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Competition Among Banks Drives Leading Savings Account Rates Higher in 1Q

FOSTER CITY, Calif., April 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Despite a backdrop of falling overall rates, some top banks actually raised their savings account rates in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest America's Best Rates Survey from MoneyRates.com. Three of the top-yielding savings accounts in the survey offered annual percentage yields of 1 percent or better, marking the first time since 2011 that the top savings accounts reached the 1-percent level.

However, these gains by the frontrunners could only do so much to help the average level of savings account rates, which fell to just 0.171 percent. Money market account rates also fell in the first quarter, slipping to just 0.158 percent. Unlike the savings account category, the top rates for money market accounts were largely flat versus fourth-quarter 2014 rates.

The rising rates at the top of the savings account rankings indicate that competition for deposits may be heating up among some banks. These higher rates, when compared with the falling average rates, also indicate that the rewards for savvy bank shopping are growing larger.

"Clearly, some banks have decided to break away from the pack and take the initiative," says Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com. "Consumers who know to look for these banks can earn five or six times as much interest as the average savings account customer."

Another growing divide exists between the rates on online-based accounts and the rates on traditional, branch-based accounts. Online-based account rates have outpaced branch-based account rates for several years, but in the first quarter that advantage grew. On average, online-based savings accounts offered more than seven times the interest of their branch-based counterparts.

Interest rates have been a hot topic lately as the Federal Reserve weighs the timing of a long-awaited hike to the federal funds rate. Barrington says that this tension is clearly impacting different banks in different ways.

"It looks like most of the banks are sitting back and waiting on the Fed," says Barrington. "A few are getting out ahead of the trend and raising rates now, and that's the type of action that leaders take."

Here are the top 10 banks for savings account rates in the first-quarter America's Best Rates Survey, along with their average APY for the quarter:

1. GE Capital Bank – 1.050 percent
2. (tie) Barclays Bank – 1.000 percent
2. (tie) Synchrony Bank – 1.000 percent
4. Ally Bank – 0.990 percent
5. CIT Bank – 0.950 percent
6. Discover Bank – 0.900 percent
7. American Express Bank – 0.889 percent
8. Sallie Mae Bank – 0.800 percent
9. (tie) Capital One 360 – 0.750 percent
9. (tie) FNBO Direct – 0.750 percent

Here are the top 10 banks for money market account rates in the first-quarter America's Best Rates Survey, along with their average APY for the quarter:

1. (tie) Sallie Mae Bank – 0.900 percent
1. (tie) Santander Bank – 0.900 percent
3. (tie) Ally Bank – 0.850 percent
3. (tie) Mutual of Omaha Bank – 0.850 percent
3. (tie) Synchrony Bank – 0.850 percent
6. Discover Bank – 0.750 percent
7. Nationwide Bank – 0.680 percent
8. EverBank – 0.610 percent
9. OneWest Bank – 0.500 percent
10. Zions Bank – 0.450 percent

For more details, please see the full America's Best Rates feature on MoneyRates.com.

Methodology

America's Best Rates are calculated from savings account rates and money market account rates recorded in the MoneyRates Index throughout the previous quarter. The MoneyRates Index is a composite of 100 banks, including the 50 largest U.S. banks by deposit amount, plus 50 smaller banks. This sampling was constructed to be broadly representative of the national banking environment.

About MoneyRates.com

MoneyRates.com has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site seeks to provide the highest rates on CDs, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. MoneyRates.com is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (Nasdaq:QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to find, research and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit QuinStreet.com.

CONTACT: Alex H. Bryant abryant(at)quinstreet(dot)com 212-863-4753Source:QuinStreet