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Updated on Wednesday, September 1, 2021
A savings account is a key component of everyone’s financial life, but not everyone needs the same thing from their savings account. We’ve outlined the best savings accounts in several categories to help you find the right one for your preferences, whether that’s earning a high interest rate, dodging fees or getting great customer service.
To identify the best savings accounts, we looked for accounts with high yields, few fees and low to no balance minimums. We regularly check rates and accounts at over 200 banks and credit unions to stay on top of the latest offerings. Read on for details on the best savings accounts.
The Best Savings Accounts in September 2021
Best for high APY
Best for mobile app
Best bonus offer
Best for combined savings and checking
Best for avoiding fees
Best for customer service
Best for branch access
Best for transferring funds
Best credit union savings account
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Best savings accounts
Best overall savings account: Axos Bank High Yield Savings — 0.61% APY
Launched in 2000 as Bank of Internet USA, Axos Bank is an online-only bank that offers a standout savings account. Axos Bank’s High Yield Savings account earns a competitive 0.61% APY on balances below $25,000, and it charges no monthly maintenance fees. You can also get a free ATM card upon request — a rare perk for a savings account — though typical savings account withdrawal limits do apply.
Although you’ll need to make a minimum deposit of $250 to open an account, there are no monthly minimum balance requirements beyond that. You can easily manage your account online or through the Axos Bank mobile app. Customer service is available 24/7 through a virtual bank teller or by phone.
How we picked our best overall savings account: Our selection for the best overall savings account had to meet all of the requirements as the other accounts that made our list: having a consistently competitive APY; having minimal balance and deposit requirements as well as account fees; and being FDIC-insured. However, to rank as best overall, the account also had to meet the following requirements:
- An APY that exceeds the current national average APY for savings accounts per the FDIC
- No conditions necessary to meet advertised APY
- No monthly fee charges
- A mobile app
- Offers online banking
- Provides 24/7 customer support service
- Also an option for a checking account at the bank
Best for high APY: GO2Bank Vault
With GO2Bank, you set up a vault that serves as your savings account. This account earns 1.00% APY on up to a combined $5,000 in all vaults. Interest is paid quarterly on this account. To get started, you’ll need to open a GO2Bank account. There is a $5 monthly fee that can be waived if you have a payroll or government benefits direct deposit in the previous monthly statement period. Otherwise, there is no fee for up to five vaults, which you can use for various savings goals.
GO2Bank is backed by Green Dot and is a mobile banking app so there aren’t any branch locations if you want to bank in-person. Still, the bank provides several features such as overdraft protection, a debit card and live customer support 24/7.
Best for mobile app: Chime Savings Account — 0.50% APY
As of this writing, the Chime Mobile Banking app has a 4.7 average star rating between the more than 500,000 reviews in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The app offers several stellar banking features, including the ability to connect your external accounts to facilitate easy transfers and provide a holistic financial picture in one place. The Chime app also sends transaction and balance alerts so you can stay on top of your account. If you notice any unauthorized spending, you can block transactions and turn off international transactions on your card right from the app. The Chime app also has mobile check deposit capabilities, and it allows you to send paper checks in the app as well.
The Chime Savings Account itself is a solid choice with 0.50% APY on all balances, no minimum balance requirement, no maximums on interest earned and no fees. You’ll need a Chime Spending Account to add on the savings account, a relationship that allows easy automatic savings transfers. The Chime Savings Account also saves your change on purchases with its Round Ups feature, and it stashes away a percentage of each paycheck with the Save When I Get Paid feature.
Chime is a fintech company, not a bank itself, so its banking services and FDIC insurance are provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
Best bonus offer: Regions Bank LifeGreen Savings — 0.01% APY
Unlike most bonus offers that are one-and-done, the Regions LifeGreen Savings account earns an annual 1% saving bonus up to $100. All you need to do to earn it is receive an automatic transfer of funds of at least $10 from a Regions checking account to your LifeGreen Savings account in at least 10 of the calendar months in the year before your account opening anniversary. The 1% bonus is based on your average monthly balance for each year.
