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Two years ago, I opened a high-yield savings account at Ally and directed a fixed amount of every paycheck into it. I’ve found that the account is a great place to send my automatic contributions, which financial planners say is one of the best and easiest ways to build long-term wealth.
I liked that Ally’s online savings accounts have no ATM access and a limit on monthly transactions. Coupled with having my checking account at a different bank, those “limitations” not only kept me from dipping into my savings too often, but helped me double my balance last year.
And when I recently asked a handful of certified financial planners for their favorite high-yield savings account, I wasn’t too surprised that most of them had the same answer: Ally’s.
Ally is an online-only bank that’s offering a 1.8% annual percentage yield on savings accounts, while the average APY is 0.1%. That means that at Ally a balance of $10,000 will earn $149 in a year, but you can start earning interest on as little as $1 since there’s no minimum-balance requirement.
Any high-yield savings account earns significantly more interest than a checking or traditional savings account, helping you make the most of money you may need to access next month or next year. Dozens of banks offer high-yield savings accounts with varying interest rates for different balance amounts, which you can think of as a reward for saving.
“I recommend this type of account to keep your emergency funds in, or money that you have for a short-term goal,” said Luis Rosa, a CFP who founded the financial-planning firm Build a Better Financial Future. “It’s easily accessible and yielding a lot higher than your typical brick-and-mortar bank.”
Ally charges no monthly maintenance fees, so your savings and earnings are (mostly) yours to keep. As with any high-yield savings account, if you earn interest throughout the year, you’ll get a Form 1099-INT from your bank to include with your tax return, and your interest will be subject to taxes at your normal income tax rate.
Ally was named the best online bank and the best bank for millennials in 2018 by Kiplinger. It recently ranked second in J.D. Power’s “Direct Banking Satisfaction Study,” one point behind Charles Schwab. J.D. Power said Ally ranked “higher than average on competitiveness of interest rates.”
But high-yield savings accounts do come with a few limitations. Ally allows only six transactions per statement cycle, including withdrawals and transfers to different banks or other Ally accounts, on all online savings accounts and money-market accounts combined. Any transactions beyond the limit will incur a $10 fee.