While rising rates might not sound like a good thing — and, to be fair, it’s probably not the best news if you have a variable rate on a student loan, for example — it can be a positive sign for your savings account.
Higher rates mean you have the opportunity to earn more on your funds in a savings account. And if you’re a super saver looking for bigger earning potential, you’ll want to check out a high-yield, sometimes called a high-interest, savings account.
What is a High-Yield Savings Account?
A high-yield savings account is a vehicle for you to save money and earn higher-than-average interest on it. While the average savings account has a 0.13% interest rate, per the FDIC, you can expect to earn more with a high-yield savings account. Sometimes a lot more, especially with rising interest rates.
Lots of traditional banks, credit unions and financial institutions offer high-yield savings accounts. And, due to a lack of overhead, online-only banks usually offer higher interest rates to customers. If you’re in a position to put money away, stay organized and follow an account’s requirements to earn a higher interest rate, a high-yield account could be a better fit for you than a traditional savings account.
The 5 Best High-Yield Savings Accounts
Minimum to Open Account
Axos Bank High Yield Savings
No monthly balance requirements/ maintenance fees
CIT Bank Savings Builder
Up to 0.85%
No monthly maintenance fee
Citi Accelerate Savings
$0 if qualifications are met
PenFed Premium Online Savings
No monthly maintenance fee
Marcus High Yield Online Savings
No monthly maintenance fee
Axos Bank High-Yield Savings
No monthly balance requirements
No maintenance fees
Axos offers other banking products, such as rewards checking (with a 1.25% APY!), business CDs, small business banking services, commercial lending and more. Axos is an online-only bank, which is a perk for many digital-first users. It’s also FDIC-insured, so your money is secure.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Axos Bank review.
CIT Bank Savings Builder
Up to 0.85% APY
Only $100 to open an account
CIT Bank is an online-only institution, which means you can easily access your account via your phone, computer or tablet. The CIT mobile app provides another way for users to check in on their accounts. CIT also offers CDs and money market accounts, which is useful if you’re looking for other ways to save and grow your money.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete CIT Bank review.
Citi High-Yield Savings
Low or no monthly fee
$0 to open an account
Citi offers basic checking and savings accounts, CDs, home lending, IRAs and additional banking products. Regarding Accelerate Savings, it’s worth nothing that there are several accounts listed under this savings umbrella with slightly different fees and requirements. However, they all share a 1.65% APY.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Citibank review.
PenFed Premium Online Savings
Only $5 to open the account
Over 85K ATMs nationwide
Contrary to some information online, you do not need to be a member of the military to join this credit union. PenFed doesn’t have branches in all 50 states, but all customers can access their accounts and apply for banking products online. Not to mention, users can take advantage of other member benefits, from discounts on home security to flower delivery.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Savings
No minimum opening deposit
Popular mobile app
Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a good account choice if you’re looking for a recognized leader that won’t ding you with extraneous fees. Marcus also offers debt consolidation and home improvement loans, the opportunity to manage investment portfolios and more. Customer service is available 24/7 via phone, too.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Marcus review.
What to Consider When Looking for a High-Yield Savings Account
While you’ll bring in more than you would in a traditional account, you’ll often need to adhere to strict guidelines. So keep that in mind before you sign up.
For instance, you may experience the following:
A required opening deposit.
A minimum required balance at all times.
A cap on how often you can move money out of the account.
Monthly maintenance fees.
Fees for going over the allotted amount of withdrawals a month.
A high interest rate — but only for X months or Y years for a certain amount of money AND if you follow all the rules. A particular rate may only be available for new account holders, too.
With that said, these accounts are a great way to earn more on money you don’t plan on touching for sometime — just read the fine print (and maybe brush up on your organizational skills) first.
How to Open a High-Yield Savings Account
Typically, the same rules will apply as for opening any other type of bank account. You’ll likely need to be at least 18 years old and need identification, for example. Pretty standard stuff.
You have options on where to open a high-yield savings account, too. They can be found at traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, credit unions and online-only banks. In fact, the latter may offer you higher interest rates since there’s less overhead (i.e. no physical location to pay bills for, so the savings get passed on to you). The interest rate may vary depending on where you live.
Bonus: Many companies offer various banking products (loans, checking, etc.), too. So if you want additional services on top of a high-yield savings account, you’re in luck.
Our Criteria for Finding the Top High-Yield Savings Accounts for You
We looked at accounts that offered a high APY by today’s standards — that means around the 0.50% interest-rate-and-up mark — and low (or no) fees. We included a variety of online-only and big-name accounts to choose from as well.
You don’t have to transfer all your banking needs to an institution that offers a high-interest account. You can hang on to your primary bank and have a separate, high-earning savings account elsewhere. But note: Some accounts may require you to open other products with them, so keep that in mind.
Additional High-Interest-Earning Accounts That Can Help You Make More Money
On top of high-yield savings accounts, we found two other types of accounts that will help you bring in more money: rewards checking and debit-card-linked savings accounts.
