Capital One 360 Savings Deposit Promo ($300 to $1,500 Bonus)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Capital One has brought back a deposit promotion worth up to $1,500 for new 360 Savings accountholders. It’s a good bonus, but only for “new” customers and those that are willing to keep an eye on things. Here’s their definition of “new”:

If you have or had an open 360 Performance Savings, 360 Savings, 360 Money Market, Savings Now or Confidence Savings account as a primary or secondary account holder with Capital One on or after January 1, 2022, you will be ineligible for the bonus. If your account is in default, closed or suspended, or otherwise not in good standing, you will not receive the bonus.

Note: Some readers have reported in the past that they were not able to apply the promo code even as valid new customers, and Capital One responded that this was a targeted promotion even though there is no such language on the offer page nor in the terms and conditions. After applying, I would contact them and make sure that the promo code “BONUS1500” was accepted before making a large deposit for this promo.

The steps:

  • Open a new 360 Performance Savings account with promo code BONUS1500 on or after April 3, 2024.
  • Deposit $20,000+ of external funds during the 15-day Initial Funding Period after opening your account.
  • Hold the deposit(s) in your account for an additional 90 days after the 15-day Initial Funding Period ends.
  • $20,000+ deposited = $300 bonus.
  • $50,000+ deposited = $750 bonus.
  • $100,000+ deposited = $1,500 bonus.
  • See the bonus in your new account within 60 days after holding.
  • You’ll also earn their normal interest rate (variable, but currently 4.25% APY as of 4/17/24). No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

Note that the 90-day “maintain balance” period is after and in addition to the end of the 15-day “initial funding period”. So if you are counting from the opening day, that is a total of 105 days after opening. This is important as other readers have gotten denied for the bonus when withdrawing after 91-100 days. You may wish to chat with Capital One to confirm the exact date.

As long as you hit the tiers exactly, you are getting 1.5% of your deposit with technically a minimum holding period of 90 days, but you’ll probably want to send it in a little early and take it out a little late to be safely within the deadlines. Let’s call it 120 days for a conservative round number. This works out to the equivalent of (a little more than) a 4.5% annualized yield. If you assume the current 4.25% APY holds, that would be an estimated 4.5% + 4.25% = 8.75% annualized yield for those 120 days.

A 4-month CD at nearly 9% APY is not bad if you have a lot of money and a short-term horizon for it. Again, this one is only for new customers or those that have closed their previous CapOne360 savings-type accounts by January 1, 2022.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.


Savings I Bonds May 2024: Predicted ~1.2% Fixed Rate, 2.97% Inflation Rate

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Savings I Bonds are a unique, low-risk investment backed by the US Treasury that pay out a variable interest rate linked to inflation. With a holding period from 12 months to 30 years, you could own them as an alternative to bank certificates of deposit (they are liquid after 12 months) or bonds in your portfolio.

New inflation numbers were just announced at BLS.gov, which allows us to make an early prediction of the May 2024 savings bond rates a couple of weeks before the official announcement on the 1st. This also allows the opportunity to know exactly what a April 2024 savings bond purchase will yield over the next 12 months, instead of just 6 months. You can then compare this against a May 2024 purchase.

New inflation rate prediction. September 2023 CPI-U was 307.789. March 2024 CPI-U was 312.332, for a semi-annual inflation rate of 1.48%. Using the official composite rate formula:

Composite rate formula: [Fixed rate + (2 x semiannual inflation rate) + (fixed rate x semiannual inflation rate)]

This results in the variable component of interest rate for the next 6 month cycle being ~2.96% to 2.97% if you use a fixed rate of between 0% and 1%.

Tips on purchase and redemption. You can’t redeem until after 12 months of ownership, and any redemptions within 5 years incur an interest penalty of the last 3 months of interest. A simple “trick” with I-Bonds is that if you buy at the end of the month, you’ll still get all the interest for the entire month – same as if you bought it in the beginning of the month. It’s best to give yourself a few business days of buffer time. If you miss the cutoff, your effective purchase date will be bumped into the next month.

Buying in April 2024. If you buy before the end of April, the fixed rate portion of I-Bonds will be 1.30%. You will be guaranteed a total interest rate of 1.30 + 3.97 = 5.27% for the next 6 months. For the 6 months after that, the total rate will be 1.30 + 2.97 = 4.27%.

Let’s look at the scenario where you hold for the minimum of one year and pay the 3-month interest penalty. If you theoretically buy on April 30th, 2024 and sell on April 1st, 2025, I estimate that you’ll earn a ~4.04% annualized return for an 11-month holding period, for which the interest is also exempt from state income taxes. If you theoretically buy on April 30th, 2024 and sell on July 1, 2025, you’ll earn a ~4.09% annualized return for an 14-month holding period.

Comparing with the best interest rates of October 2023, these rates are lower than what is available via regular nominal Treasury bonds and other deposit accounts.

Buying in May 2024. If you buy in May 2024, you will get ~2.97% plus a newly-set fixed rate for the first 6 months. The new fixed rate is officially unknown, but is loosely linked to the real yield of short-term TIPS. My rough guess is somewhere between 1% and 1.5%. The current real yield on short-term TIPS is a tiny bit lower than it was during the last reset, when the fixed rate was set at 1.3%. Every six months after your purchase, your rate will adjust to your fixed rate (set at purchase) plus a variable rate based on inflation.

