Banks have increased lending and need more deposits, so they’re willing to pay higher interest rates.
NEW YORK — Slowly, but surely, being a saver is paying off again.
For years after the recession, banks paid next to nothing on deposits — much to the detriment of savers everywhere. Now, banks have increased lending and need more deposits, so they’re willing to pay higher interest rates.
The big publicly traded banks are paying roughly 0.40 percent on their deposits right now, which is up from 0.24 percent two years ago, according to an October report from Autonomous Research after the major banks reported their quarterly results.
A one-year CD is now paying an average of 0.63 percent, which is up from 0.45 percent two years ago. That’s according to depositaccounts.com, a website that tracks interest rates on savings accounts and CDs.
An interest rate of 0.40 percent or 0.63 percent may not sound like much, but analysts expect that banks will continue to increase payouts on deposits as competition ramps up.
“We have been waiting for this to happen for a while now,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economy analyst at BankRate.com.
During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate to near zero, and kept it that way until December 2015. While the Fed’s move made the cost of borrowing substantially cheaper nationwide, it had a secondary effect of cutting the interest rate that banks were paying on deposits. Senior citizens got hit hard since they tend to keep their money in low-risk products like money markets, CDs and cash.
The Fed’s main interest rate is now 1.25 percent and is expected to be raised to 1.5 percent in December. As the Fed raised rates, banks initially were happy to charge borrowers higher rates while keeping the amount of interest they were paying on savings accounts and CDs low.
But now, nearly a decade after the financial crisis, most loans are at record-high levels. And the growing demand requires banks to gather up deposits to fuel their lending.
The online-only banks, which typically pay the most for deposits, are paying even more these days.
Goldman Sachs’ online savings account GS Bank pays an interest rate of 1.29 percent on its savings account, with no minimum deposit, and is paying 2.37 percent for a five-year CD, with a minimum $500 deposit.
The largest of the banks are still being stingy, however, since their size means they don’t need to compete as aggressively for deposits.