Compare the best interest rates on savings accounts in the country and find the right place to stash your cash.
While a personal savings account won’t make you rich, your savings are an important part of your overall financial health. Making the most of your savings means finding the best interest rates offered on the savings account products, preferably with low fees or no fees involved. High-yield savings accounts, mainly offered through online banks, provide significantly higher interests rates than your typical savings account so you can earn more interest on your money.
The average interest rate for savings accounts is currently 0.06%, according to the FDIC, and that is just not going to do it. You deserve a higher interest rate, which is why seeking to stash your funds in a high-yield savings is better. A high-yield savings account offers higher interest rates, making it a good way to save up for anything: college for the kids, emergencies, vacations or a large purchase.
What is a high-yield savings account?
A high-interest savings account is a safer way to grow your savings without taking the risks involved in investing, and without locking your money up for a period of time in a certificate of deposit. The average savings account at a traditional bank only accrues interest at a rate of 0.01% to 0.06% per year, while a high-yield account at an online bank is usually somewhere around 1% and above. Since online banks don’t have to pay for costs associated with physical branch locations, they pass those savings on to customers via higher interest rates and fewer fees.
In addition to offering the best rates, these accounts may not have monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Most banks make it very easy to transfer money between a savings account and your other accounts, via online banking or mobile apps, and all of the savings accounts we recommend are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.
But just like regular savings accounts and money market accounts, high-yield savings accounts are restricted to six outgoing transfers or withdrawals per month under federal law. Putting money into your savings account doesn’t count toward the six, and neither do ATM withdrawals, but transferring money out of the account does.
Is now a good time to save?
It is always a good time to save. After all, you don’t know when something unexpected will occur. Even storing 5% of your income in a savings account can help you build a nice nestegg. Whether you’re working toward building an emergency fund so you can pay for unpredictable expenses such as hospital stays, vehicle repairs, vet bills, home repairs, and child care, or you want to save for a major purchase, a savings account is a great way to start.
We should note that savings account rates are currently low, but it’s still a good time to save. Savings accounts are low-risk investments, which means you can keep your money in a savings for now, then move it to a higher-earning account when interest rates bounce back.
High-yield savings accounts vs money market accounts
High-yield savings accounts can often have a higher APY than a bank’s corresponding money market accounts. However, some money market accounts come with the added benefits of a debit card and check-writing capabilities. Essentially, a money market account is a savings account you can use to make occasional transactions (both kinds of accounts are limited to six transfers or withdrawals per month, so any transaction you make with a money market account will count toward those six). But if you want to maximize the interest on your savings, a high-yield savings account at an online bank will always have a higher yield than a money market account.
High-yield savings accounts vs CDs
Over the long term, certificates of deposit (CDs) can provide even better interest rates than a high-yield savings account. However, CDs require locking up your money for several months or years, depending on the CD’s term. Withdrawing money from a CD before the term expires will cost you an early withdrawal penalty fee, whereas a high-yield savings account can be accessed at any time (as long as you stay under six transfers and withdrawals per month). If you’re interested in the higher yield a CD offers, make sure to only deposit funds you won’t need for the duration of the CD’s term, whether that’s six months or 10 years.
High-yield savings accounts vs checking accounts
Checking accounts are the most popular (and necessary) deposit account because they’re a convenient way to access your money. However, most checking accounts don’t accrue interest (though there are a few that do). A savings account, on the other hand, is the best place to park your savings, since it accrues compound interest over time. One financial strategy is to keep enough money in a checking account to cover your monthly expenses, then put your savings in a high-yield savings account to ensure it grows.
High-yield savings accounts vs traditional savings accounts
A traditional savings account at a brick-and-mortar bank earns interest, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.01% to 0.06%. But a high-yield savings account at an online bank accrues interest at a much higher rate, all the way up to 1% and higher. It’s also fairly common for a traditional savings account to require a minimum deposit and a minimum monthly balance to avoid maintenance fees, but those restrictions are far less common with online banks.
The best high-yield savings accounts
Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union’s high-yield savings account offers a 0.9% APY on average daily balances of $100 or more. There’s just a $5 minimum deposit to open an account, and it waives monthly fees if you enroll in electronic statements instead of paper. Alliant also offers savings accounts for children with the co-signing of a parent, grandparent or legal guardian.
Ally offers a 1.10% APY on its high-yield savings account, regardless of your balance, with no monthly maintenance fees. Even without brick-and-mortar branches, Ally is well-known for excellent customer service and support, including a perfect five-out-of-five rating for overall satisfaction in J.D. Power’s latest national survey.
American Express isn’t just a credit card provider anymore — it’s been offering savings accounts since 2008, and the current APY (1.00%) is very tempting. Since American Express doesn’t offer an accompanying checking account, it makes it easy to transfer funds between its high-yield savings account and up to three personal accounts at other banks, including automatic deposits if you want to set-it-and-forget-it.
At 1.01%, Discover’s high-yield savings account is on par with most APYs in the business, with no monthly balance requirements and no fees for maintenance, stop payments, insufficient funds, or withdrawals. Discover’s mobile app and banking customer satisfaction always rank very high in J.D. Power’s annual surveys, and its customer service reps are available 24/7 over the phone.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus is an online offshoot of the traditional investment bank, Goldman Sachs, with much higher rates on savings accounts and CDs. There are no checking or ATM offerings and an external account is required for fund transfers, which could mean delays in getting your cash, but its savings account currently offers a nice 1.05% APY.
Varo is a mobile-first online bank with sky-high APYs on its savings account — 1.21% by default, or an unbelievable 2.80% if you meet a few criteria (make at least five purchases with your Varo debit card each month, as well as at least $1,000 in direct deposit funds). However, a Varo savings account is only available to Varo checking account holders, and the savings account has a $10,000 maximum balance (but no minimum).
The impact of 0.1%
To appreciate the difference a high-yield savings account can make, consider the financial impact of a rate increase as small as 0.1%. Let’s say you deposit $1,000 into a savings account – the table below demonstrates the impact 0.1% APY increments have on your savings over the course of one year, three years, and 10 years, assuming interest is compounded monthly.
|APY||1 Year||3 Years||10 Years|
A difference of 0.1% doesn’t add up to all that much – just $1 per $1,000 deposited for a whole year. But it really begins to compound when you switch from a traditional savings account (0.01% to 0.06%) to a high-yield savings account (1% and higher). The difference just at the 1-year mark between a 0.1% APY and a 1.0% APY is $9 per $1,000 deposited, making high-yield savings accounts the perfect place to stash an emergency fund or to save up for large purchases.
The final word
Investing your money in a savings account can be a good option if you want access to your money at all times (not an option with CDs). Create an emergency fund, save for the kiddos’ college, stash some cash for a much-earned vacation, or anything else you want to save up for. Choose the best savings account by comparing interest rates, minimum account balances, fees, and access to customer service.