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Ask the Experts

Do Online Banks Pay Higher Interest Rates?

Often, yes, but check that they're legit, FDIC-insured

Q. Can I get a higher interest rate for my savings account if I use an online bank?

A. Often you can. Check out MoneyRates.com and Bankrate.com to find the best interest rates available on savings, money market and checking accounts.

See also: How to find the best bank interest rates.

According to a MoneyRates.com survey of 81 traditional banks and 36 online banks in June, online savings accounts can offer rates as much as five times higher than those at traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

U.S. dollar bill pattern on keyboard - Online banks generally pay higher interest rates.

Online banks often pay higher interest rates. — Photo by George B. Diebold/Corbis

(But keep in mind that in these days of rock-bottom interest rates, you'll hardly reap a fortune online. Five times a 0.1 percent rate on a savings account is still only 0.5 percent.)

Make sure any online bank you choose is FDIC-insured. Look for the FDIC logo on the bank's website or go to the FDIC's site and check the institution's status.

When banking online, it pays to be extra vigilant about security. When you finish a transaction like paying a bill or transferring funds from a checking to a savings account, make sure you fully log out from the site and close your browser.

Also, don't click on any link in email that purports to be from your bank — the email could have been sent by scammers who placed identity-theft software in the link.

If you want to verify something about your account, go to the bank website by typing its address yourself into your browser. For other tips, go to this FDIC webpage.

Also of interest: Online security for older people. >>

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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