (CDs) rates, which have falling gradually, appear to have stalled recently.

The rate changes are most likely part of routine, periodic rate reviews to keep pace with the competition.

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