Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, statements, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors' alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any provider of the products listed below.
Nowadays, saving money in an account at many big banks is just about as useful as stashing it under your mattress if you’re looking to earn returns. Not only have rates on deposit accounts at traditional banks barely budged in the last few years — despite a wave of rate hikes from the Fed — but they often penalize customers with fees for everything from carrying a balance under a certain amount or daring to use an out-of-network ATM.
Online banks are a different story. Without the cost of maintaining physical branches to contend with, online banks get to pass those savings to consumers in the form of higher rates and fewer fees.
It can be easy to ignore the benefits of an online savings account, if only to avoid the slight hassle of moving your money from one bank to the next. But why pass up the chance to earn more money at no real extra cost to you? Moving money to and from an online account can often be as easy as initiating an electronic transfer. Online banks tend to offer robust mobile and online portals with 24/7 customer support to make up for lack of a physical branch presence.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out the best online savings accounts below.
All rates are current as of 12/2/2019
The best national online savings accounts
How we chose the best national online savings accounts
To find the best online savings accounts among our partners, we took a few important factors into account:
- High interest rate: We honed in on the highest APYs offered on an online savings account to ensure high returns.
- No monthly fee: None of the above accounts charge a monthly fee. This allows your money to grow undisturbed by pesky bank charges.
- Low minimum deposit: A top online savings account should have a low (or $0 minimum deposit) so a wider selection of customers can take advantage of the account.
#1 Vio Bank
While its competitors cut their rates, Vio Bank rises above the rest by increasing their own savings rate, continuing its run as one of the best online savings accounts in the industry. The bank even promises to watch the competition to ensure you always get the best rate with Vio.
Vio’s High Yield Online Savings Account requires a $100 minimum opening deposit. After you make your initial deposit, you can earn according to the high interest rate no matter your balance. The account does not charge a monthly fee. Be sure to keep your account withdrawals limited to six per statement cycle. Each additional withdrawal will incur a $10 fee.
Founded in August 2018, Vio is the online bank venture of MidFirst Bank, which currently maintains $16 billion in assets.
MIN TO EARN: $0Learn More
#2 HSBC Direct
Coming in third is HSBC Direct, which earns its competitive rate on all balances. You must open an account with at least $1 in new money, or money that’s not already held with HSBC. There is no monthly maintenance fee.
HSBC Direct is accessible online and in select U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco and Washington D.C. On a larger scale, HSBC Group operates in 66 countries and territories.
MIN TO EARN: $0Learn More
With a relatively competitive rate, NASB closes out this list with its high minimum balance requirement of $50,000. The bank will guarantee your opening rate for six months after opening. Any balances under that threshold will still earn interest, but at a much lower rate. The High Rate Savings account doesn’t charge a monthly fee.
NASB, or North American Savings Bank, has been around since 1927. You can find NASB branches only in Missouri.
MIN TO EARN: $50,000Learn More
#4 CIT Bank
The CIT Bank Savings Builder account offers two ways to earn at its highly competitive interest rate. For one, you can deposit at least $100 into the account each month. This is a great option for dedicated savers. If you’re not that consistent with your savings but can maintain a high balance, you can choose to keep at least $25,000 in the account at all times to earn the higher rate.
You are required to open the account with at least $100. All customers are given an introductory period (from the day of account opening to the first business day of the month after account opening) to make a qualifying deposit of at least $100 after account opening. During this time, the account’s higher interest rate will apply. If you don’t meet either requirement by the end of the introductory period, however, your interest rate and APY drop more than a full percentage point.
CIT Bank was founded in 1908 in St. Louis, and has grown over the years. It includes OneWest Bank, a Southern California branch bank.
MIN TO EARN: $100 per month/$25k minimum balanceLearn More
#5 Citizens Access
Citizens Access is the online banking venture of brick-and-mortar Citizens Bank, which has been around for around 190 years. Citizens Access operates entirely digitally, though, with no branch access to your accounts. Its Online Savings offers a competitive rate, but only for balances above $5,000. You’ll need at least $5,000 to open the account in the first place, so as long as you maintain that balance, you’ll earn at the high rate. Any account balance below that will earn at significantly lower rate more comparable to typical brick-and-mortar rates.
The Online Savings account doesn’t charge a monthly service fee.
MIN TO EARN: $5,000Learn More
Ken's methodology for choosing the best savings accounts
To choose my five best online savings accounts, I took a few important factors into account:
- History of high interest rates: My top picks have a history of offering competitive rates for multiple years. They don’t play games by offering the best rates only on promotional accounts, new accounts or at new websites.
