New FDIC Insured Limit Covers Bank Deposits Up To $250,000

Published 10/16/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

After two decades at the same coverage limit, the U.S. government has finally stopped dragging its knuckles and raised the FDIC insured limit for bank deposits from the previous FDIC limit of $100,000 - up���� to the new limit of $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. For your average bank customer, this means that he or she will now receive full FDIC insurance coverage up to $250,000 for the total sum of their single accounts (checking, savings, and CD deposits) at each banking institution. Other account category types like joint accounts and trust accounts will also each enjoy separate increased $250,000 limits at each bank. However, retirement accounts held by banks as FDIC insured deposits will remain at the previous $250,000 limit.

For those who don't know, the FDIC stands for the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a federally run government organization that protects bank customers from the loss of their deposits in the event of a catastrophic FDIC-insured bank failure. The protection afforded by FDIC insurance is near iron-clad as it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. There is no need for bank depositors to apply for FDIC insurance or even to request it as coverage is automatic. Below are the new and current FDIC insurance coverage limits for deposits at FDIC insured member banks. The new FDIC limits are effective starting October 3, 2008 and tentatively scheduled to expire on December 31, 2009. While the FDIC does not directly cover deposits held in credit union institutions, in response to the new FDIC limits, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, or NCUSIF, has raised credit union insurance limits up to $250,000 through Dec. 31, 2009 as well.

Although the newly enacted FDIC insurance limits are slated to end at the end of 2009, I predict that Congress will more likely than not make the new coverage limits permanent after that time. Frankly, in light of the current financial crisis and deteriorating consumer confidence sentiment regarding the safety and security of our nation's banks and credit unions, there is no reason the U.S. government should not allow the new FDIC limits to stay permanent.

Current Basic FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage Limits
Single Accounts (owned by one person) $250,000 per owner
Joint Accounts (two or more persons) $250,000 per co-owner
IRAs and certain other retirement accounts $250,000 per owner
Trust Accounts $250,000 per owner per beneficiary subject to specific limitations and requirements
Corporation, Partnership and Unincorporated Association Accounts $250,000 per corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association
Employee Benefit Plan Accounts $250,000 for the non-contingent, ascertainable interest of each participant
Government Accounts $250,000 per official custodian

The New Increase In FDIC Insurance Coverage For All FDIC Insured Deposits Will Help Improve Consumer Confidence In The Banking System

With the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the U.S. Congress has agreed to increase the previous FDIC insured limit of $100,000 by 150% to $250,000 through the end of next year until the last day of 2009. For those who argue that the new boost in FDIC insurance coverage is unnecessary and too high, keep in mind that after factoring in the effects of inflation since it was last increased in 1980, the current FDIC insured increase is perfectly in line with inflationary reality. Besides, desperate financial times require desperate measures. The U.S. and world economies are faltering and the major banking institutions are struggling to stay afloat during this terrible credit crisis. While the FDIC insured limit increase probably won't have a direct effect on the credit crunch (I hate this phrase but everyone uses it) as the main problem in the banking sector is that banks are refusing to lend to each other rather than suffering from a direct shortage of bank deposits, having a higher limit will probably go a long way in instilling consumer confidence in the U.S. banking system again. In the long run, this should have a positive and stabilizing ripple effect on the economy at large.

Personally, I've been rather active lately in my banking transactions, opening new high yield savings accounts with the top online banks and shifting money around to make sure every single cent of my cash deposits are fully protected under the FDIC limits. As many concerned consumers have been doing, I have been seeking the shelter and safety of bank deposits during this time of financial and economic turmoil. As a small business owner I tend to carry around significant amounts of cash for payroll, accounting, and business investment purposes - much more than the usual consumer account holder. To ensure full FDIC protection for my bank deposits in excess of $100,000, I've been spreading cash around among multiple banks to increase my FDIC coverage limits by setting up separate single and joint accounts to take advantage of the separate FDIC coverage for each account category.

The new FDIC limit increase will allow consumers to keep more of their money at the same banking institution without having to scramble around desperately looking for other FDIC insured banking options to spread their funds around. While bank failures remain extremely rare, with the recent collapse of major banking institutions like IndyMac and Washington Mutual, the occurrence and possibility of such a reality has become all too real. The recent decision by the U.S. Congress to raise the FDIC limit on an emergency basis was long overdue and necessary to calm the public's worry and reduce the number of irrational actions taken by those fearful of losing their money or investments. Ultimately the decision will help put a stop to the massive waves of bank withdraws due to panicky customers pulling their money out of banks in response to irrational concerns. The new FDIC insured limit will help prevent such desperate monetary runs on the banks and allow the banking system to continue operating as normal.

However, The New FDIC Coverage Increase Will Not Result In Higher Interest Yields Or Financially Affect The Vast Majority Of Banking Customers

While the new FDIC limit increase should help boost consumer confidence in banks and credit unions, and help stem some of the panic and fear in the marketplace, most consumers are unlikely to experience much of a difference. It's mostly the wealthier individuals or small businesses who carry around significant amounts of cash in their checking or savings accounts that are likely to directly appreciate the new FDIC insurance cap. The great majority of average everyday banking customers do not have more than $100,000 in a single bank account anyway.

Furthermore, those who are hoping to see higher interest rates or yields on their high interest savings accounts or certificate of deposits (CD's) will be sorely disappointed. There is a very real likelihood that as the perceived confidence in our banks goes up, the interest rate expectations may go down. Because the FDIC is financed through premiums paid by FDIC member banks, participating banks are obligated to pay periodic premiums for FDIC insurance coverage. As such, there is a high inevitable possibility that they may eventually have to pay more in the way of FDIC premiums for the new higher insurance coverage limits. With higher FDIC premiums to contend with, banks may ultimately pass on the cost to consumers by offering lower interest rates for their deposits.

In a move that probably will benefit smaller local and community banks more than the mega "too big to fail" banking giants like Citibank, Bank of America, or JP Morgan Chase, the new financial bailout plan also provides for unlimited FDIC insurance coverage for certain accounts. Banking customers of FDIC insured banks will receive unlimited insurance for money deposited into non-interest bearing accounts, a protection that primarily benefits small and mid size businesses that have bank deposits exceeding the new insured maximum of $250,000. This temporary, but extendable unlimited protection was enacted to stabilize business risk, and prevent the type of loss faced by many businesses when a bank or thrift savings institution failed. Under this temporary unlimited FDIC insurance plan for non interest bearing bank accounts, a typical small business will be able to keep $250,000 worth of interest bearing funds in a regular checking, savings, or CD account, and put the remainder in zero interest accounts for unlimited FDIC insurance coverage. Under the bailout plan, for the first 30 days of the program, all FDIC insured banks will enjoy this unlimited FDIC protection for their non-interest bearing bank deposits. After that, member banks must opt-out of the program if they no longer wish to offer this unlimited protection.

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