Best Online Savings Accounts for March 2019

As of Tuesday, March 19, 2019:

Here are the best online savings accounts from Bankrate for 2019:

Best online savings account rates 2019

Here are Bankrate's selections for the best savings accounts of 2019:

Bankrate's guide to choosing the right savings rate

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Best Online Savings Accounts in March 2019

Bankrate's experts have analyzed the best savings accounts and here are our top high yield rates:

1. Best Rate: CIT Bank - 2.45% APY, $25,000 minimum balance or $100/month deposit to earn APY

cit bank logo

Overview: CIT Bank is a nationwide direct bank and is a division of CIT Bank, N.A. CIT Bank, N.A. is a subsidiary of CIT Group Inc., a financial holding company founded in 1908.

Perks: CIT offers competitive yields on its accounts and has a couple of options for savers. Both the Savings Builder and the Premier High Yield Savings accounts have daily compounding. But the Savings Builder – as long as you open it with at least $100 and keep making at least $100 in monthly deposits – earns a very competitive 2.45% APY.

What to watch for: In order to get the 2.45% APY on the Savings Builder account, you need to maintain a $25,000 balance or open the account with at least $100 and make $100 monthly deposits. If you have under $25,000 or don’t make monthly deposits of at least $100, you’ll earn a variable rate, which is currently 1.17% APY.

2. Top Choice: MySavingsDirect - 2.40% APY, $0 minimum balance to earn APY

my savings direct logo

Overview: MySavingsDirect is a direct bank that is an online banking division of Emigrant Bank. Emigrant Bank was founded in 1850.

Perks: It doesn’t matter how much money you keep in your MySavings Account because all balances earn the same APY. Interest is compounded daily and credited on a monthly basis. There are no minimum balance fees or service charges on the MySavings Account. The MySavings Account has a great combination of a competitive APY on all balances and no minimum balance.

What to watch for: ATM access isn’t available for this account. So you’ll need to transfer money to a linked account that has ATM access or to a checking account with ATM access to withdraw funds from an ATM. The MySavings Account also doesn’t have a mobile app.

3. Runner-up: CIBC Bank USA - 2.39% APY, $1 minimum balance to earn APY

cibc bank logo

Overview: CIBC Bank USA, formerly The PrivateBank and Trust Company, was founded in 1991 and is based in Chicago. It was rebranded as CIBC Bank USA and offers one of the most competitive APYs on a savings account.

Perks: If you don’t like maintenance fees, the CIBC Bank USA Agility Online Savings Account might be for you. The bank proudly states that this account has no maintenance fee. CIBC Bank USA also has a mobile app for both Apple and Android.

What to watch for: CIBC Bank USA has a great combination of one of the highest savings APYs and one of the lowest minimum balances, which is $1. You can make an external transfer to an account owned by you at another bank. But during the first 30 days from account opening, external transfers in CIBC Bank USA NetBanking aren’t available. If you would like to move money within 30 days, you have the ability to contact CIBC via phone

4. High Rate: Citibank - 2.36% APY, $0 minimum balance to earn APY

citibank logo

Overview: Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup, recently launched a high-yield savings account called Citi Accelerate. The account pays 2.36 percent APY, well above the national average as well as many of the savings rates offered by some of the nation’s largest banks. There’s no minimum balance requirement to earn the APY and no minimum to open an account.

Perks: If you’re already a Citi customer or you’re looking for an account at a bank that has a large national presence, this high-yield savings account may be worth considering. The 2.36 percent APY is among the top yields you’ll find at a big bank, and the $0 minimum balance required to earn the APY makes it easy for anyone to start saving.

What to watch for: The account carries a monthly service charge fee of $4.50. That fee may be waived by maintaining a balance of $500 or more. The account is also available in only 41 states. Read Bankrate’s article for a full list of qualifying states.

5. High Rate: Citizens Access - 2.35% APY, $5,000 minimum balance to earn APY (no ATM access)

citizens access

Overview: Citizens Access is the online bank division of Citizens Bank. It offers a high yield online savings account as well as CD rates ranging from 6 month to 5 year terms.

Perks: Citizens Access has a competitive savings account rate of 2.35% (vs. the 0.12% national average), which brings it to the top of the available offers from Bankrate. Additionally, there are no sign-up or monthly fees.

