If you’ve ever wished you could put your savings somewhere they could grow that wasn’t as risky as the stock market, a high-yield savings account could be for you. It’s an environment where you’ll earn more interest than you would in a traditional savings account, and there is no risk of loss in a high-yield savings account, up to the FDIC insurance limit. Here are some great choices right now, plus what you need to know to evaluate them.
What is a high-yield savings account?
A high-yield savings account is similar to a traditional savings account, except it pays significantly more in interest on the funds deposited. According to data from the FDIC, the national average APY (annual percentage yields) for a savings account is currently 0.30%. Compare that to some of the top high-yield savings accounts — which boast APYs just over 4.0% — and it’s easy to see the appeal.
The downsides are that there may be limitations on the number of times you can withdraw and transfer money from the account. Many high-yield savings accounts require a minimum deposit, and, though high-yield accounts pay more in interest than regular savings accounts, you still may not earn enough to keep up with inflation (today, the rate of inflation is higher than the interest rate paid on high-yield savings accounts).
Another benefit to these types of savings accounts is that they’re more flexible than CDs (certificates of deposit), which require you to keep your money locked in for a set term. High-yield savings accounts are also much less risky than the stock market. As such, they can be ideal for hitting short-term savings goals, like beefing up your emergency fund or socking away cash for a down payment on a home.
Great high-yield savings accounts – March 2023
High-yield savings accounts can vary widely. Each one has a different APY, minimum balance, and fee schedule. Here are some great options for March 2023.
1. MySavingsDirect: 4.35% APY, $1 minimum opening deposit
A division of Emigrant Bank, MySavingsDirect allows customers to open a high-yield online savings account with as little as $1. The bank has a competitive APY — the highest rate on our list — but it comes with some limitations. You’ll need to mail a check to fund your account, and MySavingsDirect offers neither ATM access or mobile check deposit. On the plus side, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee or maintain a minimum balance to keep the account open.
2. UFB Direct: 4.21% APY, No minimum opening deposit
UFB Direct (a division of Axos Bank) offers a high-yield savings account with competitive interest rates. The 4.21% APY is attractive, as are the zero minimum balance requirement and total lack of maintenance fees. What sets UFB apart, though, is that it offers ATM access, which few online banks do. The account also permits mobile check deposits.
3. Popular Direct: 4.16% APY, $5,000 minimum opening deposit
Popular Direct’s High Rise Savings account requires a steep opening deposit, but you get what you pay for. This account offers one of the best savings account rates of the year, and it requires zero monthly maintenance fees. (However, you will incur a $25 fee if you close the account within the first 180 days.) Account holders also get access to 24/7 customer support and an intuitive mobile app.
4. Bask Bank: 4.16% APY, No minimum opening deposit
A division of Texas Capital Bank, Bask Bank offers online-only Interest Savings accounts with competitive rates. While fairly new to the game, Bask is already proving itself to be a top competitor in terms of a high APY, zero minimum balance requirement, and zero monthly fees. There’s also no minimum opening deposit to open a new account. The biggest downside is account access: you’ll need to link to an external bank account and initiate a bank transfer to deposit or withdraw money. As of now, Bask Bank does not allow joint accounts.
5. Salem Five Direct: 4.10% APY, $10 minimum opening deposit
Salem Five Direct became the first online bank in the U.S. back in 1995, and it’s still a major contender today. The APY on a Salem Five Direct high-yield savings account is among the highest on this list, and they’ll pay it on balances up to $1 million. You can open a Salem Five Direct account with an opening deposit of just $10. (Disclaimer: this account is only available to customers who don’t already have a checking or savings account with Salem Five Bank.)
6. CIT Bank: 4.05% APY, $100 minimum opening deposit
CIT Bank offers a high-interest savings account called Savings Connect, which you can open with a starting balance of $100. After that, there’s no monthly service fee. CIT ranks high on customer support availability with live chat and automated phone assistance options available 24/7. This account is also one of the few to offer debit card access. You can make deposits via transfer, or deposit checks using their mobile banking app.
7. PNC Bank: 4.00% APY, No minimum opening deposit
PNC’s digital high yield savings account doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees or require an opening deposit. Its minimum balance is also quite low: you can earn 4% APY as long as you maintain $1 in the account. It’s important to note, however, that the account is only available in select markets, and you may not be eligible if you live in certain states. There’s also a $25 fee if you close the account within the first 180 days.
8. LendingClub Bank: 4.00% APY, $100 minimum opening deposit
With no monthly service fees, no minimum daily balance, and a generous APY, LendingClub Bank's high-yield savings account is a top choice for many customers. Better yet: this account comes with an ATM card, giving customers access to more than 325,000 machines worldwide (all with zero ATM fees). You can also deposit checks via the mobile app, set up direct deposits, and transfer money from external banks. The only downside is that there’s a $100 deposit required to open the account.
9. Synchrony Bank: 3.75% APY, No minimum opening deposit
With Synchrony Bank’s high-yield savings account, you’ll never have to pay monthly fees, make a minimum deposit, or maintain a minimum balance. The account also provides ATM access with unlimited ATM transactions. While there are fees associated with ATM use, the bank will refund $5 worth of domestic ATM fees monthly. You’ll also have access to your money through wire transfers (up to three free per statement cycle) and electronic transfers to outside accounts. The bank’s streamlined app is another perk; it earns consistently high reviews from customers.
