My first online savings account was with a little-known Dutch bank making its foray into the United States. They were orange, not a typical banking color (most prefer blues and greens here), had an acronym for their name (or was it just the name?), and people were still skeptical about online banking.
I loved them. ING (which is actually an acronym for Internationale Nederlanden Groep) was and is still fantastic, under the new post-acquisition name of Capital One 360. I've considered it one of the best online banks for quite some time.
Nowadays, online savings accounts are commonplace and extremely versatile. The interest rates are all within striking distance of each other, so it's not much of a differentiator, so to find the best you need to look at the different perks.
How do these rates compare with traditional banks? See for yourself, not a single one is even close to an online bank:
- Bank of America: 0.01% APY
- Citi: 0.31% APY
- Chase: 0.01% APY
- U.S. Bank: 0.04% APY
- Wells Fargo: 0.01% APY
- National Average: 0.12% APY (via Informa Research Services)
All the banks on this list are FDIC insured (don't let phrase “online bank” scare you, they're just like regular banks). You can confirm that by searching the FDIC's Bank Find tool and confirming the FDIC numbers listed. These banks are presented in no particular order.
Barclays Bank – 1.50% APY
Their online savings account product has a competitive interest rate, no minimum balance to open, and to earn interest you need to keep enough such that the interest rate earns you a penny each period (so you won't earn fractional interest, this is typical).
Barclay's has a competitive lineup of Certificates of Deposit, with terms as short as 3-months all the way up to 60 months. The rates are competitive with other online banks.
Synchrony Bank – 1.45% APY
Their savings account is tied for the highest interest rate with no minimum balance and no maintenance fees.
They don't have a “checking” account but instead what is known as a money market account. This account pays a higher interest than similar online checking accounts and has no minimum balance and no maintenance fees either.
Their CD rates are competitive with others on this list.
Discover Bank – 1.50% APY
Their savings account has one of the highest interest rates, no maintenance fees, and no minimum balance.
The checking account also has no minimum balance, access to over 60,000 ATMs in the ATM network, plus a generous reward structure. You can earn 1% cashback on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, pay a bill online, or write a check that clears (up to 100 such cashback transactions a month)
Ally Bank – 1.45% APY
Their savings account has a solid interest rate, no maintenance fees, and no minimum balance.
Their CD rates are also competitive, the early termination period is only 60 days on a short-term CD (versus the more typical 90 days), and they often give you an interest rate bonus if you roll your maturing CD into a new one.
They offer a free checking account with no minimum balance, they refund up to $10 in ATM fees each statement, have a large ATM network, and they have a competitive interest rate on the checking account too.
Their app is solid too. It has all of the typical bells and whistles plus a great remote deposit feature for when you have checks to deposit. If you need to deposit checks and don't want to use the app, there are postage-paid deposit envelopes for you to use too (absolutely free).
Finally, they also recently acquired TradeKing, rebranding it Ally Invest. This gives you access to a low-cost stock broker too.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs – 1.50% APY
They currently have the highest interest rate for savings accounts and they have no minimum deposits and no transaction fees (there do not appear to be maintenance fees either). They were named the Best Stand-Alone Account for Savings by MONEY® Magazine ‘Best Banks' 2016 issue, for whatever that's worth.
Alliant Credit Union – 1.45% APY
The account minimum to open is $5 (but they will give you $5 to open an account!). The interest rate is available if you have $100 or more in your account and there are no maintenance fees if you elect e-statements (many of the online banks do not even offer paper statements, so this is not a huge distinction). They have 80,000+ ATMs in their network.
The same terms exist for their checking account too but their interest rate on the checking account is slightly higher than many others. There is no minimum balance required on the checking account and you can get $20 in ATM surcharge refunds per month.
Why bother including a credit union? Because this credit union offers two remarkable products – a Kid's Savings Account and a Free Teen Checking Account. They are joint accounts with perks to help teach your kids responsible money habits – fantastic idea.