Savings Accounts Master Class

How to earn almost 5% APY on your first $15,000

You’ve read about the Cash Flow Fountain, and you want to start building out your own. Your first bucket is filling up, and you’re getting ready to build your emergency savings in your second bucket. You’re a great saver, but most savings accounts don’t reward your good habits with good interest rates. In fact, “the average rate on a savings account is 0.11%, and checking accounts still mostly pay nothing.” (

Savers like you should take Heath Ledger’s immortal advice:


Try viewing your savings as a rock dropped in water. The splash and ripples closest to the rock will be higher than the ones further away. Similarly, if your funds are a rock dropped into the interest rate sea, you want the closest and first accounts to earn the highest returns. Using the accounts below can help a single person earn almost $750 the first year on their first $15,000 in savings; a couple could earn nearly $1500 on their first $30,000! Links to the accounts you can use are mostly referral links for added bonus (see Ledger above):

Funding these accounts in order and meeting all their criteria can deliver 4.99% interest on $15,000, earning you just under $750 in interest

The Splash: Mango Prepaid Debit Card/Savings

Mango provides a prepaid debit card that can link to a savings account which earns up to 6.00% APY on the first $5,000 saved. Maximizing this account earns up to $300 a year. You would need $30,000 in a savings account receiving 1% APY to earn that same dollar amount!

Ripples making Ripples. credit:

There are several hurdles with this account, including that you need to deposit $800 each month to the Debit Card to receive the full 6% interest. Doctor of Credit is a great resource for keeping up with the requirements of Mango.

While this account will be too much trouble for some people, even if you don’t meet the requirements, you can still earn 2% APY on the first $5,000 saved, or up to $100 a year.

The First Ripple: Insight Prepaid Debit Card/Savings

Insight Cards is another prepaid card provider that lets you link to a savings account, which earns 5.00% APY on the first $5,000 saved. There are fewer hoops on these accounts, and unlike other prepaid savings accounts, they continue earning 5% interest above $5,000. You can only deposit $5,000 into your account, but it will earn $250 the first year, then $262.50, then $275.63, and so on and so on.

The Smaller Ripples: NetSpend’s various Prepaid Debit Cards/Savings, Blue Federal Credit Union

Like Insight, NetSpend operates several prepaid debit cards which link to 5% APY savings accounts. These only earn that interest on the first $1,000 you save, about $50 each per year. NetSpend, Brinks, and Western Union offer the highest referral bonuses, $20, for these types of accounts. Ace Elite and H-E-B also offer similar savings accounts with their cards, giving you the chance to save up to $5,000 at 5% APY, or $250 each year. They can be a nice tool for jump-starting your emergency savings.

You have to wait 6 months between opening these accounts to get the referral bonuses, though NetSpend may only give you the bonus for your first account. They have similar hoops to Insight’s card, like 90-day inactivity fees.

Blue Federal Credit Union offers 4.99% APY on the first $1,000 saved in their Accelerated Savings account. You need to deposit $5 each month and be signed up for online statements to receive this interest. An interesting feature of Blue’s Accelerated Savings is they can be funded with certain credit cards, earning you rewards and avoiding cash advance fees.

Be careful with Blue: once your account goes over $1,000, the entire account earns 0.10% APY. If you’re using this account be sure to move any funds over $1,000 into your other savings.

The Calm Water: Capital One 360 Money Market or Ally Savings

After you’ve maximized the accounts above, it helps to have a higher yielding online savings account earning at least 1% APY on the rest of your savings. Capital One 360’s new Money Market Account pays 1% APY on balances above $10,000, and Ally Bank’s Online Savings pays 1% on any account size. I move the interest I earn on my prepaid savings, except for Insight, to my ‘calm water’ accounts so it continues earning as much interest as possible.

Maintaining multiple savings accounts can make password management difficult. I use LastPass to protect my logins, and recommend you use unique logins for every account you open

I’ve built a Savings Optimizer you can view on Google to see how to best allocate your current savings among the accounts described above. Download a copy of the sheet to see how your current savings can be optimized. The optimizer assumes that once you maximize the prepaid savings accounts, you move the interest and new funds to the next prepaid savings account or to your ‘calm water’ account. Please let me know any feedback on the optimizer, or any great savings accounts I missed.

Have fun putting your money to work!