When you open your monthly statement and see the interest that you're earning on your savings account, you might be disappointed. The average rate for saving accounts nationally has been stuck at about 0.2 percent or less for at least seven years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The good news, though, is that the rates banks pay are beginning to rise, according to a survey by DepositAccounts, a bank account comparison site. The increases come after the Federal Reserve Bank raised short-term interest rates in December and said it expected to increase rates three more times in 2017.

The rates banks pay, however, can vary significantly from one financial institution to another. The difference might not amount to much if you have a relatively low balance, but it could climb to hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually if you have more.

How Earnings Vary

Deposit

Lowest-Paying Banks
0.01% APY

Average-Paying Banks
0.18% APY

Average-Paying Online Banks
0.723% APY

Top-Paying Banks 1.15% APY

$10,000

$1.00$18.00$72.30$115.00

$25,000

$2.50$45.00$180.75$287.50

$100,000

$10.00$180.00$723.00$1,150.00

$250,000

$25.00$450.00$1,807.50$2,875.00

Take Advantage of Rising Rates

Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts, says you should keep a careful eye on the interest rate your financial institution pays. "Make sure you have a savings account that is keeping up with competitors," he says.

To do this, you can follow these steps:

Check rates monthly. DepositAccounts.com and Bankrate.com provide updated lists of rates for various interest-bearing accounts. Often you'll find that online banks pay significantly more than the big walk-in banks, which are "swimming in deposits" and have little reason to be competitive, says Greg McBride, Bankrate's senior vice president and chief financial analyst. You also may discover better savings account rates at smaller local and regional banks and credit unions, he says.

Do the math. It's easy to figure out how much more you might earn annually for a given deposit at various banks. Simply multiply the amount of your deposit by the banks' annual percentage yield, expressed as a decimal. For instance, if you deposit $25,000 in an account with an annual interest rate yield of 1.15 percent, you'd multiply $25,000 by 0.0115, which comes to $287.50. 

Review published rates carefully. When reviewing bank rates at DepositAccounts.com and Bankrate.com, you'll find that both sites put their advertisers near or at the top of the list, even if those institutions are not the top payers. So check carefully. At Bankrate.com you can move the highest-paying banks to the top of the rankings by resorting the list by "APY."

Top-Paying Bank Savings Accounts (as of Jan. 25, 2017)

Savings and Money Market Accounts (APY)

Popular Direct 1.15% 

Everbank

1.11% 

Dime 1.10% 
Northeast Bank 1.10% 
iGObanking.com 1.10% 
1-Year CDs
Pentagon Federal Credit Union 1.36%Everbank
1.36% 
CIT Bank
1.32% 
Pacific National Bank
1.32% 
Virtual Bank
1.31% 
5-Year CDs

Everbank
2.28%

Pentagon Federal Credit Union
2.28% 
Popular Direct
2.28% 
State Farm Bank 2.10% 
First Internet Bank of Indiana

2.07% 

Bankrate.com
  1. To earn these APYs, some banks have minimum deposit requirements. For example, Popular Direct requires a $5,000 minimum deposit. Rates here are for the New York area and may vary by region.

Go beyond the rates. A better savings account is not just one that pays higher rates. Also check for account minimums, fees, and any limits on the number of monthly deposits or withdrawals you can make. if you are considering putting your savings into a certificate of deposit, choose one with a low early withdrawal penalty, advises Tumin. If you're considering an online bank, choose one that lets you move cash back and forth into a local checking account so that you can respond quickly if you need money right away or if rates change and you want to switch banks, says McBride.

Stagger CDs. Locking up your money in long-term CDs can guarantee above-average interest income when rates are declining. But it can be a bad idea when rates are on their way up. McBride recommends staying away from CDs with terms of more than one year. He also recommends "laddering" your deposits—dividing your money among different short-term CDs, then rolling the amounts into higher-paying accounts when the CDs mature. Just be sure that you're choosing a rate that's higher than a rate you could get for a savings account. Bankrate provides a CD ladder calculator that suggests various deposit scenarios based on how conservative you are.

Think twice about flexible CDs. Some banks offer special types of CDs that give you flexibility if rates rise. For example, bump-up CDs let you opt for a higher rate and, in some cases, add cash at least once during the CD term if your bank raises rates on its equivalent bump-up CD.

Another option is the step-up CD, which automatically adjusts to higher rates at predetermined intervals. But neither of these options is usually worth considering, says McBride. "They're not paying much on those CDs. They start you out really low, and rates don't go up high enough," he says.

Research carefully before breaking a CD. If interest rates rise quickly enough, it might be worth breaking a CD before maturity, paying the early withdrawal penalty, and depositing the balance into a higher-paying account. But consider the costs and benefits carefully. Early withdrawal penalties can zap not only your accumulated interest but also your principal. For instance, the most common penalty for early withdrawal of a one-year CD is six months' interest, Bankrate found. DepositAccounts.com has two calculators devoted to early CD withdrawals.

Learn your bank's rules for closing accounts. Although many banks compound interest daily, they usually wait 30 days or longer to credit the accrued interest to their customers' accounts. With some banks, if you close the account before the accrued interest is credited, you'll lose it. One example is Four Oaks Bank, which is based in North Carolina and credits interest on its savings accounts quarterly. Bail out early, perhaps to switch to a higher-paying bank, and you might lose months of accrued interest. When we asked the bank's president, David Rupp, why it has such a policy, he said, "We hope our customers will stay with us for a long period."