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Live Oak Bank Review 2021

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Live Oak Bank

Live Oak Bank is an online-only bank that focuses primarily on small businesses. Headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., it has been providing its services since 2008.

In addition to its abundant small business loan offerings, Live Oak Bank does offer a handful of personal deposit accounts in all 50 states. While there’s not a wide range of personal accounts available, the options that do exist are consumer-friendly with relatively few fees. Live Oak’s savings account consistently pays a competitive APY. Its only other offerings — CDs — pay competitively only if you’re interested in a 12-month term.

Live Oak Bank savings accounts 3 out of 5

Live Oak Personal Savings
  • APY:0.50% on all balances
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Monthly fee: None

The Live Oak Personal Savings account is attractive, paying a competitive APY with no minimum balance requirements, no minimum initial deposit and no monthly fees. There are some other fees which are fairly standard for savings accounts. For example, if you make over six withdrawals per statement cycle, you will be charged a $10 fee for each additional withdrawal. This is a holdover from when the Federal Reserve used to limit all savings accounts to six withdrawals per month. There is also a $25 fee for stopped payments and nonsufficient funds, and a $10 fee for returned items. If your account is inactive for over 24 months, you will be assessed a $10 fee every month until the account balance is $0. This account does not come with ATM access.

Compare Live Oak Bank to the best savings accounts on the market.


on Live Oak Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Live Oak Bank checking accounts 0 out of 5

Live Oak Bank doesn’t currently offer any checking accounts. Read MagnifyMoney’s roundup of the best checking accounts for other options.

Live Oak Bank CDs 2 out of 5

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn APY
1 year0.65%$2,500
3 years0.70%$2,500
5 years0.70%$2,500

Live Oak Bank offers CDs with no monthly maintenance fees, available in seven different terms. The minimum deposit for all terms is high at $2,500, with the maximum being $250,000. While there are no jumbo CDs available, if you’re using your Live Oak Personal Savings account to fund your CD, you will be allowed to exceed this $250,000 limit. The most competitive term when we look at APY is the 12-month CD, which pays a worthy 0.65% APY. Terms of 18 and 24 months pay this same APY, but you can find higher returns with other financial institutions. There are 3-, 4- and 5-year CDs available at Live Oak bank paying 0.70% APY, which is nothing impressive for a longer-term CD. There is also a six-month CD available, but it only pays 0.25% APY. Early withdrawal fees are 90 days of simple interest for terms of less than 24 months, and 180 days of simple interest on CDs with terms of 24 months or more. No-penalty CDs are not available at Live Oak Bank.

Check out the best CD rates currently available.


on Live Oak Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Customer experience at Live Oak Bank

While Live Oak Bank is headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., it’s an online bank that is accessible nationwide. There are no in-person branches. Instead, you can reach out to customer service Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can also request support online through Live Oak’s support page.

Live Oak Bank’s customer service and online portal get mixed reviews. Some customers do not like the fact that it takes longer to transfer funds if they initiate the transfer with Live Oak Bank compared to initiating it with an outside financial institution. Others report issues getting a proper tally of their account balance. While some are less than satisfied with their customer service experience, many others share positive reviews about responsive customer service representatives who go above and beyond for their customers.

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Where You Need More Than $1 Million to Retire

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It may not have not been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners or the Investment company.

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Location, location, location. It’s no surprise where you live would make a big difference in how much money you need to retire there. What is interesting/frightening/reassuring — pick your adjective — is just how big of a nest egg retirees need to retire in various locales.

To provide more specifics, MagnifyMoney researchers calculated how much money is required, on average, to retire in every U.S. metro based on average annual spending. Analysts found 28 metros — including 14 in sunny California — where retirees need at least $1 million to retire with an average lifestyle. Wanna change your adjective choice?

Key findings

  • You’ll need more than $1 million to retire with an average lifestyle in 28 of the 384 U.S. metros. A retiree in San Francisco needs a nest egg of $1,564,760, on average — the highest total across the U.S.
  • 14 of the 28 metros in which retirees need more than $1 million to retire are in California. San Jose ($1,424,081) and Santa Cruz ($1,351,937) join San Francisco in the top five metros across the U.S.
  • You can retire with an average lifestyle for less than $500,000 in just one metro: Jackson, Tenn. This Tennessee metro slides just under that mark at $495,942. Danville, Ill. ($510,202), and two Texas metros (McAllen and Brownsville, both $513,406) are closest.
  • Locals may need far less to maintain their incomes near retirement age once they collect Social Security payments. If you focus on the median income of near-retirement age workers rather than average spending by retirees, residents in just three metros would require more than $1 million to retire — San Jose, Calif., San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

28 metros where you need more than $1 million to retire

Are you saving enough for retirement? The answer will depend largely on where you plan to retire, and whether the amount you should be saving is more enormous than other locales.

