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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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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

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 Bank is a Utah-based national bank founded in 2015. Its Varo Savings Account ranks on 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

On Varo's secure site
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Begin earning 0.20% and qualify to earn 3.00% if you meet requirements

  • Minimum balance

    None; $0.01 to earn savings interest

  • 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

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have a Varo Bank 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*
  • ATM access at 55,000 fee-free AllPoint® ATMs with a Varo Bank Account
  • Offers 2 programs to help automate your savings

Cons

  • Cash deposits are only available through third-party services, which charge a fee

Varo Savings Account APY

The current APY is 0.20%. All Varo Savings Account holders receive this rate regardless of their account balance. Neither the bank account or the savings account require minimum deposits to open, and you need just $0.01 to start earning interest with your online savings account.

You can earn 3.00% APY if you open a savings account and meet certain monthly requirements: Account holders must make a minimum of five purchases using their Varo Bank Visa® Debit Card, have direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more each qualifying period and keep a savings account balance no higher than $5,000 (there is no minimum balance).

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

Access to your cash

To open a Varo savings account, you must first open a Varo bank account. The debit card can be used for both accounts and account holders can make fee-free withdrawals from Varo's network of 55,000+ Allpoint® ATMs.

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 a cash deposit.

Since Varo is an online bank, it's teamed up with a service called Green Dot® to allow customers to make cash deposits. The service allows you to load cash onto your debit card at the register when you shop at thousands of participating retail locations nationwide, including Target, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, 7-11, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Albertsons, Safeway, Kmart and Kroger. Green Dot charges a fee of up to $5.95 per transaction to load cash to the Varo Bank Account.

Typically, account holders at Varo Bank can make up to six deposits or withdrawals per month for free from their savings account, 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.

Perks

In addition to Varo's tiered savings APY program, the online bank offers two programs that automatically transfer money from your 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 from your bank account, and Save Your Change, which rounds up your checking account transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference to your savings.

Fees

There are no monthly fees or transaction fees with the Varo Bank Account. The Varo Savings Account does not charge monthly maintenance fees. There is no minimum balance requirement to open either account.

Once a Varo Bank account holder qualifies for Varo® Advance, a small dollar cash advance line of credit, there is no fee for a cash advance of $20.  Advances above $20 come with a fee.

There is no fee to withdraw money from any Allpoint® ATMs. There is a $2.50 ATM cash withdrawal fee charged by Varo Bank for all out-of-network ATM transactions. The ATM operator may charge an additional fee as well.

There is no fee charged by Varo Bank for cash deposits. However, if you load cash onto your card using Green Dot, you'll pay a retail service fee of up to $5.95 applies.

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 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 Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.