MAX review: Link your checking account to 8 high-yield savings accounts to earn the most interest, even when rates change
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- MAX links your checking account to high-yield savings accounts at eight banks.
- Once per month, MAX will move your savings into the account(s) with the highest rate.
- With multiple savings accounts, you can insure more than the usual $250,000 allowed by banks.
- See Insider’s picks for the best high-yield savings accounts »
Updated on March 24, 2021: We updated this review with a new section on MAX’s reputation as a company. We’re currently adding information on trustworthiness to all of Personal Finance Insider’s reviews.
What is MAX?
MAX is a company that helps you earn the highest interest rate on your savings account. Link your existing checking account to up to eight high-yield savings accounts at separate banks. Each month, MAX moves your savings to the account paying the best rate so you can earn more money.
Banks insure your money for up to $250,000 per account (or $500,000 for a joint account). FDIC insurance keeps your money so you will have access to your funds even if a bank fails.
Because MAX sets you up with up to eight accounts, you can receive FDIC insurance on more than $250,000. This makes MAX especially useful for wealthy customers — but you don’t have to have a high income to benefit from MAX.
How does MAX work?
When you sign up for MAX, you’ll spend about a minute filling out the Max Common Application, which signs you up for accounts at up to eight banks. This form is based off the idea of the college Common App, which has you fill out one document to apply to multiple colleges.
Then MAX links all these savings accounts to your main bank account. Let’s say you already bank with Chase. You can keep your checking account with Chase, which you may prefer because you can walk into a branch any time you want. But you’ll have savings accounts with other banks.
During the sign-up process, you set a target amount you want to keep in your main checking account. Once your balance exceeds the target amount, MAX will automatically move extra money into the savings account with the highest rate. One you reach $250,000 in that savings account (or $500,000 for a joint account), MAX starts moving money to the account paying the second-best rate so you can keep receiving FDIC insurance.
The company moves your funds once per month. Optimization is automatic, but you can move money manually between accounts on the website if you want to.
Here are the banks where you can open a savings account through MAX:
- American Express
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs
- Radius Bank
- Sterling National Bank
- UFB Direct
MAX keeps a dollar in each bank account to make sure it stays open. You won’t pay monthly service fees on any of the accounts, and you won’t pay to transfer funds from one account to another.
As for which checking accounts you can link to MAX, the company supports 18 of the largest banks in the US. If you bank with an institution other than one of these 18 banks, you can open a MAX Checking Account and move money between this account and your regular checking account as necessary. The MAX Checking Account acts as the middleman, so you move money from your brick-and-mortar bank, to MAX, to high-yield savings accounts.
MAX Checking Account review
MAX Checking Account
Normally, MAX charges 0.02% of your savings per quarter to use its interest optimization tool. But with a MAX Checking Account, you may be able to waive that fee. If you keep $10,000 in checking, MAX will reimburse your fee, up to $100 per year. If you have $25,000, it will reimburse up to $200 per year. But if you don’t keep at least $10,000 in checking, you’ll still pay the quarterly fee.
Is MAX trustworthy?
Better Business Bureau grades are usually good tools for measuring companies’ trustworthiness. There’s no BBB score for MAX, though. But the company doesn’t have any public scandals, which might make you feel good about keeping your money with MAX.
Should you use MAX?
The pros of MAX
- You can earn a high interest rate without switching banks. During the coronavirus pandemic, high-yield savings rates have been dropping. The bank that pays the highest rate can change daily. With MAX, you can earn a high rate without putting in the time or effort of setting up a new bank account every time rates shift. We don’t recommend chasing interest rates, because it’s not usually worth the amount of work you put in. But if earning a high rate is important to you, MAX helps you do so without the headache.
- You have access to preferred interest rates. MAX doesn’t accept advertising payments from banks. Because banks save money by not paying advertising fees, they can pay higher interest rates to MAX customers as incentive. You could earn a better rate than you would if you just opened an account through a bank’s website.
- You can get more FDIC insurance. MAX is a great tool if you want to keep more than $250,000 in savings. Banks only insure up to $250,000 for individual accounts, but because you’ll have multiple savings accounts with several banks, you can receive more insurance.
- There’s no minimum opening balance. You don’t need a certain amount of money to start saving through MAX.
- It has a strong checking account. You can link your brick-and-mortar checking account to MAX. But if the company doesn’t support your institution, you can set up a separate MAX Checking Account. This is a pretty solid checking account, with free ATMs worldwide and no wire transfer fees.
- Allow your financial advisor to see your account information. If you have a financial advisor, they probably know which bank account you use, and roughly how much money you keep in checking and savings. When you sign up for MAX, select for the company to update your advisor about your accounts so they will know where all your money is at any given time.
The cons of MAX
- You’ll pay a membership fee. MAX charges 0.02% of your savings balance per quarter, or 0.08% per year. This still works out in your favor, because if you’re earning 0.85% APY through MAX but paying 0.08%, you’re still earning 0.77% APY — much better than the national average of 0.05%. Still, consider whether you’re comfortable paying the fee.
- You may or may not receive refunds with MAX Checking. When you open a MAX Checking Account, the company will reimburse its membership fee up to $100 per year if you keep $10,000 in checking, or up to $200 if you keep $25,000 in checking. But if you don’t keep at least $10,000 in your account, you’ll keep paying the 0.02% fee each quarter.
- You only have eight savings accounts to choose from. MAX only sets you up with savings accounts at eight banks, meaning you could be missing out on an even higher rate at a bank you can’t access through MAX. But because savings rates are changing so frequently, an outside bank with a better rate today may not have higher rates tomorrow.
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