There are 384 metros in the U.S., and in about 7% of them (28 total), you need more than $1 million saved to retire with an average lifestyle. And if average won’t cut it, you’ll need to save even more.

For this study, analysts based the amount required to retire on the average amount retirees spend in a year in each metro. Researchers calculated the pretax income needed to meet retirees’ average annual spending in these locales, based on federal and state taxes. Then analysts subtracted the average retirement Social Security benefits in that state to figure out how much annual income a person would need from their retirement fund to meet those spending needs. The nest egg size was determined using the 4% rule — a formula where you withdraw 4% of your total assets in the first year of retirement, then adjust that amount each year after based on inflation.

Topping the list is San Francisco. There, retirees need a whopping $1,564,760 to retire based on an annual spend of $62,019. Two other California metro areas make the top five — San Jose at No. 2 and Santa Cruz at No. 4. Honolulu comes in at No. 3, while New York — where you need $1,339,932, on average, to retire — rounds out the top five.

The lineup makes sense, considering the top five most expensive states in which to spend your retirement are (in order) Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York. In these states, costs for housing, food, transportation, Medicare, entertainment and personal care run higher than anywhere else in the U.S., so retiring in them will require copious amounts of cash.

There are other reasons that it requires significantly more or less to retire in certain areas, such as state income tax rates. These can vary widely between states, and areas in those states with low or no income tax will generally require less to retire. Taxes also differ when it comes to various retirement plans, such as Social Security benefits.

Need more than $1 million to retire? You might live in California

If you’re California dreamin’ for your golden years, you’re going to need quite a sizable nest egg. While researchers found 28 U.S. metros that require $1 million or more to retire comfortably, half of those are in the Golden State. In fact, after the top five areas listed above, the next five in the top 10 are all in California.

Only four other states — Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Oregon — have more than one metro that requires $1 million or more to retire, and no state other than California has more than two.

In other words, start saving now if you want to retire in California, where all that sunshine seemingly comes at a cost.

Where you need less money to retire

If those numbers are making your eyes bulge, the good news is some places require significantly less to retire — we’re talking less than half as much. At the very bottom of the list is Jackson, Tenn., where you’ll need less than $500,000 to retire. Others in the bottom five include Danville, Ill.; McAllen, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; and Pine Bluff, Ark. In all of these, you’ll need just more than $500,000 to retire.

In general, Southern states and those in the Midwest tend to require the least amount to retire, while those in the West need more. In fact, there’s not a single metro in a Western state in the bottom 50. If you want to retire out West, the lowest amount required to retire is in Yuma, Ariz., where it takes $636,201.

Again, this is in line with the locations in which it’s the least expensive to retire, with Southern states generally being more affordable.

How the list changes when you look at the median income of near-retirement age workers

More good news: You’re likely to need a smaller nest egg once you start collecting Social Security payments. When analysts looked at the median income of near-retirement age workers ages to 65 rather than average spending by retirees, residents in just three metros would require more than $1 million to retire:

  • San Jose ($1,110,958)
  • San Francisco ($1,067,585)
  • Washington, D.C ($1,019,885)

In fact, things change quite a bit when you adjust for this metric. For example, San Jose jumps ahead of San Francisco to the top of this list. Honolulu falls to No. 28, while Jackson, Tenn., moves from its bottom spot, closer to the middle of the pack.

In 272 of the 384 metros analysts reviewed, the median full-time worker between 55 and 65 would need to save less than $500,000 to maintain their current lifestyles. Plus, in 15 of these metros, those local workers would need less than $250,000. For example, in Bloomington, Ind., residents would need only $159,507. Meanwhile, the median older worker in McAllen, Texas, would need $161,103, and those in Logan, Utah, would need $166,744.

