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Home » Health Insurance, HSA's

Choosing the Best HSA Account Administrator (Yes, you CAN Choose, & Here’s a List)

Last updated by on August 6, 2016

I’ve been on a big HSA kick, since I made the move to an HDHP.

Tax-free (pre-tax) contributions and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses, employer contributions, and growth through investments for the win!

Unlike FSA’s, HSA account contributions roll over from year-to-year, and they are portable, meaning you can take them with  you from one employer to another or to self-employment. YOU are the owner of your HSA account and your employer can’t take the funds away from you.

Later on, if you don’t use the funds, you can even withdraw funds from HSA accounts in retirement like an IRA, without penalty and for any reason, starting at age 65.

When I first signed up for an HSA, I wondered how married I’d be to a particular HSA account. Could I switch if I didn’t like mine, just like an IRA? I’ve since done a lot of research on this topic, and here’s what I found…

Can you Switch HSA Account Administrators?

HSA account administratorsHSA’s are fairly new to the health insurance and investing worlds. They weren’t established until 2003. In 2008, only about 6 million American’s had one. But that number has more than tripled since, and now 19.7 million Americans have one (up from 17.4 million the prior year).

The HSA marketplace is young, but quickly growing.

HSA accounts can be started with banks, brokers, credit unions, and insurance companies. Any company that offers an HSA is referred to as and “administrator” or “custodian”. HSAs were originally designed for modest deposits through payroll, followed by frequent small withdrawals. This is why most started and are still through banks and credit unions (unfortunately, if you’d like to invest).

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 IRA’s, you can switch if you aren’t happy with your administrators 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. Employers, however, may require that direct payroll contributions be made only to the sponsored HSA plan.

As with most things, it definitely pays to shop around. In this post, I’ll do some of the heavy lifting to get you started.

Best HSA Account Administrators List

There are far more HSA administrators out there than there are IRA brokers. The rub is that most are through banks and very few of them allow you to invest your savings in anything outside of their own money market accounts, CD’s, and other in-house financial products. And with bank rates as low as they have been, with low borrowing rates, those yields are not helping you much.

That’s key. If you can’t invest, as you would in a 401K or IRA, your HSA contributions are just sitting there, eroding with high health care inflation every year.

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

So here is a list of some popular HSA account administrators. All offer a debit card included.
HSA AdministratorAnnual or Maintenance FeesSetup FeesOther FeesInvestment Options
HSA BankMonthly account maintenance fee: $2.50 (waived on daily HSA balances of $5,000 or more)NoHSA Bank feesSelf-directed through TD Ameritrade. Trading fees apply. Or, pre-selected funds with no trading fees ($24 annual fee).
Health Savings AdministratorsAnnual administration fee: $45.00.
Custodial fee: 6.25 basis points per quarter (i.e, $0.625 per $1,000 every three months) with no cap.
NoHealth Savings Administrators feesChoice of 22 Vanguard Funds.
Health EquityMonthly account maintenance fee: paid by sponsor or up to $3.95NoHealth Equity feesChoice of 43 mutual funds. No purchase fee.
Select AccountMonthly maintenance fee: $0-4/mo. Plans vary.NoSelect Account HSA feesFee of $1.50 per account per month for 26 funds: Select Account investment options when balance exceeds $1,000. If balance > $10,000, you can open a self-directed brokerage account with Charles Schwab.
Alliant Credit UnionNone with basic account. Investment account monthly fee: $5.95NoAlliant Credit Union HSA fees0.65% dividend rate, or choose from 125 mutual funds in a self-managed brokerage account at a $5.95/month fee.
Optum Bank HSAMonthly maintenance fee: $3 (waived if non-investment account balance is greater than or equal to $5,000)NoOptum Bank feesChoice of 26 funds (including some Vanguard).
Lake Michigan Credit Union HSANoNoLake Michigan Credit Union HSA feesInterest savings of 0.5% or 1% (based on balance), but no equity investing.
Saturna HSANo. With investment account, inactivity fee of $12.50 per year, if no trades.NoSaturna HSA feesSaturna self-directed investment account with $14.95 stock trades, no fee & no load funds.

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

For more basics on HSA’s, check out the previous links and the IRS HSA guidelines.

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?

Related Posts:

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Mark says:

    Lake Michigan Credit Union appears to require another account/membership with their bank. Why did you list them?

    • G.E. Miller says:

      It’s a credit union. That is to be expected.

      • sarah says:

        Correction about Chase, they do not charge me a monthly maintenance fee but the $2.50 fee is if you also open up an investment account.
        It’s through my employer so i am not sure if that makes a difference.

        • Sandra says:

          Could someone tell me why there are investment options listed with HSA’s. I didn’t think any of these financial institutions would pay me interest or dividends (although I see if you have large amounts in the account maybe they do that. So why do I have to choose where the money goes? Or did I answer my own question that if I raise the amount in my account the decision on where to invest has already been made.

          I need an HSA because I just chose an HDHP for my family (I freelance and my husband opened his own firm) so we don’t have employers. I want low monthly fees, but I will put in less than $5,000. It seems the money roll over, but you don’t get it back out either, right? And generally, can you just keep adding to the account without problems (fees, etc) as long as you don’t go over the allowable amount per individual/family? Thank so much!!

          • Miike says:

            Many HSA administrators offer mutual funds or self directed brokerage accounts to attract customers with large HSA accounts. Some people treat their HSA as a retirment account. If you are thinking of your HSA as a retirement account then you want to invest in a mix of stocks and bonds. If your employer offers an HSA and you have maxed our your ROTH IRA, your employer’s retirement plan, and you still have cash flow; then you can pay your medical expenses out of pocket. Unreimbursed receipts can be treated as an emergency fund. If you get laid off you can always reimburse yourself. Don’t lose the receipts as the IRS may want proof of your health expenses. You might also think of your HSA as a retirement account with a 7.5% employer match. Employer contribution to your HSA bypass social security and medicare taxes. When you turn 65 non-health expense withdrawls from your HSA will be penaly free but will count as income when you file your tax return. A HSA is not subject to manadtory withdrawl rules like a traditional IRA. An HSA inherited by your child will be taxed upon iheritance; unlike a IRA or 401-k. A HSA inherited by a spouse will become your spouse’s HSA.

