America’s Best Rates First-Quarter Survey Shows Top Savings Account Rates Outpaced Lowest Rates by Up to 91 Times

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The latest release of America’s Best Rates, a quarterly survey issued by, shows a large variance in savings account and money market account rates of different banking institutions in the first quarter of 2012. The survey revealed that the top banks offered rates that outpaced those of low-ranking competitors by up to 91 times.

Even in a low-rate environment, you can still find ways to earn a little extra on your savings. Online banks and medium-sized banks seem to be the sweet spot for rates.

Average savings and money market account rates fell slightly in the first quarter of 2012, according to’s America’s Best Rates survey. Despite the downtrend, top-yielding accounts offered up to four times the average yields in the survey and up to 91 times the returns available from the lowest-ranked banks in the survey.

The survey tracks interest rates throughout the quarter to identify banking institutions that consistently offer consumers the best returns. Data from the first quarter of 2012 show that the average annual percentage yields (APY) for savings and money market accounts each decreased by more than 0.01 percentage points in comparison to the fourth-quarter 2011 survey. The top yields for each category fell more sharply, by roughly 0.10 percentage points from the fourth quarter.

The significant variation in rates in the survey presents a compelling case for consumers to do their homework when shopping for a savings or money market account. The institution with the lowest money market rate in the survey, 0.01 percent, offered only a penny for every 91 cents offered by Sallie Mae Bank on money market accounts.

"Customers need to remember that the banking industry is very fragmented, meaning that there are a lot of options out there," says Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for "Even in a low-rate environment, you can still find ways to earn a little extra on your savings."

The survey also found substantial rate variations between online-only banks and traditional banks. The average savings account rate for online banks was 0.59 percent, several times the average rate among traditional banks of 0.15 percent. Similarly, the average money market account rate at online banks was 0.69 percent, well above the 0.20 percent average rate offered by traditional banks.

To a lesser degree, yields in the survey also varied by bank size. Medium-sized banks – those with between $5 billion and $25 billion in deposits – offered a better return as a group than their smaller and larger counterparts, posting an average savings account rate of 0.26 percent compared to the overall survey average of 0.20 percent. Money market accounts at medium-sized banks earned an average rate of 0.28 percent, also above the survey average of 0.24 percent.

"Online banks and medium-sized banks seem to be the sweet spot for rates," says Barrington. "Customers should always shop around because rates can change at any time, but online and mid-sized banks seem to be a good place to concentrate your search for higher rates."

Here are the 10 highest-paying banks for savings account rates(by APY) in’s survey for the first quarter of 2012:

1. Discover Bank – 0.89 percent APY
2. Sallie Mae Bank – 0.87 percent APY
3. Ally Bank – 0.84 percent APY
4. American Express – 0.84 percent APY
5. ING Direct – 0.80 percent APY
6. EverBank – 0.76 percent APY
7. Mile High Banks – 0.75 percent APY
8. MetLife Bank – 0.70 percent APY
9. Zions Bank – 0.69 percent APY
10. Capital One Bank – 0.68 percent APY

Here are the 10 highest-paying banks for money market account rates in’s survey for the first quarter of 2012:

1. Sallie Mae Bank – 0.91 percent APY
2. Nationwide Bank – 0.88 percent APY
3. Ally Bank – 0.84 percent APY
4. Discover Bank – 0.84 percent APY
5. MetLife Bank – 0.79 percent APY
6. EverBank – 0.76 percent APY
7. AIG Bank – 0.74 percent APY
8. Zions Bank – 0.69 percent APY
9. Hudson City Bank – 0.63 percent APY
10. OneWest Bank – 0.56 percent APY

What appear to be ties in the above rankings are the result of rounding. For more analysis, please see “America’s Best Rates 2012 Q1: A rate hunter’s guide.”


America’s Best Rates are calculated from savings account rates and money market account rates recorded in the MoneyRates Index throughout the previous quarter. The MoneyRates Index is a composite of 100 banks, including the 50 largest U.S. banks by deposit amount, plus another 50 mid-sized banks. This sampling was constructed to be broadly representative of the general banking environment.

About has been a leading source of information on bank rates, personal finance, savings accounts and investing since 1999. The site provides the highest rates on CDs, money market accounts and high-yield savings accounts. The Web Marketing Association awarded a Financial Services Standard of Excellence to in the 2011 WebAwards competition. is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to find, research and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit

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