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The Best Business Savings Account Rates in 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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Are you looking to start or grow a business? Opening a business savings account can offer federal protection for the funds you deposit (up to $250,000) and provide a source of liquidity should inevitable expenses arise. You can earn interest while setting aside money for capital improvement or income taxes. A commercial savings account can add credibility to your business, arm you with a business debit card and help your cash flow.

The best way to choose an account that fits your needs is to start by comparing the annual percentage yield (APY) offered by banks and credit unions. Then look for benefits that might make the account attractive based on your needs. Is there a monthly maintenance fee or a minimum deposit to open? Does the bank provide ample access to ATM and online account services?

Deciding which business savings account is best for your needs can be a difficult process, but hopefully this roundup of our picks for best savings accounts will help give you a head-start.

The best business savings account rates — January 2021

Source: Deposit Accounts, January 13, 2021

1. Dedicated to Businesses: Live Oak Bank, 0.60% APY, No minimum balance

Live Oak Bank awards a 0.60% APY on its business savings account. There is no minimum opening balance or deposit required to open a business savings account.

The business savings account is open to deposits of up to $5 million and is free of monthly maintenance fees. You may make up to 6 withdrawals from your Live Oak Bank Savings account per statement cycle, including pre authorized, automatic and telephone transfers. After that there’s a $10 fee per withdrawal. Live Oak Bank, established in 2008, holds assets of $2.12 billion.

The bank is in Wilmington, N.C., and is a member of the FDIC. Learn more about business savings at Live Oak Bank.

Small Print: The bank may verify credit and employment history at its discretion, meaning you may receive a pull against your credit report.

Restrictions on joining: none.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Live Oak Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. First Internet Bank, 0.40% APY, No minimum balance, ATM services

First Internet Bank offers an FDIC-insured savings option for businesses with a good 0.40% APY on any balance amount. You only need $100 to open the account. There is no minimum balance to deposit or maintain the account to earn the APY.

While it only costs $100 to open your business savings account and you must maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 to avoid a $2 monthly maintenance fee.

Unlimited deposits can be made each month and six transfers or withdrawals are allowed without charge. Keep in mind that the FDIC only insures up to $250,000. So, if you deposit more than $250,000 into the business savings account, the excess deposit amount will not be insured by the FDIC.

The First IB ATM cards are offered to sole proprietors only. There is no charge for ATM transactions or electronic statements. Founded in 1999 by the First Internet Bancorp, First IB offers remote banking in all 50 states.

Fine print: Only six preauthorized, automatic, PC, or telephonic transfers are allowed each month. This restriction is common among most of these institutions, however, First Internet Bank will charge you $5 per item if you go beyond the allotted six.

Restrictions on joining: none.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on First Internet Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. Axos Bank: 0.50% APY, no minimum balance, ATM access

Axos Bank, formerly known as BofI Federal Bank offers one of the top APY rates in our nationwide survey of business savings accounts. The bank’s Business Premium Savings Account with a high-yield 0.50%APY can be opened with a $25,000 minimum deposit. While this account requires no minimum balance, interest is only doled out on funds of $24,000 and up.

Axos Bank also makes it easy to access your funds when you need it. Customers have ATM access to their accounts along with free online banking. However, ATM withdrawal limits are $1,010 per day and there’s a daily purchase limit of $5,000. BofI is an FDIC-insured bank based in San Diego and publicly traded online. Other products include Business Interest Checking and Business Money Market accounts.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Presidential Bank (Maryland), up to 0.50% APY, $5,000 to open, ATM services

Presidential Bank’s Commercial Premier Savings account offers 0.50% APY for balances up to $35,000, making it a decent — if not extraordinary — bet for business owners.

Business customers are not required to maintain a minimum balance on the account in order to receive all ATM privileges. So long as you use one of their ATMs you won’t incur fees, but there is a $0.75 ATM fee for non-network ATMs. Free online banking, mobile banking and ATM card come with the account.

Established in 1985, Presidential Online Bank was one of the first lenders to offer online banking. Located in Bethesda, Md., it currently lists assets in excess of $550 million.

Restrictions on joining: none.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Presidential Bank (MD)’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, 0.40% APY, $10,000 to earn APY

Financial Resources Federal Credit Union offers a premium tiered rate account, dubbed its Business Purple Savings account. The sweet spot of this account applies to balances between $10,000 and $49,999, which rewards you with an APY of 0.40%. The rates for all of the tiers are as follows:

  • $0 – $499: 0.05%
  • $500 – $9,999: 0.35%
  • $10,000 – $49,999: 0.40%
  • $50,000 – $99,999: 0.50%
  • $100,000 and more: 0.60%

This account requires a Financial Resources Membership Savings account in the name of your business, with a minimum balance of $10.

Restrictions on joining: To join, you must also join the American Consumer Council or meet other eligibility requirements.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Financial Resources Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

6. Premier America Credit Union, 0.30% APY, $250 to open

Premier America Credit Union is currently offering an attractive rate of 0.30% on its Business Savings account. There is a required minimum deposit of $250 associated with this account. There are no minimum or maximum limits listed.

Premier America Credit Union has physical branches in California and Texas, but offers its products and services nationwide online.

Restrictions on joining: To join, you must also join the Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts or meet other eligibility requirements.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Premier America Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

7. Prime Alliance Bank, 0.25% APY, $1 minimum balance

Prime Alliance Bank is currently offering a competitive APY of 0.25% for balances starting at just $1 for its Business Savings Account. If you have more cash to stash, though, you’ll be rewarded with an even higher APY. Balances between $100,000 and $199,999 earn an APY of 0.45% while balances of $200,000 or more earn an APY of 0.60%.

The Business Savings Account does not require any minimum balances, and it does not have any monthly maintenance fees. Additionally, Prime Alliance offers unlimited deposits and up to six transfers or withdrawals per month.

Restrictions on joining: none.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

8. TAB Bank, 0.25% APY, $25 minimum to open

TAB Bank’s Business Savings account is currently featuring a decent APY of 0.25% with a low minimum deposit of just $25, and a low $1 minimum daily balance required to earn the APY. There is no maximum limit listed for its Business Savings account.

TAB Bank is based in Ogden, Utah, but offers its services and products to consumers nationwide online.

Restrictions to joining: None.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on TAB Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

9. Service Credit Union, 0.25% APY, $50 minimum to earn APY

Currently, Service Credit Union is offering an attractive 0.25% APY on funds in its Business Savings account, as long as you maintain a daily balance of at least $50. This account features no monthly fees. Additionally, Service Credit Union offers a Secondary Business Savings account, also with a 0.25% APY, if you want to save for multiple savings goals at the same time.

Membership to Service Credit Union is open to anyone who also joins the American Consumer Council.

Restrictions to joining: Join the American Consumer Council

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Service Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

10. Greenwood Credit Union, 0.25% APY, $100 minimum to earn APY

Greenwood Credit Union’s Business Share Savings account is currently featuring an attractive APY of 0.25%. While there is a low minimum deposit of just $5 required to open this account, a minimum of $100 is required to start earning the APY. This account does not come with any limits on deposits or withdrawals.

