Review: 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2015

Review: 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2015

This is the first installment of GOBankingRates’ third annual “Best Banks” series, linking consumers with the best banks and bank accounts of 2015. Come back each week of January and February for our rankings and reviews of the year’s best institutions and products, including brick-and-mortar banks, military financial institutions, online banks, checking accounts and CDs.  

The most popular financial resolution for Americans this year was saving money — and yet many are largely ignoring the one product designed to help them do just that.

Only 7 percent of U.S. consumers opened a short-term savings product in 2014, according to CEB’s Consumer Financial Monitor. That leaves the vast majority of bank customers — roughly 13 out of 14 — seemingly content with their current savings account.

They shouldn’t be. Studies show Americans don’t save nearly enough money as it is; if they’re going to meet their savings goals this year, consumers will need to be as proactive about finding the best savings accounts as they are about funding it each month.

Not all accounts are created equal, and there are a number of widely varying factors to consider before choosing the best savings account, from savings account rates and fees to the minimum deposit requirement. Many customers who assume they’re receiving the best deal at their current bank are settling: Take the savings account interest rate, for example. The average savings account rate in the U.S. is currently hovering around 0.17% APY, according to our database. If you’re looking at the right banks, you’ll be able to find savings rates that beat that by a factor of 10.

In the first installment of its 2015 “Best Banks” series, GOBankingRates ranked and reviewed the top 10 best savings accounts in the U.S. based on the criteria that impact consumers the most: minimum deposit to open, minimum deposit to avoid a fee, monthly service fees and, of course, the APY.

Related: 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2016

Note that there were two ties for first and second place. 

>>Video: 5 Reasons You Need to Switch Banks This Year 

Review of the 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2015

1. GE Capital Bank Online Savings Review (tie)

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: First up in our two-way tie for the top product is the GE Capital Bank Online Savings account, which has no minimum opening balance requirements, no monthly account fees or transaction fees and an online savings account rate of 1.05% APY.

Review: This was one of many online-only products that show up on our best savings accounts list; online bank accounts consistently ranked well because of their relatively high APYs and low fees, but also have the added bonus of 24/7 online accessibility (though that perk didn’t factor into rankings). In GE Capital Bank’s case, account holders can check balances, track their transactions, receive paperless statements and transfer money, all through the online banking portal. Money can be withdrawn through an electronic transfer to a linked account at another bank or a wire transfer. (Note that, per federal law, only six withdrawals can be made per statement cycle.)

How to open: Customers can apply for a GE Capital Bank online savings account on its site and fund it in one of four ways: through an electronic transfer from another account, a direct deposit payment from payroll or Social Security, a domestic wire transfer from another bank, or by mailing a check.

1. MySavingsDirect MySavings Account Review (tie)

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: The MySavingsDirect MySavings Account boasts a 1.05% APY, “America’s highest rate” — that is, the highest advertised online savings account rate for a no-fee, no-minimum-requirement savings account (which it shares with GE Capital Bank’s Online Savings account). The fact that this rate can be obtained without meeting a minimum deposit threshold (a $1 balance will earn the same interest rate as a $1,000 balance) and doesn’t come with a monthly fee pushed it to the top of the list.

Review:  Along with no monthly service charges, this account doesn’t charge any other hidden fees, either. My Savings Direct is Emigrant Bank’s online-only portal, meaning funds can be accessed 24/7 through the website. Withdrawals are made through a linked external checking account that the customer designates upon account opening.

How to open: The MySavings Account can be opened online at MySavingsDirect.com, and funded by transferring money from a linked checking account or by mailing a check. (Though customers can make their initial deposit via snail mail, they need to use their linked checking accounts for all future transactions.)

3. Barclays Bank Delaware Online Savings Review (tie)

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: Barclays Bank‘s Online Savings account rate is 1.00% APY, it comes with no monthly service fees and no minimum balance requirement to open.

Review: Through online banking, Barclays offers 24/7 access to funds, transfers to other banks and the option of direct deposit to fund the account, which can be linked to an existing account at any U.S. bank. There are no hidden fees, and the chosen external account can also be changed at any time. More experienced savers might be more interested in Barclay’s Dream Account, which offers bonuses on interest earned as a reward for making regular deposits into the account and refraining from withdrawing for six months.

How to open: This Barclays Bank online savings account can be opened online through the Barclays site and funded using the linked external bank account. Deposits can also be made through an electronic transfer, direct deposit or mailed check. Barclays also offers a remote deposit feature, allowing you to deposit checks with a computer or smartphone.

