Good News in Banking? Traditional Savings Accounts

June 24, 2013

According to a new study by Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the bank savings account is still one of the best ways for lower and middle-income workers to save, because it involves few of the pitfalls that have tripped up people using bank checking accounts. The report concedes, however, that a handful of banks engage in anti-consumer practices -- such as imposing "dormancy" fees of as much as $10 -- when accounts are left unused for certain periods of time. Additionally, while federal regulators let savers make as many as six withdrawals per month from savings accounts, some banks charge those who do. Still, only a minority levy these "gotcha fees," the report concludes; and the bulk of banks will allow small savers to avoid all fees if they make regular automatic deposits to their savings accounts from a checking account. CFA would like to see the U.S. government subsidize interest rates on savings accounts to encourage saving among low-income customers, who are most likely to need emergency funds.
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