      • sandra says:

        I very much appreciate the inclusion of the credit union. The $5 additional account required to be a member is not a burden considering the fee free environment the HSA has. Thank you for listing it.

        • G.E. Miller says:

          Also – if you decide to close a credit union account, you get that money back. It’s not a fee. Just a minimum deposit that you get back.

          • Ev says:

            I checked both credit union websites listed and both seem to have very strict rules for membership. I did not see anything referring to a $5 fee to join. Could you please elaborate on that option and which of the 2 credit unions listed you are referring to. Thank you.

  • Natalie H says:

    My husband’s employer allows automated contributions from his paycheck and partners with Optumhealth Bank. I’m not very fond of this bank, but making contributions directly from his paycheck has at least one *huge* advantage. FICA is calculated /after/ withdrawing his contribution. This means we don’t pay Social Security or Medicare on the amount we contribute (just like health insurance premiums) which saves us another 7.65% in addition to the federal tax break. It also lowers the gross amount shown on our w-2 and tax return each year. Since our household income is a little lower than average (with me as a SAHM) it helps us qualify for lower payments on my student loan and other programs based on income, like the Earned Income Credit. Even knowing I could get better service or better investments elsewhere, I won’t give up that guaranteed 7.65% return from having it withdrawn from our paycheck. If your employer offers this, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity!

    • Greg Buhrow says:

      However, if your HSA contribution is deducted from your husband’s wages pre-tax, which is what you are describing, it is not deductible on your tax return as an adjustment to income.

  • Sandy says:

    Good post but it ignores the fact that most employers make a HSA contributions to their employees’ accounts so the notion of shopping around and choosing your own HSA would require two HSAs which seems like a hassle.

  • Ed says:

    I am new to HSAs but as you say they are a no brainer and I am also a fan. I have tried to determine what the max 2013 family plan HSA contribution is consdiering that my wife and I are both over 55 and not on medicare. I believe that it is $6450 + $1000 + $1000 = $8450. Its seems like a lot of sites do not understand that the catch up contirbution of $1000 applies to both individuals like IRAs.

    Do you agree with me that $8450 is the max for my case?



    • Teresa says:

      Hi Ed,

      Thank you for your comment, it made me check into it or I wouldn’t have known that. According to the HSA Bank website, “Authorized Signers who are 55 or older must have their own HSA in order to make the catch-up contribution.” So both you and your spouse must have your own HSA account.


    • Teresa says:

      Hi again,

      This is the website:

      It also says you can do a one-time rollover from an IRA (Traditional IRA makes the most sense), and it means you wouldn’t have to come up with outside money to fund it. It would be like allocating part of your IRA to health care expenses and be able to use it before you are 59 and a half without penalty.

      However, from other sites, including the gov website, I think the rollover choice starts a 12-month “qualification period” where you must still qualify by having a HDHP or you have to prorate the contribution, pay taxes on part, etc. So in my case, if I change jobs in a few months to one where the HDHP doesn’t make sense (or lose my job), I’d be screwed. I’m not totally sure about that, though, the wording is very confusing.

      Thanks again!


  • Paul says:

    It looks like this is already outdated as HSA Bank has increased their min. balance to ~$4800, and has other fees now as well.

  • Shannon says:

    I’m so grateful for this article – thank you for taking the time to share (your thorough research saved me hours of headache) and update!

  • David says:

    I came across this post while looking for a replacement for Chase HSA. The comparison of management fees and investment options is nice, but the reason my wife and I want to switch is that Chase customer service is horrendous, and their web site is something out of 1996.

    Any recommendations for HSA administrators that have good customer service and a modern, usable web site?

  • Paul says:

    I’d recommend Health Equity or HSA Bank. Key differences are:

    – Health Equity has lower minimum required balance and general lower fees.
    – HSA offers more investment options through TD Ameritrade with ability to hold equities or bonds, etc (Health Equity only offers funds).
    -Both have great customer service
    -I had trouble opening a Health Equity account because they want to verify you have a HDHP plan, instead of letting the burden fall on you. Even having insurance with their sister wife insurance carrier Select Health it was near impossible.
    – See what your employer can do with payroll. My employer will only let me contribute to HSA bank pre-payroll, not Health Equity because they have HSA Bank integrated with payroll.
    – For me HSA Bank has higher fees, but I figure I’m saving ~7% in payroll taxes, which over $3300 per year adds up.

    Hope that helps!

  • Jah says:

    I would recommend Optum Bank.

    -Lower fees than all the Banks mentioned above ($1 Monthly fee if below $500 balance)
    -Opportunity to invest
    -Optum doesn’t verify if you have an HDHP, the burden is on you
    -Great customer service

    Hope this helps!

    • Melissa says:

      I read your comment on optum bank’s HSA…my husband is being forced to go to an HDHP with optum as the HSA Bank. You are one of the few with a positive comment on this bank. Can you tell me how long you have been with them?

      I have heard they take forever to get out the debit card and their system doesn’t update your current funds very often and customer service is terrible. We don’t really have any local options. is their customer service base in the USA? any advise or tips are greatly appreciated.

      Melissa 🙂

  • Silver says:

    I just called Health Equity and the minimum balance requirement under which they charge a $3.95 monthly fee is $2500, not $1500. Just fyi…

  • Dawn says:

    Thank you so much for this great article! My husband and I just enrolled a HSA qualified family plan for the first time. I want to open a HSA account mainly to pay for the high deductible. Do we each has to open an account, or can I use my HSA to pay for my husband’s medical expenses? Thanks!