3. iGObanking.com iGOsavings Review (tie)

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: This iGOBanking online savings account is FDIC-insured iGOBanking.com and offers an online savings account rate of 1.00% APY, no fees and no minimum balance or deposit requirements.

Review: Customers can access their funds 24/7 at iGobanking.com or call the customer hotline to talk to a real, live person. There are no fees associated with the account, meaning account holders don’t have to worry about blowing their yearly interest on hidden charges.

How to open: The application for the iGOsavings account can be completed online or through snail mail. Account holders can deposit funds directly from another financial institution or by wiring them electronically to the iGOsavings account, meaning they can still keep the checking account of their choice.

5. Ally Bank Online Savings Account Review

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: The Ally Bank online savings account features a 1.00% APY, no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum deposit requirement to open.

Review: One of Ally Bank’s online savings account standout features is its accessibility; customers can check and move funds through online and mobile banking, and deposit checks remotely with Ally’s eCheck Deposit. Account holders can move their money between Ally Bank accounts, transfer funds to non-Ally accounts and schedule transfers for up to a year in advance online or over their phones. Along with no monthly expenses, Ally also doesn’t charge fees for ACH transfers, online statements, incoming wires, postage-paid envelopes or cashier’s checks (though other actions might incur a fee, such as a returned deposit, expedited delivery or account research).

How to open: Apply for the account at Ally’s website and fund it with a transfer from another Ally or non-Ally bank account, a direct deposit, wire transfer or mailed check.

6. Bank5 Connect High-Interest Savings Review

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: Bank5 Connect, also an online-only bank, offers its High-Interest Savings account rate with a 0.90% APY. Though there is a minimum balance requirement of $10 to open the account and $100 to earn the stated interest rate, there are no monthly services charges.

Review: The High-Interest Savings account from Bank5 Connect comes with free online and mobile banking, free paperless statements, and no fees on cashier’s checks, overdraft transfers and incoming wires. In terms of accessibility, customers can access their money 24/7 online or over their phones, or speak with a representative using the bank’s live chat feature. Money can be withdrawn up to six times per month through an electronic funds transfer, telephone transfer, check request or Bank5 Connect debit card.

How to open: Opening this savings account takes about 10 minutes and can be done online at the institution’s website.

7. Synchrony Bank Optimizer+plus High Yield Savings Review

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: This Synchrony Bank account lands on our list of best savings accounts of 2015 because it offers a competitive online savings account rate of 1.05% APY with no minimum opening deposit requirement (at the time of this study, Synchrony was offering 1.00% but has since increased its rate). Unlike some of the other accounts on our list, the Optimzer+plus High Yield Savings account does have a $5 monthly service fee, but this can be waived as long as the account holder maintains a $30 minimum balance.

Review: There is no minimum balance needed to earn interest on this account, meaning all depositors get the stated 1.00% APY, whether they have $1 or $25,000 in their accounts. Money can be withdrawn over the phone, through an online transfer or with the optional Synchrony Bank ATM card. As with all other savings accounts, withdrawals are limited to six per statement period, as per federal rules. Synchrony Bank also offers free online and mobile banking, allowing customers to view their account information, transfer money, remotely deposit checks and view paperless statements on their computers or smartphones.

How to open: You can open your Synchrony Bank account online and fund it through a linked external account, wire transfer or mailed check.

8. CIT Bank High Yield Online Savings Account Review

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: CIT Bank’s High Yield Online Savings account features a 0.95% APY with no monthly maintenance fees. Though there is no minimum balance requirement to earn interest, the account must be opened with a minimum deposit of $100.

Review: CIT customers have 24/7 access to their funds through free online banking. Because this is a tiered product, account holders can boost their savings account interest rate to 1.00% APY by maintaining a daily balance of at least $25,000. There are no fees for mailed checks, online transfers and incoming wire transfers, though accounts with an average daily balance of less than $25,000 will be assessed a $10 fee for outgoing wire transfers.

How to open: CIT Bank Online Savings Accounts can be opened and funded online with a deposit from an external bank account, a wire transfer or by mailing in a check.

9. American Express Bank, FSB High-Yield Savings Account Review

Available: Anywhere (Online)

Why: The high-yield online savings account from American Express Bank offers a 0.90% APY, with no monthly service charge and no minimum deposit requirement.

