Who has the best savings account in 2020?

Who has the best savings account in 2020?

Another year, another search for the best savings account! That's right: It was almost exactly a year ago today that I was hunting for an online savings account so I polled you, the Get Rich Slowly readers.

Last year, Ally Bank was the clear winner. More GRS readers had their money there than anywhere else. But folks also liked Discover Bank, Synchrony Bank, and several others.

This year, it's my girlfriend who is trying to find a better bank. Kim is perfectly happy with Ally — in fact, she's a vocal crusader for Ally, which I find amusing — but at the same time, she's curious if she can find a better interest rate somewhere else.

Seeking the Best Savings Account

After our family financial meeting on Thanksgiving, we agreed to restructure some of how Kim and I handle money together. Since we bought our country cottage in 2017, she's been paying me $500 per month as a way of vesting into the house.

After discussing our goals (both individual and shared), we decided it makes sense for her to stop paying me “rent” so that she can route that money toward other goals instead. Plus, I've refunded the $13,750 she'd already given me. She wants to save all of this money toward the purchase of a second house, a vacation home and/or investment property. To that end, she'd like to find the best online savings account.

What does “best online savings account” mean to Kim? Well, interest rate is important, obviously, but it's not the only thing. She also values ease of use and customer service.

“The only reason I'm looking outside of Ally is because I've seen better interest rates elsewhere,” she told me when I asked her for more info. “I'm looking for alternatives because I want the highest yield. CDs would be okay but their interest rates are no better right now.”

While a high interest rate is important, it's not the only factor in her search. “Honestly, I've considered USAA as well because they're so easy to work with and their customer service is awesome,” Kim says. “I've had twenty years of good experience with them and I trust them. I'm trying to weigh out trust, interest rates, and risk.”

When she left for work this morning, she said, “Can you do some research for me?”

Can I, a personal-finance writer, do some research about savings account interest rates for my girlfriend? Why, of course! I'd be happy to.

Current Top Savings Accounts

The company that used to own this website — with whom I still have a business relationship — has a handy tool that allows folks to look at a lot of today's top online savings accounts. Here are a few of their current top offers:

I'm going to point Kim to this list so that she can do some of her own research. But I've also done some digging on my own to come up with a list of free savings accounts that she might want to consider.

Based on your responses to this question last year, and based on Kim's own preferences, here are some of the best online savings accounts for her situation. (These interest rates are accurate as of 21 January 2020. They're subject to change.)

  • USAA offers two savings accounts. Its standard savings account currently has interest rates ranging from 0.09% to 0.15%, depending on balance. That's not great. Its “performance first” savings account actually offers lower rates for balances under $10,000 (whuh?), but gradually increases the interest if you stash away a lot of money. If you have over one million in savings, for instance, your rate is 1.06%. But do I need to tell you that it's foolish to have a million dollars in a savings account yielding just over one percent? Because it is. As much as Kim loves USAA, this isn't a good option.
  • Ally Bank, which is by far the preferred online savings account of GRS readers, currently offers an interest rate of 1.60%. As I say, this is where Kim currently keeps her savings, and it remains a solid option. It's not the highest interest rate, but it's good enough and she knows she likes the company.
  • Capital One, which used to be ING Direct (the former darling of the personal-finance world), has a performance savings account is currently yielding 1.70%, which is good. Plus, we still have accounts with them. (Note: If you're an old ING Direct or Capital One 360 customer, check your interest rate. For some reason, they've “grandfathered” old ING accounts into a 0.60% interest rate, which makes me cranky. If this has happened to you, you'll want to move to the new, higher-interest savings account.)
  • HSBC currently has a great interest rate — 2.00%! — and no minimum balance. It was an ad for this account that prompted Kim to start her search. The downsides? This is an online-only savings account. Plus, GRS readers don't like HSBC. They've had poor experiences with the company. Does that mean Kim shouldn't put her money here? No. But it does make us a little leery.
  • Discover offers an online savings account with a 1.70% APY. No minimums to open, no minimum balance, and no fees. This was the second choice among GRS readers in 2019 and looks like a solid choice.
  • Synchrony currently has a 1.70% APY and no fees. It also offers an ATM card, which isn't common with online savings accounts.

Last year, GRS readers also liked online savings accounts from American Express (currently 1.70%), Marcus by Goldman Sachs (1.70% APY), and Alliant Credit Union (1.65% APY). For more options, check out this list of current rates from Doctor of Credit.

