The Very Best Money & Health Tools in 2024, According to CNET Editors – CNET

These products and services are the best of the best. 

To bring you the below list of tools that can improve your money and health this year, CNET editors plumbed the results of hundreds of hands-on tests and evaluations. The resulting picks are Editors’ Choice awards: a distinction representing the strongest possible recommendation by our staff experts. 

For this edition of Editors’ Choice, we focused on finances, fitness and overall wellness just in time for the final sprint of tax season, National Sleep Awareness Month and the approach of summer. 

We selected the products and services that came out on top when our expert editors rated or tested them. Among the categories we’ve selected here are credit cards, tax software, mattresses, meal delivery services, bed sheets and more. To make this list, a product or service must have been personally evaluated by a CNET editor with expertise in that category and rated as a top pick when compared to its competition.

Because money and health are so personal, we also consult industry experts to learn about what makes a great product the best, but the final Editors’ Choice designations are made exclusively by CNET editors who draw upon years of expertise and hands-on evaluations. 

— Adam Auriemma, CNET Editor-in-Chief


Table of Contents


Win tax season

Ready or not, this year’s tax filing deadline is almost here. Filing online and opting for direct deposit is the best way to get your refund sooner, and it may help you avoid painful tax mistakes. “The primary advantage to filing taxes electronically is the ability to minimize data entry errors in the tax authorities’ systems,” said Andrew Griffith, CPA, CNET expert review board member and associate professor of accounting at Iona University. 

CNET’s tax editors tested the top online tax filing software to find the most user-friendly and helpful options available. We recommend the IRS’s Free File or Direct File options if you’re eligible. For everyone else, these two tax software options make filing easiest.  

Who is it best for?
Anyone looking for TurboTax-like software at a cheaper price, and those who do not qualify for TurboTax Free Edition.

Our favorite thing
H&R Block has made it even easier to switch from TurboTax this year. You can import your TurboTax data by typing in the phone number associated with your Intuit account.

Why we love it
H&R Block doesn’t hold your hand through the tax filing process the same way TurboTax does, but it offers lower pricing compared to the industry leader. Where H&R Block shines most is with its Free Online tier. 

Its Free Online edition is available to students and adults with simple returns and allows a wider range of credits and tax forms than TurboTax. The free plan includes a variety of income forms and tax credits, including unemployment compensation. You can also claim expenses like education costs. I used H&R Block to file my taxes this year for these reasons. 

H&R Block’s online platform is easy to use, even without assistance from a Live Tax Pro or its new AI Tax Assist chatbot. Help screens are easily accessible too. They pop up on a side panel on the right-hand side of the screen. If you leave the help screen open, it auto-generates answers to questions you might have as you go through the tax filing process.

Like TurboTax, the FTC recently filed a complaint against H&R Block for upselling those eligible to file for free to a paid tier. Make sure you qualify for the filing tier you’re interested in before filing, since downgrading can be a pain with this tax software.

— Danni Santana, CNET Money editor

Read CNET’s H&R Block review.


Bank smarter

Savings interest rates have been at record highs since late 2022, so there’s never been a better time to make the most of your savings. While it’s hard to go wrong with a no-fee interest-earning bank account at an FDIC-insured bank, we do have some favorites.

Each of our editors’ favorite bank accounts can help you earn a competitive return on your money and offer other competitive benefits and tools to help you make the most of your money.

Experts consistently say not to worry about getting the absolute highest rate on a savings account, but to keep the big picture in mind. “Pick a bank that cares about you as a customer and that you feel confident will do right by you when you need financial solutions most,” said Bernadette Joy, personal finance coach and CNET expert review board member.

Who is it best for?
Anyone who wants to earn interest on their checking account balance without paying hefty fees.

Our favorite thing
You get the competitive interest rate of an online bank without sacrificing branch access. 

Why we love it
Don’t be fooled by its name: the Schwab Bank Investor Checking account isn’t just for investors. It’s a great everyday checking account that has no monthly fees, no balance requirements, earns interest and comes with unlimited out-of-network ATM fee reimbursements and overdraft protection. It’s FDIC-insured to protect your money and linked to a brokerage account if you’re interested in investing, too. 

