This article was reviewed by Marguerita Cheng, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning advocate for ethical financial planning for over 20 years.
The best high-yield savings account are found online because online banks don’t have to maintain expensive physical branches. By forgoing wages for tellers and branch managers, janitorial staff, utility bills and other expenses, banks can pass the savings on to you in the form of stronger interest rates. We researched over 80 providers and dug into important factors like interest rates, monthly fees, availability and minimum deposit requirements to bring you the best high interest savings accounts available today.
What’s changed in 2021? We added Chime Savings and Axos High Yield Savings to our best list.
The 16 best high-interest savings accounts
Use this table to explore the best high-yield savings accounts available today. Want to see how much interest you could earn? Enter your deposit amount into the box and click Calculate.
What are the best online high-yield savings accounts?
No fees. Chime doesn't charge any fees for its savings account, and you can get started with as much money as you'd like.
High interest. You'll earn 0.5% interest on every penny you keep in your Chime Savings account. This APY is higher than most savings accounts available today.
Automatic savings. Put your savings on autopilot by having Chime round up your debit card purchases and sweep the spare change into savings. Plus, have up to 10% of each paycheck transferred to savings when it hits your account.
Chime Spending account required. You must open a Chime Spending account before you can open a Chime Savings account, which could be a disadvantage if you're not in the market for a new checking account.
Limited access to funds. The only way to withdraw money from your Chime Savings account is to transfer it to your Spending account first.
No joint accounts. You can't open this account with a partner, child or family member as Chime doesn't support joint accounts.
High APY. Earn 0.6% APY across your entire account balance.
Optional ATM card. Withdraw cash on the go when you request your free ATM card at account opening.
No service fee. You won't pay anything to maintain this account.
Opening deposit. You need at least $1,000 to open this account and earn 0.6% APY.
New money only. If you're an existing customer, you must fund this account with new money to qualify for the advertised APY.
Excessive transaction fee. You'll pay a whopping $20 fee each time you make more than six outgoing transactions a month. Most banks usually charge $5 to $10. Although this policy could be waived temporarily due to COVID-19.
No fees. The SmartyPig savings account doesn't have any monthly or withdrawal fees.
Competitive APYs. Even Sallie Mae's lowest APY tier of 0.45% is higher than most high-yield savings accounts available today.
Goal tracking. Create goals in your SmartyPig account and have money automatically dispersed between those goals when you make a deposit.
APY drops as balance grows. Most savings accounts reward you with more interest as your balance grows, but SmartyPig does the opposite. You'll earn 0.7% on balances up to $10,000 and 0.45% on balances from $10,000.01 to $50,000 or more.
Limited customer support. The only way to reach customer service is by phone at 877-751-6884. There's no email or live chat support.
How to choose the best high-yield savings account for you
There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you choose the best high-yield savings account for your needs:
Look for a high interest rate. Some banks pay as much as 5% interest, but only the first $1,000 of your money. Others may pay a flat rate on your total balance. Read the fine print so you know how much you can expect to earn.
Investigate potential fees. Read the account’s Fee Schedule to see if you’ll be charged fees for maintaining the account. Bonus tip: most online savings accounts don’t have a monthly fee.
Consider accessibility. There are usually several ways to access your savings, including mobile, online and phone banking. But some accounts even come with ATM cards. Decide how you plan to use your funds and choose an account that aligns with your needs.
Look for extra features. Interest rates fluctuate over time, so don’t go with a bank solely because it has highest rate. Instead, focus on one that has a high APY, but has other perks you’re looking for, such as ATM access, budgeting or savings tools.
Make sure the bank or credit union insures deposits. If you bank somewhere that isn’t insured, you could lose all your savings if it goes under. Instead, look for an FDIC-insured bank or an NCUA-insured credit union — both insure deposits up to $250,000.
Should I switch to a high-interest savings account?
Switching to a high-yield savings account can earn you more money with a higher interest rate and save you more money with lower fees. It’s a win-win.
The table below shows how much money you’d earn by switching from a savings account with a 0.01% interest rate to one with a 1%, 2% or 3% rate.
