There are many factors to consider when shopping for the best online savings rates. There are many online banks available that can offer all of their services online without you ever entering an actual brick and mortar branch. However, with this convenience also comes some special considerations. Online banking can vary greatly from institution to institution. For this reason you should do your homework ahead of time to make sure you understand the specific bank’s terms and conditions concerning their online banking services. If you like a traditional banking experience, then online savings plans may not be for you. However, if you need savings options that are simple and convenient, online banking is definitely the way to go. The most popular online savings plans are offered by Capital One 360, Ally Bank, and GE Capital Bank. Here are a few questions to help you evaluate your savings needs so that you can choose the online savings plans with the best rates.

What are your savings goals?

Your own particular savings goals will help determine the type of account you should choose and what kind of interest rate you should look for. You should determine if you have long term or short term savings goals. If you have long term savings goals, then you will want to choose a savings plan that offers a great interest rate that will help grow your money over time.

Do you have the minimum deposit required?

Most online savings plans will have a minimum deposit amount that you must deposit in order to start the account. Make sure you are prepared to deposit this amount upon opening your account.

What are the terms and conditions of the online savings account?

Online savings accounts will have certain terms and conditions that you will need to agree to in order to open an account, such as minimum required deposits and limitations on how often consumers can withdraw from their accounts. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions that apply to your online savings account.

Are there termination penalties tied to this online savings account?

Termination fees may apply to accounts that have higher online savings rates. Termination fees may apply if customers close their online savings accounts before a certain time period. Before agreeing to open an online savings account, you should make sure you understand any type of termination penalties that may be in place.

How can you access your money in the online savings account?

Different types of online savings accounts will have different ways for you to access your funds, which could include ATMs and brick and mortar locations. You should be very clear on exactly how the bank will allow you to access your money so that there is no confusion when you attempt to make a withdrawal.

Are the funds in an online savings account insured?

Reputable banks will have all of their investments insured by the FDIC. This is a federal program that insures customers' deposits up to $250,000 should something happen to the bank, you will still have access to your money.

Is the online banking system easy to navigate?

If you are dealing with an online bank, then you will want to make sure that the banking system is easy to navigate so that you can keep track of your account at all times. When online banking is complicated, it can cause customers to avoid checking their accounts online. This can lead to problems when you do not keep up with what is happening with your accounts on a regular basis.

Are there ATMs available in my area?

While they don't have local branches, many online banks have specialized ATMs located in certain regions so that customers can access their money. If there are no ATMs in your geographical area associated with a specific online bank, it might be wise to choose a different one.