If you have an existing I-Bond, the rates reset every 6 months depending on your specific purchase month. Everyone will eventually get this variable rate. Your bond rate = your specific fixed rate (based on purchase month, look it up here) + variable rate (total bond rate has a minimum floor of 0%).

Buy now or wait? Between those two options, I would buy in April as you’ll likely get a the same or tiny bit higher fixed rate and a decent initial 6-month rate. However, I actually don’t plan to buy any savings bonds right now and will be waiting until the next CPI announcement in mid-October, as I have been buying longer-term TIPS instead (in tax-deferred) to lock in the current 2%+ real yields.

Unique features. I have a separate post on reasons to own Series I Savings Bonds, including inflation protection, tax deferral, exemption from state income taxes, and potential tax benefits if used toward qualified educational expenses.

Over the years, I have accumulated a nice pile of I-Bonds and consider it part of the inflation-linked bond allocation inside my long-term investment portfolio.

Annual purchase limits. The annual purchase limit is now $10,000 in online I-bonds per Social Security Number. For a couple, that’s $20,000 per year. You can only buy online at TreasuryDirect.gov, after making sure you’re okay with their security protocols and user-friendliness. You can also buy an additional $5,000 in paper I bonds using your tax refund with IRS Form 8888. If you have children, you may be able to buy additional savings bonds by using a minor’s Social Security Number. TheFinanceBuff has a useful post on gifting options if you are a couple and want to frontload your purchases now. TreasuryDirect also allows trust accounts to purchase savings bonds.

Concerns about TreasuryDirect customer service. Opening a TreasuryDirect account or conducting other transactions can sometimes be a hassle as they may ask for a medallion signature guarantee which requires a visit to a physical bank or credit union and snail mail. This doesn’t apply to everyone and seems to have gotten better recently, but plan to experience delays in any transaction that you try to accomplish (registration changes, converting paper bonds, changing bank accounts). They just seem to be overwhelmed in general. Also know that if your password in compromised, they will not replace any lost or stolen savings bonds.

Bottom line. Savings I bonds are a unique, low-risk investment that are linked to inflation and only available to individual investors. You can only purchase them online at TreasuryDirect.gov, with the exception of paper bonds via tax refund. For more background, see the rest of my posts on savings bonds.

[Image: 1942 US Savings Bond poster – source]

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.


$7,000 IRA Contribution Bonus Challenge: $2,428 in Bonuses (2024 YTD Edition)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Each year, I challenge myself to earn the equivalent of the maximum annual IRA contribution limit ($7,000 for 2024 if under 50) using the profits from various finance promotions alone. I earned $5,592 in 2021, $6,259 in 2022, and $5,444 in 2023 (plus another $2,500 in stock special situations). Here’s a progress update after the end of the first quarter of 2024.

If you combined these hobby profits and steady investing, this CAN create enough for a house downpayment (unlike perhaps spare change roundups). If you had put $6,000 into your IRA every year for the recent 10 year period (2014-2023) and invested in a simple Target Date retirement fund, you would have turned small, weekly deals into a $95,000+ nest egg.

That’s worth repeating: An extra 100 grand has been the real-world result of playing this game and investing $500 a month in proceeds for the last 10 years! I have the brokerage statements to prove it. Not to mention, a couple could double these numbers. Focus + Long attention span = Surprising results.

Ground rules: Real-world results for one person only. Following with My Money Blog tradition, this will track my personal, real-world results. It would be quite easy to list a bunch of promotions that add up to $6,000, but these will be promotions that I personally sign up for and complete the requirements (even though I’ve already opened 100+ bank accounts, credit cards, and brokerage accounts over the years). I will track my individual results only, although my partner does also participate on a more selective basis. Nearly all of them have been documented in real-time in the Deals and Offers category, Top 10 credit cards list, and brokerage bonus list.

2024 bonuses and promotions list. The 💵 symbol means I have received and/or cashed out the bonus successfully. The ⌛ symbol means that the promo is still in progress. “Still live” means the offer is still available but the values may have gone up or down.

I chose the Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines cards because I already had planned trips within the next 12 months and knew I could take advantage of the free checked bags, companion fare savings, and redeem the miles. I valued the miles at a simple and conservative $0.01/mile. The Alaska Companion fare on its own saved us nearly $700.

I’m not counting these again in 2024, but I earned them in 2023 and they are “still live”:

Total for 2024 YTD: If I assume that all bonuses for which I have completed the required activity will eventually post, the total tally so far is $2,428, which is 35% of the $7,000 annual IRA contribution limit for 2024.

Honorable mention #1: Cummins / Atmus Odd Lot Tender Offer. I did make a $4,819 profit over only 23 calendar days from the Cummins / Atmus Filtration odd lot tender offer. This did require a $26,000 commitment to buy 99 shares (the max allowed as an individual small investor) before the odd lot tender, but the lockup time was short with an annualized rate of return of 1,528%.

Honorable mention #2: Robinhood 3% IRA Transfer / 401k Rollover Bonus. After some hemming and hawing (I had to look up how to spell that), I decided to go forward with this offer that expires 4/30 using my largest Roth IRA account from Vanguard. The size of this bonus will depend on the size of your assets, so I won’t include this bonus in my annual sums. But the expected value is over $8,000 after fees. Let’s hope the transfer completes smoothly.

