Online Savings Accounts

Keeping track of your savings with the click of a button.

Last updated on June 24th, 2022 at 11:49 am by Thomas Perrotta

Compare High Interest Online Savings Accounts

With the advent of internet came internet banking. Thanks to the sophistication and robust nature of the internet today, you can quite easily run your finances solely off the screen you’re looking at right now. There’s a plethora of options for great online savings accounts available to you now, so it can be difficult to narrow down your choice to just one. Learn more about online savings accounts, how they work and how you should compare the best options on the market right here with Savvy.

What are online savings accounts and how do they work?

An online savings account is essentially the same as the standard type of savings account, with the key distinction that it’s based entirely online. Just about any kind of savings account can be converted into an online account, which moves your services to within the confines of your devices. While they’re available for most other savings account holders, online savings accounts make use of more advanced banking apps and websites to facilitate access to your account wherever and whenever you wish.

Firstly, and perhaps most notably, online savings accounts cut out the need for any in-person or branch dealings. This may be a problem for some, but for those who are banking with a more obscure financial institution which has less physical accessibility, it’s more convenient. What this also does is scrap any prospect of you paying fees for services conducted at your branch by a member of staff. For some savings accounts, you’ll be charged a fee if you go into a branch to make a deposit, for example. With everything controlled online, there’s no need to break a sweat over the potential for incurring fees in this area.

Aside from this, the conditions and features you’ll find on your online savings accounts remain much the same as others. You’ll likely have to meet a set of requirements each month as part of maintaining your account, such as adhering to a maximum number of withdrawals and minimum amount deposited and overall account balance. If these aren’t met, you could risk incurring a fee or miss out on a bonus interest rate if your account has one.

How do I compare online savings accounts?

There many areas to compare on savings accounts. The table below outlines the most important and why you should consider them crucial to securing the best online savings account deal.

What you should compare Why you should compare it
Type of online savings account
There are savings account types to suit a wide variety of people. Whether you’re a child, student, adult or pensioner/retiree, there’s a savings account that can work for you and be opened and operated online. This can also apply to those looking at opening an online savings account to help manage business finances, as well as cash management accounts for investors who are looking to earn interest on their funds while they’re not required for other investments.
Type of financial institution
You’ll come across a wide range of institutions offering online savings accounts, but the main distinction is between bigger banks and smaller banks and other financial institutions. In the online space, bigger banks can often offer broader customer service across a wider range of platforms, while smaller institutions will generally be able to cater their service to your needs more effectively on a case-by-case basis. Some of these may operate solely online also, so you may find that they’re a more convenient option to go with.
Interest rates

This is one of the easiest ways to compare online savings accounts. To put it simply, the savings account with the highest interest rates will earn you the most overall. A relevant consideration for high interest rate savings accounts online is how that rate is obtained. This could be via a bonus rate, which grants higher monthly interest provided the account holder meets certain requirements, or an introductory rate, which stays at a high rate for an initial set period before reverting to a low rate. Alternatively, you may wish to go for an account that has a higher base rate, which won’t be as high as the other options but will likely be better for long-term saving.

Fees
While less prevalent with online accounts, you’ll still encounter fees for certain services provided on your savings account. One of the most common of these is a monthly account fee, which is often waived by financial institutions, while other common ones include statement, ATM and transfer fees. If you’re someone who utilises features like these as part of your online savings account, as most do, you should prioritise low or no fees in these areas, as costs can add up.
Deposit requirements
Most online savings accounts will have a minimum requirement for the amount of money that must be deposited each month. This can vary widely between institutions between a few hundred and few thousand dollars. You should look to this as one of the key areas of consideration when comparing online savings accounts. Only commit to an account with achievable deposit requirements.
Balance requirements
Similarly, maintaining a certain balance from month to month may be challenging for those with a lower income and high expenses like rent and bills. Not adhering to this limit, which can vary anywhere between a minimum of $2,000 to a maximum of $250,000, can rule you out from receiving the highest bonus interest rate on your online savings account or, in some cases, incur a fee. These accounts may also require low or no minimum balance, which can be useful when starting up the account.
Withdrawal requirements
Another common requirement for online savings accounts is a maximum number of withdrawals that can be made each month. Always bear this in mind when shopping around for the best online savings accounts, as limiting your capacity to withdraw more than five times, or any at all, can result in your interest rate falling from above 1% to the base rate, which is just above 0%, in some circumstances. However, it’s important to note that these limits can be more flexible in online savings accounts.

