A free savings account does not require you to pay monthly fees or a minimum deposit when you open an account. They also require few withdrawal fees.
The best free savings accounts offer financial stability from the institution backing them, a high annual percentage yield (APY), high customer satisfaction, and a range of product offerings. The best free savings accounts also offer easy access and are also FDIC insured for at least the $250,000 standard coverage amount.
Best Free Savings Accounts of 2021
- Best Overall: Ally High Yield Savings
- Best Fee-Free Savings Accounts: Varo Savings
- Best for College Students: Sallie Mae SmartyPig
- Best for Small Business: Live Oak Business Savings
- Best for Entrepreneurs: TAB Bank High-Yield Savings
- Best for High Rates: Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings
- Best for Retirement: Synchrony High Yield Savings
Best Overall : Ally High Yield Savings
We chose Ally's High Yield Savings account as best overall due to its $0 monthly maintenance fees, $0 minimum opening deposit, and 0.50% APY, along with additional features like identifying “safe to save” money.
Encourages savings into buckets like digital envelopes
Can identify "safe to save" money from other accounts you own
No monthly maintenance fees and no minimum opening deposit
No overdraft fees
Charges a $10 excessive transaction fee
Not clear on its site which APYs apply to specific balance tiers
Cannot accept cash deposits
We like Ally's FDIC-insured High Yield Savings account because of its extra perks along with its potential for a high APY. You also won't have to have a minimum amount to open an account. The FDIC also insures each depositor up to $250,000 for each qualifying account ownership category.
You can withdraw money through an online fund transfer, outgoing wire transfer, telephone transfer, and check request. You can make a maximum of six withdrawals and transfers per statement cycle. Note that Ally normally charges a $10 excessive transaction fee for each transaction that exceeds this limit, but may refund it in certain circumstances.
There are also other fees associated with Ally's High Yield Savings account:
- Returned deposit item: $7.50
- Expedited delivery: $15
- Outgoing domestic wires: $20
- Account research fee: $25 per hour
As an online-only bank, Ally doesn't offer ATM access. However, it offers various other savings options, including a money market account, interest checking, high-yield CDs, a Raise Your Rate CD, and a No Penalty CD.
You can also use Ally's mobile app to organize your money using "digital envelopes" which allow you to create up to 10 savings buckets and earn interest on the total balance of your account. You can also analyze your account performance with charts and graphs and take advantage of boosters that help you make recurring transfers, round-ups, and surprise savings.
Read the full Ally Bank Review.
Best Fee-Free Savings Accounts : Varo Savings
Varo Savings won the fee-free savings account category because of its higher-than-average APY, no minimum balance, monthly maintenance fees, or foreign transaction fees.
No minimum balance requirement
No fees for ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
Cannot accept cash deposits
No brick-and-mortar branches
With Varo Bank, customers start earning at 0.20% APY, but as long as you meet specific criteria, you can earn up to 3% APY on a balance of only $0.01. This means that you could earn $30 in interest on a $1,000 account value after one year.
You only need to make five qualifying Varo Bank Visa debit card purchases and receive qualifying total direct deposits of $1,000 or more. You also can't exceed a daily savings balance of $5,000 for the entire calendar month. You must keep your bank account and savings account balances greater than or equal to $0. Varo also offers two savings features:
- Save Your Pay: Varo transfers the exact amount you want to save from your regular deposits from your employer, from the government, or other sources such as insurance companies, Airbnb, and Paypal. For example, if you choose to save 10%, Varo takes 10% of your payroll direct deposit and puts it in your Varo Savings Account every time.
- Save Your Change: Save Your Change works by rounding up spare change and puts it in your savings account. For example, if you buy a sandwich for $5.50, the extra $0.50 gets put into your Varo Savings account, fee-free.
Account holders at Varo Bank can make up to six free deposits or withdrawals per month. The Bancorp Bank offers account services through Varo, and FDIC insurance of $250,000 on your deposits through Bancorp.
Note that Varo Bank does charge an expedited replacement card fee of $25 and ATM fees at non-Allpoint ATMs are $2.50.
Varo also offers a checking account but does not offer any other deposit accounts, like certificates of deposit (CDs) or money market accounts. Varo's user-friendly app also allows you to enjoy cash back from online shopping at top retailers like CVS and Grubhub. You see real cash in your bank account, not just points.
You can reach Varo's customer service team by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 1-800-827-6526.
Best for College Students : Sallie Mae SmartyPig
We chose SmartyPig as a top option for college students because it offers more than just a savings account. College students who already take out student loans with Sallie Mae may also find SmartyPig handy as a one-stop-shop for all their financial information.
