America’s Best Rates Q1 2014 – Finding Value In A Low-Rate Environment

This survey of deposit rates reveals some bright spots in a tough climate for savings accounts and money market accounts.
Financial Expert
Managing Editor
twitter facebook

The rates on online and traditional savings accounts are moving in opposite directions. Customers who want higher bank yields would be wise to take note.

According to the latest MoneyRates America’s Best Rates survey, the average interest rate for online savings accounts rose slightly in the first three months of the year, while the average for traditional, branch-based savings accounts fell yet again. These changes widened an already clear advantage for online savings account rates. In the money market account category, both online and traditional rates fell, though here too the advantage for online accounts grew bigger in the first quarter.

The first-quarter average rate for savings accounts was 0.176 percent, down just slightly from 0.179 percent the previous quarter. Online savings accounts resisted the overall trend, however, with the average rate on those accounts rising to 0.541 percent from the previous average of 0.539 percent. At the same time, the average rate on traditional savings accounts fell to 0.102 percent from its fourth-quarter 2013 level of 0.138 percent.

Here are the top nine savings accounts in the survey and the average annual percentage yield (APY) for each for the first quarter of 2014:



Savings account rate

1st place

Doral Bank* (ABR platinum medal winner)

0.940 percent

2nd place (tie)

Barclays Bank (ABR gold medal winner)

0.900 percent

2nd place (tie)

Synchrony Bank** (ABR gold medal winner)

0.900 percent

4rd place

CIT Bank (ABR silver medal winner)

0.873 percent

5th place

Capital One (ABR bronze medal winner)

0.870 percent

6th place

Ally Bank

0.868 percent

7th place (tie)

Discover Bank

0.850 percent

7th place (tie)

FNBO Direct

0.850 percent

9th place

American Express National Bank

0.832 percent

*Doral Bank was closed in Puerto Rico February 2015. 

**Synchrony Bank is now known by this current name as of June 2014. It was previously referred to by its original name in an older version of this post.

Doral Bank was a repeat winner from the previous quarter, and all of the top 10 were also on the last top 10 list of 2013, though several of the positions after the top spot were shuffled.

Besides the rise in online savings account rates, one other encouraging sign in an otherwise uninspiring rate environment was that the spread in rates across the top 10 got narrower. In the last quarter of 2013, 0.136 percent separated the top rate from the 10th-place rate. In the first quarter of 2014, that spread narrowed to 0.108 percent, even though the top rate held firm. Not only does a narrower spread give consumers more choices near the very top of the rate spectrum, but tighter competition could spur some banks to raise rates to get an edge.

Rates on both traditional and online money market accounts fell during the first quarter of 2014, though here again online accounts enjoy a significant advantage over their traditional counterparts. Online money market accounts had an average APY of 0.572 percent during the first quarter, more than five times the average traditional money market account rate of 0.109 percent. The overall average money market rate was 0.158 percent.



Money market account rate

1st place

Doral Bank (ABR platinum medal winner)

0.940 percent

2nd place

Sallie Mae Bank (ABR gold medal winner)

0.900 percent

3rd place (tie)

Ally Bank (ABR silver medal winner)

0.850 percent

3rd place (tie)

Synchrony Bank (ABR silver medal winner)

0.850 percent

3rd place (tie)

Mutual of Omaha Bank (ABR silver medal winner)

0.850 percent

6th place

Discover Bank (ABR bronze medal winner)

0.700 percent

7th place

Nationwide Bank

0.695 percent

8th place


0.610 percent

9th place

OneWest Bank

0.500 percent

10th place

Zions Bank

0.450 percent

As with the savings account category, Doral Bank was a repeat winner among money market accounts. The rest of the top 10 were also the same as the prior quarter’s top 10 money market accounts, though some of the positions changed.

The consistency of these banks, with the top 10 in both the savings account and money market account categories repeating from last quarter, should suggest to consumers that it is well worth shopping for higher rates, as banks offering a rate advantage today are appearing to do so consistently.

The low-rate landscape

The interest rate environment in the first quarter was almost entirely a continuation of the conditions that have led to ultra-low rates in recent years. Uncertainty about the economy continues to keep demand for capital in check. Low inflation, which is another symptom of economic weakness, also helps encourage low interest rates.

Additionally, Federal Reserve policy has reinforced the low-interest-rate trend. Although the Fed has begun to taper its quantitative easing program, those bond purchases primarily affect long-term interest rates. The Fed has reiterated its commitment to keeping short-term rates low for as long as the economy is struggling, and these short-term rates have a greater influence on savings and money market rates.

In order for deposit rates to rise, it will take not just sporadic flashes of growth, but sustained economic progress. Until that happens, your best bet for higher rates is to shop around.


To calculate these averages, MoneyRates tracks an index of 100 banks, including the top 50 retail banks by deposit size, plus 50 smaller banks. To emphasize consistency, MoneyRates tracks savings and money market rates throughout the quarter and calculates the average rates paid over the course of that period.

Richard Barrington, a Senior Financial Analyst at MoneyRates, brings over three decades of financial services expertise to the table. His insightful analyses and commentary have made him a sought-after voice in media, with appearances on Fox Business News, NPR, and quotes in major publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His proficiency is further solidified by the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, highlighting Richard’s depth of knowledge and commitment to financial excellence.
Our reviews are unbiased and thorough, focusing on consumer needs. For details, see our Editorial Policy & Methodology.