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Jump to our picks for the Best Online Banks:
Online banks and banking service providers offer desktop and mobile banking services without physical branches. Because online institutions don’t have to pay for the cost of maintaining branches, they're often able to pass the savings on to their customers in the form of higher interest rates. Online banks require customers to be comfortable with technology, but they also tend to provide robust customer service options to help users resolve any issues.
NerdWallet’s picks include online banks, nonbank financial institutions and credit unions. Some of these financial institutions are not chartered banks, as noted in their descriptions.
Why trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to make sure our coverage is fair and accurate, so you can choose the financial accounts that work best for you. Learn more about our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.
Banks with checking and savings accounts
Alliant Credit Union
Alliant offers a 1.00% APY on its The Ultimate Opportunity Savings account, a rate much higher than the average 0.08% APY offered on savings accounts at traditional banks. Alliant also offers a High-Rate Checking account with a 0.25% APY, and share certificates (the credit union equivalent of certificates of deposit) with above-average rates.
If you don’t qualify for Alliant membership based on Alliant’s general requirements, you can do so by becoming a member of the charity Foster Care to Success; Alliant will pay the $5 membership fee on your behalf.
Varo offers a checking and savings account, but it doesn’t offer certificates of deposit. Its savings account comes with a baseline 1.20% annual percentage yield, but that interest rate becomes 5.00% if customers meet some monthly requirements: Receive $1,000 or more in direct deposits, have a daily savings balance at or below $5,000 and maintain a positive checking and savings balance at the end of the month.
There are limits and fees for cash deposits, and the only way a Varo customer can deposit cash is by going to a third-party retailer that participates in the Green Dot network, such as 7-Eleven, CVS or Walgreens.
To withdraw cash, customers can use an ATM in the Allpoint network for free; use of non-Allpoint ATMs carries a $2.50 fee from Varo in addition to any fees that the ATM owner may charge.
Additional details from Varo: "Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of November 22, 2021. All Varo Savings Accounts earn 0.50% APY beginning on that date. APY is variable and is subject to change. No minimum balance required to open an account. Balance in Savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest. To earn 5.00% APY, the Varo Savings Account must meet these requirements: Account Holder must 1) Receive total qualifying direct deposits of $1,000 or more to a Varo Bank Account or Varo Savings Account in the same qualifying period. 2) Maintain a daily balance in the Varo Savings Account that does not exceed $5,000. 3) Keep your Bank Account and Savings Account balances above or equal to $0.00 the entire calendar month. If these conditions are not met, you will earn 0.50% APY on the Savings Account balance for that period. The Qualifying Period is defined as the first day of the calendar month through the last business day of the calendar month."
Monifi offers two free accounts, the Spend Balance and the Save Balance. Monifi’s Save Balance account offers a strong 0.70% APY, and customers have the chance to earn a $250 bonus on their Spend Balance account when they receive two direct deposits of at least $1,000 each.
The Monifi app allows customers to set spending and saving goals and transfer money between accounts.
One gives customers a free One account with different “Pockets” for spending and saving. Each customer starts with three Pockets, or subaccounts: the Spend Pocket, the Save Pocket and the Auto-Save Pocket. For the Save Pocket, customers can earn 1.00% APY on up to $25,000 when they begin using direct deposit for their paycheck. For the Auto-Save Pocket, customers can earn an unlimited 3.00% APY on balances that come from rounding up spending with their One debit card.
One is part of the Allpoint network, so customers have access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs for making withdrawals. One does not currently allow cash deposits. Customers can fund their One account via direct deposit, through an electronic transfer from an outside bank account, or by using a peer-to-peer payment service such as Venmo or Cash App.
Ally Bank’s savings account offers a 1.00% APY. Its checking account earns 0.10% APY for balances under $15,000 and 0.25% for balances of $15,000 or more. Its certificates of deposit have competitive rates as well. Ally doesn’t allow customers to deposit cash; accounts must be funded by transferring money from an external account, depositing a check via mobile or mail, or using a wire transfer.
Ally’s phone support is available 24/7, and its website has a chat feature to help customers.
Discover’s savings account earns a 1.10% APY, and rates for its certificates of deposit are competitive. Discover’s Cashback Debit account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.
Discover also offers more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs and doesn't charge monthly fees on its checking or savings accounts. Plus, while the largest U.S. banks charge an average overdraft fee of $35, Discover doesn't charge an overdraft fee. Discover’s mobile banking apps also earn high ratings from customers.
SoFi Checking and Savings offers a combination of checking and savings features under one umbrella account. Customers can receive a strong 1.50% APY — which is variable and subject to change — on all account balances if they set up direct deposit, and customers can break down their account into subaccounts called Vaults. SoFi offers an automatic savings program called Roundups, which allows customers to round up their debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and save the difference. SoFi customers have access to the more than 55,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network. All ATM fees are reimbursed worldwide, subject to change. There is a foreign exchange fee of 1% charged by Visa that is not waived.
Our picks for banks with savings accounts only
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers a 1.00% APY (annual percentage yield) as of 06/22/2022 on its Online Savings Account and has strong rates for certificates of deposit. Marcus doesn’t yet offer a checking account, however, and there’s no ATM network for depositing or withdrawing cash; money can be moved in and out via direct deposit or transfer with another institution.
Marcus' same-day transfer limit is high, at up to $100,000. Marcus’ mobile app is highly rated in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, though there is no mobile check deposit.
The Bread Savings™️ (formerly Comenity Direct) has a free High-Yield Savings Account with a 1.65% APY, and interest rates for its certificates of deposit are competitive as well.
The savings account has a minimum opening balance requirement of $100, and Bread Savings™️ CDs require an opening balance of $1,500. There's no monthly fee on the high-yield savings account or CDs. Note that if you withdraw your funds from the CD before the term length is up, you will have to pay an early withdrawal penalty.
Synchrony doesn’t offer a checking account, but it offers a competitive savings account and certificates of deposit. Synchrony’s high-yield online savings account comes with a 1.10% APY, which is much higher than the APY offered by most brick-and-mortar banks. Customer service is available via Twitter, live chat and phone. Synchrony’s mobile app accepts check deposits, and the app gets high ratings in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store.
We took a close look at over 80 financial institutions and financial service providers, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on assets and membership; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage yields, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.
Financial institutions and providers surveyed are: Affirm, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Axos Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Barclays, BB&T (now Truist), BMO Harris, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Bread Savings, BrioDirect, Capital One, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIBC U.S., CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, ConnectOne Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Current, Discover Bank, E-Trade, Fifth Third Bank, First Foundation, First Tech Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, GO2bank, Golden 1 Credit Union, HSBC Bank, Huntington Bank, Industrial Bank, KeyBank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, LendingClub Bank, Live Oak Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Monifi, Nationwide (by Axos), Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC, One, OneUnited Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Quontic Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, Revolut, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, Scarlet, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, SoFi, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank (now Truist), Synchrony Bank, TAB Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, Truist Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Union Bank, Upgrade, USAA Bank, Varo, Vio Bank, Wells Fargo and Zynlo Bank.