5 tips to boost your retirement savings

These required amounts for retirement aren’t exact declarations of what you should save by any means. Various factors can affect what you need to be comfortable in retirement, including what “comfortable” means to you. They do, however, provide a good gauge of what you may need to retire in certain areas. A financial advisor can help you better determine your goals to fit your circumstances.

But how do you reach those goals? Ismat Mangla, MagnifyMoney senior content director, offers the following tips.

  • Start now: “Don’t put off saving and investing for retirement,” Mangla says. “The earlier you start, the better, because then you have the power of compounding on your side. And don’t sacrifice saving and investing for retirement until you’re debt-free.” She encourages people to figure out a budget that allows them to tackle both goals, even if it’s not as much as they want in either category.
  • Take advantage of employer matching: If your employer offers matching funds for your 401(k), take advantage of them. “Remember that employer matching is a part of your compensation package, so if you don’t take advantage of it, you are leaving your money on the table,” she says. In 2022, the IRS has increased the limit of what you can put into your 401(k) to $20,500 a year. If you can’t contribute that full amount, at least put in enough to get the employer match — and then plan to increase your contribution automatically by half a percentage point or one percentage point every six months or every year. And if you’re 50 or older, you can contribute more money into retirement accounts through catch-up contributions.
  • Put savings on autopilot: Automating savings is an easy way to make sure you actually save. You can divert money from your paycheck directly into your retirement accounts and other investment accounts before it even hits your checking account. That way, you can’t miss it.
  • Take a look at taxes: Make sure you’re taking advantage of tax credits when it comes to retirement savings, especially if you’re a lower- or middle-income earner. You may be able to get a tax credit for up to 50% of your retirement contribution.
  • Consider health savings accounts (HSAs): Health savings accounts can be a great tool not only to pay for health care expenses now but to save additional money for retirement. If you can save and pay for those health expenses out of pocket, you can invest the funds in your HSA to grow for retirement. The money you put into an HSA is pretax, and that money can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement to pay for medical expenses.


To calculate how much Americans need to retire in each metropolitan statistical area (MSA), MagnifyMoney analysts performed separate calculations:

  • For the first, analysts took the estimated annual expenditures of retirees in each MSA and calculated what the pretax amount would be. Researchers then subtracted the projected average 2022 Social Security retirement benefit for each state to determine the remaining income a retiree would need, on average, to maintain that level of spending. Analysts divided that amount by 4% to apply the 4% rule to calculate the necessary assets required to meet the average spending level.
  • For the second, analysts subtracted the average Social Security benefit in each state from the estimated median earnings for full-time workers between the ages of 55 and 65 and then applied the 4% rule.

To estimate retirees’ average annual spending in the 384 U.S. metros, analysts multiplied retirees’ average yearly expenditures — via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey — by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) 2019 Regional Price Parity for each MSA. Both were the latest available data.

Median annual earnings of full-time workers between the ages of 55 and 65 were estimated using the median earnings of all full-time workers in each metro from the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey — the latest available. This was multiplied by the ratio of median weekly wages (annualized) of full-time workers between the ages of 55 and 65 in the second quarter of 2021 to the median weekly wages (annualized) of all full-time workers in the fourth quarter of 2019 from the BLS.

Analysts were conservative in their tax assessment by assuming the retirees were single filers who took the standard federal deduction and their standard state deductions and exemptions but were otherwise taxed as regular income. Researchers note that not all retirement income is taxed under income rules, and that individuals and families may be eligible for additional credits and deductions. For state taxes, analysts used — via the Tax Foundation — the top-line marginal rate for that income amount after standard deductions and exemptions. For metros that cross state lines, analysts applied the rate of the first state listed within the metro.

To project 2022 Social Security benefits for retirees, researchers took the average monthly benefit for retirees in each state in 2020, as reported by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Analysts applied the 2021 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 1.3%, then further applied the 2022 COLA of 5.9%. Lastly, analysts multiplied the resulting figure by 12 months.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.

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10 Best Savings Accounts in December 2021

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

A savings account is a key component of everyone’s financial life, but not everyone needs the same thing from their savings account. We’ve outlined the best savings accounts in several categories to help you find the right one for your preferences, whether that’s earning a high interest rate, dodging fees or getting great customer service.

