Best Online Savings Accounts for July 2021

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Online banks, especially online savings accounts (OSA), have become increasingly popular over the past few years.

According to a recent Fortunly report, the number of online banking customers in the U.S. rose by an additional 20% from 2014 to 2019 bringing the total number to 160 million Americans — nearly 77% of the adult population.[1]

So, what is it about online banks (versus more traditional in-person banks) that have customers signing up in droves? Great benefits and high interest rates.

Best Overall

Taking all of our criteria into consideration, these are the banks with the highest rating. If you’re stuck between two banks with seemingly good savings accounts, check out our bank and credit union reviews to help you decide. We looked at dozens of variables to help you determine which bank best fits your needs. Here’s our methodology.

1. CIT Bank’s Savings Builder – 0.40% APY

By rewarding those who actively add to their savings, the CIT Bank Savings Builder Account helps people build their savings account balance while developing good saving habits. You’ll need $100 to open this account, but there are no account maintenance fees and you do almost all of your transactions through their app. Full Review

.40% APY
$100 Minimum Deposit
DollarSprout Rating

CIT Bank's Savings Builder makes saving easy. Automated monthly deposits help account holders grow their savings without the hassle of in-person banking. Deposit $100 or more monthly to qualify for the highest interest tier.

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Pros

  • No monthly fees.
  • 0.40% APY if you meet the requirements.
  • Can open an account online in 10 minutes or less.

Cons

  • Must have a $25,000 balance or $100 monthly deposits to qualify for the higher rate.
  • Drops to 0.28% APY if you don’t maintain requirements. 

2. Discover Online Savings Account – 0.40% APY

If you’re not sure about online banking, using a reputable, established company like Discover Bank should offer some peace of mind. Zero-fee savings, checking and money market products, along with industry-leading interest rates make Discover Bank a great option for online banking. Full Review

.40% APY
$0 Minimum Deposit
DollarSprout Rating

Discover's Online Savings Account is amongst the best in the industry. With a robust interest rate, easy-to-use app, and great customer service, gone are the days where an in-person branch is required.

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Pros

  • No minimum deposit. 
  • No low balance or account maintenance fees. 
  • Interest compounded daily/monthly. 
  • Easy access to your money through the Discover Mobile App.
  • 24/7 customer service availability.  

Cons

  • No overdraft credit line. 
  • Lack of physical branch locations. 

3. Chime High Interest Savings – 0.50% APY

Technically a banking services provider, Chime offers a robust line-up of features topped off by their High Interest Savings Account. While there are no physical branches, they’re partners in over 60,000 fee-free ATM locations nationwide. Full Review

0.50% APY
$0 Minimum Deposit
DollarSprout Rating

Chime's industry-leading interest rates make it a great option for growing your savings in conjunction with their suite of banking services, namely their Chime Visa® Debit Card.

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Pros

  • Industry-leading interest rates.
  • No account minimum, low-balance, or overdraft fees.
  • Boost your savings each time you spend with their Round Ups feature.
  • Automatic savings transfers on paycheck deposits of $500 or more. 
  • App identifies cashback locations that participate in their Spending Account program. 

Cons

  • No direct deposit feature for Savings Account.
  • Need a Chime Spend Account to be eligible for Savings Account features. 
  • No physical branch locations.

Honorable Mentions

4. Ally Bank – 0.50% APY

Transparent fee structure where applicable, savings boosters, account buckets. (Learn More)

5. Barclays Bank – 0.40% APY

No minimum deposit or monthly maintenance fees; 24/7 access to funds. (Learn More)

6. Synchrony Bank – 0.50% APY

Simple, straightforward forward high-earning account option; no service fees or minimum balance. (Learn More)

7. Marcus by Goldman Sachs – 0.50% APY

Simple, straightforward forward high-earning account option; no service fees or minimum balance. (Learn More)

8. American Express National Bank – 0.40% APY

No service fees or minimum balance; daily compounding with automatic deposits available. (Learn More)

9. Citizens Access – 0.40% APY

No promotional or teaser rates; no fees for anything but $5,000 minimum deposit required. (Learn More)

10. PurePoint – 0.40% APY

No promotional or teaser rates; no fees for anything but $10,000 minimum deposit required. (Learn More)

How to Open an Online Savings Account

If, after researching and comparing the options for an online savings account, you’re ready to open an account, you’ll need to do a few things.