Free to join, save, and withdraw
Rewards for referrals through the SmartyPig Refer a Friend program
No brick-and-mortar locations for ATM access
Tiered interest rates may deter those with more savings
SmartyPig organizes its APY based on savings tiers:
- $0.01–$2,500 balance: 0.70% APY
- $2,500.01–$10,000 balance: 0.70% APY
- $10,000.01–$50,000 balance: 0.45% APY
- $50,000.01+ balance: 0.45% APY
It also offers a goal-planning system that can help users plan out short-term purchases and long-term savings goals, and students can access SmartyPig's goal planner and reminders to help them save. Additionally, users can link an external bank account and allocate funds from that to their SmartyPig savings goals.
Savers can withdraw from the account six times per month from each goal and can make six withdrawals from their SmartyPig Primary Account. Repeated violations of this withdrawal limit may result in the closure of the account.
SmartyPig's mobile app allows you to easily view transaction history, edit your goals, transfer funds and set up recurring deposits. SmartyPig account holders can also get $10 rewards for referring friends at a maximum of 100 referrals, or up to $1,000.
SmartyPig's customer support team is available Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. ET at 877-751-6884 or via secure messaging by logging into your account.
Best for Small Business : Live Oak Business Savings
We chose Live Oak's business savings accounts as the best for small businesses due to its competitive interest rates and no online banking or monthly maintenance requirements.
High APY of 0.50%
Easy-to-open account option
Offers a fast, secure connection to your other bank accounts
Charges a $10 excessive transaction fee and other miscellaneous fees
No brick-and-mortar location or ATM access
To open a Live Oak account for your business, you’ll need to provide business and personal information to verify your identity and contact information. Once you’re approved for an account, you’ll receive a robust APY of 0.50%. Note, however, that although there is no minimum balance requirement, customers must have a balance of $0.01 to earn interest.
Customers can only make six transactions per monthly statement cycle. Live Oak does levy a $10 fee to customers who go above the six permitted transactions per monthly statement cycle. Other fees include:
- Stop payment fee: $25
- Returned item fee: $10
- Nonsufficient funds fee: $25
- Legal actions: $50 minimum
- Incoming wire: $15
- Outgoing wire: $19
Live Oak also levies a $10 dormant account fee if an account carries a balance lower than $10.01 and has no activity for 24 consecutive months; the account will also close. However, the fee will not overdraw the account if the amount in the account totals less than $10.
In addition to high-yield savings accounts, Live Oak Bank offers high-yield CDs without monthly account fees. Live Oak also provides small business administration loans, U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, and commercial loans, and the mobile app includes convenient electronic transfers, multiple check deposit options, and customer service availability.
Customer success managers are available Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. ET at 866-518-0286. Live Oak customers can also read through robust FAQs or fill out an online form for other requests.
As an online-only institution, Live Oak doesn't have brick-and-mortar locations where you can access your funds.
Live Oak Bank funds are insured up to the maximum of $250,000.
Read the full Live Oak Bank review.
Best for Entrepreneurs : TAB Bank High-Yield Savings
TAB Bank won our best for entrepreneurs category because of its high-yield savings account's high returns and balance options. It takes just minutes to get started and entrepreneurs can stash as much as they want in an account—no caps involved.
Zero monthly service fees
No opening minimum deposits required
No caps on amounts deposited
Other miscellaneous fees
No neighborhood branches or ATM networks
TAB Bank's high APY of 0.55% and no hidden fees allow entrepreneurs to keep more money invested in their business. No monthly service fees and no opening minimum deposits mean entrepreneurs get to keep more of what they make.
TAB Bank's seamless online application process takes just minutes, and there’s a $0 minimum deposit requirement to open an account.
However, the bank isn't completely fee-free, despite its high 0.55% APY. You'll pay for a few fees, including:
- Outgoing wire: $30
- Cashier’s check: $15
- Stop payments: $30
- Returned deposit Items: $30
- Same-day ACH payment: $1
- Paid overdraft item or returned item: $30 per item ($150 daily maximum)
- Account record: $5
- Account research: $5
- EFS check registration: $1 per 100 ($2 minimum)
- Paper statement: $5
TAB Bank limits transfers to another account or third parties to six per monthly statement cycle.
The online bank does not have any physical branches or ATMs. The online bank also offers online options for treasury management, business checking accounts, money market savings, and CDs, all geared toward current or aspiring entrepreneurs.
The TAB Bank mobile app allows quick, secure access to savings or CD accounts with secure authentication using a personal passcode. You can view account balances, make deposits with mobile check capture, transfer funds, and more through the mobile app interface.
You can reach TAB Bank's responsive customer service department by calling 800-355-3063 from 6:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. MT, Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. MT on Saturday.
