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Best of

Best Checking Accounts With No Overdraft Fees

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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If you’ve ever spent more money than you had in your checking account and got slammed with overdraft fees, you know how quickly they can drain your wallet. You might not even realize you’ve overdrawn your account and keep racking up additional charges before it hits you.

Tired of worrying about overdraft fees? We’ve combed our database to find seven banks that either don’t charge overdraft fees, provide a simple, no-charge method of overdraft protection, or decline transactions so you don’t overdraw in the first place.

Here are the best banks we can find with no overdraft fees:

Axos Bank Rewards Checking

Rewards Checking - 3 QualificationsThis rewards checking account from Axos Bank — formerly known as Bank of Internet USA — has no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees. Beyond that, the account grants up to 1.25% APY so long as you meet the following requirements:

  • Monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more earns 0.42%
  • Using your debit card 10 times per month (provided those transactions are at least $3 each) earns an additional 0.42%
  • Using the debit card 15 times per month earns yet another 0.42%

The account’s APY, combined with its lack of maintenance fees and required minimum monthly balance, makes it an attractive option for high-frequency users.

Learn More Secured

on Axos Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

nbkc bank Personal Account

Personal AccountBased in the Kansas City metro area, this bank offers customers nationwide online access to its Personal checking account. For a mere $5 opening balance, you get a checking account with complimentary online banking, a box of paper checks, bill pay, e-statements and more — and most importantly for this list, there’s absolutely zero overdraft fees.

While using any of the approximately 32,000 ATMs in the bank’s network is free, you will have to pay whatever ATMs outside of its network charge per use. But nbkc commits to reimbursing $12 of those fees every month, so that should take some of the sting out.

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on nbkc bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Simple’s Safe-to-Spend checking features

Simple Checking AccountLike Axos Bank, Simple’s checking account doesn’t charge for overdraft fees or returned item fees. There are no minimums, no monthly fees, and you get access to 40,000 fee-free ATMs.

Simple’s an online-only bank built with mobile in mind, meaning that while you can access most of its features from your computer, the bank recommends you conduct your business via its smartphone app.

Overall, Simple offers a different kind of banking experience, as it provides tools to help you manage your money. With its “Safe-to-Spend” program, Simple takes into account any upcoming bills or scheduled transfers you have, and does the math and tell you what you can afford to spend. You can also track your financial goals within its mobile app.

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on Simple’s secure website

Chime spending account

Checking AccountAnother online mobile bank, Chime doesn’t charge customers overdraft fees for a very simple reason — it doesn’t allow people to overdraw their accounts in the first place. Like some of the other banks on this list, Chime will decline a transaction that would plunge a customer’s account into a negative balance.

As with other online-only banks, you sacrifice the convenience of being able to stroll strolling into a local branch for the elimination of fees charged by traditional banks. The lone exception is a $2.50 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals or using an ATM not part of its 38,000 machine network.

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on Chime’s secure website

Member FDIC

Aspiration Spend and Save Account

Aspiration AccountIf you’re willing to take a risk on a non-traditional bank that charges zero fees, then look no further than the Aspiration Spend and Save account. Online-only bank Aspiration markets itself as a financial institution for the globally-conscious client, and as part of their ethos refuses to charge fees for anything — including overdrafts.

You do need to deposit an initial $10 to open the account, but once you’re set up the only fees you pay are the ones you voluntarily give to Aspiration, 10% of which are donated to charity. Even better, the account boasts a 2.00% APY and free access to every ATM in existence.

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on Aspiration’s secure website

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Interest Checking AccountThere is no overdraft fee when you have an Ally Interest Checking account, if you enroll in overdraft protection. You can enroll in overdraft protection by linking an Ally savings or money market account to your checking account, and funds will be moved from the linked account to the checking account in $100 increments.

If you chose not to enroll in overdraft protection, Ally charges a once-a-day overdraft fee of $25. That means if you have more than one overdraft item in a single day, the most you’ll be charged is $25 – you won’t get charged a fee every time an overdraft occurs. Of course, Ally will continue to charge you this $25 fee each day your account balance remains negative, so it’s in your best interest to rectify the overdraft as soon as possible.