Even better, the LifeGreen Savings account doesn’t charge a monthly fee and doesn’t have any minimum balance requirements. Regions Bank has more than 1,500 bank offices across the U.S. and is accessible online and on mobile. It’s also compatible with several mobile wallets and Zelle.
Best for combined savings and checking: Varo Savings Account — 3.00% APY
Varo makes it easy to open its checking and savings accounts in one go. You simply need to download the app, go through the Varo Bank Account application and add your Varo Savings Account. Neither account has a minimum deposit requirement, and there’s no monthly fee.
The Savings Account requires just $0.01 to start earning interest. The standard rate is 3.00% APY. However, you can boost your rate to an industry-leading 3.00% by making at least five qualifying purchases with your Varo Bank Visa Debit Card and receiving qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $1,000 each month.
Thanks to the seamless connection between the two Varo accounts, you can use Varo’s automatic savings tools for more efficient savings. Save Your Pay automatically transfers a percentage (of your choosing) of your Varo Bank Account direct deposits to your Savings Account. Another offering, Save Your Change, rounds up every transaction to the nearest dollar and then transfers that amount to your savings account.
Best for avoiding fees: Discover Online Savings Account — 0.40% APY
With Discover Bank, you can avoid fees on items like monthly maintenance, checks, incoming wire transfers, returned deposited items, excessive withdrawals and insufficient funds. The only service charge you’ll run into is a $30 fee to send a wire transfer.
No fees means your Discover Online Savings Account gets to earn 0.40% APY undisturbed. There’s no minimum balance required to earn interest, nor is there a minimum deposit needed to open the account. You can access your accounts solely online, including through the mobile app available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile app also offers check deposit.
Known for its credit cards, Discover’s first card was used in 1985. That same year, Discover acquired Greenwood Trust Company, which officially changed its name to Discover Bank in 2000.
Best for customer service: Ally Bank — 0.50% APY
Ally Bank offers 24/7 phone customer service, a great perk for banking customers everywhere. The bank even provides a wait-time estimate on its website. In addition to constant phone support, you can reach bank representatives over secure messages within your account, through mail and via online live chat.
Making the bank’s accessible customer service even better is the fact that its Online Savings Account is a constant top competitor, currently earning 0.50% on all balances. There’s no monthly fee for the account, and Ally Bank is transparent about the fees it does charge, which include outgoing domestic wires, paid overdraft items and excessive transactions.
Tracing its history back to 1919 as the financing division of GM, Ally Bank offers an extensive and helpful mobile app that allows you to make deposits, pay your bills, transfer money, find in-network ATMs and view your balances and transactions. You can download the app on various platforms including Android, iOS and Windows.
Best for branch access: Chase Savings — 0.01% APY
Of the big traditional brick-and-mortar banks, Chase Bank has the widest reach, with branches and ATMs in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Chase accounts are easily accessible online and through the bank’s mobile app.
The Chase Savings account charges a $5 monthly fee, although you can waive it in a few ways — this includes keeping a $300 minimum daily balance, receiving automatic transfers of at least $25 from a Chase checking account or linking your account to a qualifying Chase checking account. There’s also a $5 fee for any transactions made from the savings account beyond the six-transaction limit per statement cycle. All balances earn interest, although at an unimpressive 0.01% APY.
Best for transferring funds: Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account — 0.50% APY
Marcus by Goldman Sachs, an online-only banking option, allows customers to make free electronic Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers in and out of the account. It also has one of the most generous policies on amount limits: ACH withdrawals max out at $125,000, and there’s no limit for deposits (as long as you cap your account balance at $1 million). You can even call the bank if you want to make withdrawals above these limits. Wire transfers to and from the account are also free.
The Online Savings Account is free to own and earns a 0.50% APY on all balances. You can open the account with any amount, and don’t have to worry about maintaining a minimum balance either.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA. Marcus is accessible online and on its mobile app, which is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store (although some features are available for iOS devices only).
Best credit union savings account: Blue Federal Credit Union Sky High Savings — 0.35% APY
The Blue Federal Sky High Savings earns its 0.35% APY on all balances. There’s no minimum or maximum balance requirement to own the account, nor is there a monthly fee.
