Along with cell phone plans, credit cards and gas prices, BillShrink.com is now helping consumers find deals on something many people don't shop around for -- savings accounts and certificates of deposits, or CDs.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 29, BillShrink will find in seconds what it could take hours to do with a "painful calculation" by creating a spreadsheet to find banks offering the best rates, said Schwark Satyavolu, the company's president and co-founder.
"It is not something you can't do," Satyavolu said in a telephone interview. "It's just something ... most people don't have the time to do."
Monthly bank statements are often easily forgotten, and checking around for better checking-account interest rates is often a low priority for most people.
While the savings of BillShrink's new services isn't yet known because it has just started, Satyavolu said a BillShrink analysis of his savings has netted him $300 in annual savings by switching accounts. The average BillShrink user saves $1,500 by using it to find deals on cell phones, credit cards and gas, he said.
With the personal savings rate at a 15-year high as more people reconsider their spending and saving in the recession, and projected to go to 6% by the end of the year, more people are going to be looking for the best interest rates, he said. The personal savings rate was 1.7% in 2007 and 2.7% in 2008, according to Satyavolu.
As it does with cell phones and other plans, the site works fairly easily and can take a few seconds to a few minutes to find what you need. It shows savings accounts, where money is liquid, to CD accounts where money is tied up for one year to two, three, five or 10 years. It also shows where to put a combination of your money in CDs and savings.
CD rates are low now, around 2% to 3%, so being liquid is smart.
To get started, you tell the site how much money you have to invest, and how much of it you want to be available immediately if needed. There are many filters you can use, including check writing, bill pay, direct deposit, paper statements, 24/7 customer service and ATM access.
Once you put in those filters and tell it how much money you have to invest, such as a monthly deposit or one set amount, it comes back with a list of banks and how much money in interest you'll gain over three years.
The ATM access option is one of the most interesting. It tells you what the expected ATM fee will be for the savings account, and has a map of ATMs in your neighborhood. The average ATM fee is $3.43, Satyavolu said, and BillShrink shows which banks pay for ATM fees.
The service is free; BillShrink receives its bounty from banks who get customers through BillShrink.
BillShrink will send monthly alerts to customers, letting them know if there are better banking deals out there and what they should be doing with their money that month. Ideally, such an analysis should be done every month as interest rates change, and new accounts can be set up with money transfers in five to 10 minutes, Satyavolu said.
Whether savers will do it each month is another question. Even an annual review is a good start to salting away six months to a year of savings in a CD or savings account.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net
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