Updated January 16, 2020
There are no excuses for sticking with a low-rate savings account these days. Online savings accounts provide consumers with interest rates that are way above those offered by conventional banks. The best online savings accounts can easily earn you an APY of 1.70% or greater, while the average rate offered by a traditional brick-and-mortar bank remains at a paltry 0.27%.
If you’re still skeptical about switching to an online bank, consider the facts. Your funds are just as safe stashed with an FDIC-insured online bank as they would be with the bank branch on Main Street, and you’re likely to get better technical support with an online-only bank website and app. Many offer round-the-clock customer support and online chat features that make it easy to resolve issues without needing to visit a branch in person. Along with higher rates, you may end up saving on the cost of the account. With lower overhead costs, online banks typically charge lower fees.
Every month we review and compile the best savings account offers from online banks. Our ranking factors in features such as a higher-than-average interest rate, no minimum balance requirement, and superior ATM access.
1. High Rate: Capital One – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance
A consistent rate leader for its deposit accounts, Capital One now offers its 360 Performance Savings. With a 1.70% 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.
2. High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance, (and ATM access)
Synchrony Bank pays a healthy 1.70% 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.
3. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (and no fees)
Our sponsored advertiser, American Express National Bank, offers a Personal Savings account, which earns a 1.70% variable Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 12/11/2019. 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.
4. High Rate: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (but no ATM access)
Our advertiser Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the consumer bank of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, offers a 1.70% APY 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 1.70% 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.
5. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance
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 1.70% 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. Favorite Online Package: Ally Bank – 1.60% APY, no minimum balance and you can get a free checking account
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 1.60%. Although Ally has dropped its rate significantly, 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 and eligible for the 1% cash back offer). 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.
7. High Rate: HSBC Direct – 2.00% APY, $1 minimum to open, no minimum balance to earn APY
HSBC Direct is the online division of financial giant, HSBC Bank. Based on the amount of assets HSBC Bank has acquired to date, it is the 14th largest bank in the U.S. While HSBC Direct may sound like a new player to the online banking game, this division was actually around prior to the 2008 financial crisis and offered extremely competitive rates. After the financial crisis, the bank renamed the online division to HSBC Advance and slowly started to decrease its online savings account rates, much like other online banks were doing around that time.
Fortunately, HSBC has decided to reenter the online banking space. Since the initial launch in July of 2018, the bank has consistently increased its HSBC Direct Savings Account rate from 1.70% APY to 2.00% APY. You only need $1 to open the account and the APY will be applied to any balance below $2 million. You may fund the account via ACH transfer and the account can be opened online. You will have to deposit new money to the account, which means that you cannot be a member of the HSBC Group in the United States. The account doesn’t have a monthly maintenance fee and all deposits are FDIC insured.
8. High Rate: Vio Bank – 1.95% APY, $100 to open
Vio Bank is the online division of MidFirst Bank, a national private financial institution with over $16 billion in assets. Vio Bank was recently created and is not yet as established as Marcus, Barclays, American Express, Synchrony, and Ally Bank. However, this online bank launched its High Yield Online Savings account with a strong APY (at the time of its launch) and has been consistently competitive since it launched. It’s currently offering an outstanding 1.95% APY on all balances. You only need $100 to open the account. You can fund the account via ACH.
There are a few limitations to keep in mind: incoming ACHs take anywhere between two to five business days to post and the online bank may place a hold your ACH for two or three business days. When you’re ready to transfer funds out of the account, you’ll be limited to $5,000 per outgoing ACH. You’ll also be limited to transferring an aggregate monthly total of $20,000 via outgoing ACHs. As is with every other savings account, you’ll also be limited to making six withdrawals per monthly statement cycle. The good news (aside from the high APY) is that Vio Bank doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee. Vio Bank also has a mobile banking app where you can conveniently manage your accounts on-the-go. Also, its website is mobile friendly so it should be fairly easy to do your online banking from a smart phone, as well. We think this online bank is very promising and hope it continues to offer one of the best savings account rates in the nation.