  • Paul says:


    It really depends on what your health policy is (for ex. employee only vs. employee + spouse etc). The federal government has set up contribution limits whether if you are single or married, but they interact with the type of health policy you have. It’s a little tricky. Call my expert at Bernard Health at 800-505-0750 and they will help you for free.

    Good luck!


  • Han says:

    Chase changed their monthly maintenance fee to $4.00 per month (ridiculous!). So, now I’m moving my account over to a different bank.

  • Han says:

    Here’s some “no fee” HSA’s that I’ve found so far. Have not researched these thouroughly yet, but they seem like good deals at first look.

    1. Saturna = no account maintenance, set up fees, or commissions if ALL the money in your Saturna HSA account in invested in their various Saturna mutual funds. As another option instead, you can setup a Saturna Brokerage account to trade any non-Saturna mutual funds, stocks & ETFs, or covered call options — but their brokerage commissions are fairly hefty ($14.95 for online Stock or ETF trades; $19.95+ for options), so unless you place only 1 or 2 trades in a year, it’s probably a bad idea to do the brokerage option.

    2. Not totally free, but your $36 annual account fee does include almost every fee you can think of at American Health Value HSA w/ an optional mutual fund option.

    3. If you want to join ELFCU (has some account requirements that come with this credit union, such as opening a savings account with them with some activity in it), but it appears they have no other HSA maintenance fee. Their HSA savings account currently pays a decent 1.00% interest, AND if you have at least $2500 more to spare you can move that extra into a TD Ameritrade account and pay standard TD Ameritrade brokerage fees.

  • shane says:

    Here is something I learned the hard way, yesterday, about HSA bank. I spent most of the day in a hospital in Bangkok getting a comprehensive physical. When it came time to pay I presented my HSA debit card for payment, which was declined. I showed the manager the balance in my account online via my iPhone so he knew I had the money in my account. I was allowed to leave the hospital without paying. I could not contact HSA bank from the hospital due to the 12 hour time difference and operating hours of the banks customer service of 7am to 10pm. When I returned to my apartment I contacted HSA bank to be told that my debit card would no longer work outside of the United States due to the “funding of terrorism” with Health Savings Accounts debit cards outside of the United States. So choose your bank’s wisely.

  • Paul says:

    Hi Sandra,

    The reason that there are investment options with HSA’s is because most HSA-eligible health insurance plans have a high deductible of about $3,000 – $5,000. This year I contribute $3,000 but didn’t use any of it. Well the next year I still have the same insurance plan with a $3,000 – $5000 deductible, and I contribute $3,000 again. There is now $6,000 in my account.

    Now, I don’t really need that extra $3,000 in my account, because my insurance will kick in after my deductible, but it’s a nice tax write-off. I put that extra $3,000 into investments and put compound interest to work for me with investments.

    After I do this for 30 years, I have a nice nest egg that I can cash out when I am 65 and use for retirement. I only pay taxes on money I take out for “play money” (I will probably be in the lowest tax bracket at 65), and pay no taxes on any medical expenses ever.

    Also, there is no problem is contributing more than the IRS allowable amount (~$3400 indiv/ ~5k family) you just aren’t receiving any tax advantage at the point and must pay normal income tax on that money above the allowable limits, and properly record it to the IRS.

    Hope that helps!

    Paul Fischer

  • Dave Pak says:

    I think honestly, this is not the “correct” perspective.

    The goal of the HSA is for you fund your medical costs with pre-tax dollars.

    The investment part is a perk, not the goal.

    Sure, its a nice perk, but if you want better investment options, get some investment accounts – that’s their job.

    If you don’t want to get taxed on any money you might spend on medical costs, and you get to keep unused money from year to year (and can even invest some of it!) than THAT is what the HSA is for.

    I have an ira, investment accounts (because I max my ira) and my HSA. Each has a different role…

    best of luck!

    • Chris Koffend says:

      I hear what you are saying, but at the same time, the article is very correct in espousing a key benefit of the HSA accounts for investment/saving purposes.

      There are a lot of responsible people preparing and saving for retirement. There are caps in the amount of money you can save while using an IRA or Roth IRA. These limits are quite low and really not sufficient if they are your only options.

      401Ks (and 403Bs)allow for more savings than the IRAs, but there too are limits that are not always clear. For example, if one works for a small business and holds a certain higher level position within said business – you may be limited in what percentage of what you can contribute to your 401K based on what the average company employee contributes (measured as a percentage of their compensation/pay). So if the average employee puts 5% of their pay into their 401K, you in a senior position cannot put 12% or 15%. I believe the “rules” or laws in this case, would limit you to 7.5% (2.5% higher than the average, but the specific number I do not recall).

      I max out my Roth. Last year, I found out that I was being forced to take back money that was put into my 401K because my selected percentage of my pay designated to my 401K exceeded the company “average” by too great of a percentage. I was refunded that money back to me, after taxes were taken out and the fee for performing those services by the 401K administrator was taken out.

      To me, an HSA is to serve two purposes:

      1: to serve as an additional retirement account where my money goes in pre-tax and grows tax free, available at age 65 or later without penalty and for any use.

      2: to be there in the event of a major medical bill – cancer, car accident, etc. . .

      I don’t need the HSA to pay $80, $150 bills, etc. . . I’ll pay that out of my regular savings/checking so that I can leave my HSA money alone and let it grow. Now give me a $3,000 bill and maybe I’ll us my HSA money, or a combination of HSA money and cash.

      Best of all, I am keeping my money, away from the useless, irresponsible politicians who will just waste it. I am sure that I will be able to find a need for it when I retire, even if that just means leaving it to my children or grand children.

      • Gary says:

        I look at HSA’s as an additional retirement saving option when used in combination with other pre-tax options like a 401K or post tax options like a Roth IRA allow us to build savings at a move effort rate than one option alone.

        I initially took the approach of building my HSA (at the maximum allowable yearly contribution level) to match my max out of pocket deductible with my health care plan ($10K). I didn’t take any funds out during that period, instead paying for smaller medical expenses out of pocket while building this amount. My logic was that I wanted to be prepared for that large expense via the HSA if it was needed.

