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FDIC Insurance: Explained

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

FDIC stands for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC insures the money in deposit accounts up to $250,000 per ownership category. You want your bank to be FDIC-insured to guarantee the money you keep in your accounts will be available to you should the bank fail.

FDIC history

The FDIC was established in response to the Great Depression by the Glass-Steagall Act. During the time period between the Civil War and the establishment of the FDIC in 1933, bank runs were a common occurrence.

You may be familiar with bank runs from watching the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Essentially, people would get scared that their deposits were going to be lost to bad investment decisions by their bank. The panic would spread quickly, and result in a rush of customers trying to liquidate their deposit accounts. The Glass-Steagall Act successfully ended these bank runs by guaranteeing that if your money wasn’t available for liquidation at your bank, your money would still be returned to you via the FDIC insurance fund.

To this end, it has been wildly successful. Coverage started at $2,500, but has grown with the times to $250,000 per ownership category. Since the FDIC was officially opened in January 1934, depositors have not lost any money from their deposits at FDIC-insured financial institutions.

NCUA vs. FDIC insurance

FDIC insurance covers deposits in banks across the country, but it does not insure deposits at credit unions. That’s why the National Credit Union Insurance Fund, administered by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), was established in 1970.

However, the NCUA does not insure deposits at all credit unions. Federal credit unions must be NCUA members, but state-chartered credit unions only participate if they choose to do so. You can find out if your credit union is federally insured by looking for the NCUA logo on its site or at one of its branches.

What the FDIC insurance limit covers

The FDIC insures up to $250,000 per ownership category per person within a singular financial institution. There are 14 ownership categories. While you are unable to qualify for each and every ownership category, this does allow you to qualify for more than $250,000 worth of insurance as an individual.

The ownership categories for FDIC insurance are:

  • Single accounts
  • Joint accounts
  • Revocable trust accounts
  • Irrevocable trust accounts
  • Specific retirement accounts
  • Employee benefit plan accounts
  • Business/Organization accounts
  • Government Accounts
  • Mortgage servicing accounts
  • Irrevocable trusts with the financial institution as the trustee
  • Annuity contract accounts
  • Public Bond accounts
  • Custodian accounts for Native Americans
  • Accounts established in compliance with the Bank Deposit Financial
  • Assistance Program of the Department of Energy

What types of accounts does the FDIC insure?

FDIC coverage extends to many different kinds of accounts. Checking, savings, CDs and money market accounts are all included in these ranks. So are Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), custodial accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, self-directed 401(k)s, self-directed defined benefit plans whether they are money purchasing plans or profit-sharing plans, self-directed Keogh plans and Section 457 deferred compensation plans.

Defined benefit and contribution plans are also covered, along with employer-administered welfare plans, business deposit accounts, mortgage servicing accounts, annuity contract accounts and deposit accounts held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to benefit Native Americans.

Remember that the FDIC max of $250,000 does not apply to each individual account, but rather to all accounts held within an ownership category.

What is not covered by FDIC insurance?

Not every account you can open at a bank qualifies for FDIC insurance. Annuities, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, government securities, municipal securities and U.S. Treasury securities all top the list of uninsurable products you may find at your bank.

Items kept in safe deposit boxes are also not covered. If your bank gets robbed or experiences a natural disaster resulting in loss of money, the FDIC will not cover the losses, though your bank will eat the loss rather than passing on the misfortune to you. Banks actually buy separate bonds as insurance policies for these situations.

FDIC regulations for deposit accounts

Because there are 14 separate ownership categories, you can have much more than $250,000 in insurable funds at any given FDIC-insured institution. The most basic way to understand this is the single account category, where all the accounts held in your name — either directly or via custodian or fiduciary — can only add up to $250,000. If you are a sole proprietor and have an account under a DBA, those funds will also count toward the single account limit.

Joint accounts with two account owners can be insured up to $500,000. The more account holders there are, the more insurance will be provided in increments of $250,000 worth of insurance per account holder. This limit includes money held in all joint deposit accounts, including DBA accounts with multiple owners, but does not include money held in single accounts.

