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Understanding Savings Account Basics

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What is a savings account?

Savings accounts are a convenient way to store your extra money through your bank or credit union.

Savings accounts are considered a "deposit account," which means your money is stored as a liquid asset and there will be a guaranteed rate of return. Deposits through credit unions and banks have federally provided insurance backing the balance against loss due to the closure of the financial institutions. Currently, the FDIC offers insurance coverage of $250,000 per single account, which will switch back to its maximum protection of $100,000 on January 1, 2010. Credit unions are backed by the protection of National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and currently have the same limit of insurance coverage as the FDIC.

Types of savings accounts

There are two types of savings accounts: passbook and statement accounts.

Passbook accounts are not as common these days, but were the main choice for customers until modern technology took charge. With passbook accounts, depositors are issued a little bank book where all their transactions are manually recorded at the teller's window. Many banks no longer offer this service.

More prevalent are statement accounts which provide a monthly or quarterly statement of all account activity either online or via paper.

Features of savings accounts
Savings accounts make it quick and easy to access your money. Unlike other investments, there is no waiting period for a withdrawal.

Some banks will also let you tie your savings and checking account together, so you've get a reserve just in case you dip into your cash too much.

How do interest rates compare to other deposit accounts?
Generally, interest rates for other types of investments, like CDs and money markets, have higher rates of return (as high as 10%). A savings account has a significantly lower interest rate, somewhere around .5-2% is typical.

The interests rates are lower than other investments, but the deposits you make to your savings account are insured through the FDIC, which makes the investment safer.

Find savings account rates at Go Banking Rates.


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