This is a personal challenge/game that I like to play (and have played for a long time now). It’s not for everyone. I happen to enjoy trying out new apps and services. I also like my hobbies to be profitable – not gonna lie – but I don’t like to waste my time either. I look for a solid return based on the time commitment required. I try to avoid speculative bets, bonuses that are hard to convert to real cash-equivalent value, and anything that requires driving to stores where things may or may not be in stock. The deals that I post often last only a few days, but it’s a bit like value investing where you have to be ready to get off your butt and take decisive action when an opportunity shows up, because they won’t last forever.

Many things I have to skip simply because I’ve already done them. For those new to this hobby, I would first grab the best overall cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and build up a nice stash of flexible Ultimate Rewards points. After that, I would recommend looking at the Citi Premier (ThankYou points), Capital Venture X (Capital One Miles), and American Express Gold (AmEx Membership Rewards points) to jumpstart your points stashes.

This list also ignores the additional interest earned from otherwise optimizing my existing cash balances, as well as everyday credit card rewards like 2% to 2.6% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on specific categories or 1% or better cash back on rent.

Finally, I am also excluding small-business deals like big $1,000+ value business card bonuses, big business checking bonuses, and so on.

Photo was generated by Adobe’s Firefly tool (AI).

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.


Acorns App Results: How Much Did Folks Earn Rounding Up Spare Change?

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

If you don’t remember, Acorns was a hot app for a little while due to their primary feature of allowing you to automatically “round up” your purchases and invest them into a portfolio of ETFs. So if you made a $10.45 purchase, it would be rounded up to $11.00 and $0.55 would be invested.

This Axios article managed to obtain some proprietary data from Acorns and reverse-engineers it to estimate how much the average Acorns user saved (and spent) from their Roundups from 2015 to 2024. While the big-picture conclusions aren’t exactly surprising, the fintech geek side of me appreciated the peek into these details. My takeaways:

  • Survivorship bias. These numbers are taken from roughly 50,000 of their most dedicated users from 2015 to March 2024. Nine years is a long time in the fintech world! Everyone who closed their account before March 2024 was not included.
  • Average roundup per user: $43 a month. Times 9 years = $4,644. Assuming randomly-distributed purchases, that’s about 86 purchases a month. This assumes no other deposits, no withdrawals, and no investment growth.
  • Average withdrawal per user: $28 a month. In reality, over half of these Roundups were withdrawn, which led to a lower final balance.
  • Average additional deposit per user: $86 a month. In addition to the automated round-ups, this is the average additional deposit per month.

Did Acorns make users rich? The article title was “How much Acorns savers amassed by investing spare change”? Their conclusion:

Now we know just how meaningful the amount is — enough to buy a decent vacation, but not remotely enough to make a down payment on a house.

Well… yeah? Did anyone expect what used to be a jar of coins to cover a house downpayment? Back in the day, the big jar of coins also often went towards a family vacation.

My wife’s family once filled up one of those 5-gallon office water cooler jugs, and they weren’t alone. From Reddit/Imgur, this 5-gallon jug held very close to $3,000 and took the user 7 years to fill:

Did Acorns inspire additional savings? The optimistic way to think of Acorns is that it can show you that saving is indeed possible and easier than you thought, and that realization can inspire even more savings. A not-so-optimistic way is to point out that paying $3 every month to help you put aside $43 of your own money is kind of a big percentage. Especially if you’re going to take a lot of it out and disrupt the compounding growth.

The real-world results are that amongst Acorn’s most loyal users (the ones that kept using and paying for the service for 9 years), roughly and on average, along with the $43 in monthly Roundups contributed an additional $86 a month via recurring deposits but ended up withdrawing roughly half of the total amount (including any investment gains). My view is that this account was treated more commonly like a small emergency fund cushion, which is not a bad thing but a much smaller scale than they might have hoped for.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.


Best Interest Rates on Cash Roundup – April 2024

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of April 2024, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. There are lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors, often earning you a lot more money while keeping the same level of safety by moving to another FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you could earn from switching. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 4/4/2024.

TL;DR: Future Fed rate cuts appear expected, and some banks are already making rate cuts themselves. Still 5%+ savings accounts and short-term CDs, but long-term CD rates dropped slightly again. Compare against Treasury bills and bonds at every maturity, taking into account state tax exemption.

Fintech accounts
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.

  • 5.26% APY ($1 minimum). Raisin lets you switch between different FDIC-insured banks and NCUA-insured credit unions easily without opening a new account every time, and their liquid savings rates currently top out at 5.26% APY across multiple banks. See my Raisin review for details. Raisin does not charge depositors a fee for the service.
  • 5.36% APY (before fees). MaxMyInterest is another service that allows you to access and switch between different FDIC-insured banks. You can view their current banks and APYs here. As of 4/4/23, the highest rate is from Customers Bank and BankProv at 5.36% APY. However, note that they charge a membership fee of 0.04% per quarter, or 0.16% per year (subject to $20 minimum per quarter, or $80 per year). That means if you have a $10,000 balance, then $80 a year = 0.80% per year. This service is meant for those with larger balances. You are allowed to cancel the service and keep the bank accounts, but then you may lose their specially-negotiated rates and cannot switch between banks anymore.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks STILL pay essentially no interest, everyone should have a separate, no-fee online savings account to piggy-back onto 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 and solid user experience. 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.

