Survey ranks Maine savings account interest rates among lowest in country

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Maine ranked near the bottom of a national survey on savings account interest rates Thursday — 49th lowest in the country — but the survey’s author said there’s a story behind the numbers.

“Savings rates especially are super low across the board,” said Casey Bond, managing editor at GoBankingRates.com. “It’s still close to the national average because everyone just has super low savings account rates, unfortunately.”

The average rate at the 19 Maine banks and credit unions surveyed: 0.19 percent.

The national average: 0.21 percent.

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Across the country, Oklahoma had the highest savings account interest rate, 0.34 percent, and Arizona the lowest, 0.12 percent.

In the survey, Maine interest rates on six-month, one-year and two-year CDs were above the national average. However, actual rankings varied from 41st (for one-year CDs) to 28th (for two-year CDs).

“The bottom states are so low it’s really dragging that national average down where Maine can rank low yet still be higher than the national average,” Bond said.

In Maine, it found Sebasticook Valley Credit Union had the highest interest rates for all three lengths of CD, between 0.5 and 1.05 percent, and cPort Credit Union the highest savings account interest rate at 0.25 percent.

GoBankingRates.com’s survey didn’t include national banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

“We’re trying to make it easier for people to understand their local rates,” Bond said. “That way people get a better sense of the local institutions. They’re known for better customer service, better interest rates.”

The survey includes some institutions the website has financial arrangements with, she said.

Maine Bankers Association President Chris Pinkham had never heard of the company and questioned its seemingly small sample size, 1,400 banks and credit unions nationwide.

“It’s always important that people shop around,” Pinkham said. “If you’re buying a car or an appliance you tend to shop two or three places, they should do the same for their financial services.”

CD and saving account rates will eventually come back, said John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League, good news for those accounts, bad for other loans.

“People are ecstatic over the record-low interest rates for car loans, for mortgage loans, but the offset to that is what is being paid on savings accounts and deposits,” Murphy said. “Deposit rates everywhere across the country are near historic lows.”

kskelton@sunjournal.com

GoBankingRates.com national interest rate rankings released Thursday for Maine:

* Six-month CD: 33rd (average deposit interest rate of 0.32 percent vs. 0.31 percent nationally)

* One-year CD: 41st (average deposit interest rate of 0.56 percent vs. 0.46 percent nationally)

* Two-year CD: 28th (average deposit interest rate of 0.88 percent vs. 0.69 percent nationally)

* Savings account: 49th (average interest rate of 0.19 percent vs. 0.21 percent nationally)

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