Best Online Savings Banks of 2021

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JL Collins | EP 284

JL Collins Website:  JLCollinsnh.com Book: The Simple Path to Wealth What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show When it comes to investing strategies, one of

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

We talk a lot in the Financial Independence community about having an emergency fund, some extra money to cover the unexpected. What’s equally as important as having an emergency fund is putting it in the right place. An online savings bank just might be the perfect place for your fund. 

The best online savings banks give you easy access to your money and a high APY. APY is Annual Percentage Yield. That means how much money you accrue in interest with a specific bank if you have your money with them for one year. 

We’ve profiled ten of the best online savings banks and compared their APYs as well as minimum balance requirements, ATM access, and other perks. Now you can easily see what is right for you and your money. 

Online Savings Banks Overview

APYMin. Balance to Open AccountMin. Balance to Keep APYATM Access
CIT0.30%$100Tiered Balance (see write-up)Yes
Axos0.61%$250$0.00Yes
Ally0.60%$0.00$0.00Yes
BBVA0.01%$25.00$500.00Yes
Radius0.15 or 0.25%$100.00$2,500 (0.15%) or $25,000 (0.25%)Yes
TIAA0.50%$25.00$25.00Yes
Discover0.60%$0.00$500.00Yes
Chase0.01%$0.00$300.00Yes
FNBO Direct0.50%$1.00$0.01No
Comenity0.60%$100.00Tiered Balance (see write-up)Yes

CIT 

Screenshot of CIT Bank webpage

What we love:  

  • High APY. Although it’s a tiered rate, even the lowest tier is higher than half of the other banks on our list.  
  • Low minimum opening balance. $100 is all you need to get your savings account started at CIT.  
  • Unlimited withdrawals and deposits into your savings account through ATM locations. 

Additional things to consider:  

  • The interest on your CIT account is compounded daily and paid into your account monthly.  
  • None of those pesky monthly maintenance fees that are often seen in other banks.  
  • Other investment opportunities. CIT has other places to keep your money if you want to diversify out of just a savings account. You could also put your money in an eChecking account, money market, or a variety of CDs with CIT. 

Bottom line:  

As one of our top 3 picks for best online savings banks, CIT is a good place to keep your emergency fund. While you may find a few other banks with a slightly higher APY, the other savings account perks are enough to make up for that. We want to particularly highlight the easy access to your funds. That’s critical for an emergency fund, and it isn’t something to take for granted as being true in all savings accounts. Other banks limit the number of times you can either deposit or withdraw money, but CIT gives you free, unlimited access. 

If you would like to open a CIT online savings account, please consider supporting ChooseFI by using this affiliate link.

AXOS 

Preview of Axos savings account webpage

What we love: 

  • High APY at 0.61%. That’s the highest on our list by 0.01%. 
  • No minimum monthly balance to keep the APY. Others on our list require you to keep a whole lot more money in your account for a less APY. 
  • Digital money management tools. This includes things like debit card management, biometric authentication, and a 24/7 virtual bank teller to help you.  

Additional things to consider: 

  • $20 for referring friends. If they open an Axos account, you get the money. 
  • Good mobile banking app that allows you to see your transaction history, pay your bills, transfer funds, etc. 

Bottom line:

Judging by its APY, this would seem like the bank for just about everyone looking for one of the best online savings banks to put their emergency fund in. And it really is. The main issue that we have with it is the high minimum balance required to open an account. At $250, it’s the highest of any other bank on our list by $150. If you’re in the beginning stages of saving, it may be a couple of months before you’ve managed to save that much in order to open an account. 

ALLY 

Preview of Ally online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • High APY. At 0.60%, Ally’s APY is tied with Comenity on our list for the second-highest APY of the ones we profiled. (And the highest is just 0.01% more.) 
  • $0 minimums. You can open a savings account with no money to put in it, and there is no minimum amount that you must have in the account in order to make the APY. 
  • No charges for lots of basic banking needs. This list includes incoming wires, online statements, cashier’s checks, etc. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • While they don’t charge fees for a lot of things, they will charge for some, like excessive transactions, overdrafts, etc. 
  • You can link your savings account to a checking account, money market, trust, or CD.  
  • 24/7 customer service. This is important if you travel and might often find yourself in different time zones. 