Blue Federal Credit Union is accessible in person, through its 24/7 call center, online and on mobile. The credit union formed in 2016 as a result of a merger between a Wyoming credit union and a Colorado-based credit union. As a result, Blue Federal Credit Union has locations in Colorado and Wyoming, and thousands more CO-OP Shared Branches around the country.
Membership eligibility is based on family or employer connections. However, even without those ins, you can join through a donation to the Blue Foundation, which the credit union will fund for you.
To find the best savings accounts, MagnifyMoney looks at over 200 financial institutions each week, from small community banks and credit unions to traditional brick-and-mortar banks to new online banks. Specifically, we consider the following factors when making our selections:
- Savings account annual percentage yield (APY): We heavily weighted the APYs offered by each bank in terms of both magnitude and consistency. Higher savings account interest rates were prioritized over lower rates. Due to the variable rates on savings accounts, we also gave additional consideration to banks that were known to maintain a competitive APY over longer periods of time.
- Minimum deposit and balance requirements: To ensure accessibility to all customers, we focused on banks that welcome deposits of all sizes, where the ideal banks in this category have minimum balance and deposit requirements of $0.
- Bank account fees: Unnecessary fees can eat into your long-term savings in a major way. As such, we gave priority to banks that offer low or no fees, including account maintenance fees, service charges and other surcharges. If accounts had the same APY and minimum requirements, we went with the account with lower fees.
- FDIC-insured: It’s crucial for your deposit accounts to be protected by FDIC insurance in the case your financial institution were to fail. As such, we only included FDIC-insured savings accounts on our list.
Savings account FAQ
A savings account is a type of deposit account where you can stash money for any length of time, long or short. Banks and credit unions reward you with an attractive return on your savings balance — thanks to the magic of compound interest, your savings can grow steadily over time. Keep in mind that unlike checking accounts, savings accounts aren’t designed to handle frequent transactions. Due to the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, you are (mostly) limited to six savings account transactions — deposits, withdrawals or transfers — per month.
While savings accounts give customers a safe place to stash their money, they serve a different purpose for financial institutions. Banks and credit unions use their customers’ deposits to fund loans and other products. Banks charge borrowers interest on loans, which funds in part the interest you earn on your savings deposits. So when you open and fund a savings account, you’re helping your bank fund its business.
The money you place into a savings account at a bank is generally protected by FDIC insurance, up to the legal limit of $250,000. This limit applies per person, per bank, per ownership category.
For example, you would receive full FDIC coverage of a $250,000 deposit made to a savings account at ABC Bank, and you would get full FDIC insurance on $250,000 deposited in a savings account with XYZ bank.
If ABC Bank went under, you wouldn’t lose a dime of your deposit. The FDIC would either set you up with a new account at another FDIC-insured bank for the same amount as the closed account, or send you a check for the balance. However, if you had a $50,000 checking balance and a $250,000 savings account balance with ABC Bank, you would only receive $250,000 in total FDIC insurance for your accounts — with a potential loss of $50,000.
Credit unions rely on National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insurance. The NCUA is an independent agency that maintains the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which funds deposit insurance payouts. All federal credit unions are insured by the NCUA. State-chartered credit unions are regulated by the state supervisory authority where the credit union’s main office is located, but they may also have NCUA insurance.
Money kept in a savings account is best left alone unless you absolutely need it. To maximize the return on your savings, stash most of your liquid cash flow in a savings account, and only keep the funds you need for day-to-day spending in your checking account. That allows your money to grow more efficiently — more money in a savings account means more interest earned and compounded.
How easy it is to move money in and out of your savings account depends on your financial institution. Typically, a transfer between deposit accounts goes through Automated Clearing House (ACH). ACH transfers should only take one to two business days to clear, often clearing immediately or within one business day. Some institutions, however, may take the full two days, depending on their own rules and regulations.
Keep in mind that savings accounts have a limit of up to six certain transfers or withdrawals per month, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, or Reg D. This limit only applies to “convenient” transfers and withdrawals made by “preauthorized, automatic, telephonic agreement, order or instruction, or by check, debit card or similar order made by the depositor and payable to third parties.” Less convenient transactions are exempt from this regulation, including withdrawals or transfers made in person at the bank or ATM, by mail or over the phone.