Membership to Greenwood Credit Union is open to anyone who simply opens and maintains a Share account with a minimum deposit of $5.

Learn more about business savings accounts

How we ranked the best business savings accounts

To come up with this list, we first used data from DepositAccounts.com, which tracks rates on a range of deposit accounts across thousands of banks in the U.S. Note: DepositAccounts is also owned by MagnifyMoney’s parent company LendingTree.com.

We eliminated any institutions that were given a health rating below a B by DepositAccounts. We also weeded out any credit unions that have very restrictive membership requirements. From there, we chose the top 10 business savings accounts with the highest APY. And lastly, all the banks on our list offer FDIC or NCUA insurance.

Business savings accounts vs personal savings accounts

Business and regular savings accounts may offer many of the same features ,such as 24/7 online banking, free electronic reporting, debit cards, fund transfers and ATM machines.

The trade-off in choosing a business account is that you’ll get services focused on business planning and spending in exchange for a less-desirable APY.

When you compare the interest earned on a business savings account with the best rates offered on savings accounts, it may not look like opening a business account is a wise strategy. The top business savings account APY right now is 1.40%. The top APY among personal savings accounts is 0.60% with no minimum deposit and ATM access. You can weigh the services, charges and minimum account fees between the top business and top personal savings accounts to decide which is best for you.

There are other benefits to offset any differences in earnings, particularly if your business is incorporated. It’s considered sound business practice to separate your personal saving and checking accounts from your business saving and checking accounts. A business account can help you manage cash flow, accounting, recordkeeping and working capital. At income tax time, separate accounts can help you differentiate business from personal expenses.

Paired with a business checking account, your business savings account can add professional branding, since all payments and correspondence with clients will bear your business name.

Or you can create savings in your business account to pay quarterly income taxes or purchase equipment.

Finally, business savings accounts are secure when you open accounts with banks and credit unions that are insured up to $250,000 per account by the FDIC or the NCUA.

North Shore Bank of Brookfield, Wis., says that a business savings account can boost your credit ratings and make it easier to obtain a business loan, since the lender can see you have an account dedicated to your company.

Choosing the right business savings account

When evaluating a financial institution for your business, there’s more than just finding a good APY.

Many of the banks on our Top 10 list look great on the APY front but carry fees that can eat into any of the returns you might make. Particularly, watch out for fees for ATM or bank withdrawals, monthly service fees and ATM fees.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has identified the key factors to consider when searching for the right bank or credit union. These include:

  • Customer service reputation
  • Access to branches or no-surcharge ATMs
  • Benchmarks to have fees waived
  • Automatic FDIC insurance

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Editors’ Choice: Best Checking Accounts for January 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

 

Reviewed By

The best checking accounts can provide a competitive interest rate, ATM fee reimbursements and even cashback rewards. If your current account doesn’t offer any of these features, it may be time to switch.

Why Trust Us?

At MagnifyMoney, it is our mission to inform our readers about the best financial opportunities out there. Our insights have been cited by top financial publications including Marketwatch, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal.

Our dedicated team of financial experts spent dozens of hours grading each checking account on its features, including fees, minimum balance requirements, ATM and branch network availability, APYs and customer satisfaction. We distilled our picks from a list that included hundreds of banks, credit unions and online institutions nationwide.

We ensure our list is updated every month as new banks are added to our database, and we update information as banks change their terms. Check out our best checking account picks for October 2020 and click on the links in the table below to read about why we picked each bank.

Please note: While this list is up-to-date as of this writing, many banks have cut back on or even halted their hours temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to protect their customers and employees. Many banks continue to offer standard services online and over the phone as well as through automated ATMs.

Best Checking Accounts of January 2021

Summary of the Best Checking Accounts for January 2021

Best Overall Checking Account

Ally Bank Interest Checking

Ally Bank Review

Best High-Yield Checking Account

Consumer Credit Union Rewards Checking

Consumer Credit Union Review

Best Free Checking Account

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Axos Bank Review

Best No-Fee Checking Account

Discover Cashback Debit

Discover Bank Review

Best Checking Account Bonus

HSBC Premier Checking

HSBC Premier Review

Best Rewards Checking Account

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Review

Best No-ATM Fee Checking Account

TD Bank Beyond Checking

TD Bank Review

Best Business Checking Account

Axos Bank Business Interest Checking

Axos Bank Review

Best Checking Account for Students

Chase College Checking

Chase Bank Review

Best Joint Checking Account

PNC Virtual Wallet Checking Account

PNC Virtual Wallet Review

Best Overall Checking Account – Ally Interest Checking

Highlights:

  • Free access to Allpoint ATMs and up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursements per statement cycle
  • No required minimum opening deposit
  • 0.10% APY on balances less than $15,000; 0.25% APY on accounts with a minimum daily balance of $15,000
  • APY: Up to 0.25%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Ally Bank’s Interest Checking account features minimal fees, variable interest and added perks like up to $10 in ATM fee reimbursements every month. The bank itself has a solid history of consistently offering top-tier rates, even in a plunging rate environment.

All of Ally Bank’s banking products support joint ownership, and you are allowed up to four owners on the account without any additional fees.

What to watch out for: There’s not much to watch out for with this account, just be aware of the $25 overdraft fee.

Best High Yield Checking Account – Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking

Highlights:

  • Access to over 30,000 ATMs
  • Most lucrative rates require minimum direct deposits or spend on CCU Visa credit card
  • APY: up to 4.09%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Consumers Credit Union has routinely offered sky-high rates, even in a plummeting rate environment, earning this account the title of Best High-Yield Checking account.

While this is a tiered rate account, the lower tiers — which can be earned with fewer requirements — still offer attractive rates that are well above those offered by other banks and credit unions.

What to watch out for: While balances between $10,000 and $25,000 — regardless of your tier — earn an APY of 0.20%, it’s worth noting that balances over $25,000 earn an APY of just 0.10%.

Additionally, if you don’t meet the monthly activity requirements, you’ll earn an APY of just 0.01% and won’t receive ATM refunds. The account also has an overdraft fee of $30.

Best Free Checking Account – Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Highlights:

  • No overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees
  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements
  • APY: up to 1.25%
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: We have crowned the Axos Bank Rewards Checking account as the Best Free Checking account not only for its attractive features, but for its consistency, too.

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account has consistently offered competitive APYs — even as earning rates drop at other banks. This account also offers all of the bells and whistles that the best standard checking accounts have been known to include, like ATM fee reimbursements and no overdraft fees.

What to watch out for: The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is a tiered, interest-earning variable rate account. So, in order to earn the 1.25% APY, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more
  • Use your debit card for a total of 15 transactions per month minimum of $3 per transaction)

If you don’t meet those requirements, you will receive a reduced APY from what is advertised. There is also a $50 minimum balance required to open this account.

Best No-Fee Checking Account – Discover Cashback Debit

Highlights:

  • No insufficient funds fee
  • Access to over 60,000 no-fee ATMs
  • 1% cash back on up to $3,000 of debit card purchases per month
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Discover Cashback Debit checking account is a truly no-fee checking account, with no fees, no insufficient funds fees and access to over 60,000 ATMs.

