Fidelity Bloom App: Fintech App from Traditional Broker

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Update July 2024: Looks like Fidelity is ending this little experiment. They are no longer accepting new applications. It was fun to try out and collect the various incentives.

Update January 2024: If you have the Fidelity Bloom app, this is a reminder that the 10% annual savings match is reset and you can again get $30 for a $300 transfer into your Fidelity Bloom Save account. If you use the SPAXX option for cash sweep, you are also earning close to the equivalent of 5% APY (as of 1/3/24). Here is a screenshot of my 2023 rewards:

Full review:

Fidelity Bloom is a new(er) app from Fidelity Investments targeted at helping young adults become more financially aware and develop better savings habits. iOS and Android. Fidelity has included many “behavioral psychology” features from other fintech startup apps like a match on savings transfers, debit card cash back rewards, rounding-up purchases and saving the difference, and shopping portal cashback. The highlights:

  • (No new user bonus at the moment. Was $100.)
  • 10% annual savings match (up to $30). Get a 10% match on the first $300 saved into their Bloom Save account (up to a $30 match on $300 of new money deposited).
  • 10 cents from Fidelity with every debit card purchase. Fidelity will automatically deposit a fixed 10 cents into the Fidelity Bloom Save account every time customers use the Fidelity Bloom debit card. Reminds me of the Citi Rewards+ credit card.
  • Automatically round up purchases into savings. Customers can automatically round up purchases to the nearest dollar and have the difference moved to savings from their Fidelity Bloom Spend to their Fidelity Bloom Save account.
  • Up to 25% cashback through shopping portal. Receive up to 25% cash back into your Fidelity Bloom Save account when you shop in-app with 1,100+ participating retailers.

Interest rate is competitive (up to ~5% as of 1/3/24 with SPAXX), but it’s a brokerage account. Is it a bank account? Is it a brokerage account? It’s a SIPC-insured brokerage account:

The Fidelity Bloom App is designed to help with your saving and spending behaviors through your Save and Spend accounts, which are brokerage accounts covered by SIPC insurance. They are not bank accounts and therefore are not covered by FDIC insurance.

You do get a routing number and account number for your two accounts, but the cash is held like their other non-retirement accounts. During the sign-up process, you can pick between one of three options for your core position:

  • Fidelity® Interest-Bearing Option (FCASH)
  • Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX)
  • Fidelity Treasury Money Market Fund (FZFXX)

Although I have confidence in Fidelity’s long-term experience and conservatism in running these money market mutual funds, the lack of FDIC coverage is something to note. The rates may change daily. View current rates here.

After you open via app, you can see the account balances at Fidelity.com but you’ll still need the app to change any settings. Here’s a screenshot from my app.

Fidelity recently shut down another of its experimental apps called “Fidelity Spire”, so we’ll see if this one catches on a bit better.

For posterity, here are the terms & conditions for the (expired) $100 limited-time offer:

This offer is valid for new or existing Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC (“Fidelity”) customers who make an initial total deposit of at least $50 (“Qualifying Deposit”) into their Fidelity Bloom Spend account or Fidelity Bloom Save account on or after August 13, 2023 through the Fidelity Bloom app. This offer is limited to one cash award per individual. For clarity, existing Bloom clients who have not yet made any deposits into either of their Fidelity Bloom Spend or Fidelity Bloom Save accounts can participate in this offer by making a Qualifying Deposit by August 27, 2023. Existing Fidelity customers who have previously made deposits into their Fidelity Bloom Spend or Save accounts, including individuals who have already participated in the Bloom $50 offer, are not eligible for this offer.

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NASA FCU Premier eChecking Account: $300 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.

NASA Federal Credit Union (NASA FCU) has a new checking account promotion that is a bit of extra work, but may be worth it when you consider they often have pretty good certificate rates (see current special rates including 9-month CD at 5.70% APY). Anyone can join NASA FCU by agreement to join a partner association (they will pay your membership fee to National Space Society).

