America's Best Rates 2013 Q1: Online banks go their own way
Chalk one up for the power of technology.
Online-only banks raised their savings and money market rates for the second consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2013. Meanwhile, traditional branch-based banks continued to show the burden of their higher cost structures, as savings account and money market account rates at these institutions either fell or remained flat.
Divergent trends in bank rates
Overall, the average annual percentage yield (APY) for savings accounts fell very slightly in the first quarter, from 0.170 percent to 0.166 percent. But a closer look reveals where trends diverge for online and branch-based banks.
Savings account rates for traditional banks were virtually flat during the quarter, falling by an average of just half a basis point to 0.105 percent. However, the average savings account rate at online banks rose by more than 3 basis points, to 0.630 percent. This means that savings account rates at online banks are now an average of six times higher than the savings account rates at traditional banks.
A similar trend appeared in money market rates. The overall average fell to 0.200 percent, while traditional and online bank rates again went in different directions. Rates at traditional banks fell by about a basis point, to 0.154 percent. At the same time, online money market rates rose by just shy of 1 basis point, to an average of 0.661 percent.
America's Best Rates: Savings account rates
While savings account rates now average just 0.166 percent, MoneyRates.com found 10 banks offering an APY of 0.500 percent or more, with a high of 0.903 percent. This means that consumers can earn anywhere from three to five times more interest than average by choosing one of the top-rated banks in this survey.
The following are the 10 banks offering the best savings account rates in the first-quarter 2013 America's Best Rates survey:
Average Savings Account APY
1. Ally Bank
3. Sallie Mae Bank
4. (tie) Discover Bank
4. (tie) GE Capital Retail Bank
7. Capital One
8. Mile High Banks
9. (tie) Capital One
9. (tie) Zions Bank
All 10 of these banks were also in the top 10 in the fourth-quarter 2012 survey, though mergers and acquisitions have resulted in some new names on the list. GE Capital Retail Bank took over deposits previously handled by MetLife Bank. Capital One took over the U.S. deposit business of ING DIRECT. The reason Capital One also appears in the ninth slot is that Capital One is the entity's new online-only operation, while Capital One Bank represents its branch-based business.
Fittingly, the top seven banks on the above list are all online banks, further demonstrating the rate advantage that online banks enjoy over their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
America's Best Rates: Money market rates
Just as the average money market rate, at 0.200 percent, is a little higher than the average savings account rate, the top money market rate is higher than the top savings account rate, with Sallie Mae Bank coming in just a whisker below 1 percent.
The following list includes the top 11 banks (rather than the usual 10), due to a three-way tie for ninth place:
Average Money Market Account APY
2. Ally Bank
3. GE Capital Retail Bank
4. (tie) EverBank
4. (tie) Nationwide Bank
6. Discover Bank
7. Mile High Banks
8. AIG Bank
9. (tie) First Mariner Bank
9. (tie) OneWest Bank
9. (tie) Zions Bank
As with the savings account rankings, all the banks on this list of top money market accounts appeared on the list in the prior quarter. In keeping with the trend toward online banks offering higher interest rates, the top six banks on this quarter's list of money market rates are all primarily based online.
Seeking consistently competitive yields
MoneyRates.com conducts its quarterly survey of savings account and money market rates to measure overall trends in the banking industry, and to point consumers toward institutions where they may find higher rates. This study looked at a 100-bank sample of the U.S. banking industry, which included the 50 largest banks for retail deposits and a similar number of smaller banks.
One special feature of the America's Best Rates survey is that it is based on an average of rates offered at various points throughout the first quarter of 2013, rather than on a snapshot of rates taken on a particular day. This means that the America's Best Rates survey tends to show which banks offer the best interest rates on a consistent basis.
The savings account and money market account results for the first quarter of 2013 suggest that in general, bank customers may earn more by placing their deposits with an online bank. Furthermore, given the trend of the past two quarters, with online bank rates rising and traditional bank rates falling, this advantage may grow larger in the months ahead.
Purpose Of Account:
Currently Banking With:
- Capital One
- Synchrony Bank
- Ally Bank
- CIT Bank
- Sallie Mae Bank
- American Express National Bank
- Discover Bank