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The Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts in December 2020

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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 0.95% 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 19 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.

The Best Savings Accounts in December 2020 Overall

Savings account

APY

Minimum balance to earn

American Express National Bank High Yield Savings

0.60% APY

None

Ally Bank Online Savings Account

0.60% APY

None

Synchrony Bank High-Yield Savings Account

0.60% APY

None

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

0.50% APY

None

Barclays Bank Online Savings Account

0.45% APY

None

Capital One 360 Performance Savings

0.40% APY

None

Affirm Savings Account

1.00% APY

None

SmartyPig Savings Account

0.80% APY

None

First Foundation Bank

0.75% APY

$1,000

Fitness Bank Savings

0.70% APY

$100

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

1. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 0.60% 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:0.60%
  • 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 0.60% variable Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 12/4/2020. 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.

2. Favorite Online Package: Ally Bank – 0.60% APY

Online Savings Account from Ally Bank

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY:0.60%
  • 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 0.60%.

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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 0.45% APY

Online Savings Account from Barclays

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on Barclays’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY:0.45%
  • 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 0.45% 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. Highest Overall Rate: Affirm – 1.00% APY

Affirm Savings from Affirm

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on Affirm’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY:1.00%
  • Minimum balance requirement: $0
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: No
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: Affirm is known for offering payment plan options at checkout, allowing you to buy now and pay later for products across thousands of merchants. It’s entering the competitive online savings space, though, with its Affirm Savings account.

Affirm Savings earns a 1.00% APY on all balances. There is no minimum required to open, and there is no monthly fee. This is a mobile-first account, and can be opened within the Affirm app that’s available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Affirm Savings deposits are FDIC insured by Cross River Bank.

8. 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.

9. High Rate: First Foundation Bank – 0.75% APY

Online Savings Account - New Money Only from First Foundation Bank

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on First Foundation Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • APY:0.75%
  • Minimum balance requirement: $1,000
  • Monthly Fees: None
  • ATM Access: ATM card available upon request
  • App Available: Yes
Overview: First Foundation Bank officially launched in 2008, but its leadership has been in the financial services industry since 1990. This bank was established by the same group that leads the Keller Group, a wealth management firm. Its Online Savings Account offers a competitive APY of 0.75%. You’ll need to have a balance of at least $1,000 in order to open that account and you’ll need to maintain that amount in order to earn the high APY. If your balance falls below $1,000, the APY will drop. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee.

While Regulation D applies to this account, First Foundation Bank provides an ATM card if you request one from the bank. The bank will reimburse ATM fees from other banks and ATM operators up to $20. There is a limit to the amount of money that you can withdraw. If you’re withdrawing from an ATM, the bank sets a daily limit of $500. The daily point-of-sale limit is $1,500. If you’re transferring money online or via ACH, the daily limit is $20,000 and the monthly limit is $100,000. If you need to transfer more than the preset limits, you’re able to call the bank and request that they increase the limit. The bank allows you to maintain the account online and through their mobile banking app.

10. 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.

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:

  • 0.60% APY – American Express National Bank
  • 0.60% APY – Ally Bank
  • 0.60% APY – Synchrony Bank
  • 0.50% APY – Marcus by Goldman Sachs
  • 0.45% APY – Barclays Bank
  • 0.40% APY – Capital One
  • 1.00% APY – Affirm
  • 0.70% APY – Ftiness Bank
  • 0.80% APY – SmartyPig
  • 0.70% 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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Strategies to Save

Review: The Aspiration Account

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

The 0.00% APY has one of the highest rates in the country. If you move both your checking account and savings account into an Aspiration Account, you would be able to earn a high interest rate on your money while avoiding the risk of overdraft and enjoying the convenience of only having one account.

Aspiration is a fairly new financial services company that aims to be “the investment firm for the middle class.” In this video (that could pass for a parody if you didn’t realize they were serious), the company proclaims that it is possible to be a “capitalist with a conscience.” Lofty goals are behind the company and the products they have designed. The CEO (Andrei Cherny) was a former Clinton White House aide, and with Aspiration he is trying to take action and create a new type of financial services firm that lives up to his ideals.

All products offered by Aspiration (which includes two investment funds and a cash management account) have the same pricing model. You decide how much to pay. Yes, the fee is set entirely by you, the customer. You can set it to $0 or you can set it to any amount below $10. You can change the fee whenever you want. They provide a service and you decide what it is worth.

