If you’re looking to open a savings account, interest rates matter. The best banks for savings accounts pay you just for keeping your money there, so it’s a symbiotic relationship. But there are plenty of other banks who will happily take your money and give you nothing in return.
So which ones are the best interest bank accounts? I’m writing about three of my current favorites, plus one up-and-comer offering great interest rates once it launches.
A quick note before beginning: the term “APY” in reference to interest rates means “annual percentage yield,” i.e. how much you’ll earn in interest each year. 1% APY means that on a balance of $100, you’ll earn $1 in interest per year. 5% APY means you’ll earn $5 on that same amount, and so on. The more you save, the more you earn.
I’ll also be focusing more on online banks, which can afford to pay more in interest since their operating costs are low. Most brick-and-mortar banks pay in the range of 0.01% APY, or one cent per year on $100. When you’re looking to earn money with a good high-interest bank account, you won’t usually find it at those places.
Without further ado, here are some of the best interest bank accounts.
Capital One 360 Checking and Savings Review
In my experience, Capital One is one of the best online bank accounts for people who travel frequently.
Reason being: they don’t charge international ATM fees! I used their checking account debit card all over Southeast Asia to easily get local cash. (If you know me, you know I love credit cards, but most street food vendors don’t seem to take those…) Other banks, like Chase or Wells Fargo, would have charged me at least a 3% transaction fee every time.
So that’s why I recommend at least opening a checking account there, so you have the card on hand for trips. But if you like to handle your banking all in one place, they have a good savings account rate too, at 0.50% APY on any balance. Neither the 360 Checking nor 360 Savings account has monthly maintenance fees.
You also get a $25 bonus when your initial deposit is $250 or more (in the checking or savings), so keep that in mind while signing up–free money!
Ally Bank High-Interest Savings Account Review
Ally Bank is another at the top of the list for best online bank accounts, with a beautiful interface and extremely competitive savings interest rates (0.80% APY on all balance tiers at the time of writing).
It also has no monthly fees. I don’t mind having a dozen different accounts, so I use them for any “overflow” savings that’s not in other accounts.
Part of the way Ally is able to give users such high-interest rates is by not offering sign-up bonuses, but it’s a great bank to store cash when you’re saving and watch it grow without risking it in the market. Sign up for a high-yield savings account here.
Netspend Savings Account Review
At 5% APY, this is the absolute best bank account interest rate I’ve seen. The catch: you can only earn this rate on a balance of up to $1,000. Still, that’s $50 per year, which makes it a great place to keep your emergency fund or part of it. It’s where I keep mine!
This savings account is only available to Netspend prepaid debit card holders, so the signup process is a little different than most bank accounts, because you need the card first. (Don’t worry–you don’t actually have to use the card to take advantage of the savings rate.)
1. First, order a Netspend card here. (After you load your first $40, you’ll get another $20 for free, which is a nice little sign-up bonus!)
2. Once the card comes, activate it by following the enclosed instructions. Choose the “pay-as-you-go” fee plan. You won’t actually be using the card, so you won’t be paying any fees.
3. When you’re all set up online, click the “Move Money” tab on the left sidebar. The section titled “Bank Transfers” will explain how to set up a transfer from your regular bank to Netspend.
4. Link your bank accounts. Depending on your bank, this might take a few days.
5. Once they’re successfully linked, make your first transfer. You can go ahead and transfer the full $1,000 right away, or ease into it. Either way, transfer at least $40 so you get your $20 bonus.
6. Activate the 5% savings account by going back to the “Move Money” tab. You should find it in the tab called “Savings Transfers.” They may require you to deposit a certain amount before you can activate the savings account.
7. Lastly, in that same section, make a transfer from Prepaid (your card) to Savings. That money will start earning the 5% interest right away!
A few extra notes about Netspend:
Netspend has an inactivity fee if you don’t do anything in 90 days. To avoid this, I have an automatic transfer of $1 set up from my Ally account. It automatically deposits a dollar every two months so I can be totally hands-off after setup.
Interest is paid quarterly: expect interest payments in the beginning of January, April, July, and October.
This one may seem like a little work to set up, but it really only takes 10-20 minutes apart from the waiting in between steps. But the beauty of Netspend is that once you’re done setting it up, you’re done. You don’t have to touch the account or the card after that. Just sit back and enjoy that 5% interest plus the free $20.
If you do ever need to withdraw your Netspend money, just transfer it back to the Prepaid side of the account from Savings, and send it back to your regular bank account.
I’ve been using Netspend for a few years at this point, so feel free to comment if you have more questions about how to get it all set up. Here’s the signup link again.
Often, local credit unions offer competitive rates to residents in their area. Do some research to see what options are available near you and whether it’s worth switching over from a bigger bank. Read reviews to make sure a credit union is easy to work with, since sometimes smaller institutions have less money to invest in website maintenance, usability, etc.
Some credit unions are available nationwide to qualified applicants and offer great rates (subject to certain criteria). For example, Digital Federal Credit Union has a savings account with up to 6.17% APY (but only on balances up to $1,000). Consumers Credit Union has a Serious Interest Checking account that pays 4% APY on up to $15,000 as long as you meet criteria like making 12 transactions per month and having a monthly direct deposit. Consider these options along with credit unions local to you.
There are other great high-interest bank accounts out there, but these are some of the best options to start with.
Once you have about six months of expenses stored up as an emergency fund in your high-interest savings account, you can start thinking about investing. Learn how to easily start investing here (no stock market knowledge required).
Let me know if you have a favorite bank account in the comments, or if you’re planning to check out any of the above!
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.