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Savings account ratings methodology

How we rate savings accounts

All savings accounts allow you to earn interest on your money overtime. But they’re not all the same. For instance, some will offer you more interest than others or make you jump through hoops to earn it. Our editors objectively compare and rank these interest-bearing accounts to provide you with an overall rating of how useful each can be to your overall savings strategy.

Our ratings are designed to help you compare the overall performance of a savings account, not just the numbers. Our editors consider six distinct factors: interest rates, requirements to earn APY, fees, minimum deposits and balances, customer support and features.

Our ratings can provide you with a starting point. But what’s good for one saver might not be best for your needs. Read our comprehensive reviews before signing up for a savings account.

Our ratings

We rate saving accounts using a system of one to five stars.

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

How we rate interest rates

We look at the amount of interest the bank will pay you for the privilege of utilizing your account balance — expressed as the annual percentage yield (APY).

We weight interest more heavily than other factors, basing our ratings on the FDIC’s national average for traditional savings accounts. Excellent ratings go to accounts that offer an APY at least 10 times that of the national average. Poor ratings go to those offering no or low interest of up to 0.04%.

A savings account should be a place to safely grow money that you’re able to set aside for a rainy day. The higher the APY, the harder your money works toward your savings goal. Here’s how we weight interest:

★★★★★ — 1.01%+ APY

★★★★☆ — 0.26% to 1.00% APY

★★★☆☆ — 0.10% to 0.25% APY

★★☆☆☆ — 0.05% to 0.09% APY

★☆☆☆☆ — We don’t issue ratings on this metric

How we rate requirements to earn APY

Some savings accounts make you work to earn the highest rate or to earn interest at all. But others make it easier to earn interest without having to worry about meeting a requirement like a particular minimum balance. We weight this factor more heavily based on how difficult it is to earn the rate and by how often interest is paid.

★★★★★ — No APY requirements / Paid out on a daily/monthly basis

★★★★☆ — Easy APY requirements (e.g., keeping a low minimum balance)

★★★☆☆ — Interest paid out on a quarterly basis

★★☆☆☆ — High APY earned on a tier that requires a high balance

★☆☆☆☆ — Difficult requirements / Paid out on an annual basis

How we rate fees

We weight fees alongside interest, reserving excellent ratings for accounts that forgo monthly fees. The higher the potential fees on a savings account, the lower its score.

Monthly fees can cut into or even cancel out the strength of your APY. While most banks waive monthly fees on savings accounts if you maintain a minimum balance or meet certain conditions, others charge unavoidable maintenance fees that can eat into the interest you earn. Here’s how we rate monthly fees:

★★★★★ — $0/month

★★★★☆ — $1 to $5/month

★★★☆☆ — $6 to $10/month

★★☆☆☆ — $11 to $20/month

★☆☆☆☆ — $21+/month

How we rate minimum deposits and balances

We consider the minimum amount a bank account requires up front to sign up, stay fee free or earn the strongest APY available. The lower the deposit or balance requirement, the higher our rating.

A bank may require a minimum deposit for account eligibility, or it might require you to maintain a minimum daily or monthly balance to avoid monthly fees. Other accounts reserve their strongest APYs for balances of $1,000 or more, sometimes burying eligibility within onerous terms and conditions.

The best advertised savings account won’t do you any good if you aren’t able to meet its requirements. Here’s how we weight minimum balance requirements:

★★★★★ — $0 to $25

★★★★☆ — $26 to $99

★★★☆☆ — $100 to $250

★★☆☆☆ — $251 to $1,000

★☆☆☆☆ — $1,001+

How we rate customer support

We base our customer review rating on a combination of three factors:

  1. The breadth of a financial institution’s communication options
  2. The institution’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  3. The number of savings-specific complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

When weighing options, we consider how you can communicate with the bank about your account. Higher ratings go to banks that offer phone support beyond traditional business hours, along with email, live chat and social media options.

For customer support, we consider how many options you have to speak with a rep.

★★★★★ — 5 or more options

★★★★☆ — 4 options

★★★☆☆ — 3 options

★★☆☆☆ — 2 options

★☆☆☆☆ — 1 option

How we rate features

We look at features that might improve a saver’s overall experience when managing their finances with a particular savings account. For example, we consider perks beyond the interest rate, how easy it is to access your money, flexibility in managing your balance and resources that can help you get the most out of your account.

We like accounts that offer a signup bonus and a rewards program, come with an ATM card, and allow for a fully online signup process and online management tools, especially those offering a mobile app and automated transfers or alerts. Branch availability and built-in budgeting or saving tools can further boost an account’s score. Here’s how we weight features:

★★★★★ — 5 or more features

★★★★☆ — 3 to 4 features

★★★☆☆ — 2 features

★★☆☆☆ — 1 feature

★☆☆☆☆ — No features

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