Aspiration is making a big bet.

With traditional banking, people are nickel and dimed every month. Make an out of network ATM withdrawal, and you could end up spending $10 in fees. Put your money into a savings account, and earn only 0.01%. By using Aspiration, you could be much better off financially than banking with your traditional bank. And you can do your own calculation and decide how much of that savings you share with Aspiration. They are hoping that you will share enough for the business to continue.

Application Process for the Aspiration Account

Opening an account used to be a bit challenging as you needed to be invited. However, Aspiration has made it as simple as ever to open an account. Simply click on the “Get Started” button on their website and enter your email address.

 

At that point, you should be directed to a page that allows you to open your account online and apply for the account.

 

Create your password, check the box to let Aspiration know you’ve read the Terms and Conditions, and click “Let’s Go!”. Since this is an online account, there will be extensive KYC (know-your-customer) and compliance questions. I was required to provide:

  • Answers to identity verification questions. These are questions generated by a credit bureau. So, you will be asked to provide your social security number, but they ensure that they won’t “run the kind of credit check that will ding your score”. You might also be asked to answer questions about your mortgage payments, car loans, and other credit bureau items to identify yourself.
  • A link to an existing bank account. This is used to provide the initial funds in the account. I put $10 into the account for a test drive. (By doing this, Aspiration also reduces its risk, because you will have gone through the compliance checks of your existing bank).

Once you finish the account opening process, it may take a few days for the account to be open and for you to receive your debit card in the mail. Aspiration has partnered with Coastal Community Bank in a way that is similar to how Simple operated. (Simple, for those who remember, was not a bank. It created the front-end user interface, but partnered with an FDIC-regulated bank).

Aspiration Mobile App

In 2016, Aspiration joined the rest of the financial industry with the launch of their mobile app. Their app allows you to view your Aspiration Account balance and transaction history, remote deposit checks using your phone’s camera, schedule transfers between the Aspiration Account and other bank accounts, pay bills, and track the impact of your spending habits. The mobile app also allows you to use fingerprint authentication to secure the data.
There are two features that stand out:

  1. Their Payments feature
  2. Their Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) feature

Payments

Payments is Aspiration’s bill pay feature. Not only does this feature allow you to pay your bills, but it also allows you to pay your friends. However, unlike other bill pay and money transfer features (like Zelle), Aspiration’s Payments feature sends payees a paper check with your name, address, and optional memo if you choose to include one. This feature is available at no charge to the account holder.

Since this feature is sending a paper check, you can expect the payee to receive the check within 5-7 business days from the send date. Fortunately, Aspiration doesn’t limit the number of payments that can be scheduled and they don’t limit the amount of money you can send.

Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM)

AIMis a pretty unique feature as it allows you to see the impact you’re making on the planet and people based on your spending habits. This feature will provide you with a score that is determined by the types of businesses you frequent. The score is calculated by how the businesses treat their employees, customers, community, and environment. So, businesses are given a score and you’re given a score based on where you do your shopping.

Aspiration shares that they created AIM “so that we can all think about how our everyday spending can make the world a better place.” This may sound very “kumbaya”, but there’s no denying that they’ve created an innovative feature.

What We Like

  • Unlimited, global ATM fee reimbursement: With this account, you can use any ATM in the world and it won’t cost you a dime. Not only won’t Aspiration charge you a fee, but you will be reimbursed any fee charged by the other bank whether they are located in the U.S. or in another country.
  • Zero overdraft and stop payment fees: This is a huge perk as these are some of the “gotcha” fees that you’ll encounter at big banks.
  • Other fees are also fairly lower than big banks: Outgoing wire transfers and receiving an incoming wire transfer will only cost you 82 cents.
  • One of the best interest rates in the market: At a traditional bricks-and mortar bank, you would receive no interest on your checking account, and you would earn only 0.01% on your savings account. With this account, you earn 0.00% on your entire balance. The best online checking account in the market is currently paying 0.60%, but you need to maintain a balance to earn this APY.
  • You no longer need to have a separate savings account and checking account. With that, you no longer need to worry about overdrafts. At a traditional bank, you could end up paying $10 just to have money automatically transferred from your savings account to your checking account if you make a mistake. Because you can keep all of your money in one account, you will not need to worry about overdraft transfers.
  • All deposits are FDIC-insured, up to $250,000 per depositor.