        Now, I am growing that balance and investing the funds much like I do in my 401K. Ultimately, when I retire, that account could be $500K to $700K or more. The growth comes from pre-tax dollars and grows tax-free. Any deductions are also tax-free when for medical use. As the article shows, after reaching retirement age the funds can also be draw out for regular use.

        So, long story short, I am using my HSA as a way to get more pre-tax money invested for the long term. If I need to cover a major medical event, my $10K deductible is covered and will not wipe me out.

        • Mike B says:

          Hi Gary,
          Very smart. I like the idea of letting the account build to reap more benefits on the investment side. What about all the medical expenses you could be getting reimbursed for? Say you buy glasses, that is a qualified medical expense and you save money because there are no taxes taken out. Would it be helpful to know what expenses qualify to use an HSA? What if you need to go to a minute clinic or urgent care center, do you think you would save if you used your HSA?

        • Chuck Doan says:

          From what I understand, keep all of the receipts for the expenses you have paid out of pocket. When you reach 65 and want to withdraw from HSA, you can deduct from all of the expenses you have paid through out those years tax free. The law does not specify you have to deduct your expenses at the end of every year.

      • Linus says:

        Just make sure you keep detailed receipts of your expenses so that you have you can compute your cost basis when you eventually withdraw when you are eligible (at retirement).

        I keep it simple and pay through my HSA, so, when I withdraw, I know that all of the amount is taxable.

    • Jim M. says:

      I disagree. If you can afford to pay your out-of-pocket medical expenses out of current cashflow, and/or if you have contributed to a HSA for a long enough time to have some money accumulated year-over-year, then being able to invest that money can (I believe “should”) be another element of your retirement plan. Look up the projections for how much money people are expected to need for out-of-pocket medical expenses in their retirement years — those costs can be staggering. When you consider that a HSA is the only one of the vehicles you mentioned that can be tax free going in, grow tax free, and come out tax free (when used properly), then it’s one of the most powerful retirement savings vehicles we have.

  • Ann says:

    What you fail to mention here is that by choosing an alternative HSA administrator, there is a tax hit because we won’t get the Medicare (1.45%) and SS (6.2%) tax savings. For someone like me, maxing out family at age 55 and older ($7550), than means by choosing an alternative administrator I miss out on $578 in tax savings.

  • Jason says:

    Another one that might be worth adding to the list is BMO Harris:

    While there’s no investment option, there’s also no monthly maintenance fee. It’s where I parked my HSA funds after switching employers a couple years ago. I couldn’t add money to it under the new employer’s health plan, and didn’t want to be losing money to fees in the meantime. They do charge $25 to transfer out.

  • Kathleen says:

    Consider Vanguard. They do have a $45 yearly fee, but you can invest your HSA funds in 22 Vanguard funds, all with very low expense ratios and excellent returns. You choose the level of risk to assume with the funds.

  • Kathleen says:

    Oops! That was one of the options on the chart…

  • David says:

    I am the VP of Marketing and Sales for one of the countries top HSA administrators and I believe we have one of the best all around HSA. It consists of no set up fees, no transactional bank fees, pay your provider feaures, ACH features, highest interest rates of return and investment options. I would be interested in learning more about your organization.

  • Evan says:

    Thanks for putting this guide together! I’ll have to do a little calling tomorrow to make sure some of this info is still up to date before opening an account – very happy to be leaving a $3.95 / month administrator for ones that’ll give me a free investment account with a few thousand invested.

    Two notes about Health Equity:
    * Their fee link is now:
    * The funds available seem rather high cost. I did some digging and found these operating expenses in the funds they had available… I’m definitely doing the math and research to see if it’d be worth paying the yearly fee to use Health Savings Administrators & their Vanguard funds.

    Large Cap
    FDSAX – 1.13%
    IEDAX – 1.17%
    LCEIX – 0.88%
    SMGIX – 0.89%
    WCEYX – 0.84%

    Mid Cap
    FEFAX – 1.42%
    NICSX – 0.73%
    PEMGX – 1.02%
    RYBHX – 1.52%

    Small Cap
    JGMRX – 1.43%
    SASMX – 1.24%

    ARTKX – 1.18%
    LISOX – 1.1%
    MINGX – 1.07%
    OIDNX – 1.54%
    OIGAX – 1.15%

  • Ruthie says:

    I thought I understood the ins and outs of the HSAs, but now I am puzzled by a couple of issues. One is that I’m reading that self-employed (my husband and I are each sole proprietors of our respective businesses) folks cannot have a pre-tax account??? Is this true? The other is that, in trying to answer this question, I came across this tip in IRS Pub 969 “TIP: Each spouse who is an eligible individual who wants an HSA must open a separate HSA. You cannot have a joint HSA.” What?? We have a family high deductible plan and so I opened a family HSA at HSA Bank. Do I need to change this? With respect to the first question, our HSA account is not “Pre-Tax Contributions” but is rather being called “Individual Contributions.” Can you shed light on these points of confusion?

    • Susan says:

      If you have a family high deductible plan, then you must have a joint HSA. If you each have individual plans, then you must each have your own HSA. They have to match. However, regardless of how you’ve set it up, you may pay for expenses for anyone in your family that is claimed on your tax return with the same HSA. My husband and I each have individual HSA’s because we have individual health insurance. However, we choose to pay all the medical expenses out of one of the HSA’s and let the other one continue to build up the balance so it gets a higher interest rate. That is acceptable.

      • JeffM says:

        Susan, I am curious how you know individual HSA accounts must be matched with individual health plans? It makes sense to me a married couple must have individual HSA accounts for the tax benefit and the catch up option but I don’t understand why those two accounts couldn’t be linked to a family health plan.

  • Harrison Chilton says:

    It’s great to see people spending so much time and thought around HSA decisions. I’m working among a team of grad students at Stanford on trying to improve the healthcare experience specifically around high deductible plans and HSAs. We’re trying to talk to consumers and would love if we could get 15 minutes of your time!