To identify the best savings accounts, we looked for accounts with high yields, few fees and low to no balance minimums. We regularly check rates and accounts at over 200 banks and credit unions to stay on top of the latest offerings. Read on for details on the best savings accounts.

The Best Savings Accounts in December 2021

Best for


Best overall

Axos Bank High Yield Savings

Best for high APY

GO2Bank Vault

Best for mobile app

Chime Savings

Best bonus offer

Regions Bank LifeGreen Savings

Best for combined savings and checking

Varo Savings

Best for avoiding fees

Discover Online Savings

Best for customer service

Ally Bank Online Savings

Best for branch access

Chase Savings

Best for transferring funds

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

Best credit union savings account

Blue Federal Credit Union Sky High Savings

Looking for more rates? Check out our partners below!

Best overall savings account: Axos Bank High Yield Savings — 0.61% APY

High Yield Savings from Axos Bank


on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Launched in 2000 as Bank of Internet USA, Axos Bank is an online-only bank that offers a standout savings account. Axos Bank’s High Yield Savings account earns a competitive 0.61% APY on balances below $25,000, and it charges no monthly maintenance fees. You can also get a free ATM card upon request — a rare perk for a savings account — though typical savings account withdrawal limits do apply.

Although you’ll need to make a minimum deposit of $250 to open an account, there are no monthly minimum balance requirements beyond that. You can easily manage your account online or through the Axos Bank mobile app. Customer service is available 24/7 through a virtual bank teller or by phone.

How we picked our best overall savings account: Our selection for the best overall savings account had to meet all of the requirements as the other accounts that made our list: having a consistently competitive APY; having minimal balance and deposit requirements as well as account fees; and being FDIC-insured. However, to rank as best overall, the account also had to meet the following requirements:

  • An APY that exceeds the current national average APY for savings accounts per the FDIC
  • No conditions necessary to meet advertised APY
  • No monthly fee charges
  • A mobile app
  • Offers online banking
  • Provides 24/7 customer support service
  • Also an option for a checking account at the bank

Best for high APY: GO2Bank Vault

High Yield Savings Account from GO2bank


on GO2bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

With GO2Bank, you set up a vault that serves as your savings account. This account earns 1.00% APY on up to a combined $5,000 in all vaults. Interest is paid quarterly on this account. To get started, you’ll need to open a GO2Bank account. There is a $5 monthly fee that can be waived if you have a payroll or government benefits direct deposit in the previous monthly statement period. Otherwise, there is no fee for up to five vaults, which you can use for various savings goals.

GO2Bank is backed by Green Dot and is a mobile banking app so there aren’t any branch locations if you want to bank in-person. Still, the bank provides several features such as overdraft protection, a debit card and live customer support 24/7.

Best for mobile app: Chime Savings Account — 0.50% APY

Chime Savings Account from Chime


on Chime’s secure website

Member FDIC

As of this writing, the Chime Mobile Banking app has a 4.7 average star rating between the more than 600,000 reviews in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The app offers several stellar banking features, including the ability to connect your external accounts to facilitate easy transfers and provide a holistic financial picture in one place. The Chime app also sends transaction and balance alerts so you can stay on top of your account. If you notice any unauthorized spending, you can block transactions and turn off international transactions on your card right from the app. The Chime app also has mobile check deposit capabilities, and it allows you to send paper checks in the app as well.

The Chime Savings Account itself is a solid choice with 0.50% APY on all balances, no minimum balance requirement, no maximums on interest earned and no fees. You’ll need a Chime Spending Account to add on the savings account, a relationship that allows easy automatic savings transfers. The Chime Savings Account also saves your change on purchases with its Round Ups feature, and it stashes away a percentage of each paycheck with the Save When I Get Paid feature.

Chime is a fintech company, not a bank itself, so its banking services and FDIC insurance are provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.

Best bonus offer: Regions Bank LifeGreen Savings — 0.01% APY

Unlike most bonus offers that are one-and-done, the Regions LifeGreen Savings account earns an annual 1% saving bonus up to $100. All you need to do to earn it is receive an automatic transfer of funds of at least $10 from a Regions checking account to your LifeGreen Savings account in at least 10 of the calendar months in the year before your account opening anniversary. The 1% bonus is based on your average monthly balance for each year.

