We're just over a week into the new year, and if you're one of the people who resolved to try to get your finances straightened out in 2013, it's time to get rolling.
To help you with one aspect of that comprehensive task, we've assembled some lists of institutions that could give you a leg up: banks and credit unions that are currently paying superior (high) interest rates on your savings, and those that are charging superior (low) interest rates on your borrowing.
Big Payouts (Relatively Speaking)
Nationally, the interest rates paid on money market and savings accounts are averaging a mere 0.1 percent now -- but not all banks are so stingy.
Bankrate.com keeps a running tally of some of the most generous institutions. Here are just a few currently running near the head of the pack:
Minimum to Open
Union Federal Savings Bank
CIT Bank (CIT)
ableBanking (a division of Northeast Bank)(NBN)
American Express (AXP)
Colorado Federal Savings Bank
Credit unions can sometimes offer a better financial alternative for consumers. But because they may not charge as much on their loans, they have less money to pay out on interest on deposits. Still, given that they are nonprofit institutions, it should come as little surprise that quite a few of them out there easily beat the average 0.1 percent payout noted above. Here are a few that Bankrate likes:
Minimum to Open
State Employees Credit Union
Star One Credit Union
Teachers Federal Credit Union (FCU)
United Nations FCU
And Speaking of Charges...
A second survey, just out this month, flips the coin over and offers consumers a few ideas for how to save money by not spending as much on credit card interest.
Nationally, credit card providers charge an average of 9.9 percent annual interest on credit card balances. But in its quarterly update on banks and credit unions that offer lower-than-average rates on their plastic, SNL Financial reveals the 10 banks with the best deals on "platinum" tier credit cards.
First Tennessee Bank (FHN)
Hills Bank and Trust
Vectra Bank Colorado
Farmers State Bank
Trustmark National Bank (TRMK)
American Bank and Trust Co.
Bank of Tampa
First State Bank of DeKalb County
River Valley Community Bank
When it comes to credit cards, the nonprofit, consumer-focused side of credit unions shines through. Because they earmark less money for interest on deposits -- and for paying out to shareholders and executives -- credit unions don't need to charge their customers quite as much interest on their charge cards. Consequently, many American credit unions clobber the national average interest rate on credit cards, and beat the best of their traditional commercial banking rivals as well:
Educational Systems Federal Credit Union (FCU)
Energy One FCU
Sandia Area FCU
New England FCU
San Francisco FCU
Beach Municipal FCU
Red Crown FCU
TruService Community FCU
Do you know of an even better deal than the ones named above? Tell us in the comments section below! With 2013 just begun, there's plenty of time for us to save some money this new year, together.
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith is currently researching credit unions that offer online stock investing as well as great rates on savings and credit cards. If you know of one, drop him a line.
The Motley Fool recommends American Express Company.