Additional notes: The AMEX personal savings account is on our list of best savings accounts because you can set up alerts to track your funds, and there are no hidden fees involved with managing your money. Customers can make deposits and withdrawals by linking their existing accounts from another bank through American Express Bank’s online banking platform. Plus American Express Bank also provides a 24/7 customer service phone line.

Review: Customers can apply online or over the phone at any time, and fund their accounts electronically or by check. Because there’s no minimum balance requirement, your deposit will start earning interest as soon as it’s received.

10. Flagstar Bank SimplySavings Review

Available: Michigan

Why: The lone brick-and-mortar bank on this list of best savings accounts, Flagstar Bank‘s SimplySavings account offers the highest APY of all 10 accounts, a 1.10% promotional rate earned on new deposits within the first 12 months of account opening. There is no minimum balance requirement to open an account within a Flagstar branch, but applying online requires a $1 deposit. The account also has no monthly fee for the 12 month promotional period, and then it’s a $3 monthly fee which is be waived with an average daily balance of $300 or more or if the savings account is linked to a Flagstar checking account.

Review: The SimplySavings account — Flagstar’s basic savings product — comes with a host of perks, including a 0.25% rate reduction on personal, home equity and home loans through the bank and preferred CD rates if the account holder keeps a combined $5,000 or more in his Flagstar deposit accounts.

How to open: Customers can apply for this account online, over the phone or at one of the bank’s 100-plus branches throughout Michigan. (Flagstar Bank is headquartered in Troy, Mich.) Note that this promotional rate is only available in Michigan.

Methodology: To compile its list of the top 100 banks by asset size, GOBankingRates surveyed the FDIC’s list of banks sorted by assets, excluding non-active institutions, those with less than $1 billion in assets, investment banks and any institutions that require customers to use investment services to access commercial bank accounts. This list of 100 banks included 10 online banks as well as conventional brick-and-mortar institutions. In addition, the study considered an additional 20 online-only banks, according to the GOBankingRates database (no asset threshold was consulted for online banks). These lists were compiled Oct. 23, 2014 and verified against the individual institutions’ websites. 

GOBankingRates reviewed personal savings accounts belonging to these banks, taking into account a number of factors to quantitatively rank each institution’s savings product: (1) minimum deposit, (2) monthly maintenance fee, (3) minimum deposit to avoid fee and (4) annual percentage yield (APY). Each criterion was individually scored from most to least favorable; APY was weighted more heavily and accounts were ranked by overall score. In the case of a 10th place tie, GOBankingRates deferred to APY as the tie breaker. Data was compiled via the GOBankingRates interest rate database and verified against the individual institutions’ websites. Annual percentage yield was based on minimum deposit required to open an account. Note that some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. All savings account data was last verified as of Dec. 23, 2014; terms and conditions are subject to change at any time at the discretion of individual financial institutions. Please verify terms and conditions before opening an account.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some banks mentioned in this ranking are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are 100 percent objective and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.

Photo credit: Freeepik

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We Ranked All the Best Banks for 2015

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  • Celine Foord

    What great information! I had not heard of most of these banks until I read this. So glad I found it before I opened a savings account.

  • m

    what about smartypig?

  • harry

    I would not recommend GE capital bank. I tried to open a savings account and was turned down and they refused to tell me why. I am old and I have a credit score of 778 which is excellent credit to say the least. another financial blog about savings rates had a person that had the same problem. I would stay clear of a bank that refuses an account and does not explain why. by the way I have cds at all the good online banks.

    • Bob

      I had the same experience. GE capital bank is relying on an imperfect, totally automated screening system and has no interest in investing any time whatsoever in even being minimally courteous to would be customers. It is their loss, not mine.

  • James Igoe

    Missing Capital One, paying 1.24%…

  • Jacob

    I have had a GE Savings account since 2013 – has been my best account – easy and just keeps growing. No need to go in to a bank and wait in line

  • commenter

    You’ve obviously never heard of Kasasa. I get 3.00% on my interest bearing checking account up to 10K, and 1.5% on my savings up to 10K.

    • ch3n

      Thanks for this I will look into Kasasa.

  • MaryS

    Metabank/Netspend pay 5% up to 5k, after that they pay .50%. The best APY% a have seen + they pay quartely. Open your account in ACE Cash Express. Secure by the FDIC. Free alerts.

  • Justin Aslakson

    etabankm

  • Kenster

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