What to watch for: There is a $5,000 minimum balance to obtain the high APY. If you’re looking for a savings account that also has a checking option, keep in mind that Citizens Access does not offer check writing.

6. High Rate: PurePoint Financial - 2.35% APY, $10,000 minimum balance to earn APY (no ATM access)

purepoint financial

Overview: PurePoint is a division of MUFG Union Bank, N.A. PurePoint Financial is consistently among the top-APY savings accounts. The Online Savings account isn’t meant for those who are just starting to save, since it has a higher minimum balance requirement compared with other savings accounts.

Perks: The PurePoint Online Savings account doesn’t have a monthly service charge. Interest is compounded daily and paid monthly with this account. The PurePoint savings account offers one of the most competitive savings APYs around.

What to watch for: If you drop below a $10,000 balance, balances between $0.01 and $9,999.99 only earn 0.25% APY. ATM cards aren’t available for PurePoint’s Online Savings account. PurePoint doesn’t have a mobile app. But it does have mobile banking through your phone’s web browser – which has mobile check deposit abilities.

7. High Rate: Goldman Sachs Bank USA - 2.25% APY, $1 minimum balance to earn APY (no ATM access)

marcus by goldman sachs

Overview: The well-known investment firm, Goldman Sachs, opened Marcus as its consumer banking arm. And it's been very competitive on rates from the start. In fact, it's often one of the best-paying banks in the savings products category. Much of that is due to its status as an online-based bank, allowing it to save on overhead costs and pass those savings on to its customers. In addition, Marcus has loose requirements for opening an account, making its offer tough to beat. The savings account option from Marcus requires no minimum deposit to open and a $1 minimum to earn the APY. But Marcus provides more than just savings products to consumers. It also has a range of personal loan options, from debt consolidation to home improvement.

Perks: Along with a high interest rate, the savings account product from Marcus comes with easy-to-meet requirements and the benefits of an online bank. You can access your account at any time, and you'll pay no fees for transactions.

What to watch for: You won't find any branches at Marcus. And it also doesn't have a mobile app. That means you'll need to call customer service on weekdays or look at the FAQ section to get answers about your account. There's also no checking account option at Marcus, limiting your liquidity options.

8. High Rate: Synchrony Bank - 2.25% APY, no minimum balance needed for APY (ATM access)

synchrony bank

Overview: Synchrony Bank provides a range of depository products for consumers. That includes a savings account, money market account and a number of CDs. As an online bank, it has limited overhead cost, which means it can return those savings to customers in the form of higher rates. Indeed, its savings account and other depository products are consistently among the top-paying accounts. Synchrony also has a highly rated customer service department available by online chat or by phone seven days per week. And customers get a lot of perks, including complimentary identity theft resolution and travel and leisure discounts. You'll even get a dedicated customer service number as a "Diamond" customer. That's in addition to access to webinars, three free wire transfers per statement cycle and unlimited ATM reimbursements.

Perks: At Synchrony, you'll get very competitive rates. But you'll also gain access to other perks, including the ability to manage your account 24/7 online.

What to watch for: Synchrony Bank doesn't offer a checking account. It's not a full-service bank. So, if you're looking for liquidity, you might want to stash your cash elsewhere.

9. High Rate: HSBC Direct Savings - 2.25% APY, $1 minimum balance needed for APY (no ATM access)

HSBC logo

Overview: HSBC is a recognized name that serves 38 million customers worldwide. The HSBC Direct Savings account is through HSBC Bank, USA, N.A. The HSBC Direct Savings account is available online in all 48 states.

Perks: The HSBC Direct Savings account has a competitive APY with a low minimum balance of $1 required at account opening. This APY is currently available on all balance tiers. There is no monthly maintenance fee. If you have an HSBC Direct Savings account, you can make a deposit or withdrawal at one of the HSBC retail locations in the U.S.

What to watch for: Treat the HSBC Direct Savings account like you would a 6-month CD, since if your account is closed within 180 days of opening there’s a $25 account closing fee. The HSBC Direct Savings account compounds interest on a monthly basis and the interest is credited monthly. The money deposited into your HSBC Direct Savings account must be new money – from outside HSBC. The account doesn’t have an ATM or debit card available for it.