And customers love it. Schwab is a five-time J.D. Power award winner, awarded highest for its customer satisfaction. I like that you can easily bank online, via app or visit one of its branches for in-person assistance. Its 24/7 customer service availability is a bonus. 

— Dashia Milden, CNET Money editor

Read CNET’s Schwab High-Yield Investor Checking account review.

BMO Alto

Who is it best for?
Savers who want competitive rates across common CD terms — especially if you want to open a CD that doesn’t have a minimum deposit requirement.

Our favorite thing
Unlike other high-APY CD providers, BMO Alto has no minimum deposit requirement, making its CDs accessible to more savers.

Why we love it
BMO Alto, the online-only division of BMO, consistently ranks high on our list of top CD issuers across multiple terms. It offers a range of common CD terms to choose from — six months, one year, two years, three years, four years and five years — making it easy to find a term that fits your savings timeline.

What sets BMO Alto’s CD offerings apart from other high-yielding CDs is the lack of any minimum deposit requirement. You may earn slightly more on some terms with other banks, but you’ll need to deposit as much as $1,500 even to open one with some other banks. BMO Alto’s CDs are accessible to all savers and offer surprisingly high rates for accounts with no barrier to entry.

As an online-only bank, BMO Alto doesn’t have physical locations, and it also doesn’t offer an app. For a “set it and forget it” product like CDs — where not touching your money is the key to high earnings — this isn’t a significant drawback. It could even be a perk if you’re worried you’ll be tempted to dip into your funds early.

— Kelly Ernst, CNET Money banking editor

Read CNET’s BMO Alto review.

Who is it best for?
The Wells Fargo Active Cash is great for anyone looking for uncomplicated rewards. 

Our favorite thing
This jack-of-all-trades credit card does it all: earns competitive rewards, has an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, comes with an intro APR for balance transfers and purchases, and has additional card benefits.

Why we love it
The Active Cash’s main appeal is its simplicity. Its 2% cash rewards structure is among the highest for a flat-rate credit card. While some credit cards require high spending to earn a welcome bonus, the Active Cash card will be easy for most people to obtain through regular spending. It also does more than earn rewards. It has an introductory purchase and balance transfer APR that can help you finance a large purchase or transfer high-interest credit card debt.

I’m also a big fan of its supplemental features. I recently took advantage of its roadside assistance when I broke down on the coldest day of the year. It saved me money and the trouble of having to change my tire in the middle of a winter storm.

–Evan Zimmer, CNET Money credit card editor

Read CNET’s Wells Fargo Active Cash review.

Who is it best for?
People who travel even a handful of times per year.

Our favorite thing
Its rewards program is one of the best of any card, offering higher value redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards and a 1:1 transfer rate to Chase’s travel partners.

Why we love it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an easy choice for frequent travelers. The rewards are decent for a card at its fee level, but its redemption options are where this card shines. You get a 25% redemption bonus when you use points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and I’m a big fan of its 1:1 point transfer rate to Chase’s travel partners.

Outside of that, it’s an affordable card with useful perks including travel insurance and a $50 annual hotel credit for hotels booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

–Evan Zimmer, CNET Money credit card editor

Read CNET’s Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Citi

Citi Simplicity

Discover

Discover it Student Cash Back Card

Who is it best for?
Anyone looking to build or rebuild credit.

Our favorite thing
You can repair your credit without sacrificing rewards.

Why we love it
A secured credit card means you’ll offer collateral (in the form of a refundable security deposit) to serve as your credit line. Usually secured cards don’t earn rewards or come with a welcome bonus, but the Discover it Secured offers both.

Cardholders can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 spent each quarter, then 1%), and the rewards you earn during the first year will be doubled thanks to the card’s welcome offer.

–Evan Zimmer, CNET Money credit card editor

Read CNET’s Discover it Secured card review.

Automate your money with financial apps

Financial apps can help automate tedious tasks, from balancing your budget to growing your credit score — while offering you key insights into money habits that may be holding you back.

