Best High-Yield Savings Accounts for College Students in 2024

by Jalen & Sarah Bromley

If you’re a student, having any savings puts you ahead of the pack. Around 61% of US college students and recent graduates have less than $1,000 put away. But if you want to go the extra mile, high-yield savings accounts are a must to maximize the growth of what you have. So, what’s the best student savings account on the market?

We’ll explain everything you need to know about finding the best high-yield savings accounts before breaking down the options most suited to students and their needs.

Side note: This article as of current does NOT contain any affiliate links, but may in the future.

What is a high-yield savings account?

As the name suggests, a high-yield savings account offers a high yield. These accounts boast higher interest rates than checking accounts and other account types.

High-yield savings accounts can take the form of credit union savings accounts or online-only savings accounts, as well as standard savings accounts. 

Certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market deposit accounts can also fall into this category when they provide high interest rates, but ultimately, they are a different type of savings account.

Is a high-yield savings account worth it?

If you only have a few thousand dollars lying around (or even a few hundred), you might question whether it’s worth trying to optimize the interest you earn on such a modest pot. Or maybe you have a good amount of savings and you’re considering using it elsewhere.

Here’s what to consider when deciding if a high-yield savings account is right for you.


When you leave your money lying around without earning interest, inflation will eat away at its value. Core inflation was 3.9% in 2023 in the US (and 5.7% the previous year). This means that if you put aside $1,000 at the start of the year, you’d need to have $1,039 to have the same purchasing power with that money.

High-yield accounts boost your chances of retaining the value of your money by paying interest, which makes a big difference if you’re building up your emergency fund or general savings.

They’re also extremely low-risk as long as you deposit your money with an established institution. The FDIC deposit insurance protects losses of up to $250,000 in FDIC-insured banks. This means that even if something goes wrong with the bank, your money is safe—which isn’t the case if you invest in a company’s stock and the firm goes bankrupt.

Finally, high-yield savings accounts are extremely simple to use. There are generally minimal requirements to open an account, and it’s quick to deposit your money and get started.


The main drawback is that “high-yield” accounts often don’t pay enough for you to beat inflation. The average rate across all accounts is 0.57% APY (although many pay for more). This is only a drop in the ocean when you’re dealing with inflation of 3.9%!

Plus, even if you initially sign up for a high rate, there’s no guarantee you’ll continue earning this amount. Banks can change the interest rate they offer at any moment, and it will also apply to current customers. However, you can get around this by moving your money between providers regularly. 

What to look for in high-yield savings accounts

So, how can you choose the best high-yield savings account? Here’s what to look for.

Interest rates

The main reason people opt for high-yield savings accounts is the interest they can earn, so this will naturally be one of the first things you consider. A high-yield savings account with a low yield isn’t worth your time!

Low fees

Some accounts charge fees, which you’ll want to avoid if you’re a student depositing a modest amount. It’s not just monthly or annual account fees you need to look out for, but also extra charges like:

  • Insufficient funds fees (if your account falls below a predetermined threshold)
  • Withdrawal fees
  • Account closure fees 
  • Bank check fees

Minimum balance requirements 

As a student, you probably don’t have a phenomenal sum to put into your high-yield savings account. Unfortunately, some bank account providers require you to deposit a certain amount to open an account with them.

Best high-yield savings accounts

Now we can finally get to the juicy part—the best student savings accounts. The high-yield accounts below are open to everyone (bar one), but they’re especially suited to students due to their simplicity and laidback requirements.

  1. Discover Bank Online Savings Account

Interest rate: 4.3%

Minimum deposit: $0

Discover Bank is an established bank launched in 1985, and its online savings account is a great fit for students. Not only does it offer a market-leading 4.3% APY, but it also has no fees and no minimum deposit.

It’s also insured by the FDIC and has overdraft protection. You can open the account online, so the process is simple.

  1. Synchrony High-Yield Savings

Interest rate: 4.75%

Minimum deposit: $0

Synchrony is a financial services company that offers various financing and savings solutions, emphasizing digital services.

Its high-yield savings account has an impressive 4.75% APY, plus no minimum deposit or fees. As you’d expect from a digitally focused provider, you can handle your banking online, including on the Synchrony Bank app. It was also named the Best Savings Account by NerdWallet. 

Synchrony also offers CDs and money market accounts with competitive interest rates, although the high-yield savings account is the best option for most students.

  1. Varo Money High-Yield Savings Account

Interest rate: 5%

Minimum deposit: $0

Varo is an all-digital, San Francisco-based bank established in 2015. It has since garnered a reputation for its convenient, modern approach, earning an impressive 4.9 rating on Apple’s App Store. While it may be a newer bank, deposits are still insured by the FDIC.

With an APY of 5%, it offers the highest yield on the list (of the accounts open to everyone). While the 5% APY only applies to the first $5,000, you’ll earn 3% on the rest, which is still a good rate. 

There is a catch: you’ll need to make a direct deposit of at least $1,000 each month. However, if you don’t earn that much, you can send multiple deposits from your checking account as long as they add up to $1,000.

  1. Affirm Savings

Interest rate: 4.35%

Minimum deposit: $0

Affirm is primarily a buy now pay later service provider, but it has recently launched savings products too. These are completely separate from its lending products. 

This high-yield account has a competitive yield of 4.35%, no minimum deposit, and no fees. It’s easy to open an account online, and you can then manage the account through a handy app. Although Affirm is a newer company and takes a modern approach, it’s still insured by the FDIC.

  1. Bethpage Student Savings

Interest rate: 5%

Minimum deposit: $5

As mentioned earlier, credit unions sometimes offer high-yield savings accounts. While credit unions (and therefore their products) are generally open only to people who meet specific criteria, anyone can join Bethpage by opening a savings account with them. This means you get the benefit of being part of an organization that runs based on its members’ needs and not just for profit.

If you’re aged 20 or under, you can open a Bethpage Student Savings account, which offers 5% APY on balances up to $1,000, which is a market-leading rate. Otherwise, Bethpage also has money market accounts and certificates of deposit. These have lower interest rates, but they do let you earn interest on higher balances.

  1. Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Interest rate: 4.50%

Minimum deposit: $500

Marcus is the name of the online savings account offered by Goldman Sachs, one of the most prestigious financial institutions in the world. Its impressive APY of 4.50% demands inclusion on this list.

While the bank might have a reputation for higher-end clients, there’s no reason you can’t create an account as a student — this one has no minimum deposit or fees. You’ll also benefit from the excellent customer service, which gives you 24/7 access to customer support, and a convenient app to help you track your money.

Marcus also has a certificate of deposit with an even higher APY, but this includes a minimum deposit of $500 and requires you to lock your money away for at least six months.

Tips for choosing the right account

The accounts outlined above all have similar interest rates and no minimum deposit. So, how should you decide which one to pick?

If everything else appears the same for every option, the simplest method is to pick whatever has the highest APY, even if the difference is only a few percentage points.

Alternatively, you can do some digging into what other features they offer. For instance, you might value a provider with an app or which is easy to use online. Or, you might value a bank offering comprehensive customer service.

Time to get saving

Every dollar matters, and few financial products will put them to good use better than a high-yield savings account. Why wait until you graduate when the accounts outlined above let you get started with no deposit, allowing you to earn a great interest rate right away?

At Frugal Student, we share more tips to help you save, manage, and grow your money at college and beyond. As well as sharing our picks for the best financial products, we also offer practical advice and step-by-step guides.

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