I've had the same bank account since age 12. After a ton of research, I've found 5 places I could move it to earn up to 200 times more
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- Currently, my money in short-term savings is held with my local bank, where I opened an account when I was 12.
- It's far from a rewarding place to keep my hard-earned cash, but I've been doing it for so long that it's hard to change my routine.
- Here are five high-yield savings accounts I am considering opening and switching to instead.
Up until this point in my life, I've been using the same bank account that my parents helped me open in middle school and the Chase bank account I opened while I was in college because my regional bank wasn't in my college town.
I've been aware for quite some time that I'm leaving money on the table by sticking with the accounts I have, but this change requires research, acting on that research, and a change in my banking route. However, traditional savings accounts like mine usually offer .01% to .1% interest, and high-yield savings accounts accounts offer up to 200 times that, with variable APYs up to 2.25% or sometimes even higher. The move could very well be worth it.
I want a savings account with at least three things: high interest rates, no fees, and ease of use.
I also want to make sure my money is in safe hands, so I've looked for whether the bank supports key security features like two-factor authentication, and double checked that the account is insured with either the FDIC (for banks) or NCUA (for credit unions).
Instead of doing this all behind the scenes, I'm sharing with you the account options I determined were best after my research, as well as what features are important to me. These are the top five savings accounts I found that I am considering switching to.
Ally Bank is a favorite of financial planners, and for good reason: It's an online-only bank that offers a 2.2% APY and 24/7 customer service, with no monthly fees or minimum balance. Ally was named the best online bank last year by Kiplinger, and ranked second in J.D. Power's "Direct Banking Satisfaction Study" (the No. 1 bank, Charles Schwab, only offers 0.5% APY for savings).
Ally also offers an interest checking account, but it only earns 0.1% APY on balances under $15,000 - so if you're looking for a one-stop shop for all your bank accounts, you may want to look elsewhere.
American Express may be best known for credit cards and travel services, but it has also been offering high-yield savings accounts for years. With 2.10% APY, no monthly fees or account minimums, and American Express' legendary customer support, opening a savings account with AmEx is a strong consideration. It also offers competitive rates on certificates of deposit. You will definitely need another bank for checking though, since AmEx doesn't offer checking accounts.
One thing to be aware of is that American Express Personal Savings accounts are completely separate from other American Express products - they're different websites, so you'll have to create a new account even if you already have an American Express card, and transactions like paying an American Express credit card bill from your savings account will have to be set up manually just like any other bank.
Like American Express, most people know Discover for its credit cards, but it also offers some great bank accounts.
Discover's Online Savings Account offers 2.10% APY with no minimum deposit, no monthly fees, and no minimum balance. It's super transparent about the fees they do charge - there aren't many - and will even waive your first fee every year if you get charged for insufficient funds or need to stop a payment. Its online banking and mobile app are both easy to use, and it also offers a no-fee checking account that earns 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month.
Alliant Credit Union
Alliant is a Chicago-based credit union. Its High-Rate Savings account earns 2.10% APY - not the highest on this list, but it raised its interest rates 10 times in 2018 - and even its High-Interest Checking account offers 0.65% APY (as long as you sign up for paperless statements and make one deposit a month). There are no monthly fees or minimum balances, and customer service is available 24/7.
There's a couple important things to know about credit unions. For one, they're not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members - that means their main responsibility is your financial success. They also have membership requirements, but don't worry: Alliant partners with many large and small employers and associations, or you can become eligible by making a $5 donation to its partner charity, Foster Care 2 Success.
Synchrony Bank High-Yield Savings
You might not have heard of Synchrony Financial, but it has been in business for over 80 years and provides credit cards for over 100 major brands like Amazon, PayPal, Sam's Club, and Cathay Pacific Airlines.
Synchrony offers one of the highest interest rates on the market, with 2.25% APY, and has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. It also provides an ATM card for emergencies, which even allows you to deposit cash and checks at certain ATMs on the Plus and ACCEL networks, and will waive up to $5 in ATM fees every month.
The main downside of Synchrony is that while it offers a fairly easy-to-use website, for some reason there's no mobile app. However, the mobile website does offer all the features you'd expect from an app, including mobile check deposit and contacting customer service.
These are the accounts that might work for me. However, if you're considering a move, you might want to think about what's most important to you. Do you want a bank with both savings and checking accounts, so you can move money easily between them? Or would it be better to keep your savings somewhere else, so it's easier to resist the temptation to make a withdrawal?
The most important thing is to start saving money somewhere - and preferably to do it in a high yield savings account like one of these.
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