Can I get a free savings account?

Woman sitting on the floor of her bedroom, reading on her phone about free savings account optionsImage: Woman sitting on the floor of her bedroom, reading on her phone about free savings account options

In a Nutshell

Not all financial institutions offer free savings accounts. So if you want a free savings account with few to no strings attached, your best bet may be to open an account with a credit union or an online bank.
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Not all savings accounts are created equal.

If you’re looking for a free savings account, there are options available to you. But you might want to start by looking at online savings accounts or credit union savings accounts. It’s much more difficult to find a bank that offers a free savings account without strings attached, such as maintaining a minimum balance.

It makes sense to look for a savings account that doesn’t charge a monthly fee. But you’ll also want to consider what a savings account can give you in return: interest on your money.

Think about opening a high-yield savings account that will earn a higher-than-average interest rate. That way, your nest egg or emergency fund can grow even faster.

What should I look for in a free savings account?

If you’re comparing savings accounts, you’ll want to make sure they offer some or all of these perks.

  • Low or no fees: Some banks charge a monthly fee that could be waived when specific requirements, which may include a minimum daily balance, are met. It’s easy to find credit unions and online savings accounts that don’t charge these fees.
  • High APY: To maximize your potential return, try to select a free savings account that’s considered a high-yield account. You’ll want to compare the annual percentage yield, or APY, of each so you can get the best bang for your buck.
  • Ease of access: Do you need access to a physical branch or an ATM? Not all accounts — such as online savings accounts — offer this.
  • Low or no minimum deposit: Some financial institutions require a minimum opening deposit for your savings account. But if this is inconvenient to you, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that doesn’t have this requirement.
  • FDIC insurance: Is your bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.? The standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.
  • Number of withdrawals/transfers: All savings accounts at “depository institutions” have to abide by Regulation D, which, in part, means you can’t make more than six “convenient” withdraws from a savings account in a month. Some banks and credit unions charge you a fee if you go over this limit.

What banks offer free savings accounts?

Many traditional banks don’t offer truly free savings accounts. For example, Bank of America has several requirements, including …

  • Depositing at least $100 to open an account
  • Maintaining a $500 minimum daily balance or linking your savings account to a Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking account or being a Preferred Rewards client of the bank.

But traditional banks aren’t the only option you should consider when shopping for a free savings account. Online savings accounts may offer better interest rates with fewer or no fees.

Balances from savings accounts are an essential source of funds for financial institutions. Your deposit could help fund another person’s loan.

Let’s run through the different types of banks and financial institutions that offer free savings accounts, ranked in order of where you might want to look first:

Online banks

Online savings accounts may have the best value because they often have no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements and higher interest rates. In some cases, the interest rate on a high-yield online savings account at an online bank can be 10 times to 20 times higher than the national savings average provided by the FDIC.

The biggest drawback of opening an online-only savings account may be either limited or no access to physical branches and ATMs. Since online banks typically don’t have physical storefronts, they can be inconvenient if you prefer to speak to someone in person.

Credit unions

You can get a free savings account at a credit union. These accounts may have few or no fees, and some might offer higher APYs than traditional banks.

Unlike brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions are nonprofit organizations that are owned by members. You’ll probably have an easy time finding a credit union savings account that has no fees or a low minimum balance requirement.

But remember that you’ll first have to join a credit union, which may require a small fee in the form of a minimum required deposit. A credit union’s network of branches and ATMs may be smaller than a bank’s.

Traditional banks

The most significant benefit of a savings account from a brick-and-mortar bank is access to a large network of branches and ATMs. Some of the largest commercial banks in the U.S have thousands of branches and even more ATMs.

Traditional banks often offer a low APY for savings deposits. Before you open a savings account, you’ll also want to know that some banks require a minimum opening deposit.

What’s next?

To find a free savings account that meets your needs, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you need to visit a physical branch?
  • Does the company have a mobile app for mobile banking?
  • Do you need an ATM card or debit card?
  • Does the institution have fee-free ATMs near you?
  • Do you need other services from the same financial institution in addition to a savings account?
  • Do you use mobile check deposit?

These answers can help you narrow your search and find a free savings account that will get you one step closer to your savings goals.

About the author: Ryan Mei is passionate about data analytics and personal finance. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in economics. Ryan owns and writes a personal finance blog at to share his jour… Read more.