Their $300 checking account promo has the following requirements:

  • Open a Premier eChecking account between 12/11/2023 and 12/31/2023. You must also open a Share Savings account and keep $5 in there as long as you are a member.
  • Establish a $500 minimum monthly recurring direct deposit for 3 consecutive months AND make at least 15 debit card purchases (pin or signature) for 3 consecutive months, all within 120 days of account opening. (You get 5 cents of rewards for each signature debit transaction, up to $250 annually.)
  • There is no monthly fee as long as you maintain direct deposit (any amounts) OR active billpay + paperless online statements. Otherwise, $8 a month. There is no minimum balance requirement otherwise. Limit one bonus per member.

You are able to fund up to $500 initially with a credit card. Some ways to generate extra debit card purchases beyond your usual small purchases may include Amazon gift card reloads, paying cell phone or other bills online in increments, and making credit card charitable donations. There will be the usual “Know Your Customer” identity checks and they will ask to upload your driver’s license and/or other ID like passport. Finally, be aware that they will close your idle accounts without notice if you don’t have any transactions for a while.

This will go towards my 2024 IRA challenge bucket.

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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Top FDIC-Insured Savings Account Interest Rate vs. Inflation (2017-2023)

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Whenever an article mentions the “average savings account rate”, I find that information useless. There are a lot of zeros in that average! But this Axios article has an interesting chart comparing the top savings rate vs. the rolling 3-month inflation rate from January 2017 through December 2023. That’s more applicable. Via reader Bill.

This serves as a good reminder that back in July 2021, the absolute top interest rate on an FDIC-insured savings account was redlining at… 1.00% APY. And that was actually a very good relative rate as the Vanguard money market fund with a yield of essentially zero (0.01% APY). Conservative savers had a very hard time earning hardly any interest and were falling behind inflation.

As of December 2023, you are now able to take zero principal risk and yet earn 5% from both the top savings accounts and the top money market funds. Every $10,000 should earn you $500 a year in interest. Every $100,000 should earn you $5,000 a year in interest. $1,000,000 will earn out $50,000 year, absolutely guaranteed. Best of all, that amount is finally a good margin higher than inflation at the moment.

But for those of us with long investing horizons, we must remember that over that long horizon, cash (as tracked by Treasury bills) has historically only just barely kept up with inflation. Sometimes cash wins, sometimes inflation wins, but over the long arc, it’s basically been a a draw. Even if we rate-chase and gain an extra 1% of “alpha”, that’s historically still not as good as stocks for the long run.

So while I still chase rates, 2/3rds of my investment portfolio remains held permanently in stocks. Here’s a chart of the S&P 500 total return for 2023 year-to-date (credit Ycharts). Up 25% as of this writing (12/14/23).

I did not predict that. This should also serve as a reminder that any 2024 S&P 500 forecasts you read this month are also garbage.

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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Mint to Credit Karma Transition: Financial Account Tracking and Budgeting Alternatives

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Mint.com, the financial dashboard and budget tracking website bought by Intuit in 2009, is “shutting down” on January 1st, 2024 (update: now extended to March 2024). Shutting down doesn’t feel like quite the right word, as though the Mint brand is going away, Intuit is transitioning nearly all the core Mint features into Credit Karma, also owned by Intuit.

💰 Credit Karma. Basic balance tracking for free with ads. Direct import from Mint. Known best for their free credit scores and free credit monitoring services, Intuit bought Credit Karma in 2020 (sense a trend?). If you want to continue with tracking account balances, monitor overall spending broken down by category, and be shown ads for credit cards, then you can just migrate all your info to Credit Karma without having to type in all your logins again. Honestly, this seems like a reasonable merger as both used an ad-supported free service model, although the Credit Karma ads are definitely more prominent.

I am already a Credit Karma user for the free credit monitoring, but have not been invited to the formal migration yet. I plan on migrating and giving them a chance first, although I think the current CK website is quite… ugly. The app screenshots look a lot better, so we’ll see. Feature-wise, their FAQ makes it sound pretty similar to what Mint used to offer:

You will be able to bring the majority of your Mint financial account balances, your entire net worth history, plus all of your supported account connections and transactions.

Here are a few more non-Intuit alternatives to Mint to consider:

💰 Quicken Simplifi. Fully featured with automation and forecasting features. No ads for a monthly fee. Quicken has made a more “Mint-like” version called Quicken Simplifi, and the regular price is $3.99/month (discounted 50% to $2/month for first year currently). Deemed “Best Budgeting App” by Wirecutter.