Even better, the LifeGreen Savings account doesn’t charge a monthly fee and doesn’t have any minimum balance requirements. Regions Bank has approximately 1,400 bank offices across the U.S. and is accessible online and on mobile. It’s also compatible with several mobile wallets and Zelle.

Best for combined savings and checking: Varo Savings Account — 3.00% APY

Varo Savings Account from Varo


on Varo’s secure website

Member FDIC

Varo makes it easy to open its checking and savings accounts in one go. You simply need to download its app, go through the Varo Bank Account application and add an optional Varo Savings Account alongside a default Varo Bank Account. Neither account has a minimum deposit requirement, and there’s no monthly fee.

The standard rate for Varo’s Savings Account is 0.50% APY. However, you can earn 3.00% APY if you receive qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $1,000 each month, keep a daily savings balance of $5,000 or less the entire month and don’t overdraft either account to below $0.00 the entire month.

Thanks to the seamless connection between the two Varo accounts, you can use Varo’s automatic savings tools for more efficient savings. Save Your Pay automatically transfers a percentage (of your choosing) of your Varo Bank Account direct deposits to your Savings Account. Another offering, Save Your Change, rounds up every transaction to the nearest dollar and then transfers that amount to your savings account.

Best for avoiding fees: Discover Online Savings Account — 0.40% APY

Online Savings from Discover Bank


on Discover Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

With Discover Bank, you can avoid fees on items like monthly maintenance, checks, incoming wire transfers, returned deposited items, excessive withdrawals and insufficient funds. The only service charge you’ll run into is a $30 fee to send a wire transfer.

No fees means your Discover Online Savings Account gets to earn 0.40% APY undisturbed. There’s no minimum balance required to earn interest, nor is there a minimum deposit needed to open the account. You can access your accounts solely online, including through the mobile app available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile app also offers check deposit.

Known for its credit cards, Discover’s first card was used in 1985. That same year, Discover acquired Greenwood Trust Company, which officially changed its name to Discover Bank in 2000.

Best for customer service: Ally Bank — 0.50% APY

Online Savings Account from Ally Bank


on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Ally Bank offers 24/7 phone customer service, a great perk for banking customers everywhere. The bank even provides a wait-time estimate on its website. In addition to constant phone support, you can reach bank representatives over secure messages within your account, through mail and via online live chat.

Making the bank’s accessible customer service even better is the fact that its Online Savings Account is a constant top competitor, currently earning 0.50% on all balances. There’s no monthly fee for the account, and Ally Bank is transparent about the fees it does charge, which include outgoing domestic wires, paid overdraft items and excessive transactions.

Tracing its history back to 1919 as the financing division of GM, Ally Bank offers an extensive and helpful mobile app that allows you to make deposits, pay your bills, transfer money, find in-network ATMs and view your balances and transactions. You can download the app on various platforms including Android, iOS and Windows.

Best for branch access: Chase Savings — 0.01% APY

Chase Savings from Chase Bank


on Chase Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Of the big traditional brick-and-mortar banks, Chase Bank has the widest reach, with branches and ATMs in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Chase accounts are easily accessible online and through the bank’s mobile app.

The Chase Savings account charges a $5 monthly fee, although you can waive it in a few ways — this includes keeping a $300 minimum daily balance, receiving automatic transfers of at least $25 from a Chase checking account, linking your account to a qualifying Chase checking account or if you’re under 18 years of age. There’s also a $5 fee for any transactions made from the savings account beyond the six-transaction limit per statement cycle. All balances earn interest, although at an unimpressive 0.01% APY.

Best for transferring funds: Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account — 0.50% APY

Online Savings Account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs


on Marcus By Goldman Sachs’s secure website

Member FDIC

Marcus by Goldman Sachs, an online-only banking option, allows customers to make free electronic Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers in and out of the account. It also has one of the most generous policies on amount limits: ACH withdrawals max out at $125,000, and there’s no limit for deposits (as long as you cap your account balance at $1 million). You can even call the bank if you want to make withdrawals above these limits. Wire transfers to and from the account are also free.

The Online Savings Account is free to own and earns a 0.50% APY on all balances. You can open the account with any amount, and don’t have to worry about maintaining a minimum balance either.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA. Marcus is accessible online and on its mobile app, which is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store (although some features are available for iOS devices only).

