What is an interest-bearing account?


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Oftentimes, one of the first things you should do to get your personal finances in order is to set up an interest-bearing account, like a savings account. This type of account is safer than putting your cash under the mattress and earns more interest than a checking account. If your financial goals include building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment or preparing for college, an interest-bearing account can likely help you achieve them.

What is an Interest-Bearing Account?

An interest-bearing account is a bank account that pays you to hold your money, meaning that you will earn interest. We’ll outline the different types of interest-bearing accounts below for you to compare, which include three popular options: savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).



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All of these accounts offer an annual percentage yield (APY), which is the amount of interest that is paid out each year. For example, if your APY or interest rate was 1%, and you had $10,000 in that bank account, you would receive $100 annually. Usually, this money is paid monthly, so in this case, you would receive $8.33 every month Banks can afford to pay you to hold your money because your money is not actually there.


Banks only keep a certain amount of liquid assets on hand. They loan out the rest to businesses and consumers. Your mortgage is likely someone else’s savings account! For example, if the bank is paying you 1% interest, they are likely charging someone else 3% interest on the same money.

Three Major Types of Interest-Bearing Accounts

Below we’ll dive into the three major types of accounts, all of which are FDIC-insured (federal deposit insurance corporation), assuming you open them with FDIC-insured banks, credit unions or financial service providers.

1. Savings Account

A savings account is probably the most common type of interest-bearing account. It’s an FDIC-insured bank account that offers a higher interest rate than checking accounts. In most cases, going with a high-yield savings account is even better than traditional savings accounts because, as you might have guessed, they offer higher interest rates.


High-yield accounts are most commonly offered by online banks, such as CIT Bank or Discover Bank, rather than big banks like Chase and TCF that offer a low-interest rate on a regular savings account. High-yield savings accounts are flexible accounts that are great for storing emergency funds and for short-term savings overall. Its main limitation is that you can only access it and make transfers six times a month, although it’s hard to foresee a reason to need to access it any more than that, especially if you connect your account with an online checking account to help manage your finances.


Last, it’s important to call out two additional things about savings accounts. For one, the interest rate on savings accounts can change. This can be a good or bad thing depending on which way the interest rates move. Second, a savings account may have an initial deposit or minimum balance requirement in order to qualify for a higher interest rate. Ensure you understand those account balance rules before signing up.


Pro Tip: High-interest checking accounts also exist, but they are hard to find and often offer lower interest rates than their savings account counterparts.

2. Money Market Deposit Account

money market account is a hybrid of a savings account and checking account, as it offers:

  • Limited accessibility and withdrawals, like a savings account
  • Check writing ability, and sometimes even debit cards, like a checking account

However, instead of being the best of both worlds, money market accounts are actually very niche in my opinion. Most high-yield savings accounts offer interest rates on par with or better than money market accounts, so unless you have a specific need to write checks or use a debit card with this account, I don’t see a need to have one. Plus, money market accounts typically have stricter rules around an account minimum deposit and monthly maintenance fees.

3. Certificate of Deposit (CDs)

The last account type on the list is a certificate of deposit (CDs). A CD is an account with a fixed time period over which it pays higher-than-average interest rates. For example, a five-year CD right now through Discover is offering a 0.8% interest rate. On the other hand, Discover’s high-yield savings account is offering just a 0.6% interest rate. You get rewarded for agreeing to lock your money up for a longer period of time.


The catch is that if you need to access your money sooner, fees will likely be involved. This is why CDs are great for known purchases that are coming in the short term, such as college expenses or a vacation.

Why You Should Use an Interest-Bearing Account

An interest-bearing account is typically viewed as a low-risk, low-return personal finance product. Should you put all of your retirement savings in one?


No, probably not. However, an interest-bearing account could be good for:

  • An emergency fund
  • Saving for a down payment
  • Putting money aside for short term education expenses
  • Saving for a car
  • A fund for vacations and other higher-cost “wants”

If you plan to use the money in the next couple of years and don’t want to risk putting it into the stock market or even a bond fund, an interest-bearing account can help ensure you get at least some return on your money as you wait to use it.


Personally, my favorite type of interest-bearing account is a high-yield savings account, typically found through an online bank. Usually, it offers returns on par with (if not better) than a money market account, and I like having the flexibility to access my money at any time, unlike with a CD.



This article originally appeared on JustStartInvesting.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

How many bank accounts do you really need?


You read that right, I have six bank accounts that I use on a monthly basis. I have had more in the past and the number of accounts fluctuates depending on what is going on in my life. Keep reading to see why I have six bank accounts and why you may even need more!


fizkes / istockphoto


It is extremely important we have a structure built for our personal finances in order to be successful with them. I went years with having two bank accounts. One checking account and one savings account. Money was directly deposited into my checking and I paid for all my bills out of there. If there was any money left at the end of the month, I might move some of it to my savings account.