You’ll need to meet a few requirements to qualify for these rates as well, but they’ll still give you more bang for your buck.
Rewards Checking Accounts
Rewards checking accounts pay higher interest rates (usually between 1.5%-4%) on your money up to a certain amount. For example, a bank or credit union might offer a 2% APY on accounts capped at $15,000.
Even though they pay higher interest rates, you usually won’t find rewards checking accounts on a typical list of the best checking accounts. They’re in a category of their own, and you can’t simply deposit your money and forget about it; these accounts require a little work and organization.
To take advantage of rewards checking accounts, you might be required to do any of the following:
Have a minimum deposit to open the account.
Keep a required minimum balance at all times.
Pay a monthly maintenance fee.
Hit a certain number of regular deposits or ACH transactions.
Make a fixed number of debit card purchases per month.
Opt into e-statements (paperless statements) or other agreements.
Your interest rates may fluctuate or plateau depending on the amount in your account, as well. But the maximum APY can be pretty significant, so these accounts may be worth it.
For example, Solvay Bank in upstate New York offers 2.00% APY for its high-interest checking account. Here’s the deal:
You must be a new customer.
You must live in specified counties in the State of New York.
This rate is available on balances up to $15,000.
You must also follow certain guidelines during each monthly statement cycle:
Enroll in and receive e-statements.
Have at least one direct deposit or ACH transaction.
Make at least 12 debit card purchases.
A minimum deposit of $15 is required, and there’s a $5 monthly maintenance fee for the account, though it can be waived. It’s easy enough to click the button to enroll in e-statements, and once you set up direct deposit for your paycheck, it’s automatic.
Another example is Guardian Credit Union in Alabama, which offers 4% APY — on balances up to $30K. To qualify for the Guardian Ultimate Checking account, you’ll need to:
Live, worship, go to school in or be retired or active Alabama Army or Air National Guard personnel in specified counties in Alabama.
Have 25 debit transactions a month.
Enroll in e-statements.
Have a minimum payroll deposit of $500 a month.
If you don’t meet the requirements (check the website for all of them), you won’t receive the perk — and you’ll also be hit with a $10 fee.
You can find a list of rewards checking accounts in your state along with current interest rates here.
Savings Accounts Linked to Prepaid Debit Cards
A prepaid debit card allows you to load money onto a card without needing a bank account. It can be a helpful budgeting or learning tool (some parents get them for their kids). Others may prefer using this financial service over a traditional bank account. However, these cards typically come with their own set of rules and fees.
Some prepaid debit cards come with savings accounts. Mango Financial is one such example — and you can earn up to 6.00% APY with Mango Savings.
Here’s an overview of how it works:
First, you need to activate and load your Mango debit card.
Then, you can open a savings account with $25.
To qualify for the 6.00% APY, you’ll need signature purchases of $1,500 or more and a minimum balance of $25 at the end of the month.
Cardholders are entitled to up to six transfers each month. Also, you can only have one savings account with Mango. You can view a list of fees (for balance inquiries and ATM withdrawals, etc.) here.
Netspend is another prepaid debit card with a savings account option. You’ll have to load the card account and then transfer the money to the savings account. From there:
You can earn up to 5.00% APY on $1,000 or less (the APY drops to 0.50% on any higher amount).
You can set up an auto-save function to transfer money every time you load your Netspend card account with funds.
You can transfer money from your savings account to your card up to six times per month.
Again, you want to be mindful of associated fees.
Available at brick-and-mortar, online-only and hybrid financial institutions
Earn high interest rates on your money
Generally more accessible than other high-interest-earning accounts, like CDs
Sometimes accounts come with a debit card
There may be fees or minimum balance requirements
Typically, you can only access or move money a set number of times during a statement cycle
You might lose out on the high interest rate if you don’t abide by an account’s rules
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About High-Yield Savings Accounts
No. As long as your money is in an FDIC-insured high-yield savings account, it’s safe.
If you’re looking to save money and have semi-flexible access to it, all while earning a little more interest on it, then yes, a high-yield savings account is worth it. These accounts are ideal places to store an emergency fund, for example — a place where you can safely grow your money, yet access it (typically, via a debit card or transfer it to another bank account) relatively quickly when needed.
Marcus, an online-only institution, offers a solid 1.70% APY. Another online bank, CIT Bank, has a 0.85% APY. If you’re looking for a more traditional, big-name bank, Citi offers 1.65% APY on your money.
Rates can change, so look around every now and then to see the latest, highest offers.
Earn More Interest on Your Accounts
Of course, it can be tricky to keep track of numerous accounts and their requirements (and to avoid fees). But, that’s just the way it is in this low-interest-rate environment.
Start with the accounts that have simple requirements and options for avoiding all fees.
You have to exercise your organizational skills to make some extra money on your high-yield savings accounts. But the end results can be worth it.
Steve Gillman and Kathleen Garvin are contributors to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.