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NerdWallet’s Top High Yield Online Savings Accounts

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Extreme close-up of hand holding a modern smartphone with a generic mobile banking app running. This is a version with Dollar symbol.

Note to inspector, concerning copyright etc: The whole screen (every single graphic element, including battery indicator) is designed by myself.

In the old days, a bank was a well-guarded building where wealth was stored. But in the digital age, most of our money never ends up in physical form. With less necessity for maintaining brick-and-mortar branches, many banks are focusing on creating fantastic customer experiences where the majority of us do our banking — online.

Here are NerdWallet’s top high yield online savings accounts.

Best overall digital experience: Ally Bank

Ally+Bank
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Though its 0.99%* interest rate is not the best you’ll find, Ally deserves recognition for its easy-to-use website design and platform-agnostic tools. Its customer service options are unusually broad, including a 24-hour call center and secure online chat for the phone-phobic among us.

The Ally online savings account can be hooked up to a checking account to serve as overdraft protection, and the bank got glowing reviews from the Pew Charitable Trust in its May 2015 roundup of consumer-friendly banks.

If good design and high-tech customer service are important to you, Ally may be the right choice.

Best yield for power savers: Barclays Dream Account

Barclays
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On top of its already impressive interest rate of 1.05%*, Barclays offers a rate bonus if you meet certain requirements. You can get a boost of 2.5% on the interest you’ve earned if you make deposits in your savings account for six months in a row and another 2.5% on the interest you’ve earned if you don’t make a withdrawal over that period.

The bonus rate is retroactive, covering the previous six months, but you can deposit only $1,000 a month into your account. Even though you’re allowed to have up to three Dream accounts, the interest bonus doesn’t add up to a lot of money. Still, it may be appealing to people looking for motivation to save more.

The bank’s overdraft fee is only $5, but there’s no limit on the number of $5 fees you can incur at one time. If a deposit doesn’t clear and you make several withdrawal or transfer requests, you could face multiple overdraft fees.

Customer support is mostly limited to phone access, a downer for people who prefer online help. But if you’re an interest rate maximizer, you really can’t go wrong with the Barclays Dream Account.

Best yield with ATM access: Synchrony High Yield Savings

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Synchrony has a low $30 minimum to open an account, and maintaining a balance of $30 or more avoids a monthly fee. The bank also gives you a rebate of $5 per month toward third-party ATMs. The bank does offer a mobile app, but the only support options seem to be phone or Twitter.

If a high yield — currently 1.05%* — and ATM access are must-haves for your online savings account, Synchrony is a good option.

Best feature to help you save: Capital One 360

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Most people are saving money for multiple goals. You may be building up an emergency fund, saving for your summer vacation and socking away money to replace your elderly car. It can be hard to prevent yourself from mixing those pots of money together, spending too much of your emergency fund on a vacation or buying a junker car because you’re afraid to dip too far into your rainy-day fund.

Capital One 360’s genius solution is to allow online savings account holders to divide their money among multiple accounts — as many as 25. Easily renamed to reflect what you’re saving for, these accounts can be viewed all at once, and money can be transferred between them. There is no monthly fee, and overdraft fees are not an issue because transactions are simply denied if there are insufficient funds in the accounts. Account holders get an interest rate of 0.75%*.

If you like to organize your savings goals into separate categories, you and Capital One 360 are made for each other.

Making banking better

Savings accounts are almost a necessity for protecting some of your money from monthly cash flow needs. Although many brick-and-mortar banks excel at providing online tools, you might be happiest with a bank that focuses all its funds and customer service muscle toward technological solutions.

Do you have a favorite online savings account we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments.

*Interest rates updated weekly.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire. Devan Goldstein of NerdWallet contributed to this report.

Updated June 15, 2015.


Image via iStock.


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  • celsma

    been there, got the t-shirt… they’ve taken security to an absurd level, i do not recommend GE. Their website is maddening with certificate errors, random logoffs, 4 (no joke) levels of authentication, and I could have lived with all of that, but when you spend a bunch of time applying and configuring your accounts only to find out that there was an error that it didn’t bother to inform you about… well… that was enough for me. Worth losing .25% just to have a simple sub-account function like C1 360 has.

  • ovidia

    I’m looking for a high interest account that will give me a financial incentive for opening a new account with 150K.

    • Jason Ramage

      Check into brokerage accounts. They usually have some sort of incentive for new deposits and you can invest the money into a interest-bearing fund that would earn more than what you’ll get in an online savings account. These probably won’t be FDIC insured, but there are very stable funds paying in the 1-2% range.

      • NJ_3929

        What interest-bearing funds are you referring to? Most short-term options at brokerages aren’t getting more than 0.1%, many less.

        Bond funds will gethigher interest, but with more risk. And more so with stocks.

  • ovidia

    If I can’t decide how to invest yet, would I be smarter to put the money in CD’s and just pay the penalty if I pull it out early to investment differently? I’m nervous to invest myself with Vanguard, but have the potential to earn 6mos-2yrs while deciding what to do . . .

  • http://google.com/+AshleyMorrisLosAngeles Ashley Morris

    Capital One has been awesome for me.

    • Denise Perry

      I used to love capital one when it was ingdirect but the interest rate kept going down.