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Reviews

This is the best high-yield savings account for earning and saving more money

CNBC Select reviews the Varo 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.

With interest rates on savings accounts dropping to half of what they were just a year ago, many savers are eager to find a bank that offers an annual percentage yield (APY) of more than 1%.

For those looking to earn more on their savings, your best bet is to head online.

The all-mobile Varo Money, Inc. is a San Francisco-based national bank founded in 2015. Its Varo Savings Account ranks on CNBC Select's list of the top high-yield savings accounts because it offers a uniquely tiered APY program that encourages customers to save more. The online bank also offers two savings programs that automatically transfer money from your Varo bank account to your savings account, making it even easier to save each month.

Below, CNBC Select reviews the Varo Savings Account and gives you all the details of its features, including the APY, mobile access, perks and fees so you can decide if this high-yield savings account is right for you.

Varo Savings Account review

Varo Savings Account

Varo Savings Account
Information about the Varo Savings Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Bank Account Services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.81% (with option to earn up to 2.80% if meet requirements)

  • 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

    None

  • Overdraft fees

    None up to $50; anything greater, Varo would decline the transaction

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Varo checking account

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • High APY and option to earn even higher
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle*
  • No penalty for overdrafts up to $50 (anything greater, Varo declines the transaction)
  • Option to add a checking account
  • ATM access if you have a checking account
  • Offers 2 programs to help automate your savings

Cons

  • Overdrafts over $50 will cause transactions to be declined
  • Cash deposits are only available through third-party services, which may charge a fee

Varo Savings Account APY

The current APY is 0.81%. All Varo Savings Account users receive this rate regardless of their account balance, but can earn more if they also open a Varo checking account. Neither account require minimum deposits to open, and you need just $0.01 to start earning interest with your online savings account.

You can earn up to 2.80% APY if you open a checking account and meet certain monthly requirements: Account holders must make a minimum of five purchases using their Varo Visa® Debit Card, have direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more each month and keep a savings account balance no higher than $10,000 (there is no minimum balance) all in the same month.

Varo Bank compounds interest on your savings daily and credits it monthly to your account.

Access to your cash

Typically, savings account holders at Varo Bank can make up to six deposits or withdrawals per month for free, as required by law. This withdrawal limit is currently waived, however, during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D, which limits the number of times deposit account holders can access their cash each month.

Savers who also open a Varo checking account have access to Varo's network of 50,000+ Allpoint ATMs with no fees.

There are several ways to add money to your account, including direct deposit, transferring funds from a linked external bank account, using a digital wallet like Venmo, depositing a check through the mobile app or cash deposit.

Since Varo is an online bank, it teamed up with a service called Green Dot® to allow customers to make cash deposits. The service allows you to reload money onto your debit card at the register when you shop at thousands of participating retail locations nationwide, including Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, 7-11, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Albertsons, Safeway, Kmart and Kroger.

Perks

In addition to Varo's tiered APY program, the online bank offers two programs that automatically transfer money from your Varo bank account to your savings account.

Customers can automate their savings through Save Your Pay, which transfers a percentage of your paycheck into your savings, and Save Your Change, which rounds up your checking account transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference to your savings.

Fees

The Varo Savings Account does not charge monthly maintenance fees (in addition to requiring no minimum account balances), and the checking account is fee-free, too.

There's no penalty for ATM overdrafts up to $50. Anything greater and Varo declines the transaction. Using a non-Allpoint ATM will cost you a withdrawal fee by both Varo and likely the ATM operator.

If you use Green Dot to make a cash deposit into your Varo account, you may get charged a fee by the third party, and there are often limits to how much you can deposit daily.

Bottom line

For those looking to earn a bit more on their savings right now and don't mind banking completely over the phone or online, the Varo Savings Account is a good option. Savers have an opportunity to earn more interest if they open a checking account, and they can take advantage of Save Your Pay and Save Your Change programs to seamlessly transfer funds into their account.

If you want to put money into a high-yield savings but aren't looking to also open a checking account, consider the Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings for a straightforward account with no fees whatsoever and easy mobile access.

Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings is another choice if you don't want a checking account but would like ATM access for easy cash withdrawals.

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.