  • The top rate at the moment is at Poppy Bank at 5.50% APY. BrioDirect at 5.35% APY. I have no personal experience with Poppy or Brio, but they are the top rates at the moment. CIT Platinum Savings at 5.05% APY with $5,000+ balance.
  • SoFi Bank is at 4.60% APY + up to $325 new account bonus with direct deposit. You must maintain a direct deposit of any amount each month for the higher APY. SoFi has historically competitive rates and full banking features. See details at $25 + $300 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.
  • Here is a limited survey of high-yield savings accounts. They aren’t the highest current rate, but historically have kept it relatively competitive and I like to track their history. This past month, I have seen some quiet, small, ominous rate drops.

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. Raisin has a 9-month No Penalty CD at 5.10% APY with $1 minimum deposit and 30-day minimum hold time. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 4.70% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Consider opening multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • CFG Bank has a 1-year certificate at 5.40% APY ($500 min). There is a 180-day interest penalty if you withdraw your CD funds before maturity.
  • CIBC Agility Online has a 13-month CD at 5.36% APY ($1,000 min). Reasonable 30-day penalty if you withdraw your CD funds before maturity.

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). Note: Money market mutual funds are highly-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 losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 5.28% (changes daily, but also works out to a compound yield of 5.41%, which is better for comparing against APY). Odds are this is much higher than your own broker’s default cash sweep interest rate.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 5.32% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 5.10% 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, which can make a significant difference in your effective yield.

  • 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 4/3/24, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.36% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.04% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 5.26% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 5.21% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.08 years.

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 November 2023 and April 2024 will earn a 5.27% 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-April 2024, 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.

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.

  • OnPath Federal Credit Union pays 7.00% APY on up to $10,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and login to online or mobile banking once per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via $5 membership fee to join partner organization. You can also get a $100 Visa Reward card when you open a new account and make qualifying transactions.
  • Credit Union of New Jersey pays 6.00% APY on up to $25,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and make at least 1 direct deposit, online bill payment, or automatic payment (ACH) per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via $5 membership fee to join partner organization.
  • Andrews Federal Credit Union pays 6.00% APY on up to $25,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and make at least 1 direct deposit or ACH transaction per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • Pelican State Credit Union pays 6.05% APY on up to $20,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, log into your account at least once, and make at least 1 direct deposit, online bill payment, or automatic payment (ACH) per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization membership.
  • Orion Federal Credit Union pays 6.00% APY on up to $10,000 if you make electronic deposits of $500+ each month (ACH transfers count) and spend $500+ on your Orion debit or credit card each month. Anyone can join this credit union via $10 membership fee to partner organization membership.
  • All America/Redneck Bank pays 5.15% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 10 debit card purchases each monthly cycle with online statements.
  • Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

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.

  • First Internet Bank has a 5-year CD at 4.55% APY. 4-year at 4.50% APY. 3-year at 4.66% APY. 2-year at 4.82% APY. 1-year at 5.31% APY. $1,000 minimum. The early withdrawal penalty (EWP) for CD maturities of 2 years or more is 360 days of interest. For CD maturity of 1 year, the EWP is 180 days of interest.
  • BMO Alto has a 5-year CD at 4.50% APY. 4-year at 4.50% APY. 3-year at 4.50% APY. 2-year at 4.65% APY. 1-year at 5.95% APY. No minimum. The early withdrawal penalty (EWP) for CD maturities of 1 year or more is 180 days of interest. For CD maturities of 11 months or less, the EWP is 90 days of interest. Note that they reserve the right to prohibit early withdrawals entirely (!). Online-only subsidiary of BMO Bank.
  • 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 non-callable CD at 4.30% APY (callable: no, call protection: yes). Be warned that now both Vanguard and Fidelity will list higher rates from callable CDs, which importantly means they can call back your CD if rates drop later.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk (tbh, I don’t use them at all), 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 CDs at 4.05% (callable: no, call protection: yes) vs. 4.36% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs where they can call your CD back if interest rates drop.

All rates were checked as of 4/4/2024.

Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash

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SoFi Offers: 4.60% APY + Up to $325 Checking Bonus, 2.2% Cash Back Credit Card, $300 Personal Loan Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Update April 2024: SoFi made a few notable changes recently, both positive and negative:

  • The SoFi Unlimited 2% Credit Card will now offer 10% boost on their rewards with direct deposit into SoFi Checking or Savings. This would work out to 2.2% cash back rewards points on everyday purchases, 3.3% cash back rewards points on SoFi Travel purchases, and 27.5% cash back rewards points on SoFi Stadium purchases.
  • There is a new inactivity fee of $25 per account for every 6 months of login inactivity.
  • The outgoing ACAT transfer fee was increased to $100. Previously $75.
  • The SoFi 2% IRA match promo is scheduled to end soon; it runs until 4/15/24.

The rest of the offers:

SoFi (“Social Finance”) is an all-in-one finance app that expanded from students loans into banking, stocks, crypto, credit cards, and more. Here are some of their other offers; New users can receive a separate opening bonus for each separate part of SoFi (Money, Invest, Loans, etc).

