As the economy and the stock market continue to churn stomachs across the country, more and more Americans look to simple bank accounts for a safe place to park their cash. This year, the personal savings rate has risen to 5.7 percent, the highest since February 1995.
So which account is right for you? Here's what "Good Morning America" financial contributor Mellody Hobson, the president of the money-management firm Ariel Investments, had to say about the matter.
Hobson says you should head to the Internet to find a bank that will give you the highest interest rate on your savings. Web sites like Bankrate.com report national and local rates for all types of bank accounts.
But, she said, it's also important to note that sometimes banks pay a fee to be listed on comparison sites, so it's in your best interest to investigate multiple sites when trying to find the best possible rate. Don't, however, base your decision only on rates. The fees, restrictions and minimum balances required by each account should also factor into your decision.
Generally, you'll find that Internet banks offer higher rates than traditional banks because they do not have support all the costs that go into running a brick-and-mortar bank.
Make sure that whatever bank you choose is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC insures accounts up to $250,000 per person. For more information, check out www.myfdicinsurance.gov.
Certificates of deposit, or CDs, will give you the best interest rate, but they also require that you keep your money there for a set period of time. The duration of a CD is determined by your bank, but they usually range from three months to five years.
The longer the CD's duration, the more interest you will earn. Right now, a six-month CD currently averages about 1.58 percent, while a one-year CD averages 2.10 percent and a five-year CD averages 3.10 percent.
You can, however get better rates. Ascencia Bank, an Internet bank, is offering a six-month CD with a rate of 2.03 percent, and a 4 out of 5 star rating from Bankrate.com on its scale of "safe and sound" banks.
Ally Bank, the online banking arm of GMAC Financial Services, has a one-year CD with a rate of 2.49 percent, with no minimum deposit and a 3 out of 5 star rating at Bankrate.com, which means it's at least as safe as the average bank.
The national average for savings and money market accounts is about 1.33 percent right now. Both accounts are very similar, but you can't write checks from a savings account, and the number of transactions you make in a money market per month is usually limited.
Right now, the best interest rate on a high-quality savings account is at iGObanking.com at 2.02 percent. The bank doesn't require a minimum account balance, and you only need $1 to open the account, and it has a 4-star rating from Bankrate.com.
For money market accounts, Zions Bank has a very good 1.92 percent rate and a 3-star rating from Bankrate.
Checking accounts are convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. Their interest rates are markedly lower than rates on other types of accounts.
"Just know that you're never going to make a lot of money on a checking account," Hobson said.
The average checking account currently yield 0.71 percent. You can get a higher rate at Salem Five Bank, which offers 1.4 percent interest. Charles Schwab Bank, meanwhile, pays 0.75 percent, which is close to average, but what it lacks in interest it more than makes up for in benefits, Hobson said: The Schwab account has no ATM fees nor any account minimums and it's a very trusted brand.