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FDIC insurance coverage

Question: I am hoping you can help me understand the FDIC coverage for savings account. Currently my wife and I are joint account holders of 1 savings account with ING. What is the maximum amount we can have insured in this account? Once we exceed the amount, what is the best way to find the best interest rate for savings account? What are other investment opportunities that will keep the funds fairly accessible? Thanks in advance. David, San Francisco, CA

Answer: The FDIC insures the account for up to $250,000. But the $250,000 limit is something of a misnomer.

It's relatively easy to get a multiple of that sum in joint and single accounts at the same bank and still get the total insured by the FDIC. It all depends how legal ownership of the account is labeled. You can check out the numbers and your accounts at the FDIC insurance calculator. The FDIC website offers a good consumer guide for understanding how insured deposit system works here.

So, in the unlikely event that you do exceed the insured amount in one account you can usually get the additional money covered through a different account at the same bank . You can also pick up additional insurance by opening up accounts at other banks. (Federal credit unions have a comparable backstop and rules through the National Credit Union Shares Insurance Fund.) You could also park your safe savings in U.S. Treasury bills. They're backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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