Last year was exciting for savings account and money market account rates alike, as average rates made record gains and several banks broke through the 2.00 percent barrier by the end of the year. What will 2019 bring?
Well, if recent trends hold true to form, you might expect three things:
- Savings account rates and money market account rates could continue to rise
- A handful of leading banks might separate themselves even further from the pack
- Most of the banks that led the way last year may still be among the leaders in 2019
Best savings accounts in 2019
To help you identify which savings accounts are most likely to be among the leaders for 2019, MoneyRates analyzed the performance of the top banks in 2018. Based on average rates, rankings among their peers throughout 2018 and performance heading into 2019, below are MoneyRates' picks for the best savings accounts of 2019.
1. Salem Five Direct
Unless you live in Massachusetts, you may never have seen Salem Five Bank because all but one of their 37 branches are in that state. However, thanks to their online accounts, they are available anywhere and they are well worth checking out because they consistently offer one of the best savings account rates in the nation.
Salem Five Direct led three of the four quarterly America's Best Rates surveys of savings account rates last year, and they continue to offer high rates on savings deposits of up to $1 million.
2. (tie) Goldman Sachs Bank
The retail banking arm of the well-known investment banking firm Goldman Sachs has grown to become one of the larger deposit institutions in the United States. They currently have about $130 billion in deposits.
With just six physical locations, they are primarily available as an online bank under the brand name "Marcus by Goldman Sachs." Their online savings account rate rose steadily throughout last year.
2. (tie) SFGI Direct
Tied with Goldman Sachs for second place (based on their average rates and ranking over the past year) was SFGI Direct, which is the online brand of Summit Community Bank.
While they are relatively small with just over $1.6 billion in deposits, they are well worth checking out because they consistently make the top-ten list for savings account rates in the MoneyRates.com America's Best Rates survey.
4. Synchrony Bank
This is another bank which exists primarily as an online entity. They are headquartered in Utah and have just four physical locations, but Synchrony has attracted over $64 billion in deposits by offering consistently competitive savings account rates. Synchrony had one of the ten highest savings account rates in each of the four quarters of last year.
Though this bank has a history that stretches back to the 17th century, their savings accounts have a decidedly 21st century feel to them because they are available exclusively online.
Barclays was one of seven banks whose savings-account rate reached or exceeded the 2 percent threshold in the most recent America's Best Rates survey.
6. FNBO Direct
This is the online brand of the First National Bank of Omaha. That bank has an extensive branch network with over 100 locations across seven states, but their reach is even wider with the availability of their online savings account.
It is notable that FNBO Direct steadily raised their savings account rate throughout the past year.
7. American Express National Bank
Though American Express may be known primarily as a credit card company, they have become a force to be reckoned with as an online bank as well. They currently have over $75 billion in deposits and have been a consistently strong performer, ranking in the top ten of the America's Best Rates survey in each of the four quarters of last year.
8. Sallie Mae Bank
Like many of the banks on this list, Sallie Mae has carved out a niche in the deposit-accounts market by operating as an online bank. They only have one location, but they have attracted over $18 billion in deposits. They ended 2018 on a high note, placing third in the fourth quarter America's Best Rates survey.
9. Ally Bank
Being one of the pioneers of online banking and offering consistently competitive rates has enabled Ally Bank to attract over $100 billion in customer deposits.
10. Discover Bank
Like American Express Bank, Discover Bank may be known more as a credit card company than as a bank offering savings products, but they have a significant amount of deposit business. They currently have over $65 billion in customer deposits and had one of the ten best savings account rates in each of last year's four America's Best Rates surveys.
Our methodology - How we picked the best savings accounts of 2019
Banks can change savings account rates any time they choose, so picking the right bank isn't just about finding the highest rate. It's even more important to find a bank that is likely to keep rates high for an extended period. That's why MoneyRates.com uses a methodology that recognizes both the level of rates and the consistency with which a bank offers competitive rates.
The banks on the list of best savings accounts of 2019 were chosen in part based on average rates over the past year, using a weighted system that gives the most credit to the most recent level of rates. In addition, MoneyRates.com used a system designed to reward consistency by evaluating banks based on their ranking relative to their peers throughout the past year.
What should encourage rate shoppers is that you don't have to repeatedly switch banks to keep earning one of the best savings account rates. Eight of the ten banks that made last year's list of the best savings accounts also made the top ten this year, so the leading banks tend to maintain their advantage -- something you can easily turn into your advantage if you open an account with one of these banks.
Best money market accounts of 2019
Employing the same methodology we used to select the best savings accounts of 2019 -- i.e., consistency throughout the past year and momentum heading into 2019 -- here are the MoneyRates.com selections for the best money market accounts of 2019:
1. (tie) CIT Bank
While the top savings and money market rate lists are generally dominated by online banks, CIT bank offers traditional, branch-based accounts at more than 60 locations in California. However, it also offers online banking, and its $32 billion in deposits would place it among the ranks of the nation's larger banks.
1. (tie) Sallie Mae Bank
In tying for first overall, Sallie Mae Bank and CIT Bank each had the best money market rate in two of last year's four calendar quarters. Sallie Mae Bank specializes in online banking and, while it is a little smaller than CIT Bank at $19 billion in deposits, it still falls into the large-bank category. Sallie Mae also made the list of best savings accounts for 2019.
This is an online banking division of Northeast Bank, a small bank with a dozen locations in Maine. The online capabilities offered by ableBanking along with consistently high rates give this institution a chance to move well beyond the footprint of a small regional bank.
4. Capital One
You may know Capital One best from their amusing credit card commercials; but they are also a force to be reckoned with in the deposits realm, with $238 billion in deposits. Their money market account offering should be a good one to watch in 2019, as their money market rate rose throughout last year to reach second place in the fourth quarter.
5. BBVA Compass
This Alabama-based bank has an extensive network of over 600 branches across seven states, handling a total of $72 billion in deposits.
6. UFB Direct
This is a division of Axos Bank, which has over $8 billion in deposits. Axos also recently took over banking operations for another bank on this list, Nationwide Bank. Depositors should be aware that, if you use both UFB Direct and Nationwide, your deposits might be grouped together under the Axos name for the purpose of determining the limits of FDIC deposit insurance.
7. Discover Bank
Like Sallie Mae Bank, Discover Bank has the distinction of appearing on both the best savings account and best money market account lists.
8. Nationwide Bank
Axos Bank recently acquired Nationwide's deposit business, so please see the note above on UFB Direct, a division of Axos.
9. First Internet Bank
As the name suggests this bank specializes in online accounts, which represent a total of $2.7 billion in deposits.
10. TIAA Direct
This is the online banking operation of TIAA Federal Savings Bank, which is considered a large bank due to its $23 billion in deposits.
From top to bottom, these accounts were all well above average last year and headed into 2019 with a significant edge over most of their peers. That makes it more likely that any of these money market accounts would continue to be an effective choice for your deposits in 2019.