There are many ways to save money without taking the risk of investing in stocks or bonds, or making other investments whose value could either rise or fall over time.
Here's a simple guide to the main types of accounts you can open at a bank.
Savings accounts are often the first step in financial planning. With a savings account you earn interest on the money deposited into the account, and there are few restrictions on how long the money must stay or how you can withdraw it. Most savings accounts are limited by law to six withdrawals per month.
Savings accounts are easy to open online or at a branch and can be a useful way to help you achieve your goals of saving for big ticket items — from a new home to retirement, or to have an emergency fund for a rainy day. Some people will open a savings account for each major savings goal: for instance, one for a new home, one for a new car, and one for a dream vacation. Many employers can also split your paycheck and send part of it each month to your savings account, so you don't even have to think about it.
Savings accounts are generally a safe investment choice. They offer a fixed rate of return, your money can be withdrawn in an emergency with no penalty, and your account is insured for up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). That means your money is safe even in a major financial crisis.
On the downside, interest rates for savings accounts can be lower than other savings options, and may vary according to how much you have deposited in a bank and how long you are required to leave your money in the account.
Some savings accounts offer sign up bonuses with a higher interest rate for the first three or six months. Look for the highest Annual Percentage Yield, or APY. That's the total interest rate you'll be getting over the full year after averaging in any special offers.
Citi allows you to open a savings account online, in branch or over the phone. See how much you can earn with a Citi savings account today.
This is where you keep the money you'll need to pay your regular bills: rent, mobile phone, utilities, childcare, car payments and credit cards. Increasingly, checking accounts are a lot more about just paper checks. More Americans are making payments through electronic payment systems and with credit cards or by direct debit from their checking accounts. Still, when you need to pay the plumber and don't want to use cash, checks come in handy.
Checking accounts usually come with an card that lets you withdraw cash and make deposits without visiting a branch. And most checking accounts today have a smartphone app that lets you make payments and even deposit paper checks without having to wait in line at a branch or seek out an .
Typically, checking accounts offer little or no interest on the money in your account and may charge a minimal fee for managing the account. Others may waive fees if you keep a minimum balance in the account or have another account or credit card at the same bank. Some banks also let you tie a savings or money market account to your checking account to cover you in case of an overdraft.
Checking vs. Savings Account: A checking account is where you keep the money needed to pay your bills from week to week. It offers little or no interest, but you can write checks, pay bills and draw cash from an. A savings account is where you can put away money you'll probably need later. You can only perform a limited number of withdrawals each month, but you can earn interest on the money that's in it.
Think of a CD, the abbreviation for certificate of deposit, as money you have tied up for anywhere from three months to five years or more in order to assure a better interest rate. The advantage of a CD is that the higher interest rate is risk–free, as CDs are insured by the government—sponsored FDIC.
It's important to remember that if you cash out early for any reason – for example, if you need to cover a medical expense – you may be required to pay a penalty for early withdrawal. The expiration date on a CD is important to remember. If you don't cash out your CD within a month of that date, called the term date, it may be automatically reinvested and locked up for another three months or more.
With that said, most banks now offer breakable (i.e. penalty–free) CDs, also referred to as Liquid CDs. These allow you to withdraw all or a portion of your money before the CD matures, so it's important to check which type of CD you have and the specific terms and conditions.
CD vs. Savings Account: CDs are for saving larger chunks of money that you can afford to put away for a longer period of time. The interest rate typically is higher than a savings account, but there are penalties for early withdrawal on most CD products.
Combining the benefits of a savings and a checking account, a money market account generally pays a higher interest rate than a savings account and gives you limited check–writing ability. It usually requires you to maintain a higher balance in exchange for its higher interest rate.
Money market accounts are regulated in the same way as savings accounts, so they're also restricted to six withdrawals and transfers per month. Still, you can write checks on a money market account, and some accounts offer debit cards. A money market account is insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per account holder.
Money Market vs. Savings: A money market account offers a higher interest rate than a savings account but, like a savings account, you can access your money at any time without a penalty. You can also write occasional checks on a money market account.
For most people, a combination of accounts is probably best. One rule of thumb is to keep enough money to cover two months' worth of expenses in your checking account, and up to six months' worth in a savings account or a money market account. That may be more money than you have available, so think of this as a goal, not a rule.
Money you won't need right away, and which you'd like to see grow over time – perhaps for retirement or a major purchase –should go in a CD.
|Risk of losing money||None||None||None||None|
|Fixed or Variable Return*||Variable||Variable||Fixed||Variable|
|Penalties for Early Withdrawal||No||No||Yes||No|
*Fixed return: You are guaranteed at least a minimum rate of investment
Variable return: Investment amount fluctuates based on the investment performance.
Risk of losing money is based on deposited funds and not overdraft and/or other associated fees/penalties related to accounts.
The article content provides general information about banking, however consumers should refer to the terms and conditions financial institutions provide for various products.
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