As the icing on the cake, this account offers 1% cash back on all debit card purchases, up to $3,000 per month. This is a unique perk among checking accounts, and if you prefer cash back to earning interest, this could be the account for you.

What to watch out for: There aren’t too many surprises with this account, just be aware that fees for non-Discover ATMs may apply.

Best Checking Account Bonus – HSBC Premier Checking

Online HSBC Premier Checking

SEE DETAILS Secured

on HSBC’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates within the U.S.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $50 monthly service waived if you meet any one of the requirements
  • APY: 0.01%
  • Maintenance Fee: $50
  • Current Promotions: $450 welcome bonus

Read the full review

Why we picked it: HSBC is currently offering up to a $450 welcome bonus for those who open and fund a new Premier Checking account by March 31, 2021. To earn the bonus, you must make recurring monthly qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $5,000 from a third party to your HSBC Premier checking account for three consecutive calendar months, beginning the second full calendar month after account opening. You also must be a new HSBC customer to take advantage of this offer, and fund your new account with new money.

What to watch out for: The Premier Checking account earns a dismal 0.01% APY on balances of $5 or more. It also charges a hefty $50 monthly fee.

Best Rewards Checking Account – Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Highlights:

  • Earn up to 1.00% cash back on debit card purchases
  • Offers early direct deposit
  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates
  • APY: 0.10% on balances between $2,500 and $99,999, 0.15% on balances over $100,000
  • Maintenance Fee: $0
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Radius Bank’s Rewards Checking account features a robust rewards program, offering up to 1.00% cash back on debit card purchases as well as a decent APY on the funds in your account. There is a minimum $100 opening deposit required for this account.

This account also stands out for offering unlimited ATM fee rebates, an early direct deposit feature and no fees.

What to watch out for: To earn the cash back, you must maintain a minimum balance of at least $2,500.

Best No-ATM Fee Checking Account – TD Bank Beyond Checking

Highlights:

  • No fees at TD Bank ATMs, and reimbursed fees for out-of-network ATMs for accounts that maintain a daily balance of at least $2,500
  • No required minimum opening deposit
  • Overdraft fees reimbursement offered up to two times per year
  • APY: Up to 0.03%
  • Maintenance Fee: $25
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: TD Bank’s Beyond Checking account is a great option for those who prioritize fee-free access to ATMs.

With this account, not only do you receive fee-free ATM access to TD Bank’s network of ATMS, but if you maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $2,500, TD Bank will reimburse you for any fees incurred at out-of-network ATMs.

What to watch out for: Be aware of the dismal APY offered, and note that there is also a $35 overdraft fee associated with this account.

Best Business Checking Account – Axos Bank Business Interest Checking

Business Interest Checking

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement
  • Up to 50 free transaction items per month
  • Monthly service fee can be waived if you maintain an average, daily minimum balance of $5,000
  • APY: Up to 0.81%
  • Maintenance Fee: $10
  • Current Promotions: $100 welcome bonus for businesses that incorporated after June 1, 2020

Read the full review

Why we picked it: Axos Bank’s Business Interest Checking account stands out among other business checking account products for a myriad of reasons, most notably its surprisingly low fees.

Additionally, Axos Bank throws in a number of freebies with its Business Interest Checking account, from ATM fee reimbursements to free checks, making it our pick for the Best Business Checking Account.

What to watch out for:Transactions are $0.50 each after the first 50, and there is a $100 minimum opening deposit required for this account.

Best Checking Account for Students – Chase College Checking

Chase College Checking

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Chase Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Highlights:

  • $6 monthly service fee waived for up to five years if you are 17 to 24 years old, have proof of student status and are enrolled in college, or if you meet any one of Chase’s monthly requirements
  • No monthly service fee on a Chase Savings account linked to this account for overdraft protection
  • APY: None
  • Maintenance Fee: $6
  • Current Promotions: $100 welcome bonus for businesses that incorporated after June 1, 2020

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The Chase College Checking account is a great option for students, as it waives its monthly service fee for those between the ages of 17 and 24 who have proof of a student status, for up to five years while in college.

With widespread ATM access, the ability to pay friends with QuickPay or Zelle and a robust mobile app, this account checks all the boxes for college students.

What to watch out for: For this account, you’ll need to show proof of student status. Also, there’s a $2.50 non-Chase ATM fee and $34 overdraft fee associated with this account.

Best Joint Checking Account – PNC Virtual Wallet

Highlights:

  • Free access to 18,000 ATMs, plus two PNC ATM fee reimbursements per statement cycle and up to $5 in fee reimbursements from other financial institution’s ATM surcharges per statement cycle
  • Budgeting tools and features
  • Fee waiver
  • APY: N/A
  • Maintenance Fee: $7, but waived if certain requirements are met
  • Current Promotions: N/A

Read the full review

Why we picked it: The PNC Virtual Wallet is a standout checking account that supports joint ownership. This account comes with a plethora of budgeting tools that can help couples manage their money more effectively, such as the ability to create budgets for different spending categories and set up alerts for certain account activities. This account also waives its $7 monthly maintenance fee if you have a minimum of $500 in monthly direct deposits or if you maintain a monthly balance of $500 in the Spend + Reserve account — both of which are easier to achieve with two people owning the account, as opposed to one.

What to watch out for: If you can’t meet the monthly qualifications to waive the monthly service fee, you’ll have to pay $7 per month. Additionally, your balance does not earn interest.

Other Honorable Mentions

Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking: This account from investment firm Charles Schwab offers a few attractive perks like unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, no monthly fees or minimums and no foreign transaction fees. However, the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account falls flat with its paltry 0.03% APY, which can’t quite compete with the Best High Yield Checking Account, the Consumers Credit Union Rewards Checking account, which earns up to 4.09% APY.

Aspiration Spend and Save: The Aspiration Spend and Save cash management account is one of the most fee-friendly accounts out there, even allowing you to pay a monthly fee in an amount that you think is fair. Aspiration comes with the added bonus of access to over 55,000 ATMs, cash back rewards — especially at conscience-minded businesses. However, to reap the real benefits (including up to 0.00% APY on balances in your Save portion), you will have to pay $15 per month for Spend and Save Plus.

Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve: Another cash management account, Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve maximizes your FDIC insurance up to $1 million and provides unlimited transfers in and out of your account. It also earns interest at 0.40% APY.

Chase Premier Plus Checking: A step up from Chase’s basic checking account, the Chase Premier Plus Checking account earns interest (although at a paltry 0.01% APY) and waives select fees, including on the first four non-Chase ATM transactions per month. However, its features don’t quite justify the $25 monthly service fee, which you can only waive by meeting certain requirements.

Chime: The mobile-first Chime account is great for individuals who have trouble with traditional checking accounts. It allows you to receive direct deposit up to a couple days early, grow savings automatically and even overdraw your account for free if you meet certain eligibility requirements. Chime also provides free access to over 38,000 ATMs, which you can access with the account’s linked debit card. Despite all these perks, Chime doesn’t earn any interest on account balances. However, Chime does stand out for having a robust, no-overdrafting policy.

