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Dividends: these FTSE 100 yields are safe, boring, and up to 6.5% a year!

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Investors looking for a decent passive income to invest for the future (or to live on) really don’t have many options. The yearly interest or income from cash, high-quality bonds, and other high-priced assets simply isn’t enough. When I first started investing — almost 35 years ago — one could find 10% yearly yields from a range of financial assets. But with interest rates cut to zero or even negative, serious seekers of yield and passive income should look to share dividends from quality companies.

Huge dividends from the FTSE 100

Following its surge since November, the FTSE 100 index’s current dividend yield is just over 3% a year. Alas, many companies cancelled, suspended, or cut their cash pay-outs last year, sending the Footsie’s yield plunging in 2020. But huge, market-beating dividend yields still lurk within the FTSE 100. Here are two I’d gladly snap up right now.

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BP pays 5.2% a year in cash

Oil & gas supermajor BP (LSE: BP) had a truly terrible 2020. As the price of a barrel of Brent crude oil crashed from $70 to below $16, BP’s share price imploded. From a 52-week high above £5, BP’s shares crashed to a 25-year low of 188.5p on 28 October 2020. Since then, things have been looking much rosier for the energy giant. The oil price is back above $55 and BP’s shares closed at 300.2p on Monday. But for me, BP’s big attraction is its tasty dividend yield.

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, BP cut its dividend. It did so again in 2020, halving its cash pay-out. Yet, because of BP’s vast cash flows, its shares still offer one of the biggest dividend yields in the FTSE 100. The currently quarterly dividend of 5.25 US cents adds up to a yearly dividend of 15.46p, for a current yield of almost 5.2%. This isn’t the FTSE 100’s highest dividend yield, but I view it as one of the safest. With BP’s dividends likely to rise from here, I see this as a perfect passive income to pop into a balanced portfolio.

L&G offers 6.4% a year

Legal & General (LSE: LGEN) is one of my most-admired British businesses. It’s a true leader in the fields of life assurance, savings, and investments, managing over £1trn of customers’ assets. Founded in 1836, L&G is a household UK name, with over 10m customers worldwide. Everything about L&G — its brand, reputation and people — smacks of quality. Yet these cheap shares pay a market-beating dividend to patient shareholders.

Back on 29 October, just before the FTSE 100’s November surge, I said that L&G shares were a compelling buy at 184.5p. On Friday, they closed at 266.3p, up by almost half (44.3%) in just over two months. But I see more gains to come from this £16.3bn Footsie champion. With an anticipated dividend yield of nearly 6.5%, L&G’s cheap shares offer safety, solidity, and a whopping passive income. That’s why I’d eagerly buy L&G shares today, ideally inside my ISA, for decades of tax-free income and capital gains.

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Cliffdarcy has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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