Savings are important to any financial plan, but not all savings accounts are created equal. If you’re earning a low interest rate on a traditional savings account, you could be losing out. The national savings rate is 0.47%, annual percentage yield (APY), but you can earn as much as 5.35% in one of the top high-yield savings accounts.
“Many consumers are putting their savings into checking accounts that earn next to zero interest, where your money loses value due to inflation,” said Ben McLaughlin, chief marketing officer and president of digital savings marketplace Raisin. “It’s not as bad as packing it under your mattress, but your money isn’t moving as fast as it could be for you.”
You don’t need to close your existing savings account to take advantage of the higher rate. But if your savings account earns less than 1% APY, now is the time to take advantage of the power of compound interest in a HYSA while rates remain high. Here’s what you need to know.
Experts recommend comparing rates before opening a savings account to get the best possible APY. You can enter your information below to see the prices of CNET partners in your area.
The best savings rates today
Here are some of the top savings account APYs available today:
How the Fed’s next move will affect savings rates
Rising savings rates will be the story for the better part of 2022 and 2023. As the Federal Reserve regularly raises the federal funds rate to fight inflation, banks are raising rates on consumer products from CDs and savings accounts to credit cards and loans.
But in the last three Fed meetings that resulted in a halt in rate hikes, the end of 2023 saw savings rates plateau. Here’s where they compare to last week:
|CNET Average Savings APY
|There is no change
* Percentage increase/decrease from Jan. 15, 2024, to Jan. 22, 2024.
Experts predict that the Fed’s next meeting on January 30-31 will result in another pause, with rate cuts starting later this year.
“While I don’t have a crystal ball, I think the Fed will likely hold off on making any changes at the next meeting at the end of January,” said Dana Menard, CFP, founder and leading financial planner. of Twin Cities Wealth Strategies. “The Fed usually likes to see a little more stability before making moves in the opposite direction they originally came from.”
Because savings rates vary, that means your APY will likely decrease in the coming months. So the sooner you open a high-yield savings account, the longer you can enjoy a good rate.
Benefits of opening a high yield savings account
The sooner you open a savings account, the longer you can enjoy high rates. Even as rates fall, high-yield savings accounts will continue to offer better APYs than traditional ones. So, don’t let the expected rate cut stop you from making the switch. Opening a HYSA can be a smart strategy in any rate environment.
Here’s what makes HYSAs unique:
- High rates: HYSAs typically have APYs that are 10 times higher (or more) than the national FDIC average.
- Low or no cost: Monthly maintenance fees can eat into your savings. Many online banks may charge low or no fees thanks to their lower operating costs.
- Liquidity: You can access the money in your HYSA at any time without penalty (as long as you are mindful of any withdrawal limits). CDs, another popular savings product, charge a penalty if you withdraw funds before the end of the term.
- Accessibility: When you open a HYSA in online banking, you can enjoy 24/7 access to the account through its mobile app. You may also have multiple customer service options, including by phone, online chat and secure messaging.
- Low risk: HYSAs are protected by federal deposit insurance if they are held by an FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-insured credit union. That means your money is safe up to $250,000 per account owner, per account type.
If you earn less than 1% on your current savings account — some major banks offer as little as 0.01% APY — you don’t need to close your current account to enjoy higher rates. You can open a new account from an online bank in minutes and set up recurring transfers or direct deposits to start funding it.
Consider these factors before choosing a high-yield savings account
In addition to the APY, you should also consider the following when comparing savings accounts:
- Minimum deposit requirement: Some HYSAs require a minimum amount to open an account – typically, from $25 to $100. Some don’t need anything. How much you need to deposit up front will help you narrow down your options.
- Fee: Monthly maintenance and other fees can eat into your balance. Avoid unnecessary fees by finding a bank with low or no fees.
- Accessibility: If in-person banking is important to you, look for a bank with physical branches. If you’re comfortable managing your money digitally, look for an online bank with a user-friendly app that has all the features you need.
- Withdrawal limits: Some banks charge extra withdrawal fees if you make more than six monthly withdrawals. If you think you need to make more, consider a bank without this limit.
- Federal deposit insurance: Look for a bank that belongs to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or a credit union that belongs to the National Credit Union Administration. Accounts at these institutions are protected up to $250,000 per account holder, per category in the event of bank failure
- Customer service: You want a bank that is responsive and offers convenient support options when you need help with your account. Read customer reviews online to see what current customers have to say about their experiences. You can also contact customer service to find out what it’s like to work with the bank.
CNET reviewed savings accounts at more than 50 traditional and online banks, credit unions and financial institutions with services nationwide. Each account receives a score between one (lowest) and five (highest). The savings accounts listed here are all insured up to $250,000 per person, per account category, per institution, by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or National Credit Union Administration.
CNET evaluates the best savings accounts with a set of established criteria that compare annual percentage yields, monthly payments, minimum deposits or balances and access to physical branches. None of the banks on our list charge a monthly maintenance fee. An account is ranked higher for offering any of the following benefits:
- Account bonuses
- Automated storage features
- Wealth management consulting/counseling services
- Cash deposits
- Multiple ATM networks and/or ATM rebates for out-of-network ATM use
An account may rank low if it doesn’t have a professional-looking website or doesn’t offer an ATM card, or if it imposes strict residency requirements or charges in excess of monthly transaction limits.