    If you might be able to help please email me at and we can set up a time to talk.


  • Brett says:

    With HSA Bank, beware that they recently changed the way they do distributions. While they have always had a $500/day withdrawal limit (yet no limit on how much you can put in per day, hmm), their previous web site made it tolerable to set up withdrawal of greater amounts over a series of days. The new web site design makes this an exercise in frustration.

    So another thing to consider with HSA administrators is how easy it is to get the money out. Since we’re on high-deductible/no copay, we don’t know the bill until we receive it in the mail, so can’t use the debit card. I just stack up our medical expenses every quarter or so and withdraw the composite amount then.

    • Maureen says:

      Hi Brett,
      I wasn’t aware of a $500/day withdrawal limit. So in stacking up your expenses in order to withdraw the composite amount, have you not had more than $500 stacked up? And you didn’t mention how you go about drawing the money out quarterly? I’m thinking about getting checks on that account to just write myself a reimbursement check periodically but can those be written for over $500. You are absolutely right….getting the money out is definitely a major concern. I had assumed in the event of a hospital stay that I could pay for entire stay with my debit card, of course, only if the amount was in line with what amount was currently in my HSA. Not so? Thanks

  • Maureen says:

    Great discussions, very helpful. I’ve recently gone through the process of setting up an individual HSA through HSA Bank. It’s been very time consuming getting questions answered as they are swamped..wait times minimum 45 minutes and then getting cut off and realizing more questions after making contact and hanging up. For me it’s all about the pre tax dollars for medical expenses having $5500 deductible basically in the event of chronic or catastrophic illness. I don’t want to get involved in yet more fees to then invest HSA funds, I have an investment adviser handling that. My concern in taking the leap of now depositing into the HSA is will I find I’m really not saving all that much, rather, just spending on fees. Can anyone tell me the best way to remove funds without any fee consequences. I was told to use my debit card (as credit only, not using it as debit with pin) to avoid fees. If I write check from a checks I order for the HSA account that costs me $7.95 for 50 checks, will they charge to administer the check? I was also told to just go to my bank with the debit card and reimburse myself by getting a cash advance with the debit card….fees from my bank? Ugh! and the maintenance of record keeping until I turn 65…I’m 59.

    So has anyone used the Lake Michigan HSA to shed light on their fees and customer service…and am I able to utilize them as I live in AZ? I haven’t actually funded the HSA yet, process is still ongoing as they want documentation to prove identity, so finding this forum right now could change my choice.

  • Rachel in WA says:

    To put in the maximum per family, do my spouse and I each need to have our own HSA, or can we put the full family maximum in his account? I’d rather avoid an extra $45 annual fee for Health Savings Administrators if we can do it all in his name.

    • Stephanie says:

      To put in the maximum family amount, you do not need two HSAs.
      You can do so with one. Based on my research, spouses who are covered under a family plan will open up two separate accounts to take advantage of the 55 years and over catch up contributon.

      Save yourself the money if you can! 🙂

  • Dave says:

    I would be suspicious of SelectAccount:

    * Not a single review on the internet by a real user
    *, which at first glance appears to be an unbiased source of HSA information, is run by Devenir, an investment partner of SelectAccount. No wonder SelectAccount is at the top of their lists.

    • Alex Krasny says:

      Devenir is an investment firm that manages the HSA dollars of many administrators on the HSAsearch list. SelectAccount is certainly not the only partner. For example HSABank and Optum both partner Devenir and are also both listed HSASearch.

      “Mutual fund investment options are made available through the services of an independent investment advisor and shares are offered through Devenir, LLC, a registered broker-dealer.” -Optum

      “Open a DEVENIR Mutual Fund Investment Account
      Log in to your account to enroll. A monthly investment fee may apply (Please refer to your Health Savings Account Fee and Interest Schedule).” -HSABank

      I didn’t check them all, but I think it is likely many of them are Devenir partners.

  • Dave says:

    One more thing about SelectAccount – If you go with the $10k investment route, you have to sign up with Devenir.

    Now there’s 3 entities involved:

    * Devenir
    * SelectAccount
    * Schwab

    What a mess. Anyone try getting their money back?

  • joss says:

    I need to sign up for an HSA in the next two weeks. Does anyone know anything about UMB Healthcare services or The HSA Authority? I would appreciate any feedback.

  • David says:

    I joined an HSA in 2014 for the first time. I could have used this blog to make it easier back then. But after my research, I chose Select Account and have been very happy. Even though the max monthly fee of $48 a yr is more than I want to pay, it gave me all the features I wanted; an intuitive and easy to use website, easy to deposit, easy to use debit card features, easy to track activity, easy to invest at $1000 balance level. One amazing feature I was thankful for is the “Document Vault”. I can upload any medical bills for future reference, put in folders by year if needed and match to expenses paid out with the click of a mouse. So I never worry about future IRS inquires for any reason. I have had no customer service problems. Fees are higher, but so are interest rates received and service.


  • Tim says:

    Anyone using Health Savings Administrators and going the Vanguard Index fund route?? How is that working out? seem like the best option?

    • John says:

      Works great. Effective 9/1/15 they are lowering investment fee access to basically 0.25% per year. Most of the funds are Admiral shares so say 0.10%. You pay $45 per year to have a basic HSA account, but they pay 0.30% interest if you have $10,000, so net fee expense comes to 0.45% – 0.30% = 0.15% if you just use basic account.

      If you invest then for $10,000 you have 0.45% base + 0.25% investment access + say 0.10% for vanguard Admiral = 0.80% total expense ratio. That is good.

      If can do for long term medical investing, a possible 5% or 6% return – 0.80% = 4.2% to 5.2% is better than the net 0.15% using base HSA account only.

      I have maxed out my HSA contributions for 4 years now and paid all medical expenses for 3 of the years from profit since my returns were so good. If market corrects or feels bad then will have to wait several years until returns feel good to take out more. Else just wait until 60.

