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Online Savings & Money Market Account Rates 2021

Online Savings & Money Market Account Rates

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Now Is A Good Time to Build a Wall - Around Your Savings

If you are like most Americans, you have just learned that you have been kidding yourself for years.

We believed that the economy could grow quickly in spite of the 2016 election outcome.   We believed that the Republican Congress could grow our economy by passing a tax law that ignores the national debt and penalizes residents of blue states.   We believed that fights with our allies were good.   We believed that picking a fight with the Chinese would be in our long-term interests.  We even believed that Facebook could be a technology leader when their only innovation was to abuse personal data in order to provide a forum for feeding lies and deception to the most vulnerable.

We’ve just experienced a December that has been more brutal than any since 1931.   Everything comes home to roost quickly when all major US indices fall 7% in one week.

When we last experienced a stock market fall of this magnitude in one week (September 2008), we were a lot closer to the market top than we were to the bottom.

In 2018, cash has now outperformed everything.

I am not a proponent of building walls.   They keep good ideas out and serve political gains for those who demand them.  But, things could clearly get a lot worse in 2019, and this just might be the time to build one around your future and your savings by raising your allocation to cash.

Check the best online rates here.

See rates at banks near you here and at credit unions near you here.

2.05% or 2.10% is No Longer A Competitive Online Savings Rate

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

It has been 3 days since the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate to a range of 2.25% to 2.50%.

Over the past year, with each raise, the major online banks have competed to be first to move their savings rate within the new range.   Within the last three days, several online banks have raised their online savings rates consistent with the new Fed Funds range.   As of this publication, there are nine online banks with savings or money market rates above 2.25% APY.   Depending on where you live, you will probably also find savings and money market rates at local banks and local credit unions that are above 2.25% APY.

However, many of the most well recognized online banks have yet to raise their savings and money market rates.   While Ally raised its No Penalty CD rate to 2.30% APY and Marcus had raised its to 2.25% APY a week ago, Synchrony Bank, Barclays Bank Delaware, American Express Bank and Purepoint (to name a few) have remained frozen and unresponsive to the new Fed Funds target. 

In fact, the major online banks have also chosen not to raise their CD rates, leaving them at rates that do not reflect expectations of higher rates over the course of 2019.

It appears, therefore, that many well known online banks are placing a bet.  They are hoping that you are so focused on your huge stock market losses this last week and a reckless leader who is unleashing chaos across the globe, that you will not notice that they are reaping savings by not passing on competitive rates to you.  They are also hoping that you are preoccupied with Christmas and New Years.

But, in spite of it all, there is competition for your cash and you should be moving it, when appropriate, so that the rate you are earning lies with the new Fed Funds target rate.  

The Federal Reserve Raises Fed Funds Rate to 2.25% to 2.50%, Indicates 2019 Will Be Slower

The Federal Reserve, acting today in its final 2018 meeting, voted to raise the Fed Funds rate by 25 basis points.  The Fed funds target rate is now 2.25% to 2.50%. 

This hike represents the fourth hike of 2018, and since Jerome Powell became Chairman of the Federal Reserve.   (In December 2017, the Fed Funds rate was raised to 1.25% to 1.50% in Janet Yellin’s final meeting as Fed Reserve Chair.)

We continue to slowly see a normalization of interest rates in an effort to curb liquidity as the economy has moved over the last nine years from a dramatic recession to fast expansion.  The Fed’s continued hawkish actions are not appreciated by all, but they make sense.   While the stock market has come down dramatically over the last few weeks, easy money is no longer required to extend the US expansion.  Normalization is necessary to fight incipient inflation, to avoid a Japan scenario where interest rates get stuck at or near zero for generations, and to provide the Fed with the ability to lower rates later when and if necessary to counter a shock to the economic system.

The pace of future rate hikes is likely to be dramatically slower.  Today's Federal Reserve consensus forecast guided to two more quarter-point hikes in 2019, and one hike in 2020.  The long-term neutral target rate has been reduced from 3.00% to 2.80% (although a 2020 hike will bring the Fed a quarter point above neutral).

We think it is possible that the Fed could be forced by outside pressures to become more dovish more quickly.  Chairman Powell indicated in November that he could pair back rate increases when he tried to appease Trump by saying that the Federal Reserve was already just below neutral.  It is now also possible that a tremendously unstable President may try to remove Jay Powell and replace him with a more dovish Chairman.

So How Do you Play this Latest Fed Funds Move?

First, online savings rates are higher now than they were at the beginning of 2018.   As a result, there is today much more of an incentive to get your cash out of banks paying virtually nothing than there was at the beginning of the year.   If you still have cash in savings or money market accounts that is earning close to zero, this is a good time to move your assets to either an online bank on a local bank or credit union near you with a competitive interest rate.  

Since the number of further rate increases and their pace is not particularly certain, one-year CDs are more compelling versus savings than they have been in a long time.   At the beginning of 2018, the average premium in one-year CDs was about 45 basis points over savings, and that premium recently widened to 77 basis points (see the third graph in our rate analysis).

Rates are rising on longer term CDs but we see very little premium in the average 5-year CD rate over the average 1-year CD rate (see the third graph in our rate analysis).   Therefore, we would strongly recommend CD purchasers lock into only a one-year CD and taking another look at longer-term CDs when it comes due in December 2019. 

Finally, when the Federal Reserve raises the Fed funds rate, as it did today, you also often see an immediate move in the prime lending rate offered by most major banks.  We expect that most banks will immediately raise their prime lending rate by 25 basis points which will have an equally immediate flow-through to credit card rates and auto loan rates.   If you have been considering locking into a home equity loan or a new fixed rate mortgage, you have probably missed the ideal time, but you may want to consider doing so before rates go higher.