In future, savers can expect to earn more for their money at banks and thrifts, while borrowers will pay more for theirs.
Not only are interest rates on time-savings deposits rising in tandem with market rates, NOW accounts will pay 5 1/4 interest on checking funds. Expect banks to set substantial minimums (probably $500 or more) -- thrifts will demand somewhat less -- on these accounts and also to add considerable service charges. For instance, the Bank of America plans to charge $3 a month plus 15 cents per check unless a minimum daily balance of $2,000 or an average daily balance of $4,000 is maintained.
To decide whether a NOW account would be advisable, a consumer should calculate his or her average monthly checking balance and number of checks written and then ask the bank or thrift what its break-even point is. (The Independent Bankers Association of America has estimated that the point below which the charges exceed the interest earned is an average balance of $1,000. In New England, the average minimum balance required on NOW accounts to avoid service charges is $470, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.)
To help cover the cost of NOW accounts, banks will charge more for other services and penalties, such as insufficient funds, and may try to close low-balance, unprofitable savings accounts, according to Paul S. Nadler, a banking professor at Rutgers.
On the loan side, thrifts will seek to shift more of the risk of mortgage lending in times of volatile or rising interest rates to the borrower. Variable and/or renegotiated-rate loans are but two of the new types of mortgages homebuyers can anticipate in the 1980s.