  • SoFi Checking Referral Offer: Up to $325 new user bonus. Open a new SoFi Money account and add at least $10 to your account within 5 days, and get $25. Then get up to $300 additional bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Plus up to 4.60% APY.
  • SoFi Invest Referral Offer: $25 new user bonus. Brokerage account. Open an Active Investing account with $10 or more, and you’ll get $25 in stock.
  • SoFi Invest Alternate Offer: Claw Game. Feeling lucky? Compare a guaranteed $25 above against having a 0.028% chance of a $1,000 bonus. (That is less than 1 in 1000 odds.)
  • SoFi Invest Asset Transfer Offer: Up to $5,000 Bonus. Transfer over your existing assets from another broker and SoFi will pay you a bonus. From $50 bonus for transferring $5,000 in assets all the way up to $5,000 bonus for $2 million in assets.
  • SoFi Student Loan Refi: $300 bonus. Warning: Do your research before refinancing your Federal student loans to a private lender.
  • SoFi Doctors and Dentists Student Loan Refi: $1,000 bonus. Special low rates just for doctors and dentists.
  • SoFi Private Student Loan: $100 bonus.
  • SoFi Personal Loans Referral Offer: Fixed $300 bonus. Fixed $300 bonus, 90 days after successful funding. The loan has no fees and you can pay it back in full after 90 days (you can pay it down to $50 before then to accrue minimal interest).
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

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Axos Bank Cashback Checking $300 Bonus w/ Direct Deposit

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Updated with new offer. Axos Bank has a $300 bonus with relatively straightforward requirements using promo code FREEDOM300. You must open a new Cashback Checking account by 7/31/2024 and fund within 30 days of account opening. Set up direct deposit of $1,000+ each calendar month, and that will earn you $100 per month for 3 months ($300 total). Historically, they have been pretty flexible on what is considered direct deposit.

The fine print:

To be eligible to earn all or a portion of the cash incentive as part of the “FREEDOM300″ $300 promotion, an Axos Bank CashBack Checking account that includes the promotional code ” FREEDOM300″ must be opened between November 1, 2023, at 12 a.m. PST and July 31, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. PST. Axos Bank reserves the right to limit each primary account holder to one (1) checking account promotional offer per year, and customers who have held primary ownership of an Axos Bank or Axos Bank for Nationwide checking account at any time in the past 12 months may be disqualified from the “FREEDOM300” offer. Promotional terms and conditions are subject to change or removal without notice. Bonus cash may be taxable and reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC. Consult your tax advisor. After meeting the initial requirements mentioned above, the amount of cash bonus earned will depend on meeting the additional requirements outlined below:

To earn up to a $300 bonus, you must be approved for your new Axos Bank CashBack Checking account, fund it within 30 days of account opening, and have qualifying direct deposits that total at least $1,000.00 each calendar month. A cash bonus of up to $300 can be earned in the following manner during the first four (4) statement cycles. A statement cycle is a calendar month consisting of the days your account was open during that month. A maximum of three (3) payouts of $100 for each calendar month that the CashBack Checking account is receiving the direct deposit requirement, the bonus can be earned during the first four (4) statement cycles, and the bonus will be deposited into your Axos Bank CashBack Checking account within 10 business days following the end of the statement cycle in which the direct deposit requirement was met. Your Axos Bank CashBack Checking account must be open and in good standing at the time the bonus is paid to be eligible to receive the bonus, and your Axos Bank CashBack Checking account must remain open for 120 days, or an early closure fee of up to $300 may apply, equal to the amount of the total bonus earned up to $300.

I’ve done a few Axos Bank bonuses in the past (too recent for me to qualify for this), and the good news is that they do pay out reliably in my experience.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

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First Tech Credit Union: $300 Rewards Checking Account Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Updated with new bonus details. First Tech Federal Credit Union has a new $300 checking bonus. This new promo is set to run through 6/30/24, but is specifically for their new Reward Checking account that pays up to 5.00% APY (on up to $15,000 balance) if you meet a bunch of different hoops including 20 debit card transactions with $500+ in monthly spend. However, you can still get the $300 without meeting the 5.00% APY requirements. This promo is also valid for existing First Tech Rewards checking account owners who have not set up a direct deposit yet.

Here’s how to make it happen:

1) Open a First Tech Reward Checking account. Already have one? You’re set!
2) Set up a new payroll direct deposit to your First Tech Rewards Checking of $1,000+ per month for a minimum of three months.
3) Earn your $300 bonus!

When I applied for a previous promo, First Tech CU paid the $8 membership fee for the partner organization on my behalf so that I could join the credit union, although they mentioned it might be eventually be reported on 1099-INT. I did not experience a hard credit check, although they did a soft check on Experian.

The monthly requirements for earning the 5.00% APY interest (on up to $15,000 balance) are:

  • 20 card transactions with $500+ in monthly spend.
  • Electronic statements
  • ACH / direct deposit $1,000+ monthly

Offer valid for enrollment between February 26, 2024 and June 30, 2024 for members without an existing direct deposit. Members with existing direct deposits or who are already enrolled in a First Tech direct deposit campaign are not eligible. Participant is defined as 18 years of age or older and the primary account owner on a First Tech Rewards Checking (FTRC) account. Direct deposits are considered new if there has been no direct deposit activity in the Participant’s share accounts on which they are the Primary Owner within the previous 18 months. Membership is required and is subject to approval. Fees could reduce earnings on the account. FTRC accounts must be personal accounts. Fiduciary, trust, business, or organization accounts are not eligible. Participant will be enrolled in the promotion upon receipt of new direct deposit transaction into the FTRC account (“Enrollment”). In order to receive any bonus payout, in addition to satisfying the payout conditions set forth in this disclosure, the Membership Savings account must be in good standing (not in default, closed, inactive, or otherwise not in good standing) during the period of time commencing with Enrollment and ending with the applicable date of payout. Any inquiries or disputes must be received by January 31, 2025.

