While setting up a new account may seem like a hassle, money sitting in a savings account earning 0.01 percent, which is still the rate at some large banks, is losing purchasing power, Mr. McBride said.
“It’s the first time in a decade” that savers are in a position to earn a yield on their savings that is comparable with inflation, he said. (Inflation was around 2 percent in 2016 and 2017, but has been ticking up this year.
Here are some questions and answers about savings account rates:
If I move money into an online savings account with a higher rate, will I earn the same interest rate indefinitely?
No. Some banks may offer a higher rate temporarily to lure customers and raise cash. But once the institutions meet their goal, they may lower the rate. In some cases, banks pledge to keep the rate for a certain period.
How many times a month can I withdraw money from a savings account?
Federal rules, specifically Regulation D, limit consumers to six withdrawals a month, including transfers to other accounts, from savings accounts. (There are some exceptions, like withdrawals made in person or at an A.T.M.) Some banks may charge fees for excessive withdrawals or limit the size of individual withdrawals.
What about rates on certificates of deposit?
Rates on 12-month C.D.s at many online banks are also competitive right now, often above 2 percent, Mr. Clements said. If you have cash you know you probably won’t need in the coming year — say, you are saving for a down payment or a new car — C.D.s are worth a look. You’ll pay a penalty for withdrawing the money early, but you’ll usually forfeit a few months of interest rather than principal. This week, Capital One, a mostly online bank that has some branches, was offering a one-year C.D. with no minimum deposit at a rate of 2.3 percent. Have a longer horizon? Sallie Mae Bank offers 2.8 percent on a two-year C.D., with a $2,500 minimum deposit.