Updated March 11, 2019
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 2.25% or greater, while the average rate offered by a traditional brick-and-mortar bank remains at a paltry 0.26%.
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: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 2.25% 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 2.25% APY on deposits. There is no minimum balance 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 2.25% 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.
on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website
2. High Rate: Synchrony Bank – 2.25% APY, no minimum balance (and ATM access)
Synchrony Bank pays a healthy 2.25% 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 and there is no app.
on Synchrony Bank’s secure website
3. High Rate: Barclays Bank – 2.20% 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 2.20% 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.
on Barclays’s secure website
4. Top Choice: Ally Bank – 2.20% APY, no minimum balance and you can get a free checking account
Ally is a bank without branches that has consistently been paying high interest rates on savings accounts. Ally has no minimum balance requirement and will pay 2.20% APY. 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.
on Ally Bank’s secure website
5. High Rate: American Express National Bank – 2.10% APY, no minimum balance (and no fees)
Our sponsored advertiser, American Express National Bank, offers a Personal Savings account, which earns a 2.10% variable APY. 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.
on American Express National Bank’s secure website
6. High Rate: Vio Bank – 2.41% 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 strong with a High Yield Online Savings account offering 2.41% 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 $2,000 per outgoing ACH. You’ll also be limited to transferring an aggregate monthly total of $6,000 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. You’ll have to do all of your banking online for the time being as this online bank doesn’t currently have a mobile banking app, but according to the website, it’s coming soon. Fortunately, Vio Bank’s website is mobile friendly so it should be fairly easy to do your online bank from a smart phone.
7. High Rate: Citizens Access – 2.35% 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 2.35% 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.
on Citizens Access’s secure website
8. High Rate: PurePoint Financial – 2.35% APY, $10,000 to open
PurePoint Financial is a division of the MUFG Union Bank, N.A., otherwise known as Union Bank. Together, PurePoint Financial and Union Bank have over $120 billion dollars in assets and are powered by one of the largest financial groups in the world, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). PurePoint Financial’s online savings account currently has an APY of 2.35% with an opening deposit amount of $10,000. You’ll also have to maintain that balance to earn the APY. If the balance falls below $10,000, the APY will drop to 0.25%. The only fee associated with this account is as a result of making more than six transactions per month. If this happens, a $10 Excess Activity Fee will be applied to your account. PurePoint Financial allows you to safely manage your account online via your computer or mobile phone, but they don’t have a mobile app just yet.
on PurePoint Financial’s secure website
9. High Rate: HSBC Direct – 2.25% 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 2.25% 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.
on HSBC Direct’s secure website
10. Highest Overall Rate: North American Savings Bank – 2.53% APY, $50,000 minimum balance to earn APY
North American Savings Bank (NASB) was established in 1927 in St. Louis. However, as it grew, leadership decided to move its location to Kansas. Now, it serves U.S. residents nationwide and has grown to have over $2 billion in assets. If you have a high balance that you’d like to deposit in a high rate account, then you may want to consider NASB. This bank is currently offering a high yield savings account with an APY of 2.53%. You will need to maintain a balance of $50,000 or more in order to earn the APY, but this rate will be guaranteed for six months after you’ve opened this account if you’re able to maintain or grow the balance. If you don’t have the high deposit amount, this account is probably not for you as the APY drops to 0%. This account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee and may come with an ATM/debit card if you request it on the application. One other item to consider is that NASB has limitations on its ACH transfers. The bank will allow you to transfer $25,000 each time and will you only let you transfer $250,000 per month. Keep in mind that you’ll also be limited to six certain transactions per Regulation D. NASB does have a mobile app, but many users claim using the website on their phone is a much better experience.
11. High Rate: CIT – 2.45% APY, $100 to open
CIT is a very large bank that you probably never heard of. It has more than $50 billion of assets and makes loans (and leases) to middle market companies and small businesses. To fund those loans, CIT operates an internet-only bank that pays some of the highest interest rates in the country. While CIT isn’t as big as other online banks, they’re currently offering a very healthy APY of 2.45% on their Savings Builder account. You only need $100 to open the account, but you’ll need to meet one of two requirements to earn the high rate. We really like the options that CIT Bank has put in place to earn this high APY. The two ways to continue earning this high rate are:
- Make a monthly deposit of $100 or more into this account
- Maintain a daily balance of $25,000 or more
Even better: there aren’t any monthly maintenance fees and interest compounds daily. Deposits are FDIC insured.
12. High Rate: Rising Bank – 2.45% APY, $1,000 minimum to open
Rising Bank is a divison of Midwest BankCentre and was recently launched in February 2019. Although this internet bank is pretty much brand new, its parent bank has been around since 1906 and has acquired over $1 billion in assets. Rising Bank launched with a strong APY of 2.45%. You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $1,000 in order to open the account and you’ll need to maintain or grow this balance on daily basis in order to continue earning the high rate. This account does have a maximum balance of $500,000. A few other items to be aware of is that interest will be credited to this account every month and if you decide to close the account before the interest is credit to the account, you will not receive the accrued interest. Rising Bank has a mobile app where you can manage your account conveniently.
13. High Rate from a Credit Union: USALLIANCE Financial – 2.44% APY, $500 minimum to open
USALLIANCE Financial was founded by a group of IBM employees in 1966. Initially, the credit union only served employees of IBM, but today the credit union serves anyone who is a member of or willing to join certain associations or charitable organizations such as the American Consumer Council. Other ways to join include living, working, or worshiping in a qualifying location, being related to an existing member, being an employee of certain participating companies, or being affiliated with Columbia University or Manhattanville College. Once you become a member of the credit union, you’ll have the opportunity to open USALLIANCE Financial’s High Dividend Savings account with a small deposit amount of $500. This account is currently earning 2.44% APY. This account doesn’t have any monthly maintenance fees, but the credit union will charge $5 per withdrawal made using this account. This will only apply if you request an ATM card and withdraw money from an ATM. In addition to online banking, USALLIANCE Financial offers a mobile banking app so you can conveniently manage your account on-the-go.
14. High Rate: CIBC Bank USA – 2.39%, $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 2.39%. 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.
15. Runner-Up: 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.
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 in the first half of the year have reached zero. The Fed did nothing at its January meeting, and experts do not believe there will be a hike at the March meeting.
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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