How do I Compare Online Bank Rates?

Amanda Lacasse

Checking bank rates online is perhaps the quickest and most convenient way to shop for the best rates on checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and other investment products, as well as mortgages and other loans. With a click of the mouse, anyone can compare online bank rates at any time, day or night. Whereas bank interest rates published in newspapers are often no longer current by the time the customer sees them, online rates are refreshed often, making comparisons much more meaningful. Starting an online comparison of bank rates generally can start at several banks’ websites and expand from there.

Virtually all banking institutions have a website where individuals can check bank rates.
Virtually all banking institutions have a website where individuals can check bank rates.

Most, if not all banks have web sites these days, even local, small-town institutions. A person primarily interested in keeping his banking local should check out the sites of banks in his community. The home page will most likely have an easily navigable layout, allowing him to click directly on the bank rates for which he is looking. A person can easily compare the rates of several banks by opening a tab for each institution and comparing each banking product in its turn. As long as a person knows the names of the banks in his area, he can perform an Internet search and find the banks’ websites.

Some online banks have no physical branches.
Some online banks have no physical branches.

To find the best rates offered among national and international banks, use a search term such as "online bank rates" to find sites that will show offerings from scores of institutions. The navigation may be a bit more complicated on these sites compared to those of local banks, but they offer the same information on a larger scale. The products and services available for comparison are usually laid out clearly at the top of the home page, and users are often given the choice between comparing the online bank rates of local or national banks. The advantage is that all the information is presented on one page for easy viewing.

When checking rates outside of a particular locality, a person may also see rates for online only, or virtual, banks. These institutions claim to be able to offer better rates than typical bricks-and-mortar banks, because they have lower overhead. All of their services and products are offered online only, which is somewhat limiting when compared to banks that offer both conventional and online banking. While some consumers may be leery of online banks, they are regulated just the same as conventional banks, at least in the United States.

An advantage of comparing online bank rates in this manner is that most of the larger sites have much additional information about the various banking products, and that may make a decision easier. These sites often have pertinent news items regarding finances and banking accessible from the home page, as well as basic information concerning mortgages, CDs, money market accounts and other investment instruments. Many also include rankings and reviews of the banks themselves, giving a person insight into important deciding factors such as customer service.

Some online-only banks say they can keep rates low and offer better interest earnings than conventional banks because they have less overhead.
Some online-only banks say they can keep rates low and offer better interest earnings than conventional banks because they have less overhead.

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