You probably already know that most banks have online capabilities that allow you to check balances, make payments, transfer funds, etc. However, there are also many banks out there that operate solely online with no brick-and-mortar locations at all.
These online banking companies are held to the same security and other high standards required by the federal government, and the good ones are insured by the FDIC; it’s just that you won’t find an actual physical location for most of these banks.
What are the Benefits of Using an Online Bank?
You might be wondering why you would choose to conduct your banking business at a bank that operates strictly online. After all, since most banks do offer online services isn’t it fine to stick with the banks near you that have actual branch locations?
Potentially Better Interest Rates
Well, one of the benefits online banks offer that traditional banks often don’t is that since they don’t have the high overhead costs of operating actual walk-in branch locations, they’re often able to pass those savings onto you via higher interest rates for deposit accounts and lower interest rates on loans. You may even be able to cash checks online in some instances.
If you like the idea of earning more interest on your savings and checking accounts, and paying less interest on loans and mortgages, you might find that online banks are for you.
Low or No Bank Fees
It’s also common to find that online banks charge lower fees – or in many cases no fees at all – for banking services. Again, the lower overhead costs often give online banks a higher profit margin, and they can then pass those profits onto you as a client.
Friendly User Interface Systems
Online banks have to be pros at making banking user interface systems easy for clients of all levels of technological expertise. Because there’s not a bank branch to come to when a client has a question or problem (although there’s usually a customer service number you can call) online banking with online-only banks has got to be super easy to use.
Now that you know how an online bank might be able to benefit you, I’ll share some of the best online banks available in 2018 and give you some of the basic information you need to be able to determine if online banking is the best choice for you.
Best Online Banks of 2018
Here are some of the options you have when looking to choose the best online banks of 2018.
1. CIT Bank
I have to start by pointing out that one of the reasons we love CIT Bank is because it pays a whopping 1.85% interest on its Money Market Savings Account. And, GOBankingRates recently chose CIT as on of its Top Ten Online Banks for the year 2018.
Premier High Yield Savings Account
CIT pays 1.55% interest on its Premier High Yield Savings Account. Both the Money Market account and the Premier High Yield Savings Account carry minimum opening balances of just $100, making them doable for nearly all levels of savers.
CIT also has a wide variety of CD and IRA options that also pay some of the highest interest yields in the country, and many of their offerings come with a low $1,000 minimum opening balance. They even offer a no-penalty CD as of this writing.
If you have kids, you might be excited to know that CIT offers custodial savings accounts as well.
CIT may also be able to help you if you’re in need of a mortgage loan, whether it be a purchase loan or a mortgage refinance. They offer a variety of mortgage loan options for FHA, Conventional and Jumbo loans including fixed rates and adjustable rate options, depending on the type of mortgage loan you need.
Beam is not quite the same the banks on this list, because funds are actually held in Demand Deposit Account, with Evolve Bank and Trust, which is an FDIC-insured bank. Beam itself is not a bank.
Most banks in the U.S. earn 4-5% APY on your money, but they only pay you a measly portion. With Beam,you can earn between 2% and 4% APY on your funds. This is because Beam has lowered costs by being online-only.
3. Ally Bank
Ally Bank offers checking accounts, savings accounts, auto loans, home mortgage loans, credit cards, investment options and more with their online banking services. Here’s a little bit of info about their online checking and savings accounts.
Ally’s interest checking account pays a current interest rate of 0.10% on balances of less than $15,000 and 0.60% on balances of $15,000 or more.
There are no monthly fees associated with this account, and you get free checks and free ATM access if you use an Allpoint ATM for withdrawals – they have them all over the U.S. Ally will also reimburse you up to $10 in ATM fees per statement cycle if you use other ATMs.
Ally’s online savings account pays interest of 1.45% on all balances, and there are no monthly fees associated with the account.
Ally also offers home mortgage loans (both purchase loans and refinance loans), auto loan and lease options for personal and business vehicles, and investment options including self-directed investments and managed portfolios.
Bonus: Ally’s customer service center is available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4. Discover Bank
The clever tagline from Discover Bank reads “Everything you want from a bank, without ever setting foot in one.” That about sums it up.
Discover online banking has lots to offer, including checking, savings, money market accounts, CDs, and IRAs. Here’s a bit of info about some of their most popular products.
Discover Cash Back Checking
This is cool: Discover’s Cash Back Checking account gives you 1% cash back on debit card purchases up to $3,000 each and every month. This is a great feature for those of you who like to earn cash back on credit card purchases.
There are no monthly fees with this checking account, no monthly balance requirements, and you have access to over 60,000 no-fee ATM machines across the United States.
Discover Online Savings
Discover’s Online Savings account pays interest of 1.50% and carries no monthly fees, no minimum balance fees, and has no minimum opening deposit.
Other Discover Products
In addition to the two mentioned above, they also have a Money Market account that pays a current interest yield of 1.35%, high-yield CDs and IRAs. (The current rate for a 12-month CD is 1.88%.)
