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2018's Best Savings Accounts

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by Craig Casazza Updated

Finding the Top Savings Account in 2018

The best savings accounts are those which grow your money, give you the freedom to do with it as you like and don’t cost a lot to maintain. At SmartAsset we analyzed more than 120 different savings accounts to find the top overall options, as well as others which are the best for people in specific situations. 

Bank APY Minimum Deposit Highlights
Ally Bank Compare Offers Read More 1.80% $0
  • The Top Savings Account
  • Mobile app with check deposit
Synchrony Bank Compare Offers Read More 1.85% $0
  • A Higher Interest Rate but Harder to Access Funds
  • No monthly fee
American Express Personal Savings Compare Offers Read More 1.75% $1
  • Competitive APY
  • No minimum deposits or balance required
  • Member, FDIC
DollarSavingsDirect Compare Offers Read More 1.80% $0
  • Best Savings Account Rate
Capital One 360 Compare Offers Read More 1.00% $0
  • Best Savings Account for Kids
  • Live help 24/7
PNC Virtual Wallet Compare Offers Read More 0.01% $0
  • Best Savings Account for Students
  • No monthly fee
Chase Compare Offers Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best Savings Account for Banks with Branch Locations
  • Mobile friendly

How We Determine the Best Savings Accounts

SmartAsset’s team of personal finance experts rounded up an exhaustive list of more than 120 different savings accounts. We scored each on their APY, minimum balance, monthly fees, bonuses, customer support, product offerings and customer experience.

Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account

At Ally Bank you get a savings account with a relatively high interest rate and a platform that makes it easy to control your money. Ally Bank currently offers a 1.80% APY compounded daily, one of the highest rates for the accounts SmartAsset analyzed. (A savings calculator can help you see how your money will grow over time at different rates.) However, if the rate is what is most important to you, you will be able to find higher rates at other banks. 

What sets Ally apart from the other banks we reviewed is the customer experience. With Ally you do not need a minimum deposit or minimum balance to open an account. You also do not have to worry about monthly maintenance or hidden fees. Depositing, withdrawing and sending money is simple at Ally. The mobile app is easy to use and comes with 24/7 chat support if you have any issues. You also get versatility with Ally.

You can open up a free checking account when you open your savings account and transfer money between the two. From your checking account you can withdraw money by using an ATM or a debit card. You can make free withdrawals at any of the 55,000 Allpoint ATMs throughout the country.  The main downside to Ally Bank is that it is an entirely online bank. You cannot drive to your nearest Ally Bank location because those do not exist. They also do not accept cash deposits. If you find yourself frequently depositing cash or visiting a brick-and-mortar bank location, banks with branch locations may be better for you.

Synchrony High Yield Savings: A Higher Interest Rate but Harder to Access Funds

Synchrony Bank is a close second for best savings accounts according to our research. There is a tradeoff between a slightly higher interest rate at Synchrony and a slightly better customer experience at Ally. 

At Synchrony you will earn more interest in a year than you will with Ally. Synchrony however makes it harder to access your funds. You must transfer your funds to another bank in order to withdraw them. With Ally you can open a checking account which makes withdrawing funds easier. 

Both banks do offer ATM access and both allow customers to withdraw without a fee from thousands of ATMS across the country. Synchrony’s network, Plus and Accel, is a bit more robust than the 55,000 ATMs available to Ally’s network. Also like Ally, Synchrony has the drawback of not accepting cash deposits. 

We find Synchrony is better than Ally if you truly want a savings account where you won’t be tempted to touch the funds. The extra step of having to externally transfer may be enough to stop you from withdrawing money from the account, which then allows it to grow at the high 1.85% interest rate. Synchrony came in a close second in our analysis and we consider both banks to be great options. 

 

 

American Express Personal Savings

American Express Personal Savings was the third best savings account according to our research. Like the two accounts above, you are getting a savings account with a high interest rate, no monthly fees and no minimum balance. In this case, it comes combined with the good customer service of American Express. 

The American Express mobile app makes it easy to track your funds and allows you to initiate transfers whenever you may need. However, getting access to your funds is a bit harder with the Amex account. 

Like Synchrony, at Amex you will have a harder time accessing your funds than with an Ally account. With Amex however, you are not even provided an ATM card (which Synchrony does) leaving external transfers as your only option for accessing your funds. We find the main advantage Amex has over Synchrony is if you have American Express credit cards and want to link those cards with your account to pay off bills. 

Best Savings Account Rate: DollarSavingsDirect

If the APY is the only number you are concerned with, DollarSavingsDirect is the savings account for you. DollarSavingsDirect offers a 1.80% APY, meaning you would earn quite a bit more interest than at Synchrony, Ally and American Express Personal Savings each year. This large rate comes with trade-offs, however. 

