Top 5 Must-Have Features of a Savings Account

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 5, 2023

Savings accounts are powerful tools to increase wealth and protect your assets for short-term financial goals. Savings accounts make it easy to access funds through bank transfers or ATM withdrawals but still offer some compound interest. While they don't have the interest rates of 30 years ago, the right savings account still offers excellent benefits, with many high-yield savings accounts offering an annual percentage yield (APY) of over 4%. Read on for the features of savings accounts and what to look for when opening a savings account for maximum benefit. 

Understanding What to Look for in a Savings Account

A savings account is designed to save your money while still making it easily accessible. Savings accounts offer ease and liquidity of your money, you’ll earn a lower rate than more restrictive savings instruments or investments with lower liquidity. Any interest earned on a savings account is considered taxable. 

Under the broad umbrella of savings accounts, you can open a traditional, high-yield, money market, cash management or specialty savings account. Certificates of deposit (CDs) are also sometimes considered as a savings vehicle, although they offer less liquidity than traditional savings or money market accounts.  

Savings accounts are the perfect vehicle to save for short-term goals or keep an emergency fund easily accessible. The amount you can withdraw from a savings account is generally unlimited, although you may be limited on how many withdrawals you can make in a month. 

A savings account is important for accessing short-term emergency funds or savings goals. Generally, you should keep six months' income in a savings account in case of emergency needs. 

Top 5 Features of a Savings Account

Savings accounts offer significant advantages. The features that make them a convenient choice for part of your financial planning and how to choose a savings account are outlined below. 

Minimum Balance Requirements

Many savings accounts don't have a minimum balance, while others only require a $100 balance. That means they can adapt to your needs, and you could have multiple savings accounts for specific savings goals. 

Monthly Maintenance Fees

A monthly maintenance fee is usually only charged if you don't meet certain requirements, such as a minimum balance. Look for a savings account without maintenance fees or a minimum balance to optimize savings. 

Withdrawal Limitations

Some savings accounts have withdrawal limits. While many don't have a stated monetary withdrawal limit, they may limit the times you can withdraw monthly. The Federal Reserve used to limit savings account withdrawals to no more than six withdrawals or monthly transfers from the account free of charge. That limitation was lifted in 2020, but many institutions maintain similar limitations. 

Interest Rate

Interest rates on savings accounts may be higher than checking accounts, but they can still range from 0.01% to 5% APY. Look for a high-yield savings account with 4% to 5% interest to optimize savings and compound interest. 

Online Banking Options

Many savings accounts offer online banking options similar to checking accounts. Your bank may have an app allowing you to easily make transfers, deposits and check savings from your phone or computer. 

How to Choose the Best Savings Account for You

Choosing the best savings account depends on your financial goals and current situation. You'll also want to compare interest rates. Here's what to look for when opening a savings account. 

Evaluate Your Financial Goals

Your financial goals will determine whether you need one or multiple savings accounts and how much you should save. For example, your income and career will determine how many months of savings you need. If you work in a limited field where finding a new job could be difficult, it's wise to have extra savings. In addition, if you're saving for other goals like an emergency fund, mortgage or vacation, you may choose to have multiple savings accounts. 

Research Different Banks and Their Offers

Different banks have different interest rates, represented as APY. The best savings accounts also vary by special offers like no fees. Here are the current best savings accounts

Compare Interest Rates

Interest rates can make a significant difference, especially if you want to let savings compound over time. For example, if you keep $30,000 in a high-yield savings account with 5% interest, you'll earn $1,500 in interest, and in five years, if you leave it there, you'll earn over $8,000. With an account with 0.5% interest, you'd only earn $150 in the first year and about $750 over five years.

Consider Additional Features

Additional features like mobile banking make accessing your funds and managing transfers easier. In addition, some banks may offer a debit card, no monthly fees, transfer limits or other benefits.

Finally, customer service can also make or break a bank's offerings. Check customer reviews and research bank offers before settling on the best current savings account for you.

Benefits of a Savings Account

Savings accounts and other financial instruments like investment and retirement accounts can help you build wealth. Here's why you need a savings account:

Higher Interest Rates Than a Checking Account

Generally, savings accounts offer much higher interest rates than checking accounts. Checking accounts typically offer 0% to 2% APY, while savings accounts offer up to 5% APY. Check your bank's interest rates, as some savings accounts only offer 0.1% APY. 

Accessibility

Setting up a savings account with your local bank or online is easy. You should be able to get it set up in less than half an hour, and the account should be open in under a week. Anyone can open a savings account, and you can access it online or through an app on your phone. 

FDIC insurance protection

Savings accounts offer Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insurance — up to at least $250,000 per depositor per FDIC-insured bank and ownership category. That means a couple with a shared savings account can have FDIC insurance up to $500,000 per account. 

Features of Savings Accounts Matter

Interest rates and monthly fees can lead to income or expenses equal to $100 or more monthly. Be sure to check the policies and features of accounts and research options. Some accounts also let you earn interest on crypto. Whether you open a single savings account or multiple accounts for different savings goals, a reliable high-yield savings account should be a part of your financial plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What types of savings accounts are available?

A

There are both high-yield and standard savings accounts. You can also get money market accounts, certificates of deposit, cash management accounts and specialty savings accounts.

Q

How many withdrawals can I make from a savings account each month?

A

How many monthly withdrawals you can make depends on your bank’s policy. Many banks limit withdrawals to six or fewer per month.

Q

Is there a limit to the amount of money I can deposit into a savings account?

A

There is no limit to how much you can deposit in a savings account. However, FDIC insurance only covers deposits up to $250,000 per account per person.

About Alison Plaut

Alison Plaut is a personal finance writer with a sustainable MBA, passionate about helping people learn more about financial basics for wealth building and financial freedom. She has more than 17 years of writing experience, focused on real estate and mortgage, business, personal finance, and investing. Her work has been published in The Motley Fool, MoneyLion, and she is a regular contributor for Benzinga.