What To Look For in A Savings Account

When it comes to choosing a savings account, there are a lot of options out there. Do you want a high yield account? An account with a low minimum balance? An account with no monthly fees? It can be pretty confusing.

But never fear! I’m here to help you figure out how to pick a savings account that won’t make you want to die.

What Is a Savings Account?

A savings account is a type of deposit account that typically earns interest and has limited withdrawal options. The purpose of a savings account is, well, saving! Whether you’re saving for a rainy day fund, an emergency fund, or a down payment on a house, a savings account is a great way to reach your financial goals.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about picking the right savings account.

Here are some things to look for:

  • FDIC insured  
    This means that if something happens to the bank, the federal government will step in and reimburse any losses you suffered up to $250k. 
  • Look for an account with no monthly fees
    This is important because you don’t want your hard-earned money being eaten up by fees. Some accounts come with Maintenance Fees, which can eat into your earnings if you’re not careful. Other accounts may have Minimum Balance Requirements, which means you’ll need to keep a certain amount of money in the account at all times. There are plenty of good options out there that don’t charge monthly fees, so why not choose one of those?
  • Look for an account with a high interest rate
    This is important because the higher the interest rate, the more money you’ll earn on your savings. And who doesn’t want to earn more money? Just be sure to read the fine print on any promotional rates, because sometimes they only last for a limited time.
  • Look for an account that offers online banking and mobile check deposit
    This is important because you want to be able to access your money when you need it, without having to go into a physical bank branch. Online banking and mobile check deposit make it easy and convenient for you to do just that.
  • High yield bank interest 
    A checking account typically does not offer any substantial interest rates since the expectation is that you will be using the account a lot. However, savings accounts are a completely different story. Your money is expected to be there with very little activity, so a bank should compensate you for allowing them to hold the funds hostage. You want a bank with interest rates at least 0.5%. That means for every $1000 you’ll earn $0.50. I know, it sucks, big time, but with the low interests we have currently 0.5% is actually respectable compared to 0.01% the national average. 
  • Online or in-person support?
    Some people feel more comfortable banking online, while others prefer in-person support. If you’re someone who likes having the option to talk to someone in person, then look for an account that offers that type of support. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable banking online or through an app, then an online-only bank might be a good option for you.
  • No transaction fees 
    Again, since you will be transferring funds from your checking account to your savings account regularly, you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t being charged for being responsible with your money.
  • Less easy access to funds
    A.K.A. somewhat convenient but not too convenient. Unlike a checking account, you want your savings account to be a little inconvenient for you to access so that you won’t be tempted to withdraw the funds on a whim because it’s easy to do so. 
  • BONUS – Buckets! 
    Some banks call them buckets or boosters, and some call them vaults, but think of the buckets as digital envelopes that allow you to divvy up your savings into different categories without the need for multiple bank accounts. For example, let’s say you have a savings account with $1000; you can use a bucket to divide those funds into one vacation emergency fund bucket with $500, and another general savings bucket with $500. You still only have $1000, but divvied up for different things.

When it comes to choosing a savings account, there are definitely some things you’ll want to keep in mind. But as long as you look for an account with no monthly fees, a high interest rate, and online/mobile banking capabilities, you should be good to go!

When it comes to savings accounts, there’s a little more wiggle room on what we will allow as long as the benefits match the requirement. 

Here are some banks that offer the features we’re looking for: 

  • Capital One Bank – Money Market 
  • Ally Bank 
  • Sofi  

Note: This is not an end-all be-all list and you should not blindly open an account just based on these banks listed. Think of this list as an invitation to take a closer look at these companies. 

Always know that no bank relationship is permanent, so if you try a bank and don’t like it, you can always find another bank that treats you better. 

Jordanne Wells

Jordanne Wells is your Master Instructor. She is a Certified Financial Educator, holds her Bachelors of Art Degree in Economics, has advised first generation wealth builders on personal finance and wealth building through her organization Wealth From Scratch.Club. She is the author of the personal finance book Credit From Scratch and her work is featured on Good Morning America, CNBC, NextAdvisor and more.

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