      Don’t wait. It is better to build up your dollars first then worry later about the lowest cost, even if in a bank account. If do contributions pre-payroll then with $10,000 you would not have paid FICA payroll tax = to $765 (7.65% that you pay). $765 savings seems way better than $45.

      • Mike B says:

        Hey John,
        That’s smart advice. Are you using your HSA just as a tax sheltered investment tool, or do you plan to spend it on healthcare payments? Is there any advantage to using your HSA funds on incremental medical expenses instead of just paying out of pocket? Would I not want to let my HSA account drop below a certain amount because then I could not gain interest on investments? I think the HSA can be a real asset for people to help control healthcare costs, but just don’t know the best way to use it yet.

        • John says:

          Our intent for our HSA is to save for out of pocket medical expenses when we reach age 65 – such as health insurance premiums above Medicare part D. Since our investments had done so well earlier this year, we decided to take some of the profit to pay for our recent medical expenses over the last few years we have had the HSA.

          If you keep cash in your bank account for emergencies and to also cover most health care expenses, then I would use the HSA as a medical investment tool for the future. The annual Fidelity survey says a couple will need about $200,000 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses on retirement – about 1/2 over the retirement and 1/2 at the last year.

          If you need the HSA to be your bank account for health care expenses, then I would use the HSA as a medical bank account.

          Either way if you do the HSA pre-payroll, then the federal government pays for 7.65% of your investment by not making you pay FICA. Plus your employer get a 7.65% savings by not having to pay their 7.65% for your FICA.

          Good luck.

  • Jim says:

    Anyone try Macatawa bank?
    This looks like the best option to me. No fees and Vanguard investment options without weird restrictions. Why isn’t it more popular? Am I missing something?

    • John says:

      I called them after your post. They say there is a 0.50% fee for the Vanguard funds. I believe he mentioned Retail Investor fees for the investment. He wanted to mail me the information to tell me more. If there are no other fees and the service was acceptable then this is good: 0.50% for access + say 0.20% for investment = 0.70%. For $10,000 invested that is only $70.

    • Johnr says:

      I think Macatawa Bank has the best HSA for investing on this web site if you believe in index fund investing.

      I just received their information in the mail after calling them last week. They offer 12 Vanguard mutual funds – most of which are lower cost Admiral funds. The average cost for their investment lineup is about 0.10%. So when you add their 0.50% fee, the total cost is 0.60%. This is lower than anybody I have seen. The only catch is you must keep at least $2500 in a bank account before you can sweep money over to the investment account. So there is a lost opportunity cost of keeping cash in the bank if you wanted all you money fully invested.

      I compared them to Health Savings Administrators, who I currently use, and the math is to the advantage of Macatawa Bank if your total balance is about $18,000 or less and you kept $2500 with the bank account of Health Savings Administrators. Effective 9/1/2015 Health Savings Administrators will only charge 0.25% for their fee to recordkeep investments, and they offer 22 Vanguard mutual funds, also mostly Admiral funds – plus their HSA bank account earns 0.15% for $2500 balance. But the $45 annual fee is what makes it less attractive at smaller account balances compared to Macatawa Bank.

      If you live in Michigan I would definitely switch over. I am not sure how their debit card would work elsewhere in the U.S. – I don’t think it would matter, but did not ask.

      • John says:

        After getting their information in the mail I called Macatawa to confirm fees and information I had knew of. It was all as I understand.

        Bottom line: for index investors I am fairly certain this is the best HSA account for getting started. After about $15,000 you could do other options but you have to get there first.

        Also while you are building up your account value, the debit card works across the U.S. so I would see no reason not to use it.

        If you are a serious index investor, then costs to have your account matter and cost of the investment itself matter. At 0.50% investment fee for Macatawa you only pay $50 per year per $10,000 invested. For that $10,000 if you use their low cost Vanguard funds (which is all they offer) you might pay only $10 that year – that is only $60 per year. If you pay $5.99 per trade and invest once a month that is $72 per year, then if you invest in a high cost fund then you might pay 0.50% or more which is another $50, so $122 per year or more.

        The idea with index funds, is that you can almost get what the market gives you IF you keep your total costs very low. Good luck!

        • G.E. Miller says:

          I’d stay away from Macatawa. Paying 0.5% fees just to invest with them is extremely high. Others highlighted charge a low flat rate. Also, Macatawa doesn’t disclose this fee on their website, which is a big red flag to me.

          • John says:

            I disagree. For many HSA participants that might invest each payroll period Macatawa is a great account for less than about $15,000. For example $7500 in your account with $2500 in the Cash account at no cost and $5000 in the investment costs you $25 for the year. Then the Vanguard fee might cost you $10.

            You must find the total cost to you to find out if it works for you.

            The fact that they don’t disclose the 0.50% is why I called and talked to them twice and read through all the disclosures they mailed. I suspect their local Michigan market may be enough for them. They were very upfront about the fee

            0.50% is small when your total HSA investment is not too large. The average HSA account with investments is about $12,000. This fits in well.

            Health Savings Administrators and HSA Bank don’t win at these lower amounts. I know because in a few months I will have had both. HSA Bank works for me because I have much more than $15,000 with them that the math doesn’t work for me.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      I’d stay away from Macatawa. Paying 0.5% fees just to invest with them is extremely high. Others highlighted charge a low flat rate. Also, Macatawa doesn’t disclose this fee on their website, which is a big red flag to me.

  • Victoria says:

    Looking for a no-fee HSA account. I don’t want any hidden fees. I like the option of mutual funds. Just wouldnt be an option for me right now because this is my first time enrolling in an HSA plan.
    Any feedback would be appreciated!


  • joss says:

    i’ve been doing research also. I haven’t checked into Macatawa bank yet but the one I am leaning towards is Bancorp because the 1st three months are free which will enable me to deposit more money before I get charged a fee. Also, you only have to keep $1000 in the HSA bank account if you have $2500 in the HSA Investment account.