💰 Empower Dashboard. Free financial account tracking more focused on investments and asset allocation. Well, free with one sales phone call. I personally use Empower (formerly Personal Capital) to track all of my investments across different brokerage accounts and 401k providers. Empower also tracks bank accounts, but due to habit I initially preferred to use Mint to track all of my cash across different banks and credit unions. Empower is probably my fallback if Credit Karma gets too annoying, as I’m already familiar with it (and it’s also free with no ads).

I like to tell people upfront that even though it is “free”, after you sign up for Personal Capital, they will call you on the phone to see if you might like their financial planning service. This is how Empower makes money, and I’m fine with that. If you ignore their calls, they will keep calling. If you answer it once and politely decline, they will never call you again (it’s been years and years now) and let you use the dashboard completely free and in peace (and without huge banner ads). I highly suggest the latter option.

💰 Money by Envestnet Yodlee. Free, basic account tracking. No ads. Yodlee was one of the earliest aggregators that allowed you to view all of your balances in one place. Envestnet is a provider of technology for wealth management and financial advisors, and bought Yodlee in 2015. They appear to make most of their money selling this aggregation service to large financial institutions and now financial advisors for wealthy clients, and I can only guess that they offer this “Money” dashboard without ads (or support) as a sort of free beta testing preview for individuals. If you just want to see your various balances in a nice barebones list and don’t need any additional cool features, this may fill all your needs. Note that in my limited experience, Yodlee has more connection issues with certain banks and credit unions than Mint or Plaid, so test it out first.

💰 Monarch Money. Fully-featured budget tracking. No ads. $99 per year regular price. If you wished Mint would have stayed an independent company and continued adding new features and stayed alive by charging money for those features, Monarch Money has the closest feel to that. I haven’t used it myself, but that is certainly my impression after reading through its website, looking at the UI screenshots, and skimming reviews. It uses rollover budgeting like YNAB (You Need A Budget), which is has a very similar feature set and pricing to Monarch Money. It does come in at the highest price here at $15.99/month or $99 a year (discounted to $50 for first year with code MINT50).

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Where will you be going when the Mint.com site shuts down in 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, 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 – December 2023

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’re leaving your cash in a checking account earning zero interest, you’re missing out on a lot of potential interest. Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash as of December 2023, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. There are often lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors. 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 12/6/2023.

TL;DR: Mostly minor movements. 6% APY now (barely) available with 12-month CD and a new 7% APY rewards checking accounts. More 5%+ savings accounts. 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 amongst 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 12/6/23, the highest rate is from Customers Bank at 5.36% APY. (At the moment, Customers is also the top bank at SaveBetter at 5.30% 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. 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.

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 12-month No Penalty CD at 5.41% APY with $1 minimum deposit. 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 4.55% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 4.60% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Consider opening multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • CIBC Agility Online has a 12-month CD at 5.66% APY. Reasonable 30-day penalty if you withdraw your CD funds before maturity. They are the online division of CIBC Bank. CIBC Agility also has an ongoing savings deposit bonus that can work out to a good APY while maintaining some flexibility.

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 losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 5.30% (changes daily, but also works out to a compound yield of 5.43%, 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 5.61% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 5.54% 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 12/5/23, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.39% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.06% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 5.24% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 5.26% 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.
  • 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.
  • Pelican State Credit Union pays 6.05% APY on up to $10,000 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.

  • Workers Credit Union has a 5-year CD at 5.25% APY. $500 minimum. The early withdrawal penalty is half of the dividends that the withdrawn amount would have earned for the remaining term. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • Farmer’s Insurance FCU has their 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, or 60 month CDs ALL at 5.00% APY for a limited-time. $1,000 minimum. The early withdrawal penalty for all terms longer than a year is 180 days of dividends OR half of the remaining term’s daily dividends, whichever is greater. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • BMO Alto has a 5-year CD at 4.90% APY. 4-year at 4.90% APY. 3-year at 5.00% APY. 2-year at 5.25% APY. 1-year at 5.65% 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 4.45% 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 4.25% (callable: no, call protection: yes) vs. 4.15% 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 12/6/2023.

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.