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking: Despite TIAA Bank’s Yield Pledge promise, which ensures their rate will always remain among the top 5% of competitive accounts, the Yield Pledge Checking account earns a pretty low APY of 0.12%. Luckily, there is no monthly service fee, nor fees for out-of-network ATM usage. Plus, you can get reimbursed for ATM surcharges. This made it a strong contender for our Best Overall Checking Account.

Varo Money: Pioneering fintech company Varo offers a pretty much fee-free, checking-like cash management account, where customers who meet certain requirements can overdraft up to $50 at no cost. Varo also can get you your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit, offers fee-free access at over 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs and provides a free Varo Visa® Debit Card, which you can lock in the app at any time. Though all of these perks are nice, the checking account doesn’t earn interest; you’ll have to open the Varo Savings Account for that.

Capital One 360 Checking: The Capital One 360 Checking account is easily accessible via its debit card, mobile and online. There’s no fee or minimum balance to worry about. You also get access to over 39,000 Capital One or Allpoint ATMs for free. However, it can’t quite keep up with its competitors with its low 0.10% APY.

Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking: Bank5 Connect’s High-Interest Checking account isn’t always so high-yield, as it earns 0.20% APY. Still, the account is relatively customer friendly as it doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees and offers free access to thousands of ATMs nationwide in addition to up to $15 in surcharge reimbursements.

How we chose the best checking accounts

We took a look at hundreds of financial institutions and reviews. We considered the following factors:

  1. Checking account rates: We heavily weighted the APYs offered by each institution on their checking accounts, paying attention to both high interest rates and consistent rates. Higher and more consistently competitive interest rates were prioritized over others, respectively.
  2. Minimum deposit and balance requirements: We also controlled for accessibility by looking at minimum deposit and balance requirements, prioritizing banks and accounts that have low requirements or none at all.
  3. Bank account fees: The best bank accounts are the ones that don’t cut into your hard-earned money. We favored checking accounts that don’t charge monthly service fees or ATM fees, as well as those that offer ATM-fee reimbursements.
  4. Special offers: As an added bonus to their checking accounts, some institutions offer cash bonus offers for new customers or even cash-back rewards for debit card usage. We made sure to include these special accounts and offers so you can get more from your account.
  5. Specialized accounts: Checking accounts aren’t one-size-fits-all — nor should they be. We looked for specialized accounts that have specific features made for certain groups, like students to joint account holders.

What are the best banks for checking accounts?

In summary, these are our picks for the best checking accounts:

What should I look for in a checking account?

When shopping for a checking account, keep in mind that their main purpose is to provide a convenient and safe place to stash the cash you use for your daily spending. With that in mind, factors such as safety, ease of use and minimal costs should be top-of-mind. When looking for checking accounts, that means finding accounts with zero fees, a wide ATM network, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance and overdraft protection. Accounts with these features, alongside earned interest or rewards, are your best bet.

Understand what you want from a checking account

A great first step to finding the right checking account is first understanding what you want from a checking account. Of course, you’ll want an account that’s easily accessible. But only you can decide whether that means prioritizing brick-and-mortar branches, mobile app access or worldwide ATMs. As debit cards are a big part of accessibility, also make sure you’re getting a debit card that’s protected.

Figure out what kind of fees — if any — you want to pay for your checking account. No fee checking accounts exist, and they’re some of the best checking accounts on the market.

If you’re a senior citizen, a student or perhaps a couple looking for joint account ownership, these are things to consider when making your checking account wishlist. There are several specialized accounts out there that offer special deals and features for members of these groups.

Then determine whether you want your checking account to earn interest or other rewards. Often these rewards only add to the checking account experience, rewarding you for owning the account rather than you paying to own it. Rewards on some accounts may also offset any fees you face.

If you don’t know where to start, it helps to check out high-yield checking accounts first. These accounts are most often free, easily accessible, provided by reputable institutions and, as an added bonus, can earn you money.

Also consider that perhaps it’s not a checking account you need at all, but rather a prepaid debit card account. You deposit money into prepaid cards as you would with a checking account, but you cannot use more than what’s in the account. This allows you to avoid overdrafting your account and paying the exorbitant fees that often come with that. Just watch out: prepaid debit cards are also known for their multiple fees for reloading the card, monthly service, ATM usage and more.

Find an account with few or zero fees

There are many checking accounts that charge little to no fees. Online banks, in particular, offer checking accounts with zero fees, as they are able to save on the operational costs that burden brick-and-mortar banks. Some checking accounts even offer unlimited ATM-reimbursements or a monthly allowance for reimbursable ATM surcharges.

Since many checking accounts offer little to no interest, it’s even more critical to opt for an account with minimal fees. Common checking account fees include:

  • Maintenance fees
  • Minimum balance fees
  • ATM fees
  • Overdraft fees

Even if you’re using a high-yield checking account, why pay your bank fees for access to your own cash? It’s a good idea to check for bank fees when shopping for a checking account. If your checking account has any monthly balance or spending requirements, make sure you stay within those limits to avoid any unnecessary fees.

Check for widespread ATM access

There’s nothing worse than needing cash in a pinch and not having any way to get some. Then even when you find an ATM, it’s out of your bank’s network so to add insult to injury, you’re charged a fee (or two) for using the ATM.

Avoid this situation by finding a checking account that offers widespread ATM access. Often, this isn’t even brick-and-mortar banks which may offer free access to a few thousand branded ATMs across the country. Online banks tend to go above and beyond, offering free access to tens of thousands of ATMs, often worldwide, through ATM networks like AllPoint and MoneyPass.

Look for FDIC Insurance

You want to make sure your money is protected no matter what. FDIC insurance — and National Credit Union Administration insurance for credit unions — insures your money up to legal limits, which for an individual’s checking account would amount to $250,000. This means that up to $250,000 in your checking account will be recovered if your bank or credit union fails.

In the event of institution failure, you’ll either get a check for the amount that was in your checking account, or set up with a new account for the same amount at another insured institution.

Look for Overdraft Protection

Overdraft protection is a crucial feature, especially if you’re often at risk of overextending your funds. This feature works in a few different ways, depending on the institution and the account. Often, a bank’s overdraft protection will link your checking and savings accounts, drawing on your savings account when you overdraft from your checking account. Other iterations may simply not allow you to overdraft the account at all.

Typically, you have to enroll in overdraft protection. Some accounts charge an extra fee for overdraft protection, but many of the best no-fee checking accounts offer this feature for free.

Look for a checking account that pairs with a high-yield savings account

You might want to pair your checking account with a high-yield savings account if you’d like to maintain your day-to-day spending but stash away a portion of your cash to earn a higher rate of return in longer-term savings.
This is also a great option for those who don’t want to be tempted with the ability to easily spend their savings on everyday needs.

If this is what you’re looking for, start by finding a checking account that fits your daily spending needs, is easily accessible and FDIC-insured. You can then track your spending and set up regular deposits into a separate, high-yield savings account for any excess cash you don’t spend. Keep in mind that not all savings accounts are created the same, and it’s worth shopping around for the best rates when it comes to your savings account.

If you want your money to do more for you with less maintenance, online checking is the way to go.

Where do households have the most checking accounts in 2020?

