A money market account can be great for earning a high annual percentage yield (APY). Some accounts may let you write a limited number of checks and also offer a debit card.
Many online banks offer a more competitive yield than brick-and-mortar banks. This is because online banks don’t usually have as much overhead, since they don’t operate physical branches. Online banks need to attract your attention and high yields are a way to do this, which is good for savers.
Choosing a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) money market account at an online bank can be a great way to get these high-yielding APYs. Just make sure that you’re within the FDIC’s guidelines and limits.
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Best money market accounts & rates
- Highest Rate: CIT Bank: 1.00% APY
- High Rate: Sallie Mae: 0.99% APY*
- High Rate: BMO Harris: 0.95% APY
- High Rate: First Internet Bank: 0.91% APY
- High Rate: TIAA Bank: 0.75% APY*
*Promotional rate or introductory APY
Note: The APYs (Annual Percentage Yield) shown are as of July 31, 2020. Bankrate's editorial team updates this information regularly, typically biweekly. APYs may have changed since they were last updated. The APYs for some products may vary by region.
Bankrate's guide to choosing the right money market account rate
Best money market accounts: Bank details
Here are Bankrate's top money market accounts for August 2020:
1. Highest Rate: CIT Bank - 1.00% APY
$100 minimum deposit to open account
Best for variety of savings options
Overview: CIT Bank is CIT’s national direct bank. CIT Bank, N.A. is a subsidiary of CIT Group Inc. In addition to its money market account, CIT Bank offers two savings accounts. CIT Bank also launched its eChecking account in Nov. 2019.
Besides its liquid accounts, CIT Bank also offers eight terms of CDs, four terms of jumbo CDs and an 11-month no-penalty CD.
Perks: The money market account offers a competitive APY and only requires a $100 minimum balance to open the account. It doesn’t have any service fees, so your interest earnings won’t take a hit. CIT Bank offers nearly every type of bank account, unlike some other online banks.
What to watch for: The money market account at CIT Bank has a $10 excessive transaction fee, which is capped at $50 per month. It also has an overdraft fee of $25 and a $30 stop payment fee.
2. High Rate: Sallie Mae - 0.99% APY
$0 minimum deposit to open account
Best for free first order of checks at opening
Overview: Sallie Mae may be mostly associated with student loans, but it also provides a range of savings products for consumers. The bank offers a money market account, high-yield savings account and CDs.
Perks: You don’t need any money to open this money market account. This account also has check-writing privileges.
What to watch for: There isn’t a minimum deposit needed to open an account. But if you don’t fund the account within 40 days, the account will be closed. Sallie Mae reserves the right to close a dormant account, which the bank defines as an account with $100 or less in it that doesn’t have qualifying activity for the past 12 months.
Order your checks when you open your account. If you don’t, they’ll cost either $5 (10-day standard delivery) or $15 (2-3 business days for expedited delivery).
3. High Rate: BMO Harris - 0.95% APY (varies by market)
$5,000 minimum deposit for APY
Best for high yield and ATM card
Overview: BMO Harris, which has its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, has nearly 600 branches in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. But people in those states, with the exception of Florida, aren't eligible for the platinum money market account.
Perks: You can order checks for the platinum money market account, and you can also get an ATM card. The platinum money market account also doesn’t have any monthly maintenance fees, and you don’t need to keep a minimum balance in the account.
What to watch for: Balances less than $5,000 earn 0.01 percent APY. So if you’re going to go below that amount, you probably should get an account with a lower minimum balance to get a competitive APY. There is also a $50 account closing fee if you close the platinum money market account within 90 days of account opening. BMO Harris' APY on the Platinum Money Market account isn't available if you live in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Also, $1,000,000 or more earns a lower APY in this money market account.
$100 minimum deposit to open account
Best for monthly ATM surcharge rebate
Overview: First Internet Bank's Money Market Savings gives savers a competitive APY and it's also an option if you occasionally need to use an ATM. The account also only requires $100 to open one.
Perks: The Money Market Savings account gives you up to $10 per month for ATM surcharge rebates. This can help limit the stress of finding an in-network ATM. But just make sure you don't surpass the $10 monthly limit.