10. High Rate: Ally Bank - 2.20% APY, no minimum balance needed for APY and a free checking account

Ally Bank Logo

Overview: Ally Bank started in 2004 and is headquartered in Sandy, Utah. In 2009, GMAC Bank was transformed into Ally Bank. Ally Bank exceeded 1 million Ally Bank customer accounts in 2012 and currently has 1.5 million customers.

Perks: You can deposit checks remotely with Ally eCheck Deposit. This account compounds interest daily. The Online Savings Account also has no monthly maintenance fees. Ally Bank also has 24/7 live customer care.

What to watch for: Like many online banks, you won’t be able to deposit cash in this account. Deposits can be made via direct deposit, online transfers, wire transfers, mail and via remote check deposit. Also, like many direct banks, this account doesn’t include checks or a debit card.

11. High Rate: Barclays Bank - 2.20% APY, no minimum balance needed for APY

barclays

Overview: Barclays is often known for its credit cards and personal loan products, but it's also a major player in the savings product category. Indeed, Barclays provides both a high-interest online savings account and a number of online CDs. And it's typically a top contender on its interest rates. Products from Barclays are only available online in the U.S. Fortunately, for savers, that means the bank can limit overhead costs and pass its savings on to its customers. For its online savings account, the online bank is offering one of the top rates in the nation and requires no minimum to open.

Perks: Among the perks of an online savings account at Barclays, you'll find a very competitive interest rate, no minimum to open, 24/7 access to funds, online transfers to and from other banks and direct deposit. Additionally, Barclays has a mobile savings app that also allows you to deposit/transfer funds.

What to watch for: If you're looking for a full-service banking institution, Barclays isn't a great option. The bank doesn't offer a checking account option, an ATM network, or branch locations. It's best for those who like to bank online and want an outside institution for its savings options.

12. High Rate: American Express National Bank - 2.10% APY, $1 minimum balance to earn APY

american express bank

Overview: Though American Express is known mainly for its credit card business, it's also making some waves in personal savings. Its online personal savings account competes heavily with other online banks — it has a solid rate and no fees. Plus, the account allows you to link up to three of your online banking accounts to the American Express platform, so there's no need to switch banks. The company also offers a range of highly competitive certificates of deposit, making it a serious contender among online banks.

Perks: The online personal savings account from American Express provides a competitive rate. It doesn't charge any monthly fees, and it doesn't require a minimum balance. The ability to link current bank accounts offers an easy solution if you have outside accounts that you'd like to view on one platform.

What to watch for: Similar to other online banks, American Express does not have any branch locations. If you're looking to talk to someone in person, you'll have better luck with another bank. It also isn't a full-service bank — there's no checking account option, for instance. And there's no mobile check deposit option — American Express reserves mobile apps for its credit card customers.

13. High Rate: Discover Bank: 2.10% APY, no minimum balance needed for APY

discover bank logo

Overview: While it's often thought of as a credit card company, Discover offers a full range of products. You'll find consumer banking opportunities, personal loans, student loans and even home equity loans. Its consumer banking products include savings, checking, money market, certificate of deposit and IRA options. Rates from the online bank are typically very competitive, easily topping brick-and-mortar institutions. Its online savings account, for instance, is often among the top-paying accounts in the country. And it requires no monthly balance or deposit to earn the APY.

Perks: A competitive rate and low fees make Discover's online savings account a very attractive option. But it's notable that Discover is also a full-service bank, offering a checking account and other consumer products. That's not something generally found at online banks. If you're looking for a one-stop shop for all of your banking needs, Discover could be a good fit.

What to watch for: Although Discover is a full-service bank, it has only one branch location. It makes up for that with mobile banking abilities. But if you're interested in a brick-and-mortar institution where you can make cash deposits, Discover may not be your best option.

What to consider before opening a savings account

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of financial tool found at both banks and credit unions. These federally insured accounts typically pay interest, but often at lower rates than other interest-bearing financial products insured by the government, like certificates of deposit.

In exchange for lower rates, they offer more liquidity, allowing for up to six types of withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle.