The Impact of Compound Interest

Ultimately, Kim will have to make this decision on her own. I'll send her a link to this article and let her decide what she wants to do. I don't think there are any bad options here. (Well, I don't think she should put her savings in USAA, even though they're a great company. The interest rate is too low.)

Out of curiosity, I decided to use the compound interest calculator from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to see just how much of an impact interest rate would have on Kim's savings plans.

The impact of interest rate on online savings accounts

Assuming she starts with $13,750 and makes $500 monthly contributions, then:

  • At a 0.01% interest rate (common at large banks right now), she'd have $43,764.25 after five years — only $14.25 more than if she put the money in a piggy bank. After ten years, she'd have $73,793.52, or $43.52 more than if she did nothing.
  • At a 0.10% interest rate (similar to USAA), Kim would have $43,892.79 after five years or $74,186.66 after ten years. Better than the big banks, but not by much.
  • At a 1.60% interest rate (similar to Ally), she could have $46,105.41 after five years or $81,153.74 after ten years. Ah, that's more like it.
  • At a 1.70% interest rate (common among many online savings accounts right now), her nest egg would grow to $46,257.75 after five years or $81,647.37 after a decade. That's a $500 difference from a 1.60% APY over the course of ten years.
  • At a 2.00% intertest rate (similar to HSBC), Kim might have $46,718.51 after five years or $83,151.32 after ten years. That's nearly $10,000 more than if she were to stash her money at Bank of America or U.S. Bank!

Which online savings account will Kim choose? Time will tell. In the meantime, let us know if you've made any changes to where you keep your money since the last time we asked you a year ago.

In my research, I also came across the Consumers Credit Union rewards checking account, which just might be the best deal out there…if you're able to jump through some hoops. If.

For balances up to $10,000, you can earn 3.09% if you accept electronic documents, make at least 12 debit-card purchases totaling more than $100 per month, and receive more than $500 electronically each month. If you spend more than $500 each month on a Consumers Credit Union credit card, that rate climbs to 4.09%. And if you spend more than $1000 per month on that credit card, your APY is 5.09%.

If you don't meet these requirements, you get 0.01%. And you only get that high rate on your first $10,000 in savings. Anything over that earns less — much less (from 0.10% to 0.20%).

This is a very conditional account, but if you meet those conditions, it's amazing. It doesn't work for Kim's purposes though.

More about...Banking

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Juan
Juan
8 months ago

I use VioBank for my emergency fund and cash reserve.
Current APY is 1.95%. Highest I have found without having to jump through hoops

Janette
Janette
8 months ago

USAA is a terrible savings place and has been for years and years.
Since I need my money somewhat liquid, but not entirely, I ladder short bonds at Navy Federal. Their rates change frequently, so it is worth checking back often.

Liz
Liz
2 months ago
Reply to  Janette

Navy Federal runs some decent specials on their CDs I had one I got in 2019 for 3.23% 17 Mon and could add money to it. This year I got one that’s 17 Mon 2.32 money can also be added up to 50k. I always wait for a special n snag them 🙂

Troy Pulk
Troy Pulk
2 months ago
Reply to  Liz

Me too, I’m just finishing a 17 month special at 3.2
I wait for the specials as well but this year there is probably not going to be any.
So I’m looking around for a good one right now.

K.W.
K.W.
8 months ago

I switched from BoA (blegh) to Discover a couple of years ago. We ended up moving over our checking and savings accounts. I picked Discover for a few reasons:

(1) Good introductory offer — I don’t remember how much, but there was a hefty sign-up bonus
(2) My husband already had a credit card with them and liked it
(3) Competitively high interest rates
(4) Like the interface

One downside: unlike some others (Ally, I think?), you can’t have multiple sub-savings accounts. I’d really like to have that, but not enough to switch.

Carmine Red
Carmine Red
8 months ago

Can anyone give me a good way to calculate REAL interest rates when all I have is my monthly bank statement and the actual interest they paid me? I opened a Money Market Savings Account at my bank (Bank of the West) last year where they had a special offer of 2.00% interest. Perhaps I was naive, but I thought that 2.00% interest was locked in forever; now I’m not so sure, especially since the special offer has been scrubbed from the internet! I suspect that I now am seeing something like a 1.70% on my Money Market Savings Account… Read more »

whiskey
whiskey
8 months ago

I’ve been down the road with some of the big name financials. NEVER again. Since then, I always push brick and mortar, local credit unions. Always do your due diligence in research and each individuals situation will be different, but since switching, before some readers were even born, I’ve been treated right. Always, always keep tabs of your institution of choice. Look at the ever changing sea of fees. Keep up on news of said institution and see what direction they are going. Sure, there are places that offer more initial interest. But see what the long term will bring… Read more »