Bottom Line: 

There’s a lot to love about Ally – which is why it easily makes it on our list of best online savings banks. It's high/low combination of a high APY and low minimum balance requirements make it hugely attractive. They also have a great digital envelope system (they call them “buckets”), and you can create ten buckets within a savings account. The bucket system lets you can easily set aside money for future expenses. (Things like house repairs, car repairs, vet bills, etc. would fit on this list.) This system is very helpful, especially for beginners to keep track of there their money is going so they know they are building a big enough emergency fund. And you can keep track of everything on their mobile app. 

BBVA 

Preview of BBVA savings account webpage

What we love: 

  • Link to your (BBVA) checking account for overdraft protection. That’s great extra protection if you’re worried that, in the heat of an emergency, you might withdraw more than what is in your account. 
  • No ATM fees at BBVA USA ATMs. This also includes all Allpoint locations and select 7-11 locations across the country. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • In addition to savings accounts, BBVA also offers a variety of other investment opportunities including checking accounts, CDs, investment services money market accounts, IRAs, insurance services, and mortgages. 
  • BBVA has an award-winning mobile app to help you control your finances 24/7. 

Bottom Line:  

While there are definitely perks to having your savings account at BBVA, there are several things that we are fond of too. They have a higher minimum balance requirement ($500) than most other banks on our list. If your balance is under that or you don’t have a recurring monthly transfer of $25 or more, you have a quarterly service charge of $15.

You’re also automatically signed up for a monthly paper statement, which costs $3/quarter. You have to opt-out of them if you don’t want them. While quarterly fees of $18 between these two things don’t seem like much, that’s over $70 a year that could be in your pocket that’s now in BBVA’s pocket. 

RADIUS 

Preview of Radius online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • No monthly service fees. There are other banks on our list that charge monthly fees that almost erase any APY. Radius is not one of those banks. 
  • No minimum balance required after you open your account. It’s great not to be penalized for a lower balance, but also note the tiered APY based on how much money you have in your account. (See “bottom line” below.) 

Additional things to consider: 

  • An integrated financial dashboard that allows you to do more than most other banks. You can link to your external accounts, budget your money, and analyze financial trends. 
  • Free internal and external transfers of funds. 

Bottom Line:  

Radius is a safe place to put your money, but it’s not going to earn very much while you have it there. They have a tiered APY.  

  • If you have a balance of $9.99 or less, your APY is 0%. 
  • Between $10 and $2,4999, your APY is 0.05%. 
  • Between $2,500 to $24,999, your APY is 0.15%.  
  • More than $25,000, your APY is 0.25%.  

The issue is that most people pursuing FI would not keep that much money in a savings account. Instead, they would put the bulk somewhere else where it would earn a lot more in interest. 

TIAA 

Preview of TIAA online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • Low minimum balance to open. You can open a TIAA savings account with just $25. 
  • Low minimum balance rate to keep APY. You only have to maintain $25 in your account to qualify for the APY rate of 0.50%. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • TIAA has over 80,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. 
  • TIAA also has opportunities to invest in mutual funds, brokerage services, CDs, and money market accounts through them. 

Bottom Line: 

This is a good basic savings account. What TIAA lacks in perks, it makes up for in a high APY with a low required balance. We love that because it means that even novice savers can start seeing their money make money. At the same time, there are other banks on our list that offer more extras – unlimited withdrawals, an option to chat online with a bank representative, fee-free banking tools, etc. – that might make them more viable options for your emergency fund. 