First-year switch benefit (3% vs. 0.01%)
Where can I find the highest interest savings account?
The highest interest savings account we’ve seen yet is the Primary Savings Account from Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), which earns up to 6.17% APY. But it didn’t make our best list because you only earn 6.17% on the first $1,000 in your account. After that, the rate drops to 0.25%. You also must be a DCU member to open.
If you want a high yield savings account that’s easily accessible and earns a competitive APY on your total balance, then the highest rate account is SmartyPig Savings by Sallie Mae.
3 tips to get the best interest rate
Don’t stop at the advertised interest rate when comparing savings accounts. Here are various points to consider that will help you make the most out of your interest rate:
Introductory rates. Some savings accounts offer sign-up bonuses or introductory rates that are higher but last for a limited time. Check to see for how long that rate is in effect and if you need to meet any requirements to get it or maintain it. But compare this rate with the account’s standard rate. If the standard rate is much lower, you might find a higher standard rate on another account where you could be better off in the long term.
Compound interest. Ideally, you want a high-interest savings account with interest that compounds daily and is paid into the account monthly. This allows your money to grow faster by being paid for interest that you have already earned.
Terms. Check to see if the interest rate is applied to tiers or under certain conditions, such as maintaining a minimum balance or making a certain number of deposits.
Alternative high-yield savings accounts
These accounts have high APYs, but they didn’t make our best list because they have limited availability or strict or unusual account requirements. That said, they may still be good options depending on your needs.
The Varo Savings Account has a competitive APY and automatic savings tools to help you grow your money faster. But you have to open a Varo bank account to be eligible for the savings account, which is why it didn't make our best list.
No monthly fees.Open this account with as little as $0.01 and never worry about maintenance fees eating into your savings.
Automatic savings tools. Use Save Your Pay to have a percentage of your money automatically transferred to savings. Use the Save Your Change feature to have transactions rounded up to the nearest dollar and swept into savings.
Can't open directly. You'll have to open a Varo Bank account to open this savings account, which may not be ideal if you already have a spending account you enjoy.
APY rules. To earn 3%, you'll need to make at least five qualifying Varo debit card purchases a month, have at least $1,000 monthly direct deposits and keep your balance below $5,000.
Open a Fitness Bank Fitness Savings Account online and start saving today. Simply connect the FitnessBank Step Tracker app to your FitBit, Garmin, Apple Health or Google Play app and get paid to exercise. The more steps you take a day, the higher your APY will be.
Earn highest APY your first month. Because there's no data to go off of your first month, you'll automatically receive the highest APY.
Get paid to walk. You'll earn 0.65% APY for 12,500 steps, 0.55% APY for 10,000 to 12,499 steps, 0.45% APY for 7,500 to 9,999 steps, 0.35% APY for 5,000 to 7,499 steps and 0.25% APY for 0 to 4,999 steps.
Different rates for seniors. If you're at least 65, your APYs range from 0.65% to 0.35% and you only have to walk 10,000 steps a day to earn the highest rate.
Monthly fee. There's a $10 maintenance fee, but Fitness Bank waives it when you keep at least $100 as your daily balance in your account.
Low APY for lower steps. If you walk less than 7,500 steps a day, you may find higher rates elsewhere.
Hold on deposits. Fitness Bank holds your funds for three to five business days before they're posted to your account.
The Prime Alliance Bank Personal Savings Account earns 0.6%. Plus, there are no fees and you can open the account online. But watch out for a 60-day freeze on new accounts.
Strong APY. You'll earn 0.6% on all balances.
No service fees. There's no monthly service fee or minimum deposit requirements to open this account.
Easy application. Open this account online or stop by a local branch.
60-day hold on new accounts. Prime Alliance Bank Personal Savings Account places a 60-day freeze on all new accounts, so you can't access your money during this time.
Excessive transaction fee. Normally you'd pay a $25 fee if you passed the six transaction limit, but you'll want to check with Prime Alliance to see if this policy is temporarily suspended.
One branch location. Prime Alliance has one physical location in Woods Cross, Utah, so in-person support is limited.
