Here are the best savings accounts right now
Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
The best savings accounts right now:
- Ally Bank: Best savings account overall
- BrioDirect: Best savings account for high APY
- Capital One: Best savings account for kids/teens
- Synchrony Bank: Best savings account for college students
- Barclays CD: Best savings account for long-term goals
Picking the best savings account to store your money is nearly as important as how much you save. Fees can eat into your cash, but a good interest rate can help grow it.
Many of us are guilty of settling for the savings account at the bank that holds our checking account. While there can be advantages to this - speedy cash transfers, most of all - it can be limiting.
Below you'll find our picks for the best savings accounts right now, which includes high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) - two types of savings products that can help you earn up to 20 times more in interest than a traditional savings account. Each of these accounts has no fees, FDIC insurance up to $250,000, and online or mobile app access.
The most common way to access cash in a savings account is through electronic transfers to an internal or external checking account. With some accounts, an ATM card is provided or checks can be requested.
Keep in mind that most savings accounts limit the number of transfers and withdrawals to and from a checking or other savings account to six per statement cycle. With a CD, you cannot add additional money to the account or withdraw any money between the end of the initial funding period (usually between 10 and 14 days) and the maturity date without forfeiting your interest earnings.
Ally: Best savings account overall
Why it stands out: Ally has been a power player in the high-yield savings space for a few years now, and it consistently nabs top awards for online banking. It's a particular favorite among millennials, who tout its accessibility and ease of use. You can deposit checks through the mobile app and open multiple accounts in minutes with $0 down. Ally's suite of products also includes a checking account, home and auto loans, and investing accounts.
What to look out for: An excessive transfer charge. Each transfer over the federal limit of six per statement cycle will incur a fee of $10.
BrioDirect: Best savings account for high APY
Why it stands out: BrioDirect is the online division of Sterling National Bank and it offers one of the top APYs for high-yield savings accounts right now, paired with a low minimum deposit. It's also accessible via mobile app.
What to look out for: Minimum deposit. You need at least $25 to open an account. Also, bear in mind that interest rates fluctuate with the federal funds rate, which means you aren't necessarily guaranteed to earn the highest rate with this account forever. There are still good reasons to open a high-yield savings account when interest rates are low, but be aware they can change.
Capital One: Best savings account for kids/teens
Why it stands out: Kids under 18 can use Capital One's Kids Savings Account to deposit and store money with a little oversight from Mom and Dad. There are no fees and all balance tiers earn the 0.60% APY - much higher than kids' savings accounts at competing banks.
The mobile app allows kids to deposit checks and play with savings interest calculators to see how their money could grow. When the child turns 18, the account automatically becomes a Capital One 360 online savings account earning 1.80% APY.
Rate: 0.60% APY
What to look out for: Parental controls. Kids have their own online login to the account, but money can't be transferred without parental approval.
Synchrony Bank: Best savings account for college students
Why it stands out: Synchrony Bank's high-yield savings account comes with an ATM card and doesn't limit the number of transactions or withdrawals that can be made via ATM, so it acts like a checking account. The bank will reimburse up to $5 a month in ATM fees charged by other financial institutions. But even better: All balance tiers earn 1.80% APY.
Rate: 1.80% APY
What to look out for: Non-ATM transfer limits. If you're making transfers to other accounts electronically, you're limited to six per statement cycle. Also, you cannot swipe the ATM card at retailers like a debit card.
Barclays CD: Best savings account for long-term goals
Why it stands out: If you have a savings fund that you won't need until a future date (and not before then), a CD is a good option for earning more. Barclays offers some of the highest rates on long-term CDs paired with no minimum deposit requirement.
Rate: 2.10% on 1-year to 4-year CDs; 2.20% on 5-year CDs.
What to look out for: Early withdrawal penalties. The penalty for early withdrawal on a CD with a term of 24 months or less is equal to 90 days of interest. The penalty on a CD with a term of more than 24 months is equal to 180 days of interest.
Other savings accounts we considered and why they didn't make the cut:
- Wealthfront: Although this account took the top spot on our best high-yield savings accounts list for its high APY and investing opportunities, the online banking service does not offer other financial products, like loans or a checking account, or have mobile check deposit.
- Betterment: This robo-adviser's high-yield cash account, which requires a $10 initial deposit but doesn't limit transfers, is generally a good deal. But in order to clinch the top APY of 1.85%, you have to join the waitlist for Betterment's checking account.
- Discover Bank: While it offers the same 1.70% APY, Discover's high-yield savings account isn't as beloved by customers as Ally's.
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs: While this high-yield savings account is a contender for fan favorite, there's no mobile app, which means there's no easy way to deposit checks.