Revocable trust accounts include accounts which either have a legal document drawn up by a lawyer designating them as a part of a revocable trust, or simply bank accounts in which you have set up to have beneficiaries upon your death. The first five beneficiaries receive $250,000 in coverage each, but if you have more beneficiaries the math gets a little more complicated.

You can use the FDIC’s Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator to figure out your coverage amounts.

If you have an irrevocable trust which you can withdraw funds from in certain circumstances, the portion that you keep interest in will be counted toward the single account category. If you are a beneficiary and there are no contingencies placed on you receiving the money, the funds will also count toward your single account category. However, if the owner places contingencies on you receiving the money, like getting married or going to college prior to the funds being distributed to you, they will count toward the irrevocable trust category and be insured up to $250,000 per beneficiary.

If you have an irrevocable trust with you bank as the trustee, its funds will count toward the accounts held by a depository institution as the trustee of an irrevocable trust category, which is separate from the irrevocable trust category.

Certain retirement accounts include traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, self-directed 401(k)s, self-directed defined benefit plans, self-directed Keogh plans and Section 457 deferred compensation plans. Your category total for these plans is $250,000 regardless of the number of beneficiaries.

If you have a retirement plan through your employer which is administered by a third party, it will count toward your employee benefits plan account limit of $250,000. Examples of these accounts include pensions, 401(k)s and Keogh plans.

If you are Native American and have the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) acting as a fiduciary on your behalf, the money held in these accounts are insured up to $250,000. If you hold a personal account as a Native American which is not administered by the BIA, it will not be in this category. Instead, it will count toward your single account limit.

As an individual, the other categories don’t apply to you. Rather, they apply to businesses, insurance companies and in some cases even the bank itself.

How to maximize FDIC insurance

One of the best ways to maximize your FDIC insurance is by taking advantage of the fact that your money can be held across many different categories. Irrevocable trusts are a particularly efficient way to do this as coverage can be extended to many beneficiaries, but you don’t necessarily have to distribute your funds equally upon your death, explains Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.com, another LendingTree-owned site.

“Sometimes someone might want to insure $1 million at one bank,” Tumin told MagnifyMoney. “You might do that with an irrevocable trust with four beneficiaries. But if you want to keep a majority of the money yourself, you don’t want to put beneficiaries on it. You can create a workaround by establishing one beneficiary who will get most of the money like your spouse, while the three others will receive a smaller amount. That way, you can get your coverage up to the full million.”

He also notes that some financial institutions offer deposit sweep programs, in which the money you deposit into your accounts at one financial institution is effectively spread across several financial institutions. You interact only with your bank, but behind the scenes, they’re spreading out your money so you can get the full $250,000 worth of insurance with each different financial institution your money is technically held within. Two prolific programs include the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS) for certificates of deposit and Insured Cash Sweep (ICS) for money market and checking accounts.

Tips for keeping your money safe with FDIC insurance

Do not assume that any financial institution has FDIC insurance. In order to verify that your bank participates, use this handy tool.

Some financial institutions offer private deposit insurance. This is especially true in the realm of state-chartered credit unions, but some banks do it, too. Most notably, the state of Massachusetts has several private insurance funds which can insure funds in excess of FDIC coverage limits. The important thing to remember with these private insurers is that funds are not guaranteed by the federal government as they would be with FDIC- or NCUA-insured accounts.

Aside from making sure your financial institution actually has federal insurance policies, one of the best things you can do to protect your money is to make sure you understand the intricacies of the category rules. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can use the FDIC’s Electronic Insurance Deposit Estimator (EDIE) to figure out how to best allocate your money to maximize your insurance coverage.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Banking

How to Handle Financial Infidelity in Your Relationship

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

For relationship partners, dishonesty about spending and debt is known as financial infidelity. While partners may be uncomfortable talking about money, keeping secrets can be far more damaging to the relationship. Financial infidelity can lead to devastating scenarios and even bankruptcy, as well as relationship conflicts as severe as breakups and divorce.

