Looking for ways to grow your money without much risk is difficult these days, but finding the best savings account might be a good place to start — especially now that the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates.
Not that traditional banks are racing to raise their own rates in response. Nationally, the average savings account still pays out a paltry 0.09% in interest. When it comes to earning interest on your balance, the best savings accounts are increasingly online — and it’s not even close. For example, Ally Bank offers 1.60% APY.
If you want to keep tabs on the lowest rate, check out this tool (below) that includes a list of banks and displays daily rate updates for all the best savings accounts.
The key to finding the best online savings account is to look for rates north of 1% APY — roughly 11 times the national average! Many of the nation’s biggest banks have rates as low as 0.01%. That’s a hard pill to swallow for savers who expect a safe place to park their cash.
Starting your searches with the online tool above will help you get the lay of the rate land at any given time. Rates change all the time, so interest rate is only one factor to consider — but it is a good starting point. From there, it’s much easier to compare account features to match your preferences.
We took some of the best high-yield savings accounts and analyzed all of their other features to compile this guide. With it, you should be able to find the best savings account for your needs.
Best Savings Account: The Simple Dollar’s Top Picks
- Best Overall: Ally
- Best Savings/Checking Combo: Capital One 360
- Best for No Monthly Fees: Synchrony OptimizerPlus and Barclays
- Best Money Market Savings Account: TIAA Bank
- Best for No Minimum Balances: American Express® Personal Savings
All-Around Best Savings Account: Ally
Best Savings Account/Checking Account Combo: Capital One 360
The Best Savings Accounts for Check Writing: EverBank and Synchrony
Best for No Minimum Balances: American Express® Personal Savings
Where to Look for Savings Account Options
Deregulation has enabled many different types of finance companies to compete for savings deposits. In addition to your traditional local bank, you may be surprised to find that you can open a savings account with one of these types of companies:
- Auto finance companies (Ally – formerly GMAC)
- International banks (Barclays)
- Large commercial finance companies (CIT, GE Capital – now Synchrony)
- Credit card companies (American Express, Discover)
- Insurance companies (USAA, Farmers Insurance)
- Online brokerages (Charles Schwab, Fidelity)
- Smaller regional banks with internet banking arms (EverBank, now TIAA)
- Credit unions
Why choose an online savings account?
Today, almost every financial institution with personal banking products has an online presence. People simply want to bank when they want, where they want, and how they want with minimal interference. The best online savings accounts deliver this experience through several key advantages.
Advantages of Online Savings Accounts
Higher yields: Online banks boast less overhead because they don’t need to maintain physical branches. Online banks are able to pass on this savings to their savings account holders in the form of higher interest rates.
A word of caution: These rates can and do change. As with any savings account, banks often run promotions to get you hooked, then lower the rates later. However, the best online savings account will still handily beat out the yield of a traditional bank over the long term.
24/7 access: You can check your balance, update your contact info, make transfers, and order deposit slips at any time. Most online accounts will give you access to your account 24/7, 365 days a year. This enables you to access your information when you want. For more pressing issues, customer support is also usually accessible 24/7, so you can talk to an actual human instead of your computer screen.
Self-maintenance: Why drive to a branch and talk to a banker to transfer money, update personal information, make payments, or check your balance? You can perform all of these functions and more from your computer screen or mobile device without even getting dressed.
Superior online and mobile experience: Many traditional banks have been slow to adopt the best web and mobile features to improve the customer experience online. Because online banks’ users are exclusively on the Internet, greater attention is paid to the usability of the website and mobile tools.
More Banking Guides
If you’re still looking for banking options, here are some other useful guides on other important banking accounts:
- Best High Interest Savings Accounts
- Best Checking Accounts
- Best Money Market Accounts
- How to Find the Best CD Rates
Personal Savings Calculator
To help you determine your savings needs, we’ve created this savings calculator that will help you determine your personal savings goals.
How we found the best high-yield savings accounts online
We started our search by first looking at different offers from traditional banks. We then realized that other types of financial institutions also offer savings accounts online, so we expanded the search beyond traditional banks.
Then we started adding filters to our search. First and foremost, we filtered by APY: Any bank not advertising an APY of 1% or better was eliminated from the list.
The best savings accounts ought to stand head and shoulders above the rest, and a 1% APY is more than 10 times the national average.
Our next steps were to add in additional, more granular criteria:
- We looked for accounts that advertised low monthly fees, plus easy ways to have those fees waived.
- You’ll notice that not one of the best savings accounts mentioned here carries a mandatory monthly fee. This still left us with many possibilities.
- We then analyzed other factors, such as lower minimum balances, low administrative fees, and superior mobile tools.
Understanding that rates and banks change over time, we decided to develop situational groupings to display where certain accounts currently held an advantage over others. Mainly, we grouped the best online savings accounts the following criteria:
- High balance: We found that some savings accounts were better for people who carried high balances.
- No monthly fees for any balance: You shouldn’t have to carry a high balance to avoid a monthly fee!
- Check writing ability: Some people like the ability to write a check from their savings account — a great feature to have if your account is online.
From this process, Ally came out as the all-around best for the majority of people. While the Ally Bank Online Savings Account does not have every feature, it has a solid combination of high yield, no fees, low minimum balance, and technical prowess.
If you’ve grown accustomed to a savings account that pays you next to nothing in interest, now might be a good time to re-evaluate and give your money a chance to work for you. There are enough banks offering both great service and good interest rates to justify making a switch.
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