DISCOVER 

Preview of Discover online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • High APY. Discover has a 0.55% APY, one of the highest on our list. 
  • No monthly maintenance fees. Unlike some other banks, you’re not charged anything just for having a savings account with Discover. This includes insufficient funds, official bank checks, insufficient funds fees, etc. 
  • No minimum opening balance and no minimum monthly balance required for APY. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • You can also invest in a money market, IRAs, or CDs with Discover. 
  • More than 60,000 fee-free ATMs using either your Discover debit or credit card. 

Bottom line: 

Discover is a good place to store your emergency fund. You’ll get access to a good APY regardless of how much money you have in your account. As people who want our money to work for us wherever we put it, this is a great perk. Discover also offers 24/7 U.S.-based customer service and a mobile app so you can take care of your banking needs wherever you are. 

CHASE 

Preview of Chase online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • $0 minimum balance to open a savings account. 
  • Chase still has physical brick-and-mortar branches in addition to being an online bank. At last count, they have over 4,700 in the United States. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • Chase has more than 16,000 ATMs across the country. 
  • They charge fees for a lot of things that other banks don’t, including stop payments, ingoing and outgoing wire transfers, minimum balance fees, etc. 

Bottom Line: 

Chase isn’t one that we would recommend as the place to put your emergency fund. They are tied for the lowest APY on our list (0.01%). That, combined with the fees that they charge for things that other banks don’t, makes them less attractive than others on our list. The only reason we would recommend it is if you love the idea of your bank having brick-and-mortar locations. If that’s you, Chase is probably your best bet. 

FNBO Direct (First National Bank of Omaha) 

Preview of FNBO Direct online savings bank account webpage

What we love: 

  • High APY. FNBO Direct’s rate is at 0.50%, which easily ranks it as one of the highest APYs on our list. 
  • Low minimum balance requirements. We mean really low. The minimum balance to open an account is $1.00, and the minimum balance to keep the high APY is $0.01. You read that right. Keeping just one penny in your account gives you access to 0.50%. You obviously won’t make a lot, but their non-tiered system is a bonus, especially for new savers. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • In addition to checking accounts, FNBO Direct also offers 529 accounts, student loan refinancing, and more. 
  • There is a difference between FNBO and FNBO Direct. The latter is their online banking service. The former is their brick-and-mortar banking. They still have more than 125 locations in seven states, mainly in the Midwest. 

Bottom Line: 

We’d rate FNBO Direct firmly in the “good” category. They have a high maximum balance of $1,000,000, which seems to be a plus – kind of a “set it and forget” mentality towards saving. However, most people who are learning the principles of FI would never keep anywhere close to that amount of money in a savings account when it could be making a lot more money invested in other places. We come back to the high APY, low minimum balances, and solid mobile banking app as good reasons to put your money with them. 

COMENITY 

Preview of Comenity high yield savings account webpage

What we love: 

  • High APY. Comenity is one of three banks on our list that hits the 0.60% APY mark.  
  • Largely fee-free banking. Comenity doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees, low balance fees, incoming wire transfer fees, etc. 

Additional things to consider: 

  • Comenity does not offer ATM withdrawals. Their reasoning is that if you have a high-yield account, you won’t need or want to withdraw your money often enough to require ATM access.  
  • While they don’t offer a checking account, they do offer CD investment opportunities. 

Bottom Line: 

We’re split on Comenity. The high APY and low fees are great, as is their mobile app and their high maximum balance of $10,000,000 (if you would ever want to keep that much in a savings account). But the lack of immediate access to your money via ATM is a big consideration and, in our opinion, a strike against them. We are looking for places to keep an emergency fund. The very nature of an emergency requires quick and easy access. Lack of ATM access, especially when you have it with every other bank on our list, is a deal breaker. 

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of savings accounts that offer you perks and might be a good fit for you. We recommend that you start your search with the ones we feel are the top three options: CIT, Axos, and Ally. They’re great for novice savers looking to start building their emergency fund and still getting a good return on their money. 

Other Options to Grow Your Money

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

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