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Banking

Here are the 5 best high-yield savings accounts offered by big banks

These top savings accounts have above-average APYs, no minimum deposits and zero monthly fees.

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Editor's Note: APYs listed in this article are up-to-date as of the time of publication. They may fluctuate (up or down) as the Fed rate changes. CNBC Select will update as changes are made public.

Finding a high-yield savings account isn't difficult. While the best high-yield savings accounts with the highest annual percentage yields (APYs) are usually found online, there are some competitive offerings from brick-and-mortar financial institutions. (Learn about brick-and-mortar vs. online savings accounts.)

The national average APY on savings accounts is just 0.46%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). In this roundup, we found high-yield savings accounts from big-name financial institutions that have APYs over 4%, are FDIC-insured, have zero monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements.

To determine this ranking, CNBC Select compared the largest banks and/or credit unions by asset size and the high-yield savings accounts they offer. When rating our top five, we considered each account's APY, its ease of use, account accessibility, as well as the cons, such as monthly fees and minimum balance requirements. (See our methodology for more information on how we compiled this ranking.)

Best high-yield savings accounts from big banks

Best overall: American Express® High Yield Savings Account

American Express® High Yield Savings Account

American Express National Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.35% APY as of 12/14/2023

  • Minimum balance

    Min balance to open = $0

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    No limits

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    None

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

  • Terms apply.

  • American Express National Bank is a Member FDIC.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance or deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Helpful "Tips & Tools" section on website

Cons

  • Higher APYs offered elsewhere
  • No option to add a checking account
  • No ATM access
  • You can't deposit a check via the mobile app

Best for checking/savings combo: Discover® Online Savings

Discover® Online Savings

Discover® Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.35% APY

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    None

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Discover checking account

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance or deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Option to add a checking account with ATM access
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Offers mobile check deposits
  • Helpful advice through Modern Money Blog

Cons

  • Higher APYs offered elsewhere

Best for mobile access: Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account

Sallie Mae Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.50% APY

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    None

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance or deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Offers e-deposit for depositing checks on the go
  • Offers mobile text banking and mobile text alerts

Cons

  • Higher APYs offered elsewhere
  • No option to add a checking account
  • No ATM access

Best for physical branch access: Capital One 360 Performance Savings™

Capital One 360 Performance Savings™

Capital One Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.35% APY

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    None

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Capital One checking account

  • Terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance or deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Option to add a checking account with ATM access
  • Has physical branch locations, plus Capital One® Cafés
  • Has a top-rated mobile app
  • Offers mobile check deposit
  • Users can take advantage of free credit monitoring service

Cons

  • Higher APYs offered elsewhere

Best for help saving: Barclays Online Savings

Barclays Online Savings

Barclays Bank Delaware is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    4.35%

  • Minimum balance

    No minimum balance to open, but for interest to post to your account you must maintain a minimum balance that would earn you at least $0.01.

  • Monthly fee

    $0

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    You may incur a fee and your account may close if you violate the limit more than three times in a year

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance required
  • No monthly fees
  • Barclays savings assistant tool 
  • Offers Deposit Checks feature for depositing checks via mobile
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*

Cons

  • Excessive transactions may incur a fee or your account may close
  • No option to add a checking account
  • No ATM access

Compare offers to find the best savings account

More on our top high-yield savings accounts from big banks

Best overall: American Express® High Yield Savings Account

The American Express® High Yield Savings Account ranked as CNBC Select's best overall high-yield savings account offered by a big bank because it offers users an above-average rate of 4.35% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 12/14/2023 with no deposit minimums or monthly fees. The account is easy to use and has 24/7 customer service with good reviews. Interest compounds daily and is deposited into your account monthly.

Customers can easily transfer and automate their deposits from their external bank account by simply setting it up within a few minutes online. Once your external account is linked (which can take up to two days), transfers typically take less than 24 hours to complete. You can also receive your monthly statement either digitally or by mail at no extra charge to you.

American Express also has a helpful "Tips & Tools" section on its website with educational resources and strategies to help you save. Topics include how much you should save for retirement, how to get more out of your savings and ways to be a better saver.

Plus, Amex savers can make unlimited withdrawals or transfers per monthly statement cycle and there's no limit on the number of deposits that customers can make.

