bank rates

Maryland Christmas Club Pays 3%

Blank of Glen Burnie will pay this rate on deposits up to $5,000It’s time to start thinking about the holidays — for 2012, that is.

If you open a Christmas Club account at the Bank of Glen Burnie outside Baltimore between now and December, you can add up to $5,000 to Santa’s stash at 3.00% APY, and use it for next season’s holiday shopping.

Holiday savings accounts allow you to save up in advance, rather than pulling out a credit card at the last minute, but they include some restrictions that impact how much money you can earn — even if you can find the occasional great rate.

The Bank of Glen Burnie’s Christmas Club rate pays well more than the top nationally available savings and money market accounts. (It also pays significantly more than the 0.20% APY Bank of Glen Burnie pays on its statement savings account.)

These days, the best national savings rate is 1.30% APY from UFB Direct (www.ufbdirect.com), while three national banks are offering 1.25% APY on money market accounts.

Just be sure to read the fine print if you’re opening a holiday club account.

At Bank of Glen Burnie (www.thebankofglenburnie.com) you can’t make any withdrawals from your account, and if you close it before the end of the specified period, you won’t earn any interest.

Your initial deposit must be between $10 and $100, and you can’t deposit more than $100 a week. The total in your account can’t exceed $5,000 before the account is cashed out next October.

That severely restricts how much you can earn on this account. At best, you’ll make about 75 bucks, which is still better than if you put $5,000 today in a regular savings account.

It’s even better than what you’d earn if you invested the same amount in the best nationally available 12-month CD rates.

But, then again, the real idea here is to make sure you have enough money saved up to avoid incurring credit card debt next year. This isn’t a long-term savings strategy.

For this deal, you’ll need to have another deposit account or loan from the community bank, which serves residents of Anne Arundel County, Md., south of Baltimore, at eight branches.

If you don’t live in the area, your other choices are the Airline Rewards Savings account from UFB Direct, which throws in airline miles, along with paying 1.30% APY.

For MMAs, your best choices are AmTrust Direct (www.amtrustdirect.com), My Banking Direct (www.mybankingdirect.com) and Incredible Bank (www.incrediblebank.com) all of which are paying 1.25% APY.

You can check to see how these rates compare to the best money market and savings account rates from scores of banks in our database.

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