You can open an account online or call their customer service center to help you with opening an account or other customer service questions.
5. Synchrony Bank
Synchrony Bank has earned Bankrate’s Safe and Sound 5-star rating every year since 2014. This means that they take great care to protect your personal information.
High Yield Savings Account
The bank’s High Yield Savings is currently paying an interest rate of 1.55%. There’s no minimum monthly balance or monthly maintenance fee with this account, and you can manage your account via online banking, by phone (automated service is 24/7, customer service reps are there 8a.m. to 10p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and 8a.m. to 5p.m. Saturday), or by ATM.
Synchrony doesn’t ever charge you to use an ATM, and they’ll reimburse up to $5 per statement cycle if you pay a charge from an ATM operator.
Synchrony also has a no minimum balance, no monthly fee Money Market account (paying 1.05% interest as of this writing), CDs, IRAs and IRA CDs and IRA Money Market accounts available as well.
When I checked their rates in my research for this article, they were offering a 12-month CD paying 2.05% and requiring a mere $2,000 for a minimum deposit – an excellent deal in today’s market.
6. Capital One 360
Capital One 360 has several great products to offer online banking customers. We’ll start with their savings accounts.
360 Savings Account
The 360 Savings account is currently paying a yield of up to 1.00% on account balances of any amount. There are no monthly fees for this account and no minimum balance requirements.
360 Kids Savings Account
Capital One’s Kids Savings account pays the same high yield – currently 1.00%. As with their traditional savings account there are no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements.
360 Money Market Account
Capital One’s 360 Money Market Account pays up to 1.5% on balances of $10,000 or more. Balances of less than $10,000 earn 0.85% – still not a bad yield.
There is no minimum deposit requirement to open an account, and there are no monthly fees for the account.
Capital One also has Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and CDs available. A current CD special as of this writing is a 2.05% interest rate on a 12-month CD with a ZERO minimum balance requirement. That’s a great deal, my friends. Now onto the Capital One 360 Checking Account.
The 360 Checking Account
The 360 Checking Account also has some great benefits to it. There is a no minimum balance requirement, there are no monthly fees charged, and you have access to over 39,000 free ATM locations at zero cost to you as a customer.
This checking account also pays (as of this writing) 0.20% interest on balances.
Capital One also has a Teen Checking Account with similar benefits:
- No minimum balance requirements
- No monthly service fees
- Interest earning of 0.25% on all account balances as of this writing
Note that teens under 18 years of age that want to open a teen checking account are required to have a cosigner on the account that is over 18 years of age.
The Everbank Yield Pledge CD is offering a 2.10% interest rate on a 12-month CD with a minimum balance of $5,000. There are no monthly maintenance fees associated with this account.
The Yield Pledge Money Market account also has a $5,000 minimum balance, no monthly account fees and is paying a current interest rate of 1.41%.
Everbank has a Yield Pledge Checking Account that pays 0.25% interest on checking balances up to $9,999, however for new checking customers they offer an introductory interest yield of 1.21% on balances up to $250k for the first year, at least as of this writing.
There are no monthly maintenance fees for this account, free billpay and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements. However, you do need to have a minimum balance of $5,000 to qualify for this account.
Barclays Bank has an online savings account that is paying 1.50% interest as of this writing. There are no monthly maintenance fees associated with this account and no minimum opening deposit amount.
You also get secure 24/7 online access to your account and can make online transfers to and from other banking institutions as well.
Barclays also offers Certificates of Deposit for online banking customers. The lower term CD rates (3 month, 5 month and 9 month terms) are nothing to get excited about, however as of this writing Barclays is offering a 12-month CD term that pays 2.10%.
Bonus: there are no minimum balance requirements to open a Certificate of Deposit at Barclays.
9. American Express Bank
When you think of American Express you may just think “credit cards”, but they also have some great high yield savings products as well.
Their high yield savings account is paying (as of this writing) an interest rate of 1.45% on savings balances. There are no minimum deposit requirements for this account and no monthly service fees.
American Express also offers Certificates of Deposit. The rates on most of the current CD offerings are pretty standard, however they did have one great deal as of this writing: a 24-month CD that paid an interest rate of 1.75%.
The American Express customer service phone line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week too, for your convenience.
10. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab has a high yield checking account and a high yield savings account that could be great products for you. Here are the details.
High Yield Investor Savings Account
The High Yield Investor Savings Account pays 0.40% on all account balances, and you only need $100 to open an account. There is no fee associated with this account either, regardless of your account balance.
Although the Charles Schwab interest rate is lower than some of the other banks mentioned here, it’s still quite a bit higher than most traditional banks are paying right now.
High Yield Investor Checking Account
Charles Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking Account pays 0.20% interest on all checking account balances. There are no minimum balance requirements with this account and no monthly service fees.
However, this checking account must be tied to a Charles Schwab brokerage account in order to qualify for the deal.