Making more than six transactions per cycle will often result in an excessive transaction fee depending on the financial institution. Exceeding the limit several times can lead to the bank closing your account for good.
It’s safe to say that everyone should have a savings account. If your money’s going to sit in a bank account, it might as well earn interest while it’s there. And if you’re going to earn interest, it’s surely best to find an account that earns the most interest possible — namely a high-yield savings account.
Even if you’re not interested in chasing the highest possible interest rate, you should still have a savings account to keep your money safe. Some people don’t trust banks and stash cash under their mattresses. But what happens if your house burns down or there’s a break-in? Stolen or lost funds are gone for good. Meanwhile, money in a savings account is kept safe by the FDIC, which even offers bank skeptics peace of mind as it ensures you’ll get your money back no matter what.
If you’re not sure which account to choose, consider your savings priorities first. If you’re trying to reach a savings goal, a high-yield savings account will help you reach your goal faster than a lower-rate account.
Perhaps you want an account where you don’t have to worry about fees. There are several fee-free savings accounts and accounts that don’t charge for excessive withdrawals that would be perfect for your needs.
Generally, though, these two features should be your top priorities when applying for a savings account. A high-yield savings account grows your money more efficiently, and minimizing fees helps you keep it.
If you already have a savings account but want to switch to another bank or institution you need to close your previous account. Usually the process just requires contacting your bank and filling our the needed paperwork.
If you’re looking at interest rates, there’s not much difference between the average savings accounts offered by banks and credit unions. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find competitive rates at banks or credit unions — it simply means you’ll need to shop around.
The same goes with fees. A 2018 MagnifyMoney survey of 57 rewards checking accounts from banks and credit unions indicated that credit unions tend to charge slightly higher fees than their traditional bank counterparts. However, credit unions are nonprofits, and tend to charge fairer fees than big banks do.
For many people, the choice of bank or credit union is a matter of personal preference. When you join a credit union, it means that you own a piece of the institution along with its other members. With a credit union, there’s more transparency about how your deposits are being used — many people prefer to know that they are funding loans and helping other members, as opposed to paying big executive paychecks.
When it comes to physical access, banks usually have credit unions beat. Big banks have the money to spread their branches throughout the country, while credit unions tend to serve specific communities and locations. Still, credit unions very often partner with other credit unions and ATM networks to provide their members with widespread ATM access. Note that the CO-OP Financial Services credit union service organization has the second largest branch network in the United States.
A high-yield savings account is an easy way to boost your savings without any extra effort on your part. Let’s say you have $5,000 in a 0.01% APY savings account, which is a typical rate from traditional, big banks. Assuming you don’t make any additional contributions, in a year, you’d earn a whopping 50 cents in interest. That’s a pretty poor rate.
Switching that $5,000 deposit over to a high-yield savings account that earns 0.65% APY would yield $32 and change in interest annually — that’s definitely a sight better than 50 cents. Additional recurring deposits, perhaps monthly, would increase your savings even more. Setting up automatic recurring deposits is an easy way to turbocharge your savings.
Many deposit accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee, with the exception of online accounts, which seldom charge a monthly fee. The exact fee amount of a monthly fee depends on the bank and the specific account, but they can range anywhere from $5 to $15 a month. The good news is that there’s almost always a way to waive the fee. Typically, this means maintaining a minimum monthly balance or making a certain number of transactions per month.
Banks also often charge for returned deposits, overdrafts, excessive transactions, expedited delivery or transfers, incoming and outgoing wire transfers and paper statements. But if you avoid these items, you’ll skip the fees.
Many of the best savings accounts are available online. By operating only over the internet, banks are able to save on the cost of owning and maintaining physical branches. Banks pass those savings onto their customers in the form of the high rates you see above.
But just because they’re online doesn’t mean they’re any less secure than a well-known bricks-and-mortar bank. Reputable online banks offer FDIC insurance on your balances up to the legal limit. If you’re unsure, you can use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to check a bank’s insurance status.
As for online security, most banks employ the same security features as the big banks, if not more. This includes network and browser encryption, firewalls, anti-virus scanning and anti-malware protection. Banks may also offer additional safety features like two-step authentication, automatic logout, fingerprint identification and proactive account monitoring. You can always check a bank’s exact safety features on its website, which applies to both online-only and brick-and-mortar banks.
