February 2016 – Savings and Money Market Accounts

Since our last look at savings and money market accounts, many of the banks that we track have simplified their offerings, eliminating select packages and promoting instead a single basic savings account and a single money market product. The 11 firms in the coverage group offer an average of 2.7 savings and money market accounts, which often come with a linked ATM card. Several firms provide a variety of programs and options to encourage customers to build savings.

Account fees for basic savings accounts average just under $5 across the industry, with the twist that the firms that offer fee-free accounts – the direct banks – also offer the highest yield across balances. Only five firms (27%) offer accounts fee-free, though automatic transfers serve as qualifying activity to waive monthly fees on many of the fee-bearing accounts. Rates remain quite low among savings and money market accounts, with only marginal changes since this topic was last covered. For savings accounts, two-thirds of firms offer an APY of only 0.05% or below while three of the 11 firms promoting money market accounts offer an APY of 0.05% or below. Relationship rates and opportunities for rate boosts, while currently uncommon across the banks we surveyed, can be attractive to prospective clients.

Across sites, account information pages and product information are hit or miss in their usefulness to prospects. On the positive end, one firm offers a combined comparison chart and recommendation tool that considers a customer’s needs and recommends the best fit, and another firm’s selection tool asks questions to filter among all of the firm’s savings accounts. Separately, two firms promote programs that enable customers to add to their savings passively with purchases from a linked debit card. Other banks incorporate savings products into the firm’s self-branded rewards programs, where maintaining the account in combination with a specialty package earns rewards points.