What We Find Lacking

  • Bill pay functionality. While Aspiration does mention that they will be making updates and improvements to their Payments feature, they don’t seem to mention going away from the paper check method. While sending paper checks may be a good solution for a feature that once didn’t exist at Aspiration, it’s still not as efficient as most online bill pay features that other banks offer.

Who Could Benefit From the Aspiration Account Now?

The perfect profile for an Aspiration Account customer today would be:

  • You travel a lot, and frequently need to use ATMs that are outside of your bank’s network
  • You have a lot of cash that you keep in your account and would like to earn interest on that money
  • You are about the impact you make on people and the environment.

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Alternatives if This Account is Not Right For You

This account is going to get better over time. It won’t come as a surprise if this account starts to become much more competitive.

Depending upon what feature is most important to you, there are excellent alternatives:

  • If you want the highest interest rate, you can earn up to 0.45% with an online savings account with a moderate deposit amount requirement. You can find the best savings account here.
  • If you want to avoid ATM fees globally, but need better bill pay capabilities, you should open a Charles Schwab checking account. You can find that account, and others, on our checking account page.

This Looks Great and Will Get Better. But is it Sustainable?

One of the biggest worries we have at MagnifyMoney is the following: when something looks too good to be true, it usually doesn’t last long. The offer can last for a few years, but eventually market forces will catch up with it.

Providing unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees globally is expensive. Ally originally offered the same perk and then capped that benefit at $10 per month ($120 per year), because it was impossible for them to make money on the checking accounts otherwise. Aspiration does not have a magic formula, and eventually the business will need to make money somewhere.

Often, banks do not make money on checking accounts. Instead, these accounts serve as the foundation account and the bank cross-sells other products. Perhaps this is Aspiration’s plan.

Regardless, the product is very consumer friendly and potentially lucrative. According to CrunchBase, the business has raised over $67 million. Clearly, the business will need to raise more capital as it scales, especially given the low level of customer profitability expected. There is certainly limited risk to taking advantage of the great offer available now. At MagnifyMoney, we just hope that they find a way to make money sustainably. As Ally customers know all too well, it can be frustrating to switch accounts based upon a strong feature (unlimited ATM reimbursement), only to have that benefit taken away when it is deemed too expensive.

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Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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View Your Free FICO Score for all 3 Credit Bureaus

There are lots of free credit scores floating around, but most of them are not the true FICO® score that lenders subscribe to and use as part of their decision.

However FICO® is working to change that by allowing banks and credit unions to give you free ongoing access to the real score they use to make lending decisions as long as you are an account holder.

One of the easiest ways for anyone to get their free FICO® score is via the Discover Credit Scorecard. You do not need to be a customer of Discover – anyone can register and get their official FICO® score for free. The data is from the Experian credit bureau. You can also get a free Experian FICO® 8 score by signing up directly with Experian.

To find out where to get your FICO® score from the other credit bureaus, read on.

Every bank chooses at least one of three credit bureaus to calculate a FICO® score: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The FICO® score one bank uses can be different than another depending on which credit bureau they pulled a report from.

You may be able to get a free FICO® score from your credit card issuer or bank. Financial institutions belonging to the FICO Score Open Access Program offer this service. Visit this page for a list of participating banks. FICO® itself charges monthly for you to see your scores ($19.95, $29.95 or $39.95, depending on which plan you go with) — though they also throw in full copies of your credit reports, which the free bank scores do not.

Be aware that FICO rolled out the FICO Score 10 Suite in the beginning of 2020. This includes FICO Score 10 and FICO Score 10 T — the latter of which looks at trended data for a historical view of a consumer’s behavior. Under FICO Score 10, credit card debt will have a bigger impact than it used to, so it’s more important than ever to keep your utilization ratio less than 30%.