That makes savings accounts ideal for stashing money you may need access to if unexpected costs arise.

Indeed, savings accounts can play a crucial part in your financial health. Because there's no set term for maturity with a savings account, they provide a good spot to park your emergency fund.

And safety is the name of the game with these savings products. Savings accounts are insured up to at least $250,000 at banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and at credit unions by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).

If you are applying for a savings account, consider interest rates (APY), minimum deposits, and your financial goals when choosing a savings account. The best savings accounts will provide a high-yield APY but also give you the flexibility to securely withdraw or transfer money each statement period.

"Savings accounts and money market accounts offer the security of federal deposit insurance and complete liquidity so you can access your cash at any time. Seek out competitive returns so you can preserve your buying power and benefit as interest rates rise further."

- Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

How do savings accounts work?

Savings accounts are liquid bank accounts that usually offer a higher annual percentage yield (APY) than a checking account. They are referred to as liquid because you should be able to access most savings accounts at any time. This differs from a CD, which usually has an early withdrawal penalty and requires you to keep your savings in it for a certain term.

Savings accounts aren’t meant to be active transaction accounts. They are limited by Regulation D, a rule that prevents you from performing more than six transfers or withdrawals from the account per calendar month or statement cycle of at least four weeks. There are some unlimited transactions that don’t apply toward your six-transaction limit. Withdrawing money from an ATM is one of the unlimited transactions. Many banks offer some sort of ATM accessibility for savings accounts.

Why get an online savings account?

Online savings accounts have a few distinct benefits over savings vehicles found at brick-and-mortar institutions.

Most notably, online savings accounts tend to offer higher interest rates and lower fees. That's because online banks don't carry the same overhead costs compared with walk-in branches, and can pass on that savings to customers.

In exchange for being able to visit a branch and talk to a teller, online banks often offer round-the-clock customer service. And cutting-edge technology is also a big perk, which typically allows for things like online bill payment, mobile check deposit and often a larger ATM network.

What are typical fees associated with a savings account?

Savings accounts may have a maintenance fee if you don’t keep the minimum balance required in the account. If you stay above the minimum balance required, you should be able to avoid fees in your savings account. There are some savings accounts that have no minimum balance or a $1 minimum balance. Some of these low minimum balance accounts also have a competitive APY.

You could incur fees if you withdraw from a foreign ATM (an ATM outside of your bank’s network or an ATM abroad). Others may charge a fee for sending a wire transfer or purchasing a cashier’s check or official bank check.

Is a savings account worth it? Who should get one? Who shouldn’t?

If you’re not earning interest on your current savings account or if you have a low interest rate, you should consider opening a savings account. Everyone should have some sort of emergency fund and additional savings to achieve their financial goals. Anyone who has money that they intend to grow for some amount of time should have a savings account.

A savings account is not worth it for someone who can’t keep the minimum balance – especially if that means incurring a fee. But with saving accounts without a minimum balance requirement or others with a $1 minimum, you should be able to find a savings account that fits your circumstances.

Is money safe in a savings account?

The money in a savings account is safe if it’s at either a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) bank or at a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) credit union and your balance doesn’t exceed the deposit insurance amount. The standard FDIC deposit insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category. At NCUA credit unions, the standard share insurance amount is $250,000 per share owner, per insured credit union, for each account ownership category.

Watch for changing savings account rates

Some banks have been gradually increasing interest rates in response to the Federal Reserve, which has increased its benchmark interest rate multiple times in recent months. The Fed hiked rates in September 2018 by a quarter percentage point. The central bank’s rate-setting committee increased rates again in December of that year. Be on the lookout for changing rates in 2019.

Though this could mean you’ll pay more interest on credit cards and auto loans, it also could mean higher interest rates on savings accounts. Keep an eye out for the ripple effects of the Fed’s decisions. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a guaranteed return, compare the best savings rates with the top CD rates.

“This is a good time to be a saver. Rates are rising and savers are rewarded for putting money away for an eventual economic rainy day.”

- Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

Savings Account FAQs

Important terminology

  • Compound interest: Method of calculating interest where interest earned over time is added to principal. Compounding is usually done on a daily or monthly basis. The more often the compounding, the faster your savings will grow.
  • Interest: Money that you earn for having your funds deposited with a bank.
  • Annual Percentage Yield: takes into account the effects of compounding during the year. The best way to compare interest, using an apples-to-apples approach.
  • Minimum balance requirement: How much you have to keep in the savings account in order to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.
  • Money market account: Is a type of savings account that may offer check writing and may offer an ATM card for ATM withdrawals. Here is more information on the best money market accounts.

What is the average interest rate(s) on a savings account?

Over the past several years, since the financial crisis, interest rates on savings accounts have been historically low. But they have been inching up lately.

The average interest rate on a savings account is 0.09 percent APY.

Fortunately, many banks and online institutions offer high interest savings account rates well above that average. That makes it crucial to shop around for the best deal when you're in the market for a savings vehicle.

"The top-paying savings accounts and money market accounts are perfectly suited for that emergency fund that we all need or as a temporary parking place for that bonus check or proceeds from a home sale."

- Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

Can I take money out of my savings account?

Savings accounts are liquid bank accounts that allow withdrawals. Check with your bank to see the methods for withdrawing funds or if there are any restrictions.

Some banks may give you an ATM card, and others may include a savings account on a debit card for ATM access. Depending on the bank, you may be able to electronically transfer the money to an account that you own at another bank. Other possible withdrawal options are via a cashier’s or official bank check or by initiating a wire transfer, which generally is the most expensive option of those previously listed.

Can I make payments from my savings account?

Generally, payments can be made from a savings account. But some banks may restrict this activity and if these are allowed, they may be subject to Regulation D.

Regulation D restricts you from making more than six transfers or withdrawals from a savings account per calendar month or statement cycle of at least four weeks. Some banks may have a transaction limit less than Regulation D standards. You may make no more than six “convenient” transfers and withdrawals, according to Regulation D. These “convenient” transfers and withdrawals include preauthorized, automatic transfers or transfers for direct bill payments. Transfers for savings overdraft protection, when a savings account backs up an overdrawn checking account, also count toward your limit of six transactions.

How many times can I withdraw from my savings account?

Some banks will allow you six “convenient” transfers and withdrawals, according to Regulation D. Others may have a lower limit or may restrict your withdrawal options.

Savings accounts are subject to Regulation D, which allows you a maximum of six “convenient” transfers or withdrawals each month. Transfers, which are similar to withdrawals, made online, made via check, debit card (though most savings accounts won’t have a debit card) or by way of other similar order made by the depositor and payable to third parties apply toward your six-transaction limit.

Exceeding the six transfers and withdrawals may result in the savings account being converted to a non-interest bearing transaction account. Surpassing the limit of six transfers and withdrawals may also result in a fee at some institutions.

ATM withdrawals are unlimited. So are transfer or withdrawal requests initiated by phone when a check is mailed to you. Some banks that don’t allow ATM withdrawals may allow a check to be mailed to you, so this can be another withdrawal option. Wire transfers are also an option at some banks, but they will could toward your limit of six transactions.

Can I write a check from my savings account?

Savings accounts typically don’t have check-writing abilities. Some alternative methods may be using an ATM to withdraw cash, sending a wire transfer or a person-to-person transfer, using bank services such as Zelle to transfer the money, transferring the money to a checking account or a money market account that has check-writing ability or requesting a cashier’s check or an official bank check. Depending on your bank, the wire transfer will probably be the most expensive option, and there may be a fee for the official check.

What is considered a high-yield savings account/rate?

High-yield savings accounts traditionally have the highest APYs. Direct banks – banks that have only an online presence and don’t have brick-and-mortar locations – typically pay the highest yields. A high-yield savings account may have a low minimum balance.

Do savings accounts have compound interest?

When choosing a savings account, it's important consider how often the account compounds interest. Generally, all savings accounts compound, but some do it more often than others — on a daily, monthly, quarterly or even annual basis.

Daily compounding is ideal. The more frequently interest is compounded, the faster your savings will grow.

Keep in mind that because of compound interest, even small deposits can add up to big amounts over time.

You can use our compound interest calculator to calculate your potential earnings on a savings account.

Is a savings account safer than a checking account?

