We used factors including, annual percentage yield, fees, accessibility, and other factors to compile a list of the best online banks out there today.
Best review ratings
A+ BBB Rating
No fee checking
A+ BBB Rating
No fee checking
A+ BBB Rating
An online bank account allows you to do your banking using computers and mobile devices, rather than going to a traditional bank. These banks are rapidly growing in popularity as people become more comfortable banking this way.
The number of features being offered is also growing quickly. All of the best online bank accounts offer both checking and savings, access to ATM’s at no cost, and higher than average APY’s. Keep in mind that not all online banks offer checking accounts. So make sure you verify what services your bank offers based on your needs.
Also be aware that in some cases an online bank offers higher APY’s on savings accounts, but do not offer checking. If you are not looking for checking accounts, but only a place to put savings, check out our review of the top online savings accounts.
For those of you open to switching from your traditional brick & mortar bank, there are good online bank options especially if you are looking for ways to earn more interest on otherwise low yield accounts.
Because these banks have lower overhead than a traditional bank, most offer higher interest rates on your money and lower overall fee structures.
Below are some of the details for our best online bank account contenders. Click here to see our ratings methodology.
Discover offers everything you would expect from a traditional bank, and is regarded as one of the best online bank accounts in the industry.
With high interest rates, great customer service, and an A+ BBB rating, Discover Bank is a great choice.
Accounts types: Checking, Online Savings, Money Market, CD, IRA Certificate of Deposit
Alliant, along with our other picks for best online bank account, has both high-rate savings and checking accounts which you get with little to no minimum initial deposit.
They also have low fees while offering good services when looking at online banks.
Accounts types: Checking, Online Savings, Money Market, CD, IRAs
Rates – One of the most obvious pros of most an online bank is the rates they offer on their accounts. The interest rate on the best savings accounts can easily be 10 to 20 times higher than your tradition bank. Just think about what that means for any decent balance you might have in a savings account. Here’s a table to show the difference in growth of $10,000. One account with 2.0% interest and the other earning 0.2% interest. We’re not joking; this is truly a typical difference between one of the best online banks and traditional savings account.
|Savings Account Growth of $10,000|
|Year||0.02% Interest||2.0% Interest|
Are you one of those people with a chunk of money sitting in a low-interest savings account? If so, these number ought to make you think about giving an online bank a try.
Bank from anywhere – Another key benefit to the best online banks is there focus on mobility and being able to bank from anywhere. While some people might not be comfortable, others will love the flexibility. Depositing checks through a mobile app, and quickly seeing balances are just a couple of the benefits.
Services – The best online banks may also offer services that a traditional bank does not. For instance, they may provide free online bill pay, or even stock trading if it’s a company like Fidelity. This one is somewhat of a trade-off because there are certain services some traditional banks offer that online typically don’t. Some services are better handled in person, and online banks can’t compete in that space.
Mobile apps – Not that an online bank account is the only one with mobile apps, but they do overall have better technology. That makes sense since it’s the primary way their customers access their information. Regardless, if you are a tech person, you may enjoy the advanced technological capabilities of some online banks.
Low fees – Along with high-interest rates, another benefit of the online banks is low fees. Make sure you analyze which bank you choose. The best online bank accounts aren’t going to charge monthly maintenance fees. They also aren’t going to charge for standard ACH transfers into and out of the account. That makes a lot of sense since one of the primary ways you can fund your accounts.
Making deposits – For those of you who depend on heading over to your local bank for deposits, online banking could be tough. There are many different ways to deposit your money in the best online bank accounts. These include direct deposits, ACH transfers, and mobile check deposits. Some banks may even have ATMs with the capability of letting you deposit cash or check.
Also, keep in mind you can stay with your old bank, and try an online bank at the same time. Why not give it a try and see if you might enjoy banking with some more flexibility. The higher returns might be well worth the change.
Talking to a banker – If you have a complex transaction such as a loan, sometimes it’s good to sit down with someone in person. Unfortunately, this is one area where the best online bank accounts can’t help you. That’s not to say that some of them don’t offer these loans. But a sit down with someone in person isn’t happening.
Checking accounts – This one is more of a warning. Be careful when you are choosing an online bank account if you need checking capability. Plenty of these banks do offer checking accounts, but some do not. Now, if you don’t need checking, then it’s worth looking at all the banks, even those without checking accounts. Some with the highest rates on savings and CDs don’t offer checking.
ATM access – Almost all of the best online bank accounts, especially those with checking accounts offer access to a network of ATMs. These networks do differ based on the bank, so do some leg-work to make sure the available ATMs are convenient to your location. You also need to watch the fee structure for using ATMs out of the bank’s network. Some banks will reimburse for some of these fees every month, but that amount can differ depending on the bank.
