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Your savings play an important role in helping you to reach your financial goals. A well-managed, well-funded account can help to protect you during an emergency. It can also help you plan ahead for big expenses so you don’t have to go into debt when you need to make a large purchase.

There’s no question that a good savings account can help you get ahead financially. Unfortunately, many banks have a bad reputation for charging high fees and paying low interest rates. This can make savings accounts a little less beneficial than they could be. If this seems unfair to you, you’re right.

Here’s the good news. Traditional banks aren’t your only option when it comes to savings accounts. There are a number of online banks that break the mold and offer better experiences to their customers. If you’re tired of accepting the status quo from your current savings account, it might be a good time to consider alternatives.

Here’s a guide to some of my top picks for the best savings accounts.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High-Yield Online Savings Account

Marcus offers a 2.25% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) rate high-yield online savings account. The company’s tagline advises: “Don’t just store money. Make money.”

Pros

  • Earn 2.25% APY with a balance of at least $1 or higher in your account
  • Pay $0 in monthly service fees
  • Link to your account at another bank to transfer funds back and forth for free
  • No minimum deposit is required to open an account
  • Customer service with no automated phone systems during regular business hours

Cons

  • No ATM card
  • No mobile app
  • No physical bank branches

This account may be best for people who wish to earn competitive APY rates on their savings account balance. However, people who need ATM access or physical branches with face-to-face banking may not be happy with Marcus by Goldman Sachs for their savings account.

State Farm Bank Money Market Savings Account

If you’re interested in earning better interest rates on your money, another high-APY savings account to consider is State Farm’s Money Market Savings Account.

Pros

  • Earn 2.25% APY on your account balance
  • Write checks, transfer funds, and/or withdraw money from your account
  • The $10 monthly fee on the account will be waived if you maintain a minimum average daily balance of $500 or more
  • ATM fees are reimbursed 100% (provided you have a direct deposit via ACH credited to your account during each statement cycle)

Cons

  • Minimum opening balance of $1,000 is required
  • There are no physical bank branches
  • You’ll be charged a monthly fee if your minimum average balance falls below $500

This account may be best for people who appreciate competitive interest rates on their savings account balance. Also, people who frequently use ATMs can continue to do so without paying fees.

Ally Bank

Another popular online savings account option you might want to take a look at is offered by Ally Bank. It offers a high APY, no monthly fees and ATM access.

Pros

  • Earn 2.20% APY on your savings account balance
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance is required to open or maintain the account
  • Access more than 43,000 ATMs free of charge
  • Receive reimbursement for up to $10 in out-of-network ATM fees each month
  • The account comes with a checkbook

Cons

  • With no physical branches, Ally doesn’t offer any way for you to deposit cash
  • You can find slightly higher APYs elsewhere.

This account may be best for people who enjoy no monthly fees without having to jump through any hoops. Additionally, the ability to write checks and access your money easily through an ATM may be a selling point to anyone who values these features.

CIT Bank Savings Builder Account

For people who want a high APY above all else, CIT Bank offers an interest rate that’s is hard to beat. As an online bank with lower costs than traditional banks, CIT Bank passes on a portion of the money it saves on overhead to its customers.

Pros

  • The account offers a high 2.45% APY, making it one of the most competitive savings account interest rates available
  • Mobile app is available on Apple and Android devices
  • No monthly fees are required to maintain the account
  • Enjoy no fees for online transfers

Cons

  • The impressive 2.45% APY unfortunately comes with some strings attached (you have to maintain a balance of at least $25,000 or make a single deposit of at least $100 or more per month to earn that high APY)
  • A minimum of $100 is required to open the account
  • CIT Bank does not offer a companion checking account

This account might be best for people who want a free savings account that earns exceptionally high interest on their balances.

Capital One 360 Savings Account

If you’re a fan of high-tech banking, Capital One might be a great fit for you. The robust app offers you ways to set savings goals, track your progress and manage your account in ways that many other banks listed here do not.

Pros

  • Earn 1% APY on your savings account balance (still far higher than the average brick-and-mortar bank which can offer APYs as low as 0.01%)
  • No monthly account fees
  • No minimum balance requirement to open or maintain your account
  • Has a top-rated mobile app which lets you deposit checks remotely
  • Transfer funds free of charge
  • Automatic savings plans
  • Open up to 25 savings accounts to separate your savings goals
  • Deposit cash or checks at a Capital One ATM or branch

Cons

  • Although Capital One does offer some in-person branches, there are limited locations
  • You could earn a higher APY with another financial company

People who want to open multiple accounts at the same bank to separate their savings goals are in luck. Also, with a 1% APY, the account still offers a rate that outshines most traditional banks. If you’re a Capital One Bank fan but you’re interested in earning a higher APY, you can always check out the bank’s 360 Money Market Account with interest rates up to 2%.

How Do You Choose the Best?

Depending on who you ask, you might find a dozen different answers to the question, “Which savings account is best?” However, the question you really should be asking is: “Which savings account is best for me?”

Many of the alternative saving accounts listed here offer higher interest rates than traditional banks, but may also lack services like access to ATMs and branches. On the other hand, some have mobile banking apps and other features you are used to in a traditional bank.

Write down the features that are the most important to you, then compare what’s available and go from there.

Whether you’re interested in higher interest rates, superior customer service, no fees, convenient mobile-app capability or something else, you will likely find a bank that can give you what you value most.

Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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