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Reviews

Manage your savings from your cell phone with this high-yield savings account offered by a well-known big bank

CNBC Select reviews Sallie Mae's High-Yield Savings Account so you can decide if it's right for you.

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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 will update as changes are made public.

Consumers who are constantly on the go might prefer online-only banks, since they tend to have the latest and greatest features for mobile banking. But the older, more established big-name financial institutions are catching up to consumer trends as the demand for in-app banking functionality grows.

In reviewing deposit accounts from major banks and/or credit unions CNBC Select found that one of the best accounts for mobile access is actually offered by the popular student loan servicer, Sallie Mae.

Sallie Mae may have started as a student loan company, but it has since grown to offer a variety of banking products, including high-yield savings, certificates of deposit and a money market account.

Specifically, the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account stands out for those looking to save with a big-name bank while benefitting from easy mobile access to their money. It offers features like mobile text banking, mobile text alerts and e-deposit for depositing checks from your phone (which not all accounts have).

Combined, these features help Sallie Mae's high-yield savings rank as the best for on-the-go access in the brick-and-mortar category of our best high-yield savings accounts by major banks list.

Ahead, we review the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account and give you all the details of its features.

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account review

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account

Information about the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Sallie Mae is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.50%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • 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

    Any transfers over limit will be assessed a $10 excessive transaction fee per transfer. Repeatedly exceeding this limit may result in account closure.

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Strong APY
  • No minimum balance required
  • No monthly fees
  • Offers e-deposit for depositing checks on the go
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • Offers mobile text banking and mobile text alerts

Cons

  • $10 excessive transaction fee
  • Account could close if you often go over the withdrawal limit
  • No option to add a checking account
  • No ATM access

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account APY

The current APY is 0.50%. Users of the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account can start earning interest right away, with no minimum balances required in their account.

Sallie Mae compounds interest on your savings daily and pays it to your account monthly. This means that you accrue interest on interest every day, and you see these earnings credited to your account each month.

Access to your cash

Users of the the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account 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.

By law, account holders with Sallie Mae can withdraw or transfer money up to six times per calendar month with no penalty (limit waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D). 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.

Perks

Not all big banks have a user-friendly mobile component to them. Sallie Mae, however, does in a few ways.

Firstly, the bank offers e-deposit so you can deposit a check remotely with just a photo. Other established financial institutions don't offer this with their high-yield savings account, such as with the American Express® High Yield Savings Account.

Secondly, users of the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account can use mobile text banking to request certain account information whenever they need it. Not all banks offer this, and it's a free service (though your wireless carrier may charge normal text or data usage fees). This feature lets customers retrieve information about their bank accounts from their mobile devices through simply texting. They can ask for their account balances, their last five transactions or to transfer funds between two accounts.

Thirdly, account holders also have access to mobile text alerts, which are automatic notices they will receive about their account. Customers can choose which mobile text alerts they want to activate, such as reminder alerts, balance alerts and transaction alerts.

Fees

In addition to having no minimum balance requirement, the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account offers zero monthly maintenance fees.

Any transfers over the six-per-month limit (which is currently waived during the pandemic) will be assessed a $10 excessive transaction fee per transfer.

Bottom line

The Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account can help you build a savings while keeping busy on the go.

Savers don't have to put a minimum amount down to earn a strong APY (for a big bank) and they can stay up to date on their earnings through Sallie Mae's mobile text banking and mobile text alerts.

For those looking to bank with a big-name financial institution but prioritize in-person service over mobile access, consider the Capital One 360 Performance Savings™ with physical branch locations, plus Capital One® Cafés you can visit.

Learn more: Looking for a safe place to stash your cash? The pros and cons of keeping your money in a high-yield savings account

Our methodology

To determine which high-yield savings accounts offer the best return on your money, CNBC Select analyzed dozens of U.S. savings accounts offered by online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those savings accounts that offer an APY around 1%, no monthly maintenance fees and low (or no) minimum balance requirements.

While the accounts we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the highest APY rates, 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.

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