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The Best High-Yield Online Savings Accounts in January 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The Best Online Savings Accounts

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

360 Performance Savings from Capital OneA 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.

LEARN MORE 

Member FDIC

2. High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance, (and ATM access)

High Yield Savings from Synchrony BankSynchrony 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.

LEARN MORE 

Member FDIC

3. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (and no fees)

High Yield Savings Account from American Express National BankOur 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on American Express National Bank’s secure website

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Member FDIC

4. High Rate: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance (but no ATM access)

High-yield Online Savings Account from Goldman Sachs Bank USA

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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 1.70% APY, no minimum balance

Online Savings Account from BarclaysBarclays 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Barclays’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. Favorite Online Package: Ally Bank – 1.60% APY, no minimum balance and you can get a free checking account

Online Savings Account from Ally BankAlly 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. High Rate: HSBC Direct – 2.00% APY, $1 minimum to open, no minimum balance to earn APY

HSBC Direct Savings from HSBC DirectHSBC 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on HSBC Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

8. High Rate: Vio Bank – 1.95% APY, $100 to open

High Yield Online Savings Account from Vio BankVio 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Vio Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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

High-Yield Savings Account from Customers BankCustomers 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Customers Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

10. High Rate: CIBC Bank USA – 1.85% APY, $1,000 to open

CIBC Agility Savings - Online Only from CIBC USACIBC 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on CIBC USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

11. High Rate: Citizens Access – 1.85% APY, $5,000 minimum balance amount

Online Savings Account from Citizens AccessCitizens 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Citizens Access’s secure website

Member FDIC

12. High Rate: Betterment – 1.83% APY, $10 minimum to open

Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve - Promo Rate from BettermentBetterment 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Betterment’s secure website

FDIC Insured

13. Unique Bank + Highest Overall Rate: Fitness Bank – 2.20% APY, $100 minimum to open

Fitness Savings (12,500+ Steps) from FitnessBankFitness 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on FitnessBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

14. High Rate: Elements Financial – 2.10% APY, $2,500 minimum balance amount

Helium Savings 1 year Promo - New Money from Elements FinancialElements 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.

If you choose to open a savings account with this credit union, you should consider opening the Helium Savings account. The credit union is currently running a promotion on this account with a 2.10% APY that is guaranteed for one year (or 12 statement cycles). Once the promotional period ends, the rate will drop to 1.30% (or whatever the rate is at the time the promotional period ends for you). The account requires a minimum deposit of $2,500 of new money to earn the APY, but you only need a minimum of $100 to open the account. However, you won’t earn interest if you have less than $2,500 in the account. Existing customers don’t qualify for the promotional APY. There aren’t any monthly maintenance fees associated with this account. You’ll be given an Elements ATM card to withdraw money from the credit union’s surcharge-free network. The credit union also has a mobile app that allows you to manage and maintain the account on-the-go.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Elements Financial’s secure website

NCUA Insured

15. High Rate: BrioDirect – 2.05% APY, $25 minimum balance amount

High-Yield Savings from BrioDirectBrioDirect 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on BrioDirect’s secure website

FDIC Insured

16. High Rate: First Foundation Bank – 2.00% APY, $1,000 to open

Online Savings Account - New Money Only from First Foundation BankFirst 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on First Foundation Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

17. High Rate: Prime Alliance Bank – 1.96% APY, $10,000 minimum balance amount

Personal Savings Account from Prime Alliance BankPrime 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

18. High Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.95% APY, $500 minimum to open

High Yield Savings Account from Quontic Bank 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Quontic Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

19. High Rate: UFB Direct – 1.90% APY, $10,000 minimum balance to earn APY

UFB High Yield Savings from UFB DirectUFB 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on UFB Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

20. For Small Balance Savers – Digital Federal Credit Union – 6.17% APY up to $1k

Primary Savings from Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)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.

LEARN MORE 

NCUA Insured

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%).

Survey Methodology

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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LaTisha Styles
LaTisha Styles |

LaTisha Styles is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email LaTisha at [email protected]

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Earning Interest, Eliminating Fees

The Best Online Checking Accounts in 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

banking apps

Opening an interest-bearing checking account is an easy way to boost your savings without completely rearranging your budget. Nowadays, your checking account doesn’t have to be the basic, low-yield account you might be accustomed to. A checking account can earn interest at pretty competitive rates, especially if you’re willing to ditch the traditional big bank in lieu of digital-only competitors. Brick-and-mortar rates often pale in comparison to online rates.

You’ll typically find checking account rates around 0.01% APY if you head to your local big bank branch. Let’s say you have $10,000 to deposit into your new checking account. Choosing an account with that low 0.01% APY will earn you $1 at the end of a year. On the other hand, opening a high-yield checking account at a 2.00% APY, for example, will earn just over $200 in a year.

Your best bet is to open an online checking account, as those tend to have the highest rates. You’ll also find hardly any monthly service fees and little to no fees for ATM usage. Plus, with some of the best mobile apps, online banks making banking on-the-go easier than ever.

