American Express® Personal Savings Review
Christy Bieber is a personal finance and legal writer with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured on major outlets including MSN Money, CNBC, and USA Today.
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American Express® Personal Savings from American Express National Bank, Member FDIC matches the criteria we value most in an online savings account, including a high Annual Percentage Yield (APY) and no fees. I'm also enthusiastic that American Express is broadening its offerings beyond credit cards, where the bank has amassed a legion of fans.
|Offer||APY||Best For…||Next Steps|
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American Express® Personal Savings Member, FDIC
|APY: 1.90%||Best For: High APY and no fees|
What I like
High APY: The best feature of American Express Personal Savings account is the APR. The aim of investing money in a high-yield savings account is to earn the highest possible Annual Percentage Rate without putting money at risk. Amex makes it easy. Their rate is among the highest APY offered by any major online savings accounts.
Ease of Use: Opening accounts is also simple and easy. It takes only minutes and you can have multiple linked accounts (I have two: an emergency fund and account where I save for home repairs). You can move money instantly between different online savings accounts and both display on your main account page when you sign in. You’ll see both the current balance and available balance for each account as well as the combined total balance.
No Monthly Balance Requirements: As an account holder, you also benefit from no minimum monthly balance requirements and no monthly maintenance fees. Many savings accounts require account minimums either to earn interest or to open a saving account. American Express Personal Savings account doesn't require either, although there is a $1 minimum balance required to earn the APY. With no minimum balance, you don’t need to worry about having money trapped in your account -- I’ve cleared mine out many times to cover big costs before building the accounts back up.
No maintenance fees. You also don’t need to worry the interest you earn will be eaten up by a monthly maintenance cost. The absence of fees is a major benefit more likely to be offered by online banks such as American Express Personal Savings, as these online banks don’t have the overhead costs of brick-and-mortar stores.
What could be improved
ATM card access: The biggest downside of the American Express Personal Savings account is there’s no ATM card so you can’t withdraw funds instantly from your ATM.
Long processing time: While it is easy and free to move money back and forth between your American Express Personal Savings accounts and linked bank accounts via electronic funds transfer, it takes several days for deposits and withdrawals to process. You also don’t have access to local bank branches where you can go to get help with your account.
Limited Monthly Withdrawls: Another possible downside is that you’re limited to no more than six monthly withdrawals from your savings account. This isn’t because of an Amex policy, though, but because of Federal Reserve Board Regulation D, which restricts the number of monthly transfers from online savings accounts. If you need to make more than six withdrawals or transfers of funds from your savings account in each statement cycle, you’ll incur penalties.
There are several ways to deposit funds into your American Express Personal Savings account including:
- Electronic bank transfer from a linked bank account
- Wire transfer
- Mailing a physical check
Transfers can be initiated online or via phone 24/7, but if it’s after 7 p.m. ET, the transfer is considered to have occurred on the next business day. You also have the choice of setting up a one-time transfer or recurring transfer. Recurring transfers make it easy to make regular contributions to your savings.
When you transfer funds, the funds won’t be available immediately. Because of a mandatory holding period, money isn’t added to your available balance until five business days after you initiate your deposit. Business days are Monday through Friday, not including holidays.
Withdrawing money is possible using the same methods by which you can transfer money in: electronic bank transfers, wire transfers, or physical checks.
It takes one to three days for the funds to show up in your linked bank account after you make a withdrawal. The inability to quickly obtain money from an ATM or local bank branch is one of the biggest downsides of American Express Personal Savings, but you can work around this as long as you plan ahead and arrange to transfer funds several days before you’ll need the money.
Remember, because there’s no minimum balance requirement, you can withdraw all of the money in your account at any time without worrying about owing fees or having your account closed.
The American Express app
Unfortunately, American Express doesn’t have an app for its personal savings account. This means you’ll need to sign into the website to manage your account, make withdrawals or deposits, or check your balance.
You can link your American Express account to money-management apps such as Mint. This allows you to see and categorize transactions in the app, track your savings goals, and see how your savings account balance is adding to your net worth.
Online savings account comparison
How to apply
Applying for an American Express Personal Savings account is easy and can be done online. You’ll need to provide some basic information to prove your identity, including:
- Your name and address
- Your Social Security number
- Your current bank to fund your account
The process takes moments and you should be approved for an account right away as long as you can verify who you are.
If you’re looking to earn the highest possible returns on a savings account and you can plan ahead to deposit and withdraw funds, American Express Personal Savings is a great choice. The absence of fees, ability to maintain multiple accounts, and no minimum balance requirement provides the ultimate in flexibility. Not to mention the account’s high APR means your savings will earn the maximum interest possible without risking your deposited funds.
If you think you’ll miss out on having a local bank branch to visit or need immediate access to funds through an ATM, you should look elsewhere. If having a mobile app is important to you, you’ll also need to consider another personal savings account instead.