By Cameron Huddleston, Columnist
Online banks also offer many perks, and GOBankingRates has analyzed the top national online banks as part of its Best Banks of 2016 study. After evaluating dozens of online banks, GOBankingRates found the 10 best online banks based on checking account fees, savings account yields, one-year certificate of deposit interest rates, customer service features and BauerFinancial Star Ratings, which indicate overall financial strength.
Here are the top 10 online banks of 2016, according to the findings.
Best: Ally Bank
Why: For the second year in a row, Ally Bank tops GOBankingRates' list as the best online bank because of its winning combination of no maintenance fee checking, high savings and CD yields, and abundant customer service.
Review: Not only does Ally Bank offer a 1.00% APY on its savings account and 1.05% APY on its 12-month CD, but its interest checking has a competitive 0.10% APY that jumps to 0.60% APY on balances of $15,000 or more. And there's no monthly maintenance fee or minimum deposit requirement on either the checking or savings account.
Ally Bank is also the only bank on this list that offers every facet of customer service GOBankingRates considered for the Best Online Bank ranking: 24/7 telephone customer support, live online chat, mobile app and remote check deposit. Plus, you can use any Allpoint ATM for free and get reimbursed up to $10 per statement cycle for other ATM surcharges.
How to join: You can open an account online at the Ally website. You'll need to provide your address, date of birth and Social Security number, and you must be a least 18 years old.
Related: Ally Is the Best Online Bank of 2016
Banks That Rounded Out the Top 10
Why: Bank5 Connect reclaims a spot in the Best Online Banks top 10 for the second year in a row with competitive rates, no monthly checking fees and several customer service features.
Review: Bank5 Connect's interest checking account offers one of the highest rates of this top 10 list at 0.76% APY and has no monthly fees. Its savings account's 0.90% APY is slightly lower than the yields on other accounts in this group, however. Also, a minimum deposit of $100 is required to earn interest. The Bank5 Connect 12-month CD offers a respectable 1.00% APY.
This online bank doesn't provide 24/7 customer support via phone, but it does have some of the best online banking features: a live online chat feature, a mobile app and remote check deposit. Plus, Bank5 Connect won't charge you for using any ATM and will reimburse other banks' fees up to $15 per statement cycle. It also offers the UChoose Rewards program that lets you earn points when you use your debit card and redeem those points for gift cards, vacation packages and other items.
How to join: You can open an account online in about 10 minutes. You'll need your Social Security number, valid ID and your previous home address if you've lived at your current address for less than two years.
Why: EverBank has attractive rates on its checking, savings and CD accounts but does require a steep $1,500 minimum deposit.
Review: At 1.11% APY, the EverBank Yield Pledge Money Market account has the highest yield of any savings account in this list. However, its one-year CD had a 0.90% APY during the time this GOBankingRates study was conducted -- slightly lower than the CD yields from other banks on the list. But as of Jan. 12, 2016, the APY is now an impressive 1.30% APY. Its high-yield checking account offers a competitive 0.95% APY on balances less than $10,000, but it's applicable only during the first year after opening an account. The ongoing rate is 0.30% APY.
EverBank provides 24/7 phone customer support but doesn't have an online chat feature. There's no monthly maintenance fee, and EverBank doesn't charge ATM fees. But the bank does reimburse other banks' surcharges if you have an account balance of $5,000 or more.
How to join: You can open an account online by providing your Social Security or tax identification number and proof of address if you've lived in your current location less than three months.
Related: 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2016
Why: Discover Bank has one of the highest yielding 12-month CDs in the Best Online Bank top 10, no monthly maintenance fees and 24/7 customer support.
Review: The 1.15% APY on Discover Bank's one-year CD is impressive, and its savings account offers a competitive 0.95% APY with a minimum deposit requirement of $500. Discover doesn't charge a monthly maintenance fee on its checking account, which offers cash-back rewards for debit purchases, checks cleared and online bill payments.
Discover Bank also offers customers a free mobile app, remote check deposit and free withdrawals from more than 60,000 ATMs.
How to join: You can open an account online. You need to provide personal information, including your address and Social Security number.
Bank of Internet USA
Why: No-fee checking, 24/7 automated phone support and a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5 out of 5 make Bank of Internet USA appealing, but its savings account and CD yields are lower than other banks on this list.
Review: Bank of Internet USA's savings account has a 0.61% APY and its one-year CD has a 0.55% APY -- among the lowest in this top 10 group but still higher than what many traditional banks offer. However, its Rewards Checking account has plenty of perks, including the ability to earn up to 1.25% APY if certain conditions are met.
Bank of Internet USA also offers 24/7 phone support, unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, a free mobile app, remote check deposit, cash-back purchase rewards and more.