There are several great options out there, which give you a great opportunity to find an account that’s just right for you. But we understand that it can also be overwhelming to search through all your options and commit to switching banks. We’ve made it a little easier for you by searching through 12,000 banks and credit unions.

To find the best online checking accounts, we looked for accounts that offer:

  • Competitive interest rates
  • No monthly account fee
  • No ATM fees and reimbursement of other bank ATM fees
  • Interest income on the deposited funds
  • Strong mobile banking app and user interface

It’s important to figure out which aspects of a checking account are the most crucial for your own banking success, whether that’s easy ATM access or earning at the highest rate. There isn’t always going to be one account that’s the “best” across every dimension: for example, the account with the highest interest rate may not have unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. You might have to make a trade-off when choosing an account.

Here are our favorite checking accounts available in January 2020:

The Best Checking Accounts in January 2020

Institution

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

Simple

1.90%

$10,000

Aspiration

1.00%

None

Discover Bank

None, but offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 each month

None

Ally Bank

0.50%

None

Empower

1.60%

None

Bank of Blue Valley

1.50%

Up to $50,000

Axos Bank

Up to 1.25%

None

TIAA Bank

1.01%

$5,000

nbkc bank

1.00%

$0

MemoryBank

0.90%

$50

Consumers Credit Union

Up to 5.09%

$10,000 - $20,000

Charles Schwab

0.15%

None

1. High APY – Simple – 1.90% APY ($10,000 minimum)

Checking Account + Protected Goals Account*Simple was created out of frustration over the banking industry. The founders were confounded by the complexities of certain bank accounts. So instead of just letting the problem be, they came up with a solution – an account that earns interest and helps you budget your money “in one simple app”. What makes this banking platform stand apart from other online accounts? Well, for starters, it’s a Checking Account + Protected Goals Account that hardly has any fees, not even if you use an international ATM (however, a fee may be charged by the ATM owner). Another standout feature is that you have the opportunity to earn up to 1.90% APY in the Protected Goals Account. To earn the APY, you’ll have to have a minimum of $0.01 in the Protected Goals Account to earn the 1.75%, but a minimum of $10,000 to earn the higher APY. This account is meant to be used to help you save money towards a goal. It’s like a savings account without transfer limitations. You can make as many transfers between this account and the checking account as you’d like without running into excess transfer fees.

In addition to the high APY, there are a ton of other features that make Simple worth considering!

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2. No ATM fees: Aspiration – The Aspiration Account – Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement + 1.00% APY

Spend and Save AccountAspiration is a unique company that is trying to change the face of banking services. This account is a great way to avoid fees. There is no monthly fee and no minimum deposit. Even better, there are no ATM fees and unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees charged by others. You can use your ATM card anywhere in the world and never pay a dime. You decide how much you want to pay for the account – and that can be $0. Aspiration is making the bet that you will appreciate the value and decide to pay them something. But you are not obligated to make any payment.You can also earn interest on this account. You’ll earn up to 1.00% APY on your entire balance. And the best part: you don’t have to “do things” (like use your debit card) to get the rate. So long as you have the account, you get the interest rate.

Aspiration has recently launched a mobile banking app, making it even easier to get everything you need done. You can read our full review of Aspiration here. If you want an easy way to use any ATM, free BillPay and earn a good (by checking account standards) interest rate, the Aspiration Account is a great choice.

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3. Discover Bank – No fees + 1% Cash Back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases per month

Discover Cashback DebitDiscover’s Cashback Debit is a unique checking account because it offers 1% cash back each time you swipe your debit card to purchase something up to $3,000 each month. This means that you can earn up to $360 back in cash each year. Keep in mind that there are certain exceptions (like ATM transactions) to receiving the 1% cash back. Other perks of this account include no monthly fees, and access to over 60,000 ATMs for free. Discover used to have a First Fee Forgiveness policy where they would waive the first eligible fee charged to the checking account during each calendar year. However, Discover recently decided to not charge any fees at all. This is a huge perk for accountholders. Discover doesn’t require a minimum amount to open or a minimum daily balance to earn the cash back.

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Discover Bank's website is secure

Member FDIC

4. Ally – Interest Checking Account: $10 of ATM fees reimbursed monthly, and up to 0.50% APY

Ally Bank
Ally is a great all-around online bank with no monthly fees and no minimum balance or direct deposit requirement. Ally charges no ATM fees, and it reimburses up to $10 each month. You can link your savings account (which is one of the best in the country, paying 1.60% APY), and it will provide free overdraft protection.

The checking account pays 0.10% APY on balances less than $15,000, and 0.50% APY on balances of over $15,000.

Banking with Ally also gives you 24/7 access to customer service, which is just a phone call or chat session away. They also use 21st century technology like remote deposit through their mobile banking app and Zelle®, which allows you to securely send and receive money from friends and family.

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Member FDIC

5. High Rate: Empower – 1.60% APY, no minimum to open or balance to earn APY

Checking AccountEmpower originally launched as a personal finance app and evolved into a mobile banking app powered by Evolve Bank & Trust. The Empower Checking Account currently offers a 1.60% APY. It doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open nor does it ask for a minimum balance to earn the APY. This account also doesn’t have any fees and you’ll get one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursed per month. However, Empower claims access to over 25,000 free ATMs nationwide. Other perks with this account include a cashback debit card that comes with zero liability protection. One downside that we can find is that there doesn’t seem to be check-writing capabilities with this account. However, if you’re more interested in keeping your banking in the palm of your hand, Empower’s mobile banking app not only helps you save your money, it also helps you budget and sync all your financial accounts to the app to give you an overall snapshot of your finances.

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Member FDIC

6. High Rate: Bank of Blue Valley – 1.50% APY on balances up to $50,000, $500 minimum to open

Platinum CheckingBank of Blue Valley is a Kansas-based bank with over $564 million in assets. It’s extremely rare to see banks offering high rates on checking accounts without requirements to earn the high rate. However, this bank is offering a 1.50% APY on balances up to $50,000. You’ll need a minimum of $500 to open the account. While Bank of Blue Valley doesn’t make you jump through hoops to earn the high rate, you will need to maintain an average daily balance of $7,500 to avoid the $12 monthly maintenance fee. This account does come with free checks and if you’re able have at least one direct deposit post to this account, you’ll be rewarded with ATM fee refunds up to $20 per month (the out-of-network ATM fee is $2.50). Bank of Blue Valley has a mobile banking app that includes mobile remote deposit, bill pay, the ability to pay a person, and more.

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7. No domestic ATM fees & high APY – Axos Bank – Rewards Checking – up to 1.25% APY

Rewards Checking - 3 QualificationsAxos Bank offers a nice combination of a good interest rate and ATM fee reimbursement. You can receive up to 1.25% APY based upon your activity in the account. There are three requirements, and each requirement gives you 0.4166%. If you receive a monthly direct deposit totaling $1,000 or more, you can earn 0.4166%. If you use your debit card at least 10 times per month, you can get another 0.4166%. And if you use your debit card 15 times a month, you get another 0.4166%. So – if you get your direct deposit and use your card 15 times a month – you will get the 1.25% APY. You can also get unlimited domestic ATM reimbursement. If you are a heavy debit card user and do not travel overseas very often, Axos Bank can be a better option than Aspiration.

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on Axos Bank’s secure website

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8. TIAA Bank – High Yield Checking: 1.01% APY (for the first year) with $5,000 minimum to open

TIAA Bank
TIAA Bank is currently offering a one-year introductory APY of 1.01% on their checking account. They don’t charge a monthly fee or ATM fees (as long as the ATM is within network). Aside from depositing a minimum of $5,000 into the account, TIAA Bank does not impose requirements to earn the APY. While they do have an online banking platform, their mobile app seems to be lacking. If banking on-the-go is important to you, you may want to consider another institution. However, they do have a great rate for a checking account with little-to-no fees.

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on TIAA Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

9. No fees: nbkc bank – No monthly fees + 1.00% APY

Personal Checking Accountnbkc bank, formally known as National Bank of Kansas City, is a small institution in the Midwest that caters customers nationwide through their online and mobile banking platforms. They are a privately owned company with more than $630 million in assets.nbkc is all about making banking simple and they’ve done just that with their checking account that virtually has no fees. All it takes is $5 to open the account and you can start earning 1.00% APY on all funds held in the account.There are no monthly fees, no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees, no fees to stop payments, no fees to get a box of checks, no fees for incoming domestic wires, no minimum balance to earn the APY once the account is opened, and no ATM fees as long as the ATM is part of the Moneypass® network. Even if the ATM is not part of the Moneypass® network, nbkc will reimburse up to $12 in ATM fees per month. And just to prove how transparent they are, they openly disclose that the only two fees that may apply are $5 to send a domestic wire and $45 to send or receive international wires.

Banking can be done online or through their mobile banking app, which allows you to deposit checks at no charge. If you want a checking account that charges hardly any fees and allows you earn a little interest, this account is a great option.

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on nbkc bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

10. MemoryBank – 0.90% APY (for the first year) on balances up to $250,000

MemoryBank
If you are looking for a high interest rate on a big balance, it is hard to beat MemoryBank. You can earn 0.90% APY on balances up to $250,000 for the first year so long as you do the following three things. (1) You must receive at least one electronic deposit every month. If you have your payroll deposited into the account, that works. (2) You will need to use your debit card for at least 5 in-person or online purchases. And (3) you need to get your statements online (no paper statements). If you have a large balance and want to find the best liquid account, MemoryBank has a good offer. You need at least $50 to open the account. You will get access to AllPoint ATMs.

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on MemoryBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

11. Consumers Credit Union – Free Rewards Checking: Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement + up to 5.09% APY possible

Consumers Credit Union (IL)
Anyone can join Consumers Credit Union, which has been around since 1930 and is based in Lake County, IL. In order to join, you only need to pay a one-time, non-refundable $5 fee to their sponsor, the Consumers Cooperative Association. Once you are a member, you are eligible for all products, including the Free Rewards Checking Account.

This account can offer incredible value, but you need to meet certain conditions. In order to get unlimited ATM fee reimbursement, you need to:

  • Make at least 12 debit card purchases per month. The purchases cannot use the 4-digit pin code – it has to be treated as a credit transaction (so that the credit union earns the maximum interchange possible)
  • Each month there must be at least one direct deposit OR one ACH debit OR one online bill payment.
  • Login to online banking at least once per month, and
  • Receive eDocuments / eStatements (no paper statements).

If you meet those requirement, you will earn a 3.09% APY on balances up to $10,000. You have the opportunity to earn an even higher rate of return if you open a Visa credit card from the credit union. If you spend at least $500 a month on the credit card, your interest rate increases to 4.09% APY on balances up to $15,000. If you spend at least $1,000 a month, you can earn 5.09% APY on balance up to $20,000.

This is a valuable proposition – but it is complicated. We have included it because 5.09% APY and unlimited ATM fee reimbursement is an amazing deal. However, if you don’t meet the requirements you will not get ATM reimbursement and will only earn 0.10%.

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on Consumers Credit Union (IL)’s secure website

NCUA Insured

12. Charles Schwab – High Yield Checking: Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement + 0.15% APY

Charles Schwab Bank
If you want to be able to use your ATM card anywhere in the world – for free – this account is a good option. With Charles Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking Account, you will not be charged a fee for using an ATM. If you use an ATM overseas, there will be no foreign transaction fee. And – best of all – if the ATM charges a fee of its own, Schwab provides unlimited ATM fee reimbursement.

This account pays 0.15% APY, and there are no minimums or monthly service fees.

There are no fees to cover overdrafts when funds are available from a linked Schwab brokerage or savings account.

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Member FDIC

Runner Up: Fidelity Cash Management Account: Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement

Fidelity
Fidelity’s Cash Management Account is great for those that have larger balances, as there is a $1,250,000 insurance limit, but there is no minimum balance required.

Similar to Charles Schwab, there are no ATM fees to worry about – they’ll reimburse you the same day if you’re charged. There are also no monthly or overdraft fees to worry about. There is one big difference to Schwab: if you get charged for using your ATM outside of the country, that fee will not be reimbursed.

Fidelity currently offers 0.13% APY, but it is a brokerage account rather than a “regular” checking account. They offer cash management tools so you can set up custom alerts when you reach a certain balance that will remind you it’s time to invest.

Unfortunately, there’s no option to open a line of credit – you have to link a savings or brokerage account to your Fidelity account in case you overdraft and want items to clear.

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on Fidelity’s secure website

Member FDIC

Checking account best practices

Consider hybrid savings/checking accounts

In today’s competitive savings rate atmosphere, some banks are offering the best of both a checking and savings account in the same product, like the Simple Checking Account + Protected Goals Account, our top pick above. These hybrid accounts offer the flexibility of a checking account by including a debit card and avoiding the six-transaction limit of savings accounts. Some accounts might also offer the ability to write checks through the account (however, Simple does not).

Even better, these hybrid accounts also offer the high-yield competitive rates of a savings account (think above 2%!). Opening this kind of account can prove to be a great addition to your savings profile, especially since most checking accounts tend to offer unremarkable rates. Simple goes even further by helping you save towards a specific Savings Goal instead of just earning a high interest rate — although saving at least $2,000 towards that goal enables that high rate.

Of course, money market accounts are already known as hybrid-like accounts with high interest rates. But without limiting your transfers and transactions to six per cycle, these new checking/savings hybrid accounts (or cash management accounts, as they might be called) are able to set themselves apart from money market accounts. Money market accounts also tend to require much higher balance limits and charge monthly service fees, unlike these new accounts we’re starting to see.

Pair your checking account with a high-yield savings account

So if not in a checking account, where should you keep the rest of your money? Like we say above, you have a number of options including savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs. Online savings accounts generally earn at much higher interest rates than checking accounts, so they’ll grow your money more efficiently.

In turn, money market accounts can earn even higher rates, although they usually require high deposits and balances. Both MMAs and savings accounts limit you to six transfers or withdrawals per month so you can leave your savings alone to grow. Money market accounts are like a mix between checking and savings accounts, as many of them include check-writing abilities and/or a debit/ATM card for more convenient access than a typical savings account.

For a longer-term savings commitment, you can turn to certificates of deposit or CDs. They earn at high interest rates and lock in your opening rate for the duration of an account’s term. You can’t withdraw your growing funds until the term ends.

Find an account with little to no fees

Another way to make better use of your checking account is to avoid the fees that are often associated with brick-and-mortar bank accounts. According to a MagnifyMoney analysis of FDIC data, in 2017 Americans paid over $36 billion in fees to banks (see graph below), some of which include overdraft fees, ATM fees and monthly maintenance fees. This number is down since 2009’s $41 billion in total fees, but has seen a steady increase since 2013.

 

Among the fees, overdraft fees are the biggest single burden on Americans, representing over one third of fees paid over the last five years. Account maintenance fees come in second, at over 10%, while ATM fees represent over 5%.

 

Moving your banking online can help you avoid monthly service fees. The same is also true for ATM fees. Even without physical locations, online banks can still provide access to tens of thousands of ATMs through various ATM networks. Plus, many online banks will refund any ATM surcharges you do face, sometimes up to a certain dollar amount.

Resist the urge to hoard cash in a checking account

It can be easy to just dump all your income into your checking account and leave it there. After all, that’s the account you use to pay for expenses. But even if your checking account earns interest, you can do better by your money.

There are two main reasons your money would be better off not sitting in checking:

#1 You could miss out on higher interest rates
Interest rates on checking accounts are generally pretty pitiful. Even when they seem high (perhaps 0.60% or even 1.00%), there can be a lot of hoops to jump through in order to secure that interest rate. Instead, consider putting your money into one of the nation’s best savings accounts,best money market accounts or CDs. Your money can easily earn 1.00% or more with those accounts.

#2 You don’t want to give fraudsters access to your life savings
Fraud is another reason you may want to keep a minimal amount in checking. Bank fraud is so prevalent you’ll likely get smacked by it at some point. For credit card users, it isn’t as worrisome because the money charged to a credit card isn’t coming directly out of your bank account and credit issuers commonly offer zero fraud liability protection. On the other hand, debit card fraud means a crook gains direct access to your account and can be draining your actual funds in real time. By not keeping a ton of money in checking, you can reduce the damage a thief can do.

If your card is stolen and you report it to your bank within two days, you can be responsible for up to $50 of unauthorized charges. Waiting longer than two days can make you responsible for up to $500 in unauthorized charges. Additionally, if you notice any unauthorized charges on your account statement, you have 60 days to tell your bank to avoid liability for following transfers. Even if your bank reimburses you for the funds, it’s still a hassle to spend days — even weeks — without having access to that money.

The bottom line: It’s probably time to move your banking online

In all, the best way to make the most of your checking account is to ditch your brick-and-mortar bank in favor of fewer fees, less hassle, more convenience and higher interest rates. All of these banks listed above offer mobile apps with several convenient features, including the ability to deposit checks by taking a photo, so you don’t have to worry about running out to a local branch. These apps also make it easier to transfer money between your accounts, pay bills online or send money to family and friends in a pinch.

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

promo-checking-wide-v2

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.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at [email protected]

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

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

Advertiser Disclosure

Earning Interest

Best Money Market Rates & Accounts – January 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Updated January 1, 2020

If you’re looking to save more money beyond your regular savings account, consider adding a money market account to the mix. A money market account can earn at a higher rate than a savings account, especially if you have a larger balance to deposit. Many MMAs tier their rates as well, rewarding higher balances with higher rates.

Like most deposit accounts, the rate on money market accounts has grown over the past few years, up from 0.188% APY in 2016 to 0.372% APY in January 2020. Savings account rates have also increased, but still averaged only 0.272% APY in January 2020.

You can do much better than a 0.372% APY on a money market if you’re willing to break with traditional brick and mortar banks. Opening an MMA at the bank around the corner, for example, may not yield more than 1.00% APY, while an internet-only bank might offer a rate of 2.00% APY or higher. With a rate like that, you can boost your savings by a wide margin.

If you were to put $50,000 into an MMA earning 0.04%, you would earn only $20 in interest over a year. Put that same starting amount into an online bank account at 2.00%, and you’d earn $1,000 in interest over a year.

With so many options out there, it can seem daunting to search for a new bank account with a potentially new bank. We’ve made it it easier for you by rounding up the best money market accounts out there. We searched through over 12,000 banks and credit unions to find the money market accounts paying the highest interest rates. We also looked at an account’s minimum requirements and fund accessibility.

Overall, we found that internet banks consistently beat the competition. You might not recognize all their names — new online banks are continuing to crop up — but if it’s high interest rates you’re looking for, it might be good to branch out since online banks are the way to go. Here are our favorite rates for January 2020:

1. Guaranteed Rate Through 6/30/2020: Customers Bank – 2.25% APY, $25,000 minimum deposit and balance to earn APY

Ascent Money Market - Online Only from Customers BankCustomers Bank was founded as Century Bank in 1997 and rebranded in 2011 to the name we know today. The bank has acquired over $10 billion in assets since it opened its doors. If you have a minimum of $25,000 to deposit and are looking to save that money, Customer Bank’s Ascent Money Market Savings Account may be just what you need. If you’re able to fund the account within 30 days of application approval, you lock in a minimum APY of 2.25%. Customers Bank is currently guaranteeing this rate through June 30, 2020. The language on the Ascent page states, “The minimum rate of 2.25% APY is guaranteed thru June 30, 2020.” This implies that if the bank increases the rate on this account, customers will benefit from the rate increase. There isn’t a monthly service fee and there isn’t an excess transaction fee if you happen to make more than six transactions in a statement cycle. You will simply receive a warning letter each time you exceed six transactions and the bank will close your account if you’re sent a third warning letter. The bank encourages accountholders to use this account to hold savings, so there aren’t any check-writing capabilities or ATM/debit cards issued with this account. The bank also limits ACH transfers to $5k per day and $50k per statement cycle. If you choose to wire money from an external account to fund this account, the bank will waive the $10 incoming wire transfer fee. The guaranteed rate makes this account a great option for true savers with at least $25,000 to deposit.

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on Customers Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Favorite Online Package: Ally – 0.75% APY, no minimum deposit and link to free checking

Online Savings Account from Ally BankAlly Bank is a very popular internet-only bank. If you keep a daily balance of $5,000 or less, you will earn the 0.75% APY. If you’re able to keep a minimum daily balance of $25,000 the APY increases to 0.75%. Although the interest rate on the money market account is not the highest, Ally does offer a very competitive overall package – particularly if you link the account to an Ally checking account. The checking account has no minimum balance and no monthly fee. You can link your money market account to your checking account to provide overdraft protection. Money would be transferred to your checking account with no transaction fee if you ever made a mistake. You would be able to access your money market account with your Ally ATM card, which has free AllPoint access and up to $10 of non-Ally ATM fees reimbursed every month. This money market account is a nice way to provide yourself with overdraft protection while earning interest. If you don’t need check-writing capabilities on your savings, you would still be better off with Ally’s savings account.

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

The rest of these are the best money market accounts listed by APY regardless of minimum balance:

3. High Rate: Sun East Federal Credit Union, 2.20% APY, $5,000 minimum balance to earn APY

Max-Yield Money Market Account Promotional - New Money (13 Month Intro Rate) from Sun East Federal Credit Union

Sun East Federal Credit Union was established in 1949 by employees of the Sun Oil Company. These employees wanted to help each other out financially and decided to do so by establishing their own credit union. Since its establishment, the credit union has grown to acquire over $634 million in assets. Anyone can become a member of this credit union by donating $10 to the Sun East Charitable Foundation. You can also qualify by your location, family members, or through employers.

Once you become a member of this credit union, you’ll be able to open the Max-Yield Money Market Account. This account is currently offering a 2.20% APY that is guaranteed for 13 months. You’ll need to maintain a balance of at least $5,000, but the balance can’t exceed $250,000. Keep in mind that after the 13-month promotional period ends, the account will turn into the Classic MMA. The Classic MMA earns a much lower APY. If you aren’t able to maintain the minimum balance of $5,000, you’ll incur a monthly fee of $10. This account does come with check-writing capabilities. You’re able to manage this account online as well as through the credit union’s mobile app.

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on Sun East Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

4. High Rate: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, 2.02%APY, $0 minimum balance to earn APY

Superior Money Market from Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Affinity Plus Credit Union is a Minnesota-based credit union, but even if you do not live in the North Star state, you can take advantage of the attractive financial products they offer. Membership to the credit union is open to anyone who makes a one-time dues payment of $25 to the Affinity Plus Foundation.

Affinity Plus Credit Union offers a slew of money market accounts, but its Superior Money Market Account stands out, with a 2.02%  APY on balances up to $25,000. Additionally, there is no minimum deposit required and no monthly maintenance fees. Balances over $25,000 earn a 1.00% APY.

To earn the higher 2.02% APY, you must have a minimum direct deposit of $500 per month (which could come from payroll, Social Security or unemployment) to any Affinity Plus checking, savings or money market account, and also be enrolled in digital statements. If you don’t meet those requirements, you’ll earn 0.10% APY.

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on Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

5. High Rate: BankUnitedDirect, 2.00% APY, $2,500 minimum balance to earn APY

Online Money Market from BankUnitedDirect
BankUnitedDirect is an online banking division of BankUnited, N.A., itself a subsidiary of BankUnited, Inc. BankUnitedDirect is based in Florida and has $33 billion in total assets as of September 2019. BankUnitedDirect is accessible online, including on its mobile app.
In addition to its Certificates of Deposit, BankUnitedDirect offers a competitive Money Market Account. The account requires a $2,500 minimum deposit to get started. Then you can start earning at its 2.00% APY. Interest is compounded and credited monthly. You must maintain a $2,500 minimum balance to avoid a $15 monthly fee. You can order checks associated with a Money Market Account by calling BankUnitedDirect.

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on BankUnitedDirect’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. High Rate: MemoryBank – 2.00% APY, $50 minimum to open

Online Money Market Account from MemoryBankMemoryBank is the online division of Republic Bank & Trust Company. While this online division launched in 2016, its parent company has been around since 1982 and has over $5 billion in assets. Currently, MemoryBank is offering a 2.00% APY on its Online Money Market Account. You’ll need a minimum of $50 to open the account, but you won’t need to maintain this amount to earn the APY. The account doesn’t come with a monthly service fee, but it also doesn’t have check writing capabilities or ATM access. MemoryBank does have a mobile banking app to help you manage your account on-the-go.

