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Best online banks 2021: Best for online services, savings, credit and more

Best Online Banks 2021: Best for online services, savings, credit and more
(Image credit: ShutterStock)

Find the best online banks and you’ll have access to top-rated products that can help you get more from your money. Provided you’ve got access to the internet, you’ll have everything you need at your disposal, from the top savings accounts to checking accounts that put you in control, and because you can manage everything online – from opening the account to tracking your spending and even making payments – you’ll have a level of convenience that’s essential in today’s modern world. 

Yet online banks truly come into their own when talking about the interest rates available. Many of the top savings rates in the market are offered by this new breed of financial institution, with minimum outlay in the form of bricks and mortar meaning they can pass on savings to customers, while their focus on digital technology means they’ll have apps and online banking functionality that’s second-to-none – all with the high level of service demanded by today’s consumer. 

Of course, that’s not to say that you’ll be left high and dry by the financial stalwarts, with customers who value loyalty and familiarity able to access high-level online features with many of the biggest names in banking. But the level of choice available means it isn’t always simple to know which bank will prove to be the most suitable home for your hard-earned cash, which is where this guide can come in. 

The following overview highlights the very best online banking options out there, so whether you’re looking for the best online banks for savings, want a top-rated checking account or are looking for an account that can offer additional rewards – or indeed have something else in mind – this list could be a great place to start. Alternatively, you may be on the lookout for something more specific, in which case our guides covering the best mortgages, personal loans and a range of other financial products could point you in the right direction. 

  • Note all rates were correct as at March 2021, but may have changed since.

1. Ally Bank: Best online bank overall

Ally Bank is the best online bank overall

(Image credit: Ally)

Ally Bank

Ally Bank offers the best all-round online banking service

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: 0.10% | Premium checking: 0.25% | Savings: 0.50% | Money market: 0.50% | 12-month CD: 0.55% | 60-month CD: 0.80% | Fund availability (business days): 1-2 | Number of ATMs in Network: 43,000

Reasons to Buy

Attractive interest rates
Monthly reimbursement of ATM fees
Excellent mobile app

Reasons to Avoid

Fewer ATMs compared with others

The best online bank in our opinion, right now, is Ally Bank. It has some of the highest interest rates around across its different accounts, low deposit requirements, a great app, and provides access to many other financial services too.

Ally Bank might be just online, but the benefits are clear. While some banks are currently offering little or no interest, Ally steps up to the mark with a return of 0.50% on its savings account. No minimum balance or deposit is required, but you'll need to keep your transactions beneath six per month or else face a $10 fee for each additional transaction. Ally's CD rates are attractive too. Terms range from three months to five years, but it is the 12-month rate of 0.55% that really catches the eye. Remember, that there is a penalty for early withdrawals, of course. 

As a member of the Allpoint network, Ally allows you to withdraw cash on over 43,000 machines absolutely free. Finding your nearest one should be easy thanks to a handy locator tool on its website. And even if you do find yourself having to withdraw from an ATM outside of the network, Ally will repay the first $10 in fees.


2. iGO Banking: Best online bank for minimal requirements

iGObanking is best for minimal requirements

(Image credit: iGObanking)

iGObanking

Minimal requirements make iGObanking great for simplicity

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: 0.25% | Premium checking: 0.25% | Savings: 0.25% | Money market: 0.50% | 12-month CD: 0.60% | 48-month CD: 0.90% | Fund availability (business days): 1-3 | Number of ATMs in Network: 55,000

Reasons to Buy

Few requirements to open account
Attractive money market rate
Great website and app

Reasons to Avoid

High money market balance required

iGObanking is a great reminder as to why online banks are currently proving so popular. If you need a bank that has minimal requirements and no monthly fees, but still offers some decent rates of interest, then this is exactly what iGObanking does best.

All except the money market account can be opened with as little as $1, but if you do happen to have the $25,000 that the money market account requires, you'll be treated to an excellent rate of 0.50%. The checking account pays a flat rate of 0.25% regardless of the balance, while the 12 month CD account paying 0.60% is comparable with what can be found at most other online banks. 

Transfers, excluding wire transfers, are free, while there's access to over 55,000 ATMs as part of the Allpoint network, and apps for mobile banking. What really stands iGObanking apart, however, is the lack of hoops that you need to jump through to open an account, and the effort that the bank has obviously made to make everything clear for its customers. 


3. Axos Bank: Best online bank checking account

Axos Bank has the best checking account

(Image credit: Axos)

Axos Bank

Axos Bank likes to reward its checking account customers handsomely

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: 0% | Premium checking: 1.25% | Savings: 0.61% | Money market: 0.60% | 12-month CD: 0.20% | 48-month CD: 0.20% | Fund availability (business days): 1-2 | Number of ATMs in Network: 91,000

Reasons to Buy

Top checking account rate
Unlimited ATM reimbursements

Reasons to Avoid

Tough criteria to get good rate
Low CD rates

Axos Bank has one of the highest interest rates for checking accounts currently available. You will need $50 to open the account but after that Axos Bank hands out 0.42% when each of its three conditions are met each month: $1,000 in direct deposits are paid in, you use your debit card for more than 10 transactions at $3 or more, and you make an additional five transactions at $3 or more. If you meet all conditions the rate equals 1.25%, more than double the average rate of most checking accounts.

