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Savings Accounts

How Do You Open a High-Yield Savings Account?

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes

March 13, 2024

Most banks offer a simple sign-up process for opening a high-yield savings account. Everything from filling out the application to funding your account can be done online, through a bank’s app, or by visiting a branch office if you prefer up-close-and-personal service.

Quick take: You need a few key pieces of info (your Social Security Number; bank account and routing numbers) to set up a new savings account. If a bank offers instant verification, you’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes.

Tell me more! Been there, done this. We opened a lot of high-yield savings accounts to experience firsthand what it’s like for consumers on the frontlines. Here are the four steps involved in opening and managing a savings account:

1. Fill out the application. To make the process go smoothly, gather the following information:

  • Name, address, phone, email
  • Social Security Number (for verification and to keep the IRS in the loop about the interest — aka income — you earn)
  • ID information and a photo from your driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID
  • Account number and routing number for the account you’re using to transfer funds
  • (Optional but recommended) Names, SSNs, contact info for account beneficiaries so it’s clear who gets to cash in after you shed your mortal coil

Note: If opening a joint account, corral all this info for both applicants.

2. Fund your account. This step may take place during the application process, or after your identity is verified. The easiest way to fund your account is to electronically transfer funds from an existing account (which becomes your “linked account”) into your new high-yield savings account. Your first deposit will involve an extra step, but afterward the flow of funds will be NBD:

  • Instant verification: If the bank uses an automated account linking provider (like Yodlee or Plaid), you’ll be asked for your funding bank’s login information and be on your merry way to savings, or...
  • Not-so-instant: The bank will send two small trial deposits to your linked account and instructions on how to verify that you received it. This may take a few days.

Some banks allow applicants to fund an account with a mobile check deposit, mail a paper check or even drop off a check at a branch office (if they have one).

3. Sign up for online banking or download the app. If you weren’t already required to download the bank’s app to apply (or set up an online banking account), do so now. This is where you’ll find extra goodies, like tools to help you save (such as the ability to bucket savings for different goals).

We recommend taking a moment upfront to customize your account settings — how and how often you want to receive alerts and other communications — and sign up for e-statements. You can also switch up your linked bank accounts depending on how you want to direct inflows and outflows.

4. Watch your money multiply: Although many high-yield savings accounts have a $0 minimum to open an account, you won’t start earning interest until there are at least a few bucks in the account. For a more impressive savings experience, we recommend setting up automatic transfers (monthly, weekly, every third Tuesday) into your high-interest savings account.

paid fun fact

We test-drove more than a dozen accounts when we began reviewing high-yield savings products. In our experience, it took an average of seven to 10 steps — yeah, we counted — to get from point A (filling out the application) to point B (tallying how much interest we earned).

You might also be wondering …: How much does it cost to open a high-yield savings account? In most cases, nothing at all. Many banks have no minimum deposit requirement. (Keep in mind, no money = no interest paid out.) Do, however, keep an eye out for any potential fees a bank might charge for things like account maintenance or excessive withdrawals.

Bottom line: Opening a high-yield savings account takes practically no time at all if you have the required information handy. In fact, it’s so simple, after you’re done you might wonder why you didn’t open a high-interest savings account sooner.

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About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.

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