Savings accounts and checking accounts are equally safe as long as the accounts are either insured at an FDIC bank or at an NCUA credit union. Always make sure that your balance doesn’t exceed the deposit insurance amount. The standard FDIC deposit insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category. At NCUA credit unions, the standard share insurance amount is $250,000 per share owner, per insured credit union, for each account ownership category.

A checking account is a transaction account that is meant to have more monthly activity. The number of checking account transactions is typically not limited. Paying bills, transferring money to savings or a money market account and using a debit or ATM card are all common checking account activities.

A savings account, on the other hand, is limited by Regulation D to six “convenient” transfers. It likely won’t have a debit card – unless the debit card is linked to a checking account as well – and it may not have an ATM card available.

Can you lose money in a high yield savings account?

If your money is in a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) account at an FDIC-insured bank or at a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) credit union – in an eligible account – and within insurance guidelines, then your account should be safe.

FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The NCUA administers the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which is a federal insurance fund also backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

Accounts may lose money if the amount of fees you incur outnumbers the amount of interest you’re earning. To avoid this, make sure you’re aware of minimum balance requirements and other fees before opening a savings account.

Do I have to pay taxes on my savings account?

Generally, any interest you’re earning from a savings account is considered taxable income. Even if you don’t receive a 1099-INT tax form because the amount of interest you’ve earned for the year is small (less than $10), you’re still expected to include the earned interest on your tax return. The IRS considers any interest earned on a savings account to be taxable. If you earn interest from your savings product, you'll be required to submit at 1099-INT form to the IRS.

If you’re concerned about your tax bite and you’re saving for a long-term goal, consider keeping your extra funds in a different type of savings or investment vehicle. Money you’re setting aside for your kids’ college fund, for example, can be saved in a 529 plan where it grows tax-free. The savings in that account won’t be taxable when your child’s ready to withdraw them. Fortunately, you don't have to pay interest on your savings account's balance, only on the interest earned. So, if your savings account has $1,000 and you earn $10 in interest for the year, you only pay taxes on that $10 gain.

"If they’re saving so much that the interest is impacting their taxes, they should consider tax-free bonds or tax-free money markets versus the money in the bank. They can typically get higher yields than the banks and have tax-free returns which wouldn’t show up on their taxes."

- Tatyana Bunich, President and founder of Financial 1 Wealth Management Group.

Is a high-yield savings account worth it?

A recent Bankrate survey found that just 6 percent of Americans were earning more than 2 percent APY. While the average savings account pays 0.1 percent APY, a couple dozen online accounts give savers the chance to earn much more than that.

Choosing a high-yield savings account is worth it. After years of keeping short-term rates near-zero, the Federal Reserve has steadily hiked interest rates. Online banks and credit unions have followed suit, and it’s now possible to beat the rate of inflation. The highest savings rate is now well over 2 percent APY.

Having a high-yield savings account will give you the chance to earn more interest in a shorter amount of time, allowing you to reach your savings goals much faster.

Why do online banks pay more interest?

The biggest banks still pay their customers with savings accounts less than 1 percent APY. Online banks typically don’t have physical branches and have fewer expenses to cover, giving them the opportunity to pay customers with deposit accounts more interest.

“Online banks pay higher yields than the standard brick and mortar because they have less overhead costs,” Bunich says. “It’s similar to Amazon.”

Though online banks offer higher savings rates and fewer fees than traditional banks, consumers should consider their individual financial needs. Having access to bank branches, for example, might be worth it, depending on your personal situation.

Benefits and risks of a savings account

Savings accounts, like all financial tools, come with benefits and risks. It's wise to weigh the pros and cons to see if one of these accounts is ideal for your financial situation.

Here are some of the benefits of a savings account:

  • Security: Savings accounts at an FDIC-insured bank are federally insured up to at least $250,000, making them great places to stash cash.
  • Liquidity: You can access your savings in your account when needed. Savings accounts only allow for up to six withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle, but you won't have to sell investments in order to get your money out.
  • Earnings: The money you keep in a savings account earns interest over time and compounds, offering a return on the principal.
  • Higher interest The best savings accounts usually earn more interest than a checking account – and some even have a higher yield than money market accounts.
  • Low-fee options: There are many savings account options that either have a $1 minimum balance or no minimum. With these options, it’s easy to avoid a maintenance fee.
  • Access: Many savings accounts allow you to access your savings at ATMs with an ATM card. Just make sure the ATM is in network to avoid any fees. Also, ATM withdrawals don’t count toward your monthly/statement cycle limit of six.

