Myths vs. facts about savings account interest rates

Don’t let these common misconceptions stop you from healthy money management.

Tags: Accounts, Interest rate, Savings
Published: January 30, 2019

Sometimes our ideas about money can keep us from managing it well. Rather than being paralyzed by false beliefs, seek out the facts about how to grow your money.

Myth: I’ll never grow my money leaving it in a bank account

Fact: Before thinking it’s pointless to keep money in the bank, brush up on the principle of compound interest. This is when you earn interest on the money you’ve saved, as well as on the interest it has earned.

For example, if you deposit $1,000 earning a 2 percent annual percentage yield, after a month you’d earn $1.67. Then your $1,001.67 begins to earn interest. If you leave the money alone for 10 years, not adding to the principal amount, you would end up with $1,221 if you compounded the interest monthly. Continue to add to the original investment and it increases the amount of money earning interest, meaning your money grows faster. 

True, many savings accounts offer less than 2 percent interest at the moment. But alternative accounts, such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts, may provide higher interest rates and greater rewards than regular passport savings accounts. Before you explore those options, note: account access is limited and withdrawals may be subject to penalties.

Myth: But interest rates are still so low at banks

Fact: Keep an eye on the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate. Why? Because the Fed rates influence the interest rate your bank will deliver on your savings account. Check your account, or ask at your bank if your rate is going up; it can take some time for a Fed action to show up in what banks do.

And remember: In addition to interest rates, it’s important to also look at different features and benefits that various accounts offer, as well as fees and minimum account balances, to determine what account is best suited for you.

Myth: I’m too young to save; I don’t earn enough

Fact: The earlier you stash away funds in a savings account, the more money you can accrue through compound interest. Many tried and true tricks can help increase your savings. Think of the old “one bean on the pile each day” adage – very soon, you have a hill. For example, don’t spend any coins you receive as change. At the end of the week, no matter how small the amount of change, deposit it into your savings account.

It’s a myth that young people can’t save; don’t feel pressure to do it all at once. Making a consistent effort will ultimately get you farther on the path to security.

Myth: It doesn’t matter if I save; I’ll never feel secure

Fact: In September 2017, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau3 issued a report on financial well-being based on a survey of a wide range of income earners. It showed that people who have liquid savings (money they can easily access) feel more secure than those who don’t. As the amount of savings increases, so do feelings of financial well-being. The survey also showed that people feel much more secure if they can come up with cash to cover unexpected expenses.

So, having a strategy of saving over time – and having access to funds that let you absorb unanticipated expenses – leads to a sense of financial well-being. The most important thing is to start saving, even if the initial amount is small. Add to your savings regularly, and try not to touch the money you’ve set aside; let it earn interest for you.

Myth: Only rich people need advice on savings

Fact: Another government report from October 20162, shows that having higher financial knowledge and skills leads to better financial behaviors, which in turn leads to a better overall financial picture. So, if you don’t have enough money now, start studying and asking questions to improve your financial behavior. Seeking advice from a banker or financial coach can actually lead you to become wealthier. 

Myth: Banks are risky; I’m better off stashing my cash in my mattress

Fact: Banks are one of the safest places for your money. Be sure your bank is FDIC-insured, and up to $250,000 of your deposits across all your accounts will be insured; that’s a quarter of a million dollars per person. Your money is insured through the government. The FDIC was created by Congress to boost confidence in the U.S. financial system. Putting your money in the bank may better protect it than leaving it in your house or even investing in the stock market which can be more volatile.


Ready to open a U.S. Bank savings account? Explore your options.

1Financial Wellbeing in America.” Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. 2017.
2Financial coaching: A strategy to improve financial well-being.” Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. 2016.