DollarSavingsDirect is entirely online, but does not have a mobile app. The only way to access your funds is through external transfers. The company also does not provide debit cards to withdraw money from an ATM. The site itself is not as well designed and easy to navigate as the banks that took the top spots in our research. So if you were already uncomfortable with banking completely online, you may want to choose a bank other than DollarSavingsDirect. 

However, if you are just looking for the highest interest rate possible at a reputable bank, DollarSavingsDirect may be the right choice for you. The chart below shows how much interest you can earn at DollarSavingsDirect with a one-time $10,000 deposit. 

Interest Earned on $10K Deposit at DollarSavingsDirect*

Day 0 0.5 Years 1 Year 2 Years 4 Years 8 Years
$0 $75 $151 $305  $618 $1,275

*Using current interest rates. 

 

Best Savings Account for Kids: Capital One 360 Kids Savings Account

Instilling good savings practices in kids is important and the Capital One 360 Kids Savings Account is the best option we found to help you with that. The account has a competitive 0.75% APY, plus the great customer experience of Capital One. The account has no maintenance fees and no account minimums. 

What makes this a great for account for kids is that it allows parents to educate their children on savings, while also being able to keep a watchful eye over the account. Parents can set up savings goals in the app that their kids can monitor over the years. Parents can also link their accounts directly to the child’s account. This way parents can make deposits as well. 

We’d mostly recommend the Capital One account for children roughly between the ages of 9 and 17. For older college students, the PNC Virtual Wallet Student is the better option.  For children under the age of 9, we’d recommend the Citizens Bank CollegeSaver. A $1,000 bonus means if you open the account before your child’s first birthday, you can earn more than $6,000 (with current interest rates) by the time your child is 18. 

 

Best Savings Account for Students: PNC Virtual Wallet Student

We chose PNC as the best savings account for college students because of how the account is structured, as well as the numerous tools it has to help students manage their money. The PNC Virtual Wallet Student comes with two savings accounts plus a free checking account. The idea is that it helps college students think comprehensively about spending and saving money. 

The first savings account is the Reserve account for short-term savings and the second is the Growth account for longer-term savings. Both are linked to your Spend checking account which allows for an easy transfer of funds. PNC offers a variety of tools to help you manage these multiple accounts. You get a calendar that allows you to see what payments you have upcoming, alerts for when your funds are running low and a budgeting feature that categorizes your purchases. The account also partners with over 50 universities including Georgetown, UPenn and University of Michigan so you get free ATM access on those campuses. You can see a full list of schools if you apply. 

The biggest drawback is that the rates for the account are much lower than our top accounts. For even the Growth account, the APY is less than 0.10%. You shouldn’t expect your money to grow too much with this account. It can be helpful for learning how to manage money, but it’s not ideal for growth.

If you want growth and care less about money management tools, the Capital One 360 Kids Saving Account is a great option. If you’re a college student and feel like you don’t need any sort of tailored account, the Ally Bank savings account will be your best bet. 

Best Savings Account for Banks with Branch Locations: Chase Savings

Chase will be your best option for a savings account if you prefer to be able to bank in person. Chase has over 5,100 branches in many states making it one of the most accessible banks in the country. If you live in the northeast, west coast, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Illinois or Michigan, a Chase branch should be easy to find. 

Chase has two types of savings options, a regular account and a premier account meant for those with high balances. With Chase you can have your financial tools all in the same place. The company allows you to link your Chase checking account directly to your Chase savings accounts, with an easy-to-use mobile app for checking balances and paying bills. You need at least $300 in the account ($15,000 for premier)  to avoid paying a maintenance fee. You also need at least $25 to open an account ($100 for premier). 

Since Chase is a brick and mortar bank however, you cannot reap the same types of interest rates as you can at purely online banks. With Chase, interest rates are 0.01% in the regular savings account. With the premier, you need at least $50,000 to earn more than 0.07% and that’s only if you meet certain requirements. If you are looking for interest earnings, you will be better off with one of our top 3 savings account options.

Save more with these rates that beat the National Average
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Best Places to Save

SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places in the country where people have the opportunity to save money. Zoom between states and the national map to see the best places to save.

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Rank County Median Household Income Cost of Living Purchasing Power Estimated Tax Rate

Methodology

Where you live can have a big impact on how easy it is to save money based on several regional factors. Our study aims to find the most suitable places for people to save based on median household income, average living expenses and income tax burden.

First, we calculated the average cost of living in each county for a household with two adults (one working). We then created a purchasing power index for each county. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living.

To better compare income tax burdens across counties, we applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for a family making $50,000 annual income in each location. Next, we created an effective tax rate index for each county, which reflects the counties with the lowest ratio of income taxes to the assumed $50,000 annual income.

Finally, we calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall best places to save score. We used a three-fourths weighting for purchasing power and a one-fourth weighting for tax rates. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect places that are better to save.

Sources: US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study