Consumer Alert: How to make high-interest rates work for you

High Yield Savings Account

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — This Consumer Alert is about one of the easiest ways to make your savings multiply. Remember these three words: high-yield savings account.

You may remember last Thursday, April 23, News10NBC’s Deanna Dewberry sat down with Jarrett Felton, founder and managing director of Invessent, a Rochester-based wealth management firm.

He had advice on what to do with your tax refund. He said 50% should go toward your needs, another 30% toward your wants, and 20% toward your wants. According to the IRS, the average refund this year is just over $3,000. That means $600 (20%), should go toward your savings.

Let’s say you take that $600 and put it in a traditional savings account with an annual percentage yield of .01%. If you contribute 50 bucks a month, in five years you will have contributed $3,600 — but only earned $1.04 in interest for a total of that’s just over $3,601.04.

Felton says instead make your money work for you. Let’s take that $600 and stick it in a high-yield savings account. Because interest rates are high, yields are also higher. This is the positive side of our interest rates which now sit at a 23-year high. You can find savings accounts with an annual percentage yield of 5.25. If, again, you contribute 50 bucks a month over a period of five years, you’ll have contributed the same amount, $3,600. But your interest earned will be $586.34 for a grand total of $4,186.34. That’s $585.30 dollars more than a traditional savings account. But, before you stick your money in any online bank, Felton has some advice.

“Something else I would take a look at is their customer service policy and the infrastructure they have in place,” said Felton. “If you’re buying something online and there’s a problem — something gets messed up, what if you put the wrong routing number in and the money goes into the wrong account? How hard is it going to be to communicate with that organization, bank, or credit union to fix the problem?”

Felton says you also want to consider when the interest is paid, the bank’s security protocols, whether it’s FDIC insured, and the length of time it takes to get your money when you want to make a withdrawal. All of these things need to be considered before trusting an online bank with your money, not just the yield being offered.

Click here for CNBC’s picks for the best high-yield savings accounts.

Fortune magazine updates its picks daily. For that list, click here.

For Bankrate’s suggestions, click here.