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on MemoryBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. High Rate: Pacific National Bank – 2.00% APY, $5,000 minimum balance to earn APY

MMDA Online Special (New Money Only) from Pacific National BankPacific National Bank has quite an interesting history. In 1982, Banco Del Pacifico Ecuador (BPE) decided to establish Banco Del Pacifico International in Miami, FL as an Edge Act bank. The Edge Act allowed national banks to do international banking through divisions chartered by the Federal Reserve Bank. By 1985, Banco Del Pacifico International decided to become a national bank charter and changed its name to Pacific National Bank. Since this change, the bank has acquired over $499 million in assets. The bank initially offered its services to South Florida residents, but decided to expand to all U.S. residents with a valid Social Security Number in 2016. Today, Pacific National Bank is offering an online special on its money market account. With a minimum deposit of $5,000, you could earn an APY of 2.00%. You’ll need to maintain that amount in the account on a daily basis to waive the monthly maintenance fee of $25 and to continue earning the high rate. Check writing is available with this account, but keep in mind that you can only make six certain transaction within a month due to federal law. If you exceed six certain transactions within a month, Pacific National Bank will charge a fee of $20 per additional transaction. You may also make ACH transfers, free of charge, without any limits after the initial funding. In addition to banking online, the bank offers a mobile banking app for your convenience.

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on Pacific National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

8. High Rate: Prime Alliance Bank – 1.97% APY, $10,000 minimum balance to earn APY

Personal Money Market from Prime Alliance BankPrime Alliance Bank was established in 2004 and has grown to acquire over $455 million in assets. The bank is currently offering a Personal Money Market account with an APY of 1.97%. You’ll need to deposit and maintain a balance of at least $10,000 in order to earn this APY. If your balance drops below $10,000, the APY will drop to 1.87%. There aren’t any monthly fees with this account. Prime Alliance Bank will provide an ATM card if you request one. This account can be managed online or via the bank’s mobile app.

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on Prime Alliance Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

9. High Rate: Quontic Bank – 1.95% APY, $5,000 minimum balance to earn APY

Personal Money Market from Quontic BankQuontic Bank was established in 2005 and has acquired over $394 million in assets. This online bank is currently offering a money market with some high rates if you’re able to deposit at least $5,000. There is a minimum deposit requirement of $500 and if your balance remains at that amount, you’ll earn 1.85% APY. If you’re able to maintain a balance between $5,000 – $99,999.99, you’ll earn 1.95% APY. If you’re able to maintain balance of $100,000 or more, you’ll earn 2.05% APY. There aren’t any monthly fees. The account does come with a Mastercard Debit Card, which you can use at any Allpoint or MoneyPass ATM at no charge. If you happen to have a Quontic or Citi branch in your area, you’ll also be able to use those ATMs at no charge. Quontic Bank has a mobile banking app that allows you to access the account wherever you are.

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on Quontic Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

10. High Rate: NorthPointe Bank – 1.85%APY, $25,000 minimum balance to earn APY

Ultimate Money Market from Northpointe Bank
Northpointe Bank, is a fairly large bank located in Grand Rapids, MI. They have over $1 billion in assets and have only been around since 1999. Currently, they’re offering a 1.85% APY on their Ultimate Money Market account. While you’ll only need $1,000 to open the account, you’ll have to have a minimum balance amount of $25,000 to earn the high APY. Once your balance exceeds $1 million, the APY will drop to .50%. This account comes with a debit card and checks. Northpointe Bank does not charge a monthly maintenance fee, but will charge a $15 Excess Transaction Fee each time you exceed six certain transactions a month. The offer online banking and have a mobile banking app.

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Member FDIC

11. High Rate: CNBBankDirect – 1.91%APY, $25,000 minimum balance to earn APY

Premium Money Market from CNB Bank Direct
Established in 2008 as a division of Citizens National Bank, CNBBankDirect’s Premium Money Market account currently boasts an impressive APY of 1.91% on balances over $25,000. That rate is applicable to balances ranging from $25,000 to a whopping $2 million. There is a minimum balance of $25,000 required to open an account, and while it does not charge a monthly service fee, this account does require a minimum balance of $1 in order to keep the account open.

Citizens National Bank has roots dating back to 1920. Headquartered in Bluffton, Ohio, the bank has assets totaling over $840 million and nine physical locations throughout the state of Ohio.

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on CNB Bank Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

12. Premier Members Credit Union – 3.00% APY up to $2k

Premier Members Credit Union

Premier Members Credit Union is open to anyone willing to make a $5 donation Impact on Education, a charity for the Boulder Valley School District. This credit union is currently offering an incredible rate of 3.00% with only $5 to open the account. You can earn this APY on balances up to $2,000. Amazingly, even if you grow the balance up to $5,000, you’ll earn 1.00% APY. As the balance increases, the APY decreases to the following:

  • $5,000.01-$10,000: 0.45%
  • $10,000.01-$50,000: 0.30%
  • $50,000.01-$100,000: 0.30%
  • $100,000.01-$250,000: 0.25%
  • $250,000.01+: 0.25%

Premier Members Credit Union rewards low balance savers by placing the highest rate with the lowest deposit, but if the balance grows they start using a reverse tier system where they blend the APY as the balance grows. Checks are available with this account, but you can only make six withdrawals per month. Each additional withdrawal will be assessed a $10 fee.

