How to Find a Good Savings Account

Consumers can navigate the changes coming to their bank accounts.

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With the new overdraft rules, a lot of banks are starting to make changes to their checking and savings accounts to overcome the loss of revenue overdrafts were generating. It's a pretty high bar too, with overdraft fees earning over $20 billion last year!

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So if your bank has been making changes, adding other fees or finding ways to charge you for services, you might be thinking about making a change too. Here's what I look for when I'm picking a new savings account.

FDIC or NCUA Insurance

If a bank isn't FDIC insured or the credit union isn't NCUA insured, don't even consider opening an account at that financial institution. FDIC and NCUA insurance protect up to $250,000 per depositor and if a financial institution doesn't have that protection, pass on it. There's no reason why you should put your savings in a bank that isn't insured. You can confirm that a bank is insured by searching for it with the FDIC's Bank Find tool or NCUA's find tool.

Interest Rate

They're called high yield savings accounts for a reason, the high yield interest rate! The first thing I look for, after confirming the bank is FDIC insured, is the interest rate. If the rate you're getting isn't one of the best you can find, look for another bank with a better interest rate. Sometimes banks will offer a promotional interest rate for the first few months you open the account, be sure that the post-teaser rate gives you a competitive annual interest rate APY.

[Also see U.S. News's list of The 100 Best Mutual Funds for the Long Term, and use our Mutual Fund Score to find the best investments for you.]

Fee Schedule

Banks are adding maintenance fees, dormancy fees, and all sorts of other fees to help make up the money they won't be earning on overdraft fees. Banks are required to disclose all of their fees so be sure to review them. If there are any minimum balance requirements, make sure you have enough cash to avoid any associated balance fees. If there is a maintenance fee, find out if there is a way you can avoid them, perhaps by going with paperless statements.

Certificate of Deposit Options

If the savings account has a good interest, reasonable fees, and is FDIC insured, I look for the other deposit options available at the bank. If the bank also offers great certificate of deposit rates, then it becomes very appealing for me. The best CD rates these days are not that much better then some online savings account rates, especially if you are looking at maturities of a year or less, but if the bank has good rates now, relatively, chances are they'll be good when rates creep back up.

Those are the things I consider whenever I'm looking at a new savings account. Are there aspects that you look at that I missed?

Jim Wang writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com. When he's not tackling money issues, he's usually look forward to his next vacation and writing about it at Wanderlust Journey.