Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total time: Up to a few business days to establish the account and transfer funds into it
Cost: $0 (In fact, some banks will pay you to open an account-but those generally aren't the banks offering the best rates.)
What you'll need:
• An Internet-connected computer
• Your current bank account information (routing number, account number, both found on a check)
• Your social security number
• Your driver's license, passport, or other valid ID (such as a military or state ID)
What to do:
1. Decide whether you're comfortable with an online-only bank account or whether you want a bank with actual branches you can visit. Online-only accounts usually offer higher interest rates (because online banks don't have to pay to maintain branches), and you can keep your regular checking account wherever it is now and transfer money in and out whenever you need it. But if you do this, do check with your bank to make sure you won't be charged fees if your checking account balance is low, and find out how long it generally takes to transfer money from another institution. It's usually not instantaneous, so you might have to wait a few days.
2. Find an interest-earning savings account on Bankrate.com.
3. If you're already earning interest that's equal or close to what the top accounts on the list pay, you needn't go further. The only way you're going to do better is if you decide to invest in CDs, or Certificates of Deposit. With a CD, you earn interest for leaving your money in the account for a specific period of time (3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc.), and you can't pull the money out early without paying a steep penalty. We don't recommend CDs for your emergency cash, but if you have additional cash savings lying around, feel free to investigate.
4. If your rate pales in comparison, choose a bank paying one of the higher interest rates (lately, that's not so much, but it's probably better than what you're already earning). We recommend sticking to institutions with a Bankrate star ranking of three stars or more. Make sure there are no monthly fees and that you can meet the minimum balance required to open an account.
5. Open an account. You can do this at a bank branch (if the bank has branches) or by clicking on the bank's name from Bankrate's page and following the directions.
6. Once the account is open, set up a transfer of the funds from your old savings account or of the excess cash from your checking account. (There's really no need to keep $5,000 in checking, for instance.) You'll need the name of your bank, the routing number and your account number.
7. Congrats! You're done. Enjoy your (small) interest rate boost. And if you don't have one yet, feel free to use this account to establish an emergency fund.
To learn more:
Savings Calculator (Dinkytown)
Checking and Savings Calculators (Bankrate)
Did you do it? Tell us what worked or share other tips in the comments below.
Read More From bundle.com:
Open a Flexible Spending Account.
What is the Last Bank Fee you Paid.
A Unique Way to Pay Off Debt.
See More: How to , Money , Saving