You sure can. If you have a lot of cash on hand, opening multiple savings accounts can allow you to maximize your FDIC insurance. Think of the scenario mentioned above: Keep $250,000 in an ABC Bank savings account and $250,000 in an XYZ savings account. Dropping the total $500,000 in a single ABC Bank savings account would leave $250,000 uninsured.
Opening more than one savings account may also help you keep track of separate savings goals. For example, you can use one savings account to house your emergency fund, which you never touch except for in dire circumstances. Keeping your emergency fund separate from your other accounts may make it easier for you to avoid dipping into it.
If you do have more than one savings account, just make sure they all earn at competitive rates.
Unlike certificates of deposit, savings accounts have variable rates. This means that the bank can decrease or increase their rate at any point, often without notice. However, you can typically expect rate changes to happen on or right after the start of a month.
Deposit account rates often track the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve. The federal funds rate establishes the rate banks and other financial institutions charge each other for lending. So when the federal funds rate is cut, banks tend to cut their own rates in response. This includes not only deposit rates, but loan rates as well. Conversely, banks boost their interest rates when the Fed raises the federal funds rate.
Keep an eye on the Federal Reserve’s regular meetings to get a better sense of where the federal funds rate — and therefore your deposit rates — are headed.
If you earn $10 or more in interest in a year, then yes, your savings interest is taxable. Your bank or financial institution will send you a 1099-INT form documenting the interest you’ve earned. Using that form, you include your interest earnings with your annual tax filing. The bank will also send a copy of your 1099-INT form to the IRS.
Even if you don’t receive a 1099 from your bank, you’ll still need to report interest earned on your tax return. Plus, if you earned more than $1,500 in interest in a year, you’ll need to list out the sources of all that interest income on Schedule B of the 1040 Form.
Your earned interest is taxed according to your marginal tax bracket. If you earned $50 in interest and you’re in the 22% tax bracket, you’ll pay $12 in taxes on that interest earned.
Having a savings account is a crucial part of your financial life, but there are other types of deposit accounts that you can (and perhaps should) fit in, such as:
- Certificates of deposit: A certificate of deposit (CD) is a time deposit. Unlike savings accounts, which have no expiration date, CDs operate according to defined terms. Typically, CD terms range between three and 60 months, although some institutions offer terms beyond these parameters. Once you make your initial deposit, you have to wait for the term to expire — or mature — to access your funds and interest earnings.CDs are a solid savings alternative for those who have already maxed out their other savings accounts. They’re also good for longer-term savings goals. Opening a longer CD lets you lock in a high rate for the length of the term and not have to deal with the rate fluctuations that come with regular savings accounts.CDs often require a minimum deposit to open, often ranging between $500 and $10,000 — any deposits larger than that are often considered jumbo CDs. However, there typically aren’t monthly fees to worry about with a CD. That being said, withdrawing money from a CD before maturity will result in an early withdrawal penalty. Some banks may offer no-penalty CDs, which tend to have shorter terms, that allow you to avoid the penalty.
- Money market accounts: A money market account more closely resembles a savings account. It earns interest without an expiration date and limits your outgoing transactions to six per cycle. However, money market accounts can also include some checking account features like a debit card and the ability to write checks. This makes them a good alternative if you plan to dip into the account a bit more regularly, rather than using it only for emergencies.Money market accounts tend to earn at higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. However, they also tend to require higher balances to open and then earn interest. Money markets often charge monthly fees, as well, even when they’re online.
- Checking accounts: Checking and savings accounts are the bread and butter of your financial life. While savings accounts are meant for stashing your money away, checking accounts are designed to help you move through the world, making payments, sending transfers, getting cash and more.That doesn’t mean that your checking account can’t earn interest, too, however. Maximize your savings by opening a high-yield checking account to match your high-yield savings account. Checking accounts don’t earn at rates as high as savings accounts, but that way, all your money in all your accounts can grow at the same time. For more efficiency, consider keeping the majority of your funds in your savings account for better growth — then you can transfer funds over to your checking account as needed.