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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

How to override your bank and make 40 times more on your savings account

Since 2013 consumers have been squeezed with savings rates hovering near zero percent. Many banks still aren't paying much more than 0.05% even today on savings, despite several recent interest rate hikes by the Fed. 

No banks are yet paying the 5% rates seen in early 2000s to the recession on money market or savings accounts. 

Consumers may not realize is that it's relatively easy to get a 2% return or even 2.4% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) without a $25,000, $10,000 or even $500 balance. How do you do it? Usually, you have to go online or through the personal savings arm of major credit cards such as American Express, Citi or Discover. 

Don't let your savings or emergency account sit idle making squat. If you move $500 in an account making 2% interest a year, you'd make $10 in interest the first year instead of the quarter. Yes, you only make a whole quarter at 0.05% in a year. If you have $5,000 in savings, you're making $100 annually at 2% instead of $2.50 at 0.05%.

Here are some of the higher current offerings with balance minimums of $1 to $500 that will pay you more, according to Bankrate. The rates quoted may increase or decrease as the Feds change rates, but the latest Fed guidance is that they expect to leave rates alone for a while. All banks listed provide accounts insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per account. Credit unions are not included because none that we know of are paying rates above 2%. Why? Credit unions and banks with brick and mortar locations typically have more overhead than online sources and therefore pay less interest.

1. Mysavingsdirect 2.4% APY. It's an online bank, a division of Emigrant Bank, founded in 1850. No minimum balance required, Interest compounds daily. Downside: No ATM access or mobile app. 

2. Citibank Accelerate 2.36% APY.  Anyone who has a Costco membership probably already has a Citi credit card. "Citi Accelerate is the only high-yield savings account at a major bank with no minimum deposit," according to a Citi spokesperson. Offered in 41 states, including Minnesota. Downside: A $4.50 monthly fee unless the balance is $500 or more. Possible marketing for other Citi products. 

3. Synchrony Bank 2.25% APY. "Its savings account and other depository products are consistently among the top-paying accounts," according to Bankrate. Highly-regarded customer service and perks such as free ID theft resolution and travel discounts. Downside: No checking account option.

4. American Express National Bank 2.1 APY. This is surprising, considering that many American Express products can be fee-heavy. But this is a competitive interest rate without any monthly fees or minimum balances. Downside: No physical banks, no checking account option, no mobile check option except for Amex credit card customers. Possible marketing for other Amex products. 

5. Discover Bank: 2.1%  APY. Discover Bank also offers checking accounts and other consumer products. Plus there's a bonus. Get $150 if you sign by May 20, 2019 with a $15,000 balance or more. There is no minimum balance requirement to receive the 2.1%. Downside: No physical locations, so cash deposits not possible. Possible marketing for other Discover products.

FYI, those looking for higher rates with very little risk can also check out certificates of deposit (CDs). The highest rates are between 2.7% to 2.75% for dollars locked in for 1-2 years with minimum deposits of $1 to $500.  

Sump pumps still available at some Twin Cities stores

With reports of soggy homes due to snow melt and recent rains, sump pumps are a hot item. And stocks at some stores are low, so call around before heading out. 

One store is ready for the business: MN Home Outlet, which has locations in Burnsville (2300 Hwy. 13), Woodbury (10470 Hudson Rd.) and Coon Rapids (20 Coon Rapids Blvd.). 

The home improvement liquidator has more than a thousand divided among the three stores, although the Burnsville location has the largest selection.

Prices are about 50 percent off regular retail prices.

For more information, go to www.mnhomeoutlet.com. Get an additional 10 percent off coupon for signing up to get the newsletter and promotions.