4 Things to Look for in a Savings Account in 2023

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KEY POINTS

  • Savings accounts are one of the most accessible places to keep your money, and the perfect place for your emergency fund.
  • Some savings accounts are paying higher interest on the money you keep in them, due to inflation and the resulting higher federal funds rate.
  • It pays to consider banks that offer easy access to your money, no fees, and user-friendly mobile apps.

The right savings account can really do a lot for you and your money.

Savings accounts are perhaps the most user-friendly bank accounts out there, and in fact, they're often the first bank account a grown-up helps you open when you're a kid. Right now is a great time to dig deep and honestly evaluate your existing savings account (I hope you have one, as they're the ideal place to keep your emergency fund).

Why now? Thanks to the Federal Reserve's attempts to pump the brakes on inflation by raising interest rates, savings accounts are paying more interest on the money consumers keep in them. This means you're going to want to move as much of your money as possible out of your checking account and put it somewhere that it will grow. So if it's time for a shiny new savings account, here are some features you're going to want to look for to choose the best one out there for you and your money.

1. No fees

Going into 2023, it's really time to move away from financial institutions that charge fees, plus there are so many great online-only banks and fintech companies offering fee-free savings accounts now.

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Some of the common bank fees you might encounter include:

  • Account maintenance fees, which are charged purely because you have an account. You can get around these fees by meeting certain requirements, such as having money regularly direct deposited into the account.
  • Minimum balance fees, which are charged if your account balance is below a certain level. To avoid this fee, you'll have to keep at least that minimum amount in the account.
  • ATM fees, which you might incur by using an ATM that is out of network for your bank. You can be charged ATM fees from both sides -- the ATM you use will charge you, then your bank may also charge you another fee on top of that.

While you may be able to avoid fees if you are diligent about keeping enough money in your savings account, or making sure money is regularly added to it, you can keep from worrying about fees period if you move your money to a bank that doesn't charge them.

2. High APY

As I mentioned above, we're all facing inflation and it's making life more expensive, both directly (by raising the cost of everyday goods and services) and indirectly, via the Federal Reserve. The central bank met several times in 2022 and raised the federal funds rate, which then spurred banks and consumer lending institutions to increase interest rates. As a result, some banks are offering higher APY rates on savings accounts. Be sure to check what's being offered on a savings account you're considering

3. Easy access to your money

While ideally you're not accessing the money in your savings account often (if you keep your emergency fund in one, I hope you rarely if ever have to use that money), you should be able to get at it if you need it. So it's a good idea to look for a savings account that comes with an ATM or debit card (or makes one available to you for free by linking a checking account). And look for a bank that has a network of free ATMs in your area (or perhaps reimburses any ATM fees you might incur by using an out-of-network ATM).

4. Robust mobile app

Finally, I recommend looking to open a new savings account with a bank that has a great mobile app. If you're anything like me, you're rarely without your smartphone, and being able to access your finances from anywhere is incredibly convenient. We're living in the future -- we have video phones, self-driving cars, and if I want to check my savings account balance while I'm out for a long walk, I can do that (don't judge). This is another area where online-only banks have the edge: They often offer intuitive and easy-to-use mobile apps.

As we approach 2023, it's important to sit down and honestly assess the state of your finances. If your old savings account is charging you fees or you're not earning as much interest as you'd like on the money you keep there, it pays to consider finding a new savings account.

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Two of our top online savings account picks:

Rates as of Apr 12, 2024 Ratings Methodology
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SoFi Checking and Savings Western Alliance Bank High-Yield Savings Premier
Member FDIC. Member FDIC.
Rating image, 4.75 out of 5 stars.
4.75/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
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Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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= Excellent
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APY: up to 4.60%

APY: 5.36%

Min. to earn APY: $0

Min. to earn APY: $0.01

Our Research Expert

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