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Best for checking/savings combo: Discover® Online Savings

The Discover® Online Savings offers a strong 4.35% APY, access to accounts on the go and well-reviewed 24/7 customer service. If you're looking to do all your banking in one place, Discover stands out because it has an online Discover® Cashback Debit Checking option as well that comes with no monthly fees, cash back on your debit card purchases and access to over 60,000 ATMs nationwide. This account ranked "best for rewards" on CNBC Select's list of the top no-fee checking accounts.

There are no monthly fees and no minimum deposit required to open an account. Interest compounds daily and is paid out monthly.

Discover® offers customers mobile check deposits where they can easily deposit a check into their savings account by snapping a photo of it with their smartphone or tablet. Using the app, they can also transfer money from one account to another and use Quick View to check their savings account balance without having to log into their account each time. Discover savings account holders can make up to six free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle.

Discover's website makes it easy to compare its savings accounts to other big banks' accounts. On the website, users can add and remove certain banks to create their own comparison chart to see how the banks stack up to one another. Discover's website also offers helpful advice and "how to" articles through its Modern Money Blog.

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Best for mobile access: Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account

Sallie Mae may be best known as a private student loan lender, but the financial institution also offers a variety of savings products, including CDs, a money market account and the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account with a 4.50% APY. It made this list thanks in part to its easy online account management that includes mobile text banking, allowing users to request account information, and mobile text alerts, allowing automatic notices about users' accounts.

In addition to a respectable APY, this high-yield savings account offers zero monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements. Interest is compounded daily and paid to your account monthly.

Users can link their external bank account to their Sallie Mae account to transfer funds electronically or set up direct deposit. They can also use Sallie Mae e-deposit, which lets users make check deposits remotely through their iPhone® or AndroidTM devices. Account holders with Sallie Mae can withdraw or transfer money up to six times per calendar month with no penalty. There is no limit to the number of transfers you may make from your high-yield savings to repay Sallie Mae loans, and there is no limit on the number of deposits that customers can make.

Sallie Mae's mobile text banking is a free service (though your wireless carrier may charge normal text or data usage fees) that lets customers retrieve information about their bank accounts from their mobile devices using text messaging. Users can ask for their account balances, their last five transactions or to transfer funds between two accounts. Customers can also choose which mobile text alerts they want to activate, such as reminder alerts, balance alerts and transaction alerts.

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Best for physical branch access: Capital One 360 Performance Savings™

Of all the big banks on this list, only Capital One has hundreds of physical branch locations that customers can visit in person. In addition to its bank branches and online access, there are also Capital One® Cafés where customers can open an account, ask questions and get financial advice.

The Capital One 360 Performance Savings™ offers a solid APY of 4.35% with no minimum balance requirements and zero monthly fees. Capital One also offers a Capital One 360 Checking with no fees and access to 70,000-plus fee-free ATMs. It ranked "best overall" on CNBC Select's list of the top no-fee checking accounts.

Savers can transfer their money between linked Capital One accounts or external bank accounts. They can set up direct deposit and automatic transfers to easily keep their savings growing. You're limited to six free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle.

Using Capital One's top-rated mobile app, users can access their money from anywhere and deposit checks through mobile check deposit. The app makes it simple to track your spending and savings goal progress through an online account tool called My Savings Goals.

A big perk of Capital One is its free credit monitoring service, CreditWise® from Capital One (though you don't have to have a Capital One account to use it). It ranks as the "best overall free service" on CNBC Select's list of the top credit monitoring services because users can track their credit score and receive alerts when it changes — all for free.

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Best for help saving: Barclays Online Savings

The Barclays Online Savings is a pretty straightforward bank account with a 4.35% APY. It stands out for offering tools to help you save, including a personal Barclays savings assistant when you need help reaching your goals.

This high-yield savings account has a strong APY with no monthly maintenance fees and no required minimum balances to open an account.

Account holders can make transfers to and from their linked external bank accounts through the Barclays mobile app and set up direct deposit to make saving simple. Barclays' Deposit Checks feature allows you to deposit checks into your savings account remotely by uploading a picture of your check from your computer, laptop or mobile device. Savers are given six free withdrawals/transfers per statement cycle.

For those who need some help visualizing what it will take to meet certain savings goals, the Barclays Savings Assistant offers an easy-to-use calculator. Users choose their goal from a dropdown menu on the website, such as saving up for college, a vacation or retirement. They then input how much the goal costs, how much they already have saved up and how much they can contribute monthly. Barclays Savings Assistant will then calculate how many months and/or years it will take for you to reach your goals.