RandomJane
RandomJane
8 months ago

Oh gosh! Thank you for that note on Capital One. I didn’t realize my rate was so low because I got grandfathered in. That does seriously make me cranky. I’m going to look into this. They lost $15K of my business last week because the rate was so low. It was a gift that I had been keeping safe for a specific period of time but just decided that I could be doing better with it in a balanced mutual fund that I moved it to. So Capital One has bitten themselves in the buttocks on that one. I still… Read more »

mle detroit
mle detroit
8 months ago
Reply to  RandomJane

Ditto, Jane, I just transferred my savings to their higher-paying “performance” account We may be moving to CapOne’s territory in MD later this year, although I’ll be scouting credit unions for most of our banking.

Thanks, JD!

RandomJane
RandomJane
8 months ago
Reply to  mle detroit

I’m in the process of moving all of my Capital One accounts to Discover. They also allow multiple savings accounts. You might look into them. They are paying 1.70. Capital One needs to do better by their customers. That was really dirty. I’m mad at myself for not noticing. I’m usually on top of things.

Yury
Yury
8 months ago

Why haven’t you mention Wealthfront Cash with 1.78% APY? Does it have any limitations compared with the ‘traditional’ savings account?
Thanks

Treo
Treo
8 months ago
Reply to  Yury

I am a fan, I use them extensively, great account and easy to use.

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Yury

I could be wrong but my understanding is they might eventually get regulated/they may change the rules on if they get fdic insurance. There is the potential that you dont have as much fdic insurance.

Steveark
Steveark
8 months ago

Personal Cash, a Personal Capital offering, pays 1.55% unless you are a Personal Capital advisory services client of you are it pays 2.1%.

Kimberly Knur
Kimberly Knur
8 months ago
Reply to  Steveark

Checked, and at least as of 12/1/2019 (no update since), those rates are disclosed as:

The Personal Capital Cash™ Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 10/31/2019 is 1.55% APY (1.539% interest rate). The calculation for APY is rounded to the nearest basis point. For Personal Capital advisory clients, the APY is 1.60% (1.588% interest rate). Both the interest rate and APY are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time without notice.

Carmine Red
Carmine Red
8 months ago

Quick question, are the rates listed in promotions and reviews and articles like these temporary and due to change at some later date, or are they permanent given you open the account within the qualifying time period?

Alex
Alex
8 months ago

If you have investments at, say, Vanguard, a FIRE favorite, then plopping the cash in their money market at 1.6-1.7% is not a bad option. Some value to consolidating accounts.

Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Great suggestion, I hadn’t thought of that. I’m already a customer so it would be simple to set up. Thanks

Rednek en Alabama
Rednek en Alabama
8 months ago

Redstone Federal Credit Union 5.09 % Brighter day savings account

https://www.redfcu.org/personal/banking/savings/

Rebecca
Rebecca
8 months ago

I don’t personally have an account with this bank, but both of my siblings who live in Nebraska do. I don’t know if Kim has any connection to a member (which would allow her to become a member herself) but the rate is 4.00% APY* on balances up to $40,000 according to their website. Kind of a long shot that either of you are related to someone who banks with them but thought it would be worth mentioning as some of your readers might be interested. The account is called Free Kansasa Cash Checking with Liberty First Credit Union in… Read more »

Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards
8 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Wow, that’s an amazing interest rate, and believe it or not I know several people who live there.

FrugalStrong
FrugalStrong
8 months ago

My husband’s company has a credit union that has a deal situation to the credit union you mentioned except they pay 5% on the first $25,000. We have 2 accounts and keep them around $25k because above that, the interest rate is horrible. We just Google Pay each other back and forth at the beginning of each month to hit the required number of transactions.

All cash beyond that $50k is with Capital One (my old ING account), so I’ll need to check if I’m getting shafted. Thanks for the heads up!

Yyz
Yyz
8 months ago

Don’t fix your “grandfathered” capital one account….leave them entirely because of their underhanded tactic

Check out Citizens Access. Great rates and a very clean mobile friendly website that makes having a separate app unnecessary

I closed capital one, but still keep a synchrony account and won’t hesitate to move cash between accounts to whoever has the better interest rate

Scott D.
Scott D.
8 months ago

I use bankrate.com to search for the best savings account based on APY. Two accounts I opened using this method were at Memory Bank and Customers Bank, which at the time both had an APY of 2.25%. To my surprise, both banks have exceptional customer service. One thing to keep in mind is do not deposit more than $240,000 or so in any account with a $250,000 FDIC insurance limit. If they were to go under, you would be in some trouble!