  • Get your documents together. Specifically, you’ll need your Social Security number and your driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may also need to scan or submit your immigration documents.
  • Double-check your research. It pays to do a final check on all the banks before you select an account. Make sure you verify that they are FDIC insured, what the current APY is, and any other terms like minimum opening deposit. You might also find that one bank has a new financial incentive for opening an account (or another one got rid of theirs).
  • Complete your application. In addition to your photo ID and Social Security card, you might also need to provide proof of address, employment, or other information. Note that some banks require you to submit a signature page with a live signature. For instance, instead of scanning the page, you might have to print and mail a form or wait for them to send you one with a stamped return envelope, which can take a few days to process, extending the time it takes to open the account.
  • Fund your account. The last step is to make an opening deposit. The easiest way to do this is by transferring a sum of money from a linked account. Once that linked account is confirmed and verified, you’ll be able to make regular and recurring deposits.

Benefits of Online Savings Accounts

A savings account acts as a secure way to store your hard-earned cash while also earning interest. An online savings account is a safe, reliable option for your money, and you can easily track your balance as you continue to make deposits and build your wealth.

Other benefits of online savings accounts include:

  • Higher interest rates: Online banks have lower overhead (since they have no physical branches, bank tellers, etc.). Having fewer expenses typically means that online banks are able to offer significantly higher APYs to customers than traditional banks.
  • Lower fees: Another perk of lower overhead is that online banks don’t generally charge their customers extraneous or excessive fees.
  • Convenience: Many online banks are open 24/7, and you can access everything you need from your smartphone or computer. You no longer need to drive around looking for a branch open past 5:00 p.m. or on weekends.

Remember that, unlike a checking account, you’re not supposed to use your savings account daily (unless you’re making daily deposits). You use it to accrue wealth, save for something, or establish an emergency fund.

Drawbacks to Online Savings Accounts

As you might expect, banking entirely online isn’t without some limitations. Here are the most common:

  • Getting cash can be difficult. If you regularly deposit and withdraw cash from your bank account, you might find online banking inconvenient. Because there are no physical branches, it’s not possible to walk into the bank and deposit cash. Some online banks belong to ATM networks, but these ATMs may be harder to find than major banks’ ATMs.
  • Less personal service. Of course, online banks typically have a customer service hotline or online chat service. But with online banks, you don’t have the option of walking into a branch and sitting down face-to-face with a banker.
  • Technology glitches. You might run into an issue with the app or website not working, transfers not going through, or your linked account becoming unlinked for some reason. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to withdraw money or get your account balance.

Choose the Account That Fits Your Needs

The best online account for you is the one that fits your needs. For instance, if you want a high interest rate but access to a large network of ATMs, you might want to use Synchrony over Ally. If you’d prefer a bank with a recognizable name and a host of other products to choose from, Discover is your best choice.

And if you aren’t ready to fully commit to online banking, you may want to consider a hybrid approach. For example, you can use an online bank for most of your savings but still keep an account at a local bank or credit union for when you need access to cash or in-person banking services.

Regardless of your preferred features, there’s an online savings account for you. But remember, finding the best online savings account works best when you commit to making saving money a habit.

How DollarSprout Rates Online Savings Accounts

When evaluating online savings accounts, we look at multiple factors to help determine where they fall on our rating scale:

  • Annual percentage yield (APY)
  • Fees and the likelihood that a user will incur them
  • Account balance requirements
  • Customer service
  • Mobile app reviews

For savings accounts, APY and fees play a heavier role in our ratings than other factors because they directly affect your bottom line.

Research Team
Research Lead: Ben Huber
Final Review: Jeff Proctor
Review Date: July 1, 2021

Sources: 

[1] Mitic, I. “38+ Insightful Mobile Banking & Online Banking Statistics.” Fortunly, 30 June 2021, fortunly.com/statistics/online-mobile-banking-statistics/.