What Is the Difference Between a Roth IRA and a Savings Account?

What Is the Difference Between a Roth IRA and a Savings Account?

It’s more than just another way to save money.

You can use savings accounts and Roth IRAs as money-saving tools. A Roth individual retirement account (IRA) is a tax-advantaged account that can be used to help you save for retirement, while a savings account is used to hold cash deposits for short-term and emergency needs.

What Distinguishes a Roth IRA from a Savings Account?

 Roth IRA 

Savings Account


Saving money for retirement

To save money for urgent needs, such as a new car or vacation, as well as short-term goals

Contribution limits

Must adhere to annual contribution caps

There are no restrictions besides the $250,000 federal insurance cap.

Investment options

It can be used to invest in stocks, bonds, properties, or other options.

It cannot be invested; cash is always available.


Higher initial returns, greater volatility, and no insurance

Low returns despite the federally guaranteed principal


Contributions must be made with already-taxed money, but withdrawals are tax-free.

All interest earned must be taxed.


An individual retirement account, or Roth IRA, is used to use investments to grow your nest egg in the future. You can withdraw any amount you’ve put into a Roth IRA, but if you don’t follow certain rules, you might be subject to taxes and penalties.

Your rainy-day funds can be kept in an easily accessible savings account, and deposits are federally insured at the majority of banks and credit unions. A down payment on a home, new furniture, or a home improvement project are a few examples of short-term financial objectives that can be saved.

Note: If your employer offers them, you can open a Roth IRA through them or independently at a brokerage house, bank, or investment company that is located in person or online. Credit unions, banks, and online lenders all offer savings accounts.

Maximum Contributions

For Roth IRA contributions, the IRS establishes a cap each year. For instance, you may contribute up to $6,000 for the tax year 2022, or $7,000 if you are 50 years old or older and getting close to retirement. There are also contribution limits (MAGI) depending on your modified adjusted gross income. This could result from a smaller contribution or being denied the opportunity to contribute.

Contrarily, most savings accounts do not have contribution caps, so you are free to make any amount of contributions. Deposit insurance of up to $250,000 is provided to every account holder at banks and credit unions that are federally insured. You’ll be able to get your savings back if the bank fails. The amount is not insured, though, if you saved more than $250,000 at one bank.

Options for Investment

You can invest money from Roth IRAs in various things, making them flexible. You can select mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds, and more (ETFs). Savings accounts do not offer the option of investing any deposits made, but they offer interest payments that can rise over time. It should be noted that while savings accounts might appear to be risk-free, they do carry risks because inflation over time may reduce the purchasing power of each dollar saved.


Every investment is subject to risk and volatility, and the risks and returns of various investments can vary greatly. A Roth IRA that holds more bonds, as opposed to all stocks, might be less risky, as an illustration. However, Roth IRAs are designed with retirement in mind, so even if you choose riskier investments, the passage of time may give you a better chance of seeing higher returns over decades.

Although savings account interest rates vary, in exchange for the relative safety of your funds, you should anticipate low returns over the long term compared to many other investments. Compare high-yield savings accounts if you want to increase your earnings with a savings account.


Your after-tax money must be used to make contributions to a Roth IRA. In retirement, you are allowed to withdraw money tax-free, but if you do so for any reason other than those allowed by law, you could be subject to taxes or penalties. You must pay taxes on the interest you earn on your savings account of $10 or more and include it in your yearly tax return.

Profit from a Roth IRA and a Savings Account

Roth IRAs and savings accounts are both effective but distinct financial products. Consider both because a Roth IRA is an excellent option for retirement savings, and a federally insured savings account is ideal for short-term goals and emergencies.

Even if you’re in college, in your 20s or 30s, or otherwise have no income, you can still contribute to a Roth IRA. Even if you’re young and retirement seems a long way off, opening a Roth IRA can help you capitalize on the power of compound interest and accumulate a sizable nest egg. Meanwhile, your savings account can ensure that a surprise or emergency does not jeopardize your current financial stability.

The Bottom Line

You can contribute to a Roth IRA with after-tax money, withdraw funds tax-free whenever you want, and receive qualified distributions under certain conditions. Cash can be kept in a savings account to be used for short-term financial objectives or unexpected expenses. Your chances of financial success, both now and in the future, are increased by combining a Roth IRA with a savings account.

Most Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs)

Would a savings account or a Roth IRA be preferable?

Since a savings account is a federally insured account (up to $250,000) for emergencies and short-term financial goals, as opposed to a Roth IRA, which is intended for retirement savings, neither is superior to the other. Despite their differences, a Roth IRA and savings account both have advantages for you.

Should I use a Roth IRA for savings?

Due to the potential for investment volatility over time, it is a good idea to use a Roth IRA as a retirement savings account. Even losing your contribution would be possible. But you’d be better off with conventional savings account if you need no-loss money for an emergency car repair, a trip, or any other related short-term expense.

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