- American Express: With a solid 1.75% APY, this account is a good option if you don't mind not having mobile access.
- Wells Fargo Way2Save: While this account comes with ATM access, it offers a dismal 0.01% APY and charges a $5 monthly fee unless certain balance or auto-transfer requirements are met.
- Chase Savings: Despite access to thousands of physical branches and ATMs, Chase offers just 0.01% APY on its savings account and charges a $5 monthly fee unless certain balance or auto-transfer requirements are met.
- Bank of America: Despite access to thousands of physical branches and ATMs, Bank of America's savings account earns just 0.03% APY and charges an $8 monthly fee unless you keep a $500 daily balance.
- HSBC Direct: The 2.05% APY makes this high-yield savings account a good choice for high earning potential, but it's not the best no-fee, low minimum balance option out there.
- CIBC Bank: To earn the 1.85% APY on CIBC's high-yield savings account, you only need to maintain a balance of $0.01, but you have to put down $1,000 to open the account in the first place.
- Citizens Access: Despite offering a respectable 1.85% APY, the minimum deposit to open a high-yield savings account here is $5,000. Citizens Access offers high APYs on its CDs, ranging from 2.10% to 2.25%, but all terms require a minimum deposit of $5,000.
- Sallie Mae: The rates on Sallie Mae's CDs are all above 2%, but the minimum deposit to open an account is $2,500 and there isn't a no-penalty CD available.
- MySavingsDirect: This high-yield savings account earns 2%, but there are others with better user experience and similar features that earn more.
- SFGI Direct: A 2.27% APY may be attractive to interest-rate chasers, but you need at least $500 to open an account here.
- PurePoint Financial: PurePoint's rates are on par with the best CDs on our list, but its $10,000 minimum deposit could be a major drawback for more modest savers.
- Vio Bank: Although Vio Bank's high-yield savings account earns just over 2%, it requires $100 to start and didn't stand out among similar accounts.
- Credit Karma: This high-yield savings account earns 1.90%, but as a credit and loan company, Credit Karma's expertise is not in traditional banking.
- Personal Capital: This is technically a cash account, which makes it easy to sweep some money into investments, but it only offers a 1.55% APY on your savings.
- CIT Bank Savings Builder: This account requires a $100 monthly deposit or a $25,000 daily balance to earn the top APY. It's a great account to create savings momentum, but not the best overall.
Frequently asked questions:
Why trust our recommendations?
Personal Finance Insider's mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money. We understand that "best" is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the clear benefits of a financial product or account - a high APY, for example - we outline the limitations, too. We spent hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don't have to.
How did we chose the best savings accounts?
We reviewed over two dozen banks and financial institutions and found that the best offerings are at online banks, in large part because they offer much higher interest rates and fewer fees. We ultimately narrowed our focus to banks offering at least 1% APY on their savings products (high-yield savings accounts and CDs included), with the exception of kids' savings accounts.
For this list, we did not consider credit unions - though they tend to offer high interest rates on savings accounts and CDs, many limit membership to people who work in a specific industry or live in a designated area.
What bank offers the best savings account?
Because of its ease of use, high customer satisfaction, and good interest rate, Ally Bank has one of the best savings accounts overall. However, the "best" savings account for you will depend on your goals and priorities. Some people prefer to have a savings account at a bank that offers other financial products, like loans or checking or investment accounts, so we took this into consideration as well.
What is the best savings account to have?
The best savings account to have is one that does not charge excessive (or any) fees, is easy to access, and earns an interest rate above the national average of 0.09%. Interest rates on traditional and high-yield savings accounts are variable, however, so it's important to consider other features of an account before opening it for a high APY.
If you don't need immediate access to your cash, you may want to consider a CD to potentially lock in a higher interest rate. Otherwise, for cash that you will need to access on a regular basis - whether you're adding or withdrawing money from the account - a high-yield savings account is the best option.
Are online savings accounts safe?
Just like a savings account opened through a brick-and-mortar bank, most online savings accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000. The account is set up through a bank's website using the same information required at a physical branch - name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license or passport number, and address - but you will also need to create a username and password for online access.
Are high-yield savings accounts worth it?
Yes - a high-yield savings account has very few downsides, if any. There's no risk that you'll lose money, your account is insured by the FDIC (usually up to $250,000, but up to $1 million in some cases), and it gives you a shot at beating inflation.
The only time a high-yield savings account may not be worth it is if you're paying excessive maintenance fees that eat into your interest payments or you find yourself restricted by the monthly transfer limit or time it takes for your money to get to your checking account.
Tanza Loudenback has been writing about money every day for more than three years. She is an expert on strategies for building wealth and financial products that help people make the most of their money. She is in the process of becoming a licensed CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP).
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.