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Savings account ratings methodology
How we rate savings accounts
A savings account is a savings account is a savings account. Or is it? Our editors objectively compare and rank these interest-bearing accounts to provide you 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 five distinct factors: interest rates, 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.
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.
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.
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.
How we rate customer support
We base our customer review rating on a combination of three factors:
- The breadth of a financial institution’s communication options
- The institution’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
- 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 its overall ratings and customer complaints with the Better Business Bureau. We also considered complaints with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
We considered BBB or CFPB complaints against the bank’s relative size for more reasonable weighting. For instance, 1,000 savings-related complaints affects the score of a regional bank more heavily than, say, 1,000 complaints against one of the nation’s top four largest banks. Government actions filed against a bank can also hurt its score.
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.
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