New Direct Deposit Offer: New direct deposit must occur at least on New Direct Deposit Offer: New direct deposit must occur at least once per calendar month from the Participant’s employer payroll into the First Tech Rewards Checking (FTRC) account of which the Participant is the primary account owner. Direct deposits from a non-employer payroll source do not qualify. The monthly aggregate amount of all qualifying direct deposits must equal to at least $1,000 to earn the $300 bonus. Enrollment is the date of the initial direct deposit transaction. During the period of time commencing with Enrollment and ending 120 calendar days after Enrollment (“Enrollment Period”), at least one direct deposit transaction must occur each calendar month starting with the initial direct deposit transaction. A minimum of three direct deposit transactions must be received during the Enrollment Period. (EXAMPLE: If a member’s initial direct deposit is March 1, 2024, additional required direct deposits must occur at least once in each subsequent calendar month following the month in which the initial direct deposit is made, the last direct deposit must be received by June 29, 2024.) Only the Participant will receive credit for the direct deposits. Any qualifying bonus will be deposited to the Participant’s Membership Savings account the first week following the Enrollment Period. Bonuses will be considered dividends and may be reported on IRS form 1099-INT.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

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Truist Bank $400 New Checking Account Bonus 2024 (Regional Eligibility)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Updated with new offer. Truist Bank formed from the merger of BB&T and Suntrust Banks, now roughly the 10th largest US bank with branches in 17 states and DC. Trust has a new $400 checking bonus for new checking customers that have a mailing address within a state in their branch footprint: AL, AR, GA, FL, IN, KY, MD, MS, NC, NJ, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV or DC. I usually don’t list bonuses that aren’t nationwide, but this is a sizable bonus with a large regional bank. If I lived in this area, I’d certainly rather open an account when they are giving out 400 bucks. Here are the steps:

  • Open a new Truist One Checking account online from 2/28/24 through 6/26/24. Minimum opening deposit is $50. Must open online with promo code TRUIST400DC24.
  • Receive at least one qualifying Direct Deposit* of $500 or more, AND
  • Complete at least 15 qualifying debit card purchases** within 90 days of account opening. All debit purchases must be posted to your account to qualify.

Note the following definitions for new customers:

Clients that are the primary account holder on an existing personal checking account with Truist or who have closed a personal checking account with Truist on or after 2/28/23 are not eligible to participate.

The Truist One Checking account has a $12 monthly maintenance fees that is waived each statement cycle by any one of the following:

  • $500+ in total qualifying Direct Deposits
  • Maintain a total combined ledger balance of $500 or more in Truist related accounts across personal deposits (excluding Truist HSA) and all investments as reflected on the business day before your statement cycle end date.
  • Having a personal Truist credit card, mortgage or consumer loan, excluding LightStream®.
  • Having a linked Small Business Checking Account.
  • Students under the age of 25.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

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Greenlight Debit Card For Kids: Free Subscription for PSECU Members ($60/year Value)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

Greenlight is a popular reloadable debit card service for kids, where parents can manage and track their kids spending. You can also add an allowance, payments for recurring chores or one-time jobs, and teach them compound interest via “parent-paid interest”. I suppose its wise to show the kids how handle digital spending before the credit card offers arrive.

I decided to try out the new PSECU perk that offers the basic tier of Greenlight for free. (I did the PSECU $300 checking promo first.) You must enroll at Greenlight.com/PSECU and link a PSECU checking account in order to get the benefit. The “Greenlight Select” membership is a special tier for such partners, but is mostly comparable to the “Greenlight Core” tier on their website, which costs $4.99 a month. Included in the “Greenlight Select” membership:

  • Debit Mastercards for up to 5 kids. Send money instantly and keep tabs on spending with real-time notifications.
  • Educational app. The parents have their app where they get notified of every purchase, and the kids have their own app with educational games and short lessons (optional). Kids can divide their money into “savings” or “giving” baskets as well as create specific savings goals.
  • Parental controls. Created automated allowance payments. Set category and store-level spending limits.
  • 1% APY interest. This is the lowest tier and the lowest interest, although some other apps don’t pay any interest at all. You can get up to 5% APY on $5,000 if you upgrade to the $15/month tier.
  • Roundup feature. You can set it to round up purchases to the next dollar and put the difference in a savings account.
  • No overdraft fees. Does not allow overdrafts, so no overdraft fees.
  • Banking services provided by Community Federal Savings Bank, member FDIC.

Teaching compound interest with higher interest rates. It can be hard to visualize compound interest at low interest rates, so parents can increase it by paying a higher “interest” rate out of their own pockets. For example, here is an illustration of $100 earning a 25% interest rate (paid by the parent) as opposed to a 5% interest rate. It makes the idea of earning interest on interest more immediate and tangible. Ideally, this can teach them that delayed gratification turns it into future rewards. You can set interest rates from 1% up to 100%.