Mike
Mike
8 months ago

I’ve been using Consumers Credit Union for over 10 years and love it overall. In this time, I’ve moved to several different states and have never felt the need to visit a brick and mortar establishment. They are great for reimbursement of all ATM fees anywhere, and I find it relatively easy to take advantage to get 5.09% monthly on balances of up to 10,000 in the checking. There’s an ongoing dashboard to asses where you are in the process each month.

Alex Grover
Alex Grover
8 months ago

I’ve been using Simple, one of the new app-based providers, for several years now. They have 1.75 APY under $10k and 1.90 over $10k. Their app is clean and easy to use and they have great customer service.

However, the biggest selling point for me (even more than the small interest rate differences) is that the transfer between the HYSA and the checking account is instant. I’ve opened a few other accounts but the fact that it can take a week to get your money out is a dealbreaker for me.

Michele
Michele
8 months ago

Ally also has a CD rate currently at 1.8 it is a year CD and they guarantee the rate as long as you keep it in there for six days. Interest is paid at year end. If you don’t need short term access it’s a good option. I use it for my emergency fund.
Also tabbank.com has/had a 4% on the first 50K checking account but it has hoops to jump thru.

Juan
Juan
8 months ago

I put part of my emergency fund in worthy bonds, they pay 5% interest. It’s Not FDIC secure.

Amy
Amy
8 months ago

Advantis CU’s Fusion Checking: locally owners and invested, high interest rate on up to $25K, easy to use!

Cammie
Cammie
8 months ago

Thank you for the timely article. I have my emergency fund at CIT but received notification late 2019 that it now has a $10 fee to transfer money out…seems steep and no other bank has that. Now my money is being held hostage for $10!!!

Deborah
Deborah
8 months ago

I have one of those old ING accounts that is now with Capital One. I opened a new 360 Performance Savings account in less than 5 minutes and transferred from my old account into the new one. Thanks for this article!

DonB
DonB
8 months ago

DollarSavingsDirect is 1.8% right now.

DonB
DonB
8 months ago

Wow, no joke about CapitalOne360 giving the shaft to their “loyal customers!” I had already moved most of my money to other banks because they weren’t keeping up.

After reading the comments above I re-checked. New customers are advertised 1.7% and I’m receiving 0.6%. That is just so incredibly lame. I guess the rest of my money is going to live at a new home as well.

pencil_pushin
pencil_pushin
8 months ago

I have two accounts with Marcus online bank (Goldman Sachs), a 1 year CD @ 2.65% maturing next month and an 13 month no penalty CD @ 2.10% (last year rates before the Fed dropped interest rates). Marcus currently pays the following – see below. FDIC insured. The no penalty CD offers flexibility, i.e., you can take your money out of a no-penalty CD after 7 days without being charged a penalty. Online savings account has no minimum. CDs have a minimum of $500. For the no penalty CDs, you can’t add to your account. For the high yield CD,… Read more »

Chris
Chris
8 months ago

I had a large sum I needed to save until tax time this year so I looked around and found Popular Direct Bank. At the time the APY was almost 2.5% (last August) on anything over $5,000. It’s now down to 2.02% but still decent. If you have a Vanguard brokerage account, the settlement fund has been 2.14% for the past year.

Aaron Kulbe
Aaron Kulbe
7 months ago

Hey J.D. – long time no talk, sir. Aaron Kulbe here. Question for you, sir.

The second home goal… is that for a vacation home, or investment? Just curious.

Joe
Joe
7 months ago

I’m so glad I read this. I’m a CapitalOne customer via INGdirect, and sure enough, my savings account and all three of my kids’ were at 0.6%. Fixing that right away. Thanks!

RandomJane
RandomJane
7 months ago

Update: If you want multiple accounts or “savings buckets” do not even bother to try Discover. I decided to switch from Capital One (got shafted by the grandfathered rate) to Discover because everything I saw said I could set up multiple accounts. In practice that his not worked. I was able to open 2 accounts in the same day or maybe over 2 days without any identity verification. It took another 4 or 5 days to get a 3rd account opened. Almost a month and two phone calls later I’m still waiting on the applications for the additional 2 account… Read more »

Liz
Liz
2 months ago

Usaa is awful. We had them for 10 plus years just moved everything over to Navy Federal. After logging in to usaa and all my back accounts gone along with all the statements and the associate on the phone unable to tell me if I even have an account open I said this is it! I can go into other issues like getting paid for my totaled car from their insurance but that’s for another day.

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