What to watch for: You need an average daily balance of $4,000 in order to avoid the $5 monthly fee. Beginning savers who won't be able to keep that balance will probably want to consider options with lower minimum balance requirements.
5. High Rate: TIAA Bank - 0.75% APY (Intro APY)
$500 minimum deposit to open account
Best for a guaranteed competitive intro rate
Overview: TIAA Bank, formerly known as EverBank, provides a range of banking, lending and investing options. Its deposit products include a high-yield money market account, checking, savings and CDs. In addition to competitive rates on banking products, TIAA Bank also offers mobile banking and online tools.
Perks: One of the biggest perks you'll find with TIAA Bank is its "Yield Pledge," which maintains that its yield pledge money market account rate will always be competitive and in the top 5 percent. Its money market account also has no monthly fee, allows for mobile check deposits and is IRA-eligible. As long as you keep at least $5,000 in your yield pledge money market account, TIAA Bank will reimburse all ATM fees charged by other banks. Regardless of your balance, you’ll be reimbursed up to $15 for ATM fees incurred by using non-TIAA Bank ATMs.
What to watch for: The APY on its money market account is attractive, but it's only an introductory APY. After a year, your APY may drop according to your balance.
What to consider before opening a money market account
Important money market account terminology
- Money market account: A type of savings account that may offer an ATM card for ATM withdrawals and/or checks.
- Check-writing privileges: A money market account may allow you to write checks against the account. This is one of the main differences between money market accounts and savings accounts. Savings accounts usually don’t allow this. .
- Compound interest: Money that you earn for having your funds deposited with a bank.
- Interest: The amount you have to keep in a savings account in order to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.
- Interest rate: A number that doesn't take into account the effects of compounding.
- Annual Percentage Yield (APY): Takes into account the effects of compounding during the year. The best way to compare yields is to use this number, rather than comparing interest rates. The higher the APY, the more income you’ll earn on your cash.
- Minimum balance requirement: The amount you have to keep in a savings account in order to avoid a monthly maintenance fee.
What is a money market account and how does it work?
A money market account is a type of savings deposit account that can be found at banks and credit unions. These high-rate money market accounts may pay a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts, but their minimum deposit and balance requirements may be higher.
Money market accounts may come with checks and a debit card, which distinguishes them from traditional savings accounts and certificates of deposit. The check-writing capability of these accounts provides a degree of flexibility and liquidity often not found in other savings vehicles. Money market accounts allow for up to six withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle. Though some withdrawals, such as those made from an ATM, are unlimited.
Like a traditional savings account, there's no set term for maturity with a money market account — you can park cash for an unlimited amount of time. But the way the institution can use your money is different from a savings account. Banks and credit unions can use the money deposited into money market accounts for low-risk investments, like certificates of deposit, Treasury notes and government-backed bonds. Institutions can mainly use the money deposited into traditional savings accounts for loans.
That said, safety is still a top feature of these financial tools. Money market accounts are insured up to $250,000 at banks that are insured by FDIC. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) provides all members of federally insured credit unions with $250,000 of coverage for single ownership accounts at a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) credit union.
Money market accounts and compounding interest
Interest rates determine how much interest and income your money market account earns. The more money you have in your money market account and the higher the interest rate you’re earning, the more money you’ll earn on your deposits in this account. When the Federal Reserve raises or lowers the federal funds rate, it tends to affect the yields on money market accounts.
When the Fed raises rates, savers with high-yielding accounts tend to receive higher APYs. From 2015 to 2018, the Fed raised rates nine times. This helped many savers at high-yielding online banks earn substantially higher APYs.
But starting in 2019, the Fed started lowering rates. In March 2020, the U.S. central bank made two emergency rate cuts to try and bolster the economy due to the coronavirus. This sent the federal funds rate down to zero — unwinding all nine of the past rate increases. These rate cuts have caused some banks to lower their APYs on savings accounts and money market accounts.
