Squirreling away cash under a mattress or in the freezer might keep your savings flat and fresh -- but the money won’t grow. And, all kidding aside, a traditional savings account isn't much better.
Conventional savings accounts yield as little as 0.01% percent a year. Think of that: If you keep $1,000 in your account, you'll earn a hardly-worth-mentioning 10 cents in interest during an entire year.
High-yield or high-interest savings accounts pay substantially more than that. But, as you might suspect, there's a catch. Or two.
Here are some tips to score a high-interest account and make more money with your money.
Understand 'high interest'
So how high is the interest offered by a high-interest savings account? As of January 2019, the best rates were a bit above 2%.
Many high-yield savings accounts require that you open the account with a deposit of a specified size, or always keep at least a certain amount in your account.
Land a high-interest account
Minimum balance requirements can be steep. But don't worry. There's plenty of high-yield accounts have no minimum deposits or minimum balances.
One of our favorites is CIT Bank's Savings Builder account, which offers a 2.45% annual percentage yield and a low minimum deposit. Other high-yield accounts may have no minimum deposits or minimum balances.
Note that some banks charge set-up or maintenance fees for high-yield savings, or you may be required to maintain additional accounts — such as checking, with regular deposits — before you can open a high-yield account.
You also may face fees for withdrawals, or there may be a limit on the number of withdrawals you can make each month.
Choose the best account
When shopping around for a high-yield account, consider minimum deposit and balance rules, and look for the highest annual percentage yield, or APY.
That's the yearly rate of return on the money in your account, and it includes compound interest, which is the interest earned on your interest.
Consider the compounding method used by the bank. Interest might be compounded daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually or annually.
The more frequently your investment compounds and builds interest on the interest already earned, the faster your money grows.
Review all of your options
You'll want to plan to make regular deposits. The more money you have in your account, the more interest you’ll earn and the faster your savings will fatten.
As you cast around for the perfect high-yield savings account, don't focus narrowly on just brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions. Many online-only banks have excellent high-interest products.
Because they don’t have to cover the costs of a physical location, online-only banks can pass along savings to customers in the form of higher APYs.
The downside of online banks is that they may have slower customer service response times or offer more limited access to your money.
High-interest accounts are federally insured up to $250,000. Make sure you're dealing with a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), or a credit union insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Committing your money to a high-yield account can grow your savings easily, and without the volatility of the stock market.
Next step: Compare high-yield savings accounts and select the one that works best for you.