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With interest rates higher than they’ve been in some time, savers and investors are once again able to earn decent rates of return in relatively safe investments such as money market funds. Money market funds invest in short-term securities issued by governments and corporations and are available from several different brokers and fund managers.
Investors in money market funds earn income, or a yield, from the securities that are held within the fund.
Here are some of the top money market funds to consider for your portfolio.
Top money market funds
- Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX)
- JPMorgan Prime Money Market Fund (VMVXX)
- Schwab Value Advantage Money Fund (SWVXX)
- Invesco Government Money Market Fund (INAXX)
- Fidelity Money Market Fund (SPRXX)
- Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund (VMSXX)
*Data listed below is as of Dec. 1, 2023.
Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX)
The Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund invests in cash and short-term securities issued by the U.S. government. The fund aims to provide current income while maintaining a high level of liquidity.
- Yield: 5.30 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.11 percent
- Fund assets: $270.6 billion
JPMorgan Prime Money Market Fund (VMVXX)
The JPMorgan Prime Money Market Fund seeks to generate current income while providing a high level of liquidity and a low volatility of principal. The fund invests in short-term securities that present minimal credit risk such as U.S. government securities, floating-rate debt issued by U.S. and foreign corporations and highly-rated commercial paper.
- Yield: 5.14 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.50 percent
- Fund assets: $77.8 billion
Schwab Value Advantage Money Fund (SWVXX)
The Schwab Value Advantage Money Fund invests in short-term securities issued by U.S. and foreign entities. The securities may be issued by governments, corporations or financial institutions. The fund aims to earn the highest possible current income while maintaining stability and high levels of liquidity.
- Yield: 5.25 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.34 percent
- Fund assets: $163.6 billion
Invesco Government Money Market Fund (INAXX)
The Invesco Government Money Market Fund aims to provide a high level of current income while maintaining stability and high liquidity. It invests essentially all of its total assets in cash, government securities and repurchase agreements backed by government securities.
- Yield: 5.10 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.32 percent
- Fund assets: $5.2 billion
Fidelity Money Market Fund (SPRXX)
The Fidelity Money Market Fund invests in short-term securities to produce a high level of current income while maintaining stability and a high level of liquidity. The securities purchased may be issued by domestic or foreign issuers. The fund also invests in repurchase agreements and the commercial paper of financial institutions.
- Yield: 5.09 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.42 percent
- Fund assets: $98.3 billion
Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund (VMSXX)
The Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund aims to provide current income that is exempt from federal income taxes while maintaining stability and a high level of liquidity. Because the fund invests in municipal securities that are exempt from federal income tax, the yield is lower than other money market funds.
- Yield: 3.38 percent
- Expense ratio: 0.15 percent
- Fund assets: $17.6 billion
What is a money market mutual fund?
A money market fund is a mutual fund that invests in short-term securities with very little credit risk. These securities may be issued by governments, corporations or financial institutions that reside in the U.S. or abroad. Money market funds are considered to be low-risk investments that offer current income based on the prevailing level of interest rates.
Money market funds aim to maintain a net asset value, or NAV, of $1.00, while providing a high level of current income. Other mutual funds, such as stock funds, may aim to increase their NAV as their underlying investments perform well, but money market funds seek stability.
Types of money market mutual funds
Money market funds are typically divided into three categories: government, prime and municipal. Here’s what you should know about each type.
- Government funds invest in cash, U.S. Treasury securities and repurchase agreements that are collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities.
- Prime, or general purpose, funds invest in government securities as well as commercial paper, certificates of deposit, short-term securities issued by domestic and foreign corporations and repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements.
- Municipal or tax-exempt funds invest the majority of their assets in securities that are exempt from federal income tax.
Money market funds vs. money market accounts
You may have seen banks or credit unions reference money market accounts and wondered if these are the same thing as money market funds. The answer is no. A money market fund is a mutual fund that invests in short-term securities while a money market account is a product that banks or credit unions offer to customers that typically earns a higher rate of interest than a standard savings account.
Perhaps the most important difference between money market funds and money market accounts is that money market funds are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations, or FDIC, whereas money market accounts are FDIC-insured.
Money market funds come with very low risk, but there have been instances where funds “broke the buck,” meaning their NAV dropped below $1.00, such as during the 2008 financial crisis. In these instances, the fund may be liquidated and investors could receive less than $1.00 per share.
How to choose a money market mutual fund
Money market funds are offered by a number of different financial institutions such as banks, brokerage firms and mutual fund companies. Here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing a money market fund:
- Yield: You’ll want to compare a fund’s yield to other funds in the industry to make sure you’re getting the best return on your investment.
- Expense ratio: Funds charge an expense ratio, which comes directly out of the return you ultimately earn as an investor. All else being equal, the lower the expense ratio, the better it is for investors.
- Type of fund: Consider whether you’d like to invest in a government, prime or municipal money market fund. Municipal money market funds may be particularly appealing for those in high tax brackets.
- Other fees: Be sure to pay attention to any additional fees you may be charged when buying and selling money market funds. Some brokers may charge mutual fund commissions, while others may charge fees for funds from certain fund families.
Money market funds aim to invest in high-quality short-term securities that provide a high level of current income while maintaining liquidity and stability. The funds may invest in government securities as well as securities issued by U.S. and foreign entities. Municipal money market funds invest primarily in tax-exempt securities.
Money market funds can be a good fit for investors looking to benefit from the current interest rate environment or saving for a short-term goal. Keep in mind that while the funds are considered low risk, they are not FDIC-insured.
Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.