Business: PATs vs. NOWs

Two 5% solutions

Some help for the inflation-weary: the nation's 4,668 federally chartered banks can now offer interest on what is, in effect, money deposited for checking, and many have begun doing so. For the first time since the Depression, consumers can get some return on funds that the banks have long been able to use for free.

Alas, checking with interest has arrived amid considerable confusion because two systems are in contention. Under a Federal Reserve Board ruling effective Nov. 1, all member banks can offer so-called preauthorized automatic transfer schemes, or PATS. Depositors keep separate savings and checking accounts and authorize...

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