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Keeping Your Cash Safe

(By Tim Grajek For The Washington Post)
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By Anne Kates Smith
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Sunday, November 16, 2008

Many depositors feel safer now that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has, at least through 2009, raised insurance limits from $100,000 to $250,000 per individual account. Joint accounts are covered at $250,000 per co-owner; retirement accounts, up to $250,000; and trust accounts, up to $250,000 per beneficiary.

Not enough? Stretch your coverage by spreading cash among several banks. A couple of services will help you do this without sacrificing your shoe leather.

The Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, or CDARS, can cover up to $50 million in deposits, working with a network of some 2,500 banks. To find a CDARS member bank near you, visit http://www.cdars.com. You can choose maturities from four weeks to five years. The home bank will split your deposit among as many banks as necessary, and you can strike any you don't want (one you're already using, for instance, lest you go over FDIC limits). You'll earn one rate (set by the home bank) and get one statement and one form at tax time.

FolioFn, an online securities firm, works with 22 banks. That means you can insure up to $5.5 million in cash held in various FolioFn accounts -- trading, retirement, trust and so on. Pending deals could push the limit to $7 million. Your cash is deposited into money-market accounts at the banks. Funds are available on demand, so the money earns a relatively low rate -- recently just 1.09 percent at the top end of FolioFn's range of options. You must be a member -- at a cost of $29 a month -- to use its extended FDIC coverage.


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