On the plus side, there aren’t any maintenance fees, there’s no minimum to open an account, and there are no fees incurred when transferring money to a non-Ally bank account.

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Fidelity Cash Management Account

Cash Management AccountThe Fidelity Cash Management Account promises “all the features you need from a traditional checking account, without the bank fees.” Fidelity holds true to this promise with no overdraft fees, and opts to decline transactions that would put you in overdraft by default.

However if you enroll in the account’s free Cash Manager program, you can link a savings or brokerage account to your cash management account. Funds will automatically be transferred (up to $99,999.99 per day) to cover a pending transaction if you don’t have enough in your account, but there’s no option to open a line of credit (an overdraft option we’ll discuss later).

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on Fidelity’s secure website

Member FDIC

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What happens if you incur multiple overdraft fees in a day?

At many banks, overdraft fees aren’t always a simple one-time charge. If you aren’t paying attention, you could keep charging your debit card for multiple transactions before realizing you’ve been spending money you don’t have. Depending on the bank’s policy, each overdraft instance may incur its own fee, and there are varying limits on how many fees a customer can get hit with in a single day. Wells Fargo, for example, charges an overdraft fee of $35, with a cap of three charges per day, meaning a customer could be on the hook for up to $105 in fees in one day.

Avoid paying triple-figure fees by knowing when your checking account is running low or by taking swift action once you realize you’re in overdraft territory. The best way to do this is to sign up for account alerts with your bank. Many financial institutions will alert you via email or text (or both) if your account’s balance falls below a certain amount.

Remember, you may think you’re safe but have failed to take into account automatic payments set up for expenses such as utility bills, Netflix, etc. Make sure you keep more than you think you need in your checking account, if possible.

Why you might want to opt out of overdraft protection

Plenty of banks provide overdraft protection services to help provide support to customers who find themselves in an overdraft situation. These banks usually offer protection in one of the following ways:

  • Linking another account to your checking account. Some banks, including Axos and Ally on this list, offer an overdraft protection service where you link a savings or money market account to your checking account. If you make a transaction that would cause an overdraft, money from this backup account would transfer to your checking account to cover the cost.
  • Offering an overdraft line of credit. If you make a purchase that exceeds the amount of money in your account, the financial institution will cover the amount you owe and treat that sum as a loan, on which you’ll have to pay interest and (probably) a fee.

Of the two methods, linking your checking account to another account presents less risk. Taking an overdraft line of credit means paying interest, and if you can’t correct the overdraft in a timely matter, you could find yourself owing more than you originally bargained for, thanks to snowballing interest payments.

While overdraft protection allows you to make your purchases and provides a way to cover the difference, it often comes with a price. Banks can charge fees for transferring funds between linked accounts, for example, which you may want to avoid.

By opting out of overdraft protection, most banks will simply decline to process transactions that your account balance can’t cover. That’s great if you’re trying to buy a pair of sneakers and don’t want to get hit with fees, but if you need to make an emergency purchase, you could find yourself in trouble.

The bottom line

Overdraft fees are expensive and annoying. Buying an item that costs $5 and getting hit with a $27 fee is a pointless expense. Incurring bank fees like this means you’re essentially throwing money out of the window. If you’re prone to overdrawing your account, plug that leak by signing up with one of these seven no-overdraft-fee checking accounts.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

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Best of

The Best No-Penalty CD Rates

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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CDs, or certificates of deposit, work under an easy-to-understand premise: You agree to place your money with a bank or credit union for a set amount of time, during which it will earn interest. At the end of the period, you get your money back plus a nice chunk of interest earnings. But if you withdraw money from your CD before the term expires — or before the CD “matures,” in financial parlance — the institution will charge you a penalty fee for breaking the terms of your agreement.