A MagnifyMoney study found that 21% of divorced U.S. adults report that money issues ended their marriages, and overspending was the top issue among respondents. Financial infidelity adds another layer of damage because it constitutes a betrayal of trust.

“Financial infidelity does not give us trust and safety with our partner,” said Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “Financial Infidelity: 7 Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker.” “There’s no such thing as an okay financial fib. Any time you do a financial fib, that is a form of cheating.”

That being said, there are varying degrees of financial infidelity, and the intent is not always malicious. Here’s how to handle it in your own relationship.

Financial infidelity: How people lie about money

There are a number of ways that people can be dishonest about money with their partner. Here are some types of financial infidelity to watch out for.

Hiding large purchases

This occurs when one partner buys something out of the ordinary that is more expensive and exceeds any personal spending limits the couple has agreed upon. These purchases are usually eventually uncovered by the other partner, said Jennifer Dunkle, a financial therapist and licensed professional counselor.

Spending money on the kids

A 2018 study about financial infidelity published in the Journal of Financial Therapy found that one of the most common types of dishonest spending is money spent on the couple’s children without agreement or knowledge from the other parent, said Dr. Michelle Jeanfreau, Ph.D., associate professor, licensed marriage and family therapist and the author of the study. While this might seem relatively benign or well-intentioned, it’s still a form of dishonesty, and it warrants a closer look into your finances.

“If you aren’t talking about spending, then maybe that’s a sign that you need to be talking about spending,” said Jeanfreau.

Hiding accounts or restricting access to accounts

It’s okay to keep separate accounts from your partner as long as you are in agreement about spending limits, according to Justus Morgan, certified financial planner and vice president of Financial Service Group.

But if your partner has an account that you don’t know about or refuses to give you the password to oversee an account, that’s a form of financial infidelity. You and your partner are a team, so even if one of you is more comfortable managing your finances, you should both have access to all of your financial information.

Lying about prices or sales

Maybe your partner comes home with a new purchase, and instead of hiding it from you altogether, they lie about the price they paid. Or, perhaps they say they bought it on sale when they actually paid full price.

These are both common lies that emerged during the previously mentioned 2018 study. While it may not seem as malicious as hiding a purchase, lying about price still creates dishonesty in a relationship.

Why people lie about money

In the 2018 study, some participants identified acts of financial infidelity they’d committed but didn’t admit to having been financially unfaithful. Jeanfreau said that could be because they don’t realize that their small secret or lie is actually a form of financial infidelity that can be damaging to their relationship. Another possibility, she said, is that they don’t think there’s anything wrong with financial infidelity.

In a new study authored by Jeanfreau that is under review, researchers identified two common reasons why people commit financial infidelity. One motive for lying may be avoiding a money argument, while another reason is that people want to spend on themselves. Both motivations can indicate underlying problems with a relationship, Jeanfreau said. She also noted that some people may lie to minimize their own insecurities about spending or budgeting if they feel they don’t know how to self-spend within reason.

How to uncover financial infidelity in your relationship

So, how do you find out if your partner is keeping secrets from you? Morgan suggests looking at tax returns and credit reports together annually. It’s a healthy habit for any couple, and it should reveal missing income that was spent on a hidden purchase, as well as any credit card accounts opened without one partner’s knowledge.

If you’re concerned more immediately, you may want to ask your partner to review bank statements, credit card statements or other financial statements together. If your spouse isn’t willing to provide these statements, that should raise a red flag, said Morgan.

What causes financial infidelity?

The outcomes of financial infidelity can range from running up a credit card to bankruptcy to even divorce. So, you’ll want to know what aspects of a relationship can make financial infidelity more likely.

Eaker Weil said opposites attract to begin with, and a saver often attracts a spender and vice-versa; this can create a dynamic ripe for conflict, so understanding your differences is key. She also said that financial infidelity often arises from a lack of empathy or affection for one another: “We use money to hide when we can’t find our partner’s heart very often.”