Unfortunately, to add on investments, I would have to upgrade to the $10 a month tier or higher. If I had a teen ready for investing, I’d probably use the Fidelity Youth account instead (available for age 13-17 only, and my kids aren’t that old yet).

For kids under 13, I think that Greenlight would serve as a nice alternative to piggy banks. (Greenlight has no minimum age requirement.) While I suppose $5 a month isn’t a lot of money for all these features, I still like “free” better. After a few quick internet searches for “Greenlight Select”, I found multiple local banks and credit unions in my area that offered this free tier of service. If you plan on paying for it, there is $30 bonus available with a 1-month free trial (bonus not stackable with this free offer).

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

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PSECU $300 New Checking Account Bonus 2024

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Updated with 2024 promo details, free Greenlight kids debit card perk. Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU) has a $300 new checking account bonus that is broken up into two stages ($200+$100). That is also my referral link as I successfully did a similar $300 deal from last year. PSECU is a digital-first credit union with a very open membership. If you don’t satisfy the available free options, anyone can join with $10:

Don’t meet any of the criteria above? No problem! You can still become eligible for PSECU membership by joining the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS).

PRPS is a statewide association providing education, advocacy, and resources for those working and volunteering to manage Pennsylvania’s 6,000+ local parks. Park and recreation departments provide safe and affordable recreation opportunities, creating stronger and more inclusive communities.

PRPS membership dues are $20, but we cover $10 when you select to join PRPS during our application process.

There may also be a required $5 initial deposit into a share savings account. I also experienced a hard credit check on Experian, which is (unfortunately) common amongst credit unions. Here are the details on the bonus requirements:

$200 Checking Bonus (Stage 1)

  • Become a PSECU member using promo link and promo code RIGHTNOTEREFER (should be automatically applied) and add a free checking account with debit card.
  • Sign up and log into digital banking (online or mobile).
  • Establish Qualifying Payroll Direct Deposit(s) that total at least $500 per calendar month.
  • Must be completed in the first 60 days of establishing your membership.

$100 Checking Bonus (Stage 2)

  • Continue recurring Qualifying Payroll Direct Deposits totaling at least $500 per calendar month for 3 consecutive months after Stage 1 requirements are met, with a total additional amount deposited of at least $1,500 during Stage 2.
  • Complete a minimum of 10 Eligible Debit Card Purchases. Eligible Debit Card Purchases are defined as individual purchases of at least $10 for a minimum overall purchase total of at least $100.
  • Must be completed within 120 days of establishing your membership.

My application process went smoothly and similar to other credit unions. I did have to upload a scan of the front and back of my driver’s license to help verify my identity (which is a good thing in my opinion) as well as answer some identity verification questions based on my credit report. The application took a couple days to process but I was able to get my account information and online access without any phone call or paperwork required. I did have to call them briefly to get my checking account number (didn’t want to wait on the free checks to arrive) in order to set up my direct deposit.

Added 2024: Another useful perk of PSECU for those with kids and teens is they include a free Greenlight subscription, which is a popular reloadable debit card service for kids. This is usually $5 a month ($60 a year).

Full terms and conditions:

*Hit the Right Note – Up to $300 Bonus Terms and Conditions
From 1.1.24 to 12.31.24, PSECU is running a new member incentive bonus. To receive up to $300, new members must sign up with promotional code RIGHTNOTEREFER and satisfy each of the requirements listed below. PSECU will deposit member incentive bonus into the Regular share within 45 days after the requirements are satisfied. Promotion open to U.S. Residents who are 18 years of age or older at the time the account is opened. Limit one (1) new member Hit the Right Note bonus per tax identification number used to open a new PSECU account. Joint owners listed on accounts are not eligible to be rewarded for this bonus unless they open their own account. You will not be eligible for the Hit the Right Note bonus if you are a current PSECU member, have closed an account within the past 12 months, or have received any new member incentive bonus within the past 12 months. Members who open accounts and/or loans by fraudulent, suspicious, or illegal means, including but not limited to providing PSECU with fraudulent or fabricated information, are not eligible to participate in this bonus offer. PSECU may adjust the deposited bonus or remove the deposited bonus at any time if PSECU suspects accounts and/or loans were opened by fraudulent, suspicious, or illegal means, including but not limited to providing PSECU with fraudulent or fabricated information. $5 is required to open and maintain a Regular share account. This $5 share deposit is also required to be eligible to receive the bonus, and the member must be in good standing as defined by PSECU’s Bylaws Article II, Section 1. A $5 minimum share purchase will be made on behalf of the new member by PSECU. If the member account is closed within the first year of membership, the initial $5 share will be retained by PSECU. The Annual Percentage Yield on PSECU’s Regular share account is 0.50%. This variable rate is current as of 12.1.23 and may change. Withdrawals and fees may reduce earnings on the account. The recipient of the bonus (up to $300) is solely responsible for payment of applicable taxes on that amount. If you have any questions, please seek the advice of a qualified tax professional. All decisions of PSECU regarding this promotion are final. PSECU may terminate or change the terms and conditions of this promotion without notice. Subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. MyMoneyBlog.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.


Best Interest Rates on Cash Roundup – March 2024

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Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of March 2024, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. There are lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors, often earning you a lot more money while keeping the same level of safety by moving to another FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you could earn from switching. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 3/4/2024.