Generally depositors understand that they can’t touch their funds while they’re in the CD account. But the accounts below are special CDs that let customers withdrawal money from a CD account with no penalty charge at whatever time they want. No-penalty CDs aren’t generally widespread, but we’ve selected the best of these accounts available nationwide, based on the following criteria:

  • An APY of at least 1.8%
  • No penalties for early withdrawal of funds
  • Available across the nation

The best no-penalty CD rates in March 2019

1. PurePoint Financial

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11-month2.15%$10,000
13-month2.60%$10,000
14-month2.25%$10,000

The online arm of Union Bank offers the best APY among the no-penalty CD accounts reviewed, which makes it a no-brainer — assuming you have the $10,000 needed for the minimum deposit. PurePoint’s sweet spot is the 13-month term no-penalty CD account, which offers an APY of 2.60% that trounces the 2.35% offered by its closest competitor in this space.

This no-penalty CD accounts come with the usual caveats — you can’t make any partial withdrawal of funds, and you have to wait seven days after your initial deposit before withdrawing. However, if you have the sizable chunk of change needed to open one of these accounts, you’ll earn some of the highest APY for your money.

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on PurePoint Financial’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
7-month2.25%
$500
11-month2.30%
$500
13-month2.35%
$500

Marcus by Goldman Sachs stakes a strong claim to offering the best no-penalty CDs around, requiring a mere $500 deposit for customers to start earning APYs well above 2%. As with almost every CD, the longer the term the higher the APY, which is why the 13-month CD earns 2.35% as opposed to the 7-month CD’s 2.25%.

Interested customers should be aware, however, that like other no-penalty CDs on this list, the accounts offered by this bank lock in your money for seven days after you deposit. You can’t open a 7-month no-penalty CD on Monday and take out your money on Wednesday (if you needed to for whatever reason).

In addition, these accounts don’t allow any partial withdrawals of the principal. If you deposited $1,000 in an account and want to withdrawal money before that CD matures, you won’t be hit with any penalties — but you have to take out all $1,000 and your account will then be closed.

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on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. My eBanc

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11-month2.30%$10,000

This Florida-based online savings bank may go by a somewhat generic name, but it’s a division of BAC Florida Bank, a financial institution with more than 45 years of history. The no-penalty CD offered here is called the Flex Time Deposit, and if customers have the $10,000 to open an account, they can earn an APY of 2.30%, which ranks among the best of the accounts on this list.

Where this account truly shines is that it allows for two partial withdrawals of your funds without having to close your CD account entirely (as long as the balance still remains at $10,000 or more). All of the other no-penalty CD accounts on this list require you to withdrawal all of the principal and any interest earned. The flexibility offered by My eBanc’s account, coupled with its competitive APY, make it one of the top choices for no-penalty CD accounts.

4. Ally Bank

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11 months1.80%Up to $5,000
11 months2.15%$5,000
11 months2.30%$25,000

Online-only bank Ally offers a single no-penalty CD account with an 11-month term that earns more APY depending on how much you deposit. Because it has a low minimum balance requirement, this account will attract consumers without a lot of money to spare who still want a no-penalty CD. Of course with modest minimum balances comes an APY to match — the 1.80% earned in this account’s bottom tier is among the lowest listed in this roundup.

Similar to all of the other products listed, this Ally no-penalty CD account makes you wait for the seventh day after the initial deposit to withdraw your funds, and the bank doesn’t allow for partial withdrawals. The bank also offers what it calls its 10 Day Best Rate Guarantee, promising that if depositors fund this CD within 10 days of opening it, Ally will make sure the account earns the highest rate available should the bank change its rate within that 10 day period. It’s by no means a game-changer, but a nice bonus to avoid feeling left out if you deposit a pile of money in your CD on Thursday, only to discover on Friday that Ally hiked its rates.