    You can avoid monthly HSA bank charges if you have $1500 in the account with monthly electronic deposits.

    Bancorp pays a decent tiered interest on the HSA bank account.

    They charge $5.99 per investment trade fee with hundreds of low cost investment options. They also have other investment options if you dont like one of the $5.99 trade options. (I think the charge is $24.99 per trade for other options)

    My retirement is with Fidelity so Im familiar and thrilled that Bancorp offers many $5.99 investment options with Fidelity.

    There is a $20 fee to close the account but that seems like a standard fee.

    No other fees charged if you receive statements online (charge for paper statements.)

    • mark gibson says:

      love this web page! learned a lot
      im between macatawa and health savings admin
      thought i was gonna go macatawa with their lower fees than admin.
      however macatawa requires $2000 be in checking account.
      i dont think admin has that minimum (not sure what happens on admin if you overdraw on checking?)
      Then it comes down to how much you are going to keep in the checking account.
      Say you keep $1000 on average and say the market conservatively averages 6%.
      2000 – 1000 = 1000.
      1000 * 6% = $60 which more than makes up for the $45 fee.
      So I think im leaning admin now.

  • Karen Hufman says:

    Thank you very much for your article. I’ve been procrastinating for past 7 months on opening HSA account because I didn’t know where to go. I made selection based off of your article/chart. Thanks for making it easy!

  • Loser says:

    I’m surprised you don’t have Bank of America listed. I’ve been using BofA as my HSA provider for some time and have had a great experience. They also have one of the best HSA investment lineups out there.

    • Barb says:

      I have had a terrible experience with Bank of America. I opened my account and transferred $4350 into account on 4/11. On 4/23 I called to complain that the funds were still not available to me. I was told they would be available in 48hr. On 4/25 called again,
      this time spoke to supervisor who said funds would be available in 48 hr and I would receive a call later that day. Did not receive call. Funds still not available. This is my money and I’m furious that I can’t use it. Have been waiting to pick up rX. At this point
      I want to change administrators. Went with B of A because we have checking and brokerage accounts with them and thought it would be smooth. B of A HSA knows nothing about B of A checking. They don’t even know the routing #.

  • Mark Hersey says:

    Health Equities list of 41 funds link has an extra “h” which needs to be removed by the author, or anyone who follows the link until the author changes it.

  • JDub says:

    HSA Bank’s web banking is terrible…Period! My company moved from Chase HSA (apparently they are getting out of the business all together), to HSA Bank and it’s horrible. There website navigation is clunky and to me outdated. Some features are there, but they are hard to find and overall not user friendly in the least. There is no payee management, and just to make a one time payment, say 10 days down the road, you have to setup a “fake” schedule instead of just putting in a date to make the payment.

  • JeffM says:

    Thank you for this blog as it has been very helpful while I sort out my options. It seems to me the Saturna HSA is the lowest cost option with investment options but there is little discussion here about it.
    Does anyone use them? Am I missing something?

    • Kevin says:

      I think Saturna is a great option. Their website actually does them a disservice because it obscures the fact that they offer a lot of fee-free mutual funds in addition to their own funds (by fee-free, I mean account maintenance and trading commissions; I’m not talking about mutual fund management fees). Here’s the deal: If you put your money in a Staturna mutual fund, there are no fees period on anything. If you put your money into their Pershing brokerage account, you can select from a pretty long list of funds that are still fee-free (except there’s an inactivity fee if there are no trades in 12 months). If you want to go beyond that list, then there are no account fees but there’s a $14.95 trade commission for most funds and $25.95 commission for certain other funds. So, from what I can tell, it’s really the best account available for someone who wants to treat an HSA like an IRA.

  • Anony says:

    I’ve been using Saturna for a couple years now. Their mutual fund fees are relatively high compared to Vanguard, but they are straight forward and easy to use and they don’t screw up. I’ve worked with HSA Bank and HSA Administrators, and I’ve had numerous problems with both and their website.

    Simplicity is the key for me and that’s why I chose Saturna.

  • Melissa says:

    Love your blog G.E.! Does anyone have any information or advice on an individual contributing to an HSA that is not tied to an employer? My employer does not offer benefits or a sponsored HSA. I opened one up an HSA this year, but am unsure if I can still contribute to this tax-free (via payroll deduction) if the plan is not “employer sponsored.” I know that I can contribute from my checking / savings account, but I feel that this defeats the purpose. Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated!

    • G.E. Miller says:

      That’s a good questions, Melissa. I believe the answer is ‘no’, but I’ll look into further and see if there are any workarounds.

    • Jim M. says:


      If it is not employer-sponsored, then you cannot contribute directly from your paycheck. You still receive the tax benefits, you just have to fund your account with the after-tax dollars you bring home, then wait until tax filing time to benefit from the tax savings. To make it simple, HSA contributions are a “top line” reduction of your taxable income, so if you gross $50,000/year and put $3,000 into your HSA, you have reduced your taxable income to $47,000.

      • Jim M. says:

        Melissa — sorry, I forgot to add one thing. What you could do, knowing that your taxable income is going to be reduced by whatever amount you contribute to your HSA, is file a revised W-4 with your employer. Add a couple of deductions so you reduce your taxes. That gets you some relief in your take home pay, and keeps you from having to wait to get the HSA tax benefit once per year.

        • Melissa says:

          Thanks both G.E. (from a fellow Michigander) and Jim – appreciate the help! I know I was in an odd situation trying to navigate this on my own. Although slightly sad about not having the pre-tax advantage, I will look at this as similar to a Roth….Thanks again for the help! I learn so much from this blog and intelligent commenters as well!

          • Jim M. says:


            You are welcome. I do want to respond to your comment about “…look at this as similar to a Roth…” Just to be clear, in your situation you will be putting “after tax” dollars into the HSA, BUT you can “turn that into pre-tax dollars” at tax filing time. Big difference from the Roth IRA.

