Best Places to Stash Your Cash

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You could hardly be blamed for squirreling money under a mattress these days – that sometimes seems to be as good a place as any for your emergency fund or cash reserves.

While the stock market has delivered solid returns over the past few years, at the same time the options have dwindled for parking some cash with the hopes of drawing a return that at least keeps pace with cost-of-living increases.

Most bank savings and checking accounts are paying a paltry interest rate, and money market funds aren't much better. As far as CDs, it's been years – 13 years to be precise – since you could grab a 5-year CD that returned as much as 7% if held to maturity.

So what's a saver to do? If you don't have the stomach to go all-in with stocks, or simply want to make the most of your cash reserves, there are some options worth considering that just might beat the mattress stash.

Online savings or money market accounts: If you need to keep your money liquid, you can usually do a bit better than your local bank or credit union by shopping online banks. The best nationally available online rates for savings and money markets accounts are close to 1.20% APY, significantly above the┬┐general average of 0.13%.

High-yield checking accounts: It takes a bit of shopping, but currently there are some high-yield checking accounts that offer a decent return on at least a portion of your money – often the first $10,000 to $30,000.

One option to consider – a Kasasa checking account, which recently offered interest rates as high as 4% on a portion of your money. A review of the Kasasa Web site found current rates being offered range between a solid 2% and 3%.

Kasasa works with credit unions and lending institutions to acquire customers that they believe will be profitable over the long haul. That means you have to perform some relatively simple activities each month, such as using your debit card ten times, to lock in the high interest rate. If you don't meet the requirements, the checking account is still free and interest rates track with national averages.