More than 90% of households in the nation’s 100 largest metros have a checking account in 2020, according to data from Standard & Poor’s. But some metros have higher percentages of households with checking accounts than others, according to MagnifyMoney’s research. And almost 6 in 10 of the metros have a lower percentage of households with checking accounts in 2020 than they did in 2015.

Key takeaways

  • If you’re looking for places where checking accounts are more prevalent, look to the Pacific Northwest. Seattle tops the list with 95.4% of households having a checking account. Portland, Ore. (94%), and Boise, Idaho (93.5%), are the metros with the next highest percentage of households with checking accounts.
  • Only 88% of households in Detroit have a checking account. Detroit is tied with two California metros — Bakersfield and Fresno — at the bottom of our list of the 100 largest metros.
  • New York state appears to have more cities with a lower percentage of households with checking accounts than the rest of the nation. Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse all are in the bottom 10 metros with checking accounts in 2020.
  • Of the 100 largest metros, 39 had a higher percentage of households with checking accounts than they did in 2015. However, 58 metros saw the percentage of households with checking accounts fall in the past five years. Three metros — New Haven, Conn; Boston; and Lansing, Mich. — saw no changes from 2015 to 2020.

Methodology

In June 2020, MagnifyMoney used Standard & Poor’s data to examine the percentage of households with checking accounts in 2020 in the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. Using further S&P data, we then compared them to the percentage that had a checking account in 2015.

FAQs: What should I know about checking accounts?

A checking account is a bank account for your day-to-day spending needs. They typically come with a debit card, which allows you to make purchases and provides quick and easy access to cash, making it a safer option than carrying cash. Many checking accounts are also offered with paper checks.

Unlike savings accounts, checking accounts typically have no transaction limits, making them the most liquid option for your money aside from holding large amounts of cash. Checking accounts are also FDIC-insured which adds peace of mind.

Checking accounts are used for your everyday spending needs and generally don’t carry interest (however high-interest checking accounts do exist); by contrast, savings accounts usually carry higher interest rates and are meant for you to save money over the long-run.

Keep in mind that savings accounts will typically restrict access to your cash to around six withdrawals per month while checking accounts allow you almost unrestricted access to any cash you hold in the account.

It’s a good idea to maintain a free or no-fee checking account for day-to-day use. Generally speaking, the best checking accounts allow unfettered access to cash and carry no monthly fees, ATM-fees, or other account surcharges.

It’s generally better to keep just enough in your checking account to cover your daily needs, meet any minimum balance requirements and avoid any possible overdraft charges.

Despite their everyday usefulness, checking accounts aren’t the best places to stash your cash long-term. Savings accounts usually offer higher interest rates, making them a better place to store cash.

There are many free checking account options out there. Some options — especially those offered by online banks — are free accounts that even offer extra features like interest and rewards. Keep in mind that many banks will still feature things like inactivity fees, minimum balance requirements or paper statement charges for their “free checking” accounts.

If you’re paying monthly maintenance fees, minimum balances fees or even third-party ATM fees, it’s worth it to do some research, as there are other accounts out there that will give you more bang for your buck and won’t nickel and dime you for it either. Shop around to find the best free checking account for you.

Yes, many checking accounts earn interest, although the amount offered is typically far less than rates offered by savings accounts or money market accounts.

If you’re looking for the best high-yield checking account, many smaller banks and credit unions offer Kasasa checking accounts, which are essentially free checking accounts that offer higher interest rates, so long as you meet a few monthly requirements.

Checking account interest is taxed if you earned $10 or more in interest in a year. For all your interest-earning deposit accounts, your bank should send you a copy of Form 1099-INT, which they will also send to the IRS. This form will help you report the interest income on your tax return. If you don’t receive this form from your institution, but still earned $10 or more in interest, you will still have to report the interest on your taxes.

If you were lucky enough to earn $1,500 or more in interest, you will have to detail the sources of that income on Schedule B of Form 1040.

Almost every checking account offered by major banking institutions is insured by the FDIC, which provides an account holder with up to $250,000 in federal deposit insurance in the event the underlying bank runs into trouble.

As with any other deposit account, it’s easy to find out whether your checking account has FDIC coverage. You can check to see if your financial institution has FDIC insurance by looking for the “Member FDIC” tag that often appears at the bottom of the bank’s marketing materials.

FDIC insurance covers deposits in checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts, up to $250,000 per ownership category per person within a single financial institution. Credit unions receive deposit insurance from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), up to $250,000 per owner, per insured credit union, per account category.

One checking account should suffice for most shoppers. However, there may be instances where you’d want to open multiple checking accounts to help keep your finances organized or separated for different purposes.

For example, many small business owners have their own business checking account to segregate their professional finances from their personal finances.

Some parents may even want to open separate student checking accounts to help teach their kids or budding college students financial responsibility and keep track of their finances.

Keep in mind that you can also open joint checking accounts, which make it easier for couples and those who share their lives to also share finances and track spending. With a joint account, two or more people share ownership, and can deposit and withdraw funds from the same checking account.

Every checking account will feature a routing number and an account number. These two numbers are associated with your bank account and serve as unique identifiers for your account.

The routing number associated with your checking account is a nine-digit string of numbers that identifies the institution that manages your checking account.

Your bank account number identifies your personal account and is the unique identifier that your bank uses to direct cash or wire transfers, track your balance, and rout payments as needed.

If you were rejected after trying to open a checking account, it’s probably because you have a rocky past with previous accounts. When you apply for new bank accounts, most institutions run your information through ChexSystems, which keeps a record of your banking history when institutions report it. This means any history of overdrafts, negative account balances, account closures and the like will be available for ChexSystems users to see.
If you were rejected from opening a new checking account, take a look at your ChexSystems report. It may help to figure out what bad marks on there you may be able to change. There may even be errors on the report that you can dispute and have removed.

A second-chance checking account is a type of checking account available to those who might not otherwise qualify for a traditional checking account due to their credit or ChexSystems history.

It may be worth exploring a second-chance checking account if your banking history might have been blemished by closing an account with a negative balance or outstanding fees.

Typically, second-chance checking accounts have lower spending limits, fewer features and may charge monthly maintenance fees. However they exist mainly to assist people who are determined to get their financial lives back on track. Once you’ve had the chance to rebuild your credit history, you may be able to trade back up for a standard checking account.

Deposit accounts, including checking and savings accounts, are not included in your credit report, since you’re not borrowing money from these kinds of accounts. So the way you use your checking account or even when you close a checking account doesn’t affect your credit.

If you overdraft your checking account and don’t pay back what you owe to your institution, however, that can land in your credit report if the institution sends it to collections. That’s because it’s become more about your debt, which is reported in credit reports, than simply your checking account.

Overdraft protection works a lot like it sounds: it protects you when you overdraft your account. Often, overdraft protection links your checking account to a savings account. Any time you overdraft your checking account, funds are automatically pulled from the savings account to cover the purchase.

Other institutions may offer overdraft protection that simply doesn’t allow you to overdraft the account. This prevents the transaction from going through, but also prevents you from facing an overdraft fee and recovering the extra cost.