  • John says:

    HSA Bank is awful – although I maintain a balance in excess of the waiver balance amount with them, they continue to charge me with both the monthly maintenance fee and the monthly investment fee. Their reasoning is because that is how the account was established with a former employer’s insurance carrier; the insurance carrier hasn’t been in the picture for over four years and this account has changed custodian twice since then. I’ve been reviewing and talking with Wells Fargo and they seem to be superior. Just from a customer service perspective, and the ability and ease to speak with a customer service rep.; they have been a pleasant surprise after dealing with HSA Bank. You should footnote that depending upon the insurance carrier, HSA Bank does not waive the monthly account maintenance fee, even if the account balance meets the minimum. In addition to the monthly account maintenance fee, HSA Bank also charges a $3.00 monthly investment fee, which depending upon the insurance carrier, may also not be waived even if the account balance meets and or exceeds the waiver balance amount.

  • Alicia Rodriguez says:

    Unless the law has changed, another thing a lot of people do not know regarding HSAs is that the funds can be used for medical purposes for anyone who Is claimed as a dependent on their tax return regardless whether that person has an HSA compatible health insurance policy. My son, when he was in college, had his own health insurance through his college and I had an HSA compatible health insurance policy through my employer and he was not a dependent on my policy. In his junior year he was diagnosed with a serious illness and his coverage was good but did not cover all his medical expenses, especially those he needed to travel to see his doctors (college on east coast, doctors on west). So I was able to order a debit card for him and he used my HSA savings funds to purchase all his travel and other expenses his insurance did not cover. We were able to do this because I still claimed him on my tax returns.

  • Alex says:

    I can confirm that if your HSA “rolled over” from Chase to HSA Bank you will be paying the $5.50/month ($2.50 Monthly Account Maintenance + $3.00 Monthly Investment) fee regardless of whether you meet their $5,000 Balance Waiver Amount and regardless of how much money you have in their Investment account. I had almost $10K in the Chase Devenir Investment account, and when it got to HSA Bank I sold it all with the idea that I would move it to TD Ameritrade and invest in no-fee Vanguar ETFs. So, I’ve now got $9K+ in my HSA Bank account and $0.00 in my Devenir account, but they’re still hitting me with $5.50/month in fees. Looking for a better alternative now ….

  • jonathan finegold says:

    I have researched. Look like Wells Fargo is the way to go as long as you put in 5K. So I am going to open and out in my 3350 before April 18 2016 and then again another 3350 after that date attributed to 2016. Then no set up or monthly fees.


      Hands down, the best is Saturna Capital.

      They do NOT have a minimum cash level. They do NOT charge account fees. You CAN trade vanguard ETFs.

      The trading fee is a little high ($15) and they charge for DRIP (which is a bit dodgey).

      But, find me another HSA choice that lets you be fully invested in the market for about $20 a year.

  • MIchael Kushma says:

    I would like to steer everyone away from Health Savings Administrators. Not only are their fees ridiculous but they make you fill out a from and mail it in to close your account. Talk about a bunch of scammers.


  • seekay says:

    If I am a small business and would like to establish an HSA (only three employees), do I have any other option than using an administrator or trustee to manage the HSA? It cannot be managed in house, correct?

    • Stephanie says:

      You do have to establish the account with an administrator to ensure each HSA owner will receive the proper tax forms. If you are looking for a No Fee account, try Inland Bank.

  • JOE says:

    We received notice today that our HSA administrator, WELLS FARGO, is getting out of the HSA business completely, selling ALL HSA accounts to United Healthcare.

    We have enjoyed having no fees for years, because the accounts were linked to our other Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts, and to our self directed Roth and traditional IRA brokerage accounts.

    Now Wells Fargo is forcing the liquidation of all investment funds within our HSA’s, then transferring the accounts in cash form to United Healthcare and its parent bank. This will come with mandatory monthly fees and the loss of our current choices of investment funds.


  • Jan says:

    Hey G.E. Miller, Thanks for this article. I studied it for several months. I chose Wells Fargo and went over there today to open an account. They’re not offering HSAs any more (they farmed it out to some company named Optum).

    So now I am not seeing any equity investment HSA’s which don’t charge fees…. plus I would like to have one that has a brick and mortar building in my town. Just in case, the grid goes down sometime, I want a place to go to get my money.

    Will you be updating this list again any time soon?


    • G.E. Miller says:

      I have dropped Wells Fargo and added Optum – thanks for the heads up. I will try to update the others shortly.

      • Jan says:

        Thanks G.E.

        Optum seems to have a lot of fees and looks like they’ll nickle and dime us out of any profits we might make from investing. Is that your take on it?

        I studied all the HSAs I could find…. looking for a brick and mortar institution in Boulder CO (I would prefer credit unions that belong to the credit union customer service network over a profit-making bank….)… but I couldn’t find anything anywhere that gives me local access to my money AND looks like I would actually be ahead after all the fees.

        I’ll be interested in reading what you learn! Thanks again for the discussion!


        • Jan says:

          Oh, I looked over Optum again. Looks like their fees are reasonable. However, they are located in Utah. If the grid ever goes down……

          It’s amazing to me that I can’t find a local institution that has an equity HSA.

          • Rocko says:

            First Tech Federal Credit Union has a no-fee HSA. It’s a simple interest-bearing savings account, now paying 1%, even on low balances. Credit Unions are required to limit their Field of Membership: . If you want to join, you will find a way to put yourself in the field of membership. I don’t see HSA information online, but there are branches north or south of Boulder in Loveland and Englewood.

  • RobertB says:

    Do not use Bank Of America HSA. I signed up, funded my account and I have yet to get my first claim paid. All I get is excuses, run-around and transfers. I’ve created about 20 help tickets. I get no help. I only have one claim for the dentist bill I paid. I have wasted hours and hours online and on the phone. I’m going to open an HSA with someone else and try to roll over my account to the new HSA. I’m sure I’ll get stone walled trying to do this. Isn’t there any agency that I can call or write to get help?


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