Select Account Investment Options

Select account investment options

Investment Performance

In this article, I will share my updated research and picks for the best HSA accounts available to individuals and families (outside of employer-sponsored offerings).

Lively and Fidelity recently have entered the Health Savings Account (HSA) space with very competitive offerings, and a number of other administrators have lowered their fees, so this article is a complete re-write of the top HSA accounts, to help you make your pick in 2020.

The Benefits of HSAs

Why curate and maintain a list of the best HSA accounts?

I have previously noted that the HSA is my pick for the best retirement account (employer matching funds aside).

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Why are HSAs the best? Here are just a few of the reasons:

  1. A unique combination of tax-free (pre-tax) contributions and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses, employer contributions, and growth through investments.
  2. HSA maximum contributions are significant – $3,550 per individual and $7,100 per family in 2020. That is a very significant amount of tax savings!
  3. HSA account contributions fully roll over from year-to-year (unlike with FSAs).

    In other words, the funds are not “use it or lose it”.

  4. You can do a one-time IRA to HSA rollover.
  5. If you have an employer sponsored HDHP with HSA, you may be eligible for bonus incentives.
  6. HSAs are portable.

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    You are the owner of your HSA account and your employer can’t take the funds away from you.

  7. This means that you can take them with you from one employer to another, or even to self-employment.
  8. You can withdraw funds from HSA accounts in retirement similar to an IRA, without penalty, for any reason, starting at age 65.
  9. HSAs don’t have required minimum distributions at retirement age, like IRAs do.

Remember, you must have an HDHP to get access to and then continue contributing to an HSA.

For more basics on HSAs, check out the above links and the full IRS HSA guidelines.

The Challenge with HSAs

The challenge with HSAs, however, is that a lot of the big name financial players aren’t in the HSA space.

And many administrators have a maze of fees to navigate.

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If you get stuck with the wrong one, it can be a huge drain on your account balance. As with most things, it definitely pays to shop around.

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In this article, I will do some of the heavy lifting, to get you started.

The HSA marketplace is still young, but quickly growing. HSAs are fairly new to the health insurance and investing worlds. They weren’t established until 2003.

Opening and Managing an Investment Account

In 2008, only about 6 million Americans had one. But that number has more than quadrupled since, and there are now 26 million HSA accounts in the United States.

HSA accounts can be started with banks, brokers, credit unions, and even insurance companies. Any company that offers an HSA is referred to as an “administrator” or “custodian”.

HSAs were originally designed for modest deposits through payroll, followed by frequent small withdrawals.

Invest the money you contribute to your medical savings account

This is why most started and are still administered by banks and credit unions, which makes investing tricky, because most banks and credit unions don’t have their own investing platform. But, the good news is that you are not locked in.

Can you Switch HSA Accounts? Or have Multiple HSA Accounts?

When I first signed up for an HSA, I wondered how married I would be to a particular HSA account. Could I switch if I didn’t like mine, just like I could with an IRA?

Basic Investment Account

Could I have more than one account? I’ve since done a lot of research on this topic.

If you or your employer have picked a poor HSA admin, the good news is that you are not stuck with them. Just as with IRAs, you can switch if you are not happy with your administrator’s policies and fees. A person contributing to an HSA is under no obligation to contribute to his or her employer-sponsored HSA.

And you can contribute to an HSA outside of employer payroll deductions.

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Employers, however, may require that direct payroll contributions be made only to their sponsored HSA plan.

You can have more than one HSA account. And you can make transfers between accounts if you do not like one.

What Criteria to Look for in an HSA Account

There are far more HSA administrators out there than there are IRA brokers.

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This makes finding the best HSA account very difficult. Most HSA accounts are through banks and very few of them allow you to invest your savings in anything outside of their own money market accounts, CDs, and other in-house financial products. And with bank rates as low as they have been in recent years, those yields are very small.

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Unfortunately, most online brokers do not offer an HSA account option.

When it comes down to it, here are the things you should look for when selecting an HSA account:

  1. Debit Card: does the HSA come with a debit card for simple HSA-eligible qualified medical expense tracking? The best HSA accounts do.
  2. Setup Fees: are there setup or opening fees?

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    I would stay away, if so. No HSA accounts with setup or opening fees ranked on this list of top accounts.

  3. Maintenance Fees: are the fees close to zero or very minimal? For a number of years, most HSAs had very high fees, including annual or monthly maintenance fees.

    Those with high fees will not rank on this list.

  4. Savings, Investment, or Both: Does the HSA have only a save-and-spend savings account, or also an investment account?

    The top ranking accounts have both. If you can’t invest a portion of your funds in higher yield investments, as you would in a 401K or IRA, your HSA contributions will erode compared to high health care inflation every year.

  5. Self-Directed Brokerage or Managed Funds: if the HSA offers an investment account, do you only have a small list of managed funds to choose from? A self-directed brokerage account option is preferable here, so you can choose low cost options.
  6. Investment Fees: if the HSA offers an investment option, what are the fees to invest, as well as the ongoing expense ratios of the funds you have to choose from?

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    The lower the fees the better.

  7. Reputation: is the bank, credit union, broker, or other administrator reputable and do they have good customer reviews?

Best HSA Accounts

Based on the criteria listed above, I’ve ranked my picks for the best HSA accounts below.

I think that Lively and Fidelity are a step above the pack in 2 essential areas: fees and investment options. Both have no maintenance fees, which is a rarity.

And both offer a self-directed brokerage account option (Lively through TD Ameritrade and Fidelity through Fidelity). I like that Lively is 100% focused on HSAs – it’s their expertise, whereas HSAs are a new and small part of Fidelity’s overall portfolio. Lively’s website and support is very transparent, detailed, and responsive – a rarity in the HSA space.

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So I’ve ranked them #1 overall.

Best HSA Account Discussion:

  • Who is your current HSA account administrator and what are their fees, policies, and investment options?
  • Have you invested within your HSA account?
  • What is your pick for the best HSA account?

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