Banks pay almost nothing today, but a few offer generous returns if you follow certain rules.
What could go wrong: Higher-yielding accounts require that you either leave your money alone for a set period or make specific transactions regularly, such as debit card purchases or direct deposits. Fail to meet those terms and the yield shrinks.
How to play them: The highest-yielding CDs require that you commit your money for five years and typically charge a six- to 12-month interest penalty if you cash out early.
But Allan Roth, a financial planner in Colorado Springs, Colo., says a five-year CD can make sense even if you stay put for just a year. Barclays, for example, recently offered a five-year CD that yielded 2.25%, with a six-month early- withdrawal penalty. If you cash out after one year, your effective annual yield is still 1.13%. After two years, the payout climbs to 1.69% and continues to rise each of the remaining three years. "Just think of it as a one-year CD that gives you a bonus if rates don't rise," Roth says.
High-yield checking accounts are another option. These products, available at regional banks and credit unions, pay as much as 5%. One good deal relative to its requirements is Max Checking at Lake Michigan Credit Union. It yields 3% on balances of up to $15,000. To qualify, each month you must make at least one direct deposit and 10 debit-card purchases, and you must log in to online banking four times. Plus, you must receive statements electronically. To find local deals, go to DepositAccounts.com.
(Source by: NASDAQ.COM)