Where to Open a Free Savings Account

Find a Savings Account with no Fees

Growing Money
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Savings accounts don’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Free savings accounts are just as good as more expensive accounts - often better because you won't lose ground to hefty fees. It's wise to keep some cash sitting around in savings so that things operate smoothly and you can weather any storms that come along. But paying fees and watching your savings get drained makes it less likely that you’ll keep much (if anything) in savings.

With that in mind, where is the best place to open a free savings account? Read on for a few ideas.

Local or Online?

You can find fee-free savings accounts at a variety of places, including online banks and brick-and-mortar institutions. If you want to do your business in person, a brick-and-mortar bank is the way to go. Even if you want to bank online, you may need an account at a traditional bank or credit union to get your online account opened.

Small institutions are your best bet when it comes to low-cost brick-and-mortar savings accounts. Larger banks might offer free accounts as well, but they’re a bit harder to find and qualify for (you might need to keep a minimum account balance or set up automatic deposits to the account in order to avoid fees). If you’re having trouble finding what you need, look for local banks and credit unions that are not national brands.

Online Banks

Online banks are a reliable source for free savings accounts. They’ve been offering low-cost savings and checking accounts for years, and that hasn’t changed (even though traditional banks have raised fees in recent years). If earning a high-interest rate (APY) is important to you, you should certainly focus on online banks. Rates are typically (but not always) better online. 

Need some ideas for an online savings account with no fees? Try the accounts below. There is no minimum to open these accounts, there are no monthly maintenance fees, and you can open an account entirely online.

Capital One 360: Capital One 360 is the new face of ING Direct (a pioneer in the world of free online savings accounts). They’ve got the horsepower to do what you need, and rates are competitive. Note that you need a “linked” brick-and-mortar checking account to open a savings account with Capital One 360. 

Ally Bank: Ally bank is another online bank that’s been at it for a while. Ally is unique because you don’t need a brick-and-mortar account to get an account opened; you can just set up a standalone Ally account and fund it with deposits, direct deposit, or wire transfers. 

Capital One 360 and Ally are among the most popular online banks, but they aren’t the only ones – and they’re not necessarily the best. Most of the major online banks are similar, so choose the bank that has free savings accounts with the specific features that you need. Just be aware that rates change constantly; if you choose a bank simply because the bank has the highest interest rate, another bank will soon move ahead and offer more.

Business accounts: if you run a business, it's wise to separate your business and personal accounts. You may need to open a business checking account to get a savings account for your business, but you'll need checking anyway (and some checking accounts pay interest - possibly eliminating the need for a savings account). Several options include US Bank "Silver" and Capital One "Spark," but you should also check out local credit unions and community banks.

Plan Ahead

As you decide where to open an account, be sure to think about which account features are important to you, and make sure those services are part of the free savings account (or at least make sure any fees are manageable). A few questions to get you started are:

  • Will you get an ATM card?
  • Are fee-free ATMs available in your area?
  • Is banking face-to-face important? If so, are branches conveniently located and open when you need them?
  • Does the bank offer a variety of CD terms?
  • Can you make deposits online or with your mobile device?
  • Any need to do wire transfers? How much do they cost?

What about services besides a savings account? You might need a mortgage, a safe deposit box, or a checking account sometime soon, and it might make sense to have everything in one place. Your life might be a little easier if you choose a bank that can handle multiple needs – you’ll get fewer statements (or emails), and you won’t need to keep track of as many online accounts. In addition, banks are more likely to waive fees on checking and savings accounts if you use several products.