Doing a little homework before locking in a mortgage or certificate of deposit can really pay off in the long run. Watch the video to the right to see what the best rates are right now, then follow these guidelines to find the best deal for you.
Saving money: Banks offer basic, low-interest savings accounts and higher-interest money-market accounts to grow your money while still making it quickly available to you. Some banks charge fees to maintain the accounts. (Compare savings accounts here.) If you want more bang for your buck, money-market funds available through mutual fund companies generally pay a higher yield and don't have an early-withdrawal provision. (Compare bank money-market funds here.) Certificates of deposit mature and pay interest in 30 days or more, usually with a higher interest rate the longer the term. A penalty is charged for early withdrawal. (Compare CD rates here.)
Mortgage rates: When it comes to mortgages, dozens of products are available. You have to decide which one best fits your spending plans. (See "Which mortgage is best for you?")
Visit MSN Money's Home Affordability Calculator, which considers your income and debts, even your credit, before figuring out the maximum amount you should borrow.
It may not be as much as some banks will lend you, but it should be within your means to repay. You can get an idea of what's available here.
Buying a car: The Cash for Clunkers program may be over, but there are still great deals out there for new and used car buyers. Check out the auto loan center for the best rates and links to how to save on car insurance and more.
Credit cards: Tough economic times mean credit card issuers have gotten tougher with rates and stingier with rebates and rewards. Underwriting standards have also been tightened. That means you need to have a FICO credit score of at least 660 to qualify for most run-of-the-mill rewards cards. You have to have excellent scores -- 740 or above -- to get the best ones. Read "20 credit cards that pay you back" for the best rewards cards and visit our credit card analyzer to help you find a great deal.
Published Sept. 24, 2009