Here are some of the risks associated with savings accounts:

  • Low interest: Savings accounts do pay interest, but it's often much lower than can be earned with other savings vehicles like certificates of deposit or even some money market accounts. That can lead to a big opportunity cost — you may find higher returns elsewhere.
  • Accessibility: Unlike checking accounts, savings accounts have a limit on the number of withdrawals and transfers you can make each month. Withdraw more than six times during a month, and you could get hit with a withdrawal penalty.
  • Fees: Some banks charge for opening a savings account and maintaining it. And some banks also charge minimum balance fees. Those fees can eat up any interest earned and your principal very fast, especially with low interest earnings.

Savings account vs. money market account vs. mutual fund

Here's a quick comparison of the three:

Savings Money Market Accounts Mutual Fund
Liquidity You can take your money from a savings account at any time. But you’re restricted to six transfers or withdrawals per calendar month/ statement cycle. ATM withdrawals don’t count toward this limit. You may withdraw from this account at any time. But you’re limited to six transfers or withdrawals per calendar month/ statement cycle. ATM withdrawals don’t count toward the limit. Allow you to redeem shares at any time for the current net asset value.
Access Some banks allow you to use an ATM card to access the account or have it on a debit card for withdrawal purposes. Your bank may allow you to have your money market account on an ATM card or a debit card. You also may have limited check-writing ability. You’re allowed to redeem shares at any time for the current net asset value.
Earnings Usually more than a checking account, but rates may be lower than some money market accounts. On average, money market accounts have higher rates than savings accounts. Often pay more than both money market and savings accounts.
Security Accounts at FDIC-insured banks are federally insured by the government up to at least $250,000. Accounts at FDIC-insured banks are federally insured by the government up to at least $250,000. These are not FDIC-insured.
Fees There are accounts with no minimum balance required to avoid a maintenance fee. These traditionally have higher minimum balance requirements than savings accounts. There may be fees, called expense ratios, on these funds.

FDIC

The best savings accounts are federally insured. Your money is safe and insured for up to at least $250,000 if it’s in a savings account at an FDIC-insured bank. It’s imperative to choose an account with FDIC insurance, since it is backed by the U.S. government.

Savings accounts, money market accounts and mutual funds often get lumped into the same broader "savings" category. But they have some differences. Between the three, savings accounts and money market accounts are most alike. They are both insured by the government at banks and credit unions up to $250,000.

However, money market accounts typically pay a higher interest rate than savings accounts. Money market accounts also offer check-writing and debit card capabilities, a degree of liquidity not often found with savings accounts.

Another big difference between the two is what can be done with your deposited savings. Banks and credit unions can use the money you deposit into a money market account to make low-risk investments in financial products like CDs. But with a savings accounts, institutions can only use your savings to make loans to other customers.

Online vs. brick and mortar banks

It usually doesn’t matter where you live in the United States in order to bank with a direct or online bank. Some online banks may limit its customers to certain states or the continental United States. But generally, location isn’t a factor for online banks, as long as you reside in the U.S. Location is everything a lot of the time with brick-and-mortar banks. Most of the time if you don’t live near a brick-and-mortar bank, it wouldn’t make sense to bank with that institution. A potential exception to that rule may be if that bank offers reimbursement on foreign ATM fees – ATM withdrawals at a different bank which usually would incur a fee. But if you have a brick-and-mortar bank account, you should at least be near one of its locations.