Best credit union savings account: Blue Federal Credit Union Sky High Savings — 0.35% APY

Sky High Savings - Online Only from Blue Federal Credit Union


on Blue Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

The Blue Federal Sky High Savings earns its 0.35% APY on all balances. There’s no minimum or maximum balance requirement to own the account, nor is there a monthly fee.

Blue Federal Credit Union is accessible in person, through its 24/7 call center, online and on mobile. The credit union formed in 2016 as a result of a merger between a Wyoming credit union and a Colorado-based credit union. As a result, Blue Federal Credit Union has locations in Colorado and Wyoming, and thousands more CO-OP Shared Branches around the country.

Membership eligibility is based on family or employer connections. However, even without those ins, you can join through a donation to the Blue Foundation, which the credit union will fund for you.

Methodology for choosing best savings accounts by category

To find the best savings accounts, MagnifyMoney looks at over 200 financial institutions each week, from small community banks and credit unions to traditional brick-and-mortar banks to new online banks. Specifically, we consider the following factors when making our selections:

  • Savings account annual percentage yield (APY): We heavily weighted the APYs offered by each bank in terms of both magnitude and consistency. Higher savings account interest rates were prioritized over lower rates. Due to the variable rates on savings accounts, we also gave additional consideration to banks that were known to maintain a competitive APY over longer periods of time.
  • Minimum deposit and balance requirements: To ensure accessibility to all customers, we focused on banks that welcome deposits of all sizes, where the ideal banks in this category have minimum balance and deposit requirements of $0.
  • Bank account fees: Unnecessary fees can eat into your long-term savings in a major way. As such, we gave priority to banks that offer low or no fees, including account maintenance fees, service charges and other surcharges. If accounts had the same APY and minimum requirements, we went with the account with lower fees.
  • FDIC-insured: It’s crucial for your deposit accounts to be protected by FDIC insurance in the case your financial institution were to fail. As such, we only included FDIC-insured savings accounts on our list.

Savings account FAQ

A savings account is a type of deposit account where you can stash money for any length of time, long or short. Banks and credit unions reward you with an attractive return on your savings balance — thanks to the magic of compound interest, your savings can grow steadily over time. Keep in mind that unlike checking accounts, savings accounts aren’t designed to handle frequent transactions. Due to the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, you are (mostly) limited to six savings account transactions — deposits, withdrawals or transfers — per month.

While savings accounts give customers a safe place to stash their money, they serve a different purpose for financial institutions. Banks and credit unions use their customers’ deposits to fund loans and other products. Banks charge borrowers interest on loans, which funds in part the interest you earn on your savings deposits. So when you open and fund a savings account, you’re helping your bank fund its business.

The money you place into a savings account at a bank is generally protected by FDIC insurance, up to the legal limit of $250,000. This limit applies per person, per bank, per ownership category.

For example, you would receive full FDIC coverage of a $250,000 deposit made to a savings account at ABC Bank, and you would get full FDIC insurance on $250,000 deposited in a savings account with XYZ bank.

If ABC Bank went under, you wouldn’t lose a dime of your deposit. The FDIC would either set you up with a new account at another FDIC-insured bank for the same amount as the closed account, or send you a check for the balance. However, if you had a $50,000 checking balance and a $250,000 savings account balance with ABC Bank, you would only receive $250,000 in total FDIC insurance for your accounts — with a potential loss of $50,000.

Credit unions rely on National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance. The NCUA is an independent agency that maintains the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which funds deposit insurance payouts. All federal credit unions are insured by the NCUA. State-chartered credit unions are regulated by the state supervisory authority where the credit union’s main office is located, but they may also have NCUA insurance.

Money kept in a savings account is best left alone unless you absolutely need it. To maximize the return on your savings, stash most of your liquid cash flow in a savings account, and only keep the funds you need for day-to-day spending in your checking account. That allows your money to grow more efficiently — more money in a savings account means more interest earned and compounded.

How easy it is to move money in and out of your savings account depends on your financial institution. Typically, a transfer between deposit accounts goes through Automated Clearing House (ACH). ACH transfers should only take one to two business days to clear, often clearing immediately or within one business day. Some institutions, however, may take the full two days, depending on their own rules and regulations.