- Functional online account management: All of my picks have an online account management system that allows for large electronic fund transfers to and from your accounts at other banks. Many also allow you to manage your beneficiaries online.
- Beneficiaries and trust accounts: How easy banks make the process of designating multiple beneficiaries was also a factor in my picks. In addition, banks that allowed trust accounts were ranked higher.
- Other Features: Fees, wire transfer policies and ATM access were just a few of the factors considered.
#1 PurePoint Financial
PurePoint Financial has maintained very competitive rates on its Online Savings Account since PurePoint Financial was launched in early 2017. PurePoint Financial is a division of MUFG Union Bank, N.A., which is a large western regional bank better known as Union Bank.
One shortcoming of the PurePoint Financial Online Savings Account is a $10,000 minimum balance that’s required to earn the top rate. The rate for balances under $10,000 is low. Consequently, this account is only suitable for those who intend to maintain a $10,000 minimum balance. Since PurePoint Financial has been able to maintain higher rates than online savings accounts without minimum balance requirements, I consider this shortcoming a reasonable trade-off for those looking to maximize yield. On the positive side, there is no monthly service fee regardless of the minimum balance.
In regards to managing the Online Savings Account online, PurePoint Financial ranks high. The online account management system allows customers to initiate free bank-to-bank electronic funds transfers on amounts up to $250k. That’s larger than what’s allowed at many other online banks. Before transfers can take place, a link to an external account must be established using the online system. Up to ten external accounts can be linked which is an above-average number. The online system can also be used to add, remove and change beneficiaries for an account.
In addition to individual and joint accounts, the Online Savings Account can be opened as a personal trust account. This is often not possible at other online banks.
One shortcoming is the lack of ATM access.
MIN TO EARN: $10,000Learn More
#2 Live Oak Bank
Live Oak Bank’s Savings Account is the youngest account in my picks, but since it launched in the first half of 2017, the Savings Account has consistently offered competitive rates. The rates have remained in the high range for online savings accounts without minimum balance requirements.
The Savings Account has no minimum balance requirement. All balances earn the stated APY. Live Oak Bank does limit a customer’s aggregate balance (total of all consumer accounts) to be no greater than $5 million. There is no monthly maintenance fee.
In regards to managing the Savings Account online, Live Oak Bank ranks high. The online account management system allows customers to initiate free bank-to-bank electronic funds transfers on amounts up to $250k. That’s larger than what’s allowed at many other online banks. Before transfers can take place, a link to an external account must be established using the online system. Up to three external accounts can be linked which is an average number. The online system can also be used to add, remove and change beneficiaries for an account.
Live Oak Bank does have a few shortcomings. There is no ATM access. Although wire transfers are allowed, a fee is charged, even for incoming wire transfers. Lastly, Live Oak Bank does not offer trust accounts.
MIN TO EARN: $0Learn More
#3 SFGI Direct
SFGI Direct, a division of Summit Community Bank, has offered consistently competitive rates on its Savings Account since 2009. The online bank keeps things simple with this Savings Account being its only product since it began operation.
The Savings Account requires a $500 minimum deposit to open, but the minimum balance to earn interest is only $1. The only maximum is the total initial deposit, which is limited to $25,000. There is no monthly maintenance fee.
In regards to managing the Savings Account online, SFGI Direct is average. One positive is that the online account management system allows customers to initiate free bank-to-bank electronic funds transfers of any amount. Most online banks limit the size of these transfers, with many banks limiting them to small amounts. One downside is that only one link to an external account is allowed for transfers. Another downside is that the online account management system cannot be used to change beneficiaries. Up to four named beneficiaries can be designated in the online application; however, beneficiary changes requires closing the account and opening a new one.
Additional shortcomings of SFGI Direct include the lack of ATM access, the inability to accept wire transfers and the lack of trust accounts.
MIN TO EARN: $1Learn More
#4 Goldman Sachs Bank USA
Goldman Sachs Bank USA has maintained very competitive rates on its High-yield Online Savings Account since it acquired the internet deposit business from GE Capital Bank in April 2016. During this time, the rates of the Online Savings Account have been in the high range for online savings accounts without minimum balance requirements.
The Online Savings Account has no rate tiers and requires only a $1 minimum balance to earn the stated APY. Goldman Sachs Bank USA is very fee friendly. Not only is there no monthly service fee, but there are also no transaction fees. This includes wire transfers. There are no fees for sending or receiving wire transfers. Most banks charge a fee when you send a wire transfer.
In regards to managing the Online Savings Account online, Goldman Sachs Bank USA ranks high. The online account management system allows customers to initiate free bank-to-bank electronic funds transfers on amounts up to $125k for withdrawals and with no limit for deposits (as long as maximum balance limits are maintained). That’s larger than what’s allowed at many other online banks. Before transfers can take place, a link to an external account must be established using the online system. Up to four external accounts can be linked which is an average number.
Goldman Sachs Bank USA does have a couple of shortcomings. There is no ATM access, and accounts cannot be opened in the names of trusts.
MIN TO EARN: $0Learn More
#5 Synchrony Bank
Synchrony Bank has maintained very competitive rates on its High Yield Savings Account since Synchrony Financial was spun off from GE Capital in 2014. During this time, the rates of the High Yield Savings Account have been in the high range for online savings accounts without minimum balance requirements.
The High Yield Savings Account has no minimum balance requirements. All balances earn the stated APY. Synchrony Bank is fee friendly. There are no monthly service fees. One of the few fees that do exist applies to outgoing wire transfers. This is a $25 fee unless a customer qualifies for Diamond status. There is no fee for incoming wire transfers.
Unlike many online savings accounts, Synchrony Bank offers ATM access. Synchrony doesn’t charge a fee when customers use the ATMs of other banks. In addition, Synchrony Bank will refund ATM fees charged by other banks, up to $5 per statement cycle.
In regards to managing the High Yield Savings Account online, Synchrony Bank ranks high. The online account management system allows customers to initiate free bank-to-bank electronic funds transfers on amounts up to $250k for withdrawals and up to $500k for deposits. Those are higher limits than the limits of many other online banks. Before transfers can take place, a link to an external account must be established using the online system. Up to ten external accounts can be linked which is an above-average number.
In addition to individual and joint accounts, the High Yield Savings Account can be opened as an IRA or trust account. This is often not possible at other online banks. The online application can accommodate up to four beneficiaries per account. Paper form must be used to add, remove or change beneficiaries after the account is opened.
MIN TO EARN: $0Learn More
The highest savings account rates
There are certain institutions that will offer an incredibly high savings account rate only to take it away or drop the rate incredibly low. Some of the accounts listed below are from institutions that don't have a great track record or require a high balance amount to earn the APY, but others offer reliability and consistency. While we do advise that you do further research before opening one of these savings accounts, these institutions have the highest savings rates currently available. Please keep in mind that this list does not include money market accounts. There may be money market accounts with higher rates than the accounts listed below, but we've listed the top ten highest rates for savings accounts only. If you'd like to see our full list of the highest bank account rates, you'll want to check out our Bank Account Interest Rates Summary.
The highest savings account rates
|Fitness Bank||2.30% ($100+)||Fitness Savings (12,500+ Steps)||Learn More|
|SFGI Direct||2.27% ($1+)||SFGI Direct Savings Account||Learn More|
|State Bank of India (IL)||2.25%||Savings Account - US Based Consumer||Learn More|
|Prime Alliance Bank||2.22% ($10k+) |
|Personal Savings Account||Learn More|
|BrioDirect||2.20% ($25+)||High-Yield Savings||Learn More|
|Communitywide FCU||2.10% ($1+)||Funds - Monthly||Learn More|
|TAB Bank||2.10% ($1+)||High Yield Savings||Learn More|
|Elements Financial||2.10% ($2.5k - $250k)||Helium Savings 1 year Promo - New Money||Learn More|
|Vio Bank||2.07% ($100)||High Yield Online Savings Account||Learn More|
|HSBC Direct||2.05% (Up to $2m)||HSBC Direct Savings||Learn More|
What to consider when choosing the best online savings account
When committing to a bank, you may want some peace of mind knowing your deposits won’t go to waste over the years. In 2014, online bank rates began to rise steadily, with a steep incline starting after a Fed rate hike in June 2017 and continuing through to the latest rate increase in Dec. 2018. However, with the Fed’s three latest rate cuts, savings account rates are now on a slight decline, although it’s not expected to continue for much longer. Still, online savings rates continue to outperform brick-and-mortar institutions, which still earn at an average 0.27%, according to our data.
For a potentially better rate outlook, you could consider opening a certificate of deposit (CD), or two. Average savings rates don’t respond the most positively to Fed moves quite like CDs do, thanks to traditional big banks keeping their rates low to drag down the average. Average CD rates, on the other hand, saw an increase in response to the rate hikes. Since CDs lock in your rate for a few months or years at a time, you can use these accounts to take advantage of today’s rates before they drop even further. Once your CD term matures, a new rate may apply, so you’ll have to check whether you’re still getting the best rate deal.