The pros and cons of online savings accounts

PROS

More convenient

Able to be accessed at the touch of a button 24/7, online savings accounts offer a level of convenience unrivalled by more traditional savings accounts

Often contain fewer or no fees

With no need for fees in relation to branch access and less common account-keeping charges, these accounts are often the most fee-free on the market

Easier transfers

If you have an online savings account linked to a bank account, transferring money between the two is made much simpler through an online framework

More flexible requirements

No minimum initial deposit is required with most online savings accounts, while withdrawal limits can negotiated with your institution on an individual

CONS

Limited access without internet

If the internet at your house breaks down and your financial institution operates solely online, gaining access to your account can be difficult

Transfer delays

Online savings accounts linked to bank accounts with other institutions can experience delays with their money transfers

No in-person services

If you’re someone who values going into a branch for service from a member of staff in person, this probably won’t be offered for free or at all with online savings accounts

Some more frequently asked online savings account questions

How do I find the best online savings account?

The important thing to do before everything else is your research. Comparing between the top online savings accounts on offer right now is the best way to guarantee that you receive the best possible deal. Savvy is the best place to conduct your initial research, as we utilise sophisticated and thorough comparison tools to ensure the most important comparison points are covered. Once you’ve narrowed your list to one, the hard work is complete, and you can move onto the application process.

How do I apply for an online savings account?

Opening a savings account online is a very simple process. All you’ll need to do is complete the application document required by your financial institution, which typically involves supplying identification documents like your passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate, and you’ll be good to go.

Can I open an online savings account if I’m a non-permanent resident?

No – while non-citizen permanent residents can open an online savings account in Australia, this is not extended to non-permanent residents.

Who should be opening an online savings account with an introductory rate?

Introductory rate online savings accounts are more suited to people looking to maximise their interest earnings in a short time frame. It can also apply to customers who only want to commit to a good savings account for a short time before seeking out another good deal. Long-term savings goals generally don’t mesh with introductory rate savings accounts.

How does interest work on online savings accounts?

Interest rates are the same on online savings accounts as they are on any other standard savings account. However, you can choose to either withdraw your earned interest incrementally or leave them in your account. If they build up over time, they aggregate in line with a compound interest system. This means that the interest you earn is calculated daily based on your principal and the interest already earned on top of that.

Can I open multiple online savings accounts with the same institution?

Yes – depending on the institution, you’ll be able to open several accounts for different needs. For example, if you had a general account but wanted to put some money aside for emergencies, you might look at opening a separate online savings account for this purpose so that you can ensure you’ll be covered no matter what.

What is the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS) and how does it affect my online savings account?

The FCS is a scheme introduced by the Australian Government that guarantees savings account deposits of up to $250,000. This is in place to cover you if, for whatever reason, your authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) falls through.

What are some of the drawbacks of online savings accounts?

As with most savings accounts with bonus rates, restrictions to achieve bonus interest rates can be difficult to meet. What standard savings accounts have that online savings accounts generally don’t is unrestricted access to branches and ATMs; online savings accounts may not offer this for free and institutions operating in this space may not have easily accessible ATMs from with you can withdraw funds free of charge. Also, another factor to note is that accounts with higher balances are likely to be given lower base variable interest rates, so as your savings grow, you may see your base rate gradually decline.