Keep in mind that savings accounts have a limit of up to six certain transfers or withdrawals per month, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, or Reg D. This limit only applies to “convenient” transfers and withdrawals made by “preauthorized, automatic, telephonic agreement, order or instruction, or by check, debit card or similar order made by the depositor and payable to third parties.” Less convenient transactions are exempt from this regulation, including withdrawals or transfers made in person at the bank or ATM, by mail or over the phone.

Making more than six transactions per cycle will often result in an excessive transaction fee depending on the financial institution. Exceeding the limit several times can lead to the bank closing your account for good.

It’s safe to say that everyone should have a savings account. If your money’s going to sit in a bank account, it might as well earn interest while it’s there. And if you’re going to earn interest, it’s surely best to find an account that earns the most interest possible — namely a high-yield savings account.

Even if you’re not interested in chasing the highest possible interest rate, you should still have a savings account to keep your money safe. Some people don’t trust banks and stash cash under their mattresses. But what happens if your house burns down or there’s a break-in? Stolen or lost funds are gone for good. Meanwhile, money in a savings account is kept safe by the FDIC, which even offers bank skeptics peace of mind as it ensures you’ll get your money back no matter what.

If you’re not sure which account to choose, consider your savings priorities first. If you’re trying to reach a savings goal, a high-yield savings account will help you reach your goal faster than a lower-rate account.

Perhaps you want an account where you don’t have to worry about fees. There are several fee-free savings accounts and accounts that don’t charge for excessive withdrawals that would be perfect for your needs.

Generally, though, these two features should be your top priorities when applying for a savings account. A high-yield savings account grows your money more efficiently, and minimizing fees helps you keep it.

If you already have a savings account but want to switch to another bank or institution you need to close your previous account. Usually the process just requires contacting your bank and filling our the needed paperwork.

If you’re looking at interest rates, there’s not much difference between the average savings accounts offered by banks and credit unions. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find competitive rates at banks or credit unions — it simply means you’ll need to shop around.

The same goes with fees. A 2018 MagnifyMoney survey of 57 rewards checking accounts from banks and credit unions indicated that credit unions tend to charge slightly higher fees than their traditional bank counterparts. However, credit unions are nonprofits, and tend to charge fairer fees than big banks do.

For many people, the choice of bank or credit union is a matter of personal preference. When you join a credit union, it means that you own a piece of the institution along with its other members. With a credit union, there’s more transparency about how your deposits are being used — many people prefer to know that they are funding loans and helping other members, as opposed to paying big executive paychecks.

When it comes to physical access, banks usually have credit unions beat. Big banks have the money to spread their branches throughout the country, while credit unions tend to serve specific communities and locations. Still, credit unions very often partner with other credit unions and ATM networks to provide their members with widespread ATM access. Note that the CO-OP Financial Services credit union service organization has the second largest branch network in the United States.

A high-yield savings account is an easy way to boost your savings without any extra effort on your part. Let’s say you have $5,000 in a 0.01% APY savings account, which is a typical rate from traditional, big banks. Assuming you don’t make any additional contributions, in a year, you’d earn a whopping 50 cents in interest. That’s a pretty poor rate.

Switching that $5,000 deposit over to a high-yield savings account that earns 0.65% APY would yield $32 and change in interest annually — that’s definitely a sight better than 50 cents. Additional recurring deposits, perhaps monthly, would increase your savings even more. Setting up automatic recurring deposits is an easy way to turbocharge your savings.

Many deposit accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee, with the exception of online accounts, which seldom charge a monthly fee. The exact fee amount of a monthly fee depends on the bank and the specific account, but they can range anywhere from $5 to $15 a month. The good news is that there’s almost always a way to waive the fee. Typically, this means maintaining a minimum monthly balance or making a certain number of transactions per month.

Banks also often charge for returned deposits, overdrafts, excessive transactions, expedited delivery or transfers, incoming and outgoing wire transfers and paper statements. But if you avoid these items, you’ll skip the fees.

Many of the best savings accounts are available online. By operating only over the internet, banks are able to save on the cost of owning and maintaining physical branches. Banks pass those savings onto their customers in the form of the high rates you see above.

But just because they’re online doesn’t mean they’re any less secure than a well-known bricks-and-mortar bank. Reputable online banks offer FDIC insurance on your balances up to the legal limit. If you’re unsure, you can use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to check a bank’s insurance status.