Needless to say, when I managed my finances this way I was going nowhere fast. I wasn’t saving really anything and I spent what I made. As long as there wasn’t a negative balance in my checking account at the end of the month, I was happy.

It turns out, most people manage their finances this way. I was normal and didn’t know any better. Now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, I now use a minimum of six bank accounts – and sometimes more!

Before I go into the “why”, let me show you how my current bank account system is set up…




My first account is my checking account. After all my pretax money is taken out of my check for retirement, health insurance, and my health savings account, the money is directly deposited into my checking account.


Ryan Luke


At the beginning of the month, my wife moves money around into each separate savings account. By moving the money at the beginning, it forces us to stick to our budget for the remainder of the month, which isn’t hard if you incorporate a simple monthly budget template into your financial planning.

Most people manage their money in a backward manner. At the end of the month is when money is moved. Whatever is left in the checking account is then disbursed into any liabilities or savings. The problem with this method is it is too easy to overspend. Just like when I was younger, I usually spent what I made because the money was easy and accessible.

If you move your money at the beginning, it makes it much more difficult to overspend if you don’t have the money in checking to begin with. This is where strict discipline on credit card usage is a must. Credit cards make it too easy to spend when you run out of money.

This is why I recommend using cash throughout the month if you have issues with credit cards. Leave the cards at home when you go to the grocery store or shop online: How Frys Pickup (formally Click List) Saves Me Money


serezniy / istockphoto


After the money is deposited into checking, we move a portion into a vehicle fund. This fund is only for vehicle maintenance and for future vehicle purchases. I am anti-car payments so we save up and buy our cars with cash. Due to my wife and I driving older vehicles (one is 12 years old, the other is 13 years old), they periodically need repairs that can be a few hundred dollars. By contributing to this account each month, we have never needed to put a vehicle repair on a credit card.




The third savings account is our vacation fund. This is obviously our favorite fund and one we make sure we put money into each and every month! By having a set amount of money deposited into this savings account, we pay for our vacations with cash.

By doing it this way, we can enjoy our vacation and not feel the pain of credit card debt when we come home from vacation. We love our vacations so we make sure it is one of our top priorities to fund this savings account.




Our fourth savings account is our emergency savings and six months of expenses fund. Luckily this savings account is fully funded so we no longer contribute to it. It sits there making little to no money in interest.

I’m all about investing money and it hurts to know that this account is worth 2%-3% less each year due to inflation. However, this is a savings account and not an investment. It is there to protect us against emergencies or unexpected major expenses. Insurance for life is a good way to think about it. Insurance costs you money – investments make you money. This savings account is my insurance.


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The fifth and sixth savings accounts are also two of our favorites. Each month my wife and I get a certain amount of “fun money.” This is money that we can spend without feeling any guilt. If I want to use my money to go get beer and wings with my friends I can. If she wants to spend it on her hair and nails, she can with no questions asked.

We each need a certain amount of money to spend without feeling guilty. If you are in debt, you know how frustrating it can be to stick to a budget without any room for fun. It’s like a diet. If you have no cheat days, how many people are really going to stick to a diet for any amount of time? Give yourself some wiggle room to splurge a predetermined and budgeted amount on yourself. Even if it’s only $20 dollars a month!

Right now we are at the lowest number of accounts we have had in our marriage. Depending on what our goals are, we may have more accounts depending on what we are saving up for. This structure actually works very well and is not confusing once you get the hang of it. We have built up a routine of moving money on a monthly basis in order to set ourselves up for future success.


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I also rely heavily on my side hustle. I work a side job outside of my main employment to add more money to our goals. By doing this, we are able to fund our separate accounts faster. All of my side job money goes to the extra accounts and none of it is used for bills. If you get into the habit of overspending and using a side hustle to pay the bills, you are one injury away from defaulting on your loans. Avoid this slippery slope!





If you are in debt, your account structure may look a bit different. Here is an example of how your account and payment structure may look:

You may be wondering where the vacation fund went. Depending on the amount of debt you have and your future plans, you may need to go without a vacation for a year or two. Before you unsubscribe from all my emails and close my web page, hear me out.


Ryan Luke


If you continue to spend money on vacations or other things that delay your debt payoff, you may never truly free yourself from debt. If you sacrifice a couple of years now to get out of debt, you will be able to take many more exciting and financially stress-free vacations in the future. Avoid punishing your future self by spending money you don’t have today.

If you need more help getting out of debt, please check out my related articles:

This article originally appeared on ArrestYourDebt.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.




Featured Image Credit: Zerbor/istock.