Depending on the type of overdraft protection and the institution, overdraft protection can come at an extra fee, or it could be free.

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The Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts in January 2021

Written By

 

Reviewed By

Online savings accounts are the future of savings, with high yields, little to no fees and convenient 24/7 access. Our top savings account picks yield an average interest rate of 0.60% APY, far higher than the national average of 0.05% APY (according to the FDIC). Choosing one of our accounts could multiply your yearly interest earnings by up to 16 times the national average, which is significantly higher than what you can expect at most local bank branches.

Our team of experts evaluated over 100 banks and credit unions to find the best high yield online savings account. We cross-referenced each of the key traits that customers look for in a high-yield savings account, including APY, minimum balance requirements and monthly fees. We considered accounts from industry leaders that have a proven track record of offering competitive savings rates based on pricing data from over the past five-plus years.

This list is refreshed every week to ensure it always features the best online savings accounts and we’re constantly adding new ones to our database as they become available. If you don’t find what you’re looking for today, make sure you check back regularly to see a new selection.

MagnifyMoney has been covering deposits, investing and personal finance for almost a decade. Our team collectively has over 50 years of experience covering and researching financial topics. Our ranks include former analysts from major banking institutions, financial news reporters who have been featured on major networks like Forbes, CNN and MarketWatch and economists and thought leaders from major media outlets like LendingTree and DepositAccounts.com.

Do you have a savings goal in mind? Tell us about it!

1. High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 0.60% APY

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY): 0.60%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: Yes
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Synchrony Bank pays a healthy 0.60% APY. There is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee. In addition to the great rate, you can get an ATM card. Most internet-only banks require you to transfer funds electronically, which can take a few days. If you ever need quick access to your funds, the ATM card makes access easy.

You might not recognize the Synchrony brand in the banking space, but it is a large, well-capitalized business. Synchrony used to be a part of General Electric (GE), and was spun out as a separate company. Unfortunately, the digital experience is not the best, but they now have a mobile banking app.

2. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 0.50% APY

High Yield Savings Account from American Express National Bank

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on American Express National Bank’s secure website

Partner Offer

Member FDIC

  • APY: 0.50%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: No
Overview: Our sponsored advertiser, American Express National Bank, offers a Personal Savings account, which earns a 0.50% variable Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 1/13/2021. The account charges no monthly fees and requires no minimum deposit, making it an affordable account to open. You must fund your account within 60 days of applying for the account, and the FDIC insures your deposits up to $250,000. Overall, the account is a great option for anyone who wants the flexibility of earning a high interest rate on a sum of money you’ve stashed away, minus the withdrawal restrictions of a certificate deposit.

3. High Rate: Marcus by Goldman Sachs – 0.50% APY

High-yield Online Savings Account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs

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on Marcus By Goldman Sachs’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • Annual Percentage Yield: 0.50%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Our advertiser Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the consumer bank of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, offers a 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield on deposits. There isn’t a minimum balance requirement to earn the APY and there are no transaction fees. Upon opening the account, you can deposit funds via electronic transfer, wire transfer, or deposit by check. You can get access to your funds via electronic transfer or wire transfer.

Goldman has been investing heavily in Marcus, its online consumer bank. Marcus is already offering some of the best savings accounts and personal loans in the market, and further expansion is expected. The savings account has consistently been paying one of the highest rates in the market. With a 0.50% APY, you can get one of the highest rates in the market from a well-known brand. The maximum deposit is $1,000,000 and deposits are FDIC insured up to the $250,000 limit.

Marcus is accessible both online and via the Marcus mobile app, available only in the Apple App Store.

4. Favorite Online Package: Ally Bank – 0.50% APY

Online Savings Account from Ally Bank

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY: 0.50%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Ally is a bank without branches that had been consistently paying high interest rates on savings accounts. While Ally is still offering rates way above what brick-and-mortar banks are offering, it seems this online bank no longer wants to be seen as the online bank with the most competitive rates. The current APY on Ally’s savings account is 0.50%.

Although Ally has dropped its rate significantly, along with its competitors, we still favor this online bank. It doesn’t require a minimum balance to earn the APY and, even better, you can open a free checking account (also with no minimum balance requirement). This makes access to your savings account incredibly easy – because you can transfer funds online (or via the app) and have immediate access via checks, debit cards and ATMs. With an Ally account, you will have access to their full suite of expanding (and market-leading) products such as CDs, money market account, checking account, and IRA accounts.

5. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 0.40% APY

Online Savings Account from Barclays

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on Barclays’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY: 0.40%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Barclays is a large, old British bank, based in London and with more than 325 years of history. Although Barclays is huge in the United Kingdom, it is a challenger brand in the US. Barclays offers savings products with highly competitive rates. These deposits are used to fund their rapidly growing American credit card business.

The online savings account has a 0.40% APY with no minimum balance to open and no monthly fees. Your deposits are FDIC insured up to the legal limit. The Barclays website has a good look and feel. And you can have the confidence of keeping your money with one of the world’s largest and oldest universal banks.

6. High Rate: Capital One – 0.40% APY

  • APY: 0.40%
  • Minimum balance requirement: None
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: A consistent rate leader for its deposit accounts, Capital One now offers its 360 Performance Savings. With a 0.40% APY on all balances and no monthly fee, you get a chance to boost your savings uninterrupted. There are no minimum balances required to open or maintain the account, either.

Capital One is able to offer higher rates and lower (to no!) fees on this online savings account compared to traditional in-branch offerings. Still, you can head to a Capital One branch or Capital One Café to open a new 360 Performance Savings account, if you prefer. You cannot use an ATM to withdraw or deposit funds, but you can visit a branch, call the bank or make your own online transfer. You can access all accounts on your mobile device through the Capital One app, as well.

7. High Rate: SmartyPig – 0.80% APY

  • APY: 0.80%
  • Minimum balance requirement: $0
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: SmartyPig is a division of Sallie Mae Bank, which provides the FDIC insurance for SmartyPig accounts. SmartyPig is accessible online and in its mobile app, which is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The SmartyPig savings account works with all balances. However, SmartyPig rewards lower balances with higher rates. Balances from $0.01 to $2,500 earn 0.80% APY; balances from $2,500.01 to $10,000 earn 0.80% APY; balances from $10,000.01 to $50,000 earn 0.55% APY; and balances over $50,000 earn 0.55% APY.

There is no monthly fee to worry about. The account allows you to create and save towards specific savings Goals, which is handy if you need to differentiate where your money is going. You can even set a target date to reach each goal to help you stay motivated and on track.

8. Unique Bank + High Rate: Fitness Bank – 0.70% APY

Fitness Savings (12,500+ Steps) from FitnessBank

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on FitnessBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY: 0.70%, contingent on taking 12,500 steps
  • Minimum balance requirement: $100
  • Monthly Fees: $10
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Fitness Bank is unique and new online bank. It’s a division of Affinity Bank, which has been around since 2002 and has acquired over $318 million in assets. Affinity Bank decided to launch a concept like no other to reward actively fit individuals with the highest APY currently available. While most institutions choose to offer tiered rates based on balance amounts, Fitness Bank offers tiered rates based on the average number of steps you take on a daily basis. To earn the high 0.70% APY, you’ll need to take an average of 12,500 steps or more per day. If you only take an average of 10,000 to 12,499 steps per day, you’ll earn an APY of 0.60% (which is still a great APY). You’ll earn 0.50% APY if you take an average of 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. Taking an average of 5,000 to 7,499 steps per day will qualify you for an APY of 0.40%. Finally, if you take anywhere between 0 to 4,999 steps on average per day, you’ll only earn 0.25%.