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. Chartway Credit Union

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
12-month share certificate2.20%
$500

This credit union may be based in Virginia Beach, Va., but you can potentially become a member, so long as they meet one of the following conditions:

  • You reside or go to school or a place of worship in one of the areas served by a local branch of the credit union. Currently, Chartway Credit Union operates branches in the states of Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
  • You have a family member who’s already a Chartway member
  • You or someone in your immediate family works at a company that utilizes Chartway’s financial services for its employees
  • You make a $10 donation to the We Promise Foundation, a charity founded by the credit union.

Once you’re a member, you can open a 12-month share certificate. Doing so requires a minimum deposit of $500, on which you’ll earn an APY of 2.20%. As with all the other no-penalty CD accounts listed, you can’t make a partial withdrawal of your funds — it’s all or nothing.

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on Chartway Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

6. CIT Bank

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
11-month 2.05%$1,000

If you have the $1,000 minimum deposit for this no-penalty CD account, CIT Bank will give you a rate of 2.05% APY on an 11-month term. While that’s not as much as the 2.30% earned with the comparable CD at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the deal offered by CIT could provide a decent alternative.

Still, despositers determined to save with CIT Bank may want to look at some of its non-CD products, particularly its Savings Builder savings account. Customers can earn 2.45% APY by opening the account with a $100 deposit and making an additional deposit of at least $100 every month. Alternatively, if you have $25,000 to park in a savings account, you can just deposit it in the account and reap the same APY.

LEARN MORE Secured

on CIT Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Honorable mention: AgFed

TermAPYMinimum balance to earn the APY
6 months1.80%
$1,000
12 months2.55%
$1,000
18 months2.65%
$1,000
24 months2.85%
$1,000
36 months2.95%
$1,000
48 months3.05%
$1,000
60 months3.15%
$1,000

AgFed offers a range of CDs whose estimated APY rates vary depending on term. Terms range from six to 60 months, and the minimum initial deposit is $1,000.

AgFed’s CDs do levy substantial early withdrawal penalties, but there’s a loophole: a single withdrawal can be made during the original term of the certificate without a penalty being imposed. Any additional withdrawals will, however, be subject to their penalties, which vary based on the term of the CD but sometimes mean forfeiting all of your interest earnings.

LEARN MORE Secured

on AgFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

Learn more: Is a no-penalty CD worth it?

According to Ken Tumin, our in-house savings expert and founder of LendingTree-owned DepositAccounts.com, no-penalty CDs aren’t a bad option since there isn’t really much risk to trying one out. Just aim to find the longest term no-penalty CD deal you can since the rates will generally be higher.

“When the bank has your money for longer, they’ll usually offer a higher interest rate — and that interest will have more time to compound,” Tumin says. “So if you open a no-penalty CD, you should go for the one with the longest term possible. The rates will likely still be higher, and after all, if you decide to take the money out early, it’s no problem.”

Also, look for no-penalty CDs that offer the benefit on full withdrawals. Some banks only allow penalty-free partial withdrawals, Tumin warns.

Building a CD ladder to avoid withdrawal fees

If you’re interested in using CDs while still maintaining access to your funds, there’s another approach you could consider: building a CD ladder.

It’s can be a complicated strategy, but in short, you split your deposit up into smaller chunks and open several CDs with various term lengths. When the CDs reach maturity, you can renew the account and lengthen the term or withdraw the money if you need to. This way, you can take advantage of higher interest rates while still avoiding early withdrawal fees.

For a step-by-step guide to building a CD ladder, check out our guide linked above. And for even more savings strategies and tactics, keep your eye on the blog. We’re always reviewing the latest financial products and accounts to help you find the best solutions for your money.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

TAGS:

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Best of

The Best Health Savings Accounts in 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

So, you need to choose a health savings account (HSA) to go along with your new health insurance plan. There are plenty of options out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The best savings accounts help you save money with high interest rates and low fees—your HSA should be no different. With a high-yielding HSA, you can cover your out-of-pocket medical expenses and boost your savings at the same time.

We’ve taken the work out of finding the best health savings accounts on the market. Using data from DepositAccounts.com (similar to MagnifyMoney, a LendingTree-owned company) we scoured more than 17,100 nationwide banks and credit unions to find the highest health savings account rates available. To ensure quality and availability, we excluded institutions with a DepositAccounts health rating below a B and credit unions with restrictive membership requirements.