Both Dunkle and Morgan pointed to a power imbalance as a factor that can increase the likelihood of dishonesty. When one of the spouses is more controlling about money decisions — especially if the spouse earns more and has the attitude that it’s their money — that can create an unhealthy dynamic, Morgan said.

Preventing financial infidelity

Morgan said one of the keys to establishing a healthy relationship around money is to recognize that everyone has different experiences when it comes to money, and that family upbringing often teaches us how to deal with money when we lack more formal instruction.

Eaker Weil even recommends that couples create a family tree with help from their parents and grandparents and share their findings with their partner. This should help to answer questions: how was money handled in each person’s background? Was there fear or deprivation around money? Did people put their family needs before their own? These questions can help predict people’s attitudes about money, an important topic of discussion among couples.

“If you’re able to really understand your own values and beliefs around money, then you’re going to be able to talk to your partner about goals and expectations for your finances,” said Jeanfreau.

She added that financial education should be a part of counseling for newer couples planning to join their finances. If couples learn early on how to communicate with transparency, find a system that works for them, develop a budget and plan and review their finances regularly, it can help prevent financial infidelity behaviors from the start.

Recovering from financial infidelity

Financial infidelity doesn’t have to be the end. But it should trigger a serious discussion, a review of your financial situation and possibly even help from professionals.

Eaker Weil recommends a weekly money talk for couples who have experienced financial infidelity. She said it’s important to approach these conversations with curiosity instead of being reactive, hurt or angry about your partner’s financial infidelity.

But sometimes, the way we talk about financial infidelity can actually make relationship problems worse. Dunkle said there are four destructive patterns in a relationship that need to be corrected when they occur: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

Replacing those patterns by talking about your own feelings, describing the situation neutrally and describing what you want from your partner positively, rather than negatively, can help couples to move on from a financial infidelity incident. Dunkle also stressed the importance of attending couples therapy, since recovering from financial infidelity can be difficult to manage on your own.

Jeanfreau said the SAFE model is another way for couples to recover from financial infidelity. It’s a four-step process that involves the following:

  1. Speaking the truth, or coming clean about financial infidelity
  2. Agreeing to a plan, which involves setting up a budget
  3. Following that agreement and regularly reviewing it
  4. Having an emergency plan, which usually includes seeking the help of therapists or financial advisors

Don’t assume the worst of your partner. Find out what their intention was, and try to have empathy for their situation. And remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Financial infidelity happens to couples everywhere, and love for each other alone can’t prevent or repair it. It may take patience and a lot of work to get back on track, but financial infidelity doesn’t need to destroy your partnership.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Lindsay Frankel |

Lindsay Frankel is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Banking

What Happens After a Fed Rate Cut

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The Federal Reserve has reduced interest rates once again, and you’re probably wondering what this means for your money. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut the federal funds rate in July for the first time since December 2008, then cut again at the September meeting.

In September 2007, the Fed dropped the fed funds target range from 5.25% to 4.75%, then slashed rates nine more times over the course of 15 months, finally ending in December 2008 by reducing fed funds to a historically low range of 0% to 0.25%. It left rates unchanged for seven years, until a small hike to 0.25% to 0.50% in December 2015. This kicked off a string of rate hikes that ended last December, when the FOMC raised the federal funds rate to 2.25% to 2.50%.

At the September 2019 meeting, the federal funds rate was reduced by 25 basis points to 1.75% to 2.00%. Read on to understand how these rate reductions could impact you.

What is the federal funds rate?

The federal funds rate is the Federal Reserve’s main tool for managing interest rates in the United States. Fed funds is the main benchmark for the interest rates on every financial product on the market, including savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages and credit cards.

To put it more precisely, the federal funds rate is the narrow range of interest rates at which banks and credit unions trade federal funds — the balances they hold at Federal Reserve Banks — with each other overnight. The effective federal funds rate is the weighted average of the rates that banks negotiate with each other. Financial institutions use the effective federal funds rate as the benchmark for setting interest rates on all of their other lending and deposit products.

