Best savings rates from online banks vs. big banks

FAN Editor
Big banks are convenient, but you may get more value from banking online. the_burtons/Getty Images

Even with savings interest rates higher than they’ve been in years, where you keep your money can make a big difference.

You may already have a savings account with a big national bank, especially if you also keep your checking account there, for the convenience and abundance of locations. But if you want to take advantage of great interest rates on savings, you may want to look elsewhere.

Many savings accounts from these banks offer around 0.01% to 0.05% APY, with very few options above even 1% APY. Meanwhile, online banks and online divisions of larger institutions have high-yield savings accounts earning 4% to 4.5% APY or even more.

Below, we’ll compare some of the top rates from both types of banks. See all of today’s top savings rates here and start earning more money now.  

Best savings rates from online banks

Online banks are generally where you’ll find the best savings account rates today. Because they’re online-only, they don’t have the expensive overhead costs that banks with in-person branches do. Instead, they tend to pass on those savings to customers in the form of high APYs — meaning you can benefit by earning more on your savings balance.

Many high-yield savings accounts from online banks charge no monthly fees, though they may require you maintain a minimum balance to earn the high rate. High-yield savings account interest rates are also variable, so they could move up or down in the future as federal rates change.

These are some of the online banks offering top APYs right now:

  • Salem Five Direct: 5.01% APY
  • Popular Direct: 5.00% APY
  • CIT Bank: 4.85% APY
  • UFB Direct: 4.81% APY
  • Bread Savings: 4.65% APY

Compare more top savings rates here and start earning more interest today!

Best savings rates from big banks

Some of the nation’s largest banks earn just pennies on the dollar compared to online banks. While interest rates on high-yield savings accounts have trended upward alongside Fed rate hikes, many savings accounts from these banks are still earning the near-zero APYs they were a few years ago — with a few outliers closer to today’s high yields.

Here are some of the highest savings rates we could find among some of the largest banks in the U.S. today, according to Federal Reserve data.

  • Citi: 4.05% APY
  • Wells Fargo: 1.02% APY
  • Bank of America: 0.04% APY
  • Chase Bank: 0.02% APY
  • U.S. Bank: 0.01% APY

How to choose between an online bank and big bank

If the most important thing you’re looking for from a savings account is a great APY, online banks can be ideal.

“Big banks still aren’t paying any interest in their savings accounts,” says Rick Valenzi, CFP and founder of Financial Zen, while online banks are paying over 4% in many cases. “You’re throwing money out the window by keeping your emergency fund at a big bank.” 

But these high-yield accounts have other benefits, too.

For one, online high-yield savings accounts generally charge no monthly maintenance fees. Among the big banks we’ve compared, monthly fees are standard — unless you meet certain balance requirements or have relationship accounts with the bank. Another thing to keep in mind is the minimum balance or deposit requirement. While online banks may require high minimum balances for top rates, minimums for the highest rate tiers at big banks can be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to still earn below average rates.

For some savers, there are still advantages to choosing a big bank. Convenience is a big one. If you prefer banking in-person, or at least want the option to speak with a teller in-branch, you won’t get that experience from an online bank. Plus, you may have near-instant access to your money, while it can take a couple of days to transfer cash in and out of online savings.

But if you’re able to bank using online and mobile tools, today’s online banking yields are hard to pass up. “If my current bank is giving me 0.50% on my savings account, I can pretty easily get a yield that’s almost eight to 10 times that without losing the liquidity a savings account brings,” says Scott Sturgeon, CFP, founder of Oread Wealth Advisors.

Find out just how much more you could boost your savings with today’s top savings rates here.

The bottom line

In most cases, if you’re still saving money with a big bank, you could be missing out on a lot of added interest earnings. These banks can be more convenient, and make it easy to transfer cash in and out of other accounts — but many of them have been slow to keep up with rising rates. A high-yield savings account from an online bank can help you take advantage of today’s high interest rates while keeping your balance safe and secure. Still considering whether a high-yield savings account is right for you? Start your search by comparing today’s top savings rates now.

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