Interest is usually credited on a monthly basis on money market accounts. The APY on an account includes the effects of compounding during the year. So, when you compare APYs, you can tell which account is going to help your money grow the most. The best way to compare interest you’ll earn on different money market accounts is using an apples-to-apples approach. Always compare APYs and not rates. You can use our compound interest calculator to determine your potential earnings on a money market account.
Money market accounts typically credit interest monthly. You’ll usually receive your interest payment on or around the same date each month.
What is the average interest rate on a money market?
The average interest rate on a money market account is currently 0.11 percent, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of institutions. Yet some banks are offering at least 10 times that. That makes it crucial to shop around for the best deal when you're searching for a money market account.
It's important to remember that institutions can change their interest rates at any time, pushing returns higher or lower depending on the market.
Are money market rates fixed?
Most money market rates are variable, not fixed. That means the rate and APY you receive can rise or fall as market conditions change. A fixed introductory APY is the exception. During the promotional period, the fixed yield gives you a certain APY for a specific period of time. You might lose the fixed yield, however, if you don’t follow certain rules. An introductory rate may also require a deposit made with new money, which usually must come from outside the bank.
An introductory rate may be a good deal if rates decrease or don’t increase during the promotional period. Check to see how competitive the ongoing APYs are in order to get a sense of whether your yield after the introductory APY expires will still be competitive. But remember, it’s not a guarantee since APYs are usually variable.
Are there any risks to having a money market account?
An FDIC-insured account is safe as long as your funds are within insurance limits. No customer has ever lost a penny in an insured deposit account, according to the FDIC,
Money market accounts at online banks, brick-and-mortar banks or credit unions are safe as long as the institution is an FDIC bank or NCUA credit union and you’re within insurance guidelines.
The FDIC and the NCUSIF, at NCUA credit unions, are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. For instance, if needed, the FDIC can draw on a line of credit with the U.S. Treasury.
Is a money market account safe?
Money market accounts are safe if they’re at an FDIC-insured bank or a federally insured credit union. FDIC deposit insurance covers accounts at FDIC banks up to at least $250,000. An account at an NCUA institution has a standard share insurance amount of $250,000 per share owner, per insured credit union, for each account ownership category.
How are money market accounts insured?
Like savings accounts and CDs, money market accounts are insured at banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) up to $250,000. They are insured up to the same amount at credit unions by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Should the bank or credit union fail, the FDIC or NCUA guarantees your money will remain safe.
Can you lose your money in a money market account?
Generally, your money is protected and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government if it’s within FDIC guidelines at a bank insured by the FDIC or at an NCUA credit union, which has the NCUSIF to insure accounts. But if you have money over the FDIC limit or funds that exceed the NCUSIF insurance limits, you could lose money if that financial institution fails.
Both the FDIC and NCUA offer estimators to help you estimate whether your bank or credit union balances may be covered. Always double-check with the FDIC or NCUA and your financial institutions to confirm insurance coverage.
You could lose money in a money market account if you don’t report an unauthorized transaction in a timely fashion. Generally, you have a window of 60 days after your statement was sent to tell your bank.
Who should get a money market account?
Anyone looking for a safe place to stash a good chunk of money and earn some interest may benefit from a money market account. But these accounts make particularly good sense in a handful of situations. For example:
- Setting up an emergency savings fund.
- Saving for a goal, such as saving for a home purchase or a vacation.
- Growing your savings in a high-yield account that may offer the opportunity to write an occasional check.
- Earning a higher yield than you’re earning in your current savings or checking account.
As a saver, it's important to know the differences between a money market account, savings account, and a CD.
Here's when to consider a money market account:
- You want an account that offers liquidity, safety and a higher interest rate than traditional savings or checking accounts.
- You want the ability to write checks or you may be able to use a debit card up to six times per month.
- You want immediate access to funds if you're ever in a bind.
- You want a good spot to keep your emergency fund.
- You don't want to lock up your money in a CD for an extended period, but you still want a comparable interest rate and the safety of an FDIC- or NCUA-backed account.
Money market account fees and minimums
Minimums and fees to open and maintain a money market account vary by institution.
There are typically a few types of minimums you should watch for: minimum deposit requirements to open an account, minimum amounts to earn the APY and minimums to avoid fees.