Fitness Bank will track your steps by requiring you to download its Step Tracker app. The bank will then calculate your average steps from the previous month to determine which tier you qualify for. Once the bank determines which rate your activity qualifies you for, you will continue earning that rate for an entire month until the bank recalculates your activity. The activity requirement will be waived for the first month so that you can get your app all set up and start logging in some steps. For this first month, you’ll automatically earn the 0.70% APY.

In terms of actual money, you will need at least $100 to open the account and you’ll need to maintain this balance to waive the $10 monthly maintenance fee. The bank does impose a limit on the amount of money you’re able to transfer in and out of the account via ACH. You cannot transfer more than $15,000 per day in or out of the account. In addition to the Step Tracker app, Fitness Bank has a mobile banking app to manage your account.

9. High Rate: Nationwide by Axos Bank – 0.70% APY

My Savings from Nationwide by Axos Bank

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on Nationwide By Axos Bank’s secure website

FDIC Insured

  • APY: 0.70%, contingent on having a My Checking account with a deposit of at least $1,000
  • Minimum balance requirement: $100
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Through this partnership, Nationwide by Axos Bank is able to offer a full suite of financial accounts and services. Axos Bank, a digital bank founded in 2000, provides these services and the FDIC insurance on deposit accounts. Mobile access is available through the Axos Bank for Nationwide mobile app on both iPhone and Android devices.

My Savings is just one of Nationwide by Axos Bank’s savings accounts and requires at least $100 to open. Its competitive 0.70% APY applies to all balances, although you’ll need to have a My Checking account with a monthly direct deposit totaling at least $1,000 to that checking account to snag the competitive savings rate. If you don’t want the My Checking account, you can still earn a solid rate of 0.40% APY. The My Savings account does not charge a monthly service fee.

10. High Rate: MutualOne Bank – 0.60% APY

Online Savings from MutualOne Bank

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on MutualOne Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY: 0.60%
  • Minimum balance requirement: $0
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: MutualOne Bank’s Online Savings Account earns one of the industry’s top savings account rates on balances up to just under $1 million. Balances $1 million and over will earn a lower rate. Interest is compounded and paid monthly.

You will need at least $500 to open the Online Savings account, which is accessible only online and on mobile. There is no check writing, ATM access or online bill payment via this account.

Why trust us?

At MagnifyMoney, it is our mission to inform our readers about the best financial opportunities out there. Our insights have been cited by top financial publications including Marketwatch, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal.

Our dedicated team of financial experts spends dozens of hours grading online savings accounts according to their interest rates, fee schedules, extra features, minimum balance requirements and accessibility, adjusting our rankings as banks and their offerings change on a weekly basis.

We distilled our picks from a list that included hundreds of banks, credit unions and online institutions nationwide.

Our methodology for picking the best high-yield savings accounts

To find the best high-yield online savings accounts, MagnifyMoney looks at over 6,000 financial institutions each week, from small community banks and credit unions to traditional brick-and-mortar banks to new online banks.

  1. Savings account rates: We heavily weighted the APYs offered by each bank in terms of both magnitude and consistency. Higher savings 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 competitive rates over longer periods of time.
  2. 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.
  3. Bank account fees: Unnecessary fees can eat into your long-term savings in a major way. Banks that offered low or no fees were given priority in this category over banks that are known to charge account maintenance fees, service charges and other surcharges.
  4. Customer service: We considered overall customer satisfaction and bank reputation when weighing each bank performance in this category. While each customer’s experience varies, we looked at relative feedback each bank received at the national level based on data sourced from consumer advocates like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Better Business Bureau. Banks that failed to meet minimum standards of performance were excluded.

What should I know about high-yield savings accounts?

It’s easy to take your savings account for granted, setting up automatic deposits and forgetting about it. But there’s a lot more to high-yield savings accounts that you should know.

For one, you can find consistently more competitive rates at online banks than with your typical big bank. Online banks are also more fee-friendly — although there are still some legal limitations you should be aware of to avoid extra fees.

What is a high-yield savings account?

A high-yield savings account, also known as a high-interest savings account, is a savings account that earns interest at a higher rate than a traditional savings account. The average savings account interest rate tends to hover around 0.20% APY, but big brick-and-mortar banks often offer interest rates more like 0.01% APY.

High-yield savings accounts raise the bar and offer upwards of 1% to 2% APY — sometimes even 3% APY in good rate conditions. High-interest savings accounts are also more likely to come with added benefits like little to no fees, especially when offered by an online bank.

How much interest will I earn with a high-yield savings account?

When you open a high-yield savings account, you’re almost guaranteed to earn more in interest than with a traditional savings account.

For example, let’s say you have $5,000 to deposit into a savings account. If you choose a high-interest savings account with a 2.30% APY, for example, you’ll earn $116 and some change in a year, provided you don’t make any additional contributions to the account in that time (which would boost your savings even more).

If you deposit your $5,000 into an average savings account at 0.20% APY for a year, you’ll earn just $10 in interest. It’s a pretty big difference in earnings, and all it takes is a simple account switch.

Even in a low-rate environment, where a high-yield savings account might be earning 1.30%, for example, you’ll still make about $65 in interest, which is still well over the $10 average earnings from a traditional savings account.

Does the APY for high-yield savings accounts change?

Savings accounts are variable-rate accounts, so their rates are subject to change — and they will over the course of an account’s lifetime. This is in contrast to fixed-rate savings vehicles, like CDs, which have set rates for predetermined periods of time.

There is no universal answer for how often interest rates change on high-yield savings accounts, since each institution has its own policies and decisions. However, you can often expect an institution to change its savings account rates about once a month at least. This change typically happens at the beginning of the month.

High-interest savings accounts are also more likely to see changes in their APYs than traditional low-rate savings accounts, because high-interest accounts have more room to change. Traditional savings account rates can only go so low, especially since many of them are already bottomed out at 0.01% APY.

How to choose the best high-yield savings account

  • Start by finding the highest APY
  • Check whether the institution is consistent with its high rates
  • Look for a no-fee account
  • Confirm any account balance minimums

When you’re looking for the best high-yield savings account, it’s tempting to go straight for the highest APY you can find. That account will certainly offer the highest yield at the moment, but there’s also more to it than that. Unless you’re okay with the possibility of switching accounts periodically to chase the highest rates, it may help to find an account offered by an institution that consistently offers some of the most competitive savings account rates. We’ve started our roundup above with those accounts, offered by consistent industry-leaders over the past two years.

But high yields may mean nothing if you lose your earnings to fees, so the best high-interest savings accounts out there are also the ones with little to no fees. Look for accounts with no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees and/or no excessive transaction fees. This will help you keep your savings intact.