PenFed Credit Union Premium Online Savings: Up to $750 Deposit Bonus (New & Existing)

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 11/30/23: At some point after publishing this post, PenFed changed the terms of this offer. It used to say:

Can I share/forward this offer to a friend or family member?
Yes, this offer is open to everyone. Maximum bonus received is $750 per member.

But, now it says:

This exclusive Bonus Offer is only available for the original recipient of the email and cannot be shared or made eligible beyond the original recipient.

Not a customer-friendly move, PenFed, to pull such a bait-and-switch!

Original post:

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is offering a up to $750 deposit bonus when you add new funds to their Premium Online Savings account. You get $150 for every $10,000 of new deposits, up to $750 for $50,000 in new deposits. Must deposit new money by 12/30/2023 and maintain that level until 4/30/2024 (four months). There are two different offer links, one for those opening a new account and those adding new funds to an existing account:

From the offer FAQs and fine print:

What is considered new money?
New money is funds deposited from an external account into your new Premium Online Savings account. The funds must be new funds to PenFed.

Can I share/forward this offer to a friend or family member?
Yes, this offer is open to everyone. Maximum bonus received is $750 per member.

Can I open multiple Premium Online Savings accounts and receive a bonus for each?
No, this offer is limited to one bonus and one new Premium Online Savings account per member.

Your account must stay open and be in good standing when bonus is credited to your account. Please allow up to 60 days for the Bonus to appear in your account.

Here are the highlights of the PenFed Premium Online Savings account:

  • 3.00% APY as of 11/29/23.
  • No monthly fees, no minimum balance requirement.
  • Anyone can join PenFed via partner organization. You’ll have to keep $5 in a Share savings account, in addition to opening a separate Premium Online Savings account.

Napkin math. If you deposit towards the end of the 30-day funding period, your technical minimal holding period is 4 months (~120 days). If you meet one of the tiers exactly (such $10k or $50k), then the bonus works out to an additional 4.50% annualized yield. If you assume the current 3.00% APY, that adds up to a total effective interest of roughly 7.50% APY annualized for 4 months.

In absolute terms: If, for example, you deposit $50,000 right before December 30th, 2023 and keep it until April 30th, 2024, you’ll end up with $750 bonus + $500 in interest (from the 3% APY) = $1,250 at the end of the 4-month period.

PenFed no longer does a hard credit pull on new membership applications, so anyone should be able to join without having to pay any fees, other than a $5 deposit into Share Savings (only refundable when you close your membership). They also have interesting certificate rates from time to and time, and right now I see them advertising 5.35% APY on 15- and 18-month certificates (as of 11/29/23). If you’re in the market, also take a look at their interest rates on car loans and mortgages.

I already have a PenFed membership, so I hope to time things properly so that this can be another drop in my 2023 IRA challenge bucket (maybe count as 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, 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 – November 2023

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 November 2023, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. There are often lesser-known opportunities available to individual investors. 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 11/16/2023.

TL;DR: Mostly minor movements, both up and down this month. 6% APY now (barely) available with 12-month CD and rewards checking accounts. More 5%+ savings accounts. 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 amongst 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 11/16/23, the highest rate is from Customers Bank at 5.36% APY. (At the moment, Customers is also the top bank at SaveBetter at 5.30% 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. 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 Elevault (app only) at 5.65% APY (5.50% rate) on up to $50,000, but as of 11/20/23 they are changing their rate to (Prime minus 3.5%) which would be 5% currently. PopularDirect at 5.40% APY. CIT Platinum Savings at 5.05% APY with $5,000+ balance.
  • SoFi Bank is now up to 4.60% APY + up to $275 new account bonus with direct deposit. You must maintain a direct deposit of any amount each month for the higher APY. SoFi has their own bank charter now so no longer a fintech by my definition. See details at $25 + $250 SoFi Money new account and deposit bonus.
  • There are several other established high-yield savings accounts at 4.25%+ APY that aren’t the absolute top rate, but historically do keep it relatively competitive for those that don’t want to keep switching banks.

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 5-month No Penalty CD at 5.36% APY with $1 minimum deposit. 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 4.55% APY for all balance tiers. Marcus has a 13-month No Penalty CD at 4.60% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Consider opening multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union has a Santa Special 12-month CD at 6.18% APY. Minimum opening deposit is $1500. Early withdrawal penalty is 90 days 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 losses.

  • Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund is the default sweep option for Vanguard brokerage accounts, which has an SEC yield of 5.29% (works out to a compound yield of 5.42%, 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 5.61% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 5.75% 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 11/15/23, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.39% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 5.29% annualized interest.
  • The iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) has a 5.13% SEC yield and effective duration of 0.10 years. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 5.27% 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.

  • 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.
  • Pelican State Credit Union pays 6.05% APY on up to $10,000 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.
  • Genisys Credit Union pays 5.25% APY on up to $7,500 if you make 10 debit card purchases of $5+ each, and opt into receive only online statements. Anyone can join this credit union via $5 membership fee to join partner organization.
  • The Bank of Denver pays 5.00% APY on up to $25,000 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. Thanks to reader Bill for the updated info.
  • 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.

  • Farmer’s Insurance FCU has their 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, or 60 month CDs ALL at 5.00% APY for a limited-time. $1,000 minimum. The early withdrawal penalty for all terms longer than a year is 180 days of dividends OR half of the remaining term’s daily dividends, whichever is greater. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization.
  • BMO Alto has a 5-year CD at 5.25% APY. 4-year at 5.20% APY. 3-year at 5.10% APY. 2-year at 5.00% APY. 1-year at 5.65% 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 4.75% 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.

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Primis Bank Novus Checking: 6% APY Guaranteed for 6 Months (4.00% APY Standard)

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Primis Bank just rolled out a new Novus Checking account that includes an introductory period of 6.00% APY guaranteed for 6 months on up to $50,000 with qualifying direct deposits. Hat tip to reader Bill P. Highlights:

  • 6.00% APY guaranteed on up to $50,000 for 6 months, when you set up and use direct deposit within 60 days of opening your account and maintain it through the 6-month period.
  • Otherwise, earn 4.00% APY (with no direct deposit or after the initial 6 months). Note this is a variable rate.
  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • Open with just $1.
  • Must open online.
  • Free starter pack of 40 checks (upon request).
  • Free cashier’s checks.
  • Free ATM rebates.

Napkin math. If you consider the 6% APY to be a 1% APY improvement over 5% APY, on a $50,000 balance that works out to $250 extra interest over 6 months. Of course, interest rates could change in the future (up or down). The fact that this is a checking account rather than a savings account makes it easier to maximize your interest earned while still performing everyday transactions.

You may recall that Primis Bank was mentioned previously for their 5.07% APY Premium checking and 5.07% APY Primis savings accounts (rate as of 11/15/23). These still exist. The problem is, I’m not really sure what the difference between the “Novus” and the “Premium” accounts are… could it be that the Premium may be phased out soon in favor of the Novus with lower base interest rate? Perhaps it is a good idea to open up those accounts now as well to take advantage if they grandfather in existing customers?

Premium Checking details:

  • 5.07% APY as of 11/15/23.
  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • Open with just $1.
  • Must open online.
  • Free cashier’s checks and starter pack of checks.
  • Free ATM rebates.

Primis Savings details:

  • 5.07% APY as of 11/15/23.
  • No minimum balance requirement.
  • Open with just $1.

Reader Adam says to make sure to download the “Primis Digital Mobile App” and not the other one which applies to their physical branch accounts (their two systems are currently separate). Also, you may have issues syncing your existing bank (or Personal Capital) with Primis because they try to log into the physical branch account interface and not their online-only accounts.

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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BMO Alto Online Certificates of Deposit: 5-year CD at 5.25% APY

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BMO Alto is the online-only division of BMO Bank N.A. (member FDIC). You can only access BMO Alto products through its unique website, not any existing BMO login. As of 11/8/23, they are offering very competitive rates for CDs (certificates of deposit) which would be very suitable for a ladder:

  • 5-year at 5.25% APY
  • 4-year at 5.20% APY
  • 3-year at 5.10% APY
  • 2-year at 5.00% APY
  • 1-year at 5.65% APY
  • 6-month at 5.50% APY
  • Liquid savings at 5.10% APY (variable).