10. SoFi: 3.75% APY, No minimum opening deposit
SoFi’s Checking and Savings Account combines the best features of savings and checking accounts — all with a higher APY than many of its competitors. (Note that the APY is conditional; you can earn 3.75% on your savings and 2.50% on your checking balances, but only if you set up a direct deposit.) SoFi also stands out for its welcome bonus. You could earn $50 to $300, depending on how many direct deposits you make in a 30-day period. The account offers free ATM access and comes with “Money Vaults,” a tool to organize your money for specific savings goals.
11. Capital One: 3.30% APY, No minimum opening deposit
While Capital One is perhaps best known as a credit card company, it also offers a number of high-quality banking services. Its 360 Performance Savings, for example, is one of the more competitive high-yield savings accounts on the market. There is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee, and it takes as little as five minutes to open a free account. That makes this a great option for high and low savers alike. The account permits mobile check deposit as well as electronic transfers. To make withdrawals, you can either schedule a transfer or withdraw cash by visiting a branch.
12. Marcus by Goldman Sachs: 3.30% APY, No minimum opening deposit
With no minimum deposit and no fee, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a great choice for new savers. One downside: Marcus does not offer check-writing or mobile check deposit options. In fact, the only way to deposit a check is to mail it to the bank. Withdrawals are a little easier: you can request an ACH transfer by phone or do a free wire transfer to a linked account at another bank.
13. Ally Bank: 3.30% APY, No minimum balance
Ally Bank offers a strong APY, has no minimum balance requirements, and charges no monthly maintenance fees. You can get ATM access if you have an Ally checking account, and the bank will reimburse up to $10 per month in out-of-network ATM fees. You can also deposit checks through the mobile app. The downside is that Ally’s fees can add up. You get six free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle, but after that, there’s a $10 fee per transaction. Ally also charges a $25 overdraft fee.
How to pick a high-yield savings account
When selecting a high-yield savings account that best suits your needs, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
APY: Annual percentage yield is what you’ll earn on the money you put into your savings account. The higher this number, the more you’ll make.
Account fees: High monthly fees can eat into your gains. Examine the fee schedule for each account, and make sure you know what you need to do to avoid them.
Minimum balance: Some accounts require a minimum balance to stay open. Make sure this is an amount you’re comfortable leaving in your account. Also make sure you know the penalties for dropping below that balance.
Minimum opening deposit: While many banks will open your account for free, some require an initial deposit of anywhere from $10 to $5,000.
Deposits and withdrawals: Make sure you can access your money in a way that’s convenient for you. Only some accounts offer ATM cards, and many of these charge ATM fees. Many also limit the number of withdrawals you can make each month. If you plan to deposit checks, check whether there’s a mobile app that will let you do so from the comfort of your home.
Member FDIC: Credit unions usually insure their deposit accounts through the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Banks, on the other hand, are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Through the FDIC, high-yield savings accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 per depositor. Most brick-and-mortar banks and big national banks (like American Express or Barclays) are FDIC-insured, but it’s always worth checking just to make sure.
Benefits of a high-yield savings account
Significantly higher interest rates than a traditional savings account. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll make from the money you deposit, thanks to compound interest.
Don’t require you to store your money for a set period of time. A CD account is another popular place to store money when you want to earn high interest. The downside to a CD account, however, is that you have to commit to keeping your money in it for a set term. If you want to take it out, you’ll have to pay a fee. High-yield savings accounts require no such commitment, though you may be limited in the number of times you can withdraw or transfer your money per month.
Safer than the stock market. High-yield savings accounts are best for storing money you don’t need right now, but may in the near future. Take an emergency fund for example. You don’t need it urgently, but you may need it for an unexpected expense. If you put your money in the stock market, it’s likely to generate a higher return than a high-yield savings account in the long-term. But in the short term, the stock market is volatile and could result in you losing a significant portion of your emergency fund. If you’re trying to store your emergency fund, or save up to buy a house or car in the next few years, you don’t want to risk losing that money in one fell swoop. High-yield savings accounts are a safe way to earn more than what you would usually earn by keeping your money in a traditional savings account. For longer-term goals like saving for retirement, however, there are other, better places to put your money.
Disadvantages of a high-yield savings account
Not for everyday banking. If you’re thinking you’ll be able to use your high-yield savings account like a second checking account, think again. These accounts aren’t ideal for people who move their money around a lot, because federal law only requires banks to allow you to withdraw or transfer funds a total of six times per month without fees.
More hoops to jump through. It’s not just limitations on moving your money that you’ll have to deal with when you open a high-yield savings account. There’s often a minimum account balance and maybe even a minimum initial deposit, too.
Bad for building long-term wealth. High-yield savings accounts can enable you to earn more than you would in a traditional savings account. However, the interest you earn, even in a high-yield savings account, may not be enough to keep pace with inflation.
Rates aren’t locked. That 4.0% interest rate might look appealing, but there’s no guarantee it will remain that high. Interest rates offered by U.S. banks can go up or down according to the Federal Reserve’s interest rates. When the Fed raises rates, you may get a higher APY. Conversely, if they choose to drop the federal funds rate, your interest rate could take a hit. This is unlike a CD, where the interest rate is usually locked in for the term of the CD.
Explore savings accounts on Navient Marketplace
A high-yield savings account is perfect for storing an emergency fund, a windfall, or funds for a big purchase that you plan to make within the next five years. When you’re selecting a financial institution to open an account with, make sure to evaluate not just their APY, but also their terms and conditions. It’s important to know the rules of each account. After all, you don’t want to get caught paying fees you didn’t know existed. Also consider alternatives, like CD accounts and money market accounts, before you pull the trigger on a high-yield savings account.
Want to explore these accounts and more? Check out Navient Marketplace to compare, contrast, and determine which best suits your lifestyle.