The good news? Schwab One Brokerage Accounts are super affordable: there are no monthly fees for a brokerage account, and the minimum account balance is only $1,000. Bonus: the minimum account balance is waived if you have automatic deposit amounts of at least $100 going into your Schwab One Brokerage account each monthly. And online trades only cost $4.95 each.
11. Bank 5 Connect
Bank 5 Connect has a savings account that is paying (as of this writing) 0.90%. There is a small $10 minimum to open the account, and the minimum balance to earn the high yield interest rate is only $100.
There are no monthly maintenance fees for having the account, however they do charge $1 per month if you want to receive your statements via U.S. mail instead of choosing the electronic statement option.
Bank 5 Connect also has a checking account that pays 0.76% on all balances over $100. As with their savings account, the minimum to open the account is $10 and there are no monthly maintenance fees. This is a solid interest rate on a checking account.
12. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union (there is more than one banking institution with this name, so be sure to use the link above to find out more) has some great online account choices as well.
Free Rewards Checking Account
Consumers Credit Union has a checking account called the Free Rewards Checking account that pays 3.09% on balances up to $10,000.
There are no monthly maintenance fees, however, you do need to become a member of the credit union in order to be eligible. It costs just $5 to become a member, and anyone can join.
Savings account rates with Consumers Credit Union are nothing to boast about – pretty much the same as you’ll find at most traditional banks; between .00% and .25% for balances up to $100,000, but their checking account has some phenomenal benefits. Namely the really high interest rate payout.
13. Fidelity Cash Management Account
The Fidelity Cash Management Account is a traditional checking account with some added features. There are no monthly maintenance fees associated with this account, and there’s no minimum balance requirement.
The account pays a current interest rate of 0.19% on balances, and also offers free checks for customers. You don’t have to have a Fidelity investment account to get a Fidelity cash management account. If you do open one you can have an easy way to transfer money to your brokerage account if you use your Cash Management Account.
Plus, it’ll be easier to see all of your transactions from checking and investments in one place.
14. Memory Bank
Memory Bank is an online banking institution working to save you money and earn you more interest by avoiding having brick-and-mortar bank locations. What are they giving you as a benefit?
The EarnMore Checking Account
Memory Bank’s EarnMore Checking Account pays 1.60% on balances for customers like you. There are no minimum balance requirements for this account. However, you do need to open it with at least $50 to start with. There’s also a requirement that you need to have at least one Direct Deposit going into the account during every statement cycle.
This could be a great account for you if you want to keep your money liquid but still earn a decent interest rate. Just remember you need Direct Deposit going into the account every month from at least one source.
15. FNBO Direct Bank
FNBO Direct Bank has an online savings account with no minimum monthly balance requirements, no monthly maintenance fees and an interest yield of 1.60%. Bonus: you can open your account there with as little as $1.
Their online checking account might be a great product for you as well. It pays 0.65% on all balances (up to $1,000,000), has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements. FNBO Direct won’t charge you for ATM usage, however some ATM companies may charge you a surcharge for usage.
16. Bank of the Internet
Bank of the Internet calls itself “America’s oldest and most trusted Internet bank”. It has some great products to offer you as well.
Bank of the Internet’s Rewards Checking account will pay you up to 1.25% interest if you meet all of its three interest-earning conditions.
- It’ll pay 0.4166% if you have direct deposits of at least $1,000 coming into your account each month
- It’ll pay you another 0.4166% if you have at least 10 debit card transactions each month (minimum amount for debit transactions is $3)
- And if you use your debit card another 5 times during the month, you’ll get an additional 0.4166% interest on your balances ($3 minimum transaction applies here too)
Smart Savings Account
Bank of the Internet’s Smart Savings Account also has some features to boast about. If you open this account you’ll get paid the current interest rate (as of this writing it’s 1.30%). Plus there’s no minimum balance requirements, and there are no monthly fees charged either.
There are other checking account and money market account options with Bank of the Internet as well.
17. Aspiration Bank
Last but not least, we’ll talk about Aspiration Bank. Aspiration Bank offers what’s called the Summit Checking Account.
Summit Checking Account
The Summit account pays up to 1.00% interest with no monthly service fees and free ATM access. Note: the 1.00% interest rate is on balances of $2,500 or more; balances less than $2,500 earn 0.25% currently. Not a bad rate for a checking account, but others may be better.
Aspiration also offers retirement accounts and investment accounts too.
If you’re interested in earning more money on your bank account, consider opening an account at an online bank. Most online banks also offer better mortgage rates, consumer loan rates and/or credit card rates than many traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
And earning a higher interest rate on your checking and savings accounts can help make it easier for you to save more money in the long run.
Although some might find it a bit disconcerting to do your banking at a bank that doesn’t have a physical location, you can take comfort in the fact that reputable online banks are FDIC insured and many have been around for decades. They’ve got long-term reputations for providing great service and plush interest rate yields on your money.
Have you ever had an account at an online bank? Or would you consider opening one? Share in the comments below.