Study Shows Credit Unions Have Highest Deposit Rates

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS) —

Savers hunting for the best deposit rates should look first to credit unions, which continue to offer better returns than banks, according to a new report by WalletHub.

On average, credit unions were paying 0.45 percent on interest-bearing checking accounts in the fourth quarter, according to the survey by the Washington-based personal-finance social-media site.

That was 10 times more than the 0.04 percent that regional banks were paying, and about 60 percent more than the 0.28 percent returns at community banks.

On savings and money-market accounts, returns at credit unions averaged 0.22 percent, compared with 0.06 percent at regional banks and 0.13 percent at community banks, WalletHub said in its latest banking-landscape report.

Among types of accounts — personal, business or student accounts — consumers, on average, were getting the best returns in personal savings accounts with a branchless, online-only institution, the report said.

Personal online savings accounts were paying an average of 0.63 percent. Returns at branch institutions are 0.14 percent for personal accounts, 0.10 percent on business accounts and 0.47 percent on accounts for students.

Depositors may be able to find rates comparable to those offered at branchless banks by opting for online-only accounts offered at traditional banks, WalletHub noted.

Overall, business accounts offered the worst deals, the report said. “Business checking accounts are at the bottom of the banking totem pole,” offering fewer features, charging higher fees and paying lower rates than personal or student accounts.

WalletHub encourages small-business owners to opt for a personal account as an alternative; “however, we realize this is not always possible,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

Meanwhile, rates on certificates of deposit are so low that investors should put their money elsewhere, WalletHub said.

The average rate on a three-year CD was essentially the same as an online savings account’s, the report said, but on the downside, CDs require depositors to tie up their money for a certain term.

“Certificates of deposit are not worth it,” the report said.

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