Here’s where to find your real, free FICO® scores from banks or credit unions anyone can join:

Equifax Scores

Citibank

  • Available with: Any Citibank branded credit card. This does not include Citibank cards with other brands like the American AAdvantage or Hilton HHonors cards.
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: On your online account or the Citi app
  • Learn more

DCU Credit Union

  • Available with: Any credit card, or a checking account with direct deposit
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: Look for an invitation in your online account
  • Learn more

Huntington Bank

  • Available with: The Huntington Voice credit card – you will get a FICO® Bankcard Score 2 from Equifax
  • Where to find it: Log into your account and you’ll see a link

PenFed

  • Available with: PenFed members with active checking accounts, installment loans, and revolving lines of credit
  • Score updated: When PenFed refreshes – no set schedule
  • Where to find it: Login to your account and click ‘Your FICO® Score is Ready’
  • Notes: PenFed uses a more advanced ‘Next Gen’ FICO® score that has a different scale than traditional FICO® scores, with 150 as the lowest score and 950 as the highest score. Most banks use a score with a scale of 300 to 850. Because of this the score you see on PenFed’s site may be higher or lower than what you see from others.
  • Learn more

State Employees Credit Union of North Carolina

  • Available to all credit card holders

Experian Scores

Capital One and American Express regularly use Experian’s FICO® among others for credit decisions.

American Express

  • Available with: Any American Express credit card
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: On your online account

Discover

  • Available with: All Discover cards and if you are not a Discover cardholder, you can sign up to get your FICO® score for free by visiting creditscorecard.com.
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: On your statement and online

First National Bank of Omaha

  • Available with: Any credit card account
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: On your online account
  • Learn more

USAA

  • Available with: Any USAA credit card
  • Score updated: Unknown
  • Where to find it: On your online account

Wells Fargo

  • Available with: Any Wells Fargo credit card
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: On your online account
  • Learn more

TransUnion Scores

Bank of America

  • Available with: Select credit card accounts
  • Score updated: Monthly, with history
  • Where to find it: Link available on your account summary page under the ‘Tools and Investing’ section

Barclays

  • Available with: Any credit card account
  • Score updated: Monthly
  • Where to find it: Link available on your account summary page

Unknown Bureau

Other, less open to the public free FICO® providers include:

  • Ally, for auto loan holders.
  • Hyundai and Kia Motor Finance allow customers to view their FICO scores through their online accounts.
  • Sallie Mae offers a free, quarterly TransUnion score if you receive a new Smart Option Student Loan.
  • Merrick Bank doesn’t have open applications for its Platinum Visa, but does offer free scores to its cardholders.
  • Some credit unions with limited membership also offer scores, so check yours to see if it provides them.

Find the Best Credit Score for Your Needs:

The credit score that you are looking for varies, depending on what type of credit you are looking to apply for. Each credit score version has different benefits, and lenders pull certain scores in accordance with your application.

Credit Score Monitoring

The best options: All VantageScores and FICO® scores

If you’re simply looking to monitor your credit score and stay on top of your credit, either VantageScore or FICO® score will suffice.

New Credit Card

The best options: FICO® Bankcard Scores or FICO® Score 8 primarily; FICO® Score 3

Where to get them: Get your FICO® Score 8 from Credit Scorecard by Discover or freecreditscore.com

When applying for a new credit card, these scores are most likely to be pulled by credit card issuers. Lenders may pull your score from one or all three bureaus.

Mortgage Loans and Mortgage ReFis

The best options: FICO® Scores 2, 4, 5

Where to get them: Myfico.com for $19.95 a month

These scores are used in the majority of mortgage-related credit evaluations, with lenders pulling your score from all three bureaus. However, these scores are not free and can only be purchased at myfico.com.

Auto Loans

The best options: FICO® Auto Scores 2, 4, 5, 8, 9

Where to get them: Myfico.com for $19.95 a month

Auto scores are industry-specific and used in the majority of auto-financing credit evaluations. Lenders may pull your score from one or all three bureaus. Unfortunately, these scores are not free and need to be purchased at Myfico.com.

Personal Loans, Student Loans, and Retail Credit

The best option: FICO® Score 8

Where to get it: Credit Scorecard by Discover or freecreditscore.com.

For other financial products such as personal loans, student loans, and retail credit, FICO® Score 8 is best. This is the credit score most widely used by lenders, and they may pull your score from one or all three bureaus when making a decision.

APR

As low as 2.49%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO®

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

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LendingTree is our parent company

Disclosure

LendingTree is not a lender. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. Terms Apply. NMLS #1136.



As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 2.49% (2.49% APR) on a $20,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected). Terms Apply. NMLS #1136

Other Scores and Their Value

FICO® Score 9 is not as widely used as FICO® Score 8. The benefits of this score are that it doesn’t penalize you for paid collections and reduces the ding you get from unpaid medical collections. See our review for more information.

The FICO® NextGen score is used to assess credit risk, but only a small number of lenders use it due to its 150-950 scoring range and older model.

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