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Online Savings & Money Market Account Rates 2021

Online Savings & Money Market Account Rates

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Federal Reserve Holds Fed Funds at Zero to 0.25 Bps; Cash Looks Like a Loser

Rate information contained on this page may have changed. Please find latest savings rates.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has ended 2020 with all sorts of dovish, benign language, holding monetary policy as easy as possible.

He isn’t forecasting any rate hikes before 2023, with only one Fed governor suggesting that rates will rise in 2022.    The Fed continues to target inflation around 2.00% and will ultimately like to see the Fed funds rate around 2.50%.   At the same time, the Fed remains committed to using its full range of tools until the pandemic ends.   Since the prevailing view on Wall Street is that the pandemic will end and the Fed will taper its bond buying in 2021, the yield curve is widening following this Fed’s announcement.

The Fed’s policy is the one that helps financial managers and puts support beneath the US stock market.   It isn’t the right policy for maintaining the purchasing power of the dollar.  And, it is a policy that is unfortunate for an aging (and increasingly risk-adverse) population where interest does not come anywhere near the rates required to maintain real wealth.

Yet, it is the prevailing view that it is the right policy for an economy grappling with a virus, and it is becoming the unanimous view that President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are going to reappoint Jay Powell.  So, it looks like cash is going to be trash for a quite while.

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Avoid Rates from NeoBanks and Fintechs that Look Too Good to Be True

Rates on savings products and CD products are incredibly low and have been for several months now.   These are the times when people may be apt to fall for scams and take unnecessary risks.  Don’t do it.

I made this same warning in 2014 when rates were last this low.   You can read the article I wrote then about outfits offering brokered CD rates that were well above prevailing rates here.

On BestCashCow, you can find and compare the best savings offered today by online banks, by local banks and by credit unions.   There may be very slightly higher rates that are offered by “neobanks” (which I define as startups that offer some sort of payment or cash management solutions that a bank may not offer) and by “fintechs” (which may be offering other financial products (such as trading, investing or roboinvesting products).   None of these products are FDIC insured.   Their products are unproven and simply not worth the risks.   I don’t even think they should be called savings accounts.   I think they should be called savings account alternatives and I think that is generous.

 I first suggested people not run into neobanks here.   I’ve had discussions with so-called fintechs about their savings products and resolved not to list them on BestCashCow or its affiliates because these institutions are not offering the liquidity in their savings products that a savings product requires. and they themselves are not FDIC insured and they lack the transparency to give customers the comfort that they require even if their cash is actually to be held at one or more designated partner banks.   I specifically suggested people not run into some of these here.  

My concerns about these types of savings alternative accounts were realized in today’s news when the Federal Trade Commission took action against a company called Beam Financial.   It seems that folks had put money in this neobank or fintech or whatever it is (in this case, it may not have been more than a mobile app) in order to earn 1% and then were unable to get their money back.  Their three partners, including a bank, brought suit in order to find out who actually owned the money (meaning it may never have been FDIC insured since the money was not tied to a depositor’s name and social security number).

You can learn more about this here.   It looks like most of the depositors interviewed had only put small amounts into their accounts and the entire amount at stake may not have been much more than $2.40 million.   Yet, it is disconcerting to know that some similar organizations are out there actively soliciting new accounts up to $1 million.

Bottom line: Do not step out of FDIC coverage or even risk stepping out of FDIC coverage for a few extra basis points.   Always stay in FDIC insured and NCUA insured institutions and maintain relationships with them without intermediaries.   Learn more about FDIC and NCUA coverage and limits here.


It is Probably Not the Time to Rush Into CDs

Rate information contained on this page may have changed. Please find latest savings rates.

As interest rates have come down dramatically, following the Fed’s emergency response to the virus, savings and money market rates have become very unappetizing.   As of this writing, all major online banks have dropped their online rates to 0.80% APY, with some having gone to 0.60% APY.

The Federal Reserve and Chairman Powell do not plan to raise interest rates for a long time.   The talk about possible negative interest rates and concern over a stock market bubble has folks (myself included) thinking that we may be the new Japan.   And, if we are, interest rates will not be rising any time soon and it make sense to lock into some yield – any yield whatsoever – on cash that we cannot afford to risk in the market, real estate, bonds, commodities, etc.   And, the obvious way to lock in yield is to put your money in a CD or time deposit.

Three months ago, I suggested in this article that depositors look at No Penalty CDs and one-year CDs as a place to hide.    At the time, you could still lock into a 1-year CD at 1.35% APY.    Now, you cannot (although in certain states, rates at local banks and credit unions may be close to that level - check here and here).   You can still get 1.25% APY in a 5-year online CD and perhaps even higher in a bank near you or a credit union near you, but that involves locking your money up for 5 years!

We’re basically two months from an election now.   The election brings the possibility of a new Federal Reserve Chairman with a different policy (and less subservient to a President who wanted interests rates at zero even before the pandemic).   While there is a lot of talk about asset deflation, all inflation indicators (CPI-U, etc.) suggest that inflation is picking up.   It is very possible that we could be in a very different interest rate environment as soon as six months from now.  

I could be wrong, but I think it is a good time to just grin and bear it, and stay with online savings and money market accounts.