Best for High Rates : Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings
Marcus by Goldman Sachs' High Yield Online Savings account wins the best for high rates because of its no-fee policy, no minimum deposit, and its high 0.50% APY.
No minimum deposit required
No monthly fees or transaction fees
$0 minimum to earn APY
No available ATM network
External account required to transfer money
May close your account if you fail to fund it within 60 days
Marcus by Goldman Sachs comes with a solid reputation and offers a 0.50% APY with its FDIC-insured (up to $125,000) savings account that also has no required minimum deposit, monthly fees, or transaction fees.
Opening an account is quick and easy. You only need to provide your name, address, birth date, and Social Security number and then link to your other bank accounts.
Marcus does not charge transfer fees, though your external financial institution might charge a fee. Customers can make more than six withdrawals or transfers from their online savings account in one monthly statement period. At this time, there is no limit to the number of withdrawals or transfers you can make.
There is an outgoing transfer limit of $125,000 per ACH transfer and if you need to withdraw more than $125,000, you can contact customer service. The maximum amount on deposit for all of your individual and joint deposit accounts combined may not exceed $3,000,000 per account owner, with a $1,000,000 per account maximum.
The Marcus app links external accounts so you have all your financial information in one place. You can access tools and trackers, create recurring deposits, review recent transactions, and track transfers. You can also keep tabs on how much interest you earn through the savings account. Additionally, Marcus offers several financial products and services including investment options, high-yield CDs, and no-penalty CDs.
You can contact customer service toll-free at 1-855-730-SAVE (1-855-730-7283), Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET and Saturday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. ET.
Read the full Marcus by Goldman Sachs review.
Best for Retirement : Synchrony High Yield Savings
The $250,000 per person FDIC-insured Synchrony Bank won this category because users can earn interest right away and can tap into high yields and additional retirement savings options.
No minimum balance requirement
Unlimited access to ATMs in the U.S. or abroad with the Plus or Accel logos
No checking account needed for an ATM card
No physical branches
Accounts with a $0 balance subject to closure
Mobile checks limited to a $10,000 deposit
Synchrony Bank captured the best for retirement category because of its focus on retirement planning. Its high-yield savings account offers a 0.50% APY. While not the highest yield on our list, its withdrawal options allow you to access your money whenever you need it, via phone or ATM through Plus or Accel ATMs. Synchrony will also reimburse you ATM fees up to $5 if you can't find a bank with one of those logos. The bank also offers an IRA money market account with a 0.35% APY for an added retirement savings option.
You won't pay an opening deposit or maintenance fees and you won't have to maintain an ongoing balance. Synchrony Bank's mobile app allows you to take pictures of checks on your mobile device or tablet for up to $10,000. You can also make six withdrawals per month.
You can speak to a customer service representative by phone at 1-866-226-5638 between 8 a.m.–8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.—5 p.m. ET on weekends. You can also chat with a customer service representative online.
Read the full Synchrony Bank review.
You can find various free savings account options. Some, like Ally and SmartyPig, offer extras like digital envelopes and other ways to mobilize your savings goals. Others, like TAB Bank, don't stand out for orienting your savings toward specific goals. Overall, the best free savings account is the Ally High Yield Savings account.
Ally offers a comprehensive mix of cutting-edge technology through its "safe to save" program, which identifies money you can save from other accounts you own. It doesn't charge monthly maintenance fees and you won't have to pay minimums for opening an account. Ally waives all overdraft fees. Ally ultimately caters to those interested in high yield, techy individuals, and customers who just need a place to park cash for short- and long-term goals.
Compare the Best Free Savings Accounts
|Company||Minimum Deposit||APY||Fees||Maximum Monthly Withdrawals||ATM Access (Nationwide/Select States)|
|Ally High Yield Savings
|$0||Up to 0.50%||Returned deposit item: $7.50
Excessive transaction fee: $10 per transaction
Expedited delivery: $15
Outgoing domestic wires: $20
Account research fee: $25 per hour
|6 per monthly statement cycle||Allpoint ATM access|
Best Fee-Free Savings Account
|$0||Up to 3%||Expedited replacement card: $25
ATM fees at non-Allpoint
ATMs: $2.50, potential additional fees
|6 per monthly statement cycle||Allpoint ATM access|
|Sallie Mae SmartyPig
Best for College Students
|$0||Up to 0.70%||None||6 per monthly statement cycle||No fee-free ATM access|
|Live Oak Business Savings
Best for Small Business
|$0||0.50%||More than six transactions per month: $10
Stop payment fee: $25
Returned item fee: $10
Insufficient funds fee: $25
Legal actions: $50 minimum
Incoming wire: $15
Outgoing wire: $19
Dormant account fee: 10
|6 per monthly statement cycle||No fee-free ATM access|
|TAB Bank High-Yield Savings
Best for Entrepreneurs
|$0||0.55%||Outgoing wire: $30
Cashier’s check: $15
Stop payments: $30
Returned deposit Items: $30
Same-day ACH payment: $1
Paid overdraft item or returned item: $30 per item ($150 daily maximum)
Account record: $5
Account research: $5
EFS check registration: $1 per 100 ($2 minimum)
Paper statement: $5
|6 per monthly statement cycle||No fee-free ATM access|
|Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings
Best for High Rates
|$0||0.50%||No fees||No limit||No fee-free ATM access|
|Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings
Best for Retirement
|$0||0.50%||No fees||6 per monthly statement cycle||Unlimited access to ATMs in the U.S. or abroad with the Plus or Accel logos|
How to Choose the Best Free Savings Accounts
If you’re ready to open a free savings account, consider all criteria including:
- Hidden fees: Ensure that the savings account you consider doesn't have hidden fees written in the fine print. Look at all the truth in savings disclosures before choosing your account.
- APY: APY reflects the amount of interest you earn on a bank account over a single year, including compound interest. Use a savings calculator to understand how much your bank account will accrue over one year to understand the full range. Don't forget to subtract fees you may pay from this amount.
- Minimum balance requirements: How much will you have to put down for a minimum balance? Many free savings accounts don't require a minimum balance, but some require a low minimum deposit to get started.
- Rate tiers: In some cases, you must hit a specific savings threshold to achieve certain rate tiers. Find out the minimum and maximum rate tiers before you land on a savings account.
- Accessibility: How accessible do you need your account to be? Do you prefer to have ATM access or will you get along fine with an online account with minimal customer service options?
- Mobile app ease of use: Learn more about the mobile app options before you choose a savings account. Does each mobile app for each bank offer an easy-to-use interface? Find out what other reviewers leave on the Apple app store or Google Play.
Once you find a savings account that you think fits your needs, give it a try. You can always make a switch if your first choice doesn't work for you.
Free Savings Accounts vs. Traditional Savings Account
There are a few key differences between a free and traditional savings account. For instance, a free savings account typically doesn't require you to pay monthly fees. However, some traditional savings accounts waive these monthly fees if you keep a certain amount of money in the account. The interest rate might counteract the fees with a potential for increased earnings.
Some high-yield free savings accounts offer a higher APY than traditional savings accounts. In addition, many free savings accounts don't require a minimum balance or deposit requirements, unlike traditional savings accounts which usually require both.
Both types typically carry withdrawal limits. An interim rule lifted Regulation D, which suspended enforcement of the six transfer limit on savings accounts. It now allows customers to make an unlimited number of transfers and withdrawals from their savings deposits. However, some banks have still kept the six-limit transaction rule. The best free savings accounts don't charge a fee for transactions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Free Savings Accounts Available for Small Businesses?
Business owners can open free savings accounts to save money for specific business projects, emergencies, or future projects, or to help them avoid business debt. Business owners may also choose to opt for high-yield savings accounts in place of traditional savings accounts, which may have a lower APY.
Shop around for savings accounts that don't charge fees so more of your money stays in your pocket.
Do Personal Free Savings Accounts Have High Yields?
Personal free savings accounts do often carry high yields. The interest rates on high-yield savings accounts may offer much higher returns than that of traditional savings accounts. The highest yield rates often come from online banks, not traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.
Do Free Savings Accounts Have No Fees?
In most cases, the "free" in free savings accounts means you don't have to pay a bank or other financial institution per month to store your money. However, free savings accounts often carry fees. For example, if you go over your allotted withdrawals during a particular month, you may pay a fee. In most cases, fees won't cost you much, but they can add up over time.
Are Free Savings Accounts Good for Solopreneurs?
Free savings accounts work well for solopreneurs, particularly those who have variable income. Solopreneurs with irregular income may not want to pay a bank to hold their money. Solopreneurs may also need regular access to their accounts, with intuitive online banking and easy-to-use mobile apps.
Solopreneurs looking for free savings accounts may also want to tap into excellent customer service. Carefully review all options before making a final determination.
We compared dozens of savings accounts that offer high APY, low miscellaneous fees, no recurring monthly fees, and low to no minimum deposit requirements. We also looked at those with appealing mobile app interfaces and additional perks, such as savings goal options.
Additionally, we considered factors for those with specific needs, such as accounts that offer support for college students, seniors, or entrepreneurs. We also reviewed rate tiers and other factors to evaluate each financial institution's transparency about potential earnings for each customer.