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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.

You may have noticed that our savings account pages, tables and reviews come with scores. They’re there to help you figure out how good a company and its products are, at a single glance.

We publish two types of scores:

  • Finder’s expert score. Our experts rate the features of a savings account, how much it costs and what it offers to users.
  • User reviews. We ask you to tell us about your experience as a customer of the brands we cover. You can submit a comment directly through the relevant review, and each year we gather more user reviews through a customer survey. We show the results of this survey in an annual league table, and use it to determine our annual customer satisfaction awards, too.

Finder’s expert scores

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

Your reviews and our customer survey

You can see review stars at the top of our review pages, if they’ve received more than 10. These are from consumers just like you who use our site and want to review the products and providers they use. We include responses we’ve received in our annual customer satisfaction surveys. We also show the results of each survey in a league table in guides and in our awards pages.

In December 2023, we ran a customer satisfaction survey on savings accounts. We received 2,944 responses from customers who told us how happy (or not) they were with their savings account provider. We’ve turned their answers into a star rating of between 1 and 5 and we show this in our annual league table of bank account providers.

★★★★★ – Excellent

★★★★★ – Good

★★★★★ – Average

★★★★★ – Subpar

★★★★★ – Poor

Customer satisfaction score methodology

The survey asked respondents how satisfied they are with their savings account on a scale from 1 to 5, and whether they would recommend it to a friend. We turned the answers into an overall star rating that takes into account:

  • How many people would recommend the account vs. how many people wouldn’t. If you say you’d recommend your bank to a friend this forms 50% of our customer satisfaction rating.
  • How many people rated a provider five out of five. This counts for 25% of our customer satisfaction rating.
  • The average score each savings account provider got. This tells us if a bank offers quite a solid service even though it doesn’t have loads of top ratings — or if it’s just not that great. This parameter forms the last 25% of our overall customer satisfaction score.

More guides on Finder

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