How to join: You can open an account on Bank of Internet USA's website. You'll need your Social Security number, valid ID and valid U.S. address.
Why: FNBO Direct doesn't charge a monthly maintenance fee on its checking account, it offers 24/7 phone support and has a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5. It offers a slightly higher APY on its savings account, but its one-year CD has an APY of just 0.31%.
Review: The APY on the FNBO Direct Online Savings Account has climbed slightly to 0.95% from 0.75% when GOBankingRates aggregated the data for the Best Banks of 2016 rankings, making the rate more appealing. There's no monthly maintenance fee on the savings or checking account. The checking account offers a competitive 0.65% APY.
In addition to 24/7 customer support via phone, you can make person-to-person payments with Popmoney and access free online banking.
How to join: You can open an account online. You'll need your Social Security or tax ID number, valid ID, employment information and information about any loans or mortgages you have to confirm your identity.
State Farm Bank
Why: State Farm Bank has the lowest yields among the 10 top online banks -- 0.10% APY for both its savings account (for balances less than $25,000) and one-year CD. But it offers more customer service features than other banks on this list.
Review: State Farm Bank's yields aren't as competitive as other banks in this top 10; however, it offers two things that some online-only banks don't: a checking account and a mobile app. And, it provides 24/7 phone support. Lastly, it offers up to $10 in rebates per statement cycle for fees charged by other banks' ATMs.
How to join: You can open an account online in about five to 10 minutes. You'll need to provide your Social Security number, date of birth and contact information.
Why: Synchrony Bank has some of the highest savings and CD rates among the top 10.
Review: The 1.05% APY on the Synchrony Bank savings account and 1.25% APY on the 12-month CD are appealing. But be aware that the savings account has a $5 monthly service fee if your balance drops below $30. And the CD requires a $2,000 balance to earn the 1.25% APY. Plus, Synchrony Bank doesn't offer a checking account or a mobile app.
However, its savings account comes with an ATM card, so you can access your money easily. It also offers remote check deposit and 24/7 phone support.
How to join: You can open an account online. You'll need to provide your date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license or state ID card number, and bank account and routing numbers to transfer funds electronically to Synchrony.
First Internet Bank
Why: First Internet Bank offers a competitive 1.11% APY on its one-year CD. However, the APY on the free savings account is just 0.40%, and its telephone customer service isn't available 24/7.
Review: First Internet Bank has a no-fee checking account, but there's a $10 monthly maintenance fee on its 0.55% APY interest checking account if the balance drops below $500. However, there's no fee on First Internet Bank's Free Savings account, which offers a 0.40% APY and requires a minimum deposit of just $25. The savings account also comes with an ATM card.
First Internet Bank has a free mobile app, remote check deposit and the FinanceWorks tool that lets you connect to other financial accounts and helps you create a budget.
How to join: You can open an account online by providing some details about your personal information.
Why: Nationwide Bank offers a competitive 1.05% APY on its 12-month CD (on balances less than $100,000), but its savings account yields just 0.30% APY. And, its checking accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee if customers don't meet certain requirements.
Review: Nationwide is the only bank on this list that makes customers jump through some hoops -- such as using direct deposit or maintaining a minimum balance -- to avoid a monthly maintenance fee on its checking accounts. The savings account also requires a minimum monthly balance of $300 to avoid a fee.
Customers can, however, access their money for free at more than 76,000 ATMs and use the bank's free app for mobile banking. Nationwide Bank does offer telephone customer support, but it's not available 24/7.
How to join: You can open an account online. You'll need to provide your contact information, date of birth and Social Security number.
Keep Reading: How to Deposit Cash Into an Online Bank Account
Methodology: To determine its Best Online Bank ranking, GOBankingRates examined 30 online-only banks that offer products nationally according to the GOBankingRates and FDIC databases, excluding online products offered by institutions with a physical, retail banking presence. No asset threshold was consulted for online-only banks.
Criteria for ranking: GOBankingRates scored each online-only bank from most to least favorable for the following factors: (1) checking account fee, (2) savings account annual percentage yield, (3) 12-month certificate of deposit APY and (4) BauerFinancial Star Ratings for overall financial strength. Banks were then scored according to whether they offered the following services, all of which contributed to a single weighting: (5) 24/7 customer service available by phone, (6) live chat service via website with a person, (7) mobile app and (8) remote check deposit. Next, banks were ranked according to their services offered score and then by their overall score.
Data was compiled via BauerFinancial and the GOBankingRates interest rate database and verified against the individual institutions' websites between Oct. 29 and Nov. 23, 2015. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions.
GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some banks mentioned in the Best Banks of 2016 survey are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.
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