Technical issues – It’s not common, but a reality with all online businesses is they can experience technical problems. If their website or mobile app goes down for any reason, that may leave you with a period of not being able to access your accounts. That said, these companies likely have large technical support staffs. Any downtown is typically met with swift actions to get up and running quickly.
Account Types – For the best online bank account, we required they offer both savings and checking accounts. This is not a ranking factor for our best savings account or best checking account list.
Online Ratings – We know our site is not the only one who reviews companies. In fact, there are plenty of good review sites that we respect, and we take into account what others on the web are saying about companies. We also take into account user ratings when we can verify they are unbiased reviews from actual users. That can be difficult, so we pay more attention to the companies we know and trust.
BBB Rating – We take into account BBB ratings because it is a good indicator of how well a company responds to customer complaints. All companies with a certain volume of business will have some level of customer complaints. Those that have a history of dealing with complaints quickly and professionally are the ones we think you should deal with.
APY – In the banking world, APY is a big number because it can have a large effect on what you earn on your account balances. Since many customers are moving towards online banks purely because of the their higher interest rates, APY is an important factor in our rating for the best online bank account.
Fee Structure – These are something that everyone wants to avoid, and we believe the best online banks deal with fairly. Some institutions still have outdated practices, with far too many fees. Ensuring that a bank provides all banking services, while offering low fees is another critical ranking factor.
Years in Business – We use the length of time a company has been in business as a factor in how we rank most businesses. If a young company truly shines in all categories, they may still be among our top list, but since they have a limited history to prove longevity, we do discount their overall score. This may account for why you don’t see some of the newest companies in the market at the top of our list.
What is an online bank?
An online bank account is one that does the majority of its business outside of a traditional brick and mortar model. They allow customers to do their banking with computers and mobile apps, instead of in person with customer service representatives. While most banks have some online banking capability, online banks at this point tend to have more ability to do all your banking remotely.
Is an online bank FDIC insured?
Any good online bank is going to be FDIC insured, and you should verify this before starting an account. It is not required, but given the importance to customers, most are insured. Keep in mind that FDIC insurance only covers certain accounts, including savings, checking, CDs, and a few others. These accounts are insured up to $250,000. Be aware of these facts if you are using a different account, or depositing more than this amount.
What are the benefits of an online bank?
Not only do the best online bank accounts offer the ability to bank from anywhere with an internet connection, but they also often have favorable interest and fee structures. Because an online bank can operate with lower overhead, they can pass on some of those cost benefits to customers. They can also offer considerable convenience to someone who is comfortable banking outside of a traditional branch. Depositing checks, for instance, can be as easy as taking a picture and submitting it through their mobile app.
What are the drawbacks of an online bank?
Because online bank accounts have few, if any, physical locations, it is difficult to sit down with someone in person for assistance. That said, the best online bank accounts have excellent phone support in the event you need help. The other thing to look at with your bank is what types of accounts you can set up. Not all online banks offer checking accounts for instance. Some of the banks with the highest interest rates on savings accounts, do not currently provide checking. That said, the best online banks who do have checking accounts, still offer significantly higher interest on their savings accounts than a traditional bank. One other thing to look for when choosing your bank is their network of ATM’s. Most have relationships that give you access to many thousands of ATM’s at no cost, but the number can vary dramatically. You should ensure the bank you choose has adequate coverage in your area.
How do I deposit checks and cash with an online bank?
This will vary by bank, but in general, there are a few ways you can make deposits to an online bank account. 1) You can link your account to another local bank or credit union, and make an ACH transfer. Many online banks offer free ACH transfers so this does not add cost. 2) Some online bank accounts have the ability for you to make deposits at ATMs. Check the specifics of each bank to see if they offer this capability. 3) Use their mobile app to scan and deposit if they provide this feature. If you are depositing cash, you can convert that to a money order, and deposit the money order using the same app.
Do they have ATM’s?
Yes, but they are limited to a network of ATM’s, and it’s important to understand where they are located relative to your location. The best online banks have tens of thousands of in-network ATM’s, and those numbers will just be getting bigger. You can also look for a bank that provides monthly rebates for using out-of-network ATM’s. Many will offer these rebates up to a specific dollar amount each month.
How do they offer such high returns?
The high returns offered by many of the best online banks make sense when you think about their operating expenses. Most of these banks don’t have nearly the cost of running a brick & mortar institution. Less overhead and fewer employees lead to more money in your pocket. It remains to be seen if traditional banks will find a way to compete with these high-yield savings accounts. But for the time being, they are a significant selling point.
Is my information secure?
Your information is as secure as with any other bank or company that you entrust with personal info. Each company is going to have its security practices and protocols, so go with the one that makes you most comfortable. Our information is at risk across many different companies. Following standard protection procedures, such as regularly changing passwords should keep your data at an online bank as safe as anywhere else (including traditional banks).