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on Premier Members Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

What is a money market account?

A money market account is a special type of savings account: Cash you put in the account remains deposited with the financial institution, where it earns a variable annual percentage yield. Because the name of this deposit product has the word market in it, you may assume a money market account is some kind of investment product, but it’s not.

One of the features that differentiates a money market account from a savings account is that institutions generally make it easier to access deposited funds by offering checks and ATM cards. Note that some institutions are starting to provide them for savings accounts, too. Keep in mind that much like a savings account, money market accounts are governed by Regulation D, the Federal Reserve rule stating you can only make a maximum of six withdrawals via check or debit card. Additional withdrawals may incur a fee from your bank or credit union.

It’s also important to understand that money market accounts are different from money market funds. In the 1980s, shoulder pads and hair weren’t the only things that were big: Yields on money market funds were both low-risk and offered a good rate of return. To help out the banking sector, Congress passed the Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which allowed banks to offer a new type of savings account — money market accounts — with an interest rate based on those offered in money markets.

What to consider before opening a money market account

Before you get bogged down in the details, let’s take a look at some quick pros and cons of a money market account.

Pros:Cons:
  • Typically carry higher interest rates than savings accounts
  • Convenient access to your funds with check-writing abilities and a debit/ATM card (not offered on all accounts)

  • May carry monthly maintenance fees or a high balance to waive one
  • Still limited to six transfers and withdrawals per month like a savings account (or you’ll face a fee)
  • You’re better off using a higher yield product like CDs for money you won’t need in the immediate future

Who money market accounts are best for

Now that you know the basics of a money market account, should you get one? They’re a good choice if you have a big deposit you’d like to keep safe and growing at a high interest rate. Then when you need to access that money, perhaps for an upcoming purchase or in an emergency, you can often easily do so with an ATM/debit card or by writing a check.

Savings accounts vs. money market accounts

Money market accounts often earn a higher rate than standard savings accounts. The caveat is that MMAs often require higher opening deposits or higher balances than a standard savings account. Even so, you may also find that one bank’s top money market rate earns at the same rate (or lower) as a savings account at another bank.

For example, one of the best savings accounts, Ally’s Online Savings account, offers a 1.60% APY while its money market account earns at a mere 0.75% APY (on most balances). So if it’s high interest rates you’re after, be sure to compare accounts across the board rather than turning immediately to a money market account. Just be sure to keep your balance limits in mind when shopping around.

What often separates money market accounts from savings accounts is their check-writing abilities or issued ATM/debit cards. This provides easier access to your money especially if you have larger balances you’re saving for a bigger purchase. Not all money market accounts offer these features, though. Furthermore, money market accounts are still savings vehicles, so they’re also limited to six outgoing transactions per month, like transfers and withdrawals.

Read more about the differences between money market and savings accounts here.

CDs can offer higher rates than money market accounts

Savings accounts and money market accounts often pay much lower interest rates than CDs. Right now you can get a 1-year CD paying 2.15% APY (with only a $500 minimum). You can find the best CD rates here. If you build a CD ladder, you can take advantage of 5-year rates that are currently as high as 2.41%. Creating a CD ladder also allows you to protect your investments over the years by locking in today’s high rates in a long-term account while also staying flexible for any potential rate increases with your shorter-term accounts. The interest rate on a money market account can change right away, at the bank’s discretion.

If you need some savings more immediately, money market accounts are great places to keep that money— it’ll keep growing, while still remaining accessible. In contrast, should you need to access your CD funds before it matures, you’ll likely face a pretty heavy penalty, typically forfeiting three to six months of interest.

A money market account isn’t the same thing as a money market fund

Money market accounts, like deposit accounts, provide FDIC insurance on your deposits up to $250,000. Money market funds, on the other hand, are investment accounts, most likely sold by your broker, and are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission instead. Money market funds invest in highly liquid cash and cash equivalent securities that typically mature within 13 months.

As an example, Vanguard offers the Prime Money Market Fund. Like other money market funds, this one “invests in short-term, high-quality securities.” Its objective is to keep the fund trading at $1 and generate a decent return. Still, money market funds can end up with a lower return than those you see from the money market accounts listed in this article. Since money market fund returns are dependent on the market and the Federal Reserve Rate, it’s important to keep an eye on the current interest rate climate to see whether investing in these funds are worth your time and money.

Money market funds charge expense ratios, or management fees, that are charged as a percentage of your fund (Vanguard’s is currently 0.16% as of Dec. 2018). You can also end up paying some transaction fees. It’s important to watch out for an account’s fees which can often lessen your total investment in the end. Like money market accounts, money market funds can also require a high minimum balance to open an account.

Most people compare the return of a money market fund (sold by their broker) to the interest rate paid by a traditional bank (sold by their local bank teller). As a result, they are willing to take the risk of a money market fund. However, as you can see from the best money market accounts in this article, you can get FDIC insurance and beat the return of most funds without taking on the risk of market investments.

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Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at [email protected]