If you don’t need to visit a bank in person, you can maximize yield and minimize fees by choosing an online bank. Because this type of institution doesn’t spend money maintaining fancy branches or paying teller salaries, it typically offers much better terms. Most online accounts are free, no strings attached. Interest-bearing checking accounts earn 0.33% on average, and savings accounts earn 0.48% interest on average. Just remember: If you have a tricky question, there’s no branch you can drop by. Make the switch only if you’re comfortable doing all of your banking online and on the phone.
WHY IT’S A WINNER
Ally is a one-stop bank that helps you avoid most (although not all) fees while maximizing interest across multiple accounts. You can get 1% interest on savings and up to 0.6% on higher checking balances—both of which are substantially more generous than the industry average.
Ally also gives you free access to any of the roughly 40,000 U.S. ATMs in the Allpoint network and will reimburse up to $10 in other operators’ ATM fees each month (which would be enough to cover the average consumer).
If you’ll need to use non-Allpoint ATMs at least weekly, you may want to look elsewhere. Rival EverBank offers unlimited ATM reimbursements if you maintain a $5,000 daily balance in checking. It also pays higher ongoing interest rates on checking account balances below $15,000 (Ally’s interest rate is higher for accounts above that threshold).
Maintenance fee: $0
Interest on $5,000: 1%
Here are Money’s picks for the Best Banks of 2015-2016: