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The best high-yield savings accounts right now:
You really can't go wrong with a high-yield savings account. If you've decided to store your money in a high-yield account, where it's growing but still accessible, you're already doing better than the 75% of Americans who are leaving money on the table.
As more banks and financial companies crowd into the high-yield savings space, it has become an all-out battle to offer the best account features coupled with the highest interest rates — and that's great news for savers.
It's important to note that, unlike certificates of deposit (CDs), you do not lock in a fixed interest rate when you open a high-yield savings account. The annual percentage yield (APY) is variable since it's based on what the Federal Reserve does. So while it's smart to look at interest rates when comparing high-yield savings accounts, it's not the be-all and end-all.
Note also that high-yield savings accounts' rates have been decreasing along with the federal funds rate in the first quarter of 2020. But considering these accounts still offer higher rates than your average brick-and-mortar bank, it's still a good idea to use them to save money.
Below you'll find our picks for the best high-yield savings accounts right now. Each of these accounts is free of monthly maintenance fees, insured by the FDIC, and appropriate for modest and super savers alike. Users can access each of these accounts online or through an app.
Best high-yield 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.
Accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per user. If you're married with a joint account, you're insured up to $500,000.
Ally makes it easy to save for specific goals. Assign each account a nickname, like "Emergency Fund" or "Travel Account" to track your progress and stay motivated. You may decide to open a separate account for each goal, but Ally has a bucket feature that allows you save for multiple goals in one account.
Ally is also known for providing strong customer service. You can call a representative or chat with a real person online or through your app 24/7.
What to look out for: An excessive transfer charge. Like most banks, Ally limits the number of transfers in and out of its high-yield savings account to six times per statement cycle. Each transfer over the limit will incur a fee of $10.
Best savings account for high APY
Why it stands out: Vio offers the top APY for high-yield savings accounts right now, and it doesn't charge a monthly management fee.
What to look out for: Limited customer support. Unlike many online banks, Vio doesn't offer live chat with representatives. 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.
Best high-yield savings account for ease of use
Why it stands out: This account is a contender for fan favorite. The company launched an easy-to-use mobile app in early 2020, making transfers and tracking simpler for users. Marcus doesn't require you to maintain a minimum balance, although you'll need to deposit at least $1 to start earning interest.
What to look out for: No mobile check deposit. If you want to deposit a paper check, you'll have to put the money in an external bank account and transfer the funds to your Marcus account.
Best high-yield savings account for automatic savings
Why it stands out: This account rewards automatic savings with a high APY. After you make an initial deposit of $100 to open an account, you'll earn the top APY for a brief introductory period. After that, you'll need to set up automatic transfers or direct deposit of at least $100 a month (or keep a balance of $25,000) to keep earning 1.55%. If you're serious about making saving a habit, this is a great tool to get started.
What to look out for: Minimum balance requirements. If you don't set up automatic transfers of $100 a month and you have less than $25,000 in the account, you'll earn 1.09%.
Best high-yield savings account for ATM access
Why it stands out: High-yield savings accounts usually don't allow you to pull out cash easily. Synchrony Bank gives account holders a debit card to use at ATMs and doesn't limit the number of transactions.
What to look out for: ATM fees. While Synchrony won't charge you for ATM withdrawals on its end, other banks or operators may. Synchrony will only reimburse up to $5 in ATM fees per statement cycle.
Other high-yield savings accounts we considered and why they didn't make the cut:
- Capital One 360: This solid high-yield savings account offers a 1.50% APY, but it doesn't provide 24/7 customer service with real people like Ally does.
- Betterment: This robo-adviser's high-yield cash account doesn't limit transfers. However, Betterment requires a $10 initial deposit and its APY is just 0.30%.
- Wealthfront: This account offers unlimited transfers in a statement cycle, but its APY is lower than competitors' at 0.35%.
- Discover Bank: While it offers a respectable rate of 1.40%, Discover's high-yield savings account isn't as beloved as some of our top picks.
- Barclays: A fine high-yield savings account with a 1.50% APY, it lacks distinguishing factors (rates current as of 4/24/2020).
- American Express: With a solid 1.50% APY, this account is a good option if you don't mind not having mobile access.
- HSBC Direct: The 1.70% 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 1.45% 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.
- Fitness Bank: This unique high-yield savings account determines your APY by the number of steps you take on an average day. While there's potential to earn up to 1.90% on your money, it's conditional on your level of commitment.
- Citizens Access: Despite offering a respectable 1.50% APY, the minimum deposit to open a high-yield savings account here is $5,000.
- MySavingsDirect: This high-yield savings account earns 1%, but there are others with better user experience and similar features that earn more.
- BrioDirect: The 1.55% APY makes this account a decent choice for savers, but some customers have complained that their initial funds transfer took longer than expected.
- SFGI Direct: Although SFGI Direct's high-yield savings account earns a 1.71% APY, it requires $500 to open an account.
- Credit Karma: This high-yield savings account only earns 0.56%, and 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 0.05% APY on your savings.
- HMBradley: This hybrid checking and savings account offers high rates, but you have to save at least 20% of your deposits to earn the maximum APY of 3%.
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 choose the best high-yield savings accounts?
There are a lot of high-yield savings accounts out there. Through our research, we've found that the best high-yield savings accounts are offered by banks with a strong online presence, robo-advisers, and other internet-only financial companies.
In addition to polling Business Insider employees for their favorite picks, we reviewed high-yield savings accounts at nearly two dozen institutions to identify the strongest options. We also cross-referenced our list against popular comparison sites like Bankrate and Nerdwallet to make sure we didn't miss a thing.
While interest rates are an important aspect of any high-yield savings account, several offer the same annual percentage yield (APY). To differentiate between them, we also considered minimum deposit and balance requirements, transfer limitations, and any other standout features. Importantly, we didn't consider any high-yield savings accounts that impose monthly maintenance fees.
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.
Which banks have the best savings interest rates?
Generally you'll find the best savings interest rates at online banks. Nationally, the average traditional savings account earns just 0.09% APY. The best high-yield savings accounts offer an APY of at least 1%.
If you're more comfortable banking with a brick-and-mortar, a traditional savings account may be a better option for you. Just know that you may not be getting the best possible interest rate.
How often do high-yield savings rates change?
Interest rates on high-yield savings accounts closely follow the federal funds rate. That is to say, rates are variable and can change multiple times per year at the whim of the Federal Reserve.
The Fed meets eight times a year and decides whether to increase, decrease, or leave interest rates untouched. If the Fed cuts rates, the APY on your savings account can drop within days. When rates are lower, you won't earn as much interest on your savings. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't save at all. When interest rates inevitably go back up, you'll see a greater return on your money than if you started from scratch.
Because the Fed spent several years raising rates since the Great Recession, it cut interest rates three times toward the end of 2019 in an effort to regulate the economy and side step another recession, and it's already slashed rates twice in 2020. It's nearly impossible to predict with certainty which way rates will go, but you can bet they're going to change one way or another.
Is there a 5% interest savings account?
There is no savings account that offers a 5% interest rate. Today, most high-yield savings accounts top out around 1.85% APY. If you want a higher return and you don't need immediate access to your money, you may consider putting it in a certificate of deposit (CD) or investing in the market.
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 a candidate for the CFP® certification.