“Money apps are like your financial sidekick, armed with tools such as expense management, automation and goal monitoring to turn the mundane task of managing money into a less stressful journey toward your money goals,” says Bernadette Joy, personal finance coach and CNET expert review board member

Who is it best for?
Anyone who wants to keep a closer eye on their credit and finances.

Our favorite thing
Experian offers ways to increase your Experian credit score with its free Experian Boost program.

Why we love it
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus in the US. While the other two, Equifax and TransUnion, also offer similar services, Experian pulls ahead thanks to its clean UI and Experian Boost program.

The free version gets you access to your FICO credit score and Experian credit report, as well as a breakdown of your debts. Like other credit monitoring services, there are educational resources for you to take advantage of and score calculators. If you sign up for Experian Boost, you can add qualifying bill payments to your credit report to help increase your Experian credit score, sometimes by up to 13 points or more. Considering your credit score is how lenders decide which terms to offer you, a score increase could have a big impact on your finances. Keep in mind this boost only shows up on your Experian credit score — it won’t benefit you if the lender checks your Equifax or TransUnion credit report.

While the free version is useful, Experian’s paid version ($24.99 monthly) adds features like a credit score comparison among all three credit bureaus, subscription cancellation and bill negotiation service, identity theft insurance, fraud alerts and resolution support. The main downside is the product offers you’ll be served, which has become a necessary evil when navigating any credit monitoring app.

— Evan Zimmer, CNET Money credit card editor

Read CNET’s Experian review.


Sleep well to be well

Despite what “sleep is for the weak” culture has told you, sleep is essential for maintaining your overall well-being. Adequate sleep is linked to better mood regulation, cognitive function, weight management and improved immune system function. “However, it’s equally important to ease the pressure on achieving ‘perfect’ sleep and instead focus on cultivating habits and environments conducive to restful sleep,” says psychotherapist and sleep specialist Annie Miller, LCSW-C, LICSW.

While many factors like noise, environment and underlying conditions can impact your sleep quality, the right items such as your mattress, pillows, bedding and any sleep accessories can help you optimize your slumber.

Our staff of certified sleep experts and wellness editors hand-picked their favorite products tested over the years to help you achieve the best sleep ever.

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Who is it best for?
The Drowsy sleep mask is best for those sensitive to light when trying to sleep, frequent travelers who rest while on the go and those with irregular sleep schedules seeking a dark and sleep-inducing environment.

Our favorite thing
Besides the double-padded silk, which makes it incredibly fluffy and soft, this eye mask features a unique design that hugs your face (in the best way possible) to block out light and ensure maximum comfort.

Why we love it
The Drowsy is my top sleep mask recommendation thanks to its unique, full-face design that completely blocks out light. Unlike other sleep masks, the Drowsy eye mask offers breathable, silk-and-100% cotton materials that contour your face without putting pressure on your eyes. I especially like the adjustable strap, a rare feature that allowed me to fit the mask to my head so it didn’t slip off, even during more active sleep. The Drowsy Sleep Mask is lightweight and comes in 15 colors, so you can choose the perfect shade for yourself or a loved one. In the 8 months since I started sleeping with this mask, I’ve almost always slept through the night, leaving me feeling more recharged than I have in years. While it’s more expensive than others, the quality materials and adjustable, ergonomic design make it well worth the extra cost.

— Nasha Addarich Martínez, CNET Sleep and Wellness Managing Editor


Healthy Meal Delivery

Feeling better starts with eating better. True health and wellness happens from the inside out and that means eating a balanced diet with lean protein and plenty of vegetables. We’ve tested more than two dozen meal delivery services to find the best, the cheapest and the healthiest options to support your busy week. 

There are meal kits and prepared meal subscriptions to help you lower your cholesterol, eat more plant-based meals per week or simply cut down on empty carbs and excessive calories. None of those metrics matter if the food doesn’t taste good.

Who is it best for?
Anyone looking to cook healthy, plant-based meals but doesn’t know where to start. Those looking to save time otherwise spent on meal planning, shopping and organizing a dinner plan.