Additional details:

  • No minimum to open.
  • No monthly maintenance fees.
  • Online statements only.
  • Unfortunately, they do not offer IRA CDs at this time.
  • If your savings account has a zero balance for 90 consecutive days it will be automatically closed. You must also fund your CD within 10 calendar days or it will be automatically closed.

Early withdrawals. 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:

We reserve the right to permit withdrawals of principal only upon maturity. If we permit you to make an early withdrawal of principal before maturity, you will pay an early withdrawal penalty. The penalty is calculated using the interest rate applicable to the CD at the time of early withdrawal. If the amount of the penalty exceeds the amount of your accrued and unpaid interest, then a reduction of principal would be required in order to pay the penalty.

I maintain a 5-year ladder of CD and/or Treasury bonds with a rung that matures each year, so I don’t really worry about early withdrawals for liquidity, only as an option in case rates go much higher quickly.

You may be able to get similar or better tax-equivalent yields if you are subject to state/local income taxes with US Treasury bonds (4.51% at 5-year on 11/8/23), but if you don’t have such taxes, these BMO Alto rates are some of the best available. These BMO Alto rates are also higher than the best brokered CDs available at the moment.

If interest rates change between your CD opening date and the funding date, you will receive the higher APY. No minimum balance and $0 minimum opening deposit required. You have 10 days from account opening to fund your CD. Early withdrawal penalties may apply. Funds may not be withdrawn for 15 days after initial funding.

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CIBC Bank Agility Online Savings $250/$500 Deposit Bonus (New & Existing)

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CIBC Bank USA has brought back a $250/$500 deposit bonus for customers that are adding new money to their Agility online savings account (you can be a new or existing customer). The bonus is on top of the interest rate, currently a competitive 5.01% APY (as of 11/7/23). $1,000 minimum to open. No monthly maintenance fees. CIBC stands for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Hat tip to DepositAccounts.

I think it’s best to simply quote their terms and conditions first:

In order to qualify for an account bonus, you must increase the current balance in your CIBC Bank USA (“CIBC”) Agility Savings account by depositing funds of $25,000 or more of New Money (defined below) from an external bank between 12:00 a.m. ET on November 1, 2023 and 11:59 p.m. ET on December 19, 2023 (the “Funding Period”). The New Money must remain in your account until 11:59 p.m. on March 18, 2024. This offer applies to both new and existing accounts. If you are funding by ACH transfer, keep in mind timeframes for applicable verification and for transfer origination which may take 1-3 business days before the funds are credited to your Agility Savings account. The funds must be credited during the Funding Period.

You must also enroll into online statements:

If you are not already enrolled in e-statements, you must enroll in Online Banking and change the Statements Delivery Method to “Online” during the Funding Period. You must continue online statement delivery through March 18, 2024.

The bonus amount is $250 for $25,000+ and $500 for $50,000+ in new money as follows:

The amount of your bonus will be determined as follows:

– $250 bonus – The New Money you deposited from an external bank during the Funding Period was between $25,000 and $49,999.99 (“Tier 1”), and you maintained at least $25,000 in New Money until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 18, 2024.
– $500 bonus – The New Money you deposited from an external bank during the Funding Period was $50,000 or more (“Tier 2”), and you maintained at least$50,000 in New Money deposited in the account until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 18, 2024.

Additional details:

If you fulfill the offer requirements outlined above, CIBC Bank USA will deposit the bonus into your CIBC Agility Savings account no later than May 17, 2024. In order to receive the bonus your account must be open and not overdrawn at the time of the bonus payout. Only one bonus allowed per primary account owner Tax ID.

New deposit bonus example. Here’s how it might work for a new customer:

  • Open a new CIBC Agility Savings Account AND also make your $25,000 or $50,000 deposit of new money (from outside CIBC) arrives safely before December 19, 2023.
  • Remember to sign up for online eStatements as soon as you open your account.
  • Earn $250 when you deposit at least $25,000 and keep the money in your account at least past March 18, 2024. (Roughly 3 months or 90 days minimum, probably a little more to be safe.)
  • Earn $500 when you deposit at least $50,000 and keep the money in your account at least past March 18, 2024. (Roughly 3 months or 90 days minimum, probably a little more to be safe.)
  • You may withdraw after 3/19 (although 5% APY isn’t awful), but keep the account open with a few dollars and with online statements active. You should receive the bonus payment no later than May 17, 2024 (another 2 months).