Watch for monthly fees, transfer fees, shipping fees, inactive account fees or any other penalty you might incur for not using the account to the bank's specifications.
Can you withdraw money from a money market account without penalty?
You’re usually able to withdraw money from a money market account without penalty. Exceptions may be if a bank charges a fee after a certain number of withdrawals are made or if the withdrawal is made to close an account — and the account charges an early close-out fee.
Can you add money to a money market account?
Yes, you can add money to a money market account. Money market accounts are liquid accounts, so you can add to the account at any time.
Banks may allow you to deposit checks using a mobile app. While additions aren’t limited, withdrawals may be limited on a money market account because of Regulation D. This regulation limits the number of “convenient” transfers or withdrawals made per statement cycle. But adding to your account isn’t limited.
Can you pay bills and write checks with your money market account?
Some money market accounts, but not all, provide the ability to write checks and pay bills directly from the account. These accounts may even come with a debit card. But there's a limit to the number of certain transactions you can make. Money market accounts only allow for up to six types of withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle.
If check writing is a feature you want in a money market account, confirm with the institution before opening an account that their product offers that capability.
Money market account FAQs
What to consider when choosing a money market account
The best way to choose a money market account is to compare APYs and minimum balance requirements. You’ll want to look at how much money you must always have in the account to avoid a maintenance fee and the minimum to earn the stated APY.
Also, look at features, such as ATM access via an ATM card, and check-writing privileges. If these features aren’t offered, that’s OK, but make sure you understand how you’ll access this money. If it’s money that’s going to be used daily, then a checking account might be more appropriate than a money market account.
If you want to physically walk into a bank and talk to a banker about your money market account, choose a bank that has brick-and-mortar locations. If this doesn’t matter to you — and earning a high APY is more important — then an online bank will probably be the best way for you to earn more interest. An online bank may offer convenient customer service options through its phone availability, and it may have secure messaging on its website or mobile app. It may also allow live chats with a customer service representative on its website.
What is a good money market account?
A good money market account carries a competitive APY and has minimum balance requirements that fit your needs and helps you avoid incurring any fees. If the money market account requires a higher balance, the best money market accounts reward you with a higher APY for keeping this balance. The balance requirement doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s within what you plan on keeping in the account so that you earn a maximum APY and don’t incur fees.
Another perk of a good money market account is one that offers an ATM card for ATM access or check-writing privileges — and free checks — for writing an occasional check. Under Regulation D, money market accounts generally don’t permit more than six of these “convenient” transactions per month.
Since these accounts aren’t meant for daily use, it’s OK if the account doesn’t have these features. Just know how you’re going to access your money when you need to.
How do I open a money market account?
Opening a money market is as easy as choosing which bank and account is right for you. Some money market accounts don’t have a minimum opening balance requirement, so you won’t have to worry about keeping a certain amount in the account or incurring a maintenance fee. Compare the top APY accounts with the minimum balance that you’re comfortable with to make the best decision for your saving needs.
Prior to opening a money market account online you’ll want to:
- Have your government-issued photo identification with you.
- Be prepared, if needed, to lift a security freeze on your credit file to open the account.
- Have your routing number and account number handy for the account you’re using to fund this new account.
- Have your social security number available.
Almost all of this information may also be needed if you open a new account in person. You may need cash or a check (or checks) to fund a new account opened in a branch.
How liquid is a money market account?
You’re generally able to access the money in your account at any time without incurring a penalty. An exception is if you were to close a money market account that has an early close-out penalty. These penalties usually occur during the first 90 to 180 days of opening the account.
Also, a bank is required to reserve the right to require at least seven days’ written notice if you want to withdraw money from a money market account. But, as noted by the Federal Reserve, this right is rarely, if ever, exercised.
What is the difference between a jumbo money market account and a traditional money market account?