9. High Rates on two savings accounts: Customers Bank – 1.95% or 1.95% APY, $5,000 or $25,000 to open depending on account
Customers Bank was established in 1997 and has grown to be known as a “super-community bank” in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and New England. The bank has over $9 billion in assets, making it a mid-sized bank. Currently, Customers Bank is offering two outstanding rates on two different accounts. Its Digital Savings Account requires a minimum deposit and balance of $5,000 to earn a high rate of 1.95%. This account doesn’t have any monthly fees. You can open this account here.
If you have $25,000 to deposit, the High-Yield Savings Account is a better fit for you. If you can deposit and maintain a minimum of $25,000 into the account, this bank will reward you with a 1.95% APY. You’ll have to maintain this balance to continue earning the high rate. You must fund the account within 30 days of receiving application approval. This account doesn’t come with any monthly fees.
A few items to be aware of: these accounts don’t come with checks or a debit card. Customers Bank does have ACH transfer limitations of $5,000 per day and $50,000 per statement cycle. You can easily open these accounts online and manage the account via Customer Bank’s website or mobile banking app. Deposits are FDIC-insured.
10. High Rate: CIBC Bank USA – 1.85% APY, $1,000 to open
CIBC Bank USA is the U.S. division of a Canadian based bank. This division was established in 1991 and has since acquired over $27 billion in assets. Currently, CIBC Bank USA is offering an online-only savings account with a competitive APY of 1.85%. You’ll only need $1,000 to open the account. While there isn’t a monthly maintenance fee, you may be charged $10 if you make more than six transactions per statement cycle. CBIC Bank USA does have a mobile banking app, but make sure that you download the app for the U.S., not Canada.
11. High Rate: Citizens Access – 1.85% APY, $5,000 minimum balance amount
Citizens Access is the online division of Citizens Bank. This division was recently created to provide the best savings rates to consumers. While the online division is brand new, the bank its backed by isn’t. Citizens Bank has been around for a while and has grown to have over $122 billion in assets. While you need to deposit and maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 to earn the 1.85% APY, you’ll be funding an account that comes with no fees. If your balance happens to fall below $5,000, the APY will drop to 0.25%. One downside to this online-only bank is that they don’t currently have a mobile banking app. This means that you’ll have to do all of your banking through their website. Luckily, their website is mobile-friendly.
12. High Rate: Betterment – 1.83% APY, $10 minimum to open
Betterment is an investment company and one of the best robo-advisors. Since its creation, the mission of this company has always been to empower its customers to make the most of their money. With this mission in mind, the online brokerage decided to offer a high-yield savings account with an outstanding rate. While this account is not like your typical online savings account, it does come up with an outstanding rate – especially if you take advantage of the promotional rate. How is it different from other savings accounts? For one, Betterment is not a bank and is not FDIC insured. Fortunately, the company has partnered with a number of banks to offer FDIC insurance to accountholders. Essentially, your funds are deposited with the partner banks and will be insured up to $250,000 at each partner bank. One big benefit that Betterment is currently offering is the ability to opt out of depositing your money at a specific bank.
If you’re comfortable with the way this account is structured, you’ll be rewarded with a 1.83% APY. You only need $10 to open the account and there isn’t a minimum balance amount to earn the APY. This account doesn’t come with any maintenance fees and you can transfer money from the Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve account as many times as you want. If you choose to withdraw money from this account, it’ll be transferred to your linked checking account within 1 to 2 business days. While these types of emerging cash management accounts may not be for everyone, we do feel like they deserve a place on this list due to their outstanding rates.
13. Unique Bank + Highest Overall Rate: Fitness Bank – 2.20% APY, $100 minimum to open
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 2.20% 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 2.00% (which is still a great APY). You’ll earn 1.75% 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 1.25%. Finally, if you take anywhere between 0 to 4,999 steps on average per day, you’ll only earn 1.00%.
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 2.20% 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. You also cannot exceed more than six certain withdrawals or you’ll incur an excessive withdrawal fee of $10 for each additional withdrawal. In addition to the Step Tracker app, Fitness Bank has a mobile banking app to manage your account.
