Money market accounts are similar to savings accounts – except they tend to pay higher interest rates.
Most people new to banking generally open a checking and savings account when starting out. But banks have several savings vehicles that can earn higher interest than a basic savings and checking account, like money market accounts.
Money market accounts are like a hybrid between a checking and savings accounts that combine some of the best of both features. With money market accounts you earn high interest on your deposits, enjoy easy access to your money, and have the ability to write checks.
In the past year money market accounts have posted some very significant gains. When the Federal Reserve raises rates some banks and credit unions nudge up the rates they pay on savings and money market accounts.
Who should get a money market account?
Anyone looking for a higher interest and a safe place to store cash may benefit from a money market account. Here are a few more benefits:
- Money markets offer easy liquidity if you need your cash unlike CDs where you pay an early withdrawal penalty, unless you have a No-penalty CD.
- You want the ability to write checks.
- You want immediate access to funds in case of emergencies.
- You want a good spot to keep your emergency fund.
Is a money market account safe?
Bank money market accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) fund insures money market accounts up to $250,000.
What to watch out for with Money Market Accounts
Because money market accounts are considered a savings vehicle, they are limited to six outgoing transactions per statement cycle like savings accounts. This is per federal law known as Regulation D. Under Reg D the bank or credit union can charge you a fee, close your account or convert it into a checking account if you go over the limit.
These types of transactions fall under Reg D:
- Online transfers from those accounts to a different account either at the same institution or a different one
- Transfers processed over the phone
- Automatic or preauthorized transfers, such as bill payments or any other recurring transfers
- Overdraft transfers from your savings account to your checking account
- Transfers made by check or debit card
There is a way to get around Reg D six withdrawal limits:
- Withdrawals or transfers made at ATMs
- Transactions made in person at a bank
- Withdrawals made by telephone if the check is mailed to the depositor
Note: Since money market accounts are similar to savings accounts, we have included some savings accounts rates as they are currently paying higher rates. The savings accounts you'll find in our ranking here all operate like savings accounts, with no check-writing privileges.
Banks with the Highest Money Market Rates
1. CIT Bank: 0.50% APY, $100 minimum deposit for interest rate
CIT Bank is an internet-based bank offering a variety of savings deposit products nationwide. CIT offers some of the highest rates to their customers due largely to the fact they are an online bank. With little overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar banks, they can return those savings to customers. If you're looking for a place to stash your cash and earn a better-than-average rate, CIT's money market account is a solid choice requiring only $100 to open and no monthly maintenance fees. Your deposits are FDIC-insured
2. Chime Savings Account: 0.50% APY, $0 minimum deposit
Chime offers an annual percentage yield of 1.00% for its savings account; however, you are required to have a Chime spending account before you can open Chime savings. In addition to paying 0.50% APY, Chime will round up every purchase on your Chime debit card to the nearest dollar and deposit that difference into your savings account. The account pays well above the national average as well as higher than many of the savings rates offered by some of the nation’s largest banks. There’s no minimum balance requirement to earn the APY and no minimum to open an account. Your deposits are FDIC-insured.
3. Aspiration Bank: 0.50% APY, $10,000 minimum deposit
The Aspiration Spend & Save account is a type of cash management account that has features commonly found in both checking and savings accounts. The Aspiration Save account earns up to 0.50% APY but with requirements. The 0.50% APY is only available with the Aspiration Plus subscription add-on — which costs $7.00 per month or $69.00 per year — and it’s only on the first $10,000 in a customer’s Aspiration Save account. Customers must also spend $1,000 per month with their Aspiration debit card to earn the high APY. Your deposits are FDIC-insured.
The average rate on savings accounts currently sits at a meager 0.06%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Moving your money to a high rate savings account or money market account is a good financial move for 2020.
With a savings rate, or annual percentage yield of 0.06%, a $10,000 deposit earns around $6 after one year. A 0.55% APY which is offered by CIT Bank, would earn about $65 — a decent return for little effort on your part.
Start earning more interest for your money today. Most banks open money market accounts by verifying customers through ChexSystems or Early Warning Services. If you have a negative banking history consider banks that don't use ChexSystems to open a savings, money market or checking account.