Our favorite thing
Purple Carrot takes vegan cooking seriously and has some of the most thoughtful recipes of any service we tested. Using Purple Carrot we learned how to cook plant-based staples — lentils, ancient grains, greens and hearty root vegetables — without having to make lengthy trips to the grocery store or spend time planning meals. 

Why we love it
Purple Carrot doesn’t rely on fake meat or plant-based gimmicks. You’ll learn authentic, wholesome vegan cooking without the use of processed foods full of salt or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Most meal kits have vegetarian or vegan options but Purple Carrot has the most interesting plant-based meal kits that make use of classic vegan cooking techniques. The thoughtful recipes teach budding chefs how to use foundational meat-free ingredients.

Having tested every meal kit service, many of them two or three times, Purple Carrot stands out. I enjoyed every meal I’ve made from the service and Purple Carrot schooled me on how to prepare key plant-based ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with before. Whether it’s soaking lentils for an Indian Dal or discovering the versatility of vegan cashew cheese, Purple Carrot makes plant-based eating feel additive — and not like you’re losing anything or trying to replace beef or chicken with a lesser version.

Purple Carrot has fewer options per week than most in the category, but I’ve always found the ones they offer to be more inventive and interesting than the plant-based options from other meal kit services.

Ingredients are of a higher quality, too. Much of Purple Carrot’s produce is organic and vegetables show up looking bright and fresh. Purple Carrot’s meal kits are packed neatly and carefully with easy-to-follow recipes that mostly take less than 30 minutes to prepare.

– David Watsky, Senior Editor


How we choose Editors’ Choice picks

The CNET Editors’ Choice badge represents the strongest recommendation of a product or service evaluated by CNET experts. The award distinguishes the products and services that have made a lasting impression on CNET’s editorial team.

To earn an Editors’ Choice distinction, a product or service must be a top pick in its category, score a minimum benchmark when rated or be selected by a CNET expert based on hands-on testing of the product and its competition. Awarded by our experienced editors, enhanced by lab testing in dedicated facilities, and more selective than a standard Best-List inclusion or a positive review, readers can know that Editors’ Choice Award recipients are the best of the best.

Money

CNET Money editors rate money products and services based on first-hand testing (when possible) and by evaluating a variety of features and costs.

  • We rate credit cards based on set categories — from rewards and travel to credit-building. Some features we consider include rewards, welcome bonuses, cost-to-value and additional card member benefits. 
  • We rate banking products and services across select criteria, including accessibility, fees, interest rates (when applicable), customer satisfaction and more.
  • We test tax software first-hand and rate each platform based on how easy it is to navigate, help and support options, price-to-value, tax situations supported and options for free filing. 
  • We rate money apps, like credit monitoring services and budgeting apps based on first-person testing, product features and pricing.

Wellness

Our team of sleep experts used their years of first-hand testing experience to assess each of the products included on this list. 

  • Comfort is the first and foremost factor we consider. We use our experience using the product, its feel, and its construction to help inform our recommendation for who it best suits. 
  • Construction is another factor that we consider when testing products. In addition to assessing what goes into the product, we use construction to determine the durability we expect someone to get from it. We also look at extra features contributing to added durability, like reinforced edges or zoned support designs on mattresses. 
  • We compare the price of each product to the market and other products we rate highly. This allows us to spot what’s a good deal and what’s not. 
  • Additional key features that help inform who the product is best for will vary by product, like mattress firmness or a sheet thread count.

Meal Kits

  • We evaluate and rate meal kits and prepared meal services with a fixed rubric that includes freshness, taste, ease of execution, packaging and overall value.
  • When considering healthy meal delivery, we evaluate each service’s weekly menu options, particularly how many healthy, lower-calorie or plant-based recipes are available. 
  • Consideration is also paid to whether or not a meal subscription services specific eating plans including low-carb, Mediterranean diet, low-sodium, organic and diabetes-friendly
  • We also take careful note of each brand’s website or app and how easy it is to navigate, along with how easy the service makes it to pause or cancel a subscription or edit your order at any given time. 
  • Once a delivery of meals or meal kits arrives, we note how fresh the ingredients seem, how easy it is to heat or cook and how it tastes, once prepared. 

*All information about the Discover it Student Cash Back and the Discover it Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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