A jumbo money market account is likely to have a higher minimum balance requirement than a normal money market account. Generally, a jumbo deposit product requires a minimum balance of $100,000. The same minimum balance requirement is also true with jumbo CDs. Jumbo money market accounts are rare, but there are at least two institutions that offer them:
- Navy Federal Credit Union offers 0.90 percent APY on its jumbo money market savings account. This yield applies to balances of $250,000 and higher. You can also earn 0.80 percent APY on a balance between $100,000 to $249,999. But in order to open an account at Navy Federal Credit Union, you or one of your family or household members must have ties to the armed forces, Department of Defense or National Guard.
- Alaska USA Federal Credit Union offers a jumbo money market account that requires a $50,000 minimum balance to earn the account’s top yield of 0.2 percent APY. You can join the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union by being affiliated with a company, organization or community that has requested that the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union serve its members. You can also join if you’re related to someone qualified to join the credit union. Most people who live or work in Alaska, Washington, San Bernardino County in California and Maricopa County in Arizona can qualify for a membership, according to the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union website.
Are money market account rates taxable?
All taxable and tax-exempt interest must be reported on your federal income tax return. Most interest that you receive or that’s credited to an account that you can withdraw without penalty is taxable income in the year it becomes available to you, according to the Internal Revenue Services. Always consult with your accountant to answer your specific tax questions.
Do money market interest rates fluctuate?
Money market account interest rates generally are variable, meaning they can fluctuate. One exception is if the money market account has an introductory rate that’s guaranteed for a certain period of time. These typically are guaranteed for anywhere from three months to a year.
If you pursue one of these introductory rates, compare it with the institution's current standard rates. This may give you an idea of how competitive the bank will be after the introductory period ends.
What is a high-yield money market account?
A high-yield money market account is one that has a competitive APY. In some instances, money market accounts may have higher APYs than savings accounts.
But technically, a money market is a savings deposit account, according to the Federal Reserve. The main differentiator is that a high-yield money market account may allow for check-writing privileges and/or have ATM accessibility (though a savings account may also offer ATM access).
These withdrawal features on both a high-yield money market account and a savings account are generally limited under Regulation D to no more than six “convenient” transfers or withdrawals per statement cycle. Some banks, though, may impose even more limitations on withdrawals and check-writing on a high-yield money market account.
In late April, the Federal Reserve Board announced an interim final rule to amend Reg D so that consumers can make an unlimited amount of withdrawals or deposits from savings deposit accounts, which includes money market accounts.
Banks aren’t required to suspend these rules, however. Check with your bank to see if it’s allowing unlimited transactions on your savings account and money market account, and whether there are any fees for excessive withdrawals.
Is a money market account a worthwhile investment?
A high-yield money market account can be both a worthwhile investment and short-term savings tool for liquid money. It’s a worthwhile investment for money that needs to earn a competitive APY (annual percentage yield) and be kept safe. One of the safest places is an eligible account at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) bank that’s within FDIC insurance limits. If your money market account is at an FDIC bank - or has National Credit Union Share Insurance (NCUSIF) protection through an NCUA credit union – then your account is covered if it’s within coverage limits.
A money market account is a worthwhile investment if you value, generally, quick access to your account, a predictable APY and a federally insured account. There are other investments, such as stocks, that may provide higher rates of return, but they may also put your principal at risk. So, a money market account may be a worthwhile investment for funds you can’t afford to lose. A money market account with a high interest rate may be the perfect place for money that you intend to grow but may need in the near future.
Why do money market accounts pay higher interest?
Generally, a high-yield money market account pays a higher APY than a checking account because banks can assume that your money will be in there for a longer period. Yes, you could withdraw from a money market account – just like you could in a checking account – but a money market account has built-in restrictions because its transactions are restricted under Regulation D. Unlike a checking account, money market accounts are limited to six “convenient” transfers and withdrawals per month. According to the Federal Reserve, these restricted transfers and withdrawals include transfers to another account to act as overdraft protection, direct bill payments, telephone transfers, withdrawals initiated by fax, computer, email or internet instruction, and transfers or withdrawals made by check, debit card or other similar method used to pay other third parties.
Savings accounts may have a higher APY than money market accounts. One potential reason is that savings accounts generally don’t offer an additional withdrawal option, such as check-writing privileges, that some money market accounts have.