Online Bank Brick-and-mortar bank
Hours of operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Though actual customer service hours may vary, generally you should be able to bank 24/7 – an online bank should never be closed.) Potentially bankers hours. And likely limited at night and on Saturdays and likely closed on Sundays and on holidays. Customer service may be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at some banks.
ATM networks Some may reimburse ATM fees and some won’t charge ATM fees for using foreign ATMs. (All ATMs will be foreign since an online bank is unlikely to have its own. Though it might be a part of an ATM network.) If they do, then it’s like every ATM is your bank. Some of these banks don’t allow ATM access. Generally, these banks have their own ATMs. But certain accounts may waive foreign ATM fees, depending on the account type that you have.
Interest rates Generally, online banks offer higher APYs than traditional banks. Generally, these banks have lower APYs on their savings products than direct, or online, banks.
Customer service Customer service available via telephone support and potentially via secured message on an app. Website may also contain customer service information. Customer service in the bank during banking hours, via telephone number, and potentially via secured message on an app. Website may also have customer service information.

What to consider when applying:

  • Safety: Savings and money market accounts at an FDIC-insured bank are insured up to at least $250,000, while money market mutual funds are not FDIC insured. Since savings accounts and money market accounts have this protection, these are safe places for your money. Money market mutual funds are still considered low-risk investments.

  • Liquidity: Savings accounts and money market accounts are liquid accounts, so you can withdraw from them at any time – there are no early withdrawal penalties. Savings and money market accounts offer up to six withdrawals or transfers per month. Some banks will allow you to make ATM withdrawals from these accounts. And money market accounts may have limited check-writing authority. Money market mutual funds allow you to redeem shares at any time for the current net asset value.

  • Earnings: Money market mutual fund accounts typically pay more than traditional savings accounts. But there are some savings accounts these days that have both a very competitive APY and low minimum balances. But money market mutual funds often pay more than both money market and savings accounts.

  • Fees: All of these types of savings vehicles may come with some fees. But thanks to minimal minimum balances on some savings and money market accounts, you should be able to find a solution that makes the maintenance fee a non-factor.

Rather than letting money stagnate in a no- or low-interest savings account, consider Bankrate’s best online savings accounts to prepare for your future financially.

Uses for a savings account

Tips to save for the future

For more information, Bankrate's experts have compiled the following reasons for opening a savings account.

How to save at different points in your life

Bankrate's experts have compiled the following articles to help you save, customized to your age.

  • Saving in your 20s: This is a time to develop good saving habits and set a solid foundation for the future.
  • Saving in your 30s: This is an important age where many will have important life events.
  • Saving in your 40s: At this age, it’s time to assess how you’ve done previously and whether you need to alter your savings plan moving forward.
  • Saving in your 50s: Saving to cover health care costs is one thing to save for at this age.

Summary: Best Online Savings Accounts

Bankrate regularly surveys approximately 4,800 banks and credit unions in all 50 states to provide you with one of the most comprehensive comparisons of interest rates. All of the savings accounts below are insured by the FDIC at banks or the NCUA at credit unions. When selecting the best savings account for you, look for the highest yield while also considering introductory rates, minimum balances and accessibility.

Bank Savings Accounts Interest Rate (APY) Minimum Balance for APY Best for
CIT Bank 2.45% $25,000 Best Savings Rate
CIBC Bank USA 2.39% $1 Best Rate with No Maintenance Fees
Citizens Access 2.35% $5,000 Mobile Transfer Features
PurePoint Financial 2.35% $10,000 Easy Online Sign-up
Goldman Sachs Bank USA 2.25% $1 Low Minimum Balance
HSBC Direct Savings 2.25% $1 User-friendly Savings Tool
Ally Bank 2.20% $0 Interest compounded daily
Barclays Bank 2.20% $0 No Minimum Balance
American Express National Bank 2.10% $1 Low Minimum Balance
E*TRADE Bank 2.10% $1 High Yield Rate
Discover Bank 2.10% $0 Sign-up Bonus

Savings rates news

After four federal funds rate increases in 2018, the Federal Reserve is being “patient” with rate hikes in 2019

But that doesn’t mean that all banks have stopped raising rates. Banks are raising rates and coming out with new products offering high yields to attract new customers and new deposits. Remember, part of the savings rate equation is that if a bank needs or wants more deposits, it may have to raise its APY to achieve that. And that’s a good thing for savers.

Another good sign: There have been very few savings account APY decreases. If there have been any, they have been minor. So, rates at competitive online banks have held steady. The Bankrate national average for savings accounts, meanwhile, is 0.1 percent APY.

CD Calculator

Use this free CD calculator to find out how much interest is earned on a CD.