Over the past four years, the trends in savings and money market rates have been pretty consistent – down. Week after week we’ve watched banks drop their rates. But in the last several months, a number of banks have reversed that trend and actually increased the rate they pay on their savings and money market accounts.
Among the rate increases we’ve seen are:
- American Express Bank increased the rate on their savings account from a low of .75% APY in the first quarter of 2012 to 0.90% APY today.
- ableBanking recently increased their rate from .85% to .90% APY.
- SallieMae Bank increased the rate they pay on their savings account from .90% to 1.00% APY.
- In March 2012, EverBank re-started their bonus rate of 1.05% on all new savings and checking accounts for six months. Over the summer they increased the bonus rate to 1.25% for six months.
I reached out to these banks for comment and received a response from Debby Hohler at Sallie Mae, who wrote that: “We continuously evaluate our rates to ensure our FDIC insured savings products are highly competitive, providing value to our customers and a mechanism to fund for our financially responsible private student loans.”
To translate, they need the money to fund their student loan business. Deposits have become the most stable, least expensive way to fund a business, and financial institutions that are growing often need more deposits to lend out.
Despite the encouraging rate increases from these banks, don’t expect to see wholesale increases in rates over the next year. Savings rates from local banks and CD rates continue to fall. And while the top online rate in July was 1.25% APY it is now down to 1.05% (a savings account from CIT). We expect the Fed to keep rates at or close to 0% through 2014, if not longer. With job growth anemic, it appears that rate increases are the exception rather than the norm.
As local bank savings rates continue to drop, the online savings rates continue to remain the most competitive option for savers. While local banks often offer more competitive CD rates, especially in longer terms, our data shows that online banks offer the best savings and money market rates. According to the BestCashCow database, only 14 brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions out of over 13,000 beat the best online savings rate.