14. High Rate: Elements Financial – 2.10% APY, $2,500 minimum balance amount
Elements Financial was established in 1930 and currently has over $1.6 billion in assets. Its success is most likely attributed to its ability to reach customers nationwide. Anyone can become a member of this credit union just by opening a checking or savings account, or by applying for a loan or credit card. Regardless of the account you choose to open, Elements Financial will open a savings account for you and deposit $5 into the account to get you started.
15. High Rate: BrioDirect – 2.05% APY, $25 minimum balance amount
BrioDirect is powered by Sterling National Bank, which is a large bank in New York with over $29 billion in assets. This online brand recently launched with a high 2.05% APY. You only need $25 to open the account and you’ll need to maintain at least this amount on a daily basis to earn the APY. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee and can be funded via ACH, wire transfer, or check. There are limitations to the amount of money you can transfer in and out via ACH. BrioDirect limits incoming ACH transfers to $500,000. The bank limits outgoing ACH transfers to $25,000 per transaction and a total of $125,000 per month. You are able to link as many external bank accounts as you’d like to this account. You can also initiate ACH deposits and withdrawals from other banks. You can manage this account online or from Sterling National Bank’s mobile app.
16. High Rate: First Foundation Bank – 2.00% APY, $1,000 to open
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. The bank has grown to acquire over $6 billion in assets. In October, this bank launched an Online Savings Account with a high APY of 2.00%. 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 to 1.00%. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee.
While Regulation D applies to this account, First Foundation Bank will provide 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 $5,000 and the monthly limit is $10,000. 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.
17. High Rate: Prime Alliance Bank – 1.96% APY, $10,000 minimum balance amount
Prime Alliance Bank was established in 2004 to provide financial assistance to local businesses and residents. However, through its online banking platform, it’s now able to reach more customers while keeping that local bank service. Today, it’s grown to acquire over $455 million in assets. While the bank’s Personal Savings Account doesn’t require a minimum amount to open the account, you will need to have at least $10,000 in the account to earn the high APY of 1.96%. If your balance is below the amount, you’ll earn 1.86% APY. This account doesn’t have a monthly service fee. You’re able to request an ATM card and withdraw as much as you need from an ATM, but the account is limited to six certain withdrawals and transfers due to federal regulations. You’re able to maintain the account online or through the bank’s mobile app.
18. High Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.95% APY, $500 minimum to open
Quontic Bank, the Adaptive Digital Bank, was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in New York City. With a small physical presence on its own, Quontic Bank offers customers access to over 90,000 ATMs in the country. You can also access your accounts online and on mobile, which includes check deposit.
Its High Yield Savings account earns 1.95% APY on all balances, but you’ll need at least $500 to open the account. You may also want to keep a balance of at least $10,000 to avoid the $10 monthly fee. While E-Statements won’t cost you a thing, paper statements cost $5 per month. Uniquely, this savings account comes with a Debit MasterCard.
19. High Rate: UFB Direct – 1.90% APY, $10,000 minimum balance to earn APY
UFB Direct is a division of Axos Bank, a bank with over $9 billion in assets. This brand has been known to offer high rates not only on its savings accounts, but on its money market accounts, as well. Currently, you can earn a 1.90% APY on its High Yield Savings Account. You will need to keep a balance of $10,000 in order to earn the high rate. The account comes with a free ATM card, but you may want to contact the bank to find out which ATMs you can use without incurring a fee. The bank’s website doesn’t specify. Its disclosure does state that you will only be able to withdraw $510 on a daily basis. This account doesn’t come with any monthly fees. UFB Direct does have a mobile app that allows you to deposit checks.
20. For Small Balance Savers – Digital Federal Credit Union – 6.17% APY up to $1k
Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) currently offers a nice account for people who are just starting to save. You can earn an APY of 6.17% with their Primary Savings Account. You will only earn that rate on deposits up to $1,000. Once you have more than $1k, you should consider other accounts on this list. It is a credit union – and your deposits are insured by the NCUA up to the legal limit. Anyone can join the credit union by donating to one of their participating organizations such as Reach Out for Schools, which has a membership fee of $10. You’ll be able to join one their participating organizations when you go to open your account with DCU. DCU is also part of a nationwide CO-OP network that allows their members to have access to shared branches and surcharge-free ATMs throughout the U.S.
