Just like a savings account earning pennies at your brick-and-mortar bank, high-yield online savings accounts are accessible vehicles for your cash.
With fewer overhead costs, you can earn much higher interest rates at online banks. As of May 2020, you can find accounts paying above 1.5 percent.
A savings account is a good vehicle for those who need to access cash in the near future.
Risk: The banks that offer these accounts are FDIC-insured, so you don’t have to worry about losing your deposit. While high-yield savings accounts are considered safe investments, like CDs, you do run the risk of earning less upon reinvestment due to inflation.
Liquidity: Savings accounts are about as liquid as your money gets. You can add or remove the funds at any time.
Certificates of deposit
Certificates of deposit, or CDs, are issued by banks and generally offer a higher interest rate than savings accounts.
These federally insured time deposits have specific maturity dates that can range from several weeks to several years. Because these are “time deposits,” you cannot withdraw the money for a specified period of time without penalty.
With a CD, the financial institution pays you interest at regular intervals. Once it matures, you get your original principal back plus any accrued interest. You may be able to earn up to around 1.8 percent APY on these types of investments, as of May 2020.
Because of their safety and higher payouts, CDs can be a good choice for retirees who don’t need immediate income and are able to lock up their money for a little bit. But there are many kinds of CDs to fit your needs, and so you can still take advantage of the higher rates on CDs.
Risk: CDs are considered safe investments. However, they do carry reinvestment risk — the risk that when interest rates fall, investors will earn less when they reinvest principal and interest in new CDs with lower rates. The opposite risk is that rates will rise and investors won’t be able to take advantage because they’ve already locked their money into a CD.
Consider laddering CDs investing money in CDs of varying terms — so that all your money isn’t tied up in one instrument for a long time. It’s important to note that inflation and taxes could significantly erode the purchasing power of your investment.
Liquidity: CDs aren’t as liquid as savings accounts or money market accounts because you tie up your money until the CD reaches maturity — often for months or years. It’s possible to get at your money sooner, but you’ll often pay a penalty to do so.
Money market accounts
A money market account is an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing deposit account.
Money market accounts typically earn higher interest than savings accounts and require higher minimum balances. Because they’re relatively liquid and earn higher yields, money market accounts are a great option for your emergency savings.
In exchange for better interest earnings, consumers usually have to accept more restrictions on withdrawals, such as limits on how often you can access your money.
These are a great option for beginning investors who need to build up a little cash flow and set up an emergency fund.
Risk: Inflation is the main threat. If inflation rates exceed the interest rate earned on the account, your purchasing power could be diminished. In addition, you could lose some or all of your principal if your account is not FDIC-insured (though the vast majority are) or if you have more than the $250,000 FDIC-insured maximum in any one account.
Liquidity: Money market accounts are considered liquid, especially because they come with the option to write checks from the account. However, federal regulations limit withdrawals to six per month (or statement cycle), of which no more than three can be check transactions.