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Pros and cons of saving at big banks

You likely opened your first bank account with your local, traditional big bank, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, U.S. Bank or PNC. But besides that nostalgia and familiarity, there are additional pros to still having savings at one of these institutions.

Pros to saving at a big bank

  • One-on-one attention when you can visit a branch in person and ask questions, complete transactions, etc.
  • Broad ATM networks for convenience, with the biggest banks having over 4,000 non-fee ATMs in the U.S
  • Access to other types of banking products in addition to deposit accounts, like auto and personal loans, mortgages, CDs, etc.
  • Strong likelihood of having free overdraft protection when you link your checking account to a savings account (in case you spend more than you have in checking)
  • Often have access to more robust online tools and services

Cons to saving solely at a big bank

  • Lower interest rates on savings account balances than if you banked online
  • Typically minimum deposit requirements to open a savings account
  • Standard monthly maintenance fee, with a few options to waive

Choosing a big bank high-yield savings account

When choosing a high-yield savings account from a big bank, you'll want to pick one offering an APY greater than you would earn in a standard savings account. However, read the fine print to ensure there are no major restrictions to earning that above-average APY. It's equally important to look out for any potential added fees or balance minimums to keep the account open. And finally, consider account accessibility. While this shouldn't be an issue with most big banks, you'll want to make sure your bank offers one or more of the following: ATM access so you can withdraw money whenever you need to; linked checking account so that you can easily transfer funds; mobile app so you can log in and manage your money on the go.

FAQs

In terms of deposit bank accounts, high-yield savings, CDs and money market accounts generally all offer the most interest, with rates in line with one another. Read more about the difference between these types of savings accounts.

High-yield savings accounts are safe as long as they're issued from banks that are Members FDIC, which indicates that your deposits are reimbursable up to the legal limit of $250,000 if the bank were to fail or go under.

A high-yield savings account is worth it since it offers a return on your money that's significantly higher than the national average return on savings accounts. If your money is sitting in a savings account regardless, it might as well be earning the highest interest possible. Plus, your cash in a high-yield savings account is just as easy to access as it is in traditional savings.

The average return on a high-yield savings account right now ranges from 4% APY to 5% APY, with those rates offered by online-only banks typically on the higher end of this range.

You can get a high-yield bank account at your traditional big-name bank or through an online-only institution. Applying is fairly quick and easy; you'll just need a government-issued ID like a passport or driver's license, Social Security number, address, contact information, date of birth and a checking account routing number to deposit new money. (New money means you can't transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.)

While there's a lot to like about a high-yield savings account, the biggest downside of any high-yield savings is that their above-average interest rates can fluctuate at any time. Because the rates, or APYs, offered are variable rates, they aren't guaranteed forever and they often go up or down in accordance with the federal funds rate.

If you have enough cash stockpiled away as savings (experts generally advise that emergency funds have three to six months' worth of your living expenses), you can invest your additional money instead of depositing it into your bank account.

By doing so, over time you'll likely earn a better return on your money and grow it much more than you would've if you just put it into your savings. Naturally, with a potential for much higher reward, investing takes on a lot more risk than saving which is why we only recommend putting money into the market once you have a cash backup and are ready to invest.

Bottom line

Though you can typically score the best return on your savings through an online-only high-yield savings account (APYs for these banks are currently around 5% and some even as high as 6%), those who aren't comfortable making the jump from their big-name bank to online should look to a savings account on this list. With these accounts you get the institutional name, plus the above-average return.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every high-yield savings account review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of banking products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best savings accounts by big banks.

Our methodology

To determine which big financial institutions offer high-yield savings accounts with the best return on your money, CNBC Select analyzed and compared the largest banks and/or credit unions by asset size and their high-yield savings accounts. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those savings accounts that offer an APY of at least 4.00%, zero monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements.

While the accounts we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the highest APY rates for big banks, we also compared each savings account on a range of features, including ease of use and account accessibility, as well as factors such as insurance policies and customer reviews when available. We also considered users' deposit options and each account's compound frequency.

All of the accounts included on this list are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Note that the rates and fee structures for high-yield savings accounts are not guaranteed forever; they are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. Your earnings depend on any associated fees and the balance you have in your high-yield savings account. To open an account, most banks and institutions require a deposit of new money, meaning you can't transfer money you already had in an account at that bank.

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Interest rate and APY are subject to change at any time without notice before and after an American Express® High Yield Savings Account is opened. *American Express National Bank is a Member FDIC.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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