Best Interest Rates on Cash – September 2022 Update
Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of September 2022, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. We all need some safe assets for cash reserves or portfolio stability, and there are often lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 9/1/2022.
TL;DR: 4% APY on up to $6,000 for liquid savings at Current with no direct deposit requirement. Total Direct at 2.60% APY liquid savings. 1-year CD 3.21% APY. 49-month at 3.85% APY. Compare against Treasury bills and bonds at every maturity (12 month near 3.50%). 9.62% Savings I Bonds still available if you haven’t maxed out limits.
Available only to individual investors, fintech companies often pay higher-than-market rates in order to achieve fast short-term growth (often using venture capital). “Fintech” is usually a software layer on top of a partner bank’s FDIC insurance.
4% APY on $6,000.Current offers 4% APY on up to $6,000 total ($2,000 each on three savings pods). No direct deposit required. $50 referral bonus for new members with $200+ direct deposit with promo code JENNIFEP185. Please see my Current app review for details.
3% APY on up to $100,000, but requires direct deposit and credit card spend. HM Bradley pays up to 3% APY on up to $100,000 if you open both a checking and credit card with them, maintain $1,500 in total direct deposits each month, and make $100 in credit card purchases each month. Please see my updated HM Bradley review for details.
High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks pay essentially no interest, I think every should have a separate, no-fee online savings account to accompany your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.
Rates rising across the board, while the leapfrogging to be the temporary “top” rate continues. TotalDirectBank at 2.60% APY ($2,500 minimum, must initiate transfer from external bank, no FL residents for some reason). SaveBetter at 2.50% APY ($1 minimum) through Ponce Bank and Liberty Savings Bank.
SoFi Bank is now up to 2.00% APY + up to $325 new account bonus with direct deposit. You must maintain a direct deposit each month of any amount for the higher APY. SoFi has their own bank charter now so no longer a fintech by my definition. See details at $25 + $300 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.
There are several other established high-yield savings accounts at closer to 1.50% APY. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is on that list, and if you open a new account with a Marcus referral link (from reader Paul) you can get an extra 1.00% APY for your first 3 months.
Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (plan to buy a house soon, just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.
No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.15% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.00% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 1.75% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
Connexus Credit Union has a 12-month certificate at 3.21% APY. $5,000 minimum. Early withdrawal penalty is 90 days of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs*
Many brokerage firms that pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). * Money market mutual funds are regulated, but ultimately not FDIC-insured, so I would still stick with highly reputable firms. I am including a few ultra-short bond ETFs as they may be your best cash alternative in a brokerage account, but they may experience short-term losses.
Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 2.14%. Compare with your own broker’s money market rate.
Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.97% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 3.07% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so your principal may vary a little bit.
The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.75% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.85% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.
Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks and are fully backed by the US government. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.
You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 9/1/2022, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 2.33% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 3.50% annualized interest.
The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 2.07% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 1.80% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.
US Savings Bonds Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest. The annual purchase limit for electronic I bonds is $10,000 per Social Security Number, available online at TreasuryDirect.gov. You can also buy an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds using your tax refund with IRS Form 8888.
“I Bonds” bought between May 2022 and October 2022 will earn a 9.62% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More on Savings Bonds here.
In mid-October 2022, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.
See below about EE Bonds as a potential long-term bond alternative.
Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are severely capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore, as I feel the work required and the fees charged if you mess up exceeds any small potential benefit.
Mango Money pays 6% APY on up to $2,500, if you manage to jump through several hoops. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.
NetSpend Prepaid pays 5% APY on up to $1,000 but be warned that there is also a $5.95 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain regular monthly activity.
Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops which usually involve 10+ debit card purchases each cycle, a certain number of ACH/direct deposits, and/or a certain number of logins per month. If you make a mistake (or they judge that you did) you risk earning zero interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others would rather not bother. Rates can also drop suddenly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling.
Porte fintech app requires a one-time direct deposit of $1,000+ to open a savings account. Porte then requires $3,000 in direct deposits and 15 debit card purchases per quarter (average $1,000 direct deposit and 5 debit purchases per month) to receive 3% APY on up to $15,000. New customer bonus via referral.
The Bank of Denver pays 2.50% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 12 debit card purchases of $5+ each, receive only online statements, and make at least 1 ACH credit or debit transaction per statement cycle. If you meet those qualifications, you can also link a Kasasa savings account that pays 1.00% APY on up to $25k. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
Presidential Bank pays 2.25% APY on balances between $500 and up to $25,000, if you maintain a $500+ direct deposit and at least 7 electronic withdrawals per month (ATM, POS, ACH and Billpay counts).
Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.
Bread Financial has a 5-year certificate at 3.65% APY ($1,500 min), 4-year at 3.60% APY, 3-year at 3.55% APY, 2-year at 3.50% APY, and 1-year at 3.00% APY. The early withdrawal penalty for the 5-year is 365 days of interest.
NASA FCU has special 49-month CD at 3.85% APY. $10,000 minimum of new money. The early withdrawal penalty for the 5-year is 365 days of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Right now, I see a 5-year CD at 3.55% APY. Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.
Willing to lock up your money for 10 years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. You might find something that pays more than your other brokerage cash and Treasury options. Right now, I see a 10-year CD at 3.90% APY vs. 3.30% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs where they can call your CD back if interest rates rise.
How about two decades?Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently 0.10%). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. But if holding for 20 years isn’t an issue, it can also serve as a hedge against prolonged deflation during that time. Purchase limit is $10,000 each calendar year for each Social Security Number. As of 9/1/2022, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 3.53%.
All rates were checked as of 9/1/2022.
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