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Updated: Jan 05, 2024

The Best Savings Accounts in California for 2024

Find out which banks offer the best savings account in California, especially comparing local banks and online banks based on fees and interest rates.
Contents

As one of the biggest states in the U.S., California is also home to many of the country's largest banks.

This means you have plenty of options when searching for savings accounts.

The tough part:

Picking the right savings account for your needs.

From big financial institutions to small community banks, California has it all. We've analyzed the savings accounts at the 50 largest California banks (based on deposit market share) to find the best savings accounts available in your local area.

Then, compare them to savings accounts from online banks, which may be more suitable for you.

Compare Savings Accounts

Savings
Checking
CDs

The Best Savings Accounts in California

Quontic Bank

Quantic bank offers high-interest rates, no monthly maintenance fees, and innovative account options like a Bitcoin rewards checking account. You can open a high-yield savings account with just $100.

Synchrony Bank

Another online option, Synchrony, is known for its high interest rates on savings, money market accounts, and CDs. No monthly fees, minimum deposit, or balance requirements, and ATM cards are available upon request.

Bread Savings™

Previously known as Comenity, this online bank offers better-than-average APYs for savings accounts and CDs with no monthly fees. A $100 deposit is required to open a savings account.

First Republic Bank

First Republic Bank’s Passbook Savings account is OK but targets people with enough money to commit to their account.

To start, you must make a $500 opening deposit, which can be difficult for many people. You cannot open the account with less than $500.

Once the account is open, there is no minimum balance requirement or monthly fee.

The interest rate you’ll earn varies with the balance of your account, with a balance of $1 million serving as the requirement for the best available rate.

CIT Bank

The CIT Bank Premier High Yield Savings account offers a reasonable rate of interest in a savings account that charges no monthly fee.

To open the account, you must make a $100 minimum deposit.

After that, you don’t have to worry about maintaining any minimum balance to keep the account open.

One perk of the account is opening it in person or online and quickly managing it from the CIT Bank website or mobile app.

Methodology & How We Picked

MyBankTracker applied a methodology when choosing the best savings accounts in California. Our top recommendations were selected based on a thorough analysis of savings accounts offered by the top 50 banks by deposit market share in California (based on FDIC June 2023 data)--with a physical presence in major cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento.

We focused on savings accounts with low monthly maintenance fees, the least demanding requirements to waive these fees, the bank’s ATM network, excess withdrawal fees, and other convenience features.

Online Savings Accounts are Available Nationwide

Though their personalized, friendly service can sound quite appealing, don’t go straight for a local bank.

It would be best to consider all the available options, including online banks.

Online banks are available to anyone with a U.S. mailing address and tax I.D. number, which makes it easy to take advantage of their unique benefits.

Earn more interest

One of the best-known advantages of online banks is their interest rates.

Online savings accounts can pay 10 to 100 times the interest that brick-and-mortar banks can.

There’s one reason for this vast difference in interest rates: costs.

Online banks are much cheaper to run than traditional banks. They don’t have to worry about paying for an ATM network or bank branches, hiring tellers, paying for security, etc.

Instead:

They can operate out of one or two central offices and pass the savings on to their customers.

Not encouraged to spend

When you have extra money in your bank account, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to spend it on something fun, even if you have a specific goal.

Putting your money in an online savings account is one step further removed from your day-to-day life.

You won’t walk past your bank’s ATM or branch and be reminded of your savings account balance simply because there won’t be any ATMs or branches to pass.

Out of sight means out of mind, which means less temptation to spend.

Better Mobile Experience

Every modern bank offers mobile and online banking experiences, but for online banks, these are the only ways they interact with their customers.

Because of this, online banks tend to have better banking features, apps, and websites.

FDIC Insurance

Online banks, just like traditional banks, have FDIC insurance.

This means the money you deposit to your online savings account is as safe as possible.

The FDIC offers coverage of up to $250,000 per depositor per account type at covered banks.

If your online bank shuts down, the FDIC will reimburse you for any amount lost, up to the $250,000 limit.

National Bank Savings Accounts in California

National banks tend to offer one major perk: they offer duplicate accounts and experience regardless of where you live and interact with the bank.

