An online savings account is like a regular savings account, but with higher rates, lower fees, and greater convenience.
Banks that operate online spend less on overhead than banks with brick-and-mortar branches. These savings get passed on to customers in the form of higher rates (also known as annual percentage yield, or APY).
The best online savings accounts deliver APYs of up to 2.25%, more than 22 times the national average of 0.10%. Even basic online savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements usually offer market-beating rates that far exceed the national average.
Online savings accounts have become more popular in recent years as internet-only banks have emerged as competition for traditional banks. These days, most online banks offer mobile apps that let users track savings, deposit checks, and transfer money between accounts—all from the comfort of their smartphone.
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Each online savings account is unique, so it’s important to go comparison shopping before deciding where to park your money. The following is a list of the top things to focus on when comparing online savings accounts.
APY: This is the most important thing to look for when comparing online savings accounts, given that the entire point of a savings account is to save as much as possible. Today’s APYs for online savings accounts range from as low as 0.01% to as high as 2.25%. The higher the rate, the greater the likelihood that there are minimum requirements (such as a minimum balance) attached.
Minimum requirements: As mentioned, savings accounts often come with minimum requirements that the customer must commit to in order to receive the promised APR. The requirement usually takes the form of a minimum monthly balance or minimum opening deposit.
CDs: An online certificate of deposit, or online CD, is an alternative type of online savings account. With a CD, the customer must lock in their money for a certain period of time, e.g. 3 months, 12 months, or 6 years. Generally speaking, the longer the customer locks their money in for, the better the rate. At the time of writing, online banks were offering 5-year CDs with as high as 3.10% APY, more than double the national average of around 1.30%.
Checking services: Increasingly, online banks are offering hybrid checking-savings accounts that give the customer a combination of everyday banking services and a competitive savings rate. The best online savings accounts permit withdrawals (usually 4-6 per month), unlimited transfers between personal checking and savings accounts, and check deposits straight from a mobile app.
Customer service: Just because something is online doesn’t mean having to forego customer service. Most online banks offer service by live chat or phone. Some online banks even maintain a few physical branches, giving customers the option of face-to-face contact from time to time.
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Here are some of the services users can expect to be offered with the best online savings accounts:
Transfer money between accounts – Unlimited transfers between your personal savings and checking accounts.
User-friendly dashboard – Track all bank accounts and download statements from the one online or mobile dashboard.
Digital check deposit - Instantly scan and deposit a check with your smartphone and see the funds land in your savings account right away.
Savings and budgeting tools – Set savings goals, track your progress, and get useful tips on how to make the most of your savings account or CD.
Mobile banking app - Manage your savings account from your mobile device.
Sophisticated security and encryption - Keeps your data safe with multi-factor authentication and high standards of encryption.
FDIC Insurance – Deposits insured up to at least $250,000 (and sometimes as high as $1.5 million, depending on the bank).
SMS / email alerts – Notifications whenever any unusual or suspicious activity occurs in relation to your bank account.
ATMs – Withdraw money from ATMs in the US and around the world, and get reimbursements from third-party ATM withdrawals.
Add-ons - In an effort to entice customers, many online banks offer add-ons to savings accounts. These include rewards programs, ID theft resolution services, roadside assistance, reduced loan rates, third-party partner discounts, and free wire transfers.
With one of the highest APYs around, American Express™ savings gives you an incredible edge over traditional banks. Plus, you’ll get the award-winning customer support, convenient online accessibility, and rock-solid security features that come from an industry leader like American Express™.
Discover online banking offers customers several products including convenient checking accounts with 1% cashback on monthly debit card purchases, high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, and IRAs with equally impressive interest rates.
Axos is one of America’s oldest digital-only banks, having been founded in 2000 under the name Bank of Internet USA. It offers a strong selection of financial products and services, including checking and savings accounts, CDs, and various types of loans.
¹Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of July 1, 2021. All Varo Savings Accounts earn 0.20% APY beginning on that date. APY is variable and is subject to change. No minimum balance required to open an account. Balance in Savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest. To earn 3.00% APY, the Varo Savings Account must meet these requirements: Account Holder must 1) receive total qualifying direct deposits of $1,000 or more to a Varo Bank Account or Varo Savings Account in the same qualifying period. 2) The daily balance in the Varo Savings Account must not exceed $5,000. 3) Keep your Bank Account and Savings Account balances above or equal to $0.00 the entire calendar month. If these conditions are not met, you will earn 0.20% APY on the Savings Account balance for that period. The Qualifying Period is defined as the first day of the calendar month through the last business day of the calendar month.
Eligibility requirements apply. Free instant delivery is available for eligible Empower Checking Account customers with an activated debit card. Empower is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.
Chime is a financial technology company. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC
˜ Out-of-Network cash withdrawal fees apply. Third-party and cash deposit fees may apply.
^ Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
* Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires $500 in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Spending Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card purchases, including ATM withdrawals, ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See terms and conditions
¹ APY—Annual Percentage Yield. Effective December 9, 2020 the interest rate will be 0.50%. These interest rates are variable and may change at our discretion at any time. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
⁴ Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Spending Account to into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more into your savings account.
The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) PenFed offers on all its products are variable rate accounts and subject to change. The rates stated are current as of June 2021 unless otherwise noted are subject to change. The fees on your PenFed account can reduce earnings. This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Premium Online Savings account holders must agree to electronic delivery of account opening disclosures and monthly statements.