As for online security, most banks employ the same security features as the big banks, if not more. This includes network and browser encryption, firewalls, anti-virus scanning and anti-malware protection. Banks may also offer additional safety features like two-step authentication, automatic logout, fingerprint identification and proactive account monitoring. You can always check a bank’s exact safety features on its website, which applies to both online-only and brick-and-mortar banks.

You sure can. If you have a lot of cash on hand, opening multiple savings accounts can allow you to maximize your FDIC insurance. Think of the scenario mentioned above: Keep $250,000 in an ABC Bank savings account and $250,000 in an XYZ savings account. Dropping the total $500,000 in a single ABC Bank savings account would leave $250,000 uninsured.

Opening more than one savings account may also help you keep track of separate savings goals. For example, you can use one savings account to house your emergency fund, which you never touch except for in dire circumstances. Keeping your emergency fund separate from your other accounts may make it easier for you to avoid dipping into it.

If you do have more than one savings account, just make sure they all earn at competitive rates.

Unlike certificates of deposit, savings accounts have variable rates. This means that the bank can decrease or increase their rate at any point, often without notice. However, you can typically expect rate changes to happen on or right after the start of a month.

Deposit account rates often track the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve. The federal funds rate establishes the rate banks and other financial institutions charge each other for lending. So when the federal funds rate is cut, banks tend to cut their own rates in response. This includes not only deposit rates, but loan rates as well. Conversely, banks boost their interest rates when the Fed raises the federal funds rate.

Keep an eye on the Federal Reserve’s regular meetings to get a better sense of where the federal funds rate — and therefore your deposit rates — are headed.

If you earn $10 or more in interest in a year, then yes, your savings interest is taxable. Your bank or financial institution will send you a 1099-INT form documenting the interest you’ve earned. Using that form, you include your interest earnings with your annual tax filing. The bank will also send a copy of your 1099-INT form to the IRS.

Even if you don’t receive a 1099 from your bank, you’ll still need to report interest earned on your tax return. Plus, if you earned more than $1,500 in interest in a year, you’ll need to list out the sources of all that interest income on Schedule B of the 1040 Form.

Your earned interest is taxed according to your marginal tax bracket. If you earned $50 in interest and you’re in the 22% tax bracket, you’ll pay $12 in taxes on that interest earned.

Having a savings account is a crucial part of your financial life, but there are other types of deposit accounts that you can (and perhaps should) fit in, such as:

  • Certificates of deposit: A certificate of deposit (CD) is a time deposit. Unlike savings accounts, which have no expiration date, CDs operate according to defined terms. Typically, CD terms range between three and 60 months, although some institutions offer terms beyond these parameters. Once you make your initial deposit, you have to wait for the term to expire — or mature — to access your funds and interest earnings.CDs are a solid savings alternative for those who have already maxed out their other savings accounts. They’re also good for longer-term savings goals. Opening a longer CD lets you lock in a high rate for the length of the term and not have to deal with the rate fluctuations that come with regular savings accounts.CDs often require a minimum deposit to open, often ranging between $500 and $10,000 — any deposits larger than that are often considered jumbo CDs. However, there typically aren’t monthly fees to worry about with a CD. That being said, withdrawing money from a CD before maturity will result in an early withdrawal penalty. Some banks may offer no-penalty CDs, which tend to have shorter terms, that allow you to avoid the penalty.
  • Money market accounts: A money market account more closely resembles a savings account. It earns interest without an expiration date and limits your outgoing transactions to six per cycle. However, money market accounts can also include some checking account features like a debit card and the ability to write checks. This makes them a good alternative if you plan to dip into the account a bit more regularly, rather than using it only for emergencies.Money market accounts tend to earn at higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. However, they also tend to require higher balances to open and then earn interest. Money markets often charge monthly fees, as well, even when they’re online.
  • Checking accounts: Checking and savings accounts are the bread and butter of your financial life. While savings accounts are meant for stashing your money away, checking accounts are designed to help you move through the world, making payments, sending transfers, getting cash and more.That doesn’t mean that your checking account can’t earn interest, too, however. Maximize your savings by opening a high-yield checking account to match your high-yield savings account. Checking accounts don’t earn at rates as high as savings accounts, but that way, all your money in all your accounts can grow at the same time. For more efficiency, consider keeping the majority of your funds in your savings account for better growth — then you can transfer funds over to your checking account as needed.