With no monthly fee and no minimum amount to be eligible each month, this account is perfect for customers looking for a reward each month on their debit card spending. The CD rates are below average, but if you’re just interested in a checking account, Axos is a hard one to beat. Although the bank doesn’t have a partnership with an ATM network, it does allow unlimited reimbursement on any surcharges which gives you access to a much wider network.


4. First Internet Bank: Best online bank for CD rates

First Internet Bank of Indiana is best for CD rates

(Image credit: First internet bank of Indiana)

First Internet Bank of Indiana

First Internet Bank guarantees a top CD rate

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: 0% | Premium checking: 0.30% | Savings: 0.25% | Money market: 0.50% | 12-month CD: 0.60% | 48-month CD: 0.85% | Fund availability (business days): 1-5 | Number of ATMs in Network: 450,000

Reasons to Buy

Highly competitive CD rates
Fee waivers for meeting requirements

Reasons to Avoid

0% interest on basic checking account
May take 5 days for funds to be available

First Internet Bank of Indiana offers a wide range of banking and savings accounts, and some of the best CD rates that you are likely to find anywhere too. The minimum opening deposit of $1,000 is par for the course, but there is nothing average about the returns on offer if you're happy to lock your funds away for a set length of time. 

The other accounts it provides too are worth a look, particularly the money market and interest paying checking account. The free checking account is a great option if you want an accessible, fee-free way of banking as well. Some accounts charge fees for their use, but by maintaining a specified minimum balance, First Internet Bank is happy to waive them, leaving customers with even more money in their pocket to take advantage of the attractive CD returns.  


5. Synchrony Bank: Best savings account

Synchrony Bank offers the best savings account

(Image credit: Synchrony Bank)

Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Bank offers great savings rates and customer rewards.

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: N/A | Premium checking: N/A | Savings: 0.50% | Money market: 0.35% | 12-month CD: 0.50% | 48-month CD: 0.65% | Fund availability (business days): 1-2 | Number of ATMs in Network: 2 million

Reasons to Buy

High savings and CDs rates 
Rewards

Reasons to Avoid

No checking accounts
High CD deposit requirement

The savings account at online-only Synchrony Bank is certainly something to consider, as are the CDs that are on offer too. First up, the high yield savings account pays 0.50%, well above the average at present, and is awarded no matter how much (or little) you have in the account. There's no monthly fees and no minimum balance is required to open an account or qualify for the interest rate. 

For savers happy to commit their funds for a set period of time, there's a wide range of CD terms on offer too, each paying returns that are highly competitive among their peers - the 60-month account is the longest available at present and pays 0.80%. 

As well as offering top returns, Synchrony has a perks program in place that rewards customers depending on how long they've been with the bank and the amount they have saved. Travel and leisure discounts are on offer, but there are banking related advantages too, including unlimited ATM fee refunds and free wire transfers.   


6. Discover Bank: Best rewards account

Discover Bank offers the best rewards account

(Image credit: Discover Bank)

Discover Bank

Discover offers a highly rewarding cashback checking account

SPECIFICATIONS

Basic checking: 1% cashback on debit card spend, up to $30 p/m | Premium checking: 1% cashback on debit card spend, up to $30 p/m | Savings: 0.40% | Money market: 0.30% - 0.35% | 12-month CD: 0.50% | 48-month CD: 0.55% | Fund availability (business days): 1-4 | Number of ATMs in Network: 60,000+

Reasons to Buy

Checking account has high return potential
Long CD terms and competitive rates
No account charges

Reasons to Avoid

No ATM fee reimbursement

If you're looking for a checking account, and also have a high monthly spend, Discover just might have the innovative and high-paying account that you need. Rather than paying interest, this checking account pays 1% cashback on purchases made with the associated debit card - up to $30 in cashback is available each month, a return far higher than any you'd achieve from a traditional savings account right now. What’s more, you don’t need a minimum deposit, balance or to pay a fee to be eligible. 

The rates for its CDs are also good value in the current market, while the option to guarantee your return for the next 10 years is no longer an option widely available elsewhere. If you don't live local to a one of the 60,000 ATMs on Discover's network, it's worth noting that you won’t be reimbursed for fees you might be charged if you have to use an ATM from someone else. But if this isn't a problem, there's little to dissuade anyone taking a look at what this online bank might be able to do for you - the most familiar names don't always offer the best returns, but Discover is definitely an exception.


Tim is Finance Editor at Top Ten Reviews. With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Tim has spent most of his career working for a financial data firm, where he was Online Editor of the consumer-facing Moneyfacts site, and regularly penned articles for the financial advice publication Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts. As a result, he has an excellent knowledge of almost areas of personal finance and, in particular, the retirement, investment, protection, mortgage and savings sectors. A keen armchair follower of most sports, Tim regularly plays soccer, and also enjoys attending live music events, when not having to chase after his two children.