You’ll also want to choose a high-yield savings account that works within your existing finances. Some accounts may impose minimum deposit or balance requirements to open and keep the account. We think the best high-interest accounts are the ones that require low or $0 minimums, which makes the account much more accessible to savers. But, if you have a high balance and find a savings account that offers a higher rate for high balances, then you can go for that account if it better fits your needs.

How do I open a high-yield savings account?

In most cases, opening a high yield savings account is as easy as clicking a button on the institution’s website and completing a short application form. You will likely be approved for the account right away.

A savings account application will likely require your name, home address, email address and Social Security Number. If the account requires a minimum deposit at opening, you’ll also likely have to link an external account at this time. Otherwise, you may make your initial deposit after opening, often within a 30- or 60-day window.

If you have a rocky banking history, like previous negative balances or circumstances where the institution closed your account, your application for a high-interest account may be denied. You can check out your recorded banking history with ChexSystems, a reporting system that many banks use. If there are any errors or points of contention, you may be able to dispute an item in your ChexSystems report.

What should I use a high-yield savings account for?

You can use a high-yield savings account for a variety of reasons and savings goals. You can use it as your emergency fund, where you stash your cash for a rainy day, for example. Perhaps you want to use a high-interest savings account to boost your savings toward your next vacation or your kid’s college education.

Luckily, many institutions allow you to have several savings accounts at a time, meaning you can save toward separate goals simultaneously without ever getting your wires crossed.

Should I get an online savings account?

An online savings account is your best bet for obtaining the highest interest rate available. Online banks lack the costs associated with maintaining brick-and-mortar branches, and they generally pass the savings onto you in the form of better interest payouts. And like we’ve said, if your money is going to sit in an account, you might as well make it worth your while by growing it at a competitive rate.

Online savings accounts generally feature superior accessibility. Online banks are laser-focused on offering the best possible and most user-friendly app experiences. There’s often 24/7 customer service, and they tend to provide very good ATM access. When shopping for the best savings account to suit your needs, make sure you include a good mix of online banks offering high yields, brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions in your search.

What impacts savings rates?

Institutions typically alter their rates in response to changes in market interest rates, which are in turn driven by the federal funds rate set by the Federal Reserve. The federal funds rate influences the rates banks lend money to each other. When the Fed increases the federal funds rate, financial institutions respond by increasing the interest rates they offer on deposit accounts. When the federal funds rate falls, interest rates decrease.

If you’re not keen on tracking the federal funds rate, changes to the APY on your savings account may come as a surprise. Luckily, chances are that if you keep your deposits with an online bank, you’ll still get the most competitive rates regardless of a Fed pause or rate decrease. Online savings accounts outperform most brick-and-mortar rates any day.

What are the best banks for high-yield online savings accounts?

Here’s a summary of our top picks:

  • 0.50% APY – American Express National Bank
  • 0.50% APY – Ally Bank
  • 0.60% APY – Synchrony Bank
  • 0.50% APY – Marcus by Goldman Sachs
  • 0.40% APY – Barclays Bank
  • 0.40% APY – Capital One
  • 0.65% APY – Affirm
  • 0.70% APY – Ftiness Bank
  • 0.80% APY – SmartyPig
  • 0.65% APY – ConnectOne Bank

Savings Account FAQs

There is nothing inherently unsafe about a high-yield savings account. As long as you make sure you’re depositing your money into an FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union, your money will be insured up to legal amounts in case your institution fails.

You may also want to double check an institution’s security measures before signing up for an account. Check whether their website and information is protected by encryption and firewalls. Reputable institutions will also include anti-virus and anti-fraud measures. Other protections include biometric logins (fingerprints or face match), two-factor verification and security questions.

There is often not much difference between high-interest savings accounts and money market accounts. A money market account is a type of savings account that also tends to have higher rates than traditional savings accounts.

Some money market accounts set themselves apart by offering a debit or ATM card and/or check-writing capabilities. These accounts offer further accessibility to your money. However, money market accounts still fall under the six-limit “convenient” transaction requirement, like regular savings accounts.

High-yield savings accounts are taxed like regular savings accounts. However, your earnings from a high-interest savings account are more likely to be taxed, as you are more likely to be earning more in that account than a traditional low-rate account.

Savings account earnings are taxed if you make $10 or more. Regardless of your earnings, your institution should send you and the IRS a copy of Form 1099-INT, which details the interest you’ve earned in a year. Even if you don’t receive that form, the IRS will, and they will expect you to report your interest income on your tax return.

If you earn $1,500 or more in interest income in a year, you will also need to detail those sources of income on Schedule B of Form 1040.

Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, you can withdraw up to six times per statement cycle from a high-yield savings account, like any other savings account. This includes pre-authorized and automatic withdrawals and transfers, and transfers made by debit card, check or other similar ways.You can get around this limit by performing “less convenient” withdrawals, like those made in person at the bank or ATM. Exceptions to the rule also include withdrawals and transfers requested by mail and those initiated over the phone if you receive the withdrawal as a mailed check.

Online banks don’t incur the costs of maintaining brick-and-mortar branches. These costs include rent, building maintenance, staff salaries and the cost of keeping physical cash safe. Without these expenses weighing them down, online banks reap big savings — savings they then pass on to their customers in the form of high interest rates.

74% of Americans don’t know online-only banks generally offer better savings rates

A new survey by MagnifyMoney has found that Americans largely misunderstand online savings accounts and the financial opportunities they offer.

Key findings

  • 74% of Americans don’t know online-only banks typically offer higher interest rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

    • Additionally, 16% believe online-only banks charge more fees than traditional brick-and-mortar banks, which is generally false. To see our picks for the best high-yield online savings accounts, scroll up.
    • Another 11% believe money deposited in an online bank isn’t insured, which is most often untrue. All the online banks listed above — and more — are FDIC insured. Even many fintechs and neobanks offer FDIC insurance on their cash management accounts, via partner banks.
  • Just over 143.3 million consumers are likely missing out on higher interest rates for their savings by not banking with online-only financial institutions. Of those without an account, complacency is the primary reason, as 55% are satisfied with their brick-and-mortar bank.
    • Less than half of Americans (44%) have an account with an online-only bank. Their main reasons for the switch are better interest rates (30%), fewer fees (28%) and recommendation by a financial advisor (27%).
  • Who’s most likely to have an online-only savings account? Generation Xers (61%), those earning $75,000 or more a year (58%), college graduates (57%) and men (57%).
  • More than 44% of respondents fear online banking puts them at risk for data breaches, while 40% are concerned hackers will have an easier time accessing their data. Still, of those without an online bank, just 19% said it was because they don’t trust the bank with their money.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,029 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded on Aug. 25, 2020.

For the purposes of our survey, generations are defined as the following ages in 2020:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 23
  • Millennial: 24 to 39
  • Generation X: 40 to 54
  • Baby boomer: 55 to 74
  • Silent generation: 75 and older

While Gen Z and the silent generation were surveyed — and their answers were factored into the overall percentage totals among all respondents — they were omitted from generational comparisons, due to the low sample size among both groups.

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