TL;DR: Mostly minor movements. Still 5%+ savings accounts and short-term CDs, but no more 5-year CDs at 5% APY. Compare against Treasury bills and bonds at every maturity, taking into account state tax exemption.

Fintech accounts
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.

  • 5.30% APY ($1 minimum). Raisin lets you switch between different FDIC-insured banks and NCUA-insured credit unions easily without opening a new account every time, and their liquid savings rates currently top out at 5.30% APY. See my Raisin review for details. Raisin does not charge depositors a fee for the service.
  • 5.36% APY (before fees). MaxMyInterest is another service that allows you to access and switch between different FDIC-insured banks. You can view their current banks and APYs here. As of 12/6/23, the highest rate is from Customers Bank at 5.36% APY. However, note that they charge a membership fee of 0.04% per quarter, or 0.16% per year (subject to $20 minimum per quarter, or $80 per year). That means if you have a $10,000 balance, then $80 a year = 0.80% per year. This service is meant for those with larger balances. You are allowed to cancel the service and keep the bank accounts, but then you may lose their specially-negotiated rates and cannot switch between banks anymore.

High-yield savings accounts
Since the huge megabanks STILL pay essentially no interest, everyone should have a separate, no-fee online savings account to piggy-back onto 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 and solid user experience. 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.

  • The top rate at the moment is at Poppy Bank at 5.50% APY. BrioDirect at 5.35% APY. I have no personal experience with Poppy or Brio, but they are the top rates at the moment. (Milli dropped to 4.75%.) CIT Platinum Savings at 5.05% APY with $5,000+ balance.
  • SoFi Bank is now up to 4.60% APY + up to $325 new account bonus with direct deposit. You must maintain a direct deposit of any amount each month for the higher APY. SoFi has historically competitive rates and full banking features. See details at $25 + $300 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.
  • Here is a limited survey of high-yield savings accounts. They aren’t the highest current rate, but historically have kept it relatively competitive and I like to track their history.

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. Raisin has a 4-month No Penalty CD at 5.30% APY with $1 minimum deposit and 30-day minimum hold time. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 4.90% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 4.00% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 4.70% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Consider opening multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Bask Bank has a 1-year certificate at 5.40% APY ($1,000 min). There is a 90-day interest penalty if you withdraw your CD funds before maturity.
  • CIBC Agility Online has a 13-month CD at 5.36% APY. Reasonable 30-day penalty if you withdraw your CD funds before maturity.

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). Note: Money market mutual funds are highly-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 losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 5.27% (changes daily, but also works out to a compound yield of 5.40%, which is better for comparing against APY). Odds are this is much higher than your own broker’s default cash sweep interest rate.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 5.34% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 5.09% 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, which can make a significant difference in your effective yield.

  • 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 3/4/24, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.38% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 4.99% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 5.19% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 5.20% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.08 years.

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 November 2023 and April 2024 will earn a 5.27% 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-April 2023, 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.

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.

  • OnPath Federal Credit Union pays 7.00% APY on up to $10,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and login to online or mobile banking once per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via $5 membership fee to join partner organization. You can also get a $100 Visa Reward card when you open a new account and make qualifying transactions.
  • Credit Union of New Jersey pays 6.00% APY on up to $25,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and make at least 1 direct deposit, online bill payment, or automatic payment (ACH) per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via $5 membership fee to join partner organization.
  • Andrews Federal Credit Union pays 6.00% APY on up to $25,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, and make at least 1 direct deposit or ACH transaction per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • Pelican State Credit Union pays 6.05% APY on up to $20,000 if you make 15 debit card purchases, opt into online statements, log into your account at least once, and make at least 1 direct deposit, online bill payment, or automatic payment (ACH) per statement cycle. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization membership.
  • Orion Federal Credit Union pays 6.00% APY on up to $10,000 if you make electronic deposits of $500+ each month (ACH transfers count) and spend $500+ on your Orion debit or credit card each month. Anyone can join this credit union via $10 membership fee to partner organization membership.
  • All America/Redneck Bank pays 5.30% APY on up to $15,000 if you make 10 debit card purchases each monthly cycle with online statements.
  • Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

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.

  • First Internet Bank has a 5-year CD at 4.61% APY. 4-year at 4.55% APY. 3-year at 4.76% APY. 2-year at 4.86% APY. 1-year at 5.36% APY. $1,000 minimum. The early withdrawal penalty (EWP) for CD maturities of 2 years or more is 360 days of interest. For CD maturity of 1 year, the EWP is 180 days of interest.
  • BMO Alto has a 5-year CD at 4.60% APY. 4-year at 4.60% APY. 3-year at 4.60% APY. 2-year at 4.75% APY. 1-year at 5.15% APY. No minimum. The early withdrawal penalty (EWP) for CD maturities of 1 year or more is 180 days of interest. For CD maturities of 11 months or less, the EWP is 90 days of interest. Note that they reserve the right to prohibit early withdrawals entirely (!). Online-only subsidiary of BMO Bank.
  • 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 non-callable CD at 4.25% APY (callable: no, call protection: yes). Be warned that now both Vanguard and Fidelity will list higher rates from callable CDs, which importantly means they can call back your CD if rates drop later.

Longer-term Instruments
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 CDs at [n/a] (callable: no, call protection: yes) vs. 4.22% for a 10-year Treasury. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs where they can call your CD back if interest rates drop.

All rates were checked as of 3/4/2024.

Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash

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