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2018's Best Savings Accounts

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by Chris Thompson 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 Ally Bank logo Read More 2.00% $0
  • The Top Savings Account
  • Mobile app with check deposit
Citizens Access Citizens Access logo Read More 2.25% $5000
  • Best Savings Account Rate
  • No fees
Synchrony Synchrony logo Read More 2.05% $0
  • A Higher Interest Rate but Harder to Access Funds
  • No monthly fee
American Express American Express logo Read More 2.00% $0
  • Competitive APY
  • No minimum deposits or balance required
  • Minimum to Earn APY - $1
  • Member, FDIC
Capital One Capital One logo Read More 1.00% $0
  • Best Savings Account for Kids
  • Live help 24/7
PNC Bank PNC Bank logo Read More 0.01% $25
  • Best Savings Account for Students
  • No monthly fee
Chase Bank Chase Bank logo 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.

If you're interested in saving money, consider opening up a CIT Savings Account. Earn over eight times the national average with a 2.25% APY on balances of at least $25,000 or monthly deposits of $100 or more with an initial $100 minimum deposit.

Ally Bank: The Top Savings Account

Ally Bank
CIT Savings 2.25% APY
Our Rating: 5/5
How we calculated this rating

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 2.00% 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.

Best Savings Account Rate: Citizens Access Bank

Citizens Access

Citizens Access Bank’s Online Savings Account offers consumers an attractive option when it comes to its interest rate offering. It features a 2.25% APY that places right at the top of the market, along with no monthly service fees or other extraneous costs. By allowing your money to grow without the detriment of regular charges, this account is primed to help you reach your savings goals. You will need to have at least $5,000 ready to deposit to open this account, though.

You may recognize the Citizens Access Bank name, and that’s because it is a division of Citizens Bank, N.A., a much larger financial institution. However, Citizens Access Bank is the completely internet-based arm of Citizens Bank, meaning it does not have any of its own brick-and-mortar branch locations. Although the bank has yet to create a mobile app for customers, it states that its website has been optimized for mobile browsers on Apple and Android phones. Despite the lack of an app, typical services like mobile check deposit have remained intact.

Citizens Access Bank is clearly a savings-centric bank, as it offers just the online savings account and a series of certificates of deposit (CDs). The APYs associated with these CDs range anywhere from 2.20% for a six-month term to 3.15% for a five-year term. But because of this, it should come as no surprise that this savings account does not come with its own debit card. So unfortunately, the only way to access your deposited funds is to transfer your withdrawal to an outside account.

Interest Earned on $10K Deposit at Citizens Access Bank*

Day 0 0.5 Years 1 Year 2 Years 4 Years 8 Years
$0 $112 $225 $455  $930 $1,948

*Using current interest rates.

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

Synchrony Bank
CIT Savings 2.25% APY
Our Rating: 5/5
How we calculated this rating

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 2.05% interest rate. Synchrony came in a close second in our analysis and we consider both banks to be great options.

American Express National Bank

American Express National Bank
CIT Savings 2.25% APY
Our Rating: 5/5
How we calculated this rating

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 for Kids: Capital One Kids Savings Account

Capital One 360

Instilling good savings practices in kids is important and the Capital One Kids Savings Account is the best option we found to help you with that. The account has a competitive 1.00% 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 kids who are starting college, 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

PNC Bank

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

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 2016 5-Year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study