Earn More in Your Bank Account

Percentage CashI’ve got some cash sitting in a savings account at a big bank. Yes, it’s super accessible and federally insured. But my annual interest rate is a paltry 0.35%. I want more—while still keeping it liquid and safe.

If I’m willing to jump through hoops, I could earn as much as 3%—possibly more. So-called “rewards checking” or “high-yield checking accounts” are typically offered by smaller banks and credit unions. Bankrate.com did a survey of these accounts this past summer.

Most have a bunch of requirements—like having to use their ATM card, say, 10 times per month. There also are usually caps on how much you can deposit to earn that fat rate—often it’s no more than $25,000. And you may need to sign up for direct-deposit. Don’t meet the requirements? You’ll likely get the same lousy rate offered by most other banks. “This will either fit your lifestyle or it won’t,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. (Don’t forget to watch out for fees.)

It doesn’t work for me, so I’m going with an online savings account at ING Direct, where I’ll earn 1% annually. It’s nearly triple what I’m getting now, with no minimums or fees. Still, I wonder: could I do better? If you have an alternative, post it in our comments!

Cash In: Where is your cash parked these days?