Is a money market account a savings or checking account?
Money market accounts are savings products, but they often act as a hybrid of traditional savings and checking accounts, carrying characteristics of both.
Money market accounts tend to come with higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts but with higher minimum deposit and balance requirements.
Like savings accounts, money market accounts generally only allow for up to six withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle, making them best for parking cash.
But like a checking account, they may come with checks and possibly a debit card, allowing you to make purchases directly from the account.
How is a money market account different from a money market fund?
A money market account, or money market deposit account, is considered a savings deposit. A money market deposit account is generally insured up to $250,000, like checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs, as long as it’s in an insured account at an FDIC-insured bank or NCUA-backed credit union.
In contrast, a money market mutual fund — or money market fund — isn’t FDIC-insured. These accounts are likely to be invested in securities, such as Treasury bills, government or corporate bonds, or short-term CDs, according to the FDIC.
The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) protects money market mutual funds – which are securities – according to the SIPC. The SIPC only protects cash if it’s being held in connection with a purchase or sale of a security, according to the SIPC.
How is a money market account different from a negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) account?
A negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) account is classified as a transaction account, while a money market account is a non-transaction account, according to the Federal Reserve.
NOW accounts allow an unlimited number of third-party payments, while money market accounts are restricted to six “convenient” transfers or withdrawals per month under Regulation D. Some banks may restrict money market account transactions further.
Like money market accounts, a bank reserves the right at any time to require seven days’ written notice for a withdrawal from a NOW account under Regulation D, though this right is rarely exercised, according to the Fed.
Unlike NOW accounts and money market accounts, checking accounts are demand deposit accounts (DDAs). This means withdrawals from checking accounts are payable on demand, or on fewer than seven days’ notice, according to Fed rules.
Money market account vs. CDs
A money market account is for money that needs to be accessible. A CD is more for longer-term money that won’t be used during the CD’s term, mainly because you don’t want to incur an early withdrawal penalty. Sometimes you’re rewarded with a higher APY in a CD than you would earn in a liquid money market account.
A money market account may offer you check-writing privileges or ATM access. These components can help you access this money, if needed.
But a money market account is restricted by Regulation D, which means you can’t make more than six convenient transfers or withdrawals per month.
MMA vs. Savings
Pros and cons
While a money market account is very similar to a traditional savings account, there are pros and cons to each.
Here are some of the pros of a money market account over a savings account:
- Money market accounts may offer check-writing and debit card capabilities.
- Money market accounts may offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts.
Here are some of the cons of a money market account compared with a savings account:
- Money market accounts typically have a higher minimum deposit requirement.
- Money market accounts often have a higher minimum balance requirement to earn interest.
- Money market accounts may come with more fees than a traditional savings account would charge.
If you want the ability to write checks or use a debit card, money market accounts are a good alternative to traditional savings accounts. And you'll typically get a better return.
But if earning a high return is your priority, don't forget to check out the rates on high-yield savings accounts found at online banks. These rates can often be superior to money market accounts and traditional savings accounts, although they may come with some additional requirements.
MMA vs. CDs
A money market account is for money that needs to be accessible. A certificate of deposit is more for longer-term money that won’t be used during the CD’s term, mainly because you don’t want to incur an early withdrawal penalty.
Pros and cons
There are positives and negatives when comparing a money market account with a CD.
Here are some of the pros of a money market account over a CD:
- Most money market accounts allow you to access your money without incurring a penalty or fee.
- You’re usually able to transfer money from a money market account at any time, usually without incurring a fee.
- A money market account may allow you to access money from an ATM.
- A money market account may allow you to write checks from it.
- A money market account can be a good place to keep your money while deciding what its purpose is. Since CDs usually have early withdrawal penalties, you need to have a good idea of when that money will be used or needed.
- Your money market account may have a higher APY than a CD.
Here are some of the cons of a money market account compared with a CD:
- Since money market account yields are usually variable, a CD could give you a fixed APY to protect you from future money market account rate decreases.
- Some money market accounts may have a higher minimum balance requirements than some CDs.
Best Money Market Accounts & Rates of August 2020