Effective APY. If you meet the tier values exactly, this works out to a 1% bonus on $25,000/$50,000 over a minimum 90 day hold time. This works out to 4% annualized, plus the 5.01% APY interest (variable), for a total effective interest of roughly 9% APY annualized for 3 months. This is a little optimistic as you will probably add a few days of holding time on either end. If you simply held it there for 4 months, that would still be an effective 8% APY for 4 months.

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Savings I Bonds November 2023: 1.30% Fixed Rate, 5.27% Total Composite Rate

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Savings I Bonds bought from November 1, 2023 through April 30, 2024 will have a fixed rate of 1.30%, for a total composite rate of 5.27% for the first 6 months. The semi-annual inflation rate is 1.97% as predicted (3.94% annually), but the full composite rate is dependent on the fixed rate for each specific savings bond and so it is a little bit higher. This total composite rate is a bit lower than current short-term Treasury yields, and the fixed rate is about 1% lower than that of current short-term TIPS yields. Press release.

Every existing I Bond will earn this inflation rate of ~3.96% eventually for 6 months; you will need to add your own fixed rate that was set based the initial purchase month. See you again in mid-April for the next early prediction for May 2024.

Original post from 10/13/23:

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 November 2023 savings bond rates a couple of weeks before the official announcement on the 1st. This also allows the opportunity to know exactly what a October 2023 savings bond purchase will yield over the next 12 months, instead of just 6 months. You can then compare this against a November 2023 purchase.

New inflation rate prediction. March 2023 CPI-U was 301.836. September 2023 CPI-U was 307.789, for a semi-annual inflation rate of 1.97%. 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 ~3.94% to 3.96% 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 October 2023. If you buy before the end of October, the fixed rate portion of I-Bonds will be 0.90%. You will be guaranteed a total interest rate of 0.90 + 3.40 = 4.30% for the next 6 months. For the 6 months after that, the total rate will be 0.90 + 3.96 = 4.86%.

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

Buying in November 2023. If you buy in November 2023, you will get ~3.96% 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 higher than it was during the last reset, when the fixed rate was set at 0.9%. 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. 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 November as you’ll likely get a slightly higher fixed rate and a higher initial inflation rate. If you’ve already bought for 2023, you’ll eventually get the newer inflation rate after six months. However, right now you might prefer to buy TIPS instead (especially if you have tax-deferred space available) as they will likely have a higher real yield.

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 nice 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 some 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.

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]

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Treasury Bills + State Income Tax Exemption = 6%+ Effective APY (October 2023)

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I’ve mentioned this before, but here’s a quick reminder as the tax-equivalent yields are now at 6% APY in most states with income taxes (anything 5% and up, see above graphic). Due especially to high state income taxes, my cash is mostly held in Treasury bills and money market funds that contain 90%+ treasury bills. Both can be owned within most major brokerage accounts that allow the purchase of individual bonds from either auction or secondary markets. (Treasury Direct allows purchase at auction, but I don’t like the user interface or customer service.)

So while I enjoy keeping track of new fintech apps, unless there is a good upfront bonus, it’s hard for me to justify another application at current rates. I skipped Milli when it hit 5.25% APY in August 2023. I skipped Elevault when it hit 5.50% APY in October 2023. I will likely skip Domain Money at 6% APY.

Treasury bond interest is exempt from state incomes taxes, which gives them a comparative boost over interest from banks. If you are subject to state income taxes, use a tax-equivalent yield calculator to compare Treasury bill/bond yields with interest rates from bank accounts and other bonds.

For example, if you are single with $70,000+ taxable income in California, your marginal state income tax rate is at least 9.3%. That means the 5.57% interest from a 4-week Treasury bill is equivalent to a bank account paying 6.42% interest or higher!

Be sure to check and make sure your “Treasury” money market fund is holding 90%+ Treasuries and not repurchase agreements. I’ve noticed that Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund is now back to 94% Treasuries and only 4% repos, but that could change again in the future, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

Finally, at tax time be sure to look up the appropriate U.S. government obligations income information and use it when filing your state income taxes. You may need to nudge your accountant along with supplying this information.

[Top image credit – Wikipedia]

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.