How to find the right savings account for you
- Focus on rates, but don’t forget about fees. Snagging the highest interest rate isn’t always your best bet. You also want to ensure the whole account helps you earn consistent returns. For example, a high-rate online savings account might reset to a lower APY after an introductory period. Perhaps the best rate requires a balance that’s too high or too low for your needs. And watch out for monthly fees that could eat into your savings.
- Compare, compare, compare. Use our savings account comparison tool to calculate how much you could earn with different accounts. You can filter by ZIP code and size, which can help large-balance savers find better options than no-minimum options.
- Carefully consider CDs. CDs allow savers to earn more on their savings by agreeing to lock up their funds for a set period of time. With CDs, you make your initial deposit at a set APY and wait for the CD term to mature. With most CDs, you can’t touch the original deposit amount before maturity without paying a penalty. Since CDs are less liquid than a standard savings account, they’re good for setting aside money you won’t need to access in the near term. Typically, we recommend using CDs for long-term goals, like accumulating a down payment for a home.
December savings index
We asked 1,552 Americans about their savings habits during the month of December. Here’s what we found:
- Overall, 42% of Americans increased their savings in December 2019, while 19% of Americans withdrew money from their savings.
- Men increased savings at a higher rate than women: Fifty-one percent of men added to their savings account in December, compared with just 31% of women. Meanwhile, 24% of women said they don’t have any savings, versus just 13% of men.
- More than 1 in 2 millennials added money to their savings account in December, more than any other generation.
- Consumers with a household income surpassing $100,000 are more than 13 times as likely to have a savings fund than those earning less than $25,000. Additionally, only a quarter of those earning under $25,000 per year saved money during December.
- Top 3 things Americans saved for in December: general savings (34%), emergencies (26%) and vacation (21%).
MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,024 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded Nov. 15-20, 2019. Generations are defined as: Generation Z ages 18-22, millennials ages 23-38, Generation Xers ages 39-53 and baby boomers ages 54-73.
How the Fed impacts online savings rates
The interest rates offered by banks are tied to the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). This includes the deposit account rates that grow your money in savings and other deposit accounts. When the federal funds rate rises, you might see that reflected in the deposit interest rates at most banks.
As the Fed hiked rates over recent years, online banks were far quicker to raise their rates in turn than traditional banks. Just look at the average APY offered by big banks — 0.26% vs. 1.52% on average for online banks as of December 2018.
We’ve enjoyed successive Fed rate hikes for the last few years, but the trend is waning. As we continue into 2019, the odds of a rate hike this year have reached zero. The Fed did nothing at its January meeting, and didn’t raise rates at the March meeting either.
The bleak federal funds rate outlook doesn’t necessarily mean that banks will start slashing their own deposit account rates. Online banks are extremely competitive and need to remain so if they want to maintain their edge.
In the January Goldman Sachs earnings call, Goldman Sachs Executive Vice President and CFO Stephen M. Scherr noted it has no plans to walk back on rates for its online savings account Marcus, aiming to keep its rank among the top savings rates in the country.
We heard much of the same from fellow online bank Ally Bank, whose CFO Jennifer LaClair said during its January earnings call that it’s still important to take the “competitive landscape” into account.
Still, other earnings calls indicated that banks are in as much of a holding pattern as consumers are. When asked about the bank’s deposit rate outlook in the event of a Fed rate slowdown, Bank of America CFO Paul Donofrio noted, “At some point, the broader retail rates will rise. We just don’t know when. So, I think we’re just going to have to wait and see.”
As for what that all means to you, 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. You might see an overall decrease in online savings rates (moreso in the competitive rate-chasing CD space), but they’ll still outperform most brick-and-mortar rates any day.
The bottom line
So what’s a saver to do? At the end of the day, you want the account that makes the most sense for you. Choose the one that lets you save and manage your money in the best ways possible. The most efficient way to consistently grow your money is to open an online savings account. These accounts will offer the best interest rates compared to brick-and-mortar banks, no matter where the federal funds rate goes this year — plus, they’re easily accessible in case of emergency. If you don’t need immediate access to your money and you have some extra cash lying around, open a high-yield CD as a more long-term savings alternative.
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