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Learn more about savings accounts

Opening a savings account is a safe and simple way to watch your money grow. Whatever your savings goal is, choosing a savings account is a subjective experience that will ultimately be determined by your personal preferences.

Not all savings accounts are created equally, and to help your savings grow you’ll want to choose an account that:

  • pays the maximum interest;
  • charges minimal fees;
  • includes helpful features;
  • and offers account flexibility. 

To help you achieve your savings goals, RateCity has put together a list of the top 8 account features to keep in mind when choosing between savings accounts: 

Top 8 Savings Accounts Features: 

  1. Competitive interest rate

To really see your money grow, you need a savings account with a competitive interest rate. Lenders want to help you achieve your savings goals, and higher than average interest rates will help you to grow your nest egg faster than making regular deposits. 

  1. Bonus interest rates

If a competitive interest rate is not enough to make you join with a lender, they may also offer a bonus interest rate. These are a valuable tool to help you in your savings journey. This is interest that is earned on top of your existing interest rate, usually for following a set of conditions. These may include meeting a minimum monthly deposit, or a set minimum amount of withdrawals. Not only does this discourage you from dipping into your savings, you’re also rewarded for this good behaviour. 

  1. Promotional interest rate

This is different to bonus interest rates as promotional interest rates are offered as a one off, higher rate to new customers. Promotional interest rates are for a limited time only, but unlike bonus rates they do not come with restrictions. Before joining up, ensure you’ve checked what the standard interest rate is that the savings account will revert to once this promotional period is over. 

  1. Age restrictions

Savings accounts will have a minimum age restriction. If you’re looking to open a savings account for your child, you’ll want to compare children’s savings accounts. Children’s savings accounts are a fantastic educational tool to help teach kids financial literacy and other money concepts, such as income, budgeting and how to achieve a savings goal.

  1. Minimum monthly deposits

Some lenders will have a set amount you are required to deposit each month, to help encourage you to reach your savings goals. Minimum monthly deposits can often accrue bonus interest if followed. If this is something you’re not confident you can match, it’s worth keeping in mind when comparing savings accounts. 

  1. Minimum opening deposit

Some lenders may ask you to make a minimum deposit before they open your savings account, usually to cover any account opening costs. This feature may be a deterrent, especially if you haven’t yet started your savings journey. 

  1. Free account statements

Your account statement isn’t always free. Some lenders charge you a fee to send this to you, particularly via post. If you’re not ready to make the move to email, it’s worth considering whether your savings account will charge you over a monthly or quarterly statement. 

  1. Account keeping fees

These include anything from annual fees, ATM withdrawal fees and monthly fees. There are plenty of savings accounts that do not charge their customers any of these fees, so you should consider whether this is something you could afford to chip away at your savings.


Frequently asked questions

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)