This is good for people who wind up moving or who need to travel frequently because they’ll get a banking experience that they’re used to.

This perk is also a drawback for many people, particularly those who don’t travel or move.

Because they offer the same experience everywhere, national banks don’t tend to be able to cater to local needs in the same way that local banks can.

Pros and Cons of Local Banks

Local banks offer several advantages when compared to their larger, national competitors.

One perk stands out above the rest: personalized service.

Walking into a branch and seeing a face you recognize is much easier if you work with a local bank.

You’ll also probably have a better chance of talking to someone in person if you have trouble with your account or need help.

Bigger banks cannot provide the same level of familiarity and service.

Of course, nothing is perfect.

Due to their small size, local banks can’t provide the high level of convenience in the way that larger banks can -- through more branches and in-network ATMs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Savings Accounts from Local Banks

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Lower fees than national banks (but not always)
  • Personal service for account management
  • Smaller branch and ATM networks
  • Interest rates are not the highest available

The Largest Banks in California

The largest banks in California, by deposits, are:

  1. Ally Bank: Known for high APY rates, no monthly maintenance fees, and a strong online banking presence.
  2. Bank of America: Offers a wide range of services with many branches and ATMs across the U.S. It is particularly favorable for students with its Advantage Banking product.
  3. Citi Bank: Features excellent checking accounts and extensive branch access in California.
  4. Wells Fargo: Has the most branches in California and offers a diverse range of banking options.
  5. Bank of the West: An excellent regional banking option with various accounts and loan services.
  6. CIT Bank: Offers high savings rates and a user-friendly mobile app, especially for large account balances.
  7. U.S. Bank: Renowned for customer service with a significant branch presence in California.
  8. Union Bank: Known for high-yielding checking accounts and global ATM access.
  9. East West Bank: Ideal for students with low monthly maintenance fees and specialized student accounts.
  10. Bank of Hope: Offers high APY for reserve accounts and is particularly beneficial for Los Angeles residents.

This list has a combination of both local and national banks. If you live in California and want to work with a local bank, some of your best options are:

  • First Republic Bank
  • CIT Bank
  • BBVA

You may also want to look into credit unions or online banks.

What Kind of Account is Right for You?

If you cannot decide between an online savings account and one provided by a traditional bank, you should consider these questions.

They might help you make your decision.

Are you already able to use online and mobile banking more?

People who love technology and generally have no trouble adopting the latest gadgets and trends should have little difficulty working with an online bank.

If you often have trouble working your smartphone or adapting to new technology, you may have a learning curve if you opt for an online savings account.

How often do you visit a branch?

If everyone at the bank knows your name because you’re dropping by multiple times a week to make deposits or withdrawals, you might want to stick with a bank with a physical presence.

An online bank will be a natural fit if you do all your banking at an ATM.

What does customer service mean to you?

With an online bank, your only way of getting help will be to start an online chat or to call a support line.

If you prefer getting help face-to-face, you might want to stick with a traditional bank.

If you don’t mind online support or phone calls, an online bank won’t be a problem if you run into trouble with your account.

Most Important Features of a Savings Account

Choosing the correct savings account can be complicated and overwhelming. If you’re having trouble deciding, these are the factors you should compare.

Interest

One of the primary reasons to open a savings account is to earn interest on the money you deposit.

Different banks pay different interest rates, so you want to look for the account that pays the highest rate.

The truth is:

Settling for a lower rate is just giving up free money.

Fees

Many banks charge fees on their savings accounts unless you meet specific requirements.

Without a doubt:

These fees eat into your balance and make it hard to build your savings and reach your goals.

Look for accounts that don’t charge any monthly fees. If you must choose an account with a price, ensure you can quickly meet the fee waiver requirements.

The other fee to watch out for is the excess withdrawal fee, the most prominent fee related to savings accounts.

Access to Your Money

Sometimes, something comes up, and you need quick access to your money.

Look for banks that make it easy to get to your savings when needed.

Things like unlimited withdrawals or free ATM cards are an excellent way to know that getting your savings won’t be a hassle.