Health savings account deposits at all of the institutions listed below are insured by the FDIC or NCUA.

The 10 best health savings accounts in 2019

Institution
APYMinimum balance to earn APY
Great Lakes Credit Union2.00%$100
Connexus Credit Union
2.00%$15,000
Evansville Teachers FCU1.86%$500
Interior FCU1.61%$25,000
Summit Credit Union1.15%$10,000
First Technology FCU1.00%$0.01
The Adirondack Trust Company1.00%$1
Lake Michigan Credit Union1.00%$5,000
Elements Financial1.00%$10,000
Matadors Community Credit Union0.75%$5,000

Great Lakes Credit Union: 2.00% APY, $100 minimum deposit

Great Lakes Credit Union offers the highest health savings account rate on balances from $100 to $2,000. Balances over $2,000 will still earn interest, but at a slightly lower rate (more comparable to rates lower on this list).

You will need to meet a few requirements in order to earn interest on a GLCU HSA. For one, you need to receive a monthly direct deposit of at least $500. You’ll also need to make at least 15 signature-based debit card purchases totaling at least $150. Finally, you must also enroll in eStatements and be active with GLCU’s online Bill Pay or Mobile Banking features.

The account does not charge a monthly fee.

Great Lakes Credit Union was founded in 1938 and now maintains 11 branches in Illinois; however, you can also take advantage of CO-OP Shared Branches and surcharge-free ATMs. To become a GLCU member, you’ll just need to open a Share Savings Account and fund it with at least $5.

Connexus Credit Union: 2.00% APY, $15,000 minimum deposit

Connexus Credit Union also offers a high health savings account rate, but you’ll need at least $15,000 in your account to earn at that rate. Still, you can earn at decent rates on all other balances larger than $100, with higher balances benefiting best. The account doesn’t require a minimum balance or charge a monthly fee. You can request an HSA debit card when you open your account for use at Connexus ATMs.

You can find Connexus branches and ATMs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and New Hampshire. Connexus is also part of the CO-OP Shared Branch network, which gives you access to more than 5,600 Shared Branches and more than 54,000 surcharge-free ATMs through both CO-OP and MoneyPass. To open an account with the credit union, you’ll need to become a Connexus Credit Union member.

Evansville Teachers FCU: 1.86% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Evansville Teachers FCU’s Health Savings Checking account earns at a great interest rate on all balances of $500 and over. Plus, there’s no maintenance fees. You’ll need at least $25 to open the account. You can also benefit from check writing abilities, debit card access and payroll deductions with an ETFCU HSA.

ETFCU also offers five HSA share certificates with term lengths ranging between one to five years. Each require $1,000 to open and earn at competitive interest rates. However, ETFCU doesn’t recommend you use HSA share certificates unless you’ve had an health savings account established for a while, since locking money in share certificates make it much harder to to dip into your funds.

You can find Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union locations in Indiana and Kentucky. The credit union is also a member of the Alliance One ATM network, which offers fee-free access to about 5,000 ATMs. ETFCU was started by several teachers in Evansville, Ind. in 1936 — but you don’t have to be a teacher to qualify for ETFCU membership, though.

Interior FCU: 1.61% APY, $25,000 minimum deposit

Interior Federal Credit Union’s health savings account earns its great interest rate on balances of $25,000 and over. All other balances earn at lower interest rates, with balances of $5,000 and over benefiting the most. The account doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit, nor does it charge a monthly fee.

The Interior FCU Health Savings Account includes an HSA Visa debit card, which you can use for your medical purchases and at over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide, including those at Walgreens, 7/11 and WaWa. Interior FCU has only two branches, one in Washington D.C. and one in Reston, Va. However, you’ll also have access to 5,600 Shared Branches/Service Centers in the country through the CO-OP network.

Interior FCU has been around since 1935. To open an HSA with the credit union, you’ll first need to be a member with a Primary Savings account. You can be eligible for an Interior FCU membership in a number of ways, often depending on your place of employment.

Summit Credit Union: 1.15% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

You’ll need at least $10,000 in your Summit Credit Union Health Savings Account to earn at the most competitive health savings account rate. All other balances still earn interest, but the lower the balance, the lower the rate. Luckily, there’s no minimum deposit requirement, nor is there a pesky monthly fee. The Summit HSA comes with a free debit card, which you can use at Summit, Cirrus and Nyce ATMs.

Summit Credit Union was founded as CUNA Credit Union in 1935 in Madison, Wis.; you can find the credit unions branches throughout southern Wisconsin. Notably, unlike many credit unions, Summit Credit Union has an open charter, which opens up membership to anyone. You’ll need to open Primary Savings account with $5 to become a member.

First Technology FCU: 1.00% APY, $0.01 minimum deposit

First Technology Federal Credit Union’s HSA Checking account is easy to open and own. In addition to its decent rate, it doesn’t charge setup or monthly service fees on its health savings account, nor are there any minimum balance requirements. You just need at least $0.01 to open the account and to start earning interest. To open this HSA, you can call First Technology FCU at 855-855-8805.

You’ll receive a free HSA debit card with the account, which you can use at over 30,000 CO-OP ATMs. You can also visit over 40 First Tech branches and access more than 5,000 CO-OP Shared Branch locations.

You can qualify for a First Tech membership depending on your employment or residence. First Technology Credit Union was founded in 1952 by members of Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix. You can find First Tech branches, known as Experience Centers, in California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Texas and Washington.

The Adirondack Trust Company: 1.00% APY, $1 minimum deposit

To get started with an Adirondack Trust Company Health Savings Account, you’ll only need to deposit $1 — after that, there’s no other minimum balance requirement to earn interest. To access your health savings account, you can take advantage of free unlimited check writing and free ATM access with your ATC HSA Visa debit card. Getting paper statements on this account will cost $4, while using online banking will still cost you $2.

Founded in 1901 in upstate Saratoga Springs, N.Y., ATC maintains 13 branches along the Adirondack Mountains area and offers access to two Amsure branches in Saratoga Springs and Albany, N.Y.

Lake Michigan Credit Union: 1.00% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit

While you’ll only need $5 to open a Lake Michigan Credit Union, you’ll need at least $5,000 in your health savings account to earn at the listed APY; balances below $5,000 will have a much lower rate. The account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee and comes with a free debit card. You can use this debit card to pay for your medical costs and withdraw cash at any LMCU branch. You can also access your LMCU HSA funds through unlimited check writing and online banking.

Founded in 1933, Lake Michigan Credit Union offers open and free membership. As you might expect, you can find LMCU branches in Michigan, but there are also several branches in Florida. Plus, in addition to LMCU ATMs, you can also take advantage of over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs.

Elements Financial: 1.00% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit

You can benefit the most from Elements Financial’s health savings account if you have $10,000 available to set aside for future medical expenses; lower balances (of $100 and over) still earn interest, but at lower rates. The account does charge a $4 monthly fee, but you can avoid it by averaging a daily balance of at least $2,500.

The account includes a free Visa debit card, which you can use for purchases and to access your funds with over 78,000 ATMs worldwide through the Allpoint, CO-OP and Alliance One networks. In addition to these ATMs, you can visit Elements Financial branches and over 5,000 CO-OP Shared Branches in all 50 states and 50 countries.

Elements Financial is a credit union that requires membership before you open an account. Founded in 1930, it currently serves employees from over 135 companies in the U.S. If your company is an Elements partner, you can open a checking or savings account or complete an application for a loan or credit card to start the application process.

Matadors Community Credit Union: 0.75% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit

The health savings account from Matadors Community Credit Union requires a minimum opening deposit of $100, but you’ll need at least $5,000 to earn the highest rate tier on the account — you’ll still earn interest with balances of $100 and over, just at lower rates. There’s also a $3 monthly fee on the account.