Minimum to earn interest
Monthly transaction limit
Fee per transaction over limit
Pros and cons of a high-interest savings account
If you’re considering a high-interest savings account, consider the following advantages and disadvantages:
Reach your goals faster. If you apply for a high-yield savings account that matches your savings style, you can get a head start on reaching your financial goals.
Competitive rates.You’ll typically find higher interest rates with online accounts because they don’t have physical branches that require high maintenance and upkeep costs. You get this savings in the form of higher rates and lower fees.
Minimal fees. The majority of high-interest savings accounts don’t charge fees for maintaining the account.
No risk. Savings accounts are considered one of the safest investments in the financial system, next to a certificate of deposit. Most banks are guaranteed by the FDIC, which means that eligible deposits are insured up to $250,000 a person, per bank.
Minimum balance requirements. Some high-yield savings accounts only pay interest if you maintain a certain balance. Know that amount and monitor your balance so that your money is always earning interest.
Interest rate changes. Savings accounts have variable interest rates, meaning your bank could lower APYs at any time. Contact your bank if you’re not sure why your account’s rate has changed.
Transfer time can take up to three business days. This delay could be an issue if you need money in an emergency. You’re also limited to six monthly withdrawals, due to federal law limitations.
No bank branches or debit cards. Many online savings accounts aren’t supported by physical bank branches or debit cards, which could be inconvenient if you rely on them.
Watch our short explainer video on pros and cons of online savings accounts:
Are online high-yield savings accounts worth it?
Online banks have lower overhead than traditional banks, so they’re able to pass on these savings to you in the form of higher interest rates and lower fees. Even though rates have dropped tremendously since the coronavirus pandemic, online savings accounts are worth it because their rates are still higher than the national average, which is currently around 0.05%.
What is a high-yield savings account?
A high-yield savings account — also referred to as a high-interest savings account — offers a competitive interest rate that’s typically 20 times higher than the national average. So if the national average is 0.05%, a high-yield savings account may offer rates around 1%. For comparison, interest rates for traditional savings accounts usually match the national average.
Examples of high-interest savings accounts include:
Online savings accounts. Lets you do all your banking online without having to visit a local branch. Most don’t have monthly fees, offering an inexpensive way to build your savings. Interest on your balance is typically calculated daily and deposited into your account monthly.
Savings accounts with bonuses or rewards. Some savings accounts offer signup bonuses such as cash rewards. While tempting, be sure that this account is good for you long term — asignup bonus usually isn’t enough to make up for a low interest rate.
Traditional high-interest savings accounts. Brick-and-mortar banks offer various savings account options. High-interest accounts usually come with conditions, such as a minimum opening amount or a minimum balance. If you meet all of the conditions, these accounts can be competitive, though check the fees.
Any interest earned on a high-yield account is taxable as income. This includes earnings on children’s accounts and CDs. However, you can claim deductions on expenses tied to earning the income. This can include account-keeping fees from the bank, management fees or financial consultations.
What’s the difference between an online high-yield savings and a traditional savings account?
Online savings and regular savings accounts have a few key differences you should keep in mind:
Online high-yield savings account
Regular savings account
Lower monthly fees
Higher interest rates
Larger ATM network
More branch locations
Longer customer service hours
Quicker access to your money
Better mobile banking experience
Insured deposits up to $250,000
Are high-yield savings accounts safe?
You can’t lose money in a high-yield savings account as long as they’re federally insured. If you get an account at a bank, it’ll be FDIC insured. If you open one with a credit union, it’ll be NCUA insured. Either way, this means you’ll get your money back, up to $250,000, if the financial institution goes bankrupt.
How can I withdraw and deposit money in an online savings account?
Most online savings accounts don’t accept cash deposits and don’t come with an ATM card, but there are still several ways to access your money:
Remote check deposit
Transfer from an external account
Outgoing wire transfer
Transfer to an external account
Opening a high-interest savings account can help you take advantage of getting the highest return on your money even when the market rates shift. They’re also a good option if you’re looking to earn more money without losing easy access to your savings in case of an emergency. To get the most out of your account, shop around for the terms and conditions that will save you the most.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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