America’s Best Rates – Online Savings Accounts Break Away From Low Rates

Savings account rates slipped while money market rates made little progress in the fourth quarter. See how you can earn more money on your deposits.
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Interest rates generally rose in the fourth quarter of 2016 – unless you were a bank deposit customer, according to the MoneyRates America’s Best Rates survey for savings accounts and money market accounts.

Most banks did not do their customers any favors in the fourth quarter, with the average savings account rate falling slightly while the average money market rate remained essentially unchanged. This occurred despite the fact that several other interest rates – including the Federal Reserve rate, bond yields, and mortgage rates – all rose decisively during the quarter.

Consumers should take note of something else that increased during the fourth quarter: the rate of inflation. In total, the Consumer Price Index rose by 2.1 percent in 2016, considerably more than the bank rates offered on savings and money market accounts. This makes it more urgent for consumers to shop for the highest rates they can find to slow down the pace at which inflation will erode the value of their deposits.

The good news is that there are ways consumers can earn considerably more on their deposits. You can find the best savings accounts and money market accounts with the highest rates below.

America’s Best Savings Accounts and Rates

The average savings account rate fell slightly in the fourth quarter, from 0.231 percent to 0.227 percent. However, some banks offered considerably higher interest rates. Below is a list of the top high-interest savings accounts for the quarter. There was a three-way tie for ninth place, resulting in 11 bank accounts shown rather than the usual top 10.

  Bank Recognitions

Q4 ’16 Avg Savings Rate (APY)

1st place Salem Five Direct ABR platinum medal winner


2nd place SFGI Direct ABR gold medal winner


3rd place (tie) GS Bank ABR silver medal winner


3rd place (tie) Synchrony Bank ABR silver medal winner


5th place (tie) Ally Bank ABR bronze medal winner


5th place (tie) Barclays Bank ABR bronze medal winner


5th place (tie) iGo Banking ABR bronze medal winner


5th place (tie) Radius Bank ABR bronze medal winner


9th place (tie) CIT Bank  


9th place (tie) Discover Bank  


9th place (tie) FNBO Direct  


How to find savings accounts with rates 4x or higher than average

For consumers looking to earn more money on their deposits, all of the above savings accounts are worth considering because each one offers more than four times the average savings account interest rate. Also, though savings account rates are subject to change at any time, this list of leading rates has been remarkably stable, with no change in rates or rankings over the last quarter.

Besides these specific banks, there are some broader trends that can point consumers in the right direction if they are looking for higher savings account interest rates. For example, savings account rates average 0.328 percent at small banks (those with $5 billion or less in deposits), roughly 10 basis points more than the overall average.

Online savings accounts offer 9x the average rate

Online savings rates were better than the rate advantage offered by small banks. Online savings account rates average 0.644 percent, compared to just 0.072 percent for traditional, branch-based accounts. That’s a meaningful difference – it means that online accounts pay nearly nine times the interest of traditional accounts.


America’s Best Money Market Accounts and Rates

While savings account rates slipped a little in the fourth quarter, money market rates rose, though by a negligible amount. The average rate gained one-tenth of a basis point to reach 0.195 percent. However, several banks did considerably better. Here are the top 10 best money market accounts for the quarter:

  Bank Recognitions

Q4 ’16 Avg Money Market Rate

1st place Able Banking ABR platinum medal winner


3rd place Santander Bank ABR gold medal winner


4th place Sallie Mae Bank ABR silver medal winner


5th place (tie) Ally Bank ABR bronze medal winner


5th place (tie) Synchrony Bank ABR bronze medal winner


7th place (tie) Discover Bank  


7th place (tie) First Internet Bank  


9th place BBVA Compass  


10th place EverBank  


The difference between the top bank rates and the overall average is striking, giving smart shoppers a chance to earn three, four, or even five times the average money market interest rate.

The size difference among banks is less pronounced for money market accounts than for savings accounts. Here too, small banks lead the way with an average rate of 0.239 percent, but this is just a little more than 4 basis points more than the overall average.

Online money market accounts provide higher interest rates vs. traditional accounts

Rate shoppers can get more of an advantage by focusing on online money market accounts. The average rate for these is 0.544 percent, compared with 0.104 percent for branch-based money market accounts.

The America’s Best Rates survey is based on a sampling of 100 banks, consisting of 50 large banks and the remainder split between medium and small banks.

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.