In addition to a free MasterMoney Debit Card, you’ll also have use of unlimited check writing abilities to use your HSA money. You can use your debit card to make your medical purchases, and at Matadors Community CU and 30,000 fee-free CO-OP ATMs. You can also visit two Matador branches in Chatsworth and Northridge, Calif. or over 5,000 CO-OP Shared Branches. MCCU offers membership to employees of partner employer groups in the San Fernando, Simi and Santa Clarita Valleys of California.

How to use your HSA wisely

Health savings accounts are used only for medical expenses, and if you shop around you can earn interest on your balances with the right account. But did you know HSAs offer tax benefits, too? You fund an HSA with pre-tax dollars, which lowers your taxable income in the year you make the deposit. As long as you spend HSA funds on approved medical expenses, it doesn’t get taxed. If you do use your HSA funds for something other than approved medical expenses, you may get hit with a 20% tax penalty.

This HSA tax advantage can come in especially handy in retirement. Funding an HSA today reduces your tax burden come tax time. If you wait until retirement to make those withdrawals, you can turn your HSA into a significant retirement contribution. Not only has the balance been earning interest for years, but now you can use that money for medical expenses, which tend to pile up in retirement. Plus, after you reach age 65, you can use your HSA for non-medical expenses without triggering the 20% tax penalty, although the withdrawals are taxed like normal income, similarly to IRA withdrawals. This also applies in the event you become disabled or die.

HSA requirements

You can generally open a health savings account if you’re already covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). This works well since the HSA funds can help you cover the higher out-of-pocket costs that usually come with having an HDHP. To qualify for an HSA, you also can’t have other health coverage, be enrolled in Medicare or be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

HSA contribution limits

As set by the IRS, the amount you can contribute to your health savings account will depend on your HDHP coverage, your age, the date you become eligible and the date you stop being eligible. For 2018, if you had self-only HDHP coverage, you can contribute up to $3,450 to your HSA. If you had family HDHP coverage, you can contribute up to $6,900.

For 2019, the contribution limits for self-only HDHP coverage is $3,500 and $7,000 for family HDHP coverage.

For tax year 2018, you can make HSA contributions until April 15, 2019. Even if you weren’t eligible in 2018, you can still make HSA contributions until that date for the months you were eligible. If you have an employer contributing to your HSA, they can do so from Jan. 1, 2019 to April 15, 2019. They just have to notify you and the account trustee that the contributions are allocated for 2018.

HSA vs. FSA

A flexible spending account, or FSA, is another type of supplemental medical spending account. Like a health savings account, FSAs are also funded with pre-tax dollars to use towards qualified medical expenses like prescriptions and copayments. FSAs are employer-sponsored, however, and are usually funded through voluntary salary contributions, but your employer can also contribute. You cannot open an FSA if you’re self-employed. No taxes are deducted from your contribution. For 2018, you cannot contribute more than $2,650 to an FSA.

What further sets FSAs apart from HSAs is that you must use the money in an FSA by Dec. 31 of the contribution year, unless you’re granted a grace period or a $500 carryover option by your employer. A big drawback to FSAs is that if you don’t use the money in the account on time, your employer gets those funds. This is also true if you were to leave the company. To the opposite, the funds in an HSA are yours to keep even if you leave your company.

Health savings account vs. online savings accounts

While health savings accounts help you designate funds toward medical expenses, most HSAs don’t earn at the competitive rates we’ve come to see from online savings accounts. A $10,000 deposit into a health savings earning 2% APY would yield $200 after a year of annual compounding interest. This doesn’t fall too far behind some of the best online savings accounts. A savings account earning 2.45% would yield only $45 more than the HSA after a year.

Still, you’ll find plenty more high-yield options to really boost your savings by looking at online savings accounts, and not just for medical expenses. Plus, you typically don’t have to meet any requirements to open a savings account, like having an HDHP or meeting credit union membership qualifications.

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Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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