When the federal funds rate goes up, interest rates on financial products also go up. So when the federal funds rate is high, savers rejoice because it means better returns on their deposit accounts. But it also means it’s more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow money, putting downward pressure on economic activity and inflation, the Fed’s main enemy. It also makes it harder for borrowers to get loans when APRs are higher.

And when the federal funds rate goes down, institutions lower their rates, enabling consumers and businesses to borrow more money at lower rates, thereby driving more economic activity. On the other hand, those looking for the best savings rates, including the best rates on certificates of deposit (CDs), will be disappointed as deposit account rates fall.

What happens after a Fed rate cut?

A Fed rate cut causes a downward shift in deposit account rates. We’ve already been experiencing industry-wide interest rate cuts on savings and other deposit account types in the wake of the July rate reduction.

“When the Fed cuts rates, you’ll see many online banks react within a few weeks,” said Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.com, also LendingTree-owned. “Reductions in average online savings account rates usually follow close on the heels of a Fed rate cut, within a month or two.”

As for brick-and-mortar bank rates, they’ll also see small drops, but since their rates are already so low, their bottom line will hardly be affected.

How a Fed rate cut affects certificates of deposit (CDs)

Looking at historical CD rates confirms that we can expect deposit account interest rates to drop soon after a cut is announced. Tumin recalls that the rate cuts came quickly after the Fed cut rates in 2007. This was especially true for certificates of deposit, which tend to follow the federal funds rate rather closely. Back then, amid the financial crisis, rates followed until CD rates dropped below 2%, while savings accounts were earning less than 1%.

Below, you can see how closely the average 6-month CD rate followed the federal funds rate until the chaos of the financial crisis peak.

This time around, we’ll probably see more rate cuts like we’ve already been seeing for CDs. However, it’s more important to keep an eye on the Fed’s future outlook for the federal funds rate to determine where CD rates are going.

“If the Fed paints a deteriorating picture of the economy, that will increase the odds of several more rate cuts to come,” Tumin said. “That will put more downward pressure on CD rates, especially the longer-term ones like the 3-, 4- and 5-year CDs.”

How a Fed rate cut affects your credit card and mortgage

A Fed rate cut can help you pay off your credit card bills. Most major credit card issuers will lower their APRs accordingly within one or two billing cycles.

“It won’t move the needle much if [the Fed] only [cuts rates] once — since it’s only 0.25% — but any reduction is helpful when you have credit card debt,” said Matt Shulz, senior industry analyst at CompareCards, another LendingTree-owned site. Lowering your credit card’s variable rate means your credit card balances will accrue less in interest, possibly making it easier to pay down.

A lower federal funds rate will also affect adjustable-rate mortgages and HELOCs, as they’re based on short-term rates. “These should decline in tandem with the federal funds rate,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, lead economist at LendingTree.

Fixed-rate mortgages are less affected by the federal funds rate, instead tracking the 10-year Treasury rate. “A Fed funds cut will likely have little impact on fixed mortgage rates at this point,” Kapfidze said.

Why is the Fed cutting rates?

The Fed looks closely at several factors when considering whether to raise or cut the federal funds rate, including wages, employment, consumer spending and global markets. If the data points to a strong, growing economy, when employment is high and inflation is stable, the Fed may choose to raise the federal funds rate. Again, because that tightens access to money, it tends to slow down growth and prevent overheating. It also helps people save their money more efficiently in their savings accounts.

At the moment, however, we’re seeing the economy’s growth slowing down all on its own. Reports around jobs, spending and wages, paired with the current uncertainties surrounding global trade, have indicated to experts and undoubtedly, the Fed, that the economy is in need of a boost.

“A lower federal funds rate is seen as helpful to the future health of the economy,” Tumin said. A Fed rate cut, after months of weakening data, would hopefully breathe life back into the economy.

Note: This article includes links to DepositAccounts.com, which is also owned by LendingTree.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here