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NerdWallet’s Best Savings Accounts of 2016

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Best ATM access

Synchrony High Yield Savings:

Best digital experience

Ally Online Savings:

More top rates

Barclays Online Savings:

CIT Bank High Yield Savings:

Best for tracking savings goals
360 Savings® by Capital One®:

Best bonus

Discover Bank:

Amboy Direct eSavings:

Best full-service bank account, with bonus

Chase Savings:

Best credit union

Alliant Credit Union:

A savings account can help you prepare for large purchases like a vacation or a car, and it’s where you stash your rainy-day fund. The best savings accounts provide great customer service and cool savings features, along with higher-than-average interest rates.

Rates above 1% are possible, even in an environment of low national savings account rates. Our savings account search tool can help you find an account with the highest rates, but we’ve dug deeper to assemble our favorite savings accounts for your consideration.

Best ATM access

SYNCHRONY HIGH YIELD SAVINGS, 1.05% APY

Synchrony offers an excellent savings account along with the convenience of an ATM card. It pays a solid interest rate of 1.05% APY. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance to worry about, and you earn a variety of perks — like discounts on car rentals, hotels and spas — for saving more money. The bank maintains a branch in Bridgewater, New Jersey, but otherwise you should expect to conduct your business, and get customer support, by phone, online or via mobile.

If you want a relatively strong interest rate, easy-to-avoid fees and a rewards program, Synchrony is a good choice.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s top high-yield online savings accounts

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Best digital experience

ALLY ONLINE SAVINGS, 1.00% APY

Ally Bank has one of the best savings accounts when it comes to the overall digital experience. The website is easy to use, and the bank’s mobile apps are compatible not only with Apple and Android devices, but also with Windows phones and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. It also offers real-time chat support, unlike most of its competitors. The 1.00% APY is close to the best interest rate on the market, and the account has no monthly fee and requires no minimum deposit.

Ally is a good choice for people who want a top-tier online experience, along with a strong interest rate.

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More top rates

BARCLAYS ONLINE SAVINGS, 1.00% APY

This online offshoot of the global financial services company offers U.S. customers a high-yield savings account accessible through a streamlined website. There’s no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. With a 1.00% APY, the interest rate is close to the highest out there. Customer service is available by phone, and the banking apps are highly rated by users.

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CIT BANK HIGH YIELD SAVINGS, 0.95% APY

This no-fee account’s interest rate of 0.95% APY is among the best available. CIT requires an initial deposit of at least $100 to open the account, but you don’t need to maintain a minimum daily balance to earn interest. CIT is an Internet bank; customers can use the mobile app or online banking — or can call customer service — to manage their accounts.

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Best for tracking savings goals

360 SAVINGS® BY CAPITAL ONE®

This Capital One account is designed to make it easier to track and meet your financial goals. The account’s My Savings Goals feature lets you set a savings target: for example, $500 for “holiday gifts.” You can input the amount you’ll put aside each period (e.g., weekly or monthly), and the tool can figure out when you’ll reach your goal.

Alternatively, you can set your target date, and the tool will calculate the necessary contribution amounts. You can also set up automatic transfers from your checking account to make the process effortless.

In a neat twist on the old envelope budgeting system, customers can open multiple savings accounts and set a goal for each one. Your deposits earn interest at a rate that is well above average: a variable Annual Percentage Yield of 0.75%, effective 3/14/16. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement.

If organizing your savings into separate goals sounds like a strategy that would work well for you, Capital One could be a wise choice.

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Best bonus

DISCOVER BANK

If you have cash to stash, consider this bonus offer from Discover Bank. The company says:

“To get your $100 Bonus:

“What to do: Apply for your first Discover Online Savings Account (OSA) by 10/15/16. Enter Offer Code NW916 when applying. Deposit at least $15,000 by 10/31/16.

“What to know: Offer not valid for existing or prior Discover savings customers. Account must be open when bonus is credited.

“Bonus will be credited to the account by 11/15/16. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. Offer may be modified/withdrawn without notice.”

To open the account requires a minimum deposit of $500. There’s no monthly fee or minimum balance to worry about, and the account comes with an APY of 0.95%.

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AMBOY DIRECT ESAVINGS

When you open a new online savings account at Amboy Direct and maintain a $3,000 average balance for 90 days, you can earn a $50 credit. That works out to a 1.7% bonus on your deposits.

To open the account, you’ll need to deposit at least $100. You can electronically transfer the money by linking the new account to your existing checking account. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance.

Amboy pays interest on balances over $300: 0.3% on amounts up to $2,999, and 0.8% for $3,000 to $100,000, which is the account maximum. Amboy Direct is an online-only division of New Jersey-based Amboy Bank, so your deposits are FDIC-insured.

To get the reference code for the bonus, you’ll need to click on the promotional $50 bonus offer on the Amboy Direct site and enter your email address, or call 1-877-22AMBOY.

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Best full-service bank account, with bonus

CHASE SAVINGS

For those who prioritize great customer service and availability of branch offices, you probably wouldn’t expect that package to include a high savings account yield. While banking giant Chase pays a mere 0.01% APY on savings deposits (effective 6/14/16; interest rates are variable and subject to change), it is offering a sign-up bonus of $100 to customers who open savings accounts and maintain a balance of $10,000 for 90 days (expires 10/15/16).

The bank gets great ratings from users for its mobile banking apps, and J.D. Power recognized its consistently great customer service. If you’re looking for a traditional, full-service bank, Chase is a solid choice.

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Best credit union

ALLIANT CREDIT UNION

While many credit unions limit their membership pretty strictly, Chicago-area Alliant Credit Union is different. It allows anyone to join with just a $10 charitable donation, if they don’t happen to meet any of the other membership criteria. Members can open an Alliant savings account that pays a 1.00% APY on balances of $100 or more.

The tiny $1 monthly fee is waived if you choose e-statements. Phone support is available 24/7. There’s a $5 minimum deposit, but they’ve even got you covered there: The credit union (formerly United Airlines Employees’ Credit Union) pays you a $5 bonus upon opening.

For those who like the idea of banking with a nonprofit credit union, Alliant offers exceptionally easy membership terms and a good interest rate.

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Making banking easier

Keeping your checking and savings accounts at the same bank can be more convenient when you want to transfer money or use one account as overdraft protection for the other. Take a look at NerdWallet’s roundup of the best checking accounts to choose a bank that offers all the products you want.

Have a favorite savings account we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

Jeanne Lee is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: jlee@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @jlee_jeanne. NerdWallet writers Virginia C. McGuire and Devan Goldstein contributed to this article.

Updated Sept. 1, 2016.


METHODOLOGY

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at more than 50 financial institutions: the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume and Internet search traffic, the nation’s largest credit unions with broad-based membership requirements, and other notable or emerging players in the industry.

Financial institutions surveyed: ableBanking, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, American Express, AmTrust Direct, Associated Bank, Bank5 Connect, Bank of America, Bank of Internet USA, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Capital One, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Discover, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Convenience Bank, GoBank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, MetaBank, MovenM&T Bank, MUFG Union Bank, Navy Federal Credit UnionPentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions BankSantander, Security Service Federal Credit Union, SimpleState Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, SunTrust, Synchrony BankTD Bank, Union Bank, USAAU.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.