Best savings accounts for 2013When MoneyRates.com measured the average savings account rates offered in the past year, the top six banks were all online banks. Without the cost of having to maintain an extensive branch system, online banks have an advantage over traditional banks that often allows them to offer better rates on savings accounts and fewer fees on checking accounts. The following are the three banks that offered the highest overall rates collected by MoneyRates.com -- in addition to some other perks.
- Ally Bank. Ally Bank is committed wholeheartedly to online banking. It offers multiple options for making deposits, which range from conventional mail to cutting-edge mobile apps. Because Ally reimburses ATM fees from other banks, you can access your money from virtually anywhere in the country. Ally also deserves kudos for its website, which has a clean, easy-to-use design. That website also makes it easy to find the rates offered on Ally's various products, and it's no wonder that Ally wants people to see those rates: At an average of 0.87 percent, Ally offered the highest savings account rates of any bank tracked by MoneyRates.com during the past year.
- American Express Bank. Though American Express is better known for its credit cards, it also holds more than $21 billion in deposit assets. Like Ally, American Express Bank operates more or less exclusively as an online bank, with just a single physical location. Its banking services are focused on just a few products -- a savings account and CDs of various maturities -- but that focus pays off in the form of savings account rates that averaged just a shade less than Ally Bank's. Savings account rates from American Express Bank averaged 0.86 percent.
- Sallie Mae Bank. With just more than $5 billion in deposits, Sallie Mae Bank is much smaller than Ally or American Express, but in some ways it has a broader range of banking services, as it offers student loans and insurance in addition to deposit products. Like Ally and American Express, Sallie Mae specializes in online banking, though its website for depositors is not quite as user-friendly as Ally Bank's -- it's slightly more difficult to find the procedural details on how customers interact with the bank here. Still, Sallie Mae is certainly competitive when it comes to savings account interest rates, offering an average yield of 0.85 percent.
Best traditional bank savings accountsFor customers who want traditional, branch-based banking, these are some of the best savings account options uncovered by MoneyRates.com's research. Their accessibility depends on where you live, but if you're looking for a traditional branch anywhere near these institutions, they represent a great place to start your search:
- Mile High Banks. This is a relatively small operation, with just 16 branches, all in the state of Colorado. However, if you are lucky enough to live near one of those branches, you can benefit from savings account rates that don't lag far behind the best online rates. Savings account rates from Mile High Banks averaged 0.74 percent during the past year.
- Capital One Bank. Capital One is a big bank with nearly 1,000 branches across nine states, and more than $100 billion in deposits. In addition, it should have a beefed up online presence soon because of its recent acquisition of ING Direct. For branch-based customers, Capital One Bank offered an average savings account rate of 0.68 percent (based on rates in New York -- rates offered may differ by location).
- Zions First National Bank. With more than $12 billion in deposits and nearly 150 locations, Zions falls somewhere between Mile High Banks and Capital One Bank in size, though unfortunately those branches are concentrated in